Monday, June 01, 2009

Buddhism in Asia Day 1, 16th May

Woke up around 5:00 a.m. then got ready to reach the Changi airport, budget terminal by 6:15a.m. credit must go to my uncle for being so accurate in the timing. The plane starts on 8:15 and reaches Phuket, Thailand on 8:45 local time, which is +7 instead of our +8. So after reaching the airport so early, we had to wait for the travel agent to pick us up at the airport, the first meal (breakfast) that we had to cover for ourselves is in the airport. Well, I'm a bit surprised as I thought that the meals should be covered, but it seems that I wasn't careful enough in reading "Students will have to pay for other expenses such as meals, local transportation (if any) etc, where applicable"

So, after the travel agent picked us up, we got to our first temple visit in Phuket!

Wat Chalong

Which I just got the name from the internet and more information about it than what I've learned from there.
Well, reproducing and analysing my field notes, this is what I've gotten:
Thai King is a reincranation of the god Vishnu of the Hindu religion that protects the people. There are monks statues for worshipping and fortune telling which is a variant from Chinese traditions. The flag of thailand has 3 colours, red-white-blue to symbolise the nation-religion-king, with
94.7% of the people are theravadan buddhist. It can be seen that the temple is an example of very large deviation from the tripitaka. The function of Buddhism in Thailand is a unifying factor and the function of the temple is mainly for tourist attraction.

At 12:00p.m., we continue our journey towards Surat Thani (the city of good people) and reached our first hotel at 4:30p.m. Banjung Buri Hotel. During the trip on the bus, I learned a lot about the humanistics, art and social sciences, collectively I shall call the "Arts" from talks with William, Jack and Prof. It seems that the people from Arts believe that there is some internal consistency of the human behaviour, that they can explain some social trend and infer the rules from observing the world. In physics terms, it's like deducing General Relativity from the observation of the bending of lights by gravity. But the people in Arts don't expect to make any predictions about the world in which we live in. Well, anyway this just shows that they actually think that what they do makes sense, by just using common sense. And the ideas that people has thought before has been assumed to be thought by a resonable person using reasonable evidences. The theories are variable, (which they said it's like physics eg, the theory of gravitation it's hard to argue with them that their rule changes every now and then, but gravity doesn't) then they build upon the "old theories" by these "earlier" people and construct the whole of their social sciences without much use of maths.

Ok, now about the night time, we went to a boating seafood dinner at $10 singapore dollar (another blow towards my not expecting to use any money on the trip). Well, one thing I need to say about this is that it really is a nice experience, worth the money. We went on a boat on a river and had our seafood dinner while the boat is moving. While we were eating, our host on the Karaoke and we get to choose the songs we want and sing. We went upstream all the while, to see fireflies! After I've finished eating, I went to the front of the boat and stood there, wondering if this is the life that Luffy (OnePiece) wanted, strangely enough, I didn't feel any fear of falling or of the boat (made of wood) sinking. Then a few moments later, we stopped and waited for the appearance of fireflies in the darkness. Then like Christmas trees, lights appeared on a few trees along the river! The synchronization is amazing, every firefly on a tree blink its light with the others almost perfectly. Then I had to go to the toilet, so in the darkness of the ship, I when down to the toilet on the ship and took my time. It was only that when I came up that the boat started moving back again. It took one more hour to go back, so in the mean time, we sang the songs that we wanted. I choosed "I believe I can fly".

Well, we went back to the hotel later on and got into our beds, my roommate is Yean Chert.

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