Fun Fact #1
Ok, so there are little things every day that may seem strange to you, as to myself, but there is usually an explanation for them. That is what these posts are going to be for. There are times when I am a wee bit sad that this is not my first time living in the country of Thailand, as I have forgotten many of things that are indeed strange and unusual at first sight for a Westerner such as myself. Thankfully, I am surrounded by a group of fellow language learners who are going through their first processing of this place, and I can be reminded of what is new and different for them.
So… every time you see a post titled “Fun Fact,” be ready for a short glimpse into something that makes life in Thailand entirely different, entirely interesting, and entirely new! Without further adieu, I present you with your first Fun Fact in History… well, kind of.
Brook and I were recently at the OMF Home in Bangkok, where we were staying in a room a few floors up. This meant many stairs for us to climb each time we needed to retrieve something from our room. There turned out to be one certain place that Brook would always catch his toe as we went up, and upon closer inspection, we discovered that the first step after the landing was half a tile higher than all the other stairs. Upon mentioning this as a joke to a staff member in the OMF offices, we were surprised to find out that this was, in fact, not a mistake, rather it was quite intentional.
You see, in Thailand, everything is done for a reason. There is a saying “to be Thai is to be Buddhist,” so many everyday practices have some sort of mystical or superstitious background in them. The building of this particular staircase is one such practice. There is much belief in the existence and activity of spirits in Thailand, as well as their ability to dwell among buildings and residences. These stairs were built slightly “off” as means of deterring bad spirits from successfully entering the upper part of the building, a means of throwing them off or confusing them. At the same time, it was not so obvious that a spirit (or the people travelling them each day) would notice it straight away. The same is intended by landings and turning staircases, as anything other than straight could also help deter any unwanted presences in a building. Now, for those of you who may be wondering, our organization did not particularly do this when setting up their offices in this building, rather, it is just simply the way things are built, just the way things are done.
So, if you ever visit Thailand, take note of the stairs upon which you walk. Is there a landing halfway to your destination? Are all of the stairs the exact same height? Could there be one or two tiles that seem out of place in a mosaic pattern? Who knows what wonders you will find when you observe even the smallest of details!