Headed to Thailand!

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Headed to Thailand!

Postby withoutcolour » Tue Aug 03, 2010 6:59 pm

Hi all,

You might know me, but for the most part I keep quiet and just read here on dhammawheel.
Anyway, thought I'd start a thread about my trip to Thailand -- I am leaving Aug 6 (this Friday)... I am going there to volunteer with elephants in Phetchaburi province (for 3 weeks), then I'm spending 2 days in Bangkok visiting the big temples (Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Pho, Wat Arun and Wat Mahathat) and getting tattoos ( :twothumbsup: ).
There's an internet cafe near the animal sanctuary, so I figure I'll update this thread periodically with my experiences, sort of like a travelogue, and people can use it as a reference if they ever visit Thailand.

I'm very excited. I taught myself to speak the language (conversationally), and as a Theravadin Buddhist, it will be quite *enlightening* to say the least (hehe, pun intended). I'm especially thrilled to see the Emerald Buddha at Wat Phra Kaew and also visit the cave Buddhas in Phetchaburi. Many photos to come!

-Brianna
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ
sabbe sattā sukhita hontu
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Re: Headed to Thailand!

Postby jcsuperstar » Tue Aug 03, 2010 7:26 pm

chok dee!

also go see wat asokaram in bangkok, it was ajahn lee's temple. climb golden mount too, you can look out over bankok and be standing right there with the buddha's relics!

also as for internet cafes last time i was there they were everywhere so if you want access you'll find it.
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the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: Headed to Thailand!

Postby withoutcolour » Tue Aug 03, 2010 9:29 pm

Korb kun mahk ka -- for the advice and for the well wishes!
The script you helped me decipher (in both our signatures) is going on my arm in less than a month! :D
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ
sabbe sattā sukhita hontu
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Re: Headed to Thailand!

Postby Tex » Wed Aug 04, 2010 5:48 pm

Have an awesome, safe trip. Looking forward to the pics.
"The serene and peaceful mind is the true epitome of human achievement."-- Ajahn Chah, Living Dhamma

"To reach beyond fear and danger we must sharpen and widen our vision. We have to pierce through the deceptions that lull us into a comfortable complacency, to take a straight look down into the depths of our existence, without turning away uneasily or running after distractions." -- Bhikkhu Bodhi
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Re: Headed to Thailand!

Postby AdvaitaJ » Thu Aug 05, 2010 12:08 am

withoutcolor,

Be safe -- and do post often! I'd love to do what you're doing and will look forward to your updates.

Vicarious regards: Jim
The birds have vanished down the sky. Now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and me, until only the mountain remains.
Li Bai
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Re: Headed to Thailand!

Postby alan » Thu Aug 05, 2010 7:15 pm

And send photos of elephants!
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Re: Headed to Thailand!

Postby withoutcolour » Thu Aug 05, 2010 8:16 pm

alan wrote:And send photos of elephants!


I'll have the elephants type up a post to you guys :tongue:
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ
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Re: Headed to Thailand!

Postby withoutcolour » Thu Aug 12, 2010 1:41 pm

Hello
Just popping on quicky to let you all know how it's going.
I am currently in Phetchaburi... I've been caring for the elephants for around 4 days so far. The animal refuge is so huge -- it has hundreds of animals in gorgeous enclosures taken care of by volunteers and caring staff. Everyone works very hard for the conservation effort, and all of the animals are very happy.
My days consist of waking up at 6am, feeding the elephants, cleaning their enclosures, and spending the day on and off feeding them, washing them and just generally making sure they're okay. We also go harvest the food for the elephants and provide them with enrichment to stimulate their minds. Some elephants are also cared for by mahouts -- the mahouts allow the elephants to sleep in the rainforest at night, as they normally would were they wild, but they are taken care of us during the day, as they are actually considered domestic. The mahouts are really great fun to be around, very silly.
The Thai staff is very friendly and appreciate when you try to speak Thai with them. They all smile and wai at you.
Most of the people here are from the UK ... I am the only American. As expected, I am picked on and discriminated against for it. A lot of people told me that they're surprised how nice I am considering I'm from America. And folks make fun of my accent as well.
There are a few French girls who are really very sweet but don't speak alot of English or Thai. I've been trying to help them out, speaking slowly and giving them a hand.

Overall, the work is pretty hard... but worth it. I'm very happy I'm here.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ
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Re: Headed to Thailand!

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Aug 13, 2010 1:05 am

Hi WithoutColour,

Thanks for the interesting report.
withoutcolour wrote:Most of the people here are from the UK ... I am the only American. As expected, I am picked on and discriminated against for it. A lot of people told me that they're surprised how nice I am considering I'm from America. And folks make fun of my accent as well.

Pity about that. As I think I've said before, when I lived in Hong Kong a couple of decades ago it was (a few!) people from the UK who were the most annoying ---- they made sure everyone knew how the world should be organised... Admittedly they did organise much of the world until the middle of last century, but things have slipped a bit since then...

Mike
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Re: Headed to Thailand!

Postby withoutcolour » Wed Aug 18, 2010 5:41 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi WithoutColour,

Thanks for the interesting report.
withoutcolour wrote:Most of the people here are from the UK ... I am the only American. As expected, I am picked on and discriminated against for it. A lot of people told me that they're surprised how nice I am considering I'm from America. And folks make fun of my accent as well.

Pity about that. As I think I've said before, when I lived in Hong Kong a couple of decades ago it was (a few!) people from the UK who were the most annoying ---- they made sure everyone knew how the world should be organised... Admittedly they did organise much of the world until the middle of last century, but things have slipped a bit since then...

Mike


Actually it's all in good fun now... like I said, people were expecting a rude ignorant American and got little ol' me... :)
Everyone is really nice... I will certainly report more when I have more time. I took some killer photos and I'm going to the local temple soon to go check it out. :)
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ
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Re: Headed to Thailand!

Postby adosa » Wed Aug 18, 2010 10:13 pm

In my travels I found that rude and ignorant wasn't the sole purvey of Americans. In fact that view is rude and ignorant.


adosa
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Re: Headed to Thailand!

Postby withoutcolour » Fri Sep 03, 2010 2:19 am

UPDATE
Sorry it took so long! I was having trouble uploading photos! But now I am home and here's some pics!

I'm not sure how to post the photos individually, but here is the album on flickr!
http://www.flickr.com/photos/50381808@N ... 952489677/

Essentially, I spent 3 weeks at this animal refuge... which didn't contain just elephants, there were all sorts of animals there; gibbons, tigers, macaques, bears, iguanas, civets, binturongs, etc. But, I just worked with elephants... for the most part. I spent two days in the other section of the center because they were short on volunteers (I sacrified my day off!). :)
A typical day consisted up getting up at 6, going to the elephant enclosures and feeding them and cleaning their enclosures. We go back several times during the day to clean and replace their water, give them baths (by climbing onto them and washing their backs in the water -- I have pictures enclosed of me doing that), and continually feed them. All of the elephants there have been through such horrible experiences -- all of them have experienced something called the phajaan, which is a process in which mahouts or elephant trainers will tie an elephant up and beat, torture and starve it until it's ready to give up, and then it submits to them. The trainer then can control the animal from then on. It's such a sad thing knowing these sweet majestic animals have gone through such an ordeal. They are still so trusting -- they will come up and rest their trunk on you. But some of them still exhibit begging behavior (from being forced to beg on the streets), such as "dancing", where they will sway back and forth almost obsessively. It's sad to watch.
There were also two elderly (>70 years) elephants that required special care. There is a photo in there of an elephant with purple marks on it, which is antibiotic ointment. These two elephants underwent similar experiences, where they were chained up in someone's backyard and starved nearly to death. They are now under special care and diets at the animal sanctuary. When you work with these animals for the day, you spend the day chopping up fruit for them (one of them doesn't have any teeth) and making special balls made of thoroughbred horse food and bananas. It's so sweet, they wait patiently by the fence while you make their food. And they are so sweet to the vet to cleans their wounds.
It made me so sad to leave. I made such close bonds with the elephants (and of course, the other volunteers). I would love to go back, and I would recommend anyone go there.
I also included some photos of the tattoos I got (one is a Gao Yord -- not done in the traditional sakyant method though, and the other is Thai for "may all beings be happy" -- see my signature).
Also included are pictures of me visiting Wat Phra Kaew (The Grand Palace, Emerald Buddha) and Wat Pho (enormous reclining Buddha).

Enjoy!! :)

Also, it definitely helped to learn a little Thai -- it prevented me from getting ripped off a few times, and the Thai folks definitely appreciate it when you give it a try. They were all very sweet about it.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ
sabbe sattā sukhita hontu
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Re: Headed to Thailand!

Postby Kim OHara » Fri Sep 03, 2010 7:58 am

I'm glad you had such a good time.
I enjoyed Thailand, too, when I was there for a holiday a year ago. Nice people and lifestyle, interesting culture; I would like to go again and stay longer. I've been thinking of building the (still very hypothetical) trip round a meditation retreat ...
:namaste:
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