After a few days getting settled in Chiang Mai, I’m finally starting to get the feel of Thailand. Multiple trips to the night markets have shown me hundreds of booths but not a lot of variety in the products they sell. Riding to the market hanging off the back of a truck full of people made me feel like a little kid again. The experience of both the market and the ride to the market makes me wish laws back in the U.S. were more lax, it makes things more fun. Cooking class brought me back to my very first job cooking at a Mongolian grill, and the food was very good. The monk chat was very interesting to me as someone who is not religious at all. The Buddhist philosophy is something I can see myself looking into a lot more and meditation is a practice that has interested me for a long time. I cannot wait to experience the new year here in Chiang Mai and am beyond excited for all the activities that lie ahead in 2014 here in Thailand.
Post by Tom Lonergan
Thailand. What an incredible place. From the high rise buildings in Bangkok to the gorgeous views of the jungle on the train ride to Chiang Mai, this country has impressed me from the moment we touched down. The people are always smiling and friendly to all. I am shocked by how many people can speak English here and I’ve had very limited communication issues. Despite accidentally ordering chicken organs from a road side vendor, the food has otherwise been delicious. I haven’t spent more than 4 US dollars at any given place to eat and have always received generous portions. Despite looking almost the opposite of the local people, I feel like I fit in with many other European tourists that are all over the areas we have visited so far. The shopping has shown me better deals than I could ever dream of back in the states, the dollar goes incredibly far here. While sitting on the 9350 mile plane ride here unable to sleep with the passenger in front of me reclining into my knees, I couldn’t help but ask myself if it was really going to be worth it to travel this far to see Thailand. Now that I’m here, the answer is a resounding yes
Post by ~Mike. Kruger
Coming into winter break, it was difficult for me to think of much else besides my upcoming trip to Thailand. I would lie awake at night conjuring up images of what to expect and how I would react to different environments and situations. It turns out that most of these assumptions were wrong.
I have been in Thailand for four days and I have already learned so much about myself. It was very interesting to see how Buddhism influences the country, for example at message school they were really calm and they blessed the person which came from the Buddhism teachings. The monk chat was my favorite part of the trip and learning about the lives of monks and Buddhism, I always thought of Buddhism as a religion but from listening to the monk I now understand that it is a way of life it’s a philosophy that focuses on the individuals and bettering themselves so they can better their surroundings. It was interesting to compare and contrast Islam to Buddhism and how much similarities were there between them. The main thing I found interesting between the two of them was not planning anything and staying in the present, the reason behind this in Buddhism was to help the individual to avoid suffering and disappointment and the Islamic reason for not planning was to have faith and trust in God that He has a plan for you. I also found it interesting that being a monk was a way of cleansing one’s self and taking control of their mind through meditation and leading a simple life. The elders house Baan Thammapakorn was an amazing experience I really loved seeing the elders and how happy they were, the home was very different than American homes for elders but there was a sense if belonging in the Thai homes. They took care of each other before their caretakers there was one instance when we gave them lunch there was one table that one of the ladies didn’t receive a plate and before she said anything the ladies sitting with her said something to us, it was an amazing experience and I had a wonderful time with them. If this was only the first four days I can’t wait to see what the rest of the trip will be like
Well after many days (I may be being a bit drastic) we are finally stationary for more than a day and does it feel good to not be moving. I think that I wasn’t in Bangkok long enough to really take a lot of things in, other than the smells that were constantly there. The city was very quiet because of the holiday that the Thai’s were observing. Coming into Chang Mai, there are no words for what I am experiencing. The Thai people are so kind and love to try and speak English with us and help us and are very curious as to what we are doing here. So far we have visited a Thai massage place, participated in a Thai cooking class, a monk chat, and then a visit to the elders’ home. The Thai massage was interesting how they looked differently at the body and how massage healed. The cooking class was a good introduction to the Thai food and gave me some ideas on what to eat and to order. It also showed me how spicy the Thai people like their food!! The monk chat and elder’s visit was so eye opening. How the monks view their happiness versus how I knew happiness was so different. The monks speak about living in total and complete happiness, but their happiness is only within themselves. They believe that if they are in a relationship, it can cause pain and suffering and they want to avoid that. For me, pain and suffering means personal growth and growing towards the future. The words future and past are not apart of the monk’s thoughts, like we, as American’s, are always thinking about. We are constantly reflecting, and writing, about how our past experiences affect us now, and have changed us. Visiting the elder’s house was so uplifting, so far one of the best things I have done here. It was so warming to feel how happy and excited they were to see us. Some even knew how to speak a good amount of English! It brought tears to my eyes more than once to see how happy they were to be living in the elder’s house, when all I could think about was how miserable my grandmother was to be living in the same situation, but it a much higher quality place. It was so different how the elders loved being with company and cherished their food, and my grandmother would pick apart her food and hated almost every meal. It was so miserable to watch her pass away in that setting a few months ago. Being with the elders made me think about my grandmother and her happier spirited self before she passed.
My first impression of Thailand was a little clouded at first. When we first got off the plane I was exhausted and the smell was intoxicating. After a good night sleep it finally set in, I was in Thailand! This was the farthest I had ever been from home, and I couldn’t wait to experience this country in its entirety. After walking around I kind of started to worry. The smell of the city was overpowering and I was worried I might not be able to handle it, but once we got on the train and headed to Chang Mai I started to feel better. Once we arrived in Chang Mai I was glad to see trees and more nature. Chang Mai is such a beautiful city, and I’m excited to go around the city.