There’s no place like home.
Hi everyone! I missed you all. This has been one trying week. I went down to Bangkok to meet my parents, who were flying in from the U.S. It was so good to see them walking towards us after they got off their flight! But soon after they arrived, one of my mom’s very good friends (who lives in Bangkok) gave us the news that her husband had passed away that day. So what was supposed to be a quick jaunt in Bangkok and back up to Chiang Mai by the weekend turned into a frantic scramble to rearrange our flights, pop over to the mall and buy fine funeral wear (which must be either black or white) for several days’ worth of Buddhist ceremonies. Plus the condo where we stayed didn’t have hot water for showers, so we had to take cold showers. (But we cheated and went to the hair salon to get our hair done in comfort at least.)
We also had to take care of a bunch of business for my mom: getting her national ID card, setting up banking for her, getting internet and cell phones set up, and a few other sundry things.
Also we wanted to get a chance to visit family, which was complicated by the fact that they live nearly an hour outside of where we were staying in the city. Oh yeah, and it’s flooding in Bangkok.
But we made it. After a mad shopping spree, we got what we needed and were able to attend the funeral services. We went three separate days. The first day involved a viewing of the deceased, where each person would pour a tiny bit of holy water on the deceased’s hand in a symbolic washing away of sins. Our friend’s husband was the former deputy minister of the Department of Transportation, a position that is considered to be a servant of the King of Thailand. So representatives from the King’s Palace brought holy water from the palace and, on the behalf of the King, poured the holy water on his hand. Then the body was interred in a coffin, while drummers and a flautist from the palace played a traditional beat.
Traditionally, Thai royalty used standing coffins and the circular umbrella-like things you see in this picture below are symbolic of royal processionals.
Following that, there was a group of monks who came in to chant and give blessings. The second day involved more chanting by monks, followed by a final set on the morning of the third day.
The third day was a full-day affair, starting with the monk’s blessings and a light lunch. Then the coffin was moved to a special temple that housed the incinerator for cremation. There was a royal processional that circumnavigated the temple three times. Then the vast majority of the guests arrived, including several current and former officials.
We each were given one of these flowers carved from a special wood to place, with our final respects and blessings, in the incinerator where they light the fire to burn the body.
It was quite something to see and I’m glad my mom was able to be there with her friend during this process. Then, finally, on Tuesday night we arrived back in Chiang Mai – a full week after I had left. The whole time we were gone, we really didn’t have internet service. We managed to get a short term aircard for my mom’s laptop so we could take care of the most important business, but it didn’t leave enough time for any of my usual work.
Then, just on the day we were coming back up to Chiang Mai, I caught a bit of a cold. So since we’ve arrived I’ve been trying to catch up on what I’ve missed, but it’s been a bit difficult with a head cold and while trying to get my parents settled in and situated, plus showing them around our city. I logged into my feed reader and found 980+ posts I’d missed. Nine hundred and friggin’ eighty. I started to go through it…and got to about 600 then just marked it all as read. I’m going to try to go to individual blogs and see what I missed, but if there’s anything in particular you’d like me to see, just leave me a link in the comments and I’ll be sure to check it out!
Ok, I’m beat. But I missed you all and just want to say hi. I hope everything is going well for you! I missed out on Virtual Coffee this week (and didn’t even get a chance to link up last week either), but if we were really meeting for coffee, I’d tell you how much I want to hear about what’s going on with you. So drop me a line and tell me what’s going on in your part of the world!