Kitty R. recommends. When travelling to Southeast Asia, you should pack as if you were going to the beach, thus take: sunscreen and a book. The reason for the first one is that sunscreen and tanning oils are much more expensive here and usually they whiten the skin. As for the book, do not panic, it is not about carrying it around, but it’s about reading it (sic!). You can do it, for example,while rocking in a hammock, and when you finish reading, without a problem, you can exchange such a book in the next hostel for a new one and read it and then replace it in the next hostel and … In other words, take the book on a journey to get involved in the mobile, awesome travel library in which you never pay penalties for over keeping, and that’s a deal!
Then what is Kitty R. going to bring to Europe after her six-month journey through Asia? Magnets? Trousers with an elephant pattern? No, my dear, she takes three books back with her while she came here with just one (she bought the other two, cheap and fair!). Several others she has already read and left in other Southeastasian towns.
Did she explore the secrets of Buddhism during this trip? No. Did she gain any other skills? Yes. For example, she began to read books in a different language than her native one. At present, “A Brave New World” and Mr. Huxley provide her with the power of linguistic impressions; what a lush language challenge (New English World for Kitty R., ha!)
Actually how did it happen that Kitty R. travelled to Asia? How surprising the answer is: she just likes to travel (diagnosis of needs), so she thought of new destiantions (setting a goal) and then worked hard (budget calculations). She created a mini project for herself and she did it. Everything is a matter of choice. You choose and travel or you choose to stay. Each option is good if it is a conscious decision.
Has Kitty R. been visiting many monuments and attractions on her way? No. Has she been visiting many museums? No (until she discovered the 3D museum and photo gallery!). Did she get to know some part of Asian culture after all? Yes. Kitty R. does not like to travel ticking off lists, but she loves to experience daily things; thus she will give an example:
A few days ago, Kitty R. went to a Muay Thai night fight. The whole thing takes place in a dark hall in which the ring is placed in the middle, highlighted with some classic metal lamps. One Thai encurages Sir Last to even go into the ring before the fight starts. When he almost gets on the ring suddenly he is stopped and turned back at the last minute. Someone from the dark corner of the hall screams that the ring has been devoted to today’s night fights and the blessing can not go to a farang walking on it (that means being wasted).*
Did Kitty R. enjoy the fight itself, or rather seven sharp fights in a row? Yes, because it was a new and interesting experience for her. Most importantly, the event itself pushed her to investigate the Muay Thai topic more. So she began to wonder: is it good that children from the age of 7 participate in public fights, having a crowd of drunk adults betting on who wins? By taking part in the bets on the fight and winning, the child earns an amount equal to the monthly or even annual salary of an adult, and yet wherever money is involved, dark and bad things happen. A child involved in the fight loses at least playground games with their peers and what we call a carefree childhood. Winning the fight can enrich not only the player’s family, but thanks to bets, even the entire village. Enrich is measured here as providing a warm meal and getting out of extreme poverty. Is this related to the exploitation and suffering of the child? Yes. Research shows (carried out in Bangkok on a sample of 200 child-fighters and their non-fighting peers) that as a result of fighting, the brain of a young Thai boxer which due to his age is still developing, often gets irreparable damage. The brain resonance image of such a child is similar to that of a persons after a road traffic accident. On the other hand, if a child comes from a poor family, which is not a unique situation in Asia, parents often go for bread (or for rice?) to bigger cities, ie they disappear from the life of their offspring. Thus, the child stays alone (or with grandparents), specifically with his peers who are often in a similar situation, and then the world of alcohol and other psychoactive substances comes for them. In that situation Muay Thai may be one of those positive ways of developing yourself and faith in one’s own abilities, bringing an broad Asian social acceptance. Thus Muay Thai can be above all, simply a passion for a young Thai. Kitty R. recommends: google it, as there are many documentaries about children and Muay Thai, look and think for yourself. Kitty R. herself has an ambiguous opinion on the participation of children in boxing fights, mainly because she tries to get to know other cultures, not necessarily through the perspective of her own culture, ie European. She doesn’t throw all children (as well as adults) into one sack, but tries to come to anyone with an individual approach, with openness of mind. She understands that a young man practicing Muay Thai carries a various, often difficult background, but sometimes also joy, passion and a perspective for the future. For this reason, for the fights in which children take part, Kitty R. says ‘no,thank you’, she prefers to go for a walk, but she does it with full respect for Thai boxers, both those of age and those underage.
And back to packing when travelling to Asia, consider taking sunscreen, a book and… a mosquito net (or at least good power tape, because mosquito nets provided in hostels very often have big holes). For everything else you may need, you will pay with Bahts, Dongs and Kips.
Choose your own way of exploring and enjoy!