It’s something that everybody thinks about once in a while. Quitting the rat race, getting away from the city, and moving out into the country to leave a humble and peaceful life.
Few people actually do it though. And even fewer move to a remote hillside hut and become a monk.
But that’s exactly what Julian Desilets – now known as Phra Julian – did almost 20 years ago.
Julian now spends his days in relative bliss, meditating, praying and helping hill tribe people in Mae Hong Son, northern Thailand.
‘’This is the best life. I’m very happy. At first it was hard but you soon get used to it,” he told PackThailand.
”The scenery is stunning, the people are so helpful and kind, and there are none of the stresses of the modern world.”
Julian, now aged 40, was a typical teenager playing computer games and sports while dating different girlfriends – and dreaming of becoming an acupuncture specialist.
But he became fascinated by meditation and after meeting a Thai girlfriend travelled to the country when he was just 16 and again two years late in 1998.
He ordained as a monk in 2000 and has just completed his 17th year in the religion.
But Julian isn’t your typical monk. He bends the rules just slightly – monks are banned from gardening but that’s a hobby he has never been willing to give up.
Plus, he says that abstaining from romantic relationships has its difficulties.
He added: ”It’s a bit of a problem for me that monks can’t have girlfriends. I’m alright when I’m living on my own but when I meet a woman and there’s an energy exchange and an attraction, this can be difficult.
”We’re all human and have hormones, especially when when local Thai girls like foreign western men. But when I have those feelings I just have to meditate and I can get over it.
”Technically monks aren’t supposed to do yoga, exercise or gardening. But I like all of those things so I still do them.
”Some of the more traditional people have a problem with that, but people get used to it, especially in the area I am which is hill tribe people who are very laid back.
”I wouldn’t swap this life for anything. I’m in the most beautiful place and everyday is incredible, I’m so happy.”
It’s not an easy life – and certainly not suitable for everyone.
For most of the time Phra Julian survived on annual pocket money of just 1500 Canadian dollars sent to him by his mum, Michelle Roy.
And it took a while for his parents to adjust to his way of life. They blamed themselves and wondered what they had done wrong.
But now they accept him and visit the region to spend time with him.
Thankfully for Julian, he has been able to build up a social media presence (Facebook is still allowed in Julian’s own unique blend of being a monk) and he garners donations from well-wishers online.
He’s also looking at turning his little hillside home and the nearby temple into a small retreat for travellers.
The remote hill tribe regions of northern Thailand are certainly worth visiting. They’re fascinating.
And Julian’s retreat once it is up and running could be just the ticket for anyone who wants to get away from the rat race for a few days.
Follow Phra Julian on Facebook to stay up to date w
ith his journey.