All posts by Nina Thao

NT Blog 3: Missing Thailand


The moment we landed in Minnesota, I felt my body present but my heart was still in Thailand.  I was honestly glad to come back home until I realized how grateful I’d be if the trip was one week longer.  I truly enjoyed my time in Thailand and I learned so much about myself.


Since the beginning, I told myself that I shouldn’t cover up who I was and I should just be myself whether people like it or not.  I was afraid of not making any friends because I can be loud and weird MANY times.  What I learned most about myself was that I like people and I like making friends.  I haven’t made a friend during my first year at the U of M because I am a commuter and worked right away after my classes.  I never had time to meet people.  Coming to Thailand and building these bonds with different people was nice.  It’s refreshing to know that people still accept me (I think).   I learned to appreciate people and their presence.  People weren’t the only thing that I learned to appreciate.  Coming back home from Thailand, I think I have changed to become a better person.  Intentions really challenged me on this trip and I learned that my intentions really does matter.


Prior to this trip, I wasn’t such a good sister and daughter to my family.  I’ve been having personal issues with everyone in my family but this time I came home with different intentions.  I want to treat my family good and not start random problems that are not necessary.  I’ve learned to appreciate my relationships and family as well.

I think if I return Thailand someday, I would like to go with my family so they can experience what I did. No one will understand until they have been in my shoes and felt my experiences.  I’m coming back to you Thailand.

Nina Thao

Influence of Buddhism

By Nina Thao & Verona Deenanth


Buddhism influences Thai people in many ways. We saw that that Buddhism influences the way Thai people live daily with a balanced life and how they treat people and things. We didn’t come to Thailand expecting to gain knowledge opposite of what we were taught in school. Buddhism is supposed to be a religion and a belief that people follow. We learned that Buddhism is a way of life, not a religion.

The founder of Buddhism is Buddha Shakyamuni. He was prince and had a wife and son. At the age of 29, he realized that life was impermanent and full of suffering from desires. He wanted to achieve happiness and mindfulness so he left his wife and son to the forest where he started a spiritual life of meditation. After six years of meditation, he was enlightened in Bodh Gaya, India (Gyatso). The three Buddhist path is “to lead a moral life, to be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions, and to develop wisdom and understanding” (White).

P1During the first week of our trip we heard a story that made us both reflect on the good and bad intentions in our everyday lives. Before telling the story, we would like to clarify that we were not present during this time and we are telling the story second handed from what we heard. In one of the vans there was a spider lingering around and one of the students said that they should kill it. I, Nina, would’ve personally killed it or ordered someone else to kill it because the presence of spiders scare me. Our tour guide said to not kill it because it’s not the Buddhist way meaning that it’s not the right thing to do. A student asked a question similar to: Why is killing animals (to eat) not wrong but killing a spider is wrong? Another student stepped in to answer and said that it’s okay to kill animals because humans need meat to eat in order to survive whereas killing the spider would be wrong because it’s not harming anyone and it’s not doing anything for us. Buddhism is all about intentions. Decisions seem to be made by whether the intentions are good or bad.

During the Monk Chat in Chiang Mai, it was very interesting talking to the Monk. A few of the things he said stood out to us. The five precepts stood out especially. They are, respect life, don’t steal and respect others, don’t be sexually promiscuous, don’t lie and don’t do drugs. Because he said these things, we started to wonder about the significant impact Buddhism has on the Thai community. One of the main things he talked about was intentions. One of our guide brought up the topic about cell phones and asked if he thinks it’s okay for Monks to have them. He said that he believed that it was okay for Monks to have cell phones. He believed it was only okay if they had good intentions. Many monks use their cellphones to learn about the modern world, and to keep up this fast changing society that we have. Some Monks use their cellphones to call their families and to keep in contact with them. That’s when we realized that your intentions are they only thing you have control over. You can choose to do good, you can choose to avoid the bad. But it’s all dependent on you. Being in Thailand we noticed, especially in the more rural area people are very kind and welcoming. Before coming to Thailand we were always told to keep track of our things because it might get stolen but based on our experience we saw that in the communities where we were, people had good intentions and they were very good to us.

Another thing we noticed is that though Thailand is an evolving country, communities in the north, in the mountain area, they still have intentions of being one with nature. A lot of the villages depend on farming and agriculture for a base of income. But, even though they depend on it for their income, they don’t take advantage of nature. They work towards using natural products to grow their vegetables. Also, nature is something that helps to bring calmness and mindfulness. From my personal experience I, Verona, am always more calm and peaceful when looking at plants, trees or flowers, anything in nature that’s green. Even in Bangkok, where the city is insanely busy, there are green spaces on the roads and at a lot of corners. We view these green spaces as a way of promoting calmness and mindfulness even in a hectic and busy city.

Overall, although the many view Buddhism as a religion, coming to Thailand we were told that Buddhism isn’t a religion, it’s a way of living, a lifestyle. Through just 3 short weeks in Thailand we have observed that Buddhism truly affects how Thai people love daily. We can also see that Buddhism is a very important part of the lives of Thai people considering the large amount of temples in Thailand, in very convenient locations as well so the locals have easy access to the temples.

June 2, 2016

Works Cited

Gyatso, Geshe Kelsang. “About Buddhism.” About Buddhism. N.p., 2007. Web. 01 June 2016.

White, Brian. “Basic Buddhism.” Basic Buddhism Guide. Buddha Dharma Education Association & BuddhaNet, n.d. Web.

NT Blog 2: Busy But Calm


Before coming to Thailand, I was expecting to be in a very busy place with very busy people.  I expected the people to very fast pace like the place.  I was wrong.  Every person I met during the first week in Thailand was very calm.  Even in the midst of the busiest time, I noticed something calm about Thai people.

During the cooking class when the moths came and flooded the area and everyone was f20160517_192300reaking out, the instructor kept her calm and continued to teach us how to cook.  I felt like it was a very busy moment because everything and everyone was so chaotic with the insects.  There were moths landing in the instructor’s hair, near her face, the food, on the people in the audience,  and everywhere that I could think of, she and her husband kept going and did not lose control.  Even though I was terrified and scared, I noticed how smooth and controlled she continued to talk.  They took the situation really well and I felt like their harmonious reaction influenced everyone else calm down.

Not just the cooking instructor, but everyone I’ve encountered think about what they say before they talk.  I didn’t realize this until we had the monk chat with KK. KK is a very humble monk and I noticed how he thinks every question and his answers through before speaking.  He paused a lot to think.  He also took his time to talk and spoke slowly.  It seemed as if he wanted to make sure he didn’t say anything offensive or wrong.  After the monk chat, I started observing how Thai people speak and it’s true that the majority have quick pauses before they speak.  This made me reflect a lot about myself.  I am quick to answer and ask things but I never consider how the people I am talking to feel or interpret my words.

Reflecting about what I thought prior to this trip, I learned that Thai people are very cautious of what they say and how they act around others.  Even though they are in a very busy setting, I find that they balance it out with their calmness in how they act and talk.

Nina Thao
May 21, 2016


NT Blog 1


I had a wonderful time at the Wat Temple meeting everyone and getting exposed to the Thai culture.  I learned right away that it wasn’t the look of a temple that I had expected.  I need to be more open minded that not assume what things are going to be like based off of social media and the Thai lakorns that I’ve watched in the past. My experience at the Wat Temple helped me to understand the respect that people have for Monks.  We must be cautious of our space and not point our feet towards the monk.  It was nice knowing that there are still people who follow the old tradition even though they are in America where people tend to shift culture.

During the trip in Thailand, I hope to emerge myself in Thai culture and step back away from my judgments.  I want to learn about the Thai culture and traditions of how it differs from culture in America.  I am excited and I believe that this will be a wonderful experience.

Nina Thao
May 2, 2016