Wow! It has been such an incredible (and eventful) past few weeks!
I started the month with my first bout of food poisoning in Thailand, and right when I recovered, I got hit by some illness involving several nights of fever and a bacterial infection in my throat. Not the most pleasant way to start the month of October, but then again, I have now come to think of it almost as a rite of passage.
I’ve been exploring the streets of Bangkok a lot more this month. There is something very calming about just meandering through the narrow streets, headed towards no destination in particular other than the one that feels right in the moment. This sort of aimlessness has allowed me to discover quite a few food places, shops, and sights around where I live, and it has had the added benefit of giving me some much-needed time to myself, away from the social hustle and bustle of the study abroad life.
Last weekend, we ventured off to Koh Kret, which is a small island located in the Chao Phraya river of Bangkok (yes, there is an island in Bangkok). It rained a lot the night before, so when we got there, parts of the island were flooded – we had to wade through knee-deep water at certain points! It was a pretty fun experience – it had a pleasant vibe that created a sharp juxtaposition against the rest of the city, and it was refreshing. We went to an enormous temple where we received our fortunes (which is done by selecting a piece of paper tacked onto the wall, which spells out your destiny at the moment) and witnessed a prayer from a monk. There was a small shop that sold coffee drinks in pottery jugs – which we got to keep! Talk about presentation! And speaking of pottery, apparently the island was famous for its pottery, and sure enough, a few of us got to make our own pottery at the cost of 50 baht – dirt cheap!
In other news, next week is going to be the cremation ceremony of the late king of Thailand, which means that hundreds of thousands of people from all over the country are going to be congregating a few miles from where I live to pay their final respects. Unfortunately, I will not be able to witness the ceremony firsthand as I will be flying out to Indonesia for the next ten days to soak up the Balinese sun for a little bit, but as a Westerner / non-Thai, it is questionable how appropriate it would have been for me to be there even if I could. But it is still a momentous occasion – one that hasn’t happened in over 70 years. It is a strange juxtaposition from United States politics, which goes through a top-down change every four to eight years, but it is absolutely fascinating to be in this country during this once-in-a-lifetime event. Even though I am not a Thai, I can say that I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to study abroad here at such a culturally and politically significant critical juncture in modern Thai history.
I can’t believe that we have now crossed the halfway point for this semester! Time is flying by, and I have now reached the point where I am actively trying my hardest to make it slow down! I am thankful that I chose to study here for an entire year, but it has hit me that there is just so much to do, see, and experience, and not enough time.
After coming back from Indonesia, I will be flying up to Chiang Mai to catch the famous lantern festival there, where they release thousands of lanterns into the skies and into the rivers. It should be beautiful, and I can’t wait!
Until next time,