Staying Healthy in Thailand – Some Things to Think About

Staying healthy while on the trip is a very high priority for students, faculty, family, friends …… really everyone. Being ill on a trip like this really is not very fun. So far, we have had few illnesses on this trip. And there are several things we can do to stay as healthy as we can, although sometimes, stuff happens.

Before you leave…..

There are a few things you can do before even getting on the plane to help keep you healthy. The most important thing you can do is make sure you have all your vaccinations. This was covered in another post in detail. Make sure you have the standard vaccinations (DTP, MMR, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, etc.), as well as typhoid. As recent measles outbreaks have shown, even standard vaccinations like MMR are important when traveling abroad. Continue reading Staying Healthy in Thailand – Some Things to Think About

The Third Gender in Thailand – Kathoey

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By: Janessa Ilada & Ry Mount

The term “transgender” is rarely used in Thailand. Instead, the common term is, “Kathoey” which was once used to define intersex people, human beings who were born with ambiguous genitalia. Kathoey have become entirely common in Thai society, like everyone else, they go about their daily affairs: shopping, meeting with friends, using public transport, visiting the temple.

It is important to outline the beliefs of Thai-Buddhism to relate it to kathoey in Thailand. In Buddhism, there are 4 genders, not only male and female, but also bhatobyanjuanaka and pandaka.

Bhatobyanjuanaka originally translated to intersexed, but has now become the common interpretation of kathoey, though there still isn’t an adequate translation of this word. Many later texts would include in this category that people who are not physically intersex may be mentally of another gender, i.e. someone in a woman’s body may feel like a man on the inside.

Pandaka is a little more complex in that in the earliest texts, meant that person belonged to a socially stigmatized class of gay men that dressed as women. However it is still open to which interpretation is the “right” one.

Continue reading The Third Gender in Thailand – Kathoey

Treatments for Motion Sickness

We will be experiencing just about every mode of transportation during this trip. We will be flying, driving in minivans (a lot, through city traffic as well as curvy, mountainous roads), riding in speedboats, riding in the backs of pickups over rough mountain roads, riding in tuk-tuks, riding bikes, riding tractors, and even riding on elephants. Continue reading Treatments for Motion Sickness

What to Bring – Checklist for Packing

I like to use a checklist of things to pack and do for a long trip to make sure I don’t forget anything. This one is specifically for Thailand. You can add and subtract certain items, but I would be really careful about dropping “critical” items. I have a packing list you can print out here in .pdf format. I would literally check off items as you pack them, to make sure you bring those critical items.

Packing List for May Term Thailand 2015

Continue reading What to Bring – Checklist for Packing

Thai Food

By: Randi Arnoldi & Jonas Twu

Thai food varies from region to region. In the central region the food is usually hot, salty, sweet and sour; while food in the North is mild-hot, salty, and sour, but it is never sweet. In the South the food is hot, salty, and sour. It is interesting to note that there is not a specific flavor profile for the western part of Thailand.

There are four main sauces that are paired with each meal, every chef will cook the meal to their preferences, then each person can personalize the dish to their personal preferences. At most tables you will see a four small bowls in a ring called Khrueng Phuang or ring of spices, nine out of ten Thai’s eating will automatically reach for one of the sauces before having their first bite and it is not viewed as disrespectful. Continue reading Thai Food

What to Bring – Some Additional Notes on Clothing

This is probably the topic where I get the most questions about, so I wanted to add a few additional notes on clothing to bring. As usual, it will be in bullet points, because I’m too lazy to write coherent paragraphs: Continue reading What to Bring – Some Additional Notes on Clothing

The Karen People

 By Zoe, Emily, and McCall

When people think of the Karen people they are typically familiar with films, documentaries about them or have heard of the term “long neck” tribe. People hear of the term “long neck tribe” due to the brass rings that women wear around their neck. An interesting myth about the rings is that it is said to elongate the wearer’s neck but is rather just a visual illusion. What most people don’t know that there are only certain subgroups within the Karen people practice this custom and is most common in the Padaung subgroup. The different subgroups had not historically recognized themselves as belonging to the same group until recently. Other than the gold neck rings the traditional clothing of the Karen consists of men wearing a sarong (a wrap like piece of clothing) and a sleeveless shirt. Unmarried Karen women sometimes wear a long white dress, and married Karen women wear a sarong and sleeveless shirt. Men and women wear different patterned and colored sarongs and wear them in different ways. Continue reading The Karen People

A Few More Important Items to Bring

I forgot to mention a few very important items to bring:

  1. Work gloves. Bring whatever works for you. You’ll be doing manual labor, and some good work gloves will prevent blisters and splinters. If they are less expensive gloves, you might want to bring a few pairs. Something like these are inexpensive, and this item includes three pairs of gloves. Or you can do something a bit beefier, although this may be overkill.
  2. Sleeping bag liner. This isn’t completely necessary, but it might be really nice to have. The second village in particular may have older blankets and pads, and a sleeping bag liner might make you more comfortable. This is especially true if you are particular about clean sheets. This one would be ideal, although there are many others to choose from. You can even bring a flat sheet in a pinch, although these tend to me a bit bulkier.
  3. Gifts for your host family. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but a small gift for your host family at the first village would be very nice. These families will go out of their way to make you comfortable at your home. Something that represents Utah would be particularly appropriate. A small photo book of Utah or some Westminster College gifts would make great gifts.

Squat Toilets and Bucket Showers – Essential Information

Traveling to remote parts of the world, especially in Asia, may require Americans to rethink some fundamental aspects of their daily activities. We have found over the years that the squat toilet and the bucket shower can be problematic for some students. To help everyone prepare, we want to provide some information to consider.

Here is a link to a good site that explains the essentials of the squat toilet.

Here is a link to using a bucket shower

Might be a good idea to have a look at these before we go. When we stay in peoples homes, understanding these makes for better relations with the family and the village as a whole.

How to Survive the (Gulp!) 24+ Hour Flight to Thailand

It’s a long flight to Bangkok, there’s no way around it. It is almost on the opposite side of the globe. It’s not quite as long as a flight to Africa, or India, or Australia, but it’s close. It’s a 2 hour 14 minute flight from SLC to SFO, a 2 hour 40 minute layover in SFO, a 13 hour 20 minute flight from SFO to TPE, a 1 hour 20 minute layover in TPE, and a 3 hour 40 minute flight from TPE to BKK. It’s a long long day! And during this “day”, we pass through 13 time zones and the international date line. We miraculously land 2 days after we leave. You will have no sense of time or place; your body will be completely out of whack.

But there are ways to make this flight, if not completely enjoyable, at least tolerable. You have to do three things: bring the right things for the flight, wear the right things during the flight, and do the right thing during the flight. Continue reading How to Survive the (Gulp!) 24+ Hour Flight to Thailand

Westminster College's Thailand May Term Blog


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