This week has been a busy one with classes. I have been learning a ton in my Thai Society and Culture course about Thai traditions, culture, and how to interact. One of the most interesting components to Thai society is the wai. The wai is how Thai people greet one another, say goodbye, thank, and pay respect to their elders. There are several levels of the wai depending on who you are waiing: level one (monk), level two (elder), and level three (equal). There are many rules to the wai, but it has become one of my favorite parts of the Thai culture to participate in.
This week, I have had my cooking class three times so far and it has been a blast! My professor and the cooking assistants teach us a lot about the food we will be cooking/eating and then we have to watch them prepare the meal and write the recipe down by watching them. After we cook the meal, they judge us with scores, which is a little intimidating! I feel like we are on Top Chef! We have made pad thai goong (thai stir fried noodles with shrimp), nam phrig ong (spicy dip with minced pork, chilies, and tomatoes), and gaeng khiew wahn gai (green curry with chicken). These meals have definitely been pushing my limit with spicy foods, but they have all been delicious. We also have been able to eat different snacks, fruit, and drinks that are native to Thailand. Some of my favorites we have tried include khao dtan (rice cakes), lychee, rambutan (fruit), as well as a butterfly pea drink (a beautiful blue color) and lemongrass juice. We have two more classes, so I’m excited to see what’s up next in the kitchen!
My Thai Society and Culture course took a field trip this morning to participate in tak bat. Tak bat is when the people give alms by providing the monks with food for the day. Monks cannot eat after noon each day, so they collect their food from anyone who chooses to offer it each morning between 6:00-7:00am. My professor is a Buddhist, so he wanted to take us to show the offering and allowed us to participate. We gave the monks food for about 10 minutes and received blessings in return after we put the food in their bowl. It was a wonderful experience to see this side of the Buddhist and Thai culture.
Following tak bat, we went to breakfast as a class and then visited another temple, Wat Umong. Wat Umong is a temple that was created about 600+ years ago and is a temple in a tunnel. You cross through the tunnel temple to reach the chedi. It was incredibly beautiful and so peaceful!
It has been another wonderful few days in Chiang Mai exploring the university a bit and learning more and more about Thailand. Some friends and I visited two night markets this week and enjoyed another Thai massage! I am really loving my time in this city. :)