Remember the woman I taught to spin in the bus station on the way to Ko Chang, and gave my spare drop spindle to? Well, I sent her some of the acrylic roving Mr. Wu gave me, and just got an email from her daughter–she wants to send me a return gift, and/or start a correspondence. Isn’t that cool? You never know what will happen. I have no idea what she does, but anyone who’s interested in craft is (by definition) interesting, especially if they live in Thailand. 🙂
(Mary Beth–that was the big pink whorl with the holes in it, if you remember making that one. Congrats–it’s now with a new spinner, somewhere in Asia.)
Nothing too exciting today–mostly resting and relaxing, and trying to get the world to stop swaying. Said goodbye to Mike (my instructor) and Celso (?), our Spanish divemaster–they’re both going back out on diving trips today. Mike was very sorry to be leaving and i was sorry to see her go–she and I are going to try staying in touch, and I may come back here for Christmas. We got along really well, I’m sorry I didn’t get more time to hang out with her.
(Yeah, yeah, I think she’s cute, but we actually get along quite well: she’s had a very interesting life, and we’re quite similar, personality-wise. (For example, a guy was picking a fight with her S.O. in the bar and the two of us very nearly decked him.) Besides, we bonded over the folding of an origami sea turtle. I’m amazed how fast she picked it up–most people are (sorry) hopeless when it comes to origami, but she “got” it almost immediately. I’m almost tempted to try teaching her the blue crab, all 93 steps of it. I just wish I’d memorized the lionfish before coming out here, but you really can’t have everything.)
Also had another very interesting and long conversation with Brian, the Canadian guy in the office, on the sociology of Silicon Valley, Zen Buddhism, and Thailand. He’d loaned me his favorite book on Zen Buddhism, which I liked a lot and actually spent the afternoon photocopying. Too bad I’m not going by Japan, it would be interesting to take a look at the philosophy of Zen, and compare/contrast it with Theravada and Tibetan Buddhism.
It’s fascinating looking at the different interpretations springing up from the same base texts–Osho’s Zen interpretation of “no self, no ego” is totally different from, say, Wat Suon Mok’s perspective. (Osho is something of a hedonist, and Suan Mok is ascetic.) Both are quite different from actual Thai practice, which seems to be a mix of Buddhism, a little Hinduism, and animism. For example, every structure in Thailand (boat, house, hotel, etc.) has its own little spirit house, which looks like a miniature temple crossed with a birdhouse (it’s mounted on a pole like a birdhouse). Daily offerings are given to the spirits to keep them happy, and they’re given their own house to keep them from living in the house proper. This, needless to say, has nothing to do with Buddhist philosophy per se, but is a lovely tradition.
(They even had it on the boat: the bow of the boat was decorated with an elaborate fresh-flower arrangement every morning, and a glass of water and a little dish of food was set out for the boat spirits. laugh if you like, but it sure beats fuzzy dice, the American alternative. I’m not sure what spirits like fuzzy dice or air fresheners, but I suspect they’re evil gremlins. 😉 )
Buses in Thailand also have lots and lots of floral offerings to bus and road spirits–usually plastered all over the dashboard and the rearview mirror. Unfortunately, in the case of buses it makes a great deal of sense: most of the drivers are strung out on crystal meth (so they can stay up all night and drive faster), and they drive at insane speeds, overtake around blind curves, and so on. Accidents, including fatalities, are quite common. Nonetheless it’s still a pretty nice way to travel, as long as you steadfastly ignore whatever the bus driver is doing with oncoming traffic. Traffic in Thailand mostly resembles a continuous game of chicken–the bigger vehicle has the right of way no matter what lane it’s supposed to be in or what the “normal” flow of traffic would be. The net effect is that the bus drives in whatever lane it wants to (including oncoming-traffic lanes), and smaller cars have to swerve out of its way. They don’t always succeed…I’m surprised SUVs aren’t more popular here.
I’m not doing my cycling training on any highway in Thailand, that’s for sure. Besides, I’ve already decided to do ALC2 on an elephant. (If only to watch the sweep vehicles try to “sag” an elephant. Stephen, you *are* getting that 18-wheeler sag wagon for me, right? 😉 )