Religion

Sunday Recovery

In a habit that I am far too familiar with whenever I end up drunk, I awoke the next morning on a sofa.

To be fair, this had been planned beforehand – I had left my schoolhouse windows open during the storm in Phachi on Saturday which resulted in my bed being soaked since it is placed next to said windows, so I had little option but to stay at Bubpha’s house. What was less expected was the massive headache and general sense of confusion as to what had happened the night before. I soon got a reminder, however, after checking Facebook and seeing that Art, one of Pekeng’s friends who I had apparently accepted a friend request from, was steadily uploading a slew of videos, all of which featured me singing karaoke versions of Green Day and Coldplay songs. I’m sure that won’t come back to haunt me at all.

Bubpha gave me some coffee and which put my body in a better state and we headed out to her Baptist church in Ayutthaya with the rest of the family. Her other motivation for keeping me in Phachi this weekend was so that I could join her for Sunday prayers. As I expected these were much calmer than the last time we had visited the church and were more what I expected Christian services to be like. However, much like before the services ended with a live band performing Christian songs, which were a highlight as they’re really quite good.

Afterwards we were given some lunch and I sat around talking to some of the other churchgoers who wanted to try out their English skills. It’s still weird thinking that Bubpha is so devoutly Christian in a country that is so heavily influenced by Buddhism, but this have given me some great experiences in Thailand that I doubt many people in my position have had before.

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We went to Rajabhat University after that as Bubpha wanted to visit their market. Although I briefly looked around it I spent most of my time here checking out the rest of the campus itself, which were a fairly big contrast to the Reading University campus that I’m so used to back at home, and had nicer looking buildings (although as anyone who studies at Reading will tell you, it’s not too difficult to find a building nicer than HumSS.)

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 uni2

thaihouse - EditedThe group from last night were apparently throwing yet another party in the afternoon, so we ended up back in the same house that I could only slightly remember being in the night before. I was soon whisked off on a tour around some of their other houses however, as many of them were keen to show me around now that all of our priorities were less focused on drinking and Karaoke.

I had much less energy and enthusiasm to get involved than I had last night though, so whilst I tried to comply with all the standard questions the group were asking me about England and English culture I eventually had to dip out to a room in the back of the house and fall asleep for an hour. We stayed for a few more hours after I had woken up, by which point I was completely overwhelmed with being the centre of attention and battling with Pekeng’s friend’s limited english to try and answer all the questions they seemed to be throwing at me. Still, they’re a really fun group of people, and they definitely provided me with some interesting experiences, even if there’s probably more videos of them than I would like there to be.

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I ended up having to stay at Bubpha’s again that night since my room hadn’t fully recovered from Saturday’s storm, this time stating in a room with a glorious air conditioning system. Whilst trying to sleep I thought about how weird the weekend had been; I never would have thought that I would end up spending it with the people that I did, but I guess the completely unexpected nature of everything meant that it was the most accurate way to see off the last remaining bits of free time that I have in this town.

 

PS

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Faithbook

“Your washing isn’t ready yet.”

I had asked Bubpha if she could pick up my washing from the lady in Phachi I employ this morning, after realising that I was in dire need it back today. So when she arrived and told me this it wasn’t what I wanted to hear, and I faced the prospect of wearing dirty clothes for the third day running. Wonderful.

At least I could distract myself with the various games we played in lessons. As I waited for Prathom 6 in the school hall this morning i started bouncing one of the footballs that had been left in the room around, so when they eventually arrived this turned into an impromptu game of basketball with Nai, one of the students I play football with, holding a basket up at the other side of the room whilst I tried some shots. I actually made a few of them too, so clearly all of this unplanned sport I’m doing at the moment is starting to pay off.

fatherline - EditedPrathom 5 in the afternoon was an interesting one. Bubpha had them playing a game that she had made up which involved two groups forming lines, denoting themselves as ‘mother’ and ‘father’, and then trying to cut through the other line. I won’t lie, I didn’t have a clue what was going on with it most of the time. The kids seemed to have fun with it though, and Bubpha wants to film us playing it tomorrow so she can send it to some other teachers around Thailand who she’s told about it. Who knows, maybe I’m witnessing the start of something big in the primary school game world.

There's also a song that accompanies this game. Notice how it goes to a very dark place seemingly out of nowhere in the last verse.

There’s also a song that accompanies this game. Notice how it goes to a very dark place seemingly out of nowhere in the last verse.

***

praisehands - EditedOn the day that I met her way back in June Bubpha explained to me that she was a Christian, so despite my general lack of religion I let her know I’d like to come to her church service sometime. This evening she took me up on this, and after stopping off in Phachi to pick up my finally completed washing (never have clean clothes felt so glorious) we travelled with her son Pekeng and his girlfriend to Ayutthaya’s baptist church. This shouldn’t have been a new experience for me, but my only previous interaction with any sort of service was a yearly christmas eve nativity production that took place at our local church, which I grew out of after turning 10. I went with all the possible cliches in my head, basically – a decrepit churchroom, two hours of near silent prayers, and everything inbetween  – so I was surprised to walk in and find a live band playing to about 50 dancing churchgoers, all within a room about half the size of Watphachi’s school hall. They were all really into it too, and the bright blue church shirts everyone was wearing made me feel like I massively stuck out in my terrible white Thailand floating market top (like I said, my clean clothes were getting scarce). Still, this didn’t include everyone, as the band’s bassist was wearing a similarly coloured shirt but with the word ‘Faithbook’ plastered on styled in the logo of… well, you can probably guess.

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After the band stopped playing we were introduced to the pastor, a slightly quirky looking man wearing an interesting tie and trousers combination, and myself and several others were mentioned and greeted for being new to the church this week. Part of Bubpha’s reason for bringing me tonight was because some missionairies from Korea had stopped by the church, so we got to see a few song and dance numbers from them. The first two dances were pretty crazy, plus the dance music itself was far too catchy considering they were all traditional religious songs, but the last performance the group put on was an interpretive piece focusing on a girl who had refused God at the beginning of her life but turned back to him, and was accepted, after she had fallen on some bad times. I guess that’s not really too far-out for a church service message, but it didn’t stop all of the dances from being massively entertaining, and this is coming from someone who you’d have to pay to get to a dance recital under normal circumstances.

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Of course, there’s always that one guy whose dancing has to upstage everyone else. Tonight it was apparently Morgan Freeman’s long lost brother.

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We didn’t even end up reciting traditional Bible prayers in the end. Once the dancers had finished the pastor returned to the front and told a few stories I didn’t understand, what with them being spoken in Thai, before the Korean missionairies handed out parting gifts of hand-fans and skincare packs before they left for their next destination. The church provided food for everyone afterwards and I was introduced to a Chinese teacher working in Ayutthaya who spoke english, so we discussed our different teaching experiences. Apparently in his school most of the students can already speak fluent english, so I’m sure Watphachi would surprise him.

Bubpha even bought me a church shirt which was nice of her and gives me more of an incentive to go back, if only so I can wear it at the only place where it makes sense to. I don’t think experiences like this ever make me want to become religious, but I can definitely see why people would join. I enjoyed tonight mainly because the church gave a real sense of community, and through my own cynicism I think I’ve maybe not thought of that as a benefit of religion before.

 

PS