Finding Faith in Asia

The Grand Palace - Bangkok, Thailand

I admit that I had no idea how to post about my trip to Asia. I want my posts to be informative with the goal being to make travel more accessible to women like me. I want my posts to be inspirational so that you are unafraid to get out there and experience the world. But I also want this to be a place where I can just marvel at the world and share the endless ramblings that go on in my head. I want to share how traveling really does change you and the real value of getting out of your hometown.

For those who want detailed information on how to get here, what to see, and what to do, this may not be for you (stay tuned for a how-to post). For those looking for a little inspiration or just something different, keep reading.

I do want to add a disclaimer that this post will contain some dialogue about faith and maybe even a romanticised version of reality. I am very accepting of what others believe but my faith is very personal to me. I do not intend to “convert” anyone with this post nor am I looking to be convinced of a certain faith/religion/train of thought. I am in a stage in my life where I have really stepped away from traditional Catholicism (which is how I was raised) to find a faith that makes sense to me. I am in the middle of discovering what I truly believe and this trip answered a lot of questions I had about my own faith. I don't dive into religion in this post but I felt the need to post a “heads-up” as a courtesy to any readers who may have strong feelings about this.

Let the show begin.

Some trips are very “normal”, relaxed, and nothing much happens. Some are filled with excitement and adventure, while others are life changing. This trip brought me a lot of spiritual peace.

The Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand is one those things you must see before you die. It was breathtaking and it struck me as one of the most beautiful (“modern”) man-made creations that I had ever seen. Simply put, I had a spiritual revelation and a reaffirmation that there is a God out there. As someone who has been working on figuring out my faith and exactly where my beliefs align this made a lot of my troubling unanswered questions disappear. I suppose people have these kinds of revelations when they visit any of the Seven Wonders of the World.

I don’t know what “God” looks like or whose religion is right or wrong I just know a God exists and he/she/it is a forgiving and loving God. This palace was a testimony to a love so grand that is only present in something bigger than oneself.  The detail and dedication put into this magnificent palace could have only been made with a love deeper than we will ever understand and with blinding faith that this all has a purpose. The exquisite attention to detail was mesmerizing.

The gold reflected the sunlight, which only added to the heat of the city combined with the hundreds of tourists. Somehow though, the heat seemed to be intentional as if was a part of the experience. It created that warm and fuzzy glow that comes after climbing up really high and looking down from the very top to see the whole world down below. As if you are seeing the world for the first time. Very few places/experiences give you that intense ecstasy of novelty. Like the first time, you see the ocean, the desert, or your first kiss. The first time you see this palace, it's so overwhelming in the most beautiful way. A feeling you will recall for the rest of your life.

Every single spot on the temple was adorned with thousands of little squared pieces of mirrors, colored glass, tile, and what looked like gems. They were meticulously placed by hand and one by one. The proof was the dried cement that had seeped out behind each gem when it first had been pushed into place. Devotion was the only word I could think of to describe the temple.

Details off The Grand Palace
Romantic love doesn’t produce this kind of passion, neither does familiar love. This kind of passion can only come from the deep root of hope, faith, and knowledge of a bigger than thou entity existing. It moved me; it sort of shook me to my core but in the gentlest way. Those two hours feel like they have forever changed me. I can’t say that you’ll have the same experience or revelation but I can say you will be awe of the possibilities that human labor and true love can produce.

Bali produced the same effect but not from visiting temples. Bali’s faith is so apparent in everything. In the way they treat strangers, in the way they speak about their religion, in the way they talk about their family, it just exists. We had a tour guide who took the time to explain his religion a bit and he mentioned how their homes are built with separate little rooms specifically for prayer. I mean they have literally built their home to accommodate their faith and not the other way around. Your home is the most important part of your life, it affects every single thing that stems from you and they start their faith right at home. This still lingers in my mind. I have never known such dedication to stay connected with your faith.

What struck me the most of my entire trip in Asia was the adoration and dedication to spirituality. The offerings were set up daily and cleaned up daily. It was beautiful to see fresh flowers and little treats left out for their god(s) or ancestors. I don’t think I have that much adoration for even myself. Their love runs so deep for something that they don’t even fully understand and I just keep sarcastically thinking to myself “God forbid you love someone other than yourself.”  Personally, it’s been such an uphill battle to have plain faith in anything but for them, it was so simple. It just made sense. 

I could never lump Thai culture and Indonesian culture into one seamless sentence but they do have in common one thing, their daily practice of love and faith overflows into their attitudes, values, and quality of life. It beams out of almost every corner. I’ve never felt this way in any of the places I have ever visited before. It was truly soul changing.

Tirta Empul Temple in Bali, Indonesia

It's now a part of me. It has consumed my every thought that there is more to faith than what I have been living. It makes me so excited to keep digging deeper for a faith that aligns with my values. I have been reminded that there is so much more to discover than what is in front of me at the moment, that there are many other ways to live than what I have been taught, and there is more to life than what I know.

Canang Sari, offerings in Bali, Indonesia

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