Sunday, July 09, 2006

489: New Friends and Old Traditions

One of the things I love most about being here at this conference is the chance to meet new people. My roommate is a summer volunteer from Oklahoma Baptist University, and he and his friends are pretty cool. They've also been doing the "work in Thailand all summer" thing and the "getting to know them" process has been quite enjoyable. We went to a Mexican restaurant tonight, and although my policy is still "it's not real Mexican unless it's made by real Mexicans," it was pretty scrumptious.

We hopped a song taow to head back to the hotel. (Thail culture lesson: A song taow literally means, "two benches." The two benches are mounted along the bed of a standard pick-up truck and a canopy/shell is placed over the top. They are used for public transportation at a nominal price.) After a bit, though, we hit a pretty nasty traffic snarl, and we decided to pay the man and walk the rest of the way. The traffic jam was caused by a parade, a parade in honor of Buddhist Lent, which apparantly starts tomorrow. Floats featured scenes from Buddhist mythology, large saffron-orange candles, and other religious and cultural elements. The Buddha taught that in the months of the rice harvest, monks are not to go out into the villages/towns to beg for food. Instead, they are to stay in the temple and meditate, etcetera. They don't have to fast completely, though, as people still tam boon and bring offerings of food and personal items to them.

The parade was so beautiful yet so tragic. It was beautiful in its expressions of culture, as people wore native dress, danced native dances, and played native drum music. The tragedy... Well, I think that that speaks for itself. I got some good pictures and will post them online when I can, but I always feel the way reporters must feel when they snap snots of dead bodies after a battle.


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