Enough on that, let's get into it.
Back when I was 21 my mate and I came to Bangkok at the end of a European adventure and had a couple of days taking in the sights. I also visited on my way to India back in 2008. Between 1998 and 2008 the differences seemed really big to me - less tuktuks, and more Western style commercialism is what I remember reflecting on back in 2008. This time, I again noticed the changes, including a marked increase in the number of large modern buildings and a sense of "sprawling tourism".
Having said that, the most engaging thought for me today was not around the changes, but around the simlarities. Take the War Memorial at Kanchanaburi (OK, so it's kinda outside Bangkok but it's where we ended up today). Despite enormous structural changes to the roads and buildings (this area was semi-rural back in 1998 - not any more), still the gardens were immaculate; the gardeners were helpful and polite; the memory of the people, (including NZ POWs) who died whilst building the Burma railway in the early 1940s during the Japanese occupation, was alive and well.
Likewise, although the tourism now extends right up to the bridge over the river Kwai, built at the cost of many allied POW's lives, even there seemed to be a sense of continuity - perhaps it was the steel of the bridge itself which hasn't aged a bit!
The people of Thailand are still so friendly. The food in Thailand still is still so yummy (duck, frogs and snake's head - hello!!). They still love their King, Rama IX, and despite a delicate political environment right now my taxi driver assures me that everyone stops fighting when called upon by the King.
Another thing that hasn't changed - Buddhism is still very much alive and well in Thailand. Just looking at Bangkok, with its countless Buddhist temples, it doesn't seem, save a move of God, that this is going to change any time soon.
So what does all of this mean for us as Christians? What is our mission response to the Kingdom of Thailand? I hope to discover some insight as I look at the work of Mark & Katrina and Peter & Lynley over near the Eastern border.
What do you think?