Sunday, September 2, 2012

Hat Yai, Thailand

Airavata, a mythological three headed elephant who carries the Hindu god Indra

Waiting to board the cable car.

Cory practicing being Buddhist for an hour

Statue of Buddha

Budai (Laughing Buddha) at the Chinese Temple

Dried food at the Hat Yai market

Hat Yai market
I have returned to southern Thailand for the second year in a row to work on an environmental sampling project in the Gulf of Thailand. I am ready to head offshore but there has been a delay in preparing the remotely operated vehicle that will be used on the vessel, thus we found ourselves with entire free day to spend exploring the near by city of Hat Yai.

Suksan, a Tetra Tech employee who normally works in Bangkok was kind enough to be our guide.  We used a hired van and driver to take us to a few destinations.  The first stop was atop a small mountain overlooking the city of Hat Yai.  Here we visited a Hindu temple and then took a cable car to a Buddhist temple, from there we were able to walk partway down the mountain to a Chinese Temple. I was impressed that the temples of all of these eastern religions share the same mountain.

Suksan claimed he didn't know much about religion but explained to us that in Thailand many people feel it is important to respect all the peoples religion.  This of course sounds familiar, but in Thailand 95% of the people follow Buddhism, 5% Islam and less than 1% are Christan.  I found all of three of the temples we visited very friendly and inviting.  This is in contrast Christan churches both old and new I have visited in the the U.S. and elsewhere where I sometimes feel awkward, like I am intruding into a place I do not belong. 

Our next stop was the market in Hat Yai were we ate lunch and wandered down busy streets and narrow corridors browsing the vast selections of trinkets and food.  I don't think Hat Yai gets a lot of tourists so we got a lot of funny looks with us four white guys a head taller than anyone else wandered along.

Tomorrow we will board the survey vessel and if all goes well begin the sixteen hour transit to our first survey location.

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