After a wonderful week experiencing what Bangkok has to offer it almost time to say goodbye to this place. Last night was the our farewell dinner at Vertigo Skybar in the Banyan Tree hotel in Bangkok. The experience was amazing and we got to share it with our new friends we made during our visit here.
As I travel the streets of Bangkok I notice how amazing life is. I am on the opposite side of the world and yet I feel like I am at home. They are familiar businesses found in both places, hotels, restaurants and shops I find here and at home. 7-11’s are on every street corner as well as McDonald’s and KFC! Of course these locations offer local and Western cuisine as well. This world is so big yet so small. Globalization is here! Technology has brought us together so quickly. It is very easy to feel the comfort of those so far away with International phone calls, text messages and social media.
There are different ways to look at life. One way is to look at the troubling events or situations. Another is to see the hope and kindness found here. It seems to me the Thai people believe in the good. There are so many kind people here. I see acts of kindness all around. I saw a girl on a motorcycle helping a tuk tuk driver with a rope hanging off of his vehicle as they waited at the light. So many people wanting to help and assists others. It seems like everyone you meet looks you in the eye, smiles and greets you. There is a huge respect for life, including everyone and all things. This makes their society very inclusive. I believe this is from their Buddhist way of life. No matter how small the act is it can be so fulfilling. These actions just happen without thinking, they just do.
One of the amazing kind people we met on our adventure in Thailand was Tong our tour guide. She greeted us first thing when we arrived to the airport. Her energy and compassion was so refreshing. She put our groupto ease as we arrived and we felt taken care. Every question we had she answered. She was extremely engaging and attentive. Everything was planned out so well. Tong and team were always three steps ahead of us making sure everything was arranged and set up. She always had a smile on her face and was ready for any challenges! Tong shared with us her practices of meditation. She meditates for 30 minutes a day and up to three days during Buddha holiday. This helps gives her the strength and calmness that we saw during our visit. This has inspired me to truly take time out of my day to meditate. Tong is the perfect ambassador for Thailand!! We will miss her dearly and hope to visit her soon!
All over Thailand there are many stray dogs. It seems like they run freely everywhere. I saw them on the busy downtown intersections and side walks. They roam freely with the people darting in and out. We saw one dog just chilling inside of a cafe.
I am an animal lover and this breaks my heart. I want to rescue them all… But I think they are actually ok and happy. They seemed to blend in and appreciate the fact they are free to roam. The Thai people love these dogs. Even in the slums everyone seems to have a dog. The dogs were very friendly. There was never a time I felt scared of them. They were very calm and polite.
We traveled outside of the city and there were tons of dogs as well. They ran in packs even along the side of the highway. I was so worried they would be hit but they managed just fine. I became very inspired to research if anyone was helping these dogs. It turns out there are a lot of people looking after them. There are many charities and volunteer programs to help. I cannot wait to help as well… If you are inspired please check this out!
This blog will be on my first experience on a vehicle know as the Tuk Tuk. The Tuk Tuk is a unique taxi services offered in Thailand. It is very popular with tourist due to their novelty value. The Tuk Tuk gets its name from the sound of their engineers they are motorised rickshaws. The vehicle can fit up to 3-4 people depending on size. My adventure on a Tuk Tuk was accompany by Rose and Valerie. we decided to a take a Tuk Tuk from the BKM mall back to our hotel, Sofitel. It was a pretty wild adventure as at one point we was traveling through a dark back road and noticed a number of local families with children, roaming dogs and not one tourist in sight. We were traveling in this area for at least a full 5 mins. Once we got back onto the main road, we were driving on the wrong side of the road over large hills for a period of time, going at least 25-35mph. The driver seem like he knew what he was doing during the entire trip but I know that us three were hanging for dear life. We were all good once we reached our hotel. Overall, the driver was very nice from beginning to end. The ride was a bit scary but I would totally do it again. I can’t speak the same for the other two traveling with me though.
Please see the following mini goofy video on the Tuk Tuk.
This blog will be about my first Thai massage also known as Thai yoga massage in Bangkok. I have received massages before in many different places through out the United States. One thing I was planning on doing is trying out a Thai massage. I decided to try one at a nice establishment that was with in walking distance of my hotel, Sofitel. The place was named Lavana. Trying this place out with me was Rose, Tom, and Ashley. At the beginning of the experience they take you to an area to wash your feet. After spending a few minutes their, they take you to a room where the massage takes place. In this room, I had to change into a Thai outfit for the massage as I will be wear this through out the massage. Therefore, oil will not be used. It all takes place on a padded mat on the floor and the one room has four mats therefore four people can be getting the Thai massage at once. During this hour long massage, the therapist uses her hands, knees, legs, and feet to move me into a series of yoga-like stretches along with the traditional massages to my legs, arms, back and neck. After the massage, I am directed back to the lobby to relax with a cup of hot green tea and a shot of strawberry mousse. The Thai massage was 450 THB, which was a little more than 13 USD. The entire experience was fantastic. I actually enjoyed so much that I booked another massage for the next day! Please see photos from the experience.
Experiencing the Thai massage for the very first time!
Bangkok’s Klong Toey Slum is only a few metro stops away from luxurious mall and five-star hotels, expat bars, and its Stock Exchange. I learned that the Klong Toey Slum is located on a plot of land belonging to the Port Authority of Thailand. The slum covers an area of around a square mile and is home to around 100,000 people and that the people living in this slum are technically illegal squatters.
With such intense overcrowding means that at peak times there are bodies just about everywhere: slumped on motorbikes, sitting in doorways or leaning out of windows; bodies, big and small, clogging up what are already claustrophobically narrow alleyways. Because their homes are so tiny, not to mention hot, people do in public what they would normally do in private – things like cook, eat, hand washing, and other things.
We had the opportunity to meet with a company in Thailand called “Step Ahead” and there goal is to help the people in this community to become independent by find ways to make a better living for their families. We had a chance to go into the home of a wonderful woman that makes sushi to sell to kids for an after school shack for 5 baht (that’s $0.15 in the US). Despite the conditions that these people live in they seem to be happy and grateful for the life that they live. If only in the US we could be appreciative for what we have and thankful for the small things in our lives. The Klong Toey Slum was an eye opening experience and it makes me truly grateful for all that I have.
Stetson’s Executive MBA offers a variety of unique experiences, however, the international business trip could be considered by many the “highlight” of the program. Twenty students began this journey in August 2014 and we are just over halfway complete. The cohort has been learning and growing from each other over the past ten months, but this week long adventure in Thailand proved to be a phenomenal bonding experience.
Between business visits during the day and touring the city at night, we were truly able to immerse ourselves in the culture of Thailand. We ate a ton of Thai food, bargained with street vendors for souvenirs, and navigated the city by either BTS (skytrain) or on tuk tuk (3 wheeler taxi). Our culture day included Temple visits and a riverboat cruise. Some of us purchased custom tailored suits and others went for fish pedicures or Thai massages. We wrapped up the trip with an elephant trek where we rode elephants and had the opportunity to bath the elephants!
From the cohort standpoint, we leaned on each other at all times. Members of the group experienced bee stings, upset stomachs, and being homesick, but we were there for each other as one large family. It was really neat for me to see the cohort blossom and grow as a group. This trip is most definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity and it was magical to create memorable learnings and experiences with people who will be lifelong friends!
Enjoying Bangkok culture!
Enjoying drinks at one of the most famous Bangkok rooftop bars!
On Friday morning Cohort 12 visited the Klong Toey Bangkok also known as the slums. Over 100,000 people live within 13 square km area (5 square miles) on the Port land, essentially government land. While this area may be appear to be similar to the slums of Detroit in America, the area’s atmosphere was drastically different due to the culture of Thais.
Thai people are very respectful and peaceful. There was not a sense of suffering, but yet a strong sense of community. A majority of the people are content with their lives there and several generations of families have been raised there.
The organization that we toured the area with, Step Ahead, focuses on Keeping Families Together (KFT). They have community leaders that they work with to identify families in need and help however possible. We visited three different homes to see the food they prepare are serve within the area as a business.
The step ahead organization helps the local people to stay together as families, supporting them with job opportunities and personal development to enlarge their possibilities to grow and live better. The Step Ahead organization runs with the help of hundreds of volunteers that comes every year from all over the world to teach, work and give their times to help.
They took us to walk in the neighborhood to meet the people who lived in there, and learn about their lives, their culture and their daily activities.
It was a humbling experience and definitely a different perspective of Thailand from the hustle and bustle of the city area of Bangkok.
Jon Carrick giving Stetson donation during the “Step Ahead” tour!
Students enjoying the “Step Ahead” tour!
The “Step Ahead” tour!
Walking the neighborhood during the “Step Ahead” tour!
Today was the day we didn’t know what to expect. We were given the option to drive 2 hours outside of Bangkok to ride an elephant. Sounds crazy.. and it was.
First off – It was amazing watching the scenery as we drive through Thailand outside of the big city of Bangkok. Just from driving through you can pick out the many differences. The homes, the style, the arcutecture, the markets, etc. all very different! I also should mention throughout this trip we had an incredible tour guide- Tong! We were so grateful to her and as we traveled off to side trips like Tokyo and Hong Kong we very much wished she was there. Ok back to the elephants… Right when we get there we see all these amazing elephants and thankfully a chair on top. It was two to an elephant and you had a guide who helped steer.
Riding the elephant!
Enjoying the elephant ride!
Enjoying the elephant ride experience!
Posing with the elephant!
This was out of this world. You really had to plan your weigh distribution – we kept tipping over but never fell off! It was so cool! we even went through the water. Some of the cohort took it even farther and bathed with the elephants. This pictures came out amazing and the elephants seemed to love it – many of the cohort feed the elephants bananas. Turned out elephants don’t peel the bananas and they eat more than 5 at a time!! Amazing day and a great way to end our travels in Thailand!”
Please watch the following video to see the students in action while riding the elephant!
I’d never considered sight to be a vital sense involved in the dining experience, that is until I ate a meal in complete darkness.
Before entering the restaurant we selected the style of cuisine we preferred: western, eastern, chefs choice which combines the two or vegetarian. As we entered the restaurant, we were guided into the darkness by our waiter, Neil, who is visually impaired. Once seated, we relied on our sense of touch to locate our utensils, water and each other. As each of the four courses were served, we had no idea what was in front of us. We talked through each bite. What are you tasting? What do you think of the texture? What is this crunchy stuff?
To conclude the experience, we returned to the light and we were showed photos of what each dish looked like and what components were in each.
Our experience at Dine in the Dark was unlike any other and I highly recommend it for any foodies and adventurers. Don’t be afraid of the dark.