Spending a month in the Kingdom of Thailand is not long enough to enjoy the beauty that surrounds it. I will have to admit though that it is plenty of time to become so engrossed in the culture, and customs there that it becomes a part of you, and you become a part of it. Some people experience culture shock when traveling to foreign countries, but I find Thailand more normal, natural, and home like than my own country.
When you experience a long holiday in Thailand, you become use to the Thai way of doing things, which is a very good way in my humble opinion. You also become use to the prices of things such as food in Thailand. For instance, I was in a nice seafood restaurant in Bangkok, and one of the items on the menu was Sea Bass. They had a list of about 20 different ways to prepare it for you, such as Cajun style, sweet and sour, Teriyaki basted ect...
The price of this mouth watering piece of fish that was as big as my arm from my elbow to my extended finger tips was about $5, yes just five American dollars. I got a reality check a week after I got back to America, and ventured into a decent, but not fancy restaurant, and saw Sea Bass on their menu for $23.99. I was stricken with price shock, not culture shock in that moment. I just laughed at that price, and thought about how much I missed Thailand.
The journey home from my most recent trip to Thailand had a minor hiccup in my travel plans. The plane in Bangkok had mechanical problems causing a two hour delay in the flight to Narita, Japan. I had missed my connecting flight in Japan back to America along with many other people.
I will have to give Delta Airlines credit, they were right on top of it as the plane landed, and already had everybody’s flight rebooked. For many of us that involved an overnight stay in Japan, which Delta provided us along with two meal vouchers, dinner that evening, and breakfast the next day.
There were two different restaurants in the hotel that I stayed in to choose from. The first restaurant was a Chinese restaurant, yes a Chinese restaurant in a Japanese hotel, and the other was a buffet style restaurant. I chose the buffet style restaurant for both meals.
There were many items on the buffet including fish, both cooked, and Sushi. I will have to say, the Japanese definitely know how to do fish. Everything I ate on the buffet was very good, and I really enjoyed my meal. Coming from a fussy eater like me, that is a big compliment.
The room I was provided was compact, and just big enough for one person. There was a twin sized bed in one corner of the room. There was about 4 foot of room on the side of the bed, and a little more at the foot of the bed. The bathroom was compact and had just enough room for a shower, toilet, and sink. I had plenty of room for me, but it definitely wasn’t big enough for two people.
The rest of the trip home was without incident, but the culture shock I had when I arrived home was a complete mind melt. It took some time to get use to driving on the right hand side of the road again, and people driving sane, and rationally again. Here in America, motorbikes don’t drive down the sidewalk, and I never see a family of four on a motor scooter in America which is a common sight in Thailand.
There were no street vendors selling a plate of fresh cooked food for less then two American dollars. The .30 bottle of water in Thailand cost more than $1.00 in America. The friendly smiling faces of the people of Thailand were replaced by faces of scorn, and disinterest back in America. It wasn’t jet lag that plagued me. It was culture shock in my own home country, a sensation of being a stranger in a strange land. It was a longing to return to the place that felt more like home to me, the Kingdom of Thailand.
I believe it was three days before I even left my house when I got back to America. I think it was 80% jet lag, and 20% culture shock, or maybe it was the other way around. All I know is, all I could think about was...
Where am I?
How did I get here?
I want to go home.
I finally had to drag myself out of the house, and run some errands after being gone for a month. I pulled into the parking lot of a strip mall to complete one of my errands, and as I was slowly driving through the parking lot an old man started walking out from one of the stores into the parking lot in front of me.
I stopped of course as this frail old man walked slowly in front of me as he used his cane to make his way with a slight limp to his vehicle. He looked up at me and smiled while he strained to wave his free hand as if to apologize for my delay. I smiled, and waved back as he continued to walk torturously in front of me.
I remember feeling compassion for him as I patiently waited for him to cross my path, and thinking that someday I will be old like that, and struggle to get around. I watched as he took one final step as he crossed the passenger side of my truck before pausing for a moment. Then he lifted his cane up, and had a smile on his face as he looked back to make eye contact with me. He twirled his cane around like a baton, and continued on his way with a spring in his step.
He continued to make eye contact to see if I was still watching as he shook his cane in the air, and skipped to his car as if he were in a marching band. I had to laugh as I looked back at him, as Larry the Cable Guy says, “That there’s funny, I don’t care who you are.”
I will have to say that simple act of his put a smile on my face for rest of day. He definitely had a sense of humor.
That amusing old man had his peace and serenity about him as he acted like a frail, old man before smiling, and showing me that he still had a lot of fire, and life left within him. He was happy, and content with life, and Embraced Nirvana in his own little way.
Later while walking down the sidewalk near my apartment I watched a squirrel torment a poor turtle on the grass nearby. The turtle with interesting colors, and markings had a shell that was about 8 inches from front to back. The poor turtle was trying to walk away from the squirrel, but the squirrel kept jumping on its back. He jumped on the turtles back, and rode for a few steps, jumped off, then back on again. Mr. Turtle tried changing directions, but was too slow to evade the much quicker squirrel. I was about 2 feet away as I watched the show. The squirrel noticed me, and kept a distance at first, but then decided he was having too much fun to stop.
I wish I had my cell phone with me to shoot a video. I could have had a viral video on Youtube from that little occurrence that I was fortunate enough to witness.
Sometimes in life what at first seems like a stressful inconvenience can turn into a whole new enlightening life experience. My flight delay in Bangkok caused an unexpected overnight stay in Japan. I at first thought that it was going to be a stressful situation for me as I had no intention of going to Japan.
I remember in the past being asked if I had ever been to Japan. I had to answer, “Not really”, and then explain that every time I go to Thailand, one of the layovers is in Japan. Technically the airport is in Japan, but I had never left the airport. I started thinking, have I been to Japan, or haven’t I?
After that experience I now have Japanese ink on my passport. I now know that I have been to Japan, even if it was for just one night. If you are reading this, and found your way to Embracing Nirvana, you must have some interest in, and knowledge of Buddhism. That being the case, it is safe to assume that you have also heard of the Secret Law of Attraction. I wonder if my thoughts about whether, or not I have been to Japan caused this situation to take place, if so I apologize to everyone on my flight inconvenienced by it.
I enjoyed my short experience in Japan, and the fantastic food I had the chance to try. The butt washer, I mean bidet device with multiple buttons on it next to the toilet was interesting. Not something this American is use to seeing, let alone using.
The hotel provided transportation to the airport, and I got on my flight home without any problems. The flight from Japan back to America was about 12 hours long. I don’t know about you, but I can’t sit next to somebody for 12 hours, and not say a word, so I struck up a conversation with her.
She was on her way back to America for the first time in two years. She had just spent the last two years vacationing, and sightseeing around Asia. She had been to Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Japan, Indonesia, and several other places. She paid for all that through travel blogging.
I talked to her for a few hours, about the places that she has been, and the things she had seen. She visits different places, and takes photos, and makes videos to share with people who would like to see these places themselves. She blogs about how to get there, where to stay, and other things to see nearby. She also had a Youtube channel where she shares her videos, and offers travel tips. She was living her life the way she wanted to, she was living her dream. I will have to admit that I envied her, and the life she lived. After talking to her, I wanted that life for myself.
Looking back on this experience, I had another fantastic, memorable trip to the Kingdom of Thailand. I became engrossed in the culture there, and wish I could live there forever.
My stressful inconvenience due to a flight delay turned into a free overnight stay in Japan, and two free absolutely delicious meals. Moreover, I met an interesting person seated next to me on the plane who lived a life that I want for myself. I would not have experienced either one had my flight from Bangkok left on time. The afore mentioned stressful inconvenience definitely was a new enlightening life experience is disguise.
Mr. Squirrel taught me that there are many interesting things going on all around you, you just have to pay attention to them. Even nature knows how to have fun, and enjoy life. Although I am sure it was more fun for the squirrel than the turtle. The squirrel was so focused on the present moment it was oblivious to my presence. For that brief moment the squirrel Embraced Nirvana.
Then there was the old man who showed me the importance of laughing at yourself.
Life is great when you are paying attention to what is going on, and sometimes when you think you have things all figured out, the Universe changes your direction in life, and shows you a whole new vision.
Sorry for this post rambling on, I blame jet lag.
May you always Embrace Nirvana while focused in the present moment, just like Mr. Squirrel.
I would like to share with those of you that made it to the end of this post a book I just discovered called The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.
I found this to be a very empowering book. After reading it a few times I also got it on CD. The Secret (Unabridged, 4-CD Set) It is so nice to sit back and listen to while contemplating what it is teaching you.
I guarantee you will find it enlightening.