Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
Traveling to a new country has its uncertainties in terms of what to expect and the acclimation. Braced for this and being told the weather would be warm and humid like Chennai, India where I was flying from, offered some comfort. What I did not expect after the smooth and peaceful immigration check was that I would retrieve only one of my 2 bags from baggage claim. Not unusual but turned out a passenger had mistaken my bag for his. Fortunately, I received an email message from him through LinkedIn about the mix up and all ended well with my missing bag delivered the same evening. Might help in the future to have an exclusive identity to the bag.
Bangkok, I find is a city of interestingly designed skyscrapers, a combination of office buildings and condominiums. Would be worth creating a photo album of the creative architecture. The silent traffic with no blaring horns was a surprise to me, since some accounts from past travelers here prepared me for something different. Incidentally I learned Soi is Thai for a side-street / lane. Another discovery was, most people one has to interact with on a daily basis at the market, cabs, etc., speak only Thai and may respond to some English. Would definitely have helped to familiarize oneself with some functional Thai vocabulary. I think this should have been part of my preparing for this trip, like one might to any other country where the spoken language is different. The Thai classes we started today, courtesy the Rotaract members will get us going.
Like Chennai, India and unlike Murray, USA the day starts early for street-food vendors, food stalls and fresh food markets, 5am! Fruit vendors selling pre-cut fruit is something I have not seen elsewhere but in beaches or fairs. Makes for a healthy food option for sure.
As for the fellowship, so many great people doing wonders in their respective countries. We are 24 fellows in this Class, Batch 23, of which 15 are women and 9 are men. We are told this program had more men to start with but now women are outnumbering men. And the participants represent 20 countries including 4 from the USA and I am the only Asian! A major learning this past week was Thailand’s political past and present, turbulent in some ways amidst the calm exterior of a peaceful, respectful culture of communication. Would like to go deeper into the various facets of conflict laid out by Ajarn Surichai, how each has played out, where the issues stand today with respect to resolutions.
Kala Chakradhar – India
Rotary Peace Fellow – Class 23