Location: New Life Foundation, Kanchanaburi
Hey Everyone! So, we had another successful day here at the Duang Prateep Foundation. This morning we got up and went down to breakfast where we were served chicken nuggets and French fries again, YUM! When we finished, we were given special boots, Mexican party hats and leg warmers for your arms. Now you are probably wondering what on earth could we be doing that we are dressed like this. Well, we went to plant rice! The arm warmers and hats came in handy for protection from the sun, but we all ended up taking off our boots because walking around shin-deep in that mud was not easy with them on. Many of the children came with us to plant, and together we quickly planted an entire field of rice. When we finished, the children started jumping into a dam to swim, and of course, we followed. It was so nice to swim in the cool water. It gave us a chance to wash off the mud and escape from the heat. The only downside was that we swam in our clothes, so we had to go back to the housing complex to take a shower and change. Once everyone had freshened up, we walked over to the dormitory they are building and started brainstorming ideas for what to paint on the wall. We finally decided on a mural of sunflowers with butterflies and ladybugs. After five and a half hours of painting, with a lunch break in between, we completed the wall. Khun Prateep said it was better than Van Gogh, which is true. After painting, we walked back to the school area where children were waiting with water guns and buckets. It turned out that they put on a little Thai new years celebration with us. The Thai New Year, Songkran, is actually in April but they wanted us to experience the festivities. We first did a small ritual, and once that was done, water was being thrown from left to right, and the baby powder was being slathered on faces and hair. It was so much fun! Everyone had to start ganging up on Tres though because he was dumping buckets and buckets of water on all of us. We got him back though. Once the celebration was over, we went back to our housing complex to dry off and change. The foundation provided us with traditional Thai temple clothing. It was really exciting to wear them. Once looking fabulous in our new clothes, we went to have dinner before going to the temple. At the temple, we all squished into a small room with monks and a beautiful statue of the Buddha, as well as paintings adorning the walls with the story of the Buddha. We prayed and then lit our candles and incense and walked around the temple three times with candles, flowers, and incense in hand. Once we finished walking, we attached the candles to the wall surrounding the temple and laid down our flowers and incense. Then we went back inside to pray some more. This ceremony was in honor of the monks leaving for their three-month retreat. I find learning about other religions so interesting. It was very exciting to watch and be apart of the ceremony. When all was finished, we returned to the complex. I’m so excited for what awaits us next on our trip!
P.S. Mom, you were right. I should have brought more bug spray.