the reclining buddha is one of the most famous buddha images in Thailand. it is located inside of the Wat Pho temple complex, and included in the 100 baht [$3 US] admission fee. in fact, most people visit Wat Pho with the sole intention of viewing the reclining buddha.
the statue is HUGE [15 meters high and almost 50 meters long] and I had quite a difficult time getting a picture that would show you the entire statue but was not blocked by the many many tourists milling around us trying to do the same.
the statue is housed in a building that felt a little bit like a coffin to me. the tourists enter the door by the buddha's head and walk all the way around, getting a 360 view of the statue. there is not a lot of extra space, due to large crowds and plenty of shrines, donation buckets, and ornate decoration.
I tend to get a little claustrophobic when I am jammed into a busy and enclosed space, but I think it's definitely worth seeing if you are in the area. I mean, how often do you have the chance to see a golden statue nearly half a length of a football field?
fun fact: when you Google "reclining," the term "reclining buddha" comes up fifth after sofas, chairs, loveseats, and sectionals.
ok, kids. let's talk weekly wishes. and me looking awkward for the "selfie" photo theme. [or maybe we'll skip that last part.]
last week's wishes were: get outside every day, set up a weekly schedule, and unpack my last suitcase. I think I'm two and a half out of three... I made it outside every day, and three days even went running. saturday I was outside practically the entire day. check. the suitcase was unpacked, the closet was organized, and everything put away. double check. where I ran into problems was the whole schedule thing. I made a schedule. so there's half a check... but it's really a really general schedule. it kindof goes like this: do something you have to do, then do something you want to do. rest if you need it. repeat. I'm not sure if that counts as a schedule, but I've done well at keeping the balance so far and if it works I'll stick with it.
so for this week... my goals are pretty basic.
1. I want to finish and post a font download. I've been playing around with a few ideas lately. they're all just scribble-ish handwritten fonts, but hopefully you guys will enjoy them as much as the "skinny caps" font I posted last year.
2. organize the bookshelf in my office. or at least start. and hang up my 52 weeks project photos from the summer. they are definitely still sitting in a pile on my desk right now.
3. watch Hocus Pocus. because Halloween is this week. and Hocus Pocus is the best Halloween movie. ever. of all time.
happy monday, and hope you all had a fantabulous weekend [I did!]
as I'm currently adjusting to culture shock: the sequel, I thought it would be fun to share a few of the things here in Taiwan that seem a little strange. every culture is unique [and that's a good thing!] but here's a bit of what makes my American brain think "that's... different."
Taiwan sells a billion flavors of Oreos. or, nine. which is close to a billion. to be honest I never checked the cookie aisle when I was in the states [thanks, gluten intolerance!] so maybe this is normal there too now. but it still seems strange to me. my childhood memories are of regular and double stuffed... blueberry ice cream Oreo just seems wrong.
your receipt is also a lottery ticket. not anything like mega millions or powerball, but still potentially $20 US. for the first few months we just threw them away without knowing, but now we try to tuck them in the charity donation bins we find all over. [and yes, we DO have Starbucks here. thank goodness.]
random theatre performances. I was driving home from running errands the other day and found this set up in the edge of the street. [and by found, I mean I almost drove into these people as I came around a curve.] according to a friend of a friend, these people are entertaining ghosts to keep them from being upset. they find music and theatre calming, apparently. there's a lot of construction going on around our school campus, and since it used to be a graveyard the ghosts are not happy they had to move. this definitely seems strange to me, but if it keeps the ghosts happy then I'm ok with it.
we have special flavors of Doritos. I haven't had a Dorito since college. but I'm pretty sure even now the US doesn't have flavors like American hot wings, American sausage and spicy grilled mix. [other common potato chip flavors in Taiwan are seaweed, roasted chicken, seafood platter, swiss cheese, butter, salsa, and lemon.]
things get lost in translation. many signs are in English as well as Chinese, but I don't think the translators always truly understand English. this is a billboard for a new high class apartment building. one that's really tall and has a great view, I would assume. but my American side was a little creeped when I first spotted this.
almost, but not quite. the stationary store has a HUGE selections of pens and markers [and a ton of other things] but they don't sell Sharpies. whyyyy? I had to import some back with me from the states. they sell imitation Sharpies here, of course, but if you are a Sharpie fan you know that nothing is like the real thing. [I will admit, however, that the stationary store is awesome and one of my favorite things about Taiwan. even if there are no Sharpies.]
and finally: cockroaches. they are just a fact of life here in Taiwan. you will have cockroaches in your house. it's only a matter of how often, how many, and how big.
Wat Pho is one of the most famous temples in Bangkok, across the river from Wat Arun. the temple complex is large, hosting over one thousand buddhas and a few hundred temple cats. [I've hidden one in this post, bonus points if you can spot the little fuzzball.]
when we arrived at Wat Pho a storm was brewing. I mean this both literally and figuratively. you see, Jamie did not get to eat lunch. we had flown up from Railay that morning and were hoping to hit the amazing pad thai from the street vendor we visited in January. but alas, he was not there.
I did the best I could to stay non-cranky but I almost lost it when a group of tourists started talking to and then taking pictures with a monk. with their arms around him. three big no-no's when visiting a buddhist temple. I quickly relocated myself to a different area of the temple and took a few deep breaths to regain my zen. I know I am not the world's best traveler, but I try my best to respect the culture and customs of the countries I visit. and it really bothers me when others do not.
so I was hungry, and angry. hangry if you will. but I decided to eat one of my emergency granola bars and suck it up. because, hello, look at this place.
the storm blew over, the granola bar curbed my hangry, and I fell deep into photographer mode. I tried to pare down the photos as best as I could, but Wat Pho has a lot going on. and a lot of tall things going on - so you get way more portrait oriented photos than I usually take.
I'm a little obsessed with all the intricate tile work. the patterns, the sparkling mirrors, the bright colors... and all done by hand. can you imagine what Wat Chaiwatthanaram looked like before it was sacked?
aside from rude tourists and being a little cranky, I really enjoyed my visit to Wat Pho. just because you are on vacation and in a beautiful place doesn't mean you won't have bad days, but I'm glad I got over myself and took all these pictures to remember it by... sometimes the memory of a thing can be more enjoyable than the actual experience.
ok you guys, I'm jumping on this lovely little train of goal-setting, positivity, and support called weekly wishes. because I need to start setting some goals to get me going and keep me moving, and I could use a little help being held accountable.
my first goal is to get outside every day. life since I've come back to Taiwan has been a lot of sitting at my computer in my apartment, writing at Starbucks, or running errands to Costco or the grocery store. those things aren't always bad, but my skintone is starting to shift towards vampire. even if I just go sit in the park for ten minutes, I want to make more of an effort to get some fresh air. it would also be nice to leave the apartment for a purpose other than running an errand.
in fact, for the past year I've been trying to find the right balance in my life between the things that need to be done [dishes, laundry, grocery shopping] and the things I want to do. to help find that balance, my second goal is to set up a weekly schedule and try it out. I want to block off time for blogging, time for writing, time for exploring the city, and yeah time for domestic chores too. maybe even exercise if I get ambitious... since I don't have a traditional 9-5 job this will [hopefully] help me manage my time and get a better handle on my days so that I don't burn out on any one thing.
my last goal is to start unpacking my last suitcase. yes, you read that right. I've been back in Taiwan for nearly three weeks and I still haven't unpacked. [if you know me in real life, it's actually impressive that I already unpacked two of the three suitcases.] I've been putting it off because this bag is full of things that need to go into our storage closet, and to make them fit I need to rearrange said closet before the bag can be unpacked. see my dilemma? I went out and bought bins to help me get organized but I haven't tackled it yet. I'm pretty sure Husband would like to reclaim the floor of his office though, so this week I'm going to attempt it.
if you'd like to check out the linkup and see what it's all about, click on the button below!
the first temple that we visited on our taxi tour of Ayutthaya was Wat Chaiwatthanaram. to be honest, I hadn't done much research into Ayutthaya beforehand, and all I knew was we were visiting a bunch of old temple ruins. I didn't really know what to expect. the men [Husband and his best friend who was traveling with us] had decided they wanted to visit based on friends' recommendations, and so we went. waking up at 6am on vacation may have made me a little cranky. [ok, let's be honest. any day waking up at 6am makes me cranky.] but as soon as we stepped out of the cab, I was completely enchanted.
when they say these are ruins, they really mean it. the walls still show soot from when the temple was burned, centuries ago. the colorful tiles found on more modern temples have all been stripped away. some parts of the structure have been demolished down to the foundations, bricks stolen away and sold. this temple in particular is having structural issues due to flooding from a monsoon in 2011. they are woking to repair it, but funding is limited and work is slow.
I've always had an interest in archeaolgy. when I was small, I wanted to dig up dinosaurs. when I got a little older, Egyptology fascinated me. I even went so far as to apply for an archeology program when looking at colleges.
the truth is, history fascinates me. but not the names and dates they make you memorize in school. the people, what they did and why they did it, the things they built and where they lived. [in deference to most of the history teachers I know, namely the one I am married to, some students get to learn about this in class.] there's a reason why when I lived in New York, I spent a lot of weekend afternoons at the Met. other than the free air conditioning. I like old things, and I like thinking about what they might have seen over the course of their lifetime.
since we arrived early, we were way ahead of the tour buses full of tourists. the site was practically deserted. even though it was morning, it was a little creepy. walking through the piles of burnt bricks and beheaded buddhas felt like a tragic ghost might pop up at any moment to share their story.
you could feel the history oozing out of the bricks, but we didn't see any ghosts. so after wandering and soaking it all in, we had a little bit of photo fun. [yep, that's us doing an awkward buddha imitation.]
Wat Chaiwatthanaram isn't exceptionally large or unique as far as sites in Ayutthaya go, but for its resilience alone I think it's worth a visit. I mean... anything that can withstand nearly 400 years of fire, floods, invaders, and tourists? that earns some respect in my book.
that little motivational nugget comes from Bill Cosby, of all people.
I have a serious confession to make: for a long time, I've been afraid to own the things I want in life. I've been scared that if I tried to chase my dreams, I might fail. I've been terrified that people would judge me for doing what I want to do. and what was maybe the worst - the fear of what might happen if I actually succeeded.
but today I'm coming out of the closet and declaring my intentions: I want to be a writer.
it took me a long time to realize it. and maybe I don't mean it in an end-all be-all kind of way. there are other things I want to do with my life too. but this idea has been preying on my mind - to be completely honest - for years.
that's right. for years I was so afraid of trying and failing that I just didn't try at all. yes, I blog, and that's writing. but I never put what I considered "serious" effort into it so that if I didn't become "popular" I wouldn't feel like some loser just writing a blog that no one reads. when people I know in real life would ask me about my blog I would blush and stammer and mumble "oh yeah, my blog..." and avoid talking about it like it was no big deal.
I love writing, and I love writing this blog. and I'm tired of trying to convince myself that I don't care that much.
I had a conversation with a dear friend of mine this summer. you see, she's trying to write a book too. she asks herself "how bad do you want it?" and then she goes and gets it. I didn't quite take it to heart as much as I should have at the time. but I'm going to try now, and that's what counts.
so things around here are going to change, at least a little. last night I took the plunge and decided to invest in sponsoring two of my most favorite blogs. HUGE DEAL. for me at least. and I'm super excited about it - supporting two women I admire and having the chance to grow my readership. I'm going to make more of an effort to write consistently and to be open + vulnerable in what I write. kindof like right now. it may get a little wild and crazy before I actually figure out what I'm doing. but I'm finally over the idea that not trying at all is better than trying and failing. because it's not.
but what if people judge me? well... I hate to say it, but people are already judging. people judge people. all the damn time. you can't control that. so you might as well do what makes you happy. and the people who really matter won't judge or shame you for it. I have people who love me and support what I'm doing here. and I owe them everything for believing in me while I was still figuring out how to believe in myself.
and what if I succeed in becoming a writer? a wise friend said to me once, "if you want to be a [blank], then do what a [blank] does." so: if you want to be a writer, then you should write. because a writer writes. well guess what... I write. hell, I'm already a writer. so there's no point in being afraid of it.
because... I want it.