So Far, In Thailand : Trains, Temples, Tea, and Songkran

Part 1: Trains

It’s 9 PM and I’m aboard a second classu sleeping train from Lopburi to Chiang Mai. I have 9 hours of alone time to kill and a lot of pent up stories, plus I did not have spare room in my backpack to bring The Unbearable Lightness of Being which I’ve been reading in the PH before I left, along with me. So I know that this is the best time to write. It feels like I’ve been putting it off for such a long time now and the memories in my brain need telling.

I’ve been in Thailand for 12 days. 12 days! I know! Yes, I’m still THIS (!!!) giddy excited.

New Year’s Eve of 2016 keeps coming back to me. It was the first time I made a “goals for this year” list. The 22-year-old me wrote “Stay at a different country for 2 weeks just by yourself” wondering if I could really do it. The prospect looked extremely doable. I think I could do it.

It didn’t happen within 2016. But a year passed by, NYE of 2017 came, and the craving to marvel at something new and different- language, food, architecture – didn’t stop. To the contrary, it intensified.

I just knew I had to make it happen. I had to give in to my heart’s incessant begging.

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Now, I’m 2 days closer to that 2016 goal and I plan on staying for another extra week. Why stop at 2 weeks, right? There’s so much more of Thailand to see!

I only need to look back at my life a month ago to know that it has changed drastically. I’ve had so many new experiences in my 2 weeks stay here than, say, the past 3 months in the Philippines.

I’m not saying the PH isn’t awesome. And I’m not saying my life sucked back home either. Oddly enough, even though I thought I wouldn’t, I miss the PH. The want to see more of the world just, by a huge margin, outweighs that feeling. Sorry, mom.

Part 2:  Temples

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One of the main things that brought me to Thailand is its temples, or as they say here, Wats.

A friend back home told me that I only wanted to go to Thailand to look at the wallsof the temples and that is part true. I knew even then that the walls were painted, if not carved, with Thailand’s religious history and were absolutely beautiful.

Now that I’ve actually seen them, I can say that they did not disappoint. Plus the Buddhas here are ENORMOUS – bigger than skyscrapers enormous.

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I’m lucky to have stayed in Ang Thong, a province 2 hours away from Bangkok, where almost every corner has a Wat and the place also houses a few Big Buddhas whose nails are bigger than I am. Plus it’s close to Lopburi and Singburi which also has enough Wats for my eyes.

One of my favourites is Wat Prang Sam Yot – an old temple in Lopburi where monkeys, a lotof monkeys, roam around free. They even go out of the temple area, into the streets doing practically whatever they want to do, and just being kind of badass.

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Another favourite place is Ayutthaya where you can see temple ruins just along the streets, all being casually majestic. Speaking of Ayutthaya, there’s also Ayutthaya’s floating market. The place is also best known for its elephants and though I went to see it, I didn’t go for the famed and expensive elephant ride. I dunno, I just kinda feel bad for them.

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There’s also Bangkok which houses Wat Arun, Wat Pho, and the temples inside The Grand Palace. These are a must-see. They are simply breathtaking and can be easily accessed through the boat taxis.

If you’re like me who looks so Thai, you may want to come to these places with your Thai friends to save money. I went around with some Thai locals and they told me to simply shut up and not speak English so that I wouldn’t be charged the tourist-priced entrance fee. These places are priced almost triple for tourists so… there’s a Thai life hack for the Asian you.

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Anyway, it seems like I visit a different temple almost everyday but it was only once when I actually prayed. It was Songkran day. Thai families visit temples to give thanks and ask for blessings before starting the festivities, and the monk asked us to pray and man, was I out of practice.

When I was little, my parents would pray with me every night and it was easy back then. I only had to list the people I was praying for and ask the heavens what I wanted for them. Little girl me knew my list by heart and recited it easily every night before going to bed.

But now that I’m older, deciding who gets to be in the list gets a bit trickier. Also asking for what I wanted for them becomess less measurable – I just want him to be happy. I want her to realise she’s awesome as she is. I want them to be safe and healthy.

Pressured to make a list at that very moment, when I haven’t had a list for so long, I even realised that I’ve added people there who I haven’t spoken to for a long time. There are people on that list who I thought didn’t deserve to be there but are still there nonetheless.

I guess that’s how you know you truly love/d them.

I wonder if I decide do it again every night, would the list grow longer or shorter? Would I add more people, or subtract?

Would the list keep on drastically changing?

Part 3: Songkran

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Songkran is a three-day event starting from April 13 to April 15. It marks the start of the Thai New Year.

When I booked my ticket, I was not aware of this festival. I may have been the luckiest girl to have spent it with who I consider my second family here in Thailand. We went to the night fests, danced the night away, and joined in on street water fights – It was crazy! (I had no decent Songkran photos for fear that my camera would get wet.)

Plus, there’s an abundance of food. The custom is to offer food to the monks but since there’s so many, everyone is invited to eat at the temple.

The Songkran Festival is rich with Thai culture and history and is best spent with family.

Made me miss mine a little.

But I guess, if your lucky, you can find a family almost anywhere, and in the most unlikely places.

Part 4: Tea

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Not a lot to say about this but I just want to document that I have this weird addiction to Cha Thai (Thai tea). It is so convenient that it only costs 20 baht (around 27PHP or half a dollar) and is sold at almost every corner here.

It’s starting to rival my love for coffee.

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I had my fortune told at one temple. The fortune sticks read that I “will have a good life”.

I would very much like for that to happen, yes please.

Cha Thai cheers to following our stubborn hearts.

Love,

N