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Tuesday, 20 November 2012 05:34

Dan and Jean Heuer's Trip to Japan and Thailand

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Jean and I spent ten weeks in Asia earlier this year. Initially we were in Japan for a week and then went on to Bangkok, Thailand for six weeks where we taught English to Buddhist monks in a program sponsored by Maryknoll. During our last three weeks we toured China. It was a wonderful opportunity to experience worlds very different from our own in the US. Below is a slide show we hope you enjoy

In Japan we were in Kyoto the old capital for four days. There we enjoyed seeing many very old Shinto and Buddhist shrines and temples. Many of them have very beautiful Japanese styled gardens on their grounds. Sr. Maureen Mitten, a Maryknoll Sister, and friends of hers guided us around these places. We then went on to Hiroshima. There we met Notre Dame Sister Lucia Aratani who became our guide. The highlight of our time there was the Peace Memorial Museum built at the epicenter of the site where the Atomic bomb detonated in 1945. It is committed to the purpose of eradicating nuclear weapons from the earth. The exhibits in the museum were very grim reminders of the horrors of nuclear war. We also attended Mass at the nearby World Peace Catholic Cathedral. Part of a day was spent touring downtown Hiroshima which has been completely rebuilt since the War. Our most prominent memory of Japan is that of the many Japanese people who routinely bowed to us after any interaction we had with them. We felt very respected.

We went onto Bangkok which is different in many ways from Japan. Most notably it is very hot there almost all of the time. We were there from February to March which is the coolest time of year and it was 95 degrees or warmer every day. Maryknoll arranged a very comfortable hotel for our lodging. It had air conditioning and a beautiful swimming pool.

Bangkok is a very Buddhist city. Buddhism is very evident everywhere. There are many temples and Buddhist monks are a very common sight in their Saffron colored robes. The people treat them with much reverence and regularly give them alms. Each monk goes out begging every morning. We enjoyed learning about Buddhism. It is very old and
we have found that it has much wisdom in its teachings. I am preparing a talk which I will give to Catholic groups in which I will point out that Christianity and Buddhism have much in common and complement each other. One focus of Buddhism is on the reality that all human beings are connected to one another and need one another.

We really enjoyed teaching the monks in a temple wat. They were dream students in that they were eager to learn, very attentive, and very respectful to us and to one another. We were addressed as Teacher Dan and Teacher Jean. We found the Thai people to be very friendly.

Thailand is Constitutional monarchy. There were numerous pictures of the King wherever we traveled. The people have much admiration for him. The Grand Palace is extremely ornate and unlike anything that we will see anywhere else. The king lives in another palace but goes there for ceremonies. He also has a summer palace which has very elaborate grounds.

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