We reunited in Muir Beach with family for a lovely Thanksgiving. All of our animals are alive and well thanks to Caleb, Ruthie, Moses (heal quickly!), Tracey, Mark, Darcy, Lou, Gretchen, Mike, and all of the associated children who assisted their aforementioned parents. In Auburn, the air is crisp and from the ground has grown green and soft. Ski season is near.
We had fun, learned together, grew closer. It was good.
It was so nice to relax, read, swim, see and experience amazing natural and cultural things. For one, this being my first and only adult experience in a primarily Buddhist country, I was interested to see the shrines, temples, and other overt signs of the religion. I studied Buddhism fairly extensively in college and have always had a strong draw to its teachings. I was struck by how the religion influenced the culture. Thailand is well known for having "smiley" people. They spoke of peace and had a gentleness about them. There was ease in their ways; in particular in relation to money (as tourists, a lot of our interactions with locals involved purchasing), that I haven't seen in similar circumstances. Most of my previous international travel has been in poorer countries in Latin America, so some of the difference could be attributed to that: maybe people are more financially comfortable in Thailand. Maybe in general, Thailand is more enamored of America in general than elsewhere. But in Latin America, I am also able to speak the language and that tends to put people at ease. In Thailand, I felt like that "ease" came automatically; even without the language connection. People smiled, made the effort to communicate even when only gestures were available, thanked us for visiting their country. I attribute at least some of this generosity of spirit to the Buddhist way that teaches moderation, deemphasizes dogma and differences, strives for detachment from material things, and in no way promotes aggression (for example, in the name of religion).
Now that we are home, I can share some images as well (see below). I have also added some to our previous blog entries (go check them out!).
An open air market in town. Juliana's favorite place.
Krasts (limestone islands) in Phang Nga Bay (a James Bond movie was filmed at this one).
The captain and admiral of Quantum Leap (Tom and Bette Lee). Thank you!
A "hong" (room) within one of the islands in Phang Nga Bay.
These shrines are at every business and many residences. Note the open Coca Cola offering.
Typical longtail boats with bow decorations.
Kayaking at Maya Bay.
The crew (minus the photographer).