Biking in Sukhothai

By: Victoria Valencia and Katie Jobst

From Victoria:

As a nerdy history major who actually wrote my research paper on the Sukhothai and Ayutthaya kingdoms it was really great to see the ruins of the first official Thai kingdom in person. Seeing all of the ruins- the wats (temples), the still standing Buddhas, the remnants of things we can only guess at- really puts things in perspective for me. It was one thing to research about Sukhothai and its empire from the safety and relative comfort of the Giovale library, but quite another to see the actual ruins firsthand and wonder about the actual people who lived there and marvel at the work of whoever built the monuments we still see today. And it puts the short history of America into perspective where we think things from the 1970’s are old.
There we were in Sukhothai standing next to ruins older than our country- well actually we biked around them. While many people had their own bike, some students shared. Both Katie and I had the unique opportunity to ride around the ruins on the backs of our professors’ bicycles. Being chauffeured around on a bicycle by your professor while discussing the history of an ancient culture is something you can only experience on a May term trip. And it is only after spending almost two weeks with them living in rural Thai villages, bouncing along bumpy mountain roads for hours on end, and putting up with Han’s endless picture taking that I would feel comfortable riding that close to a professor’s behind. But that’s all part of May term- bonding with your fellow students but with your professors as well.

From Katie:

Whilst being toted around through the Sukothai Historical Park, clinging to Han’s sweaty t-shirt, watermelon popsicle dripping down my arm, I realized how good our lives really are. Spending time in a foreign culture, wind sheepishly making its way through the water-thick air, the occasional shout from Han at the front of the bike (“BUMP!!!”); this is a truly unique experience. I felt like channeling my inner Indiana Jones when we stopped to traipse around the gorgeous ruins of a bygone civilization. Except, with this study experience, we have much more to discover than Harrison Ford did.

Mae Tao Clinic-May 12, 2011

By: Alex Guinney and Feli Anne Hipol

Try and imagine going to a  refugee clinic where individuals have minimal options and this place is their last hope. Well, Dr. Cynthia’s Mao Tao Clinic is exactly that place, where the Thai people allow the clinic to help those who are fleeing from the chaos in Burma. The clinic is located in Mae Sot, Thailand where our school group is currently located and where we had the privilege to go visit and take in a greater understanding of this community on the border and the medical needs of the many refugees.

Alex –

Nothing could have prepared me for the experience I had while being toured around the clinic and it’s many facilities each with a specific focus. I found the dental care room and the prosthetics room to be the most interesting, because of the tools used or lack of tools used and the craft associated with them. There was only one dental chair that was simple and looked aged and not much supplies stored within the area, and with looking around at the many numbers of children and adults, I wondered if it met the needs for the community. And there were prosthetics I have never seen before so I was very intrigued by the craft,and how they go about meeting the needs of the refugees whom many had been injured by war and basically all patients were male. They did simple leg prosthetics, as to which I was able to see a refugee who was the owner of two prothetic legs and was able to get around rather efficiently.I think that the hardest part of the whole visit was the surgical center and the children’s care center. They were not very crowded when we Continue reading Mae Tao Clinic-May 12, 2011

Yum, Yum, Yum- Thai food

By: Carson Chambers and Zoe Sirivejchaphan

The following post concerns the food we have been eating and presents the viewpoints of two people, one who is vegan and one who is Thai American.

From the Vegan

I came to Thailand expecting it to be difficult, if not impossible, to maintain my vegan diet.  I also didn’t want to offend any of our Thai hosts by refusing to eat their food.   And I didn’t want to miss out on the full cultural experience which inevitably includes food.  On the plane ride over there were vegetarian options (but plane food doesn’t really count as food does it?).  Once we actually sat down for our first meal in Thailand, the decision making began.  Do I want to eat the rice and veggie dish?  Do I want to try the eggs?  How about the chicken with its tantalizing aromas wafting my way?  No, I’ll stick with the rice and veggies this morning.  For lunch, we were wandering around the big mall across the street from our hotel.  Did I want to try the pad thai?  What about the chicken skewers?  No, I think I’ll go with some green tea cakes filled with red bean paste — so delicious.

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The Learning Center

By: Siri Wieringa and  Kaylene Moulton

Today we went to the Learning Center in the village where there was a welcome ceremony. From Kaylene’s view point, there is no need for words to communicate. Although it would be a lot easier, I believe I connected with some of the Children on a whole different level. The children were very accepting of us being in the school and were so happy to see us. I don’t think I have ever felt so loved and welcomed by complete strangers.  From Siri’s perspective, the learning center is the focal point of the entire village. The school provides a happy and secure environment that can build individuals who can help this village to survive.

Kaylene:

Even though there is a language barrier, we found ways to communicate and connect with the children of the Learning Center and our host families. It seems that nonverbal communication could be more powerful than verbal communication. We were encouraged to play with the children and were immediately accepted. When I first walked into the school and sat on the floor with the children, this boy immediately came and sat in my lap. Even though we couldn’t speak to each other I felt so welcomed and so much more comfortable. With my host family, they do not speak any English and I believe that it has made us closer. We will try to speak to each other, especially the younger daughters, and since we can’t we look at each other really confused then just start laughing.

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Transportation through Bangkok

By Feli Anne Hipol and Alex Guinney

There are many modes of transportation in Bangkok. They drive on the opposite side of the road and on the right side of the car, like in Europe. We have seen families on a motor bike and the drivers skillfully maneuver their way in and out of traffic. A common sight are taxis in bright colors, most commonly peptol bismol pink. There are also motor bikes with a three person seat carrier attached to the back of it called tuk-tuks, which we had an opportunity to experience today. It wasn’t as scary as people made it out to be, we kept our hands and feet inside the tuk-tuk and our driver was cautious for the most part.

A great way to avoid the traffic was to take a water taxi. It was hot and crowded, but we saw many waterfront houses and businesses and other sites tourists may not have the opportunity to see if they didn’t ride one. It was a quick trip to the grand palace and temple as well, about half the time it took in local street traffic.

Tomorrow we begin our journey on the eight hour drive to our first village in an air conditioned, ten seater van. The transportation we have experienced and the transportation we have yet to experience while in Thailand will be a great adventure during our May term trip in Thailand.

“Thaiing” it All Together

By: Zoe Sirivejchaphan and Spencer Luczak

Throughout history almost every country in the world has, and without consent, been invaded, conquered, or overruled by neighboring nations for reasons only the callous heart can comprehend.  However, in the midst of all this turmoil and devastation, one nation has denied such an insidious trend in an effort to preserve the life and culture of Southeast Asia.  This culturally rich country is known today as Thailand, “The Land of Smiles”.  Known for their warmth and unity as a whole, Thai people welcome in people from all areas of the world.  With this influx of tourism one might wonder where all the cash flow is headed and how this money is used to help people alleviate poverty.  This particular paper will aid in sharing the general factors that make up Thailand’s economy as well as point out the cultural dynamics that influence behaviors toward the handling of money on a daily basis.  Also, added insight will be given on the current progress of microcredit loans and attitudes regarding them in Thailand.  While every issue and avenue cannot be addressed here, a better understanding of Thailand’s mindset concerning the value of money may be more easily obtained.

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Thai Cuisine

By: Kate Stoner and Tiffany Henry

Thai cuisine is a large part of Thai culture and consists of many unique and staple ingredients and flavors. Thai food is an important aspect of many religious celebrations and holidays. There are also many customs that are unique to Thai cuisine and culture. We have personally done a lot ofresearch in anticipation for this trip and have discovered some dishes that we have thoroughly enjoyed and are excited to share with you! 😀

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The Culture of Advertising in Thailand

By: Katie Jobst

Advertising in Thailand is an adventure. Thailand is a modern country rich with tradition. This unique dynamic allows for a symphony of creativity, imagination, and practices that aim to reach both the modern and traditional Thai culture through advertising. Advertising in Thailand is regulated by government agencies and is also affected by political factors. Mediums of advertising, commercial examples, Thai consumer behaviors, and their place in the advertising industry will be discussed.

Many of the industry’s leading (top grossing) advertising agencies have opened international locations in Bangkok; including Ogilvy & Mather, McCann Erickson, Dantsu, Young & Rubicam (Adage.com, 2010). Most of the firms originate from the United States, recognizing the growth opportunities and markets elsewhere, they began to open more divisional offices worldwide. Western companies and influence have dominated the advertising industry in Thailand since the 1940’s. However, Asian based agencies have also attracted global attention for their work and unique styling; including Far East DDB and Hakuhodo.

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Traditional Thai Medicine

By: Chris Roundy, Mamta Chaudhari, and DeAnna Castro

History shows that Thai people have been using herbal medicines for healthcare since before 1238 AD (Chokevivat 2005). The principle concern of Buddhism, the main religion of Thailand, is eliminating suffering, which coincides with the values of medicinal practice well (Hughes 1995). Thai traditional medicine is the compilation of Buddhists principles, cultural medicinal practices, and traditional philosophies  (Chokevivat 2005).

Buddhism has a great influence upon Thai traditional medicine and many principles are used for medical analysis. Written in texts formerly used by royal physicians at Thai court, illnesses are categorized through krasais, which describe symptoms of the body (Bamber 1987). Number symbolism is another contribution from Buddhism. There are 108 different krasais such as “wind”, “fire” and “blood”. The number 108 comes from Buddhist origins. Bamber (1987) suggests that the number 108 is more like a metaphor to suggest that there are many different krasais. In the royal texts, there are 26 krasais described broken into categories containing 8 and 18 krasais. The number 8 appears frequently in Buddhism, for example in the Noble eight-fold path and in Ayurvedic medicine there are 8 divisions of illness that was also adopted by Buddhism (Bamber 1987).

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History of Buddhism in Thailand

By: Jane Dahle and Rob Caesar

The development of Buddhism in Thailand has a long history. In order to go into detail about its history, it is necessary to divide it into three different key periods of time, all which have greatly influenced this religion and the spiritual founder Siddhartha Gautama. These three time periods that we will look at include: Theravada, from the Asoka period; the Mahayana period; and finally, the Theravada from Sri Lanka. Siddhartha Gautama’s life accounted for his life discoveries, monastic rules practiced, and path to enlightenment, which is followed by current Buddhists.

First, we will look into the period were Buddhism first started in Thailand during the Theravada from Asoka’s period. Buddhism was introduced and established by King Asoka in Patalilbutta City during the 3rd century B.C. King Asoka sent monks out of the country to follow and learn about Buddha’s teachings. While other monks were learning the ways of Buddha, two monks stayed behind in Thailand to teach people there. During this period, the first signs of Buddhism were seen in Thailand and became very prevalent.

Since the introduction of Buddhism in Thailand, it became noticeable that these beliefs also started to spread to other areas of Asia during the Mahayana period. King Kanitsaka the Great had the intention of spreading Buddha’s teachings farther than just his kingdoms. He began to send groups of monks throughout Central Asia in order to help spread the word. Once Mahayana’s Buddhism expanded into Thailand, it became widely accepted by the people.  Mahayana’s Buddhism spread from the southern regions, to the north via the central areas of the country. This created a large multicultural society, with different dialects that still, today, inhabit the Thai language. The spread of the beliefs of Buddhism had officially begun in Thailand.

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