Tuesday, 5 September 2017

1st Week: Siam Culture

Sawadii ka, everyone!

It's the beginning of September and I've officially been away from home for a whole month. I was focusing on enjoying my time here rather than writing a new post for this platform. My plans have changed drastically and I'm going to experience much more here in Thailand than I thought when I booked and planned this journey back in January. Let me just start from the beginning.



August 5th at 8:15pm my plane took off from Vienna Airport to Bangkok Airport. Luckily it was a direct flight so I didn't have to stress about changing flights and getting my luggage safe to Bangkok.

After the ten hour flight I couldn't sleep at all and almost threw up a couple of times (didn't do it though, whohoo) but at least I could watch lots of movies. After my arrival I had to go through customs which took more than an hour since so many people were in the line that day. Soon I was at the arrival hall and looked for someone from the organisation "Green Lion". After I found my "travel group" (The people I travelled with from the airport to Twinhouse, my accommodation in Singburi) we started our 7 hour trip to said accommodation. We took two incredibly slow trains (note: one of them was called "express train") and two public buses. Thankfully they all had AC because it felt like it was 50°C although it was "only" 35°C.



Five minutes after we finally arrived at Twinhouse we already got to know Thailands heavy rainfalls. It literally poured down like there was no tomorrow. Soon Phil, our main coordinator here, told us basic knowledge about the Twinhouse (when our programs start, when's lunch and dinner etc) and we could finally move into our rooms.

On Monday morning Phil told us something that was, at least for me, a pleasant surprise. He said that there would be far more programs we could do than our agencies advertised on their websites. We can change program every week if we want to. Those other programs include for example a buddhism week at a temple, North and South trips, different kinds of trekking or voluntary work in other provinces. As I already said, I thought I'd be doing the Siam Culture Week in the first week, then 10 weeks at the orphanage and one week at the elephant sanctuary in Kanchanaburi. Now I had plenty other options and was eager to also use the opportunity to see far more of Thailand than I'd expected.


The whole first week we got to know Thailand and its food, people, religion(s) and culture in general. We visited lots of amazing temples and buddha statues and when I say lots, I mean lots. It was super interesting to see how Thai people pray and seek for good luck in their lives. I don't want to describe every day in detail but I'm going to try to give a quick summary of my/our first week in Singburi.




Monday

On Monday we went to the first big buddha statue.

It had a few largeer temples in front of it where we learned how Thai people pray and found out what our lucky colour was, depending on what week day we were born on. You could also try throwing a coin into buddhas hand three times and if you actually did it, the wish you made before will come true.
In the afternoon we learned a little bit about the Thai language; for example how to say hello, thank you, sorry etc.
After dinner Thai students came to Twinhouse and threw a welcome party for us where they danced, sang and played instruments.

Tuesday

On Tuesday we went to Ayutthaya, which was Thailands capital before Bangkok. In a museum we learned a bit about its history and for example how there were no roads, only rivers in Ayutthaya. We obviously saw temples again. The first one was one with lots of statues.

There we could buy gold-orange fabric we could dress the buddhas in and there was also a stairway we went up to see the whole temple from another perspective. We also saw the first laying buddha in this temple.

 
The second temple was a little different. It pretty much only consisted of walls, stairs and statues.

 

It was actually quite interesting because it was basically the remains of Ayutthaya when it was still the capital of Thailand if that makes sense.

On that day we also saw elephants for the first time here but sadly they were the ones you could ride on for a few euros so we weren't all that happy about that since they get abused all their life.

Wednesday


Wednesday was DIY-day. We visited a large handcraft-shop where we could make ourselves some bracelets out of coconut beads.
For lunch we cooked ourselves spicy papaya salad and Pad Thai, which is a meal containing noodles, eggs, greens and different spices.

 
After lunch we went to the local swimming pool which is simply one big swimming pool with a little shop where you can buy instant noodles, crisps and ice cream. We were lucky that, except for about 8 other people, we were the only ones there since all Thai kids were still in school and their parents at work at that time.

For dinner we went to a BBQ restaurant and had, who would have guessed it, Thai BBQ. It was sort of a bowl with a half circle grill on top of it so you can boil things (like noodles) and grill things (like meat, vegetables, tofu,...). It was pretty weird at first but we soon got the hang of it and tried different cooking methods.

Thursday


On Thursday morning we visited the school were the teaching program takes place. We painted pictures of fruits with the kids and tried to teach them a few English words and phrases. We obviously also played a bit with them but weren't there too long.

We then went to another historical museum and after that to the place were the clothes for the royal family are made. We watched women put pearls and beads on fabric, painting pictures and weaving dresses. It wouldn't have been a day in Thailand if we wouldn't have visited another temple. 

We met a monk there whom we prayed to buddha with. 
After dinner we went to a big mall were we mainly bought lots of Thai snacks and sweets.



Friday

On Friday we went to the biggest buddha statue in Thailand. In front of it there was an open air museum where there were lots of statues which showed us what would happen to us in hell if we, for example, lie to our parents or destroy a marriage. It was pretty bizarre and had to do a lot with stabbing and torturing in general.

 


After being scared for life, we finally took a closer look at the massive buddha statue. We could touch his fingers and wish for something. 

Then we had to walk around buddha three times so that the wish would come true. We had a beautiful view over the town and combined with all the Thai and royal family flags it was even prettier.

After lunch we went to the monkey temple. I was pretty excited for that since I usually quite like monkeys. Usually. Our guide told us, if we wanted a monkey to climb on us, we just had to reach out our hands for them to climb up on. Sophie, a friend of mine, did exactly that and got bitten. Yay.

Many volunteers struggled with the monkeys since they basically attacked us and wouldn't let go of our clothes and hair. Three people got scratched/bitten and had to go to the hospital to get themselves checked. They all were fine but since that day, I have mixed emotions about monkeys.
At 5pm almost everybody left Twinhouse to go to Bangkok for the weekend but that's a story for the next post.

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