2012 Fall Cambriae Bates External Programs Thailand

Wake Up To Life

My feet have never walked on this ground before, my lungs have never inhaled this air, and my eyes have never seen this side of the sky.

As I stepped off of the plane in Bangkok, Thailand, rolling my suitcases behind me, I searched for a sign that said Miracle Hotel. I walked in circles, went up and down the escalator three times, went up and down the elevator two times, stopped and asked for help, circled back around the airport terminal, and then asked for help again. Eventually I found a man holding the exact sign I was looking for. He helped me to roll my suitcases out to a van and then I hopped in and we drove off into Bangkok. It was around 12:30am and although I was pretty tired, my eyes were wide opened with excitement because I had made it across the world.  As I looked out the window into the night I knew that I was embarking on an adventure. Everything was already so different from what I knew in Philadelphia. On the median dividers of the highway there were statues of cows lined up as if it simulated cattle grazing and all throughout the city there were huge pictures of King Bhumibol Adulyadej (the current Thai king) on the tops and sides of buildings. There was a shrine to Buddha in every possible place a shrine could be placed. Small statues of temples were hidden amongst bushes and trees, they were in the lobbies of hotels, and posted outside of buildings like bird houses. I had never seen anything so fascinating.

I had trouble sleeping on my first night here. Although I took a relaxing shower and I could finally take off the clothes that I had been wearing for twenty-three hours, my mind was wandering and wondering what was next. I had already taken such a huge leap because I got on a plane and flew thousands of miles to a world unknown to me, but I had only been in Thailand for a few hours and I still had four and a half months to go. I wasn’t sure what was waiting before me, I just knew that it was something full. After hours of thinking I eventually went to sleep, but only for a little while because I was soon awakened by sunrise.

In Philadelphia beautiful sunrises had to be searched for like treasure. It was very rare that I came across one because my bedroom window faced a cement wall that was visually unappealing. So when I opened my eyes in Bangkok and saw the pink horizon over the small shack like houses I quickly jumped out of bed and ran to the window. The window was in the bathroom and I had to crawl into the tub in order to get a better view. My forehead was stuck to the window for twenty minutes. I wanted the feeling of serenity and bliss to remain in my spirit, so I decided to stay frozen as long as my body would let me.

Buddha Shrine Amongst the Trees

The night before, as my mind floated in space, there was a moment when I truly believed I was dreaming. My mind was unable to grasp what I had done. I thought that I would go to sleep and wake up in my bed to the same four walls and the same doodles plastered above my bed, but it wasn’t a dream. I woke up to a new life in a new environment and although I still felt that my life was unreal, I was ready for it to change me. Author Gail Sheehy said that “If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow we aren’t really living.” As soon as I stepped off the plane I moved toward change and as soon as I looked around Bangkok I knew that my life was being altered for the better. I was leaving footprints in new soils while staring at the sky from a different perspective, and for the first time blood was pumping to my heart with purpose. I looked at the clouds as they held hands with the sun and I felt a rush of life.

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