Thailand and Bhutan Reflections: Jordan

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Jordan

These are the edited reflections of Jordan.  All reflections are in quotations and are directly taken from the journals of the students.

First Impressions: Travel from the United States to Bangkok

“Of all of the people I have met so far, the Japanese were most sincere.  A boy about my age smiled and giggled “you’re welcome” each time he gave me a part of my dinner at a Tokyo restaurant.  A woman taking trash away on our Tokyo flight returned a box of chocolates to me after she realized there were still some left.”

“The feeling of Bangkok was sheerly human; the people filled paces like jungle fills hills.  The self-consciousness Americans have while inhabiting a place was completely non-existent here.  [It’s interesting] how American homes are built with strict boundaries of what’s yours and what’s mine; what’s safe and what’s clean, but in the streets of Bangkok all of these predilictions were non-existant.  For example, there was a building built of wood, coming off a wall of another building made of concrete……the whole commotion of Bangkok was undirected and beautiful.  Everything was moving…”

 

“The sun rises on Bangkok /  warm lit buildings / with people hanging cloths and smoking”

“An orange robed monk walks / past the sounds of traffic / white flowers on the trees.”

In Bhutan

As we walked to a monastery for Buddhist studies….I looked at the flowers next to the steep switch-backing path…on a sign it was written, “By plucking its pedals, you do not gather the flower’s beauty.” For a long time it bothered me – that lack of satisfaction I had after trying to pick flowers and preserve them or taking pictures of beautiful things so that I could look back on them and enjoy things all over again. But the little signs I saw reminded me of the joy I felt when I first heard the words, “You cannot take this world with you, so why not let go from the start?”

“I’ve lost count of the days.  As we go through all of the Dzongs and stupas it’s becoming clearer to me how beautiful the Himalayan foothills are.  Surely the richness of the Bhutanese and Tibetan’s spirituality comes from the power and energy of the mountains.”

“The Bhutanese people are all incredibly happy.  By no means are they happy in the way I was taught to be in America – unlimited enthusiasm, smile all the time, flatter everyone, and act like it’s the best day of your life.  The Bhutanese are happier on a deeper level and their happiness is quiet and sincere….it seems like they are closer to the timelessness of the world around them.”

“As we drove down the road, the bus pulled over and Namgay opened his window and asked a girl sitting by the side of the road what she was selling.  The young woman, probably in her twenties, was kneeling in her kira umbrella placed on the grass next to her, was selling a small amount of cheese sitting in a basket — literally about a plateful….to see a woman a mile away from any human structure other than an eroded road…this Bhutanese woman was at home in the misty foothills which sloped up into the clouds, no need for REI boots tromping about in “nature”.

Thailand and Bhutan Reflection

As I sit here deep in the heart of the South, I cannot help but reflect on our trip to Asia and the shenanigans we encountered and participated in.  I distinctly remember Cole saying, when we landed in Bangkok, “I wonder if I will be more calm after this trip?”

The last I saw of our group, leaving the Albuquerque Sunport late at night, I can say they were most certainly calm…maybe catatonic would be a more appropriate word!  Having read a couple of journals so far, I can say that their experiences were as varied as the people they are.

In the coming days, I will post a variety of reflections from the trip.  I asked each person who traveled to write their down their experiences in journal form.  These journals I am including here on a page for each student.  Hopefully, they will contribute to the conversation about Thailand and Bhutan in the coming weeks and months.

Finally, we are establishing a fund to support the Tshangkha Middle Secondary School in Trongsa.  That fund will involve collecting specific resources for students in the school including paper, markers, pencils, and books used for instruction.  I am in touch with the school, and teachers are compiling a list of essential items I hope we can provide.

Stay tuned for more information and student insights!