I am finally in Thailand! It is an amazing city, and really cool to look out of our hotel room and see temples and shrines, instead of only typical city buildings. I got here a day before my program started, and met up with a few of the people from my program who also decided to explore a little beforehand as well. There were about 8 of us there (my program has 30 people), and we spent the first day (Friday), walking around the city. The best part of the day was going on a boat ride through Bangkok, which went to a "floating market." We found out later that the floating market was closed that day, but we still got to tour around for 2 hours and see parts of Bangkok that are usually not seen by tourists. We also got to meet up with some of the program interns (people who went on this program in college, and are now working for CIEE after they graduated) and went out to dinner and a bar. One funny thing that happened at the bar was an interaction with a little boy (he looked about 8 or 9) who was selling roses. In the States, when people come up to you to sell stuff on city streets, they are usually just brushed away. But here, everyone was so friendly that it really took me aback. We talked to him for 5 minutes about where he is from, where he usually sells roses, etc. And then, when Tyler (the guy on my program who he was trying to sell to) said he didn't want a rose, the boy said that he would thumb wars him to see what happened. If the boy won Tyler would have to buy two roses, and if Tyler won the boy would give him two roses for free. Needless to say the boy won, which was pretty funny. .
Yesterday was the official start of the program, and was CRAZY busy. we started our orientation by doing name games (of course) and then did this game where you have to pile fifteen nails on top of one nail which is stuck in a piece of wood. My group came up with this way of piling the nails on top of each other to balance on top of the first nail, which came at a shock to our program director, since the game was supposed to be impossible and teach us about teamwork or something. But yeah he said that it had never been done before so we felt like champions for awhile hahah. We also went through the schedule of the program and we are SO BUSY. Our first"free day" is two weeks from now, so it is kind of overwhelming.
Tomorrow we leave for an orientation site in the mountains, where we dont have internet access or anything. Then, on friday, we head into a homestay for a couple of days. After that homestay, we go to Khon Kaen, where I will meet my Thai roommate and get settled into my room. However, we are only in Khon Kaen for a day, and then move into another homestay for a week. We also got told about the past programs, and it is really impressive what this CIEE Thailand program has accomplished. I guess they assisted the Thai government in coming up with the first human rights contract ever in the country. Program students have also helped set up a wide variety of NGOs in the Isaan region (where Khon Kaen is) relating to farming rights, HIV/AIDS education, etc. Basically this program is exactly what I am interested in, and I am so excited to really get involved in the community. The program director, who is hilarious and really cool, is really committed to getting us into the villages, and having us meet people, so I am pretty much psyched to get this semester started. The kids on my program are also really friendly and have similar interests as me...many of them are mini Mother Theresa's, which is kind of intimidating, but we are going to have a good time!
Sooo...that was a long tangent, but yesterday was a lot of fun and was highlighted by our night time fun. A bunch of us decided that, since we are in Bangkok, we had to go to the red light district just to explore. So we went last night, and ended up at a club playing 90's covers. It was a really fun night, and I can provide some pretty good stories later on if people want to hear them. Then today, we all went on a walking tour of Bangkok (most of the sites I had seen on my first day here), but we got to see a couple more markets, which was fun. We also went to the Grand Palace, which was AMAZING. We had a really funny tour guide, who showed us around for a couple of hours. Everything is covered in gold, diamonds, and jewels, and is absolutely beautiful. Although the King does not live there anymore, he still visits, so everything is constantly being renovated (they have to put new gold sheets on when they fade). I completely forgot to bring my camera, but I had friends take pictures for me so people can see then later in they would like.
Alright, that is a lot of writing for now, but I won't have internet for a week or so, so it will be a bit until I can write again! I am pretty bummed that I am going to miss the inaguration, but the interns are trying to figure out a way that we can see it when we are out in the mountains. On a side note, Obama is HUGE here. It is cool to see how much people are in support of America right now. Also, just to dim any worries, Bangkok/Thailand is completely safe, and everyone I have talked to here is really friendly. Everybody is always smiling and wanting to hear about who you are and where you are from. It is such a change from the States, and I love it! Alright I have to go, miss you all!!
A Buddhist View of Human Rights and Development
5 years ago