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Published: January 16th 2018
Today was another day on our own with our Thai buddies, whom I feel we are getting to know much better. I can see some of the Messiah students really engaging with their Thai buddies, yet it frustrates me to see other making much less of an effort and staying with their fellow MC students. Oh well, this trip will be what we make it and how connected and engaged we are. We began the day medicated on Dramamine as we drove up the winding roads to the doi suthep temple. On the way there, we made a stop at a road side scenic look out which had many vendors. It dawned on me that these vendors make food and sell items just for the tourists and visitors; this is how they make their living. I find it saddens me to see their reliance and I feel bad for them; I also felt this when I saw the children at the temple who were being instructed by their mothers to dress up and pose for pictures with visitors. Here, our buddies and the MC students took group pictures by the drivers, who escorted us place to place. We finished the drive
and, like every other place, hoped out the van while still in traffic and quickly moved to the side. The landscape and staircase leading up to the wat was gorgeous dragon heads with their tails as the railings. There were huge crowds surrounding us as we ascended the hundreds of stairs to the wat. We passed Buddha and Thai statues around the wat and many photos were taken. Our buddies showed us where to place out shoes before we entered the temple. I am getting very used to not wearing shoes, I quite like it! We observed the religious ceremonies going on and watched the monks in the wat. I refrained from participating as did everyone, we observed the on goings, admired the beautiful gold and candles. I especially liked the little bells everywhere and I wanted to buy one, yet I asked my buddy about them and he said they are for worship and I wasn’t sure how I felt. So, I took pictures to remember. The one thing I did do was get my fortune, which was done by shaking the little sticks in a tilted cup up and down until one stick fell out. This numbered stick
corresponded to a fortune. Our Thai buddies immediately asked “good fortune?” wondering what our fate was, quite seriously in my opinion. Mine was a good fortune or prosperity and love in this life, as my “last life was productive,” though it wouldn’t matter much to me if it wasn’t. My buddy’s fortune was bad and he was definitely visually put off by it. Once we arrived at the bottom of the stairs again, I bought my favorite, Thai iced tea. The prices at these souvenirs shops were much higher and my buddies helped me see that.
We went to a mall food court that looked similar to our food courts in the US, yet with much more options and fresher ingredients. We walked around a lot and struggled to communicate with the buddies what we wanted. Mary and I decided on a roti with banana, which was more like a dessert. Our buddies found us a table and as we snacks they started arriving with more and more food with different plates, saying “try this, try this.” They were eager to see our reactions and happily smiled when we enjoyed. The one soup had congealed chicken blood and fish
maw, which was fish stomach; neither item I knew what it was before eating it. I was not pleased with either of them yet our buddies ate the rest and then much more. I was so full and they were still eating and eating, which I was thankful for as I did not make a dent in their buffet. I was overwhelmed by the food as well as their generosity in treating us. There, I bought three types of tea which were on my souvenir list to buy while in Thailand. We went to the royal gardens after and tried to keep cool with water and popsicles as the temperature increased greatly. A little tram bus took us around the park and we stopped frequently, yet lost stamina quickly. Though jet lag worn us down, our buddies did not look or feel much better and wished for a nap like us. The gardens were beyond beautiful and pictures could not capture the serene flowers and landscape. This was a first time experience for many of our buddies too and I could tell it was a treat for them. Our buddies stayed close by us, holding out arms or putting their
hands on our backs. I’ve noticed this is many other buddies/MC students yet my buddy has not touched me at all except to get close for a picture, even then I often put my arm around him. I see the other male buddies being very affectionate with their buddy, so this is interesting to me. I am more thankfully for this as I would not feel comfortable with a lot of touching so this might just be a blessing. During the day, I am more a follower letting the Thai buddies and students lead me; this is adverse to my normal way of leading. I feel myself feeling a little helpless and confused at what is going on, especially since the buddies figure out directions and plans in Thai so we have no idea what to do but follow.
In the evening, we attended the annual Red Cross Festival on its last night, which was extremely crowded, loud, and overwhelming. This was the only thing that I haven’t enjoyed very much. Contributing to this was tired from the long day of activity (three things in one day, no way!) and I also did not feel comfortable there. The vendors
and game people were very loud and yelled at us to play. I felt selfish because my buddy wanted to do many things but I was not comfortable and wanted to just walk around and stay in a group with other buddies. I got to see lots of things yet it was out of my comfort zone and I was happy to leave at the end. At points, I did not feel very safe and made sure to keep track of the people I was with.
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