I love the poppy tradition. As a naturalized Canadian citizen, I embraced this cultural observation of respect that’s simultaneously a common denominator with other countries with World War I experiences.
While I was in Edinburgh this summer, I visited the National War Museum at Edinburgh Castle. I was fascinated by the Global Remembrance poppy exhibit. My interest was many-fold – historical, cultural (hey, Anthropology degree here), and educational.
Look at all these cool flowers used during observance of Remembrance Day from around the world. Unfortunately, I didn’t capture 1. Scotland 2. England, Wales, and Northern Ireland in my photo.
3. France 4. Belgium 5. Ukraine 6. USA 7. Canada 8. Newfoundland 9. Australia 10. New Zealand
I had a particular sense of satisfaction to learn about the role that women played in the launch of this tradition. The two women most responsible are Moina Michael and Anna Guerin. The images below captured during my visit to the castle museum detail their efforts.
Like many others, I have family members who have served, though I’m not aware of any who served in World War I. I wear my red poppy prominently for most of the month of November and I love seeing other poppies throughout my day. The veterans are on full display as well, wearing their uniforms and raising money and awareness.
11th Day, 11th Hour
Canadian artillery field surgeon and poet, John McCrea, is best known for his famous poem, In Flanders’ Field. Here is the poem in its entirety on display at the museum as printed in 1918 by the Heliotype Co. Ltd. Ottawa to commemorate the death of the poet.
My favourite part of the trip to Ayutthaya was the elephant trek. From the Pang Chang Elephant Camp, two mahouts took us out among some of Ayutthaya’s ruins, including Wat Chang (Monastery of the Elephant). This was a terrific way to see everything. At first I was concerned when I laid eyes on the sharp goading tools (Aṅkuśa) that the mahouts carried, but through the trip I realized it was used like a bridle and reins are used on a horse, to guide the animal when necessary. The tool would need to be sharp or the elephant would not feel anything through such thick skin. I had read some reviews of the Pang Chang establishment that mentioned mistreatment of the elephants, but I saw nothing of the kind. The mahouts were really good with their animals and the elephants seemed to enjoy the work. One of the mahouts explained that he bonded with his elephant when it was 2 years old and has been with her for 16 years.
At one point, both barefooted mahouts jumped off their mounts to take photos of us with our cameras. The elephants were docile giants and you could buy fruits to feed them. I was as fascinated by the elephant’s slow plodding gait, the way they drank water at the drink station, and their attention to each other. This was a seriously cool experience on a perfect day to be outside.
One of the mahouts with his goading tool.
A distance shot upon approach of Wat Chang. Photo credit: Stephanie Brinkman.
Japanese tourists rounding the bell shaped chedi of Wat Chang (Monastery of the Elephant).
Buddha sitting below the chedi at Wat Chang.
We passed this well-tended Buddha along our tour.
Now this is exactly what I wanted! Traveling among ruins, though I never found the name of this site.
Magnificent! Not seen in the photos: a small group of people were recording a music video among the ruins.
Such a great day! Time to give the elephants a fruit snack and say goodbye.