Modern Thai History, 1932-2014

By: Raymond Bertheaud & Charles Saad


In 1932, Thailand experienced a major and peaceful coup that caused a dramatic shift in its power structure, from monarchy to “a constitutional monarchy. King Prajadhipok initially accepted this charge but later surrendered his kingship to his 10 year-old nephew” (Zebioli 4). Subsequently, a world war erupts. Thais were historically described as an axis power during WW2 because in 1941 they invaded French Indochina to start the French Thai War. The Japanese served to mediate the conflict and brokered a deal a few months later which forced France to relinquish its claims on disputed territories. Thailand signed an agreement to support Japan provided that they return the territories lost to the British and the French. For these reasons Thailand is often branded as an axis power, although its motivations could be seen as being motivated more by anti-colonialism than aggression towards the allies.

There are a few historical events that have resulted from this period in Thailand which served to shape the outcome of the latter half of the 20th century.  Continue reading Modern Thai History, 1932-2014

HIV/AIDS In Thailand

By: Savanna Brown & Abby Sebastian

Brief Pathophysiology of HIV and Aids:

 How it’s spread:

  • HIV is a retrovirus spread through bodily fluids (blood, semen, vaginal and rectal fluids, breast milk) not through casual contact
  • Sexual contact is the most frequent mode of transmission
  • Once in the body, HIV body attacks T cells (which are key component of the immune system), incorporating its DNA into the cell’s DNA, which then enables the cells to reproduce large amounts of HIV into the blood

 Course of infection

Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 2.14.14 PM Continue reading HIV/AIDS In Thailand

Personal Safety While Traveling

A fear many have about traveling outside of the United States is personal safety. Much of this is ingrained in the fear of the unknown, and not on any firm data. While there are dangerous regions in the world today (Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Nicaragua, Yemen, Pakistan), there are many parts of the world that are considerably safer than regions of the US. Thailand in particular is a very safe destination for travel. By many measures of crime and safety rates, Thailand is safer than Canada, New Zealand, Australia, China, Belgium, and far safer than France, Italy, Ireland, and even the United States. And within the United States, places like New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Detroit are far more dangerous than many developing countries. Continue reading Personal Safety While Traveling

Mechai Bamboo School

By: Tori Stanley & Theresa Dominguez

The Mechai Bamboo School founded in 1974 is a unique learning environment open to the entire community and striving to “Create a generation of honest leaders who will improve rural Thailand.” The aim in creating the school was to help enhance life for all people living in rural Thailand. The school was founded to run around the rice planting and harvesting schedule so that children could help in the fields without missing any school. The school also runs from Thursday to Monday with their “weekend” falling on Tuesday and Wednesday so that people could come and visit the school and learn more about how this unique school set up runs. Students in this school take a very active role in making decisions not only in the school but in their wider communities as well. The teachers act as facilitators of the child’s education and help them come up with and implement projects rather than explicitly teaching. Students are allowed to pick things that interest them and are encouraged to use their creativity and make it into a project and learn from a much more hands on medium of learning. The upper grade students also get to select the incoming students that they feel will do well at this school. This panel of students goes through an interview and selection process for students and take on much of the responsibility of running the school. The students are taught to work collaboratively and value teamwork. Students find a project interesting to them and in groups they use books and the internet to find answers and solutions to problems. The core values of the school are, environmental protection, education, poverty eradication, philanthropy, integrity, and democracy & gender equality. Students learn about all these things and come away with high regards to these and many otherworldly values. Continue reading Mechai Bamboo School

Important Things to Remember Before Departure – 2015

Here are some miscellaneous important things to remember before departure:

Ecotourism in Thailand


By Matt Lancaster & Suzi Ayers

Travel and tourism is a rapidly growing industry, especially in developing countries such as Thailand. In fact, travel and tourism now accounts for more than 9.5% of the world GDP and generates $7 trillion a year (WTTC, 2014). Tourism is a trickle down economy, meaning it affects many other industries that tourists contribute to when they visit Thailand. Visitors will come to see conservation sights or ride an elephant, but the indirect dollar revenue is where the economy prospers. Visitors spread their money out across the economy purchasing food, lodging, transportation, and vendor goods in marketplaces. An economy that relies on tourism for its growth is highly aware of the services they need to provide to keep the tourists coming. A popular industry to maintain is ecotourism. Continue reading Ecotourism in Thailand

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

Westminster College's Thailand May Term Blog


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