Sunday, June 12, 2011
I'm Brighton, a senior music therapy major at Colorado State University. I’m also pursuing a performance certificate for cello and I’m hoping to be able to use both these skills in life to help others and share my passion of music!
I think I’ve been wet more in my first week in Thailand than the whole past semester in Colorado. Humidity, swimming, the ocean, rain, boat trips….in short, water is a big deal here! It’s been interesting to discover cultural differences between then U.S. and Thailand, such as how to greet people, how to use a fork and spoon, sitting vs. squat toilets, religious beliefs, and moral foundations. My new item on the list is water. Yep that’s right, good old refreshing wet stuff. Even how water is integrated into the cultural makeup of an area differs between our countries. I’ve noticed how important the water is to Thai culture during our tropical excursions.
Canals run all around and through the Bangkok area. I was highly amused at first how neighborhood blocks are built on the river just like our American neighborhoods are built along streets. Stairs lead straight from backyards into the water! Seems to be a popular place for kids to congregate and have diving contests. Aside from play, though, I noticed other people using the river to wash their laundry and dishes, squatting on the steps for balance and leaning carefully over the water. Quite a strange concept to me, having the big river out back as your main source of running water.
In other places, especially coastal and low-lying areas, buildings stand on stilts in order to survive the flooding seasons. At first I wondered why even bother building so close to the shore, but then I learned how important fishing is to business, and the nearer you are to the water means fresher seafood! Fishing, crabbing, squiding (yes, I did just make that a verb) make up most of the local business, especially down here in Krabi, in the southern islands of Thailand.
Speaking of which, Krabi now takes title of my new favorite place and I’ll try not to give Dr. Dena too hard of a time for making me leave tomorrow….but why do I love it so much? The water! Down here the water serves a very different purpose, however: tourism. Speedboats work vigorously to transport tourists between the lush islands, and at each stop there is a different activity. All in one day, we swam, rode waves, fed fish out of our hands, snorkeled, and explored a cave. And….all revolving around the water of course! (Which if I didn’t make clear before, was absolutely breathtakingly gorgeous!)
All this talk of water making you thirsty yet? I know I am! Which is my last point I’ll make about water…the tap water here is not safe for foreigners to drink, and clean water in general is more difficult to come by than in the U.S. Having to scout out bottled water and not having the luxury of filling up a glass from the tap whenever I need has definitely made me think twice about how precious it is, and how much more thankful I now am to live in America! We certainly have it easy in comparison. It seems Thai people have needed much less convincing than me of the value of water, and that’s precisely why it’s had a long standing, or waving (bad pun, I know – I couldn’t resist) history in their culture. Gotta love the H2O!
What other things do you think we take so readily for granted that may not be the case in other areas around the world?