Bangkok Adventure is not a course focused on the global community, but to me who is not from Thailand, it has helped me gain a more global understanding by learning and experiencing how the local culture differs from mine.
The Thai people live much more differently than U.S. Americans. For starters, they have a royal family, which does not rule as the absolute power of Thailand but are greatly respected for helping improve the country. One of the Queen’s projects was the Bangsai Arts and Crafts Center, giving farmers a way to make money by making and selling art, such as decorative pots and embroideries. The center also allows tourists to learn about Thai lifestyle from its traditional houses.
They also have a rich history as Theravada Buddhists, mixed a little with Hinduism. In Ayudhaya we walked around several ruins of wats, or temples. Our tour guide explained that the Buddha statues there were cut apart by vandals hundreds of years ago who believed that there was treasure inside, but when they found there wasn’t they sold the heads to foreigners as antiques. It’s a problem that carried over to recent times, and since the foreigners don’t respect the Buddha heads (they use it as hat holders and such) the government doesn’t allow any images of Buddha to be exported.
At the Erawan Museum, there is a giant bronze elephant standing on top of a building. It’s one of the largest bronze sculptures in the world and has three heads, but what is inside the building and the elephant are just as amazing. The building is a room with four columns that support the elephant’s feet, each depicting the history of the world’s four major religions: Theravada Buddhism, Mahayana Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity. There are also two staircases leading to a spiral staircase inside one of the elephant’s leg, where we found that the elephant’s belly is the actual museum bit Buddha statues and walls painted like space. It was a really relaxing atmosphere, especially after spending so much time in the heat.
If there’s anything I learned about myself during this GCW trip, it’s that I actually don’t mind going to places as a tourist. It’s just when I’m with my parents that I dislike it. I grew a little bit as a person from seeing first-hand how places can be completely different than the U.S., so now I’m more interested in seeing how other countries live like and in learning some of their history.
The trip ended up being completely different from what I thought it would be. Other people were saying how boring it was going to be and that all you do is shop the entire day. So I imagined we were going to go to a mall downtown and just shop until school hours ended. I didn’t expect us to actually do anything, especially run around rings and punch and kick as part of learning Muay Thai, which was the hardest part of the trip.

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