Well today was like a microcosm of everything I’ve learned since coming to thailand. I woke up kinda early and went to breakfast. I was the only customer who spoke Thai to the servers. It was so strange that all these customers were in thailand, eating an english breakfast, and speaking to the servers in english. It was like they didn’t evern want to learn the culture. I guess I should have gotten used to it by now. I ate an english breakfast because the only other thai restaurant I knew in the area was so spicy, even my Thai friend couldn’t eat it! After that, I went to the mall to get some gifts for some people. I really felt the need to go to temple to make merit one last time, but, I had to change my outfit so I could be more appropriate (cover my shoulders, wear a knee length skirt, etc).
I walked back to the hotel. Across the street there were several prostitutes with an Australian man. They shouted out to me “oh, you’re so beautiful, so beautiful!” The girls, I think, were jealous of my white skin. All the Thai girls use whitening cream and all the foreigners use SPF 5 to get as tan as possible. I was saddened to see the girls drinking at 11 AM and having to prostitute themselves so early in the morning and right before the buddhist day and the chinese new year. But, I know, they will use that money to move back home and start up their own businesses. But, still, sex tourism is very disturbing to see — especially right in front of my eyes.
I asked the man who runs the hotel where a temple was around the neighborhood. Before we left, I talked in very very broken thai and english to the hotel owner on the phone. She said my hotel stay was free. I tried to ask if I could meet her so I could give her a gift and go to the temple with her, but the language barrier made it impossible to understand. In any other situation, what I did next would seem really weird, but because I have now entered the hotel owner and hotel manager’s circle of concern, it was normal. In thailand, when you enter someone’s circle of concern, they will take care of you - feed you - make sure you’re safe - pray for you - etc. Outside that circle of concern, they don’t care whether you’re on the side of the road and just got hit by a car. The hotel manager and I rode on his motorcycle to get some gifts to offer to the buddha and an image of the king. A few days ago he was a complete stranger, but now he respects me enough to let me offer gifts to the hotel buddha shrine. We prayed and then he gave me several bracelets with buddhist images. I feel really special to part take in a daily ritual with the hotel manager and owners. Good reflections for my last day in Thailand.