Saturday, April 9, 2016

Asia



Kate Branch getting blessed by Buddhist Monk


I have just returned from some amazing asian travels with my husband and children.  The great thing about my travels was that the two destinations Singapore and Chang Mai in Thailand provided two completely different perspectives. 
Singapore is an amazing city and is only 719.1 km² with around 5.4 million people. With such a high population compared to Australia which is 7.692 million km² with around 23 million people the lifestyle is vastly different. Modern technology fuses simultaneously with the fact that every thing is really close. You can catch an uber within seconds to any of the main districts. Shopping and eating out is easily accessible- and the food options: Malaysian, Thai, Chinese, or maybe Japanese fusion. It’s accessibility reminds me of Hong Kong and Tokyo. But its culture is uniquely Singapore. 
Chang Mai is a beautiful town in the North of Thailand. It dates to the 1200s. It steeped in history and culture  and it home to many elaborate Buddhist temples. 

Buddhism in Thailand is largely of the Theravada school. In fact 93% of the Thai population follow the Theravada Buddhist religion. Its a beautiful religion and I was lucky enough to experience the temples, converse with monks about how they viewed life and even receive a Buddhist blessing. I Thank everyone who made my experience so amazing and rich. 
I was very lucky to get such a beautiful insight into a culture that seems worlds away physically and culturally from my hectic Sydney life.  Even walking around and seeing the beautiful Buddhist shrines with their daily offerings of fresh flowers and coke bottles with a straw showed me how much the Thais integrate culture and religion into every day life. Quite a highlight was seeing Chedi, Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. An amazing Buddhist temple that is high in the mountains and dates from 1383. 

I have seen many parts of the world even travelling on my own to Egypt to see the pyramids the day after my 19th birthday. But travelling as a Mum had its challenges. And to get to the temples and see what I saw I really have a sense of achievement. And my children benefit from such an introduction to another culture that goes beyond Pad Thai at the local restaurant. 

But I am not interested in only presenting perfectly photographed images of my experience. Yes as a photographer I have a lovely array of photos captured with my iPhone. See this post about what I think of the future of photography and why I did not lug my camera gear with me. But there are challenges travelling as a mum with young kids to a foregone country- you have to constantly second guess that accommodation has all the requirements, always check you have extra filtered water so that your beautiful bub can stay hydrated in a heat different to your home town (although with global warming thats debatable). The last over seas trip was the Maldives with just one child, I was very dubious about going with two, but glad I did. 
 No matter where you are in the world no matter how spectacular- there are always challenges that need a creative spin to fix. Like travelling into the mountains to see a temple from the 1300s may require not chanting of the traditional kind but twinkle twinkle little star and a teddy!