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A Thai Easter

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Although my family isn't religious, we still dye and hunt for eggs every Easter. In that spirit, they sent me an egg dyeing kit to use with Nont (my host cousin).

A day or two before Easter Sunday I realized that the time was coming around, I hadn't told anyone yet, and all the eggs in Thailand are brown. Luckily, we found some duck eggs after checking two different supermarkets, and the egg dyeing ended up going swimmingly. In the process of having to explain all this, I ended up discovering the symbolism behind the eggs (new life or something).

Indira was also staying with our family at that point, and she wanted to go to a church service, just to see what it is like in Thailand. The congregation appeared to be mostly Filipino, and we arrived just as they were lining up for what I thought was communion. In the end, it turned out that the priest was handing out plain boiled eggs and bottles of "Holy Water." After that, the service was over, so we left. I was thirsty…

Songkran

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Songkran is the Thai traditional new year, celebrated over three days from April 13-15, although in some cities, celebrations continue much later into April. Water has always held a special significance in Thai culture, and the main Songkran tradition is the use of water to wash away the sins and bad luck of the previous year. The water is splashed on friends, family, and neighbors, as well as used to wash statues of the Buddha and symbolically wash the hands of elders. Devout Buddhists will go to the temple at least one of the days to make merit, and Buddha statues are brought out to be washed at temples, markets, and shopping malls in the week before the holiday. People also walk around with a wet powder mixture to apply to others' faces in another form of blessing.

In recent decades, the celebratory aspect has steadily grown, with the water buckets being mostly replaced by water guns and hoses. People wait by the side of the road to splash cars, motorcyclists, and pedestrians a…

Back to school

Call it a lack of effort, personality fault, a cultural incompatibility, language barrier, or most likely all of the above, but I didn't do much to reach out to friends in the first 6 months of school. I would always greet the people I recognized, and I spent a fair number of days talking to friends late after school, but I often didn't make an effort to break into the conversation over lunch. Had I been invited anywhere, I would have said yes, but until the last week of school it seemed like no one thought to include me. The highlights of my social life were often playing some kind of game during a free period. At the time, I had some idea of what was going on. I was a little bit resentful that these people who were so nice to me and proclaimed to want to be my friend never thought to include me in anything they did - and also that a good number of my friends rarely did anything worth inviting me along to. In the end, though, it was just life. I was happy enough and I got on …

More Music

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In the past two months while living in Bangkok, I've experienced sort of another renaissance in my understanding of Thai music. Music has always been important to me, so I am nothing short of elated that I now have a favorite band, a favorite record label, and have begun to branch out in genres. It's a little strange to think that just a few months ago I had resigned myself to never finding a Thai song I really liked.

This story begins in sort of the same place my last music post did: the synthpop band TELEx TELEXs. I realized that Bangkok, as the capital of the whole country, is really the cultural capital of Thailand as well and there was a good chance I would be able to see TELEx TELEXs in concert. I paused on one of the venues to watch videos of other artists performing there because the place had next to no online presence and I wanted to see what it was like. By chance, I clicked on an upcoming performance by a band called Two Pills After Meal. Their album had come out b…

Two New Years

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In Thailand, the official calendar is the Thai solar calendar. The months, and since 1941, the new year, fall on the same dates as the Gregorian Calendar. The difference is that the years are numbered according to the Buddhist Era, 543 years ahead of the Common Era. In everyday life, both 2017 and 2560 are acceptable ways to write this year. The traditional Thai new year is Songkran in April, but the new year on January 1 is now also celebrated. Because of the sizable population of Chinese descent and proximity to China, the Chinese New Year is also an important holiday. This year, it fell on January 28.

Because of the directive that celebrations be toned down in honor of the late king, neither the official New Year nor Chinese New Year were celebrated as usual this year.

My family went to the Central World mall for the countdown, usually the most popular celebration in Bangkok. The entire area in front of the mall is filled with food vendors and winter-themed decorations.



Usually, po…

The beginning of exchange

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This whole year I've felt a little bit detached. There's been moments where I had a lot of fun, and while I don't exactly have a best friend, I have a few pretty close ones. I've been annoyed going to temples and not knowing what to do, but nothing approaching an immediate culture shock or demoralizing. I've been learning the language pretty slowly but steadily. I don't miss home. I tell people I miss snow if they press.

Today I made some new friends. It's Indira's last day of school, so a group of boys who I've never seen before was afraid I would be leaving too. I didn't speak any English to them. Now I'm going to play takraw with them tomorrow.
Yesterday I still didn't get homesick for Minnesota, but I got a little bit homesick for my extended host family.
Two days ago I started using an online Thai course - I've been trying to do my own with pencil and paper and Nont's materials, but it's hard to find relevant vocabulary …