29 November 2006
Thailand is the world's top importer of these convenient little vehicles. Here is a photo of some of them parked outside of Starbucks.
And yes, Chiang Mai has at least 2 Starbucks, although the prices are waaaaay over the heads of local people, so I try not to go there. I want to make a statement about overly expensive chains spreading out all over countries that have lots of other good things to offer without tempting the youth with luxurious items they can ill afford.
As another example, Thais make really good fried chicken, but the young people would rather go to KFC. It's more expensive but is not as fresh, and it just makes some big shot in America richer. I'd rather support the locals, and would love to see the tourists do the same!
23 November 2006
I'd like to tell you about my conversation last Sunday with Jajuu, the monk.
We were talking about Buddhism and reincarnation, about how doing good gets you a better position in your next life, and doing wrong sends you to a "worse" life. According to Jajuu, it is also possible that, if you sin a lot in one life, you might have to spend some time in hell paying for it, even before you are reborn. Then, when you are re-born, you'd probably find yourself more disadvantanged than in your previous life.
Later in our time together, he asked me how Christianity works, so to speak. I talked about how we have 2 kinds of life--physical (temporary) and spiritual (eternal), and that in our eternal lives, we can only be with God if we are sinless. Since no one is sinless, Jesus paid for our sin on our behalf (contrast this to the person in his story above, who had to put in his time in hell) so we could go to him for help and be washed clean.
He spent a lot of time reflecting on this. Eventually he asked, "Why did God make it so easy?"
I had never pondered this question myself.
In that moment, the answer washed over me and sent the tears flowing... creating an uncomfortable scene for my Thai friend, as Thais dislike emotional outbursts. Thankfully Jajuu is a patient, kind person.
So. Why is it so easy? God could have made it really difficult to pay back all our sins. But he didn't. He made it really easy for us because he wants us to be with him so badly. He is so good, so full of grace, so giving, so full of true love, that he made it that easy.
Jajuu declared, "I learned a lot about Christianity today." And my relationship with God grew stronger, too.
Yep. Just another Lord's Day at a Buddhist Temple in Thailand.
15 November 2006
PHOTO: (Legal) Burmese merchants entering Thailand for the day to sell their goods
The land is quite beautiful, and I like the people and their language. You should hear their singing! So strong and full.
08 November 2006
07 November 2006
I enjoyed watching the festivities from the Riverside Restaurant here in Chiang Mai. A krathong is a little boat make from flowers and banana leaves, and also has a candle or incense. It is floated down the river as a prayer.
Often a guy and a girl who like each other will float one together, meaning they will be lovers in this life or a future life.
People also light a fire under paper lanterns, floating them up to the sky. So many of them! The full moon, the sky full of lanterns, relaxing along the river... it was so nice!
Fireworks were going off everywhere, too. It was really festive, since anyone could buy them and set them off (even the big ones!). However, I was a bit fearful of being hit by one as I walked home that night!
01 November 2006
While it's a sign of hospitality in English, in German it's more of a put-down, like we might say, "Why don't you get it YOURSELF?!"
What's that? (with a rising tone)
We say it to mean, "I didn't hear you. Could you repeat that?" but she understands it literally, meaning we didn't understand one of the words in the sentence and need an explanation.
These days, it's slang for "No way!" "Wow!" or "You're kidding me!" and is meant in a positive way, but my German friend hears it as a rude command.
You can imagine what she felt like her first few days here, if the dialogue went something like this:
Rahel: Thank you for letting me stay at your house.
Karis: No problem! If you need anything just ask me, and feel free to HELP YOURSELF!
(Rahel thinks I hate her)
Rahel: I finally got that phone call I was waiting for!
Brittany: SHUT UP!
(Rahel thinks Brittany hates her)
Rahel: Sawatdee kha. ("Hello" in Thai.)
Mark: WHAT'S THAT?
(Rahel thinks, Hmmm... he's been in Thailand for 5 years and still doesn't know the common greeting??)
My friend had to hide in her room for a few days (just kidding!) but we now have some pretty good inside jokes.