Saturday, July 23, 2011

"To be happy there can be no clinging...."

Buddhist funeral chant:  "All things in Samsara (the world of birth and death) are impermanent. To be happy there can be no clinging."  

After almost six weeks in southeast Asia I am spending my last night in the Montien Hotel in Bangkok.  The Fulbright group held its wrap-up session at Hua Hin, the traditional beach resort of Thai royalty.  While foreign tourists favor the beaches of Phuket or Pattaya, Hua Hin is a place where the Thai people choose to vacation.  We stayed at a beautiful resort  - the Dusit Thani - where we held the post-mortem of the program, had the farewell dinner and speeches, and said our goodbyes. 
View from my window at Dusit Thani hotel

Hua Hin beach - where royalty used to go to get away from Bangkok

From Hua Hin beach facing west

Sunrise Hua Hin

Pool at Dusit Thani

      I had one full day of leisure on the beach at Hua Hin – swimming in the Gulf of Thailand, walking alongside some Thai women who were looking for clams and “helping” them, lounging in the gorgeous pool.  To top off a delightful day I ordered room service and ate one of my last meals in Thailand sitting on my balcony looking at the moon shimmering over the sea, and hearing the traditional Thai music being played at the poolside restaurant below me.  How lucky am I?  I’m someone with a severe case of wanderlust who has always been able to find a way to see the world – and through my travels I can show the world to my students and hopefully instill my love for other cultures and my desire to understand them to a new generation.  
Current king of Thailand, Rama IX
Queen of Thailand

      Though constantly being with the same people for the past month and being away from Jeff and the kids has been challenging for me, the experiences I’ve had and the understanding I’ve gained is something I will treasure always – and I can’t even begin to fathom how much more effective it will make me as a Social Studies teacher.  The book I’ve been reading off and on while in Thailand and Vietnam is called “A Fortune Teller Told Me” by Tiziano Terzani who spent a year traveling overland all through southeast Asia.  At the end of his travels someone asks him, “Travel only makes sense if you come back with an answer in your baggage.  Have you found it?”  Terzani’s response:  “Quite the reverse.  Along the way I lost even those two or three answers I used to think I possessed.”  I can honestly say I agree with him.  And that’s the way it should be.  A lifelong learner will never have all the answers. . . and the new questions that keep popping up in my head will keep me traveling.  I’m already planning where I’ll go next.
Skyline of Bangkok with statue of King Rama VI