So after 28 hours of travel (40 if you include time change) I arrived in Bangkok! The van ride to the hotel was filled with zoning out, but the street where the Red Shirts rioted last summer was pointed out, and it is covered in twinkle lights at night! So pretty!!! Needless to say, I went right to sleep (hopefully I’ll start sleeping through the night soon) and woke up the next morning to start the adventure.
We had a general orientation meeting, which was a nice introduction to the other students and the course. And then we were set free for lunch. Oh my goodness are the streets crazy. We are staying in the backpacking district, so there are food carts EVERYWHERE- just a matter of finding things I can eat. Luckily, there is a girl who was with us who is ethnically Thai, so she served as out translator. Veggie dumplings-YUM!
Later we walked to the Royal Palace and got a tour. I have never seen so many jeweled buildings in my life. Insane architecture mixed with a soft-spoken tour guide led to a disparity of the information I picked up. However, there are elephant gods that bring good luck, lots of respect to Buddha, and snakes with 5 heads that are protecting some of the temples. When we went into the temple to see Buddha, we had to take our shoes off outside and then enter the temple. There was holy water that you apply through a flower on your forehead and when you go in, you don’t point your feet towards Buddha. Wai is when you bring your hands to your heart and bow, and for Buddah you Wai three times all the way down till your forehead almost touches the ground. You do this again before you leave as well.
Instead of taking a cab back, we walked around Bangkok and got lost for the first time! We had the business card of our hotel so it wasn’t bad that we were wandering but there was one moment where we were in a shady fish market and next thing we knew we were behind shops in a scary alley. It all turned out fine though, got back to our block had dinner and then I crashed (to wake up 2 hours later and toss and turn). This morning we have a political lecture so needless to say I am excited. We leave Bangkok tomorrow for a week of orientation and homestay, but I’ll let you know how it goes as soon as I have access.