philsquest

the adventure I find myself in / das Abenteuer in dem ich mich finde

Month: April 2007

Travelling by train in Thailand

Train_rideIn April we had a holiday and decided to go down to the beach. To save money we took the night train to Bangkok. From there the third class train to Cha Am. Going by train slows the journey down a lot. Time to read, play games and just relax. The trains are pretty old and noisy. You can order meals on the trains and the staff is very friendly.

If you really have to go on the toilet you can be sure to have quite an adventure. The trains remind me of the very old trains we used to ride back when I was a child in Switzerland. Those trains are not in use anymore back in my home country.

The journey from Chiang Mai to Bangkok takes about 12 hours for the 900km. Sometimes more because of delays. To go to Cha Am we took a 3rd. class train. We paid 160 Baht for five people and it took us nearly five hours to get there. The train stopped everywhere. There are station which are not even on the train table. People who hop on the train for several stations would come by to sell their foods and drinks. The windows are open, it’s hot, noisy and very exhausting. Still it was worth for the adventure and the experience.

I hope Thailand will be able to improve their train system and upgrade the long distance lines with new trains and tracks. It is a nice and comfortable way to travel.

Richard Gere wanted in India

I first was amused when I heard about the incident in India where Richard Gere publicly hugged and kissed Indian Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty at an Aids awareness event. He caused an uproar from the Indian public. Yesterday he a warrant was issued. I saw the incident on CNN (read the whole story here) and must say for all Richard Gere ought to know about the country he traveled and supports, he seems to have no sensitivity or clue about the Indian culture. It was not just a kiss, it seemed he was all over Shilpa and took her by surprise. I was a bit shocked by his behavior that would be totally okay in the West but not in Asia.

All this makes me think about traveling and living in other countries. How sensitive do we need to the culture of the country we travel to? Would we break a law just by insulting the people in the country. In some countries we would do this and would perhaps even loose your live over it. In other countries it is frowned about it, but nothing more would happen, except that the reputation of foreigners diminishes.

Here in Thailand there is a growing "westernization" through foreign tourists and ex-pats. Most of the cultural insensitivity done here are looked on with a Thai smile and eagerly discussed among themselves without having an apparent effect. Other things bring swift contribution. Like the Swiss bloke who spray painted pictures of the King of Thailand. If His majesty the King would not have pardoned Jufer he would have stayed in jail for 10 years. (Read the story here)

There are cultural laws here the can be enforced. Some of them seem to be latent here but are still in use. Remember we are guests in the country and we have to be sensitive towards our host country

Buddhism and Thailands new Constitution

Thailand is a Buddhist country and in fact kept it’s religious identity very much through decades of globalization and influences from the other countries. Other major religion like Islam and Christianity co-existed in the country. Thailand gives freedom to all religions.

This might all change with the new constitution where Buddhism will be stated as Thailand’s Religion. At least this is the discussion right now and is embraced by the interim Government. If it comes to that is not sure yet, but this is the direction that is taken.

I wonder what implication this would have on the other religions being practiced in Thailand. Is this the end of religious freedom? Why does this have to be in a constitution, where everybody should have the freedom to choose their own choice of Religion.

The drafters of the new constitution say that this would not be a problem and it is not to exclude other Religions. I wonder if this is not a pretext for later marginalization or persecution of other faiths.

Back office

You are in a work where you should be on the "field". I mean doing the stuff, laying water pipes, digging wells, taking care of the poor, sharing the good news and be the never get tired missionary. What am I doing here in the office hacking numbers in my computer to see how much money I spent with a feeling of I’m not really working. I have never been an office person. But this is part of what I have to do here to keep things organized and running. Doing the accounts shows me how much of our support goes into the ministry we do here.
When people ask me what I do I get somehow cornered. What am I doing? It is not just a job I have here. It’s more of a lifestyle. Work seems never to end. Perhaps it’s what people call vision. You see something and you go for it. Unfortunately you would maybe never embarked on the journey in the first place if you would have known what was waiting for you. But because it is a view, a vision you have of something in the future you go on trying to catch it.
Man I get carried away…… I have to get back to finish the accounting before I need to get a Lahu pastor and his wife to the hospital. They traveled 200 km. and will give me a call soon.

Still here

The heat wave has arrived in Chiang Mai. It is often up to 40 degrees here and it is hart to think while you feel that your brain is being fried. Today I was doing the book keeping and realized once again the wonder that we are still doing what we are doing. We have spent a lot of money on projects and paid all our bills. God is providing as we move on with the work in several villages and supporting various projects. I don’t understand the workings behind it. The principle is this: "trust  God for everything and don’t worry". Easier said than done. Still we have lived like this for the last eight years. God has shown Himself faithful and so do I want to be faithful to Him.
Looking back I don’t want to miss anything. Of course there were mistakes and disappointments. In all my life is enriched by the mission life style, my wife and children and being challenged to follow Jesus. I’m looking forward to what the next years will bring.

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