Tag Archives: What to Bring

What to Bring – Electronics

We live in a world surrounded by high tech electronics. Rarely do we leave home without a smart phone. We also have digital cameras, video players, laptops, tablets, smart watches, Bluetooth speakers, fitness trackers, heart rate monitors, etc. But when you’re traveling like we will be, electronics are both good and bad: they can either enhance your experience, or cause more trouble than they’re worth. Think about these pros and cons:

Pros: they can record your experience in audio, photos, or video, allow you to communicate with the world, entertain you on a flight or a van ride, or allow you to access information that you may need.

Cons: they are expensive, heavy, delicate, require power, and are a target for theft. They can also isolate you from the travel experience; I’ve seen too many people so obsessed with electronically recording everything around them, or so busy on their texting/email/Facebook/Instagram applications that they miss the true experience.

So before bringing every electronic toy you own, think about if the pros outweigh the cons. Also, try to bring devices that will do multiple things (such as a smartphone). Here are my suggestions for electronics: Continue reading What to Bring – Electronics

What to Bring – Baggage

Count on packing pretty light.  Bring one medium bag to check in, and a carry-on that can double as an everyday bag to carry with you for the trip  A backpack or courier-type bag is appropriate for the carry-on.

Per Hong Kong Airlines, you are allowed to check two bags. However, for this trip, you are allowed ONLY ONE. It must fit this criteria:

  • 3 dimensions of each bag may not exceed 62 in. (158 cm)
  • Weight of each bag may not exceed 50 lb (23 Kg)

DO NOT OVERPACK.  One medium bag should be sufficient, along with a carry-on large enough to carry at least a days worth of clothing and gear.  If you need something, you can always get it cheap in Bangkok. We will be traveling by van from Bangkok to Kalasin to Chiang Mai and back to Bangkok, and there isn’t a lot of cargo room.  If you have two large suitcases, your van mates will not be happy. Continue reading What to Bring – Baggage

Treatments for Motion Sickness

We will be experiencing just about every mode of transportation during this trip. We will be flying, driving in minivans (a lot, through city traffic as well as curvy, mountainous roads), riding in speedboats, riding in the backs of pickups over rough mountain roads, riding in tuk-tuks, riding bikes, riding tractors, and even riding on elephants.

Unfortunately, traveling causes misery for many people in the form of motion sickness. Motion sickness results from when the motion that your inner ear senses differs from the motion that you visualize. Many people experience motion sickness to one degree or another, some more severe than others. Some only get sick on ships during the roughest seas, while others can experience it during short drivers or even while skiing on an overcast day. Motion sickness progresses from a feeling of uneasiness to sweating and dizziness, and progresses to nausea and vomiting. Symptoms are exacerbated by lack of ventilation, inability to see outside the vehicle (and visualize the movement), being inside an enclosed space, or having anxiety or fear of traveling.

Estimates of the prevalence of motion sickness varies, from 3% to 60%, depending on the study. Many researchers believe almost everyone suffers from motion sickness, given strong enough motion stimuli. Women and children are generally more at risk for motion sickness. Continue reading Treatments for Motion Sickness

Important Things to Remember Before Departure – 2018

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. See you on Monday!

Powering all your electronics in Thailand

As you probably guessed, electrical standards abroad are different. The US uses 120v/60Hz. Thailand uses 220v/50Hz. That means if you plug an appliance that is set for 120v/60Hz into an outlet in Thailand, there will probably be lots of sparks and smoke, and possibly some charred flesh. I did this once in Uganda, and the resulting smoke and sparks were entertaining, if not expensive.

Now, this doesn’t mean that your US electronics won’t work abroad.  Most modern electronics are dual- or multi-voltage, meaning it will work at 120v or 220v.  Check the label on the power supply to make sure, but all of my electronics, including my MacBook Pro, Fujifilms digital camera battery charger, iPhone/iPad charger, cell phone charger, and my son’s Nintendo DS power adapter are multi-voltage.  Typical multi-voltage label looks like these:

If it is dual voltage, it will say something like INPUT: 100v-240v, 50-60Hz or AC IN: 100v-240v, 50-60Hz.

Continue reading Powering all your electronics in Thailand

Things I Wish I Knew Before Going to Thailand

Things I Wish I Knew Before Going to Thailand

By: Libby O’Reilly

As I sit on a China Air 747 coming home from Thailand reflecting on our trip, there are so many things I wish I knew before the trip that could have even further enhanced my experience. So this is for all the future Westminster Thai travelers, some words of advice from my friends and me that I hope you can take on you with your travels to Thailand.

-Eating family style rocks. No other way to do it.

-Thai phrases: take the time to learn (and practice saying) some common things in Thai. Here are a few that we used the most, after it took most of us half of the trip to get the pronunciation down:

Hello: sa-wat-dee (feminine) sa-wat-dee-ka (masculine)

Yes: chai

No: Mai

How much?: tow-rai

Thank you: korp kun (feminine) korp kun ka (masculine)

Bathroom: horng nam

Water: nam

Beer: bee-a

Ajahn- professor I.e. Ajahn Han/Ajahn Peter

-Practice your Wai: The Wai is a palms together Thai greeting. Practice doing it, my first Wai was to the checker at the grocery store and needless to say I was caught off guard and ended up embarrassing myself.

-AIDS hospice gifts: a lot of emphasis is placed on bringing gifts and treats to the villages and schools we visit. I think it is equally important to have something to give the terminal AIDS patients we interact with. When you visit the HIV/AIDS hospice in Lopburi, you will have the opportunity to interact one on one with patients in the last stage of the diseases. Having gifts or treats to share with them would mean the world to them.

-Practice baht conversions: currently the exchange rate between US dollars and Thai Baht is right about 30:1$. Thus, you must become a master calculator to be able to come up with on a whim what an item costs in American money. 700 baht = _______$? 240 baht = _______$?

-It will be hot, hotter than you could ever expect.

-You will be going from sun up to sun down, prepare to be exhausted.

-Close your mouth and simply take in your surroundings

-Bring LOTS of bug spray. You will get eaten alive.

-Don’t even bother with a hair dryer and straightener, I carried both around for a month and all they did was take up space and get in the way.

-Try all the food, it will grow on you. The first few days will be a tough acclimation, but you will learn to love it.

-Your first move once you get on the long flight should be to claim a purple China Air blanket and make it yours for the trip. They are soft, take up barely any room in your backpack and are so nice to have around. It will be ridiculously hot outside but inside the vans and at night you will get cold. My original plan was to leave my purple blanket on the return flight but it’s been such a lifesaver it’s coming home with me forever!

-Make a conscious effort to befriend your driver, buy them a treat at rest stops.

-Don’t judge another culture just because it is different than your own.

-Bring snacks from home. You will like having food you are comfortable with around to snack on and share with your friends for a midnight snack.

-Every time you see a Dairy Queen, you must order a mango and sticky rice blizzard!

-Get to know the Thai nursing students as well as you can. I wish I had made a better effort to get to know them better and learn from them.

-Watch and learn how to cook on the floor like a real Thai person whenever you get the chance. Write down recipes.

-Let the fish eat your feet at the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar. Definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity that will leave your feet softer than ever. Beware though; it tickles….bad.

-Take the opportunity in Chiang Mai to go to Doi Suthep to get your fortune. Take a Dramamine in the way up though, the road is vicious!ImageImageImageImageoi

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.

Continue reading Thai Phrasebooks