Balance and harmony permeate several aspects of Thai culture, shaping the people, environment, and my experience of Thailand.
This first came to my attention earlier in the semester when Acharn Cathy talked about how people smile a lot in Thailand and avoid showing anger in order to preserve harmonious relationships with others. Being in Thailand now, I have seen how these social norms play out. I’ve noticed how the drivers of our vans remain very outwardly calm as they drive through the city, even if someone cuts them off or drives too close to them. Of course there are exceptions, like a few times when a driver gave a quick and gentle “beep” to other drivers, but for the most part they haven’t expressed a lot of anger or road rage.
Meals are also crafted in a way that embodies balance and harmony in both their flavors and presentation. When we went to the Thai cooking school, the woman who was teaching us made sure to identify the flavors in each dish and how they interacted with each other, and the way she arranged her food on the plates was visually appealing. I’ve noticed similar food aesthetics in the other places we’ve eaten too, like the Garden Cafe.
Finally, I’ve noticed how the presence of nature is welcomed into many of the indoor spaces we’ve visited. For example, the cooking school had very few walls, which allowed for bugs and geckos to freely move between the cooking area and the outdoors. We also went to the Chiang Dao school where we spent a lot of the afternoon in a gymnasium with huge arches leading to the outside
I have really enjoyed experiencing Thai culture, and I look forward to learning more over these next two weeks.