. Following this ritual the people turned to the Monk and their bowing and chanting began. Today something unusual happened at the ceremony. For whatever reason there are many cats and dogs that hang out at the temples. Today one of the kittens hung around the Monk during the ceremony. A kitten discovered the bowl of food that was presented to the Monk. As the ceremony continued this cat crawled into one of the bowls and pulled out a bag of spice. This cat played with this bag right in front of the Monk. I was curious on how this would be handled but essentially they just ignored the cat. I have to admit this was a distraction and the students found this rather humorous. Following the ceremony we went back to our homes and enjoyed a wonderful breakfast. Breakfast was served on a Khuntoke as we ate on the floor. We had rice and vegetarian dishes. Everything was delicious (aroy mak).
Following breakfast we walked down to the Learning Center. This is a new addition to the village. Aj See John received money to help the villagers set up a Thai Massage center right along the river and by an eatery where traditional Thai music is played. What a relaxing sound as you lay there listening to the rushing water and soothing Thai strings in the background. Today the students were learning Thai massage. What better way to learn a skill than to practice on a patient. So, guess who volunteered
. I had a GREAT morning. First I had a 1hr Thai massage and then a ½ hr foot massage. I was in pain the whole time but I am hoping that I will experience the long term benefit. I think everyone should have the opportunity to experience a Thai massage. It is nothing like the massages we get in America. There are some pretty awkward and intimate positions that are used. The poor student massaging me had a red face as she was asked to massage my gluteus. I told her this is probably the most intimate she will ever be with a college professor. Everyone was sworn to secrecy and this student is not to be revealed. This student is going to receive an A++. She has natural massage abilities. I also informed the students that if they do not continue to use their skills they will lose them. So, my office will be open through the week for them to stop in and practice.
After the Thai massage I moved over to the reclining chair where I experienced a foot massage. This was a little more relaxing with a few painful moments. It was still very enjoyable. We noticed that we were being videotaped at this time. Upon our investigation we found out that a group of university students from Bangkok were at the village videotaping a TV promotional for this village. So, we were now being filmed for a promotional TV session for Maegumpong. Once again we were in the limelight.
Boy, did the morning fly by
. It was already lunchtime. We each ate at our house and once again the food was delicious. Shortly after eating we headed down to the community center for an afternoon of weaving. The ladies of the village tried to teach us how to make toys from strips of bamboo. We made a fish, bird and frog. I do not know that any of us really mastered this skill. I never felt more incompetent than I did during this session. It is very hard although the ladies make it look so simple. I worked on weaving a hat. To make an adult hat you need a 10 meter strip of woven bamboo. Needless to say I worked hard braiding my strip of bamboo but for me to weave 10 meters would require days of my time. So, one of the ladies in the village is going to finish my hat for me. It only costs 20 baht (30 baht=$1). This purchase will be well worth the cost. Following the hat making, we learned to make tea pillows. Each of us stuffed and sewed a small and large tea pillow. This task was fairly simple compared to the toys and hat making.
The ladies of the village were very friendly and helpful. Because I knew a little of the Thai language and was able to converse a little, one of the villagers began teaching me more Thai. I took advantage of this opportunity and taught her how we handshake and say Hello. I also showed her how we say and wave good-bye. She learned very quickly. They enjoyed this so much that they requested next year we teach them key words and phrases that they could use with their home stay guests
. They are excited for this session. The men gathered around a nearby table and assembled what looked like kindling packs. After this activity some students ran, some went to the waterfall and some of us went to the local coffee shop. Aj Jing, Aj Maew and I sat around solving all of the problems with nursing education. No, actually we talked about research and publications and the lack of time we have to devote to these projects. We had a really good time and discovered that we all battle with the same kind of academic challenges. It was very interesting.
Following this session we went back to our homes for dinner. Students had free time this evening. Some retired to bed early, others worked on their journal, and others socialized. It was a very good day. I believe we have perfected this experience of the trip. All of the students loved this experience.
This morning we woke up in Maegumpong Village. The village was having a special religious ceremony today with the Monks in attendance. The village has produced new rice and they will be presenting it to the Monks today for the first time. We gathered at the village temple at 7:00 am. Because all of the villagers will be coming to today's events the area outside of the temple was set up like a flea market. Items included such things as clothing, undergarments, toiletries, manicure sets, hardware items, etc. As you approached the entrance of the temple there was a long table with nine bowls on it. The villagers were going down the line and placing a variety of flowers, incense, and food into the bowls. As we entered the temple we were led to the front of the room where all of the Buddha relics were positioned. In front of the relics and on the floor were many bowls lined up in a row. The students were asked to put flowers, incense and food into the bowls. Only a few students participated. We were told that the Thai people believe that if you put beautiful things in the bowl you will be reincarnated as a beautiful person in the next life