My language and cultural lessons continued this morning with Sukanya. Feeling a bit quesy in the stomach this morning, I found it hard to focus. I had to make a conscious effort to slow my breathing and calm myself down. Fittingly, we spoke of the holistic perspective of Eastern medicine versus Western/the body and mind connection. I learned how to order vegan food in Thai, say thank you (Khob Khun Ka, which I had always interpretted as Tup Tim Thai.), Eastern religion’s connection to the creation of art (In the East, art is an extention of one’s spiritual path. You don’t study the technical skills of painting, sculpting, etc. in a school; they develop naturally through religious practices in a temple or monastery.) and some of the incarnations of Vishnu. I can tell that Sukanya likes our lessons. She brought several books to further explain some of the material we went over the previous day, the concepts or images she couldn’t articulate as well as she wanted given our language barrier. It is nice to be a student again; it is a role I take seriously and passionately.
The Quiet One was to be my guide for the continuation of the Wat tour in Ayutthaya. I quickly learned that he was not quiet so much as he knew very little English. As we ate lunch, we both had our Thai to English/English to Thai dictionaries in hand, attempting to make conversation. But most of our understanding of each other was facial expressions. I ordered a refill on my lunch of rice with veggies and then we hit the Wats. Without Sukanya, my tour of the ruins was a silent and introspective one. The Quiet One and I occassionally making translations on the things around us (dog, sleeping, transvestite, hot, sun, etc). Here is a pictorial of the day’s ruins:
Dismantled Buddhas are all over the place.
Near a large ruin sight there was a hub of elephants for doting tourists to ride. Sickeningly, they were all dressed up a like rich woman’s poodle, the poor creatures. For a fee you can take a picture with the more playful ones and I had the misfortune of witnessing this silly tourist attract the attention of all the surrounding by-standers. Disgusting. Later in March I will be heading to an Elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai that homes rescue elephants from exploitative tourist operations like this. But it is hard not to smile in the face of a beautiful elephant.
Tomorrow morning I head to my village homestay in the country side until Sunday. Until then…