It was the day of departure and preparations were going well but, unexpectedly, a message arrived from the airline saying that my flight to Vienna (my stopover before going to Bangkok) had been cancelled. A blow to the heart. What to do now? I decided to rush to the airport anyway, hoping to catch the earlier plane. If I missed that flight I would not have been able to visit Bangkok, which was waiting for me as the first stop on my journey.
Bangkok immediately fascinated me with its treasures – huge buddhas, ornate palaces, ancient temples and floating markets. I continued my journey southward, to Songkhla, where the W-Up project was to be held.
With my project partners, we compared our impressions of Thailand from the very first moment. One thing that really amazed us was the amount of disposable plastic that is used and, considering that Thais eat out all the time, even just the daily plastic consumption of a single person reaches considerable levels. When you order a takeaway drink they serve it to you in a plastic cup, with a plastic cover, they give you a plastic straw, the cup is wrapped in a plastic strip if you want to drink it while walking and they put it in a plastic bag if you have to carry it elsewhere. Even more shocking is that if you sit in a café and have all the time and desire to enjoy a coffee in a reusable cup, they sometimes bring it to you in a plastic cup. These are just small examples. Unfortunately, much worse can be said of the air quality and hazardous waste disposal.
We were there to get to know the place and the environmental habits, and exchange good environmental and upcycling practices. We visited some local organisations involved in protecting the environment and planted mangroves that are essential to stop the water in the event of a flood. We cleaned Chalatat beach together with young Thais who told us more about Songkhla area and tried to teach us a few phrases in the local language (too difficult!).
And then learning upcycling methods: from discarded wooden plastic material we made beautiful phone holders and, from old tyres, beautiful plant pots.
We were helped by local school children who were doing great with handicrafts.
The experience in Thailand was truly enriching, I will take with me the kindness of the Thais, the traditions I discovered, the Buddhist religion I breathed thanks to the presence of the monks. I will never forget the confirmation ceremony of a Buddhist monk, to which we were invited by the family, a moment so profound and of absolute tenderness that it brought Thailand into my heart.