Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” – Ephesians 6:1-3 NIV
In 2008, I went to Thailand for 30 days with the Oklahoma Rotary Group Study Exchange. I talked some about this in my previous post Broken Chairs.
Thailand was a learning experience for me in many ways. I learned about social cues. I learned about taking care of seniors. I learned about human trafficking. And I learned a great deal about nutrition and overall health.
I was divorced at the time. And every host family I met tried to hook me up with qualified singles. I say qualified because Thailand’s tradition follows certain status cues. For example, to marry a foreign man, presumably rich, was a high status proposition. It required a certain degree and job placement to even try.
The problem was, I had no idea my host families were trying to get me married.
As a result, I accidentally became engaged, twice.
Thailand taught me a great deal about how to care for seniors. Most importantly, respect their wishes.
Thailand does not have nursing homes, certainly not in the same sense we do in the U.S. The ancient belief system of the Thai requires children to care for their parents, with the ultimate responsibility falling on the youngest daughter.
If you failed to care for your elders, you were certainly going to hell.
There was no social security system; when daughters married, their husbands were charged with paying their wife’s parents a monthly stipend instead.
The group visited an “orphanage” in northeast Thailand. We were told the parents were alive but working elsewhere. The mothers mostly working in the coastal cities where jobs were easier to find.
When we visited Pattaya, I realized the rest of the story. There were the mothers, reaching out of the dark corners of the city, offering western men “dates.” Surely this was not their voluntary position.
Finally, I learned a great deal about nutrition. My health greatly improved during that 30 day visit. I was forced to eat only at certain times because all of our food was provided. We also only received small meals with small snacks in between.
Because of the spiciness of the food, I was forced to eat a great deal of white rice and pineapple. In fact, I made sure I had white rice and pineapple at every meal.
Coming from a low-carb diet mentality, this was quite an adjustment. Fruit was previously avoided in my American diet. Meat was the staple.
In Thailand, fruit, vegetables and rice were staples, meat was more of a seasoning.
And the Thai were very accustomed to walking everywhere. We seldom saw escalators or elevators. We took a lot of stairs. The Thai tended to have to borrow money just to buy scooters. So, for so many, walking was the primary mode of transit.
After 30 days I lost over forty pounds. And I felt amazing.
Then, I returned to my American diet and lifestyle. All the weight returned rather quickly. So did all the health problems.