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Phra Farang: An English Monk in Thailand

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  137 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
At forty-five, successful businessman Peter Robinson gave up his comfortable life in London to ordain as a Buddhist monk in Bangkok. But the new path he had chosen was not always as easy or as straightforward as he hoped it would be.

In this truly extraordinary memoir, Phra Peter Pannapadipo describes his ten-year metamorphosis into a practicing Buddhist monk, while being i
Paperback, 384 pages
Published June 2nd 2005 by Arrow (first published December 1999)
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Dec 02, 2008 Shantiwallah rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those interested in Thai Buddhism, monkhood, and culture
Shelves: travel, identity
It's been a while since I read this but I still remember enjoying it after chancing upon it at the old Bangkok airport. While he writes from the perspective of a foreiger who becomes a Buddhist monk in Thailand, many of the observations are of local Thai culture in general. Very interesting if you have spent any time in Thailand either working or as a tourist. He has since written a few other noteworthy books including a brilliant one called "Little angels" about the young monks who often occupy ...more
Erika Leaf
Aug 02, 2015 Erika Leaf rated it it was amazing
Very straightforward depiction of life in a rural monastery in Thailand through the eyes of a British man who ordained as a buddhist monk. He is a good writer, a humble, honest person who depicts his blunders and challenges without ego and his genuine strivings as a monk plus the parts of a Thai monk's life that he couldn't quite embrace but came to understand and be at peace with. Very approachable writing. I loved the inside understanding of this part of Thai culture and would recommend it to ...more
Mar 19, 2013 Ewe rated it it was amazing
Amazing book! I would recommend it to everybody who is visiting or planning to visit Thailand. Author gives a short introduction to Buddhism and describes the way Thai monks live their life. He alone used to be a monk so his stories are from first hand. I was reading this during my vacation in Thailand and couldn't stop reading! The book makes you understand more about monks and Thai Buddhism. On top of that it is very well written and the money from it goes to Student Education Trust that helps ...more
Nov 28, 2015 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Be not led by the authority of religious texts, not by the delight in speculative opinions, nor by seeming possibilities, not by the idea: 'this is our teacher'

Who is whispering midlife crises when a successful British businessman of forty is turning into a Buddhist monk in Thailand?

No that would me much too easy and would do short to Peters honest account of his life as a Buddhist monk. Alto he does not tell us much about his personal reasons to become a monk. For the first half of the book thi
Steve Hayden
May 20, 2010 Steve Hayden rated it really liked it
This is an interesting book that Peter Robinson wrote about his experience as a Buddhist monk. I was originally hoping for a bit of insight on how it was to be living in Thailand as he was a monk, but it was more of how he responded to his religious experience as he lived through the experience and what he felf as he ...developed his mental Budhist knowledge. Phra Farang is well written, reads well and I enjoyed it as a religious learning book not so much as a travel novel. Recommended for those ...more
Nov 02, 2015 Sally.hodder rated it it was ok
In this memoir describing experiences of a London business who becomes a Buddhist monk living in Thailand, there are vivid descriptions of aspects of Thai culture. I read this book while traveling in Thailand, and it brought me an understanding of the culture that I otherwise would have missed. The gradual evolution of the author's view on religion, specifically Buddhism, is interesting. Overall, however, this book is a bit slow and had it not been for the remarkable insights that it provided as ...more
Massey Pierce
Jul 03, 2016 Massey Pierce rated it really liked it
This book has a lot of detail about a personal experience of a London businessman traveling to Thailand to become a monk. Don't read this expecting to learn everything about Buddhism, read this instead to get an experience of one particular case of someone transforming into a monk. You'll learn a bit about the practice, but you'll learn more about Peter. There are funny parts, serious parts, and parts where you'll think it drags on a bit. It's all very real though and well written.
Oct 09, 2008 John rated it it was amazing
Many travelers to Thailand see the monks and wonder what it is like to live as one. Peter Pannapadipo, an Englishman, decided to do it. Often hilarious, sometimes sad, sometimes frustrating account of Phra Farang's (Brother Foreigner) struggle for enlightenment. A very honest and forthright book.
Jun 25, 2012 Dennis rated it it was amazing
Must Read: 5
Kept Attention: 5
Well-Written: 5
Meaningful: 5
Accessible: 5

A good account that makes understandable why some follow a monastic life, without romanticizing it. Having been there myself (Orthodox and Anglican), I appreciate that it says so well what is often difficult to explain to others.

First read: June 12, 2011
Jun 02, 2016 Nina rated it liked it
Surprisingly enjoyable novel about thai buddhism, even though it was somewhat difficult to comprehend every now and again. It was nice to read about all the cultural mishaps Phra Peter experienced as a monk.
Jason Jones
Aug 25, 2012 Jason Jones rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book that highlights not only the religious culture of Thailand but also emphasises many social aspects of the country in great detail, a worthwhile read before embarking on a trip to Thailand.
Mar 08, 2015 Alison rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
Absolutely loved this book!!I was fascinated by his experience and life. One of those books that you feel gutted when you finish it. Now plan to read his other book 'Little Angels'. :-)
Paul Kotheimer
Oct 14, 2013 Paul Kotheimer rated it liked it
Chapter 30 (the last chapter before the afterword) was wonderful. Interesting account for anyone's thinking about ordaining as a monk.
Jul 31, 2011 Jackie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thailand, asia
good insight into Thai Buddhism from a foreigners point of view - wasn't so much about Buddhism as about him becoming a monk but an interesting read non the less
Yy Tang
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Feb 26, 2011
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Asha Shatma rated it it was amazing
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