Getting reacquainted with Thailand

NOTE: Pictures and further edits to follow. Please be patient, and keep checking back!

Well, I made it! I finally arrived in Bangkok late Friday night – that would be after an hour drive to Indianapolis, one hour flight to Chicago, thirteen hour flight to Tokyo, Japan, [losing my passport in the Tokyo airport and learning you can, indeed, break out in a cold sweat from every pore in your body (p.s. I found my passport)] and another 6 hour flight to Bangkok. While I’m a happy solo-traveler, it was a relief to travel with three of the students joining our Study Abroad team, and arrive with friends by my side.

We spent the first evening sorting out hotel rooms, and then exploring a nearby open-air bar with live music. With ten people on the study abroad team this year (8 students, our professor and myself), exploring late at night is quite exciting, even if most of us had been traveling for twenty-seven straight hours. Who needs sleep anyway?! Sleeping in until 11:30 am the next morning, I’m beginning to think sleep just might have few benefits. We’ll see if I my attitude continues to mature… That day was lowkey, with a late-afternoon trip into the city to visit Chatuchak (JJ) market. Upon entering the teeming streets of Bangkok, all sense of calm left and the chaos insanity whirlwind excitement of Thailand was embraced. Wondering what JJ market feels like? Imagine your dining room, cut it in half and squeeze 50% of your belongs into it. That’s JJ market.

After that exhausting day, we hit the hay early (after a delightful dinner with rice delivered in the shape of a teddy-bear), and a harrowing taxi ride. Welcome to Bangkok!

This morning, the group met our Thai counterparts to discuss the first of our two workshops, this time working alongside Masters students and PhD candidates. On this trip last year, although I was in a leadership/assistant position, I was also a student fully involved in a the aspects of each project and daily activity. This year, however, I’m creating a visual diary of the projects to share with future students. Instead of thinking of ways to improve design for the elderly coming from different demographics, I am videotaping my former classmates and other students as they delve into this project, capturing snapshots and watching the confusion unfold. A part of me misses being in the thick of it, but a bigger part is thrilled with the contrast. While I don’t feel any different than a few months ago, I have graduated, I do hold a degree and it’s time to embrace this change.

The rest of the day was spent eating new foods, touring the museum/house of Jim Thompson (a famous architect and designer who revolutionized the exportation of Thai silk), and enjoying a feast along the canal with the Dean of Architecture himself. A full day – indeed; a wonderful day – absolutely.

A few highlights:

–        Watching younger students jump into the fun of working cross-culturally

–        Being reunited with my friend, and future host, Mod Dang

–        Eating Squid – tentacles and all

–        Watching the Bangkok landscape rapidly change from the Skytrain outlook, the profane alongside the sacred, the opulent near the impoverished

–        Realizing that today cost less than $15

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