These agriculture students are raising money for their volunteer projects.

At the top of the slippery pole is almost $300 to be claimed by the first boys up.

No team made it today, but one got close and collected a nice consolation prize.

The money, and their muscle, will help bring fresh water to a dry village.

The students get no school credit or financial support. They're just ready to help and have fun doing it. Living small.

Tale of Two Temples: Where Would You Rather Meditate?

At the stunning Wat Long Khun, visitors ring the bell before crossing the bridge.

Wat Long Khun has everything, even a mural from the Matrix with a likeness of Keanu Reeves

 It would take days to explore the nine sparkling 
buildings at Wat Long Khun.

We found the White Temple in Chiang Rai by mistake. We knew it was there, but we were going someplace else entirely that day.  The temple is so arresting, so compelling, that you can't drive past.

Wat Nong Lumpuk
The dazzling Wat Long Khun is new, an architectural masterpiece in nine buildings, designed to attract and inspire. The all-white structures, studded with millions of tiny mirrors, are breathtaking. 

Wat Nong Lumpuk is also new. It's in a poor village in a poor eastern province. It definitely does not dazzle. It attracts no tourists. It does have a new ceiling, a gift from Bangkok students and some American donors. The villagers are very proud of that ceiling.

Where would you rather meditate?

Thai Country Welcome, Living Small

This house in Buriram Province has indoor plumbing, fans, two poodles, and a couple who farm about two acres of rice. Their adult children love to come home. We were invited one evening had had the best fresh water white fish I've ever tasted anywhere. There were curries, vegetables, chicken, pork, and sugary desserts. And a half ounce of Mekong whiskey each. Living small was delicious. 

Thai Hotel, Living Really Small

These Thai college students set up housekeeping in a rural area for a few days. They'd come to help restore a recently flooded school. Their tents got a little flooded too, so they moved them to a dry place and kept working, never mind. 

Temples, Living Small

What's the point of having a temple?  They sit waiting, often empty, open all day.  Rural Thais bow the head and raise prayerful hands when passing by, often while continuing a conversation. They take these centuries-old symbols for granted. But if the Temples disappeared the Thai soul  would be . . .defoliated.

Monkchat, Living Small

At every monastery of decent size, you'll find monks ready to chat and visit, in English, but they won't teach unless real student shows up.

Teaching Well, Living Small

These college teachers are providing the entertainment at a huge graduation party in Bangkok. Where deep respect for teachers is a tradition, students love to see the faculty let their hair down once a year.

Prodding Elephants, Living Small

This sweet faced Cambodian boy is an expert mahout, and he uses his prod gently. I checked, the points aren't sharp. But a 100 pound teenager can get a multi-ton 70 year old pachyderm moving if he knows where to tickle her.