Fast forward a bit. Orientation for my program took place in Bangkok for the first week. During that time I learned more about Thai culture, language, and what to expect once I reached my school (which was basically 'expect the unexpected'-- and later I will get to just how crucial that motto has become). I was with many other Westerners (about 95% Americans) who were in the same boat as me. While I did meet some genuinely great people, I must admit I was anxious to strike out on my own and get away from the 'ugly American' stereotype some of my fellow 'teachers' seemed to exhibit. The staff from my program, however, were very helpful (both Thai and otherwise).
One of my favorite excursions of the week was to the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It's some of the most magnificent architecture I've ever seen. The facade of the buildings is composed of tiny mosaic mirrors--thousands upon thousands of them.
|Fun with the fish-eye lens!|
|Close-up of the mirror mosaic...|
|... And the overall effect.|
I learned that there's more than just Thai culture represented here. Some buildings are made of porcelain from China, not the mirrors that cover other buildings. I learned from Peter, our guide, that when ships from China came to trade in Bangkok, they needed to bring goods from China to properly weigh down their boats. Some of these ceramic goods inevitably broke in transit, but yet were put to good use decorating these buildings.
|One of the Chinese-style buildings|
|Peter, our wonderful guide|
|English influence can also been seen in the design of some buildings|
|Interior of the entry hall|
|A guard stands at attention|
Cheers from Bangkok!