Every trip is making me better in some way. Every travel enrich me so much and every time I am back home I discover myself a better person in so many areas. I’ve already wrote extensively about that in Travel As A Personal Development Tool post series so today I’ll just get practical and tell you how I benefit form my trip to Thailand that you’ve read so much about in the last week.
Exposing myself to a new culture, to a new country and to an uncontrolled flow of experiences seriously shook some of my already established concepts. In some cases those concepts enlarged, showing me that they can cover a lot more than I thought, and in other cases they become more profound revealing deep layers that I didn’t even thought possible to exist.
Size Does Matter
Bangkok is a huge city. My concept of size was seriously challenged during this trip. On the vertical dimension Bangkok is almost incontrollable. I was able to stay a week in the modern center of this city, a fast developing area with lots of skyscrappers and new buildings. Even smaller blocks – compared with the super stars – are already huge concrete compounds overwhelming your intention to understand them.
The overgrown vertical dimension is present only downtown, but on the horizontal dimension of Bangkok is even more impressive. After cruising on the Chao Phraya canals I can remember endless lines of houses, almost growing out of water, over and over again. Each house hides another house and that house makes room for another house. The huge river hosts an impressive horizontal layer of small but ceaseless buildings.
My understanding of “big” was deeply modified during this trip.
Beauty Is Everywhere
Is surprising how everything can be beautiful in such a crowded and hot city. The first impression is visual: the colors are strong, bold and contrastive. Everything, from the color of cars to the color of clothes, from the colors of sky to the colors of buildings is a continuous visual dance.
Even the concrete jungle holds gentle lines and integration with older architecture. Harmony is the second word you find after “huge” when you try to define the modern areas of Bangkok. The buddhist temples are also living proofs of an inner beauty ready to be expressed along with vibrations of respect and devotion. So far, the temples visited in Thailand are the most beautiful religious buildings I ever saw.
Of course, not only what was man made is beautiful, but also natural areas. Being so little out of the big city I can only guess, but I do know that other parts of Thailand, like Phuket island (which I intend to visit quite soon) are ready to confirm and enhance the natural beauty of this place.
Last, but not least, the beauty of women is something completely mind blowing. It’s so different than our western definition of beauty, yet so close to it. It’s a gentle mix of harmony, fragrance and shyness, a soft silhouette floating around you with a promise of something yet to be discovered. A silence created by no need of words, a sense of completeness and still the drive to find out more.
Thailand holds no mindset of scarcity. Maybe there are some images that we could interpret as poverty from our western mindset but once there, I realized that this is one of the most resourceful places I ever saw.
It’s a continuous abundance of resources, closely related to the concept of “big” that I described above. The river is huge, the green plants are growing everywhere, and the concrete jungle is only adding to this feeling of more than you need. Food on the streets is always 10 times more than you can eat, fruits are everywhere and in the Chao Phraya river fishes are growing faster than you can see. Well, maybe not that faster, but you got the idea.
Abundance is one of the concepts that was also big time challenged during my trip.
Maybe the most visible difference from our european approach to human interaction once you get in Asia is politeness. Everybody is talking to you politely, everybody is showing you signs of respect and consideration. Maybe in the beginning you won’t be able to understand that but if you pay more attention you’ll realize that once you started a conversation with somebody else you are 100% in his focus. And that is respect and consideration. Even if you bargain on the streets, you are treated with more respect than you are generally used to.
In the beginning, the way people are talking to you directly seemed aggressive to me. Everybody wanted to sell you something, to take you somewhere, to make you an offer. But in less than 2 days I started to find this a form of correctitude. We’re also want the same things: to sell something to people, to take them somewhere or to make them an offer. We just don’t say it out loud. Well, they did, and they did it in a genuine and honest way.
Another interesting thing was the way they don’t avoid eye contact. More than once after I stared at somebody one second more than normal, that person smiled back and even gave me a “sawasdee” open salute. I found this type of attitude only in older rural zones of Europe, but never in a big city.
A short note to the end of this. Somewhere in the 4th day of my trip I had one of those ideas pretty close to what we call revelations. It was something related to my work, a more clearer approach to my blogging and personal development activity. I am sure it was there in my head all the time, but only when I was exposing myself to a completely new environment my mind was dazzled enough to let this idea spread out.
I will soon write about that, as I am still putting together the pieces, but I thought it was a good place to mention it here. After all, traveling is one of my favorite personal development tools, isn’t it? 🙂