Chiang Mai, Thailand

Eleanor Langford is a 3rd year Psychology major studying abroad with The Education Abroad Network (TEAN) in Chiang Mai, Thailand this spring. Check out some of her photos below!

“Staying at the Temple”: The act of “making merit” is a common and important part of Thai Buddhist’s life. There are many ways to make merit, including going to a temple. At the temple, one can purchase small bells with plaques to inscribe one’s name on. These bells are then hung around the temple, with the idea that your presence there can be maintained after you leave, and the merit gaining will likewise continue.

 

“Reverence not Worship”: For the outsider, it often appears as though monks and laypeople are worshiping the Buddha, as they prostrate themselves and make offerings in front of the ornate statues. However, these gestures are done to make merit and to arouse a sense of awe and respect that rids oneself of arrogance and egotism, allowing a better reception the Dhamma (teaching of the Buddha).

“Monk Offering”: Monks and the laypeople of the community can be thought of as livingin a symbiotic relationship. Monks cannot handle money and must beg for their food. The community is therefore responsible for feeding them. Giving an offering to a monk “makes merit” and therefore benefits those giving the offering. Here, you see people lined up with their offering bowls, prepared to give the monks an assortment of food.

“Kitchen in Ban Sri Kun”: Meals are an important part of Thai life, and this can be exemplified through the relative size of the kitchen in most village homes. This kitchen in this home in Ban Sri Khun village was by far the biggest room in the house.

“Dinner Table”: In rural areas, Thais will eat family style on a mat.

“Hill Tribe”: This woman is from the Karen Hill Tribe in northern Thailand. There are many different Hill Tribes living in Thailand, all of whom are without citizenship to any country.

“Rice Farming”: For many Northern Thai villagers, rice farming is a time consuming but reliable and common livelihood, as rice is an important component of most Thai food.

“Rice is a Staple”: Rice is a major staple of Thai food, and accompanies most meals in some form; hence, the large quantities of it sold at most markets.

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Traveling through Thailand

Third year McIntire School of Commerce student Chun Jiang shares photos from her time abroad while studying at the National University of Singapore. The photos below are from her trip to Thailand!

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Bangkok

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Bangkok.

Street view of Bangkok: area not far from the Grand Palace.

Street view of Bangkok: area not far from the Grand Palace.

 Street view of Bangkok.

Street view of Bangkok.

Toasted banana skewers at Maeklong Railway Market, Bangkok-a market sitting on the real railway.

Toasted banana skewers at Maeklong Railway Market, Bangkok-a market sitting on the real railway.

A HOO in Thailand: Meeting the Parents

Christina is a Fourth Year, Global Development Studies major studying abroad in Chiang Mai, Thailand with the International Sustainable Development Studies Institute through Kalamazoo College.

My first two weeks in Thailand are off to a good start. I should perhaps start off by introducing my host family…

My host mother is a house mom. She is the cutest person I have ever met. She loves to talk with me and reveal her spattering of English words. She also likes to feed me and teach me how to cook one delicious Thai meal after another.

My host father is part of the Thai Air Force. We hardly talk, but he laughs at me all the time. I know he knows more English than he leads on. He also likes to feed me desserts. I think I have had a different dessert every night the two weeks I have been here. One time I told him I probably shouldn’t eat so many desserts. I think he understood that as I didn’t want to eat desserts at night, so now I just eat them after breakfast.

My host sister, Naan, is my age and studies accounting at Chiang Mai University. She likes shopping and hanging out with friends. She also speaks English very well, and spent four months this past summer in Pennsylvania working at Tropical Smoothie Café.

I also have two host dogs, Nam Dam (Sugar) and Sua (Tiger). Both are very old but very happy. Nam Dam is an inside dog and Sua is an outside dog. Nam Dam cannot bark any more, and just coughs. Sua does not make any noises either, but wags his tail a lot.

I have a host brother, too, but he is in military training in Bangkok, so I have not met him. I sleep in his room, though.

I learned a phrase often used by the Thais – jai yen. It means “cool heart”, or a spirit that faces the world calmly. Thais value the trait of jai yen and attempt to cultivate it in themselves. Thais speak quietly, treat others considerately, and hardly ever honk their car horns – even during the craziness that is Chiang Mai rush hour. In some ways this is preferable to the American mindset, which is often noisy, individualistic and at a fast pace.

We had a retreat this past weekend where we got our first taste of rainforest hiking. We spent a lot of time learning about a caterpillar that lives inside bamboo and that local hill tribe people eat. It was actually pretty interesting. We also swam in a waterfall pool which was just plain awesome.