Processing Facilitates Learning

This morning we had our final debriefing as a group before leaving Thailand.  One topic that really stood out to me today was contrasting the difference between..’wanting what you have vs. having what you want’ along with ‘having enough vs profiting.’  The materialism that has been a part of my life for so long is not as prevalent here.  To be satisfied with and understand what enough is, and to be content and want what you have is something I am not sure I will ever fully understand.  I want to challenge myself as I go home to learn to be satisfied and content with what I have.

During our debrief session my teacher did an exercise to really help us think about the trip.  She had us close our eyes and then talked us through the trip helping us to remember what we did each day and told us to think about the smells and the sights we experienced at each location.  Throughout this 10 minute exercise I found myself laughing, smiling, and feeling happy, overwhelmed, sad, frustrated, as well as many other feelings.  This simple exercise that lasted 10 minutes was one of the most emotionally exhausting experiences yet.  To feel such a wide spectrum of feelings is such a short time, to think about all of the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feelings I have experienced in the last 3 weeks helped to put not only events on this trip, but also various areas of my life into perspective.

Post #6- Pattaya

Even though Pattaya was not a planned educational part of our trip, I felt like it was a learning experience. Sure,  we were able to relax at the beach, but we were also able to see a different side of Thailand.  In my Fodors Thailand travel book it talks about how Pattaya is a “city divvied by sand and sex” and that “commercial sex is not just a reality here: it is the lifeblood of the city.” I definitely got to witness this first hand.  I’ve never felt so uncomfortable walking around even during the day.  It’s hard for me to understand how a city as beautiful as Pattaya,  can be so ugly. And most of this is brought on by the tourists. I wish there was an easy way to get people to understand that lifestyle doesn’t have to be an option.  It was a culture shock going from Northern Thailand, where things are lived a little simpler,  and then going to Pattaya where it’s the total opposite.

Healthy Living

Thailand has a different style of healthy living compared to the United States. In Thailand, there are almost no processed foods. Everything is cooked fresh right in front of you. The food seems to be more natural and fresh compared to the United States. I was told that in Bangkok, people living in apartments do not always have a kitchen. (This is so the smell of food does not leak into another person’s room.) Since people cannot cook their own food, they have to go to markets or street vendors to find food.

In Thailand, there seems to be more fresh fruits available as well as a larger variety. Plus the price is very reasonable. In Thailand, I can walk outside my hotel and buy a bag of fruit for less than two dollars. I feel like this can encourage people to eat healthier since it is more available to them. In the United States, eating healthy is very expensive. It is cheaper to buy McDonald’s for dinner versus preparing a healthy meal.

I have also noticed in Thailand the proportions are smaller compared to the United States. At a restaurant in the United States, you are given a plate filled with more food than you could possibly eat. At restaurants in Thailand, I am given smaller proportions so I do not over eat. I know my eyes are usually bigger than my stomach, so I tend to get more food than I can actually eat. This causes me to then waste food. With smaller proportions in Thailand, I do not feel like I am wasting so much food.

Another thing I noticed is in Thailand sanitation does not seem to be as much as a concern like it is in the United States. People do not seem as concerned with making sure everything is spotless, including hotels and restaurants. Also, it is not completely out of the norm for people to not wash their hands after they use the restroom. With all the outside markets and vendors, I know some bugs are bound to end up in the food. It does not seem to bother the Thai people as much as it would bother me. I think it is just the cultural difference and what you are used to.

Post by Danny Klucas

January 9, 2014

It’s been a couple of busy days in Thailand. Today we visited the students and campus of Chiang Rai university. We met up with a fellow student from the university to show us around the campus. Many of them didn’t know much English, but we figured things out eventually. Coming in I expected a big difference from culture to culture in student behavior and interaction, but after hanging out with the students of CRRU I found that we weren’t so different.

 I met Kat a student from the university and we had the same apps on our phones and we listened to the same types of music. So meeting the students was an eye opener, everyone was very open to learn about each other. Seeing how similar we were and how we could connect on an academic and social level was something that was cool to see.

Hill Tribes Organization (blog 6)

Visiting the Hill tribes organization was an honor and am so glad that it was incorporated into the program, in many cases minorities are expected to integrate with the majority and become part of them and this organization was helping the Hill tribes keep their cultures even though the government made them move away from their original villages. At the Lahu village when we walked through the museum the video they played the last thing the video stated was that “when a tribe is forced to move out of it original home part of the culture is lost” and I couldn’t agree more with that statement because where the culture started is essential for that culture to keep growing because that is where its roots are. I got the opportunity to speak with our tour guide for the village and he told me that he leaves the village to go to work and comes back and in the near future he will move out of the village to get closer to his job while he was telling me this I could see that he didn’t want to leave his village but that is what the circumstances were. 

Chiang Rai University (blog 5)

Spending a day with the University students was an amazing experience it was so interesting that even though we weren’t from the same culture and there was a language barrier we were still able to have a great time it felt as though there was a universal language that we all understood. They were really excited to show us around the city and their school and most importantly their hospitality was amazing they paid for our lunch and my tour guide bought us water and snacks when we had one on one time. Being able to see the black house which had exotic art work and cultural ancient things, was one of my favorite things of the day, as for the white temple I found it very interesting that he had some modern artwork inside the temple that represented different things his artwork truly got his message across. It was a beautiful temple and we ran into some people from Minnesota which made me see how small the world is. The dinner and the show were amazing they incorporated Thai culture with Chiang Rai culture things that were specific to their city and they took pride in that. 

#4 – Riding Elephants and Oxen

This is probably one of my favorite things we did on this trip. Riding the elephants and oxen was so much fun although I was scared. It was interesting to see how the people lived with and raised elephants. I was surprised to hear that the owners take the elephants into the jungle to sleep every night and get them every morning. I

One of the elephants at the park drew this.
All I know is that this is better than anything I could have done. 

 I remember being so scared while taking these pictures with the ox. The owner of the ox were taking our pictures and these oxen were walking ahead without him.

Another thing we need on this trip was going river rafting. During this, we were able to see Thailand’s beautiful scenery. I was able to see how the people lived with the elephants on the hills, what they did, and how they were able to make use of what they got. It seemed like they used all the resources they had and did not let things go to waste. This is something I should take with me as I head back to the US as I tend not to use everything I have to its fullest.

Trouble in Paradise

Welcome to Pattaya, a beautiful tropical tourist city in Thailand. The warm ocean air flows across the land as tourists flooded the busy streets. Among all of the beauty in Pattaya, there is a dark side to paradise. Before coming to Pattaya, we were warned about staying together in a large group and to avoid traveling alone. Unlike all of the other places we have visited, this was the first time I had ever noticed a hint of concern in my professors’ and tour guide’s face. Prostitution and shady tourist are often overshadowed by the beauty of Pattaya but they are everywhere. As I watched older European males with young Thai woman, I think about how people with power exploit vulnerable people. The beauty of Pattaya will stick with me as well as the hidden side of Pattaya, each shaping their own image in my head.                 

The Highest Mountain

Going up to the highest mountain in Thailand was an interesting experience. I honestly didn’t know what to expect but was looking forward to go into the villages and see how the families lived. 

This little boy was from the Karen village that we visited in the mountain. He was so cute! 
After getting to the top of the mountain, the scenery was unbelievable. Pictures will not give the beautiful scenery justice. Being able to sight see and visiting the beautiful pagodas was probably one of the most unforgettable events during this trip. 
On our way down from the mountain, we stopped by a Hmong village shopping area. It was interesting to see how they lived as it was probably similar to how my parents lived before the war. I remember speaking Hmong while shopping and getting a surprised look from the owners. It was interesting talking to the people there. They looked happy which made me think about my dad and how he says he wants to come back to this area. 
These were cute little Hmong kids we met and gave us flowers!


During a presentation at the Hill Area and Community Development Foundation (HADF), an Akha woman and the other a Lahu woman, I thought about the struggles of the Hmong people in the United States and the struggles of the Hill Tribe people in Thailand. The loss of cultural identity and cultural practices has been a struggle for many Hmong living in the United States a struggle similar to many of the Hill Tribe groups in Thailand as many of them assimilate to the dominant Thai culture. The words, actions, and dedication of our presenters gave me strength because I know that I can do something like this for my community. I remember hearing the Lahu presenter talk about her experiences and how education has played a huge role in her life. As the first person in my family to attend college, I know that higher education is influential and valuable. After the presentation and the visit to the Lahu village, I know that I am ready to mend and create a sense of cultural identity for my community.