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Bangkok: Alive & Accepting

Bangkok is known for its busy roads, street food and crazy night life full of ladyboy and ping pong shows. This all has its place however it was the Amazing Bangkok Cyclist tour company that hooked us in to take a tour of the city and its culture.
We made up a small group of three with our guide, nicknamed ‘On’ (full name too long and hard to pronounce let alone spell), who was a lovely and engaging soul who liked a laugh which made the experience all that more enjoyable and relaxing. Although driving through the madness of the Bangkok high streets was all but ‘relaxing’, it was more death defying and a test of nerves and concentration than anything else.
Cycling through the heavily packed traffic of Bangkok was only a small part of what we experienced though. We past through what was deemed as the ‘slums’ of Bangkok city which showed us how some of the people of Bangkok chose to live. On explained that although some people chose to live in slums this was only that, a choice of accomodation. Here in Bangkok most people live by a hierarchy that puts family first, followed by food, then career and clothes, and accommodation coming out behind all of these expenses.
Generally, as I’ve seen in most Asian cultures, people will come to the city to work and gain the money to send back home to their families who live outside of Bangkok, this comes first with their own needs coming behind this.
Even though living in the slums within the most basic of accommodation people there will have all the mod cons of giant LCD TVs, tablets and iPhones inside and even expensive cars sitting on the street outside.
Although different to the western world I can see the benefits of this hierarchy, allowing structure to your life and making decisions easier to process, at least as far as spending your money goes.
On took us on to a temple where a funeral was taking place, again showing a stark difference to our western traditions. All relations and friends were busy in open space outside the temple preparing food for the day whilst the body was in rest just a few feet away. On explained that unlike a lot of western culture there was a great feeling of acceptance that the family members felt when someone had passed. She went on to say that although they experienced the emotion of sadness from losing a close one their view of the world held strong beliefs in the acceptance of the life-death cycle, with death being an integral and natural part of life.
With this different perspective on life brings a lighter feel to a funeral and allows the congregation to also express themselves through good times and laughter, without any fear of being judged by others, something I feel the west is only just beginning to embrace as far as death is concerned.
How do you perceive death? Have you embraced or even made friends it? How has this made a difference to your life? Share in the comments below…

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