Flooding in Thailand

By Alyson Pinkelman and Cecile Murdock

Bangkok was built on the floodplains of the Chao Phraya River and is expected to be one of the urban areas hit hardest by climate change (Hay, 2017). According to the World Bank, “nearly 40% of Bangkok may be inundated each year as soon as 2030 due to more extreme rainfall” (TED, 2019). In 2011, sixty-five of Thailand’s 76 provinces were declared flood disaster zones,and over 20,000 square kilometers (7,700 sq mi) of farmland was damaged (DHI worldwide,n.d.). This was the world’s fourth costliest disaster as of 2011 and cost 815 people their lives (Floodlist News, 2019). On January 4th, 2019, a tropical storm hit the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat over 200,000 people were affected by the storm with 3 people dead and one person missing (DHI worldwide, n.d.). 35,000 people evacuated their homes due to this storm and many are still residing in shelters (Hay, 2017). Tourist areas were the first to return to normal, specifically the beach resorts in the Gulf of Thailand and along the Andaman sea, while Red Cross volunteers helped locals reassemble their lives (TED, 2019).

To combat inevitable flooding, Thailand is beginning an initiative to build innovative architecture through the scope of mitigating flooding impact due to climate change such as the Hulalongkorn Centenary Park (DHI worldwide, n.d). The Hulalongkorn Centenary Park is Thailand’s first park in many years, which was built to commemorate the centenary year of Bangkok’s oldest university (TED, 2019). The eleven acre park is designed to hold excess water underground to prevent flooding. It was designed by Kotchakorn and is inclined at a three-degree angle so that rain and floodwater flow to its lowest point, a retention pond (Floodlist News, 2019). The retention pond can hold up to one million gallons of water which can be used later in the dry season. The rainwater also flows through the park’s lawn and wetlands where native vegetation filters the water, while its walkways are made of porous concrete to absorb excess water (TED, 2019). More details on this project can be found here:

The Decision Support System (or the DSS) was established by the Hydro and Agro informatics institute (HAII), which is part of the Thai Ministry of Science and Technology (Floodlist News, 2019). The system works by running a hindcast model to reflect the movement, distribution, and properties of the water. It can perform forecast simulations, run meteorological forecasts twice a day, and import rainfall levels hourly, which makes it effective in predicting flooding patterns (TED, 2019). This system is utilized by the Thailand government to forecast floods at 28 locations up to seven days in advance (DHI worldwide, n.d.). The DSS provides flood management along the 160,000 km Chao Phraya River Basin (Hay, 2017). Early warnings and alarm bells issued in flood prone areas give residents more time to plan for and initiate emergency action plans (DHI worldwide, n.d.). By implementing the DSS as well as building parks and other innovative architecture, the Thailand government can prevent millions of dollars in damage and potentially save thousands of lives.

DHI Worldwide. (n.d.). What Thailand did to protect lives from floods. Retrieved from

Floodlist News. (2019, January 7). Thailand – Tropical Storm Pabuk Hits Southern Provinces.Retrieved from http://floodlist.com/asia/thailand-tropical-storm-pabuk-january-2019

Hay, W. (2017, December 5). Thailand floods: Villagers frustrated over government inaction.Retrieved from https://www.aljazeera.com/blogs/asia/2017/12/thailand-floods-villagers-frustrated-government-inaction-171205122013925.html

TED. (2019, February 11). How to transform sinking cities into landscapes that fight floods Kotchakorn Voraakhom. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQmaMOxwaQI

Introduction to Buddhism



By Mikayla Holt and Maddy Todd

The History of Buddhism

Buddhism began 2,500 years ago in India. Today, it is a prominent religion within India, China, and the surrounding countries.



Siddhartha Gautama, known as the “Enlightened One,” developed the teachings that are now known as Buddhism. He was a Nepali prince who was astonished at the state of life outside of the palace walls. Gautama then left his luxurious life with hopes of ending suffering for all. The next 45 years of his life were dedicated to teaching the dharma and creating the sangha. Buddhism’s main goal is to end suffering and attain nirvana.

​Religion Facts. (2017, May 10). Buddhism. Retrieved from: www.religionfacts.com/buddhism

The Essentials of Buddhism

 Suffering, Impermanance, and No-Self

The Buddha believed that desire causes suffering and that human beings are impermanent. This means that human life on earth is merely a transitory state on the path to enlightenment. The no-self principle is the belief that there is no permanent self within living beings.


Karma is a moral belief within Buddhism. Essentially, good conduct produces a positive result. Likewise, bad conduct produces a negative result.


Four Noble Truths All life is suffering

  1. Suffering stems from desire
  2. Suffering can be ended
  3. The Eight Fold Path is the means to end this suffering

Eight Fold Path

The Eight Fold Path is how one reaches nirvana. An individual must become practiced in these eight aspects:

  1. Right Views
  2. Right Intention
  3. Right Speech
  4. Right Action
  5. Right Livelihood
  6. Right Effort
  7. Right Mindfulness
  8. Right Concentration


Nirvana is the ultimate end goal of Buddhism, but the meaning of nirvana can differ slightly. It is simply defined as the state of reaching total enlightenment.

Encyclopedia Britannica. (2019, February 7). Buddhism. Retrieved from: https://www.britannica.com/topic/buddhism

Buddhism in Thailand

  • Theravada Buddhism is the most widespread religion within Thailand. Over 95% of the Thai population practices this specific type of Buddhism.
  • The Thai population consists over nearly 300,000 Buddhist monks.
  • Meditation is a large part of the Buddhist religion and is a consistent part of a Thai Buddhist daily life.
  • There are over 40,000 buddhist temples in Thailand.
  • Thai people believe that those who are affluent will receive good karma and those who are of lower socioeconomic levels are believed to have behaved poorly in a previous life and this is the reason they do not receive good karma.
  • Visaka Puja is a Buddhist holiday that takes place in early May. On this day, Thai’s celebrate the Buddha’s birthday, death date and enlightenment.
  • Buddhist monks are revered in Thai culture.

Iverson, K. (2017, March 28). Everything You Need to Know About Buddhism in Thailand. Retrieved from, https://theculturetrip.com/asia/thailand/articles/everything-you-need-to-know-about-buddhism-in-thailand/





Important Things to Remember Before Departure – 2019

Here are some miscellaneous important things to remember before departure:

I think that’s it for now. If you have any questions or comments, please call me, email me, or stop by my office.

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 items. I have a packing list you can print out here in .pdf format. I would literally check off items as you pack them.

Packing List – 2019

Continue reading What to Bring – Checklist for Packing

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 20 minute flight from SLC to SFO, a 3 hour layover in SFO, a 14 hour flight from SFO to HKG, a 3 hour layover in HKG, and a 3 hour 20 minute flight from HKG 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 close to 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

Miscellaneous Items to Bring

Here are some more unusual items to pack that will be VERY useful on this trip, or really ANY international trip:

Zip Lock bags, various sizes – These are incredibly useful, and take up almost no room. They can be used to pack up wet or dirty clothing, used to store liquids when going through airport security, waterproof important documents or electronics, pack potentially leaking toiletries, etc. This site has some other wonderful ideas for these incredibly useful items.

Garbage bags – For the same reasons as above, but for bigger and bulkier, or more, things. And they make a handy emergency poncho.

Duct tape – This is obvious. You can repair your bag, use it as a label, repair clothing….its uses are only limited by your imagination. Here are some more ideas. You can bring an entire roll, or roll some around your water bottle or other cylindrical object.

Zip Ties – These are great impromptu luggage locks, but they also work great for repairs. Bring a bunch of miscellaneous sizes. Continue reading Miscellaneous Items to Bring

What Not To Wear…..

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…..

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.

Continue reading Squat Toilets and Bucket Showers – Essential Information

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

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