Beyond Tourism

I walked down the four flights of stairs with the sound of multiple keyboards and the distant smell of rain. I was able to video chat my wonderful parents and process some of the things I have been learning. I happen to be the only verbal processor here, so it is amazing how technology gives me the opportunity to be able to talk to people who are not living the same experiences I am here. I am still humbled and blessed to have such supportive parents! Thank you Mom and Dad for your loving support and listening to me ramble about all I have been learning. Also a shout out of Happy Birthday to the best mother in the world! I would not be who am, nor would I have had the courage to come to Thailand if it were not for you. 🙂

A little after lunch we rode our bikes to the Doi Saket temple. After attempting to run up the bazillion steps (I am exaggerating, but it was quite the amount of steps), I transitioned to a lunge workout and eventually breached the top. The temple was impressively large with gold figures surrounding the terrace. The paint on the outside was visibly wearing away. As I slipped off my shoes and ascended the stairs to walk inside I could feel the demanding silence. I entered the temple amazed at the structure and grandeur of it. But was confused how Buddhism asks for simplicity, yet it shows the grandness of gold and abundance. The murals on the walls seemed contemporary, but showed the story of Buddha. I was taken aback from a couple of the statues that seemed almost real. I walked around the outside of the temple and marveled at the view of Doi Saket. After we descended the bazillion steps, we went to the Tuesday market. It was far less touristy than the other markets and we got to experience every day life for people living in Doi Saket and the surrounding villages. The vibe was different than the other markets we have been to. It was vibrant with life, authenticity, and we even saw a few of the Lahu students we live near. I was content with just watching life happen. People were selling vegetables, fish, rice cakes, fried crickets (not sure how I feel about this), shoes, clothes, donuts, drinks, and even towels. People smiled and were friendly.

With the opportunity of studying abroad I am able to see beyond tourism. I am able to experience what every day life is like. I may not be able to capture every moment that I see, but I am processing all that I am presented with. It is truly an incredible experience and I am blessed to be able to live in a new culture.


Bethany Jane

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