An Escape Along the Thai Border: Burmese Refugees

By: Siri Wieringa and Kaylene Moulton

Burma is home to one of the longest running secret civil wars in the world. Lasting over 50 years, the country has been run by a succession of military governments (Bowles, 11). The violence that has been tearing Burma apart has caused citizens to flee the country. “Nearly one million people have fled Burma for relative safety of Thailand over the last two decades” (Lang, 369). Many go to refugee camps along the border of Burma in Thailand. “At the beginning of 1994, 72,000 refugees lived in 30 camps, of which the largest housed 8,000 people; by mid 1998, 110,000 refugees lived in 19 camps, with the largest housing over 30,000 people” (Bowles, 11). Refugee camps along the Burmese and Thailand border have become more and more prevent as the years have gone on. “About 142, 000 Burmese refugees reside as a ‘temporarily displaced people’ in one of the nine official refugee camps, while an estimated two million live and work outside the camp, either legally registered as migrant workers or more likely illegally”(284).

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The Buddhist Way of Life

By: Alexandra Guinney and Tamer Begum

With over 360 million followers Buddhism is one of the world’s largest religions. It was founded in Northeastern India in 520 BC by a young prince named Siddharta Guatama. Buddhism is a religion and an applied philosophy. The faith does not endorse the existence of a soul, nor does it endorse that worldly things are permanent or the existence of worldly happiness. It goes by following the middle path which is a balance between every aspect of life.

Buddhism is a guide towards eliminating suffering through the eight-fold path that is guided by the four noble truths and the five main moral codes. The purpose for this essay is to describe the ways in which Buddhists play out their everyday lives, the steps to take towards achieving enlightenment, and ways in which we can apply this belief to our daily life and travels.

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Aquaculture in Thailand: Economic Pressures versus Ecological Health

By: Carson Chambers and Alexa Ferdig

Fringed with rich aquatic biodiversity both along shores and inland fresh waterways, Thailand’s marine life plays an integral role in Thai society.  The farming of marine species including shrimp, prawns, muscles, finfish and cockles is a major aspect to the economy and culture of Thailand.  Salt water (brackish) aquaculture accounts for approximately $1.46 billion of Thailand’s global exports and creates 662,000 jobs (Pongsri, C., & Sukumasavin, N., 2005). Freshwater aquaculture provides vast amounts of food for the local population and contributes to ancient customs and traditional cuisine.

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Mechai Viravaidya: The Condom King

By: Nathan Calies and Lindsey Dunlap

Mechai Viravaidya was born in Thailand to a Scottish mother and a Thai father both of whom were doctors. He is one of four children, with his younger brother, Sunya, the founder of the Pattaya International Hospital and one of his two sisters, Sumalee, was formerly a journalist in Bangkok. As of now, he is married to Thanphuying Putrie Viravaidya. Mechai also has two grandchildren, Mek and Mok, who both sponsor a village in Northeastern Thailand through the Village Development Partnership (VDP) (Activities Implemented by Mechai Viravaidya, 2011).

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Thai Phrasebooks

The Thai language is a unique language, only spoken in Thailand and not closely related to any other language with the exception of Lao. It has some unique grammar, 5 tones, and a very unique alphabet, making it a very difficult language to learn for Westerners. What gets me are the tones. You can say they same sound in 5 different tones, and they can mean 5 completely different things. And tones are subtle to us Westerners. A subtle raising of the tone to emphasize a point in English can alter the entire meaning of a sentence in Thai.

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Thailand Travel Guide Books

Before you go this summer, do yourself a favor and get a guidebook.  And peruse it before you go.  They have lots of suggestions and recommendations, and if they are from a good guidebook, they are typically spot on.  And the sections on culture, history, arts, etiquette, geography, weather, etc. are invaluable.

There are a ton of guidebooks, from a variety of publishers, including FodorsRough GuideMoon, and a host of smaller publishers.  I am partial to Lonely Planet.  The audience that they write for seems to be spot on with the type of travel I enjoy (going on a budget, exploring on our own, independent of tourguides and tour companies, going to out-of-the-way places where typical tourists are scarce, using local transportation, etc).  Fodors seems to be targeting a more upscale traveller, and Rough Guides seems to target the backpacker crowd.  Lonely Planet seems to be in a nice medium.  (By the way, these websites have a LOT of good information for travellers, so they are definitely worth perusing.)

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