Down the Stairs and to the Right - Thailand #4
Waking up to roosters and dogs at 4:30 in the morning was not what I expected, but never the less, my first very traditional Thai day was beginning. I brushed my teeth using the water bottle sitting on the floor beside my pink flamingo bed mat, and put on all of my face moisturizers and oils that I could bring… there may or may not have been a huge water bug in my toiletries bag… I’m trying to forget about that.
I have been through Survivor, and that period of “I don’t have anything and I’m happy,” but another adjustment is having things, but being in a place where they don’t quite match up; therefore you're learning how to make what you have work in the environment you’re in. Adapting to your surroundings, if you will. EX: Having no bathroom, but a bag full of face products to apply in the dark with bottles of water over a window. — bet that was a site to see.
Every trip I have been on, it’s an adjustment. This one was an ultimate adjustment, but it was also where I learned to enjoy the process.
The village surrounding the Su Tong Pae bridge is one of the poorest communities in all of Thailand, (Mae Hong Son) but you would never know this by talking to villagers. We pull up with our picnic basket full of 32 bags of Drunken Noodles - 1 for each of the monks in the temple - and it looks very much like an island community. Huts with different items of clothing, fruit, food, knick-knacks, and all sorts of other handmade items based at the bottom of this well-known bridge. Villagers begin to gather around with all of their offerings - some with bottles of water, some with other Thai dishes, some with even bags of candy, ready to offer to the monks as merit - and good karma. Candy tells me they do this EVERY MORNING!!
Now that was dedication. It was honestly my first experience witnessing the passion these locals had for their religion. Their heart and beliefs are undeniably strong. They live to worship the Buddha - where some of us on the flip side ask for a LIFE to live from our God. It is a beautiful site to witness.
We walk up to this bridge, and Y’ALL, there are candles lit all the way up to the temple!! This bridge is about a half mile long over these crops up to a very tall hill. Look…
It just simply takes your breath away, honestly.
It was a really cool watching my crew’s approach to filming this. They had the drone ready to capture things, 2 cameras set up, and then other go-pros set up to capture the action as the monks passed by. —-Needless to say, the villagers were very curious as to what in the world was happening this very random morning during their usual almsgiving.
When the time came for us to get set up, Candy and I took off our shoes and walked up to the bridge. We are barely able to see the monks through the mist as they make their way down to the bottom of the bridge. My heart was beating so hard I could see it through my chest. Then I realize, I have no idea what I’m supposed to do! What am I supposed to say? Do I put the noodles in their pot a certain way? Do they stop or is it like a make sure you pay attention and make it in the basket or YOU’LL HAVE BAD LUCK FOR EVER! I began to panic.
People do this every morning, but these monks are so used to seeing these same people every morning… what are they going to think when they see this random blonde chick with cameras around her! Do they know? Lord, have mercy…
Candy quickly gave me directions and calmed me down. She told me, as we’re placing our offerings in their pot, think about: what you're thankful for, your prayer requests, people that mean to you, and any other requests that you could use at that moment.
The monks were approaching and I was shaking. I knew this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. This was my only chance to do this like EVER. We couldn’t just have the monks turn around you know? Then as they got within 10 feet of me I grabbed my first bag of noodles, took a deep breathe --- then this incredibly serene feeling came over me. I was all of a sudden just calm and grateful and overwhelmed with joy. (I’m crying typing this actually, because thinking back, I was offering something so simple to these men that gave up their life to pray for us during every moment of their lives.)
In those moments, so many thoughts came to mind, but one in particular was heavy on my heart the whole time. I knew that all of this would be brought to you. This wasn’t just my moment, this was going to be a moment everyone could live. What a gift. I not only lived it, but am able to bring people who have prayed for me and supported me through every adventure, every opportunity, every city I’ve lived in, to this time in my life.
I’m very aware that this is getting deep, my friend, but that is what Thailand does to you. It makes you feel all of the feelings because the country itself, is just magical - and this was one of the experiences that made me feel that.
Once we completed that mission we ate some food ourselves in the little village area. ( I ordered scrambled eggs with rice, broccoli, mushrooms, and peppers. It was so fresh and delicious! And healthy obvi ) Then we headed up that same bridge to do some volunteer work with the younger monks that were in their training stages. We were about to teach them some english.
Here’s the view from the top of the bridge:
Jaw dropping, right?!
The monks ranged from 13-18, I’d say. Smiling from ear to ear as we introduced ourselves. Their smiles are so contagious - it’s one of the things I miss most about that country. Tho they were very very shy, they were curious as to what Candy and I were going to teach them.
We first started with my name. “Libby” I never thought about how difficulty it was going to be for them to pronounce certain sounds and syllables such as: “L”s “TH” “R” “FT”. Because it’s not in their vocabulary, they were having trouble saying words that included those sounds in them. So, Libby, wasn’t the easiest name for them to say.
We wanted to teach them answers to questions they receive often. Something as simple as “Where is the restroom?” Answer: “Down the stairs and to the right” Would make them feel much more comfortable when approached by tourists.
They taught me “left and right” in Thai. And I taught them that in English. You can just watch to see if there was any more to that story.
Ah gosh, that was so fun!! They were such a joy to work with! It was hard to leave. The day was ending tho, so Candy, being my local, had a local that she was ready to connect me with.
Luckily this one was in the same area. She said, while you’re in this area you HAVE to watch a sunrise at the top of a mountain, and my friend Net knows just the spot. We FaceTime him, and well, you’ll see why I loved this guy!
Net, here I come, friend!