His name is Bhumibol Adulyadej, but no one calls him that. He goes by the title of King. Thailand is legally a constitutional monarchy, much like the UK, with a King as more of a figurehead leader. Officially, he has no giverning power but he is one of the predominant binding forces keeping the Thai People together. Thailand has experienced many political coups in the past decade and is currently under martial law with talks of elections in the future. With all of this political turmoil; however, The Country of Thailand is a stabilizing force in Southeast Asia. Bangkok has become an economic powerhouse in the region and draws in tourists, trade, and culture from all over the world. Something didn’t seem right to me though. How could a country be both politically unstable and a region stabilizer at the same time? The answer is two fold: the king and Buddhist ideals of balance and peace. The king is widely adored by his people. The city is covered with images of both the king and his eldest daughter who recently celebrated a birthday. This adoration and respect for the king is pervasive and is seen in almost every aspect of Thai life. Take the movies for example. After the previews the theater plays the king’s anthem and a tribute video. During this video the entire audience stands silently in respect of the king. When political unrest begins to boil and a coup unfolds, the king is there to give his blessing to the new government.
The king and queen have four children. The eldest child, the one who traditionally would ascend to the throne after his father’s passing, is unfortunately not liked by the Thai people. He is not celebrated or really even mentioned. This brings me to the elephant in the room. What happens when the king, who is 87 years old, passes? This is the million-dollar question. Will the prince be king? Will the king appoint his eldest daughter as the Queen breaking tradition but in doing so perhaps provide more stability? Will Thailand cease to have a king? The princess is loved by her people and could bring stability to the region, but if the prince is coroneted as king there is a very real possibility that Thailand could be heading for some rough waters ahead.
Just one of the many monuments to the king that can be seen all over the country.
One of the many banners around Bangkok celebrating the Princess’ birthday.
By: Britteny Freemyer, Jessica Zaucha, Joseph Iglecia-Scholl and Karla Powell .
On Wednesday, June 24th, our class met with JT who currently works with Human Resources for McDonald’s in Thailand. Our class learned about McDonald’s brand ambitious an traditions utilizing three key ares: good food, good people and good neighbor. JT also went through some of the new initiatives the company is establishing here in Thailand including, the McEasy. This is an electronic system that allows the customers to select their meal choices all with an click of a button. This system is all throughout Thailand stores and is moving across the world.
We had the opportunity to tour their facility and see different area of the McDonald’s center. Like most businesses there were offices, cubicles and conference rooms, but there was more. In one rooms there was a play room with pool tables, game pods and large chairs to relax. Throughout the building there were also smaller McCafe and soda machines from the restaurants. It was interesting to see their space and learn about their training programs and initiatives in the country of Thailand. One such initiative is helping the senior leaders of the company to “get their hands dirty’ and see a day in the life of a front line employee. Once a year, one of the restaurants is selected to host the senior leaders. The leaders trade their suits and ties for a McDonald’s uniform and spend a day training and working in various positions around the operation. This helps to keep the executives in touch with the needs and desires of the customers and employees.
McCafe and soda machines from the restaurants located hroughout the building!
Students learning about McDonald’s brand ambitious and traditions utilizing three key ares: good food, good people and good neighbor.
When travelling to a foreign country one of the first things on your to-do list may not be to go see a movie in the theaters, however in Thailand I definitely recommend this! Showing respect to their King and Royal family is very apparent here, even before seeing a movie in the theaters. I was told about how they show a short video in honor of the King prior to the movie and after hearing this I was very intrigued by this concept, so I knew this was something I had to do! It also didn’t hurt that I soon found out Jurassic World was playing in the 3D Imax theater nearby, and in English! So, I made my way to the movies with some members of the cohort.
The theater experience itself was a bit different than in the states as well, we had to select our exact seats when purchasing the tickets, something I wasn’t used to. Once tickets and snacks were in hand we made our way to the theater. We sat down in our assigned seats and got ready to watch the previews in anticipation of the King’s tribute.
We watched a few previews of movies and then all of a sudden a slide came on the screen. In Thai and in English it asked for everyone watching to please stand to pay their respect to the King. Everyone in the theater did this so quickly and without hesitation, it was amazing and very powerful. The theater was silent as everyone watched as the video went through some key moments in the King’s life. The video was only a few minutes long. Once it was finished I looked around, as everyone was still standing in silence. Most of the viewers bowed to pay their respects and then proceeded with sitting down and getting prepared for the movie. Everyone seemed very accustomed and used to this tribute, which just goes to show how much this country pays respect to their Royal family on a daily basis.
“June 24th- what a day! we started out with a morning full of preparation for our presentation to the New Directions, Curious Creamery brand. This brand is working to change the “tradition” way we think of ice cream into a new, innovative way to get creative and have the freedom to create ice your way. The ice cream industry hasn’t changed in 100 years but New direction is challenging that way of thinking in a very exciting way. We were all very nervous because we have been working on this presentation and project for months now. The morning flew by. Around 1:30 we were on a bus headed to the McDonalds offices to begin our presentations. This was the moment we were all waiting for- nerves and excitement took over! There were 4 groups and each group had a different focus on direction for this start up business to go. The presentations were 20 minutes a piece and each group did a great job in expressing their work to the larger audience. What a rewarding relief is was to be completed. We all feel so lucky to be able to be here in Thailand to present this to the team. Typically presentations I do oversees is through video conferencing. Another highlight of this afternoon was we finally got to try the ice cream- YUM!!”
We’ve all heard the saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and it’s never been more true for me until I came to Bangkok. I consider myself a pretty adventurous eater. I’ll try anything at least once. In our time here I’ve decided that most Thai food isn’t my favorite thing to eat in the world so I’m very thankful for the vast breakfast spread we have every morning. We never know what food lunch and dinner might bring so breakfast has been a safe place to fuel up for the day. There’s a variety of food from the local Thai cuisine to all our western favorites. I think most people in our Cohort will miss the French Toast, it’s the best French toast I’ve ever had.
Here’s a little video of all our breakfast offerings. Enjoy!
Being my first time out of the US, I’ve seen a lot that has been interesting. When seeing everything new it was comforting to find a little piece of America in the middle of Bangkok. Yesterday on our business visit to Pace, the development company that recently purchased Dean & Deluca , we fell back into the US! Dean & Deluca is located in the MahaNakon Cube and is a new market style concept for the brand. They not only have coffee like the stores that are familiar in the US, this store also has packaged foods, confectionary, deli and prepared foods. According to Roger, the director of strategy for Dean & Deluca, since the packaged foods don’t sell as well in Thailand, they have expanded to a fuller menu. This is what brought a group of us back for dinner.
Dinner was delicious! It was just what I needed after the various Thai food we have been eating since we arrived. From Pizza to pasta to sandwiches, this brightly lighted store is a taste of New York in the middle of a bustling Thai city. It was busy the two hours we were there filled with a mix of expats and Thai alike. In the land of smiles, this American was truly smiling.
Our third full day in Thailand and I feel that we have experience a lifetime of memories already. Today, we met with Jackie, the Managing Director of Ping’s Restaurants, it was refreshing to see the passion and dedication they have for their brand. Ping’s Restaurants is a family business that started in Singapore, but they felt the business could grow better in Thailand. Their commitment to authentic real Thai-Chinese food really shows not only in the flavors and menu but also in the relationship the brand has with the employees.
At the end of the visit we had the opportunity to taste some of the most popular menu items. One word that really describes Thai food is spicy! Even though I was not able to enjoy any of the sea food items the team was very accommodating and made items especially for me. I was very pleased with the dishes that were prepared especially for me and I was very thankful on how much they wanted me to have the same experience as the rest of the cohort.
I am going to close with something that Jackie mentioned during our conversation “business is business but family is always the most important thing”. Even though I am not part of the family, they made me feel like it when they went out the way to make me feel welcomed and included. I will always remember the chicken fried rice but I will never forget their kind gesture and authentic smile.
With complete different and unrecognized names, which I can’t even pronounce, we found brazilian food while taking a night stroll here in Bangkok. Brazilian foods such as Mandioca and Pão de queijo (cheese bread) and a lot of great appetizers, entrées and different and colored drinks made our night, and some of us took the famous ‘Tuk Tuk’ (taxi cab) back to our hotel.
The restaurant that we visited was amazing and featured amazing and stunning views of Bangkok. The neighborhood where the restaurant was located was called ‘Vadhana – Khlong Tan Nuea’ where we could enjoy a view of the city from a high rooftop restaurant lounge.
This is really a great cohort adventure and meeting Bangkok natives has been quite an adventure. The cohort is bonding and truly becoming a family!