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Friday, December 27: Day 249 – Ayutthaya

We are surprised at all the visible trash that we see everyday. It makes me think about trash every moment. In the USA we take our trash away so it isn’t constantly on our minds. Not so here. Also, I think that it gives us a feeling of thrown away. It is somewhere!!!

I wonder what impact it would have if when I went outside to get my mail, I had to see the trash that I have accumulated…or if I went to the beach and had to sit beside all the trash that beach-goers had made. Would I become more committed to not contributing to it, or would I become numb to the fact and just figure that this is the way it is?

In microbiology we study population growth in bacteria. It is certainly comparable to all population growth. We study the limiting factors in a test tube which are that a population will eventually die if it runs out of food or die in its own waste products.

Five top plastic polluters in the world are: China, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia. Sri Lanka is sometimes listed in the top five. These countries are responsible for 60% of the plastic in the ocean.

China produces 28% of the global plastic pollution.

The Coca-Cola brand is the number one plastic found.

I read an extremely interesting article about what can be done on an individual level. It isn’t the three R’s any more. Now it is

  • Rethink
  • Refuse
  • Reduce
  • Re-choose
  • Repair
  • Reuse
  • Recycle

The Big Seven

I came across another article that had an additional R for Rot.

Bangkok has the record for the longest city name in the world. The full name is “Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit.”

Even the Thai people need a song to help them remember it. Bangkok is the name that tourists use. It is shorter and means olive tree.

We’re starting to learn a few words of Thai. The greeting for Thai people is different if a man says it or a woman says it.

Women’s greeting: Sa wa dee ka. If you hold on to the last syllable, that shows respect. kaaaaaaa.

Men say: Sa wa dee krab but since they really can’t say krab, it is pronounced: Sa wa see kub. Men don’t hold on to the last syllable.

Women’s thank you: Kob khun ka. Again, say kaaaaaaa

Men’s thank you: Kob khun krab

Americans say, “Hi, how are you?” and we don’t really expect a response.

In Thailand after their greeting, they inquire about food and don’t really expect a response. It might sound like this “Hi, how are you? Have you had breakfast?”

Food is served family style and all at the same time. They don’t have individual courses like appetizers and the main course. Thai food is often too spicy for Westerners.

Kitchens traditionally have not been included in a house since cooking is done with charcoal. This makes lots of smoke. Cooking is done outside the residence. Maybe that is why there are lots of street stalls with grills.

The ripe fruit of the papaya are sweet. The green papaya is used for salads. Watermelons are round and have seeds.

Rice was grown one time per year, but now a different type is grown two times per year.

Halloween is popular here. There is no trick or treat, but they dress up and go out with friends.

During that time of year, they have the best quality of something such as apple. They also have an associated beauty pageant: Miss Apple, for example.

Chang means elephants. In the past, only kings and the royal family were allowed to ride elephants.

The flag is red, white and blue. Blue stands for the royal family, red for the land, and white for Buddhism.

Thai people perform cremation after death. The Chinese bury their dead. There are Chinese cemeteries since 14% of the population of Thailand is Chinese.

There is a gap between rich and poor. Only government workers receive a pension. The country believes that it is the children’s responsibility to take care of aging parents.

Thailand has three seasons: hot, rainy, and winter. Right now it is winter – today a low of 75°F, a high of 94°F!

Today we took a day tour out of Bangkok. First we rode to the Bang Pa-In Summer Palace in a minibus with 4 other tourists and our guide. What was once a palace was converted into a summer residence for the king when the capital moved to Bangkok. It was rebuilt in European style.

These beautiful statues came from Greece, however, our guide who was knowledgeable about the palace and temples didn’t know what goddesses they represent.

Like in Cambodia, here it is important to know the day of your birth. The king was born on a Monday so anything associated with the king is yellow.

The color will change for the next king…unless he is born on Monday as well.

Monday – Yellow
Tuesday – Pink
Wednesday – Green
Thursday – Orange
Friday – Blue
Saturday – Purple
Sunday – Red

The name of our guide from Get Your Guide is Jenny.

Her real name is Oh, but it became confusing when clients would say “Oh, wow” or “Oh, look at that.” Here is our van.

Thailand is known as the land of smiles. They smile when happy or sad. When they don’t know what you are saying, they smile and scratch their heads. They are shy and want life to be smooth. Thai people love air conditioning.

They used to keep squirrels as pets, but the squirrels escaped and now live all over.

In the water one can feed carp, rhinoceros fish, turtles, tilapia, and even a water monitor. It is very shy and looks like an alligator. If you see one, you are considered lucky.

And VERY lucky if you see it swimming. And we did! Watch here:

The king would climb this tower at night to look at the stars and during the day to look at the rice fields and animals, real or topiary.

The Chinese built this dwelling as a thank you gift for the king. Thailand traded rice with China for silk and pottery.

In the past the education of women involved dancing, cooking, flower arranging, and vegetable carving.

Parents in Thailand support the education of all children. Education until the age of 15 is compulsory. The school day is from 8:30-4:00. However, the children must arrive at 8:00am in order to sing the National Anthem. If they are late, there is a penalty such as running around the building.

Everyday the National Anthem is played at 8am and 6pm. When this happens, everyone stops what they are doing and stands up and stands still.

The students have great respect for their teachers. They are very shy and afraid that they might say the wrong thing. Teachers try to get the students to talk more.

Thailand has public and private schools. Uniforms are worn even in the university.

Times have changed. No longer do just the men get an education. Woman even have jobs.

Woman still ask, “How was your day? Are you tired?’

And when the man says that he is thirsty and would like a glass of water. She tenderly asks for him to bring one for her as well.

Near the temples, there are plastic bags containing fish, eels and turtles for sale. People buy the animals to set free in the water. This is to bring luck:

Turtle – long life

Eel – good work

Fish – health

Here we are at a floating market which ended up being a bunch of stores selling “handicraps” (how Jenny Oh pronounced it) at the edge of the water!

Ayutthaya was a capital city from the 2nd century to the 18th century. In 1991 it was declared a UNESCO world heritage site. The capital was moved to Bangkok due to land wars with Burma (now called Myanmar). Myanmar destroyed temples which made people very sad and crushed their spirit.

The temples were made of bricks with plaster applied over the bricks. Next decorations of colored glass were applied. Note the pigeon in flight:

Even though Myanmar burned down the city, the two countries are friends now.

Long ago at Wat Mahatat a Buddha head fell off a statue to the ground. People thought that it would be disrespectful to leave it there so they put the head on a tree. Years later, the tree limbs have grown around it.

We took a picture with the famous head of the Buddha. It was really hard to get comfortable since our feet can’t point forward AND our head must be lower than Buddha’s AND we have to sit on a one inch platform AND smile AND not tick off the Buddha police while about two dozen people are waiting to do the same acrobatic feats!!!

When a Buddha breaks, a new one is made as the broken one is not allowed to be repaired.

Thailand has had four capitals. When the capital was in Ayutthaya, there were 34 kings. Here are the stupas for kings 8, 9 and 10. Now the capital is Bangkok, and there have been 10 kings to date.

There is a popular, huge bronze Buddha where people come and have their fortune told.

I guess that it is like a fortune cookie because you can be happy if it is good and throw it away if you don’t like it.

One shakes sticks with numbers on it, and whatever number comes out one gets a piece of paper with your fortune on it.

My stick was #10 so all of us number 10’s got the same fortune of:

Rob got #3:

…and he threw his away!! Me, too!!!

Ladyboy refers to transgender women (who were men). The people of Thailand accept the ladyboys and speak kindly of them. The people feel that their situation is because of a wrong done in a past life.

Ladyboys showcase their talents in calypso or cabaret shows. Many are very beautiful.

A ladyboy is tall, speaks in a soft voice and continues to have an Adams apple. Operations in Thailand are allowed.

The Thai calendar is different. In the past before a calendar existed, they would use the moon, half-moon and water level to mark the date.

The year is 2562 BE today.

Just subtract 543 from the Thai calendar or add 543 to our calendar.

Can you tell that we were hungry for a good old hamburger?!?

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