On December 31, 2013, students learned about Thai traditional massage at the Chetawan School (Wat Po style) in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Fascinating to learn about the meridians that run through the body and how important masseuse posture and pressure are to the impact of the deep muscle massage.
On Monday December 30 we went to a Thai cooking school. We learned how to cook four traditional Thai dishes, including green curry and Pad Thai. This was a great experience! The class was both helpful and eye opening. It was helpful by showing us what ingredients went into some of the popular dishes here in Thailand. This is also helpful for us so we can know what we’re eating and not be afraid of the foods we will be eating for the next few weeks. Our teacher was hilarious and made the experience all the more enjoyable. The class opened my eyes and showed me just how simple cooking Thai food can be. I feel like I can be a master Thai chef now and can’t wait to try making some of the dishes when I return home! (:
Holly demonstrating how cooking Thai food is not a strength of hers. She dropped an egg.
After leaving the airport and getting on the bus to the first hotel in Bangkok, I was in awe, I couldn’t believe we were finally in Thailand. Getting off the bus at the hotel, the first thing that I noticed was the smell. It was not a pleasant smell at all. I’ve been to New York City before and that’s all I could think about. Just the smell of a dirty city. I was exhausted, so it felt nice to actually sleep in a bed finally. In the morning I couldn’t believe breakfast was outside. It was so nice to be able to eat breakfast outside in the beginning of winter.
Becca and I went out and explored around our hotel until we had our meeting. For being a big city it was so quite compared to big cities in America. We were stopped by a Thai man on the corner of the street, and he spoke with us and asked where we were going. We told him we were from America and had an hour to walk around. He gave us directions to the river and a park, even though we didn’t have time to walk there. When we departed he wished us luck and hoped we’d love Thailand. A few minutes later a man in a Tuk Tuk stoppd us and told us, “20 Baht and I will take you around the whole city!” It was so cute, but we had to decline. I was surprised how the taxi and tuk tuk drivers openly ask if you need a ride. In America I feel like it’s such a struggle trying to get a taxi, and it’s so expensive!
After being in Chiang Mai the past few days, I’ve noticed how nice and helpful the people are here too. It’s nothing like in big cities in the States. I was very surprised by some Thai’s english. It really makes me feel ignorant that I can’t speak another language.
So, far my overall first impression is how nice the Thai people are. It’s only been about a week now, and I’m already in love with Thailand. Chiang Mai and it’s people are beautiful. I can’t wait to explore more.
America is loud! Bangkok a city of about 6.3 million people has every ability to be loud, and as weird as it sounds, the traffic even seemed quiet. I began to notice that when our group was on the sky train, or even walking down the street we were twice as loud as any sound nearby.
When on the overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai I woke up early in the morning around 5am. As I opened my window shade we were just puling up to a station. I saw stray dogs fighting, people sleeping on benches, small fires lit to keep warm in houses made from wood and tin, and piles and piles of trash. I believe the most shocking feeling observed in Thailand so far is that such great poverty can exist only steps away from the fanciest store on the street, or in the alley next to the highest class hotel. My mind has not even begun to wrap around this new and beautiful culture I am experiencing. While I see so much need here, my heart breaks as I think about how blessed I am, how much I have been given, and how many opportunities have been offered to me.
As part of the assignments for class we are encouraged to read Travels Tales Thailand. One quote that really struck me was,”…it is my firm belief that travel involves experiences not sights. Real travel is coming across people whose viewpoints are completely different from your own, finding out that you still have much in common, that you can communicate regardless–and that you can learn a lot. Travel is transformation–if the trip shook your ideas up, if the experience changed you, then the journey was a success.”–Michael Buckley
This simple statement really changed the way I hope to experience this trip, it is not just about the amazing sights, it is so much about the people and the culture and beginning to understand not only the Thai culture but to better understand my own as well. I hope very much that by the end of this trip my ideas are shook up, and that I am a changed person.
My second day in Thailand was filled with excitement. To my surprise, Bangkok is quite large in size. Although I was not able to find any Hmong Thai, I was able to see how many Thai people conduct themselves in public. Unlike the Americans, I noticed that Thai people had a much slower pace when it came to walking in public. As I head to Chiang Mai, I know that I am one step closer to my goal of meeting some Hmong Thai people and one step closer to my people, the Hmong.
In the beautiful city of Chiang Mai (New City), there is much to see and much to do and on my second day I was able to get one step closer to answering my question on the similarities and differences of the Hmong Thai and Hmong Americans. Before I begin, I would like to share something about myself and why I am haunted by this question……
Growing up in the small town of Syracuse, New York, I wondered about who I was and where I belong in the world a question my parents often asked themselves. We were not Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, or many of the other common Asian groups but for some reason we were clumped together. With no land, no country, and no way to define who the Hmong were, we considered ourselves the “lost people”. To this day, identity is a huge concern for the Hmong as many of them struggle to redefine themselves in regards to their new country.
……… In the Sunday market of Chiang Mai, I found my a Hmong Thai lady selling hand-crafted goods with traditional Hmong patterns on her goods. I was hesitant to talk to her in Hmong but my desire to find the answers I seek took over. Before I knew it, we were talking in our native tongue. We smiled during our conversation as we talked about our similarities and differences often noting the differences in our accents. Meeting this lady reminded me of home and the struggles and challenges my parents faced in America trying to start over and conforming to the dominant culture in order to survive. With one step closer to answering my personal question, I slowly piece the puzzle pieces together…