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.

http://migrationology.com/2011/08/how-to-use-a-squat-toilet-like-a-pro/

Here is a link to using a bucket shower

http://matadornetwork.com/life/how-to-bucket-shower-like-a-pro/

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.

For Those Staying – Travel Insurance

Travel insurance comes in two parts: travel health insurance and trip cancellation insurance. Travel health insurance assures that any medical expenses if you become sick or injured abroad will be covered. This covers minor illnesses to serious injuries or illnesses that require potential evacuation. It will also, if necessary, cover expatriation of remains in case of a death. It is highly recommended that everyone obtains travel insurance while they are abroad. Some domestic insurance coverages will cover international travel, but it is not nearly as convenient.

Trip cancellation insurance is insurance that will pay you a percentage of the trip costs if, for some reason, you have to cancel the trip. This can be due to illness, a crisis in the country you are visiting, or other event that may cause cancellation of the entire trip.

Continue reading For Those Staying – Travel Insurance

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:

  • Appearance matters when you travel, particularly toIMG_0157 Asia. You will immediately notice how dressy Thais are, even when just running errands or going to the store. They are dressed nicely, have their hair just so, and even have make-up on even if they are only working around the house. So please plan on being presentable.
  • You will have access to laundry services, but not every day. We will have designated laundry days when we can launder everything in bulk. These are included in the fee. If you require laundry between these designated laundry days, you will have to pay out of pocket, but it is very inexpensive. The frequency of laundry days will vary depending on the itinerary. For example, we won’t have opportunity for laundry the 4-5 days we are at the second village.

Continue reading What to Bring – Some Additional Notes on Clothing

What Not To Wear – Tips for Women

This is a special edition of “What Not To Wear”, specifically for women, courtesy of Jen Simonds, one of the faculty leaders of May Term Thailand 2015.

Ideas for Enhancements to the Packing List for Women

Have clothes for approximately 9-10 days at a time.  My experience is that we had laundry less frequently than we expected.

Overall Clothing Strategies

Good Guideline #1:  Look for moisture-wicking fabrics.  Travel fabrics are worth the extra $.  Activewear sections with dri-weave performance fabric clothes are a great source of moisture-wicking clothes and these can be found inexpensively at Target, Walmart, etc.

Good Guideline #2:  Lightweight fabrics.  This allows you to do quick rinse/wash in a hotel sink and get it dry by morning.

Types of Outfits for Different Occasions (Individual items are listed below)

Continue reading What Not To Wear – Tips for Women

What Not To Wear…..

IMG_1485_DxO

Thailand is hot and humid, especially in May and June.  The monsoon season is just beginning, and the air feels saturated with moisture.  It may not be quite as hot as August in Salt Lake City, but the humidity leaves you soaking after just walking a city block.  It’s tempting to wear a t-shirt and shorts all the time. And if we were in the US, we would. But we’re not in the US.

In most of Asia, academics are considered at the highest level of achievement.  Becoming a professor is highly respected, and there is a lot of status in being a university student.  Undergraduate students are expected to wear uniforms. Luckily, we will be doing service work, so we won’t need to dress up as much. But be aware that appearances are important in Asia, and as Americans we really do dress casually (dare I say slovenly) compared to the rest of the world. Continue reading What Not To Wear…..

What to Bring – A Personal First Aid Kit for International Travel

Stuff happens, and at inopportune times. So it’s best that you’re prepared. We will have a group first aid kit, but it is prudent to have a personal one as well. Not a huge one that will take care of any possible accident or disease that could happen. You’d need an entire hospital and a staff for that. What you want is something that will take care of minor problems that occur so that it doesn’t get worse, and for those with existing medical conditions, something that can make sure those conditions are taken care of. Plus, we’re not going to have enough NSAIDs, bandages, or Immodium for everyone; you are responsible for bringing your own.

Now, the easiest way to do this is purchase a premade first aid kit, and add on to it. The best ones for international travel are ones that are specific for that, such as the one above (which you can purchase at REI). But any first aid kit is better than none.

Continue reading What to Bring – A Personal First Aid Kit for International Travel

What to Bring – Personal Items

Of course you’re going to need personal stuff…toothbrush, deodorant, medication, sunscreen, etc.  Luckily, most items are readily available in Thailand, as long as you’re not too picky about brands.  So don’t worry about bringing a month’s supply of shampoo or soap, unless you HAVE to have a particular brand.  Just bring a few days worth, and buy what you need when you get there.

Items that can be easily purchased in Thailand include:

  • Soap
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Hair products such as gel, mouse, etc.
  • Toothpaste and toothbrushes
  • Floss
  • Mouthwash
  • Moisturizing lotions (although when the humidity is 90%…)
  • Shavers
  • Shaving cream
  • Over the counter medications (ibuprofen, acetaminophen, etc.)
  • Laundry detergent

Continue reading What to Bring – Personal Items

Money, Money, Money

You’ll need money in Thailand. In Thailand, the currency is the baht, and 34 baht is roughly equivalent to US $1. If you want to check the current exchange rates, a good site is xe.com. Dollars are not very widely accepted here in Thailand, so you will have to get some baht when you’re here.

So what’s the best way to get it? Forget traveller’s checks; they are a total waste of time and money. You actually get WORSE exchange rates for traveller’s checks, and they aren’t honored everywhere. And don’t bring a lot of US dollars to Thailand, either. The best way to access your money is through the thousands of ATMs all over Thailand. This gives you several advantages:

  1. The best exchange rates – since the banks are negotiating the rates, you get much better exchange rates than if you go to a bank with US dollars and definitely better rates than the tourist exchange booths.
  2. Convenience – ATMs are literally everywhere in Thailand. Just make sure you know your pin number!
  3. Reasonable fees – the transaction fees are reasonable. It’s about $1.00 for the Thai bank and $1.50 by your US bank. To minimize fees, you’ll want to minimize the number of withdrawals. I usually withdrew about $150 at a time, and I never had to go to the ATM more than once a week.
  4. Security – Now you can withdrawl funds as you need them, and not have to carry large amounts of currency or traveller’s checks.

Continue reading Money, Money, Money

What to Bring – Paperwork

There are some critical pieces of paperwork that you need to bring to Thailand:

  • Passport
  • Extra passport photos
  • Driver’s license or other official ID
  • Westminster College Student/Employee ID
  • Health insurance card (we provide this)
  • Credit card (preferably not American Express)
  • Bank/ATM card
  • Travel itinerary/airline ticket
  • Written prescriptions for ALL prescriptions you are on
  • Eye prescription if you wear corrective lenses
  • Next-of-kin information

Keep these with you in transit, so make sure they are in your carry-on luggage. Also, please make a copy of all of these, and have them in another part of your luggage. Westminster College will also have a copy of the paperwork that you submitted, and I will have .pdf copies of your paperwork that I will place on a secure server, so that we can have access to it. However, it is a good idea to have a copy of this paperwork with someone at home, just in case.

By the way, you don’t have to bring every piece of ID or card from your wallet/purse. Your Smith’s Fresh Values Card and Salt Lake City Public Library Cards are not going to be used in Thailand. Leave those at home.

Reminder: 2017 May Term Thailand Fundraiser Dinner

This dinner and silent auction is provided by the students of the 2017 Westminster College May Term Study Experience to Thailand, providing needed funds for service projects with schools in Northern Thailand. Come enjoy a wonderful Thai meal, bid on a wide assortment of silent auction items, and learn more about the trip and the work we have done.

The dinner will be held on Friday, April 7th, from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM at Westminster On The Draw, located at 2120 South 1300 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84106. Please park in the parking structure next to the Chevron Station off of 1300 East, just south of 2100 South, and follow the signs.

Tickets are $25 per person in advance, $15 for students. To purchase tickets online, please follow this link:

2017 May Term Thailand Fundraiser Dinner

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