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SPIRIT HOUSES OF THAILAND

Before diving in, it’s important to mention that the belief of Spirit Houses are solely unique to these four Southeast Asian countries: ThailandLaos, Burma, and Cambodia. Cool, right? Now, let’s begin.

Upon exploring the busy cities of Bangkok and Chiang Mai,  it’s easy to notice these miniature shrines placed near homes and local businesses. They’re everywhere!

Spirit Houses

(c) Flying Bohemian

This traveler concluded that these quaint shrines were showcased for locals to pray. It wasn’t until learning that Spirit Houses are significant to Thai culture since the country’s formation.

Before the existence of modern religion, Spirit Worship or Animism was believed among human civilizations –  “that all life, from plants to animals, even tangible objects contain a spirit.”  According to the website, Chiang Mai & Chiang Rai,  the old world beliefs of Animism integrated with the teachings of Buddhism during it’s development across Thailand. To this day, many beliefs of Animism are still in practice, such as, the Spirit House.  

These houses are made to shelter and pay respect to old guardian spirits or celestial beings. It’s believed that when a construction company tears down old buildings, the spirit needs a place to reside, in order for the new construction process to run smoothly. There are mythical stories of landowners who experienced problems with building, from permit issues to structures falling apart. It was realized that a Spirit House was needed to restore peace, which actually worked. Bangkok.com mentions that a priest, also known as, a Brahman or sometimes a Buddhist Monk can determine where a Spirit House needs to be built. The style of the Spirit House is up to the new owners of the space,  typically the wealthier the landowner or company, the more ornate the Spirit House. These houses can be temporary or permanent, decorated with the traditional offerings of betel leaves, flower garlands, rice, candles and incense. 

 As the country continues to rapidly modernize, it was nice to see first hand how Thailand continues to cherish their traditional values of religion and shamanistic spirituality. For more information about Spirit Houses, visit, Chiangmai-Chiangrai.com.

 

THE TRIBALISM OF SPORTS

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TV Show: The Big Bang Theory

As an outsider of the sports world, it’s hard to understand other individuals who live for a certain sports team. The Olympics and FIFA is easier to grasp, the world coming together to watch the best athletes compete every four years. Fun!  What’s puzzling the most is the branding of it all. Why do people like to separate themselves from one another by choosing a specific sports team?  Debating over which team is best, is it healthy to be consumed by the game? Matthew Madrid, a good friend, mentioned the word, “Tribalism” and it automatically clicked. But of course, it’s our innate human instinct to collectively join together. By definition in Webster’s dictionary, it’s having great loyalty to the tribe or social group over another. Asking others who are avid sports fans, gave additional reasons with some great insight. 

Hometown pride: To be proud of where you come from was the reason given by the majority. If someone was exposed to sports at a young age, it’s often influenced by the favorite pick within the household. Someone can be from one city but moved to another, soon embracing that team. For the true sports fan, it’s a great joy to watch their home team win the national championship. 

History:  There are many athletes that indeed made history, such as, Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls, the Brooklyn Dodgers with Jackie Robinson and the New York Yankees with Babe Ruth. These notable players lead their teams to influence the world with their talent, inspiring future athletes. Not only did they use their athletic ability for entertainment but impacted others in a positive way. Proving that it doesn’t matter where you come from or what color your skin is;  if you work hard, you can achieve your dreams. 

A healthy distraction:  Some of us listen to music or practice art; others watch sports to balance themselves. Finding out the latest score, watching the Super Bowl with family or simply talking about sports with friends helps to unwind from our hectic lives. 

Legacy – a tradition passed down from parent to child: It’s all about the family bond. A positive outlet for the pack to enjoy their time together. To have happy memories and cherish the limited time we have in life. 

This outsider’s perception changed for the better, understanding the rooted tribalism of sports and it’s significance to fans. There are a few of us that still don’t care to follow a team and that’s okay. Sports are to be accepted for what it is, a way to bring people together. 

SOUPS OF THE WORKING CLASS

Soup, the food with an intention to warm our hearts and comfort the soul, is universal in any language. Each soup has a distinct recipe, made with ingredients produced from the motherland, fused by the palates of neighboring countries or through colonization. The best soups are made by using anything and everything in supply to make the meal as hearty and filling, as possible. An inspiration came to mind after eating a delicious bowl of Menudo; to pay tribute to all hardworking countries and its individuals, that refer to soup as an important meal to sustain themselves for the everyday or on special occasions. Since there are too many to list, here are three countries that are close to the heart:

PHILIPPINES
Sinigang na Baboy (Pork Sinigang) 

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Photo Credit: Live.thefortsf.com

There is more then one type of Sinigang (i.e. seafood, chicken, vegetable, etc.) depending on the region where Sinigang is made. The pork recipe was chosen because it’s sound delicious to make! According to filipino-food-lovers.com, Pork Siangang is one of the most popular comfort foods in the Philippines. The broth has a sour base, commonly made out of Tamarind, that delicious sticky pulp often used in Asian cooking. The add-ins are mainly tomatoes, onions, your choice of pork, leafy green vegetables, spices and sometimes, taro root. The beauty of Sinigang is that there isn’t a wrong way to prepare, as it can adjust to a style that will delight your tastebuds. Just in time for the Fall and Winter seasons, here’s a recipe from: Panlasang Pinoy.

GUYANA
Guyanese Pepperpot

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Photo Credit: media.npr.org

Guyana, a country located North of the Latin American continent, is considered as one of the English speaking regions of the Caribbean islands. A fact learned from metemgee.com, Guyanese Pepperpot  is the main breakfast dish for Christmas. This protein enriched stew goes back to the days of the Amerindian people – indigenous inhabitants of Latin America. It consists of various meat: beef, pork and mutton; cassareep – a liquid extracted from the cassava (yucca) root, pepper, garlic, onions, cinnamon, brown sugar and spices. Eating Pepperpot with your choice of bread will fill your stomach for the majority of the day. For an easy to follow recipe, check out: metemgee.com.

PANAMA
Panamanian Sanchoco
Sanchoco de Gallina (Chicken Sanchoco)

Photo Credit: aswesawit.com

Photo Credit: aswesawit.com

The beautiful people of Panama are truly proud of where they come, always welcoming to others and will talk to you as if you’re family. Panama’s food scene is a melting pot, with many dishes influenced by Spain and other surrounding regions. The Panamanian version of Sanchoco, originates from the Azuero Peninsula. Mentioned in anywherepanama.com, Azuero is often referred to as the “heartland” of the country; home of the indigenous Panamanians, before the cultural influences of Colombia and Spain. The specific recipe chosen – Sanchoco de Gallina, with its main ingredient, Chicken, is a delicious concoction, made of a few simple ingredients packing a distinct flavor from cilantro, yucca root, your choice of vegetables and spices. Looks tempting? Check out the recipe from: As We Saw It.