After my layover in Wuhan, I was on the plane to go somewhere so foreign to me. I have never been to a Buddhist majority country. Growing up, I never knew anyone who was Buddhist. Although, there were a few Buddhist temples where I lived. No one I met was Buddhist. I learned about this religion through Japanese cartoons and comic books. Needless to say, I was excited to learn about Thailand’s culture. I was told by friends, the Buddhist temples in Thailand are hard to match elsewhere. I’m sure out of my comfort zone.
Once I arrived at the airport, you are greeted with signs saying that Thailand is the land of smiles. Never associated Thailand and smiles before reading that statement. Actually, never thought much about Thailand before this. I finally got to the immigration line at the airport. It was long and somewhat chaotic. Although, there was still an order. However, a group of kids dressed as monks kept cutting everybody. They would find spots in the line to wander and pretend they were there the whole time. Me being aware of my surroundings, I picked up on it quickly. One even cut the people in front of me. I noticed that people were somewhat aware but for some reason, everybody was just ignoring it. So, I didn’t make a big deal out of it. It might have been a cultural norm and I didn’t want to be that “guy.”
About an hour past, it was finally my turn to speak with the immigration officer. Did the normal routine, gave my passport and etc. What struck me odd was the big smile the officer gave me, when he handed me back my passport. Maybe it was the sign that I read before. Yet, I don’t remember any immigration officer giving me such a big smile. I would get the normal fake smile, the stone face, or the nod, and the officer saying, “sir.” Maybe this country is the land of smiles.
Past the line, I was now in Thailand. What really stood out to me were the statues. I learned they scare off evil spirits. Yet, I can just picture my super Christian grandma freaking out thinking the statue is some kind of a demon.
I was out of the airport. Took a train to get to my air bnb apartment. After unpacking and taking a long needed shower, it was time to explore. Not trying to get too lost, I only explore what was around me. It was actually not too far from downtown. Only four stops away from the center of the city. To my surprise, Thailand is very developed. I was not expecting such a beautiful skyline that can rivalry majority of the cities in the USA. Even the metro is pretty advance.
Yeah, this was the weird part. I went to get some water at a 7/11. Thailand was hot even during December. I got out and started walking a few blocks. When another 7/11 showed up. I found it weird but didn’t think much of it. Until walked about a block, when I saw another one. It was three 7/11s within 4 blocks from each other. I guess the Thai people really love 7/11.
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