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A community rich in culture

A Rotary youth exchange - what an experience I have already had.

A Rotary youth exchange - what an experience I have already had. As I am less than two months into my year aboard in the country of Thailand and city of Chumphae I have been openly accepted into the community and a culture of which I have never been a part before.

It is a community full of gracious people willing to teach their traditions to a young Canadian guy while also wanting to learn of his customs in Canada.

Thai people extend themselves with open arms as they generously offer you anything you need, at any time. It is a culture full of respect and pride of their native language and values which they continually pass on from generation to generation.

Recently, I had the chance to take part in an English class tour to the ancient city of Phimai, located about 250 km northeast of Bangkok. The one-day trip included about 200 students from my school all of whom have an interest in the English language. With all the students and staff riding in four tour buses we began our four-hour journey to the town of Phimai where ancient ruins of Thai and Cambodian culture awaited us.

The Khmer temples of Phimai have been designated a United Nations World Heritage Site and therefore have become quite the tourist attraction. Dating back to the late 10th century, the ruins of Phimai were used by kings Suryavarman II (1113-1150) and Kauavarymam VII (1181-1219). There main purpose was a monarch temple and ceremony centre. Since then, the ruins have been reconstructed in order to preserve one of Thailand's most sacred Khmer sanctuaries. The structures within the compound's walls are made of white and red sandstone that has been discoloured over the years by natural erosion. Highly detailed Buddha and Naga images are depicted around the windows, on the walls, and covering the ceilings, while statues within the towers are another great feature. As the temples within the property blend both Hindu and Buddhist artifacts and culture these Cambodian influenced structures are of great historical value to southern Asian society.

The trip really opened my eyes to other religions and historical locations around the world that are of significance to civilization and preserving each definite society.

In terms of climate, Thailand only has three seasons and in some southern areas only two. The rainy season starts around July and runs through to November with the most rainfall in August and September. After the rainy season the cool season begins and runs from around December to February with relative temperatures around 20 degrees Celsius. Finally the hot season carries on from March to June. It pretty much rains once a day.

The humidity is high at about 66 to 82 per cent.

The schooling system in Thailand is somewhat slow and therefore it took me a while to receive my schedule of subjects. Finally around the beginning of September I had a timetable in place and I was off and running.

My courses include Thai speaking, writing, culture, dancing, cooking, and sword fighting. Also I will often help out with English classes and camps in order to help the community learn their foreign language of choice.

Remember that I will be writing about once a month, so don't hesitate to contact me by email at any time at kai_nestman@uniserve.com.

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