Not as good as I hoped for. Apparently, luck will be hard to find and my health issues may worsen. This is all according to a fortune telling area near a shrine we visited during our Khon Kaen city tour. How it works is you hold this canister of sticks and shake it until one of them falls out (see picture). Each stick has a number that corresponds to a piece of paper with your fortune on it! The nearby shrine is for the spirit that is like the guardian of Khon Kaen city. The inside of the shrine was very colorful with offerings of various kinds for the spirits. Our last stop of the city tour was the 9-story temple which is probably the most iconic structure in Khon Kaen. Gold and red covered the walls, along with images of the Buddha. We climbed to the top and were treated to some amazing views of the city.
Back on campus, KKU has been hosting an agricultural fair for the past week. The fair featured flowers, plants, trees, animals, and food (of course)! My senses were a bit overwhelmed between the all the smells and colors, but I loved it!
The only sad part was seeing how unhappy some of the animals were as was evident from the pacing and sometimes manic behavior. It broke my heart a little. I did learn that squirrels are sometimes kept as pets in Thailand, but the squirrels at the fair honestly scared me a little bit. Speaking of animals, there is no shortage of them in Khon Kaen. Geckos look down at you from the ceiling and cockroaches scurry around at night. Cats and dogs roam free in the streets, and there are even dog-themed cafes that have dogs inside the restaurant (i.e. the Pug Cafe has a pug that just chills in there). Last week a friend and I went on an adventure through a big field behind our apartment. It seemed like the area was being used for agricultural purposes, perhaps to supply the university? We kept following the road having no idea where it would lead. Eventually it turned into a residential area and it seemed that every house had at least 2 dogs that would come run out and bark at us when we walked by. Needless to say, we walked quickly onward only to find out that the road came to a dead end. To avoid walking through dog alley again, we hopped the fence and ended up outside the university. We entered through another gate and happened upon what was called the SMD Science Garden. They had different types of rocks, rusted bikes and head statues of famous scientists.
It was pretty random, but that’s what exploring is all about! So far everything has seemed like a vacation, BUT we did just finish our first week of public health classes. Although it was mostly course introductions, I’m very excited to learn more about the universal healthcare system here in Thailand and the role of village health volunteers. We also had a 3-hour crash course on Thai history, politics, and social structure which I think will prove to be useful in understanding how that has influenced public health initiatives here. This weekend we’re going to visit Phu Pha Maan National Park. I’m looking forward to hiking and having my first ever camping experience!