May Term Thailand is a unique experience that cannot be replicated. It might sound cliché, but it is a life-changing experience for participants. That said, this isn’t a trip for everyone. There are some things that you will experience on the trip that may be difficult for some. But most who’ve been on this trip will agree with me when they say that these only add to the overall experience. Here are some things to be aware of:
It’s hot on this trip. I mean really hot. Utahns are, of course, used to high temperatures. What Utahns are NOT used to is the humidity. It can be overbearing. You sweat, and the sweat doesn’t evaporate, since the air around you is so moist. That makes you sweat more, and makes you even hotter. During the evening hours, this can be even more uncomfortable. We compensate for this by scheduling outdoor activities around the early morning and late afternoons, with a “siesta” during midday hours, particularly in the villages. When we stay in hotels, they are all air conditioned, and the vans we travel in are also air conditioned. Most of the homes we stay at in the first village have fans in them, and the second village is in the mountains and is pretty cool during the evening. That said, be prepared to be really hot and sticky!
Bugs! Bugs Everywhere!
Yes, there are bugs in Utah. Ants, flies, mosquitos, box elder bugs, and so on. But Thailand, being in the tropics, has more. A LOT more. And they’re bigger. Sometimes much bigger. Just about all of them are harmless (the most harmful bug is the mosquito, and we’re used to that). But it can be disconcerting to have large spiders walk by or have swarms of mayflies buzzing around your head.
But look on the bright side: they’re pretty tasty.
The Toilets are … Different
Most toilets that we encounter are Western (sit down). However, we will encounter Asian squat toilets, particularly in the villages. For some, this can be very disconcerting, since most have never pooped squatting. However, if you’ve ever backpacked or camped, it’s the same thing. Plus, the toilets that we used are very clean. They are not vault or pit toilets, like many wilderness toilets in the US, and are often cleaned every day.
What About Showers?
You will be showering every day, and usually twice a day, as most Thais do. In the hotels, you will have regular showers. However, in the villages, you may be using buckets to shower. Don’t fret, it is actually pretty easy to do. But don’t expect a long, hot shower, unless it’s in the hotels.
The Food is (take your pick): Spicy, Weird, Different
If you ask anyone who’s been on this trip, they will highlight how amazing the food is. However, it is true Thai cuisine, which can be very different than the Thai cuisine you find in a Thai restaurant in Utah. It is often less sweet and far spicier. There’s a lot more seafood. There are meats and vegetables that….we’re not used to. We will accommodate people who can’t handle spicy foods by providing less spicy alternatives, have less challenging alternatives to the more challenging foods, and maybe even have some American food every now and then.
So if you’re expecting burgers and fries every day, this may not be the trip for you. But if you want to experience truly amazing, but different, cuisine, then this trip will be heaven.
I Have to Sleep on the Floor?
I’m Nervous About Getting Sick
Just about everyone will experience some gastrointestinal discomfort on this trip, mainly due to the change in cuisine. But this is typically short in duration and not very severe. However, people do get a bug now and then. But we are well equipped to handle any medical emergency.
One of the advantages of Thailand is that it has a world-class healthcare system. In fact, many foreigners go to Thailand for inexpensive but high quality healthcare, in what is termed “medical tourism”. So if there are any injuries or illnesses that require medical care, know that it will always be available nearby.
I’m Vegetarian/Vegan/Lactose-Intolerant/Gluten-Free/Allergic to Something
If your allergy is a medical issue, we will do our best to accommodate you. We’ve had people who are gluten-intolerant, vegetarian, and had select allergies, like shellfish, participate on this trip and had no issues with their dietary constraints. However, if you have certain allergies, it may be very difficult for you. For example, if you are very sensitive to peanuts (if you go into anaphylaxis in the presence of even trace amounts), it may be really difficult to travel in Southeast Asia.
If your dietary choice is a lifestyle choice, we will again accommodate you as best we can. However, we cannot guarantee that your food is completely free of the products that you’re avoiding. For example, if your veganism is at the level where you do not eat foods that were prepared in pans that were used to cook meat, we may not be able to accommodate you. And we cannot guarantee that foods will be completely free of fish sauce, which is a very common condiment in Thai cuisine, and contains fish.
If you’re lactose-intolerant or intolerant to gluten, you’re in the right place, since Thai cuisine uses no milk and very few foods with gluten.