This is the blog site for the 2009 Families and Healthcare Businesses learning abroad course, a multidisciplinary learning experience at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and the University of Minnesota Duluth.  Sixteen students will participate in the 3 week course from December 27 through January 16.  Stay tuned to hear about their experiences!

Catherine Solheim and Jill Klingner, Faculty leaders


Have a good trip!

I have not used this before so am excited to learn!
I am really getting excited. I am still looking for hostess type gifts to bring. I found a lot of duplo blocks at the second hand store and ran then thru the dishwasher!


Hi all, I just want to let you know that UMD university relations wants to do a homepage story on your trip. Take lots of pictures and have fun! Cheryl Reitan

Jill & other Thailand travelers - wishing you a safe and rewarding trip to Thailand from UMD FMIS! Hopefully the holiday winter blizzard won't delay the start of your trip.

Everyone arrived safely. Late but safe. Longest adventure routed three thru Paris.

THree bags are still en route so shopping is urgent!

Great presentation by the CEO of Bumrangrad hospital. Check out their website. Quite the operation!!!

Tomorrow we head out early for the home stay in Samut Songkran.
Mosquito nets and a message.

It is WARM!! Constant hot flash. Hope all is well at home.


Glad to hear you arrived safely!
Greetings from the Myhres (who live in the tundra of NE MN!)
Wish we were there in the warmth!
Have a healthy, safe and fun experience!!

Hello All: hope you are all well and safe...looking forward to seeing more on this site about your activities and outcomes. Be safe, stay cool and bon voyage. Thank you.

Today I had another massage. Two massages in one week is enough but I realized that the massage at the local hospital is more gentle and soft. On the other hand, the massage at the temple hurts more. Even though two massages are different from each other including the staff sitting position and the way how they massage me, I'm not excited for it because I don't believe in massage. I am intersted when the Thai guy massaged Daniel and Jan. He was able to find out about their bodies which it was so awesome. I wish I had time to learn more about that.


Hey there so what i have learned so far on this trip is about healthcare, massages and the different culture of Thailand and the Thai people here.

I have seen interesting things here such as the private hospitals to the small rural hospitals and then the small rural provinces which are so different from Bangkok! I never expected that Bangkok would be so big! The city is so different from the rural provinces! The massages that I received from the two different massages that we have went to which are in the small province Sukuhtsongkram and in Bangkok at the Wat Po, just comparing the two massage centers are so different from one another. But if I think about it in similiarity, it seems to me that the Thai people believe alot in the spirituality of a being and that families are very oriented. The Thai people have a culture similiar of my culture which is Hmong because I am also family oriented.

Hi everyone!! Thailand is HOTT, 90+ degrees definitely not used to it. The city is amazing with huge sky scrapers everywhere. One of the best experiences I have had so far was the floating market. They are small wooden boats some electric others by paddling in a very crowded canal. People sell Thailand items from their boats and will pull you over with a stick to try to show you what they have to sell. I was able to bargin and get a couple good deals.

We also had a boat ride on the Gulf of Thailand I had motion sickness so it wasn't my favorite. However, we saw wild monkeys and fed them fruit there were about 50 of them and came very close to our boats. Then we went to a little boat house made of all bamboo it was great!!

Im very surprised by all the seafood that they have here, definitely not my favorite so I have been eating lots of rice. :)

Hope everyone at home had a safe and happy new year!!
- Danielle Radotich

saw a de kah--- (spelling?)

Hello from Thailand! It's been quite and experience so far! Our schedules have been packed with visiting a government school, Bumrungrad Hospital and another hospital that practices in a more holistic way. We also had the opportunity to swim in the Gulf of Siam and go to the beach. We've received TWO massages the first week so BE JEALOUS! It's super hot here so I hope everyone in MN is enjoying the -4 degree weather I heard is going on. It's very dirty here so I've been thinking about how that has an effect on Thai people's health.....I've been noticing the lack of public sanatation practices compared to the US.....It was really interesting to watch Thai families at the beach as it was New Year's day and a holiday where a lot of families spend at the beach....more later!!


Hey Jane here-
So far my experience in Thailand has been great. It is 90 degree heat, the food is different than what I'm used to, and toilet paper is a rarity, and despite all of that, I am really enjoying my time here. At times I feel like I'm on vacation!

I was very surprised to see the quality of Bumrungrad hospital. After hearing the apprehension of Americans regarding Medical Tourism,I assure you, you would be wise to consider the option.

The other day we took a trip in a fishing boat around the gulf of Thailand. The water was warm, the bottom was a clay massage for the feet, and the breeze was fantastic. I was able to "wakeboard" on a tobbagan-like piece of wood. It was awesome! It was also interesting to get a glimpse of traditional Thai family life. Everyone here has been so welcoming!

I am still getting used to the food, but I am becoming more comfortable with exploring the streets of Bangkok. I am learning more Thai phrases so I am able to at least minimally communicate. Bargaining has become more of a hobby than a chore. Tomorrow I am going to shop til I drop in the weekend market. Life is good!

More in the days to come-


Well, week one is coming to a close, and it has been a whirlwind of a week. We have participated in so many unique cultural experiences and seen so many new things. Towards the beginning of the week we visited Samut Sonkrahm, a province south of Bangkok. Here we stayed at two different homestays, both very different from one another. At the first homestay, the family cooked us a huge dinner unlike anything I've ever eaten before. They served fried morning glories, fried green beens, mudd fish/cat fish, a very thin pancake-looking rice dessert and so much more. We had the opportunity to see them make brown sugar from coconut and to watch their cultural dances. It has been an amazing experience so far, and I am very excited for our visit to Chiang Mae and Chiang Rae.

Hi everyone,

I have been here for about a week now and I have already seen so many interesting things. First off, I found out that Bangkok is a very populated city. Bangkok has so many street markets and I am surprised that there are that many people who are able to make a living or even just earn enough to live in Bangkok.

We went to two hospitals. One was in Bangkok which I forgot the name but it was as nice as a hotel. The second hospital in the rural area in Songkhram was also interesting because there was a massage place inside. I was surprised to see how good the relationship between the director and the workers.

I will update you all with more later.


Man oh man have we been busy! Hope everyone back in the US is doing well! We had ANOTHER Thai massage today at the best Thai massage school in Bangkok. It was really amazing, these massages are nothing like massages i've had in the US. A few of us headed to a market road for New Years Eve, it was comparable to the Times Square of Bangkok. We had a really fun time! We were able to chat with some backpackers from around the world. The weather has been very hot and humid. Although, we are heading up north in a couple days where it will cool down a bit. I have tried so many different types of food! The fruit here is diverse and interesting. Very different from many types of fruit we can get back home. Its lovely. We visited a temple today that was beautiful and i really liked it. We are having a Thai dinner right now so i better get back to it.


Hello everyone.

It's already a week since we've been here and I am having so much fun! The weather is nicer, compare to -5 degrees back home. I miss my family and friends back home, but am enjoying my time.

So far, we have seen 2 hospital and been in 2 homestays about 1 hour away from Bangkok. I loved the homestay and really miss the people there. I never thought that I would enjoy thai dancing, because I would get creep out back at home when I see my aunts and uncles do their thai dance. However, I do see that it is very fun b/c the dances has meanings too. I loved the thai dresses also, they look so nice.

As for the food, I like them every much! The seafoods, the fried rice, and the McDonals here, the fruits, and so much more. They are oh, so good! Even the spice is good.

Overall, I am having the best time of my life here. I am making the best of everything here because it is really worth it all.

Well, I will blog another time. Hope everything is going well back in MN.


On our day off (January 1)some of us went to the beach. It was a few hours away so we took a van and when we got there it was not exactly what we expected. There were a ton of people, but everyone was under umbrellas. We just wanted to lay on the beach in the sun because we don't get to back home at this time of year, however, it was almost hard to find an open space to lay out that didn't have an umbrella covering the sand. It was a perfect example of how we always seem to want what we don't have- we wanted to tan and the people who live in 80 degree weather every day wanted to be white. Not to mention that this is considered their cold season.
I would also like to note that it is interesting to put into perspective a developing country, being a labor abundant country (versus capital). A lot of things seem to be much cheaper here and I would attribute that to cheaper labor.

I got my first expereience with the tuk tuk today The first trip was short only 5 or so minutes which costed 20 bat total for two tuk tuks totaling 5 passengers! The second trip was about a 10 minute ride costing only 30 bat about $1 american. For those who dont know a tuk tuk is a small 3 wheeled vehicle with the driver in front and passengers in the open aired rear. Mopeds, motocylcles, vans, and cars in every direction leave tuk tuk passengers feeling quite vulnerable let me tell you! All of the drivers have a friend in every business let me tell you, so i'm sure they get a cut for bringing the passengers to their specifiic stores!

Hi everyone back in the states! Hope you all had a wonderful New Year!

Within our week here in Thailand, we had been to two homestays in Samut Songkram. These people are really nice and fun. At our first homestay, we were able to see some tamarind, coconut, and banana trees. The people there were really nice because they especially made brown sugar from coconuts just for us guests. After welcoming us into their homestay, they entertained us by karaoke-ing, dancing traditional thai, and eventually wanted us to dance with them also, which was a lot of fun. We exchanged gifts with them and they also gave us our thai name, and mine is Pee-Mai, which means New Year. Alot of us eventually slept in mosquito nets, and these nets were really cute. When we left the place it was so sad, because we had alot of fun with them.

At our second homestay, we arrived there a little late, just in time for dinner, which we had seafood. It was delicious, especially the Tom Ka, curry soup with prawns. That place there was also really nice.

Besides the two homestays, we've been on boat rides, ate in a ocean bamboo house, fed and seen monkeys and catfish, went to shop at the floating market. Overall, it is really nice here.
~MJ (Mai Joua) Vang (FSOS Roundtable Secretary)

Hi to friends and families back home!!!
I can't believe it has been almost a week now that we've been here in Thailand. I love it here in Thailand and the weather has been wonderful (although, I think a lot of us would agree that it's humid and very hot). I would also have to say that so far, in Bangkok, I love how it is very busy (kind of like New York City). There is also so much to see. But one thing I would have to say I dislike about being in Bangkok is the smell. The odor of the food and just the weather being so humid all the time makes the smell very unpleasant. Other than that, I love it here! The shops are great because every corners that you turn there is always something interesting that you can find and buy. I know that I've been bargaining for a lot of the things that I've bought--but I've spent way too much in just this week! Have to stop myself from that.
The experiences outside of Bangkok has been wonderful also. I don't think I've met such kind people in the states yet that would host us like they did at the home stays. The first home stay was something else! The elders were so kind (with the gift exchanges) and just dancing and singing for us was very wonderful. I'm just so fascinated by the Thai cultures and how much I've learned from just being here and observing everything! This first hand experiences is going great. There is so much that I want to say and mention about all the wonderful experiences, but I'll keep this blog short for now!
One last thing though, if you're a seafood lover, Thailand would be a great place! The foods here are awesome, and the tastes are great! Can't wait for the love ones back home to come out to Thailand in the future to experience what we're all going through here!


Thailand, is great! Its been hot and humid and jam packed with experiences. The biggest culture shock so far was our trip to the beach on Jan 1st. Expecting the blue sky and water with white sandy beaches we've seen on the internet it was a bit of surprise at the beach we went to. After we adjusted to the different surroundings of our beach it was really a great time. not the touristy beach but a local Thai beach full of Thai people. So much family interaction! The beach was at least a mile long filled with umbrellas to shield everyone from the sun. Each Thai family had brought a "BBQ" of sorts to enjoy with their entire family and all the kids were swimming and having a lot of fun with us. Such a great family environment. The increased amount of garbage compared to what we are used to has been noted by all. I saw the same sort of issues when I was in Ecuador. we did a lot of community clean up there and worked to teach them the importance and reason for keeping things clean. Another thing I noted both here in Thailand and in Ecuador is that there are very few public garbage cans. If there is no where to put the garbage its easy to see why so much can end up floating around! Bye for now!


Hello all...
scratch that comment about shopping til I drop today. I am extremely ill and was not able to participate in the market festivities. I guess this is all just a part of the experience (and not a pleasant part).

Yesterday at Wat Po massage school, the instructor pressed on my stomach and could tell right away that I have celiacs disease. It was such an awesome experience...what a smart guy! I really don't think we as Americans give holistic medicine the credit it deserves.

I really am hoping that I am feeling better tomorrow for our flight to the northern provinces.

I am missing everyone at home! Later-

Hello to families and friends,

It seems like the breakfast here at the hotel are the same every day. There aren't new varieties, which is kind of sad because I was expecting them to switch it up a little bit. But it's okay, some of them are delicious!
Today, we get to experiences the weekend market. How we got there was great. The group and myself took the sky train to a different part of the city where the weekend market is located. There were so many different kind of stalls! I was very excited when we were walking towards the opening of where it all started, but after a few stalls, I was disappointed to say that there wasn't a lot of things that caught my attention. Funny thing too is that some of the shoes that they were selling were already really old and worn out (kind of looks like someone had already worn them). The smell there was also very strong, and the worst part was that there wasn't ICE CREAM! In the hot, humid weather, I was looking for ice cream that would be refreshing, unfortunately though I didn't get any. I ended up leaving the weekend market early because there wasn't much that I wanted from there! I'll be looking forward to shopping else where.


Coming back from the weekend market, i realized that it is a tourist place. I tried to bargain but it does not work. I guess stores around Benja hotel and other local shops near Western hotels, prices of items are so expensive. The Thai people are not even lowering the prices of their items. I was actually looking forward to the weekend market but after seeing it I was disappointed because its too expensive.

Another thing that I realized when I was in the bus train, I noticed that there was a security watching people by the station. He tried to make sure people stand behind the yellow line or else he would blow his whistle. I think its funny how the Thai people would blow his whistle like a little child.

Comparing to Minneapolis bus train by our school, I realized that Thai people sure used the bus train a lot just like American people.

^___^ PX

So, today I went to the Weekend Market. The market was fun and exciting at first but then when I went inside further into the stores, I noticed that some of the clothes and old shoes which made me think that some of these stores were probably thrift store clothing. The shoes were really old and worn out and we had to also pay for the bathrooms?? This was interesting and I thought that it was kind of dumb how we had to pay 3 baht for the bathrooms! Some of the vendors were very nice about bargaining but then there were some vendors who were not nice about bargaining and they wouldn't lower their prices. I was disappointed that the items were not cheap. Finally, one great thing about the weekend market was that me and Pai saw two Hmong vendors. We saw a Hmong vendor and his son and they said that they were from Chiang Mai. I was excited to see Hmong people in Bangkok. Then we also saw another Hmong man selling purrses and sandals outside of the markets. He was selling on the streets outside of the market. I was very happy to see that there were some Hmong vendors because I wasn't expecting to see Hmong vendors there.

Today we went to the weekend warket and had a little photo scavenger hunt. The weekend market was divided into sections, starting with clothes , and as we moved deeper we found everything from home goods, to incense burners, to rolexs. I was looking at the rolexs, but the price of $4000 american dollars seemed to be a little bit steep for a college kid with a large amount of doubt with reguards to its authenticity. Overall i got my photos of a food, animal, clothing, fruit, kitchen utencil, and random interesting product. It was about 90 or so today, thank goodness for the cover and somwwhat air conditioned areas of the market. the air train ride over was about 15 minutes and costed about a dollar which is a steal considering it was air conditioned!!

Today we went to the weekend market and were expected to get 5 photos of a couple different things, one being a live animal. I tried to take a picture of this ladies dog and she freaked out on my and told me to delete it and wouldn't let me leave until she saw me delete it. That was interesting. There is this little bar about a block from our hotel so Joe and I ate here tonight for the 2nd time. Chicken fingers have never tasted so good.

I had my first Tuk Tuk ride it is basically a little motorized taxi carrige ride. They are so fun but definitely scary because of how crazy Thailand traffic is. We wanted to go to a shopping center but they brought us to a Jem place. I got a necklace and ring that have garnet gems in them! Tomorrow we leave for Chang Mai and Chang Rai im very excited because this heat is definitely getting to me. There are mountains and the scenery should be beautiful!

To- da- loo!

-Danielle Radotich

Hey guys!

Some of us just got back from the weekend market. We've been there since 1pm, and now it's already 7pm. Since some of us didnt eat all day, we stopped by KFC before we walked back to the hotel.

The weekend market is HUGE!! It's like going to the Hmong Soccer Tournament but even more, and I dont go to those things, so this is too much for me. hehe!! But overall the weekend market is really cheap and nice, especially for tourists who wants to spend money wisely. We'll we will be leaving to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai for the week, so check out this blog for any updates!

~MJ Vang

Hey all,

Today we went to the weekend JJ market. It is like a flea market; there were tons of shops. We saw people selling dogs/puppies. We saw live shrimps and they were taken to be cook and eat. There were many clothings, shoes, accessories, and so much more. If only we knew how to speak Thai, then we would have order some food. Also, we have to pay to use the bathroom; we even have to pay to use toilet papers.

I love taking the sky-train. It is really fast and easy to use. We stopped at KFC to eat dinner. I have to say, it is cheaper then US's KFC. They have spicy fried chicken, which the US don't have.

I am very excited for tomorrow when we get to Cheng Rai. I am also looking forward to seeing the sun-shine over the mountains of Laos.

Well, that shall be all for now.


Hi Everyone back home! :)

McDonalds never tasted so good! :) hehe...on our day off for new years day, the girls and I went to Central World Shopping mall center, where there are over 500 stores. The mall had 8 levels and was filled with so many people. We called it the MOA (Mall of America) of Bangkok. It's so weird because when we spent money here, it's in bahts, and I spent about 2,000 at the mall and I felt as if I spent $2,000.00, hehe. It was a wonderful experience!


Today we spent the whole day at the weekend market! It was tiring but so much fun! My feet aches extremely bad. It was a great experience though. I feel as if I'm just getting jet-leg now. I've been super tired these past couple of days, and I've been longing for sleep! *sigh* but, I'm super excited for Chang Mai and Chang Rai this coming week! I think being Hmong and being able to go and see the Hmong people and Hmong villages up North is something that touches me deeply. It's hard to explain how I feel, but I know that there will be a piece of me that will not want to leave once I get there. I can't wait. Hope you all are doing well back home! :)


Having a wonderful time in Bangkok but I'm excited to see more of the country. Going up north today, looking forward to a slightly cooler climate. But this heat sure beats -16F back home! and the 22 inches of snow!! We went to the market yesterday which was amazing. Lots of wonderful stuff and such good prices. It was nice to see all the police at the market were very concerned for our safety. They warned us to keep our bags close to us and in front all the time. Hope I can get all the stuff I bought home!


Just finished breakfast at the hotel now we are packing up and getting ready to head up north! Im excited to experience the culture up there and get to some cooler weather :) I'm most excited to learn more about the HIV-AIDS community. We went to the weekend market yesterday. It is absolutely HUGE! You can get get anything there! I bought a few things but didnt go too crazy because i want to see whats going on at the markets up north. Cathy, Jenna, Rachel and I had lunch at the market in the air conditioning! That was really nice, and the food was yummy too. Well, i better get packing!


Went to the floating market yesterday...what an experience! It is absolutely impossible to cover all in one day! We were all exhausted within about 3 hours...but some great deals! Lots of smells, sights and sounds that is for sure....It was nice having Cathy with us since she speaks Thai and the communication went a lot smoother, plus we just looked less "western tourist" with her with us. People have been sick with stomach issues, most from the super spicy food we've been having...I'm trying to train my taste buds to get used to spice as I definitely wasn't a fan before leaving the states...I think it's working! There are so many people in Bangkok. Not only the 12 million plus that live here but the thousands of tourists that are floating around, it gives the city a feel I've never experienced. This might help explain the challenge of controlling pollution?? Don't know but it's something I've been thinking about. Hope everyone is staying warm in the states!


hello hello!
wee are at the airport waiting to board the pllane, which appeaars to be an A330 or somethingg similar to heaad upt chhang rai! reaally lookinng forward to the coolerr weatherr, and it wass a pleseaant surprse to see that thhey have free computerrs in the terrminnal, thhoughh thhe keyboard is a little strangee so typing is proving to be quitee difficult! The airport is very siimiar too one in the states, and i diddnt notice ny inncreassed sucurity like i read is already takig pllace in the airportss withinn thhe united states. grabbed somme food in the food coourt, looked inn somme shops and now justt killing a little ttime beforee we board the pllanee! hopee all is well statesidee, heard my packerrs kicked butt today, betterr watch ouut for them in the pllayoffs!!!!!!!

Hi All,

Tonight was an amazing night here in Chang Rai!! We were able to go to their University and were welcomed with open arms! Met some incredible staff and students. We tried some Thai desserts and had ceremonial dinner on the ground. There were performances with dancing and drum beating and even a little fire breathing :) This culture is so rich and just wonderful! The Thai are so proud of their culture and so happy to share it with others! What GREAT people I met, I feel so incredibly lucky!! We all lit lanterns and released them to the sky with a wish for the New Year....it was honestly the most moving moment I've ever experienced....wow....I actually had to step out of the group and go in the corner because I started crying, I was just so happy and so thankful for everything the Thai culture and people have offered us.....Good night all!

Hi All,

Tonight was an amazing night here in Chang Rai!! We were able to go to their University and were welcomed with open arms! Met some incredible staff and students. We tried some Thai desserts and had ceremonial dinner on the ground. There were performances with dancing and drum beating and even a little fire breathing :) This culture is so rich and just wonderful! The Thai are so proud of their culture and so happy to share it with others! What GREAT people I met, I feel so incredibly lucky!! We all lit lanterns and released them to the sky with a wish for the New Year....it was honestly the most moving moment I've ever experienced....wow....I actually had to step out of the group and go in the corner because I started crying, I was just so happy and so thankful for everything the Thai culture and people have offered us.....Good night all!


So nice to hear from everyone! I am glad you are all enjoying your time in Thailand. It sure beats the weather here - a chilly -20 degrees last night.

I look forward to future posts and learning more about your experiences with Thai culture.

All the best,


Hello all!
We made it too Chang Mai after a trip into and through the beutiful thai mountains!!!! It rained on our way into town and when we were first here, so it's about 200% humidity and 80 degrees...which sounds alright compared to the frigid weather stateside! We had a great time in the hmong villiages and had a quick trip to Laos, also a great looking place with riverside sights pictures wont do justice! A few of us had a small problem with clocks being in sync but communication and keeping you cool is key on a trip with 18 people, which we are all learning in different ways! We are having a great time, and it feels good to be in a big city again where we are visiting a night market tongiht and a couple of us are thinking that a big pizza would sound great for dinner! Hope all is well, bundle up! :P
Joe Sampson


im at the internet cafe and really grossed out but i have only been online twice so im pushing through it. my keypad wont let me do capitals so this will have to do. chang mai was beautiful i loved the mountains and the weather! we went to a mong village while we were there and it surprised me how many children we saw and how they are able to live just by the resources they have in the village. we watched women put bamboo onto spools and then dry it out it was very interesting how after it was dry they weaved it around sticks in about a 10 ft line, they would not let anyone cross over this line because they believed it would bring bad fortune to their village. we also saw many young children riding on the front of mopeds and i just thought about how you would never see that in the states. even little dogs will be riding on the backs of them. we also were able to learn how they used candle wax to draw patterns on their bamboo fabric. they are so good at following their patterns and doing it perfectly. i was not so good at it and they would just laugh it was fun. im going to go search for some pizza before we head out to the night market.

ps im sitting next to a little boy who has to be about 5 and is playing world of war craft he is faster at typing than i am and seems to be amazing at playing this game. interesting.

-danielle radotich

The past three days we stayed in Chiang Rai. We stayed at 2 different homestays and they were gorgeous! One was up in the mountains and we got to watch the sunset and sunrise in the mountains! We also got to learn a little about the environmental policies and the situation that Thailand is in with China building dams on the Mecon River with is causing some problems for Thailand. We got to experience the Mecon River first hand on a boat ride which had Thailand on one side and Laos on the other and we stopped at a little sand island which was very cool. Now we are currently in Chiand Mai and will be here for the next 3 nights and then back to Bangkok for the remainder of the time.

It has been another amazing and busy week. We were in Chiang Rai and drove into the mountains to visit a Hmong village. This was an wonderful excperince. We had a chance to see many of the crafts that they produce and to get a small taste of what their village is like. They showed us their weaving and their hand made purses, tablecloths, etc. The patience and time that goes into these products is incredible! I also thought it was very interesting to see their use of the natural resources around them (bees wax for the designs, hemp and cotton for the materials). And they said that they got their water from the springs in the mountain.
We arrived in Chiang Mai today and I am very excited to get out and see the city! I'll be in touch.

Hi all!

We just arrived to Chiang Mai today around 3pm. It took us about 3 hours just to get here from Chiang Rai. We finally saw rain on the way here, which is weird at this time of the year. As soon as we got here at our Rattanaiya Hotel, which is fabulous by the way, we went to the Night Market. The Night Market is cheap; it’s almost like the Weekend Market back in Bangkok. Tomorrow we will be going to Chiang Mai University and the Temple. I will try to keep in touch with you guys tomorrow, until then keep in touch. If only I know how to add in pictures...
~MJ Vang

Hello again!

Well, we flew into Chiang Rai on the 4th. The one hour plane ride sure was more efficient than the 11 hour train ride! I have been meaning to blog sooner, but it is more difficult to find internet access up here...especially in the villages.

It is absolutely beautiful here, much different than Bangkok. There are beautiful flowers, mountain views, and fresh air. It is also quite a bit cooler which makes sleeping conditions more bearable. The first day we were here we visited the University and had a lesson in nutrition. Surprisingly, all the food was gluten free!!

I got to talking with one student in particular who is studying English. We had a great time throughout the course of the night, and it was interesting to hear her questions about our culture (she wanted to know in particular if tears freeze to your face if you are standing outside in MN!).

We had an awesome open air traditional Thai dinner, and afterwards lit lanterns, made wishes on them, and sent them up into the night sky. That was the coolest thing I have done...ever. We then danced and had a great time before hitting the sack. It was an awesome day. Tomorrow I am planning to ride elephants and check out the waterfalls, so I will update on that tomorrow night.

I am missing everyone!

Today we went to a couple lectures on HIV and AIDS in Chiang Mai and then went to a temple related to the preventative program talked about in the lectures. The program is called Project Accept: a phase III Randomized Controlled Trial of Community Mobilization, mobile testing, same-day results and post test support for HIV in subsaharan Africa and Thailand. It is the first randomized controlled phase III trial to determine efficacy of a behavioral social science intervention with an HIV incidence endpoint. It is also the largest study conducted at a community level and the results could make a significant contribution to scientific literature and public health practice in developing countries. Just to clarify what phase III means; phase I is safety, phase II is effectiveness and phase III is the cost effectiveness (ie: testing for side effects). I found it very interesting that the research is sponsored by the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health meaning it is supported through our tax dollars.

We have found yet another shopping mecca. Chiangmai has a variation of the BKK weekend market, the night bazaar. As the name states its at night with lots to buy, which I have done! Today we went to Chiangmai University for a lecture on their Project Accept: Thailand. It was my favorite lecture so far. Project Accept is a research undertaking to spread awareness about HIV and AIDS with the ultimate goal of decreasing the number of people newly infected. AKA stop the spread of HIV/AIDS! Their research methods were very creative resorting to "edutainment" to get people of the community to participate, and it worked. Tomorrow is a day of Thai cooking classes...we all know I need all the help I can get in the food preparation department. Super excited!

Hi All,

Hope everyone is staying warm and dry in snowy MN.....Have been in Chiang Mai for the last couple of days and I have really been enjoying it. The air is a lot fresher and there's not as much congestion as there is in Bangkok. Makes it a lot easier to get around.....The night Bazaar is really something else and I've cracked my shell and learned to bargain!
Had a really interesting lecture today on HIV/AIDS at the university and a wat today....The collaborators working on Project ACCEPT have done amazing things...Basically it's a research project going on here in Thailand, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and two sites in South Africa that works with intervention and prevention of HIV/AIDS...They worked primarily with 18-32 year olds but I am interested in statistics of mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS and how children deal with the disease and stigmas associated....As the largest epidemic for our generation I find it a topic that everyone should have the most accurate and up to date information on....It would save a lot of discrimination against those living with the disease. Anyway, I suggest googling Project ACCEPT to learn more, really fascinating!



So this morning I woke up around 6am to get ready for breakfast and for the rest of the day. At this hotel, breakfast seemed like it was lunch. We had noodles, sticky rice with egg or coconut, fried donut, fresh orange juice and fruits. It was good. After breakfast we got ready to go to Chiang Mai University and they talked about Project Accept or PA-THAI, which is a project about spreading awareness and educating people about HIV/AIDS, this project is sponsored by the US Institute of Mental Health. After having 2 lectures at the University, we went to the Temple and had another lecture from a Monk, who has been in the temple for 38 years. He talked about how the HIV patients asked for help from him about HIV. These monks were willing to help these patients. Since the community is into buddhism, the community was also willing to help these patients as well. This then leads to getting support from everyone else. We were also able to hear this young Thai boy, who volunteers at the temple, he was able to sing to us in Thai and English. He is very good. And now, we just got back to the hotel not the long ago. Some of us will be going to an American restaurant, while the rest might go back to the Night Market. Until then, have fun back in the states.

~MJ Vang

Well, Today was definitely another interesting afternoon. We attended a lecture on a phase 3 HIV/AIDS intervention program sponsored by the NIMH (and others) here in Thailand. To my surprise, I was familiar with the study as it was one that I had just recently referenced for a research paper for public health class I took this past fall. They discussed some of the challenges of implementing the program in a culturally relevant manner. For instance, they talked about their use of "edutainment" to ensure community participation and interest. This "edutainment" entailed holding the activities during time slots that work around the community's availability, as well as offering educational activities and HIV testing in a manner that aimed to reduce the associated stigma. I thought that the program administrators demonstrated a great deal of creativity and ingenuity in tailoring intervention activities to the community needs/interests.
I definitely plan on reading more of the details on the website they gave us when I get home.
Talk to you soon!


We're now in Chiang Mai! This past week has been an amazing and wonderful experience. One of my favorite parts of this week was being able to travel to the Hmong village and ride along the Mekong River. It was truly a touching experience. It was great to see Hmong people and see how they live in the mountains. It is very similar to the Hmong movies that I watched when I was younger.

Something that surprised me was how the Hmong people spoke and used the Thai language more so than the Hmong language. It was just surprising that they knew more and spoke Thai better than Hmong. It is similar to us Hmong students in the US, where a lot of us can speak English better than our own language, Hmong. The Hmong in Thailand had to learn Thai to communicate and blend into the community. The Hmong in the US had to learn English in order to again communicate and blend into the American culture. It was an experience I won't forget!


Hello Everyone! :)

We just finished with cooking school! It was a blast and the food was amazing. I love Thai food! The dessert was my favorite along with the Tom Yam soup! MmMmmm!

I'm also feeling a little bit better than before. I've been sick for the past couple of days with an upset stomach, but its looking better today, hopefully :)!

Tonight, some of us are planning to go back to the Chaing Mai Night Market and another Weekend Market here in Chiang Mai. Tomorrow we'll be flying back to Bangkok, which I'm super excited but also sad because it means that we're closer to ending our trip here in Thailand.


So we just got done with thai cooking school, which was amazing! I was the most full i have been over the whole trip after our 6 course meal! We would watch our teacher make the dish then each go out to our ingredients and try to make it edible! Some people went to visit waterfalls and ride some elephants, but i'm so happy i chose cooking school. All of my creations were very good except my green curry was a little suspect, unlike Ge, who ended up with "Brown Curry"! HA! All is going well, it's about 85 degrees, and heading back to even hotter weather in bangkok tomorrow! GO PACKERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Joe Sampson

Hello hello!

Just got back from cooking school, I am full! Spent some time at the market looking at the meats/vegetables we prepared. Thai food (minus the 3/4 of the chili pepper:) is delightful. I'll have to work my way up to full strength version! Tonight is yet another market to enjoy, the walking market. Looking forward to bargaining for some Thai handicraft goods.


Hello! today is our last day up north. chiang mai has been a great experience. i like it because it has all the things bangkok does but on a much smaller scale. we went to thai cooking school today and that was a lot of fun! the pad thai proved to be somewhat challenging to make but it was really tastey. we got a cook book to take home which is nice. we are heading to the weekend market tonight then getting up around 10am tomorrow to catch our flight back to bangkok. i cant believe its been 2 weeks already! im looking forward to the temple stay in bangkok on tuesday night and maybe catching some sun by pool :)

Hey all! We are spending our last night in Chang Mai. Today we got to chose if we wanted to attend a cooking school and cook different Thai foods or spend the day touring the city and going off on our own. Me and a couple other girls decided we really wanted to ride the elephants while we were here and it was a great experience! We also went to a couple waterfalls and the Gem Gallery. The trip is starting to near an end, we will be spending the remainder of the time in Bangkok. We are flying back tomorrow and get the rest of the day off.
More to come soon!

Hello again-
So today we were all scheduled to go to cooking school, but I really had a deep rooted desire to ride an elephant, so decided to part ways with the group along with two gal pals.

The elephants were amazing. They were just walking around RIGHT next to you and they would touch you with their trunks and stuff. It was scary at first becuase they are so overwhelmingly HUGE! But it was a really neat experience. The ride was quite bumpy but we were able to feed it some bananas and had some great photo ops. We also saw a few waterfalls and went to botanical garden where we saw some exotic and rare flowers. So beautiful!!

We also visited (another) gem gallery. It is so hard not to buy them because they all look so inticing in those lit glass cases!

Tomorrow we are flying back to Bangkok which makes me sad. I love it here...and after about 6 days it's already time to head home. "Thai time" sure does fly!

Hey everyone!

Today we went to the farmers market and learned about the different kind of vegetables that we would need in our dishes we would be making. At the Chiang Mai Thai Cooking School we cooked a lot of dishes. First we cooked the Tom Yum soup, fish cakes, green curry, pad thai, chicken laab, and water chestnuts with coconut milk. All of us did pretty well, I was surprised at how fast we got done with all the cooking. Good Job everyone!!
When we came back from the cooking school, most of us went to the Saturday Night Walking Market. I bought some nice stuff. Luckily, Therese ran into some of us girls, because she was all by herself. We also tried their banana waffles. Thanks Therese, for telling us where this stand was, it was delicious!! So now, I think we are all back at the hotel, this is our last night here before we fly back to Bangkok. So keep in touch of what we will be doing our last week here in Thailand.


The people of THailand have been so good to us.
The hotel staffs that have helped us with food, laundry and arrangements. The Tour guides including Cathy that have clarified and arranged. The drivers that have kept us safe and the sellers that have bargained with us so good naturally.
Also the teachers, the students, and the elders that have danced with us, wished with us and entertained us.

thank you Thailand!!


Hello and good morning from Thailand,

Going to Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai was very refreshing. When we got off the plane and walked out, the air was wonderful compare to Bangkok. I was actually able to breathe in and out without having to hold onto my nose to keep the smell away. It was just a really good feeling because we were able to just leave the busy city to a quiet city. It also felt a lot safer.

(Post before this one was my also---sheng)

The first night in Chiang Rai we went to the University where we did some shopping in the book store. We also took a walk along a river to where our dinner was going to be held that night. The sight was breath taking. For dinner that night we experienced some wonderful food (which was very different from central and the south part of Thailand). But the best part was the lanterns; we lighted them and when the heat was strong enough it carries the lantern way up high!!! It was an amazing experience--I think everyone loved that part during that night.

The second night we went to a mountain call pu chi fa in Chiang Rai. Part of the day we spent in a Hmong village. I learned that, that particular village was fill with the Hang clan. Other clans were married into their clan. In that village, they make traditional Hmong dress for a living. We were able to learn the different steps that they take to make a dress. The time process is quite surprising to me, even though I'm Hmong myself. I didn't know that it took that long and that much time, nor did I know that you had to be patient. I was really amazed at the discovery!

The third day we got up very early at 4:30am and left at 5am to go to the top of the pu chi fa mountain to watch the sunrise. Climbing up was very hard, especially in the dark! There was also quite a lot of people that also went up to watch the sunrise. The view and the air was lively. I've never experienced any thing like it. Afterward we traveled to the city near the Mekong river.

Hi everyone,

We went to Chiang Rai last Monday January 4, 2010. First we went to the Resort to put our stuff away. Then we headed to Chiang Rai University to meet the hosts there. When we got there, they shared the cooking of desserts with us. We also got to speak to some of the English major students. They were pretty good at speaking English and just like me, there were some words they did not know. We got to know two of the students and we shared Facebook and emails with each other. It was such an awesome experience to meet with students of the university and make friends with them. It was also my first time to light the lanterns and it was one of the most delightful experiences I have had in my life.

Ge Pao Moua


We got back to Bangkok yesterday. The airplane flight from Chiang Mai was ony 55 minutes. So yesterday some of girls went back to the Weekend Market, since it'll be our last time being able to go there, it only opens on the weekend, and this was our last weekend here. Otherwise, other than that, we heard that the Minehaha Falls is frozen because of the snow. Wow!

Today, we will be having a lecture about buddhism, and later on around 1-2pm we will be checking out of our hotel for one night, to have a sleep over at an educational temple for the monks. We will be practicing everything like the monks. Until then, I will let you guys know what we did at the temple.

Be safe and warm,
MJ Vang

Hello everyone,

So after the University, we took a long and curving road up the mountain to the Hill Tribe villages (a Hmong village). When we got there, it was such an amazing experience to meet Hmong people in Chiang Rai because in Bangkok, there weren't any Hmong people. So when we met with the Hmong people, they were delighted to meet with us. We learned how they made their cloth they use to make the Hmong dress and how they made their designs. Then Sheng, Joua and I took out our toys and handed them out to the young boys and girls. After the village, we went to a small resort at the Hmong village. It was so nasty because there were bugs everywhere. We met up with Pai's aunt, uncle, daughter, son-in-law, and their children. After about 9PM, they went home and I went to sleep. That night surely was a very very interesting night for me that I'll remember.

Ge Pao Moua


We went to the Mekong River after the Hmong village and met up with a group trying to protect the environment around the Mekong River. It turns out that the river was much lower because of the dams that China built. Then we went to the boats to ride on the river. It turns out that the little island that we were standing on belonged to Laos. Now I can brag that I have been to Laos. The hotel that we stayed in was soooooo small that I have never seen such a small hotel room. That night was the first night that I noticed geckos lived with the people in Thailand.

Ge Pao Moua


When I went up to the mountain in Chiang Rai, I was very glad that I stepped on the land of Laos. I never been to Chiang Rai, Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Laos before so going to the mountain and met my uncle in the mountain was a present for me because he told me that the mountain is part of Laos. Knowing that I step my foot on the land of Laos, I was proud that I had a chance to see what my family members haven't experienced. On the other hand, I was disappointed because we were suppose to watch sun rise when we went to the mountain but it turned out to be no sun rise for us :(



During our visits at Chiang Rai, we went to visit a Hmong village. What we were doing up there was to visit the Hmong families and their natural resources on how to make cloth. Amanda and I tried to use the wood machine to make cloth at the Hmong leader's house and it turned out to be difficult. When we tried to weave, Amanda and I do not understand the steps until a few tries. After Amanda and I stopped weaving, I learned that the Hmong people made their environment to be their natural resources. It was cool to see how they made cloth and what they used. I was hoping to see the tree that the Hmong people grow to make cloth but the Hmong people didn't show to us. But it's okay because I learned how to weave.



Learning about how the community contributed their thoughts to help the people prevent HIV was an amazing aspect I learned in Chiang Mai. When the director introduced us to the staff, they tried to use games to help the people to understand that HIV can spread easily through many different ways, I was amazed because it was a great idea to educate the community about HIV. Being a minority group in MN, I know that the elders like my parents are not educate about diseases just like the Thai elders so the games of HIV really amazed me.


Hello again! Anyways sorry I didn't get a chance to finish my blog before--had to go down for some breakfast before it ended! But back to what I was blogging about...

So, we spent 3 days in Chiang Rai and then we took a ride to Chiang Mai. The hotel there was GREAT! It was a lot better than the ones that we spent in Chiang Rai. I also love the food that they served us for breakfast and also their service over all was great. The night market there had a lot of wonderful things too. I think we did quite a lot of shopping there too. I also realized while shopping there that a lot of the things that they sold were quite different from the things in Bangkok. Though both market had a lot of tourists, the things where different. Another thing that happened was that a lot of us got sick! Not such a great thing but pretty amazed about it.

Ohhh, the other thing that I love about Chiang Mai was the cooking school. The experience was great! I cook a lot before but learning how to cook Thailand food was great. I love and was quite amused by some of the ingredients that they used. I also enjoy going to the little market that they had where you could get the food. I really enjoyed learning about the different type of items that they have here in Thailand and what is used in their food. By the way, what we cooked was delicious! I'm sure a lot of us can't wait to come home and cook them for our love ones!

Well, after the 3 days in Chiang Rai and 3 days in Chiang Mai, we finally came back yesterday afternoon to Bangkok. Kind of miss it, but hate the air when we got back. But that's ok! Anyways today I'm looking forward to going to the temple and learning more...

I'll blog more about our next adventure when we get back! Good luck and have a great few days while we're away!!!!

Take care,

I had a great time at the Hmong village because it was really fun and interesting to me that I got to see the village. I really wanted to see the villagers, the kids and the adults so I got to see what I came here for. When I saw the villagers, I got to see how the adults lived and how the younger adults they went back to school. When I saw how the villagers lived, it made me think about how my family used to live back then in Laos and Thailand. Finally, when I got to see the mountains the next day, it was so beautiful because I have never been that high up in the air or on a mountain. Overall, I enjoyed the mountains and hills alot. I liked the sight seeing the most.

Natalie Thao

I enjoyed the boat cruise on the Mekong River. I have never seen the Mekong river before in my lifetime. The river was so beautiful that I was so happy and felt a little teary inside because the Mekong river was where my family and ancestors swam in to cross Laos into Thailand. I wished that my parents were there to see the river because it would definitely bring back memories for them. I really enjoyed the beautiful sceneries of the mountains and hills that surrounded the river. I enjoyed my time in the soft sand and the cold, beautiful river.

I was really happy to see all the Hmong people that came with us and helped to be our tour guide. When I arrived in Thailand, I thought that I wouldn't see alot of Hmong people in the cities but I saw them in the villages and rural areas. This was an interesting observation for me because I think that the villagers liked to farm more but their children went to the cities to work and bring back money. Sometimes I think that the children might not even come home because some of the parents told us that the children left and didn't come back due to long days and hours in school or the trip from school to home was too long. However, I was really excited that the Hmong girl Xia actually went to Ratchabaj University and then I got to see Phia Xiong also who taught English at that University. I was really glad to see that so many Hmong adults were educated and actually taught at these unviersities. I was also happy to learn about some of the history of the Hmong people and what they have been doing for the past couple of years. The Hmong tour guides were helpful to teach us about what the Hmong villagers have been up to.

Hello again, Jane here-
We are back in Bangkok for the remainder of the trip. I was able to go to the weekend market yesterday, which was great since I missed it the first time due to illness. I was so surprised at how HUGE it was. Kayla and I got lost a few times trying to find our way out of the maze of boutiques and shops. I was FINALLY able to find the souvenir I have been looking for, so that made me happy! We took the sky train the whole way which was efficient and clean (and air conditioned!). I ate my first voluntary Thai dinner of cashew chicken and rice. It was delish. I ended the night watching Disturbia with some gals. It was a good day! Tomorrow we are spending the night in the temple which should be an interesting experience. I will blog later!

Going to the Buddhist temple today..I'm super excited! It will be interesting to learn more about such a fascinating religion and philosophy...I've wanted to do something like this since reading the book "Eat Pray Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert and when she goes to India to spend time in a Buddhist temple...she discusses how much of a struggle it was to adhere to their style of living but how much she learned from the experience.....though I will only be spending one night compared to her couple of months, the experience is nonetheless an amazing opportunity....I can't believe I'll be home in less than a week already! This trip is going by fast and it's back to the grinder this time next week! Wishing everyone warmth and wellness!


Hello again, Jane here-
We are back in Bangkok for the remainder of the trip. I was able to go to the weekend market yesterday, which was great since I missed it the first time due to illness. I was so surprised at how HUGE it was. Kayla and I got lost a few times trying to find our way out of the maze of boutiques and shops. I was FINALLY able to find the souvenir I have been looking for, so that made me happy! We took the sky train the whole way which was efficient and clean (and air conditioned!). I ate my first voluntary Thai dinner of cashew chicken and rice. It was delish. I ended the night watching Disturbia with some gals. It was a good day! Tomorrow we are spending the night in the temple which should be an interesting experience. I will blog later!

today we are going to another temple but this one will be more of a learning experience! we will be spending the night at the temple and getting a brief introduction and some instruction on Buddhism. I think spirituality is a significant portion of a persons wellbeing. I am looking forward to a glimpse into the life of a Monk and what improvements I can apply to my own life based on what we learn about Buddhism.


So, the Thai cooking experience was definitely a success--only one brown curry! We prepared 6 different dishes and by the end of the day, I was completely stuffed. My favorite dish was the Pad Thai. But I also really enjoyed the green curry that we made. Thai cooking uses alot of fresh veggies and adds many subtle layers of taste with other herbs such as lemon grass, basil, and cilantro. At the end of the day, they gave us a cook book with the all of the recipes. I definitely plan to make some of them at home!
Today we are off to the temple.

Sawadeecah- hello!

We are getting ready to head off to the Temple, we should be learning about Buddhism and doing some meditating! Yesterday Joe and I ate some Thai Mcdonalds that was interesting but tasted pretty normal the mcflurry was delicious! I really enjoyed being in Chang Rai and Chang Mai, Chang Rai was beautiful up in the mountains and seeing the villages. Chang Mai is the next biggest city to Bangkok, but it seemed a lot cleaner and I enjoyed it a lot more than being in Bangkok.

Instead of going to the cooking school Jane, Kayla, and I took a day to ourselves and went to ride on some elephants. I rode by myself and was so scared but it was a lot of fun! Then we went to the botanical gardens, and even though it is their dry season so not everything is in bloom there was a lot to see. They had a couple different waterfalls at the gardens, it was huge and took over an hour to walk up on either side of it. Next we went to the Measa Waterfall and it wasn't quite as big as I was expecting but we got a lot of great pictures!!

-Danielle Radotich

Hello again!
We are just about to leave for the Buddhist temple. We had an orientation earlier where we talked a bit about what to expect and how we are growing as a team and individual. It will be interesting to experience the temple from an edic perspective (outside perspective) through observing their ways and trying to adjust to take on their ways of life. I am excited to see how I react to having to just sit still and let go of all thoughts/cares/worries. Coming from a Western culture we have a mastery of nature, meaning that we tend to take the natural and use for our own good (ie: dams and daylight savings). One of the main points of this experience is to see what we do with our mind. For example, personally I would like to sharpen my concentration skills. We tend to take pride on ourselves for multitasking when really we would be much more productive if we were able to really listen and not think while others were talking. One of the girls used the term reloading; waiting got someone to finish speaking/thinking. One of the biggest challenges I think will be for all of us is to just feel comfortable silence. We are so used to filling our heads with other things, such as Ipods, television, or any kind of noise to drown out the silence that it is not our norm. I will write and let you know how it goes when we return!


Yesterday we went to sleep at a temple. I do not like the temple because of the hut that we slept in. Since I am scared, I asked Sheng to be my roommate for the night. During the whole night, we stayed up without sleeping. When it was 4 am in the morning, the bell rung and Sheng wanted us to go meditate. Surprisingly, when we got there, the rest of the students already woke up including Dr. Cathy. From the look of their faces, I can tell that everyone was tired and hungry. We meditated for a while and then the rest left to walk. Sheng and I ended up cleaning the building which was fun. Then after that we stayed in the room and I slept on the floor because I was so tired :)



It's about 8:25pm over here and I'm exhausted! Yesterday afternoon we left for the temple where we (tried to live) experience the life of monks; we weren't able to have our ipod, cellphone or any other electronic devices. It was quite a challenge for all of us but I think the hardest challenge was the sleep quarter that we had there! We each had our own hut to stay in which was pretty small and was fill with interesting creatures! A few of the girls and I end up sharing a room and we sat up all night waiting for the bell to ring in the morning. Overall, the experience at the temple was quite hard, but a unique experience filled with more perspective for our lives.

This morning we were able to leave the Buddhist temple and met up with Jill and Amanda at the Grand Palace. We explored a few more temples there and then headed back to the hotel, where most of us took a nice shower before we had to go down for a lecture. I actually found the lecture interesting, especially how she ties back a lot to families! However, I think she had a little too much details-and during some of those times, I think she could've just moved on and try to kept it simple. But overall, the lecture was very interesting and gave me a new insight about how one person can try to make a difference.

After the lecture, PX, GPM, NT and myself went out to a store call Big C to get a few more gifts for our families. Ended up eating KFC tonight for dinner! Something new for the four of us-cause we've been having instant noodles for the past few nights that we've been in the Bangkok hotel.

Well, I'm looking forward to blogging about our next adventure! Till then, take care!! And I can't wait till we return (although, I have to admit that I have grown to enjoy the companies from the group!!! I'm going to miss each of them when we have to leave -_-) But till then, I'll continue to spend and learn more about each of them!

Take care,


It's already 10pm over here, and some girls and I just got back about an hour ago from shopping at Big C. Today was such an exhausting day; most of us woke up at 4am, because this is the time of the daily alarm or sermon call at the Buddhist temple, so it basically woke up everyone.

Yesterday, we left Bangkok around 1pm to go the to temple, which was about an hour and a half away from Bangkok. The temple is in a secluded area, where there are trees and flowers, like the forest. As we got there, one of the Monk there seems to be very funny, because he jokes around a lot. After telling us about the history of the temple and Buddha, he said that the Buddha was born in the forest and died in the forest, that is why the temple we went to was located in a place that is secluded and almost forest-like.

The monks here follow 8 fold percepts, or rules of morality, and these are; abstain from killing, stealing, unchastity, false speech, intoxicants, and from untimely eating. Because of these 8 rules, they cannot think of any desires, and only think of girls as their sisters. After learning more about Buddhism, we all meditated for about 2 hours.

After meditation, we all went to sleep around 10pm. All of us were to sleep in little huts, with just only place mats, a blanket and pillow on hard floor. The huts were made just enough to fit at least one person, and a bathroom. Most of these huts have spiders, geckos, ants, and all different kinds of bugs. Which means, not a lot of students had a good sleep, and even some didn’t sleep at all until the bus ride back to the city. Sleeping in the hut was alright, although there were some constant tossing and turning, it sure was a once in a lifetime experience though.

This morning, since some of us decided not to walk with the monks to get food from the people in the village, the rest of us who stayed behind had to sweep the whole second floor, and outside the building. It was alright, at least we didn’t get our feet hurt from walking.

After we left the temple, we went to two temples, first one was at the Grand Palace, and the other one was a bit smaller. THANKS to Dr. Solheim, for buying us ice cream for us. After the two temples, we had lecture at 2pm, and a lot of people were falling asleep, I know I wasn’t one of them, but it sure was funny to see that one of the teacher fell asleep during the lecture about HIV/AIDS in the refugee camp in Cambodia. Hehe. Well, this is a pretty good explanation of what happened yesterday and today, keep in touch.

~MJ Vang

Hello again,

I forgot to say, today the lecture was given from Dr. Jill's friend she met when she was working with Cambodian refugees. The guest lecturer, talked about how the genogram is a great model when trying to see the health aspect of family members who may be diagnosed with cancer, HIV/AIDS or other various health problems that may cause the next generation to have the same problem as well. Although this topic may be mainly about health, it also relates to families and communities. This is almost like the family ecosystems that is learned from the Family Systems and Diversity course I took. The patient and family is the center of the circle, the community next, and then the organization themselves, which is the Dhammayietra Mongkol Borei group.

~MJ Vang

Hi everyone,

Yesterday was such an interesting night. We went to the Buddhist temple where the students, both male and females, all learn how to become monks. We were welcomed by the head monk there and got to know some of the other monks who spoke English but I forgot the name of the funny monk. Later in the day, we went to our huts which was really dirty and looked like no one has slept there in ages because there was a really huge spider in my room as well as a gecko. It took a really long time for the spider to get swept out but the gecko was still in the room. Then we went to a meditating session which lasted until around 9:30PM. After that we went to sleep but I did not sleep well. I was so afraid of the spiders and the floor was so hard to sleep on. The most sleep I got was about 2 hours. Good night everyone, I'm so tired from the long day without any sleep.

Ge Pao Moua

Hey all!

It's been awhile since I've blog, but I still have my good memories. Well this blog topic is about my experience in the village of Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai. I have to say, it was an experience to live. I really enjoy watching the Hmong communities in the village.

One of my best experience is in Chiang Rai when I met a grandpa and grandma from my father's side. I was shading a lot of tears because my real grandpa is still living in Laos and to see a relative grandpa, it makes me misses my real one. It is also heart-breaking to see them and all the Hmong communities live in such a struggling life. Their life-style is very different from us Hmong in America. They don't have the kind of houses we have, they don't have high paying jobs like us, they don't even have the education that we do.

However, I see a few similarities between the Hmong Americans and the Hmong Thai's. I see that some Hmong Americans are losing the Hmong language. The same thing goes for the Hmong Thais. Some of them are losing their Hmong language too because they live they lifestyle of the Thais. I came to this conclusion because while we where shopping at the Night Bazaar, some Hmong people just spoke in Thia to us. After we asked them if they were Hmong, they said yes. But when we started a conversation with them, some of them stuttered and had to think of how to say the words in Hmong. One even said that she can't really speak Hmong anymore because they talk Thai everyday to the peoples. It is a sad thing to see that a part of a culture is losing, but it is also good to know that experiences like this will help us think twice and re-learn, or even re-accept our culture again.

Opps, I forgot to write my name. This is Pa.

This is Pa again and this blog is about the over night stay at the Buddhist temple.

I was excited at first to learn about their daily life because it seems so simple. In the end, it turned out to be harder than I thought. The huts that we slept in were really scary. They were the size of a small closet with about 1/4 of a bathroom inside. There were many spiders inside. Many of them have at least 1 gecko in them as well. I was really scared because of the spiders and gecko, but good thing Cathy came and cleaned my hut (She killed the spiders).

I thought I was able to sleep my myself, but it turns out that I it's best to sleep with a room-mate. So I slept with MJ and have a safe night sleep. We've actually slept most of the night, however we tossed and turned all night because we were just sleeping on mats on hard floors. I thought of it as suffering, because it was too simple.

There's so much to say, but so little time. In the end I think I cannot be a monk and live in the temple. It is too hard. I know it is all in my mind and I have to be clam. Maybe I will try again when I need it. As for now, I like my place and I miss home.


Hi again!

Today was such an exhausting day. Some of us girls just got back from an all afternoon and night shopping spree and a morning of beautiful temples. The night before we all had an experience of what it was like to live, eat and be like a monk. It was sure interesting!

The mosquitoes, the humid and hot weather, the sleeping condition of sleeping in a small little hut by oneself with geckos, ants and spiders, meditating, having no dinner, walking around most of the time barefoot, and waking up at 4:00 in the morning, was something most of us had never experienced before; but we all survived! It's something I don't know if I'll ever try again, but it was wonderful to experience something different, something out of our norm, something that I know I won't be able to experience any where else! The way a monk lives is simple, but yet they are complete and wholesome. Being at the Buddhist temple reminded me of the simplicities in life and that the world is complicated, but if we take it one step at a time with true appreciation for the people and the things we have and do, life will just unfold eventually, naturally, and calmly. I realize that I rush so much in my daily life. I'm always on the go with a gillion things jammed pack, I never take the time to enjoy life, enjoy people, food, music, even the snow, that I do miss being here in Thailand for a while. The Buddhist temple and the monks, after listening, meditating and being there for just one night, makes me want to alter some of the things in my life to just not be in life but to live life as well.


Hello all!
Today was a a great day- I learned a lot and I think it has been one of my favorites of the trip. We went to the Foundation for Slum Child Care. "It is important for a child to have a good beginning in life." This is the main objective for the program with a vision to be a leader in improving the quality of life for slum children through creating awareness and participation from parents, communities and society. They are currently benefiting over 3,000 children a day with 4 day care centers, 118 day care homes in 103 communities. The target groups are children under 5 years, parents, community volunteers and leaders and caregivers. They seem to have a very stable system that is very effective. I was especially interested in their Family Camp- a 3 day, 2 night program to help modify behavior and make good parents. The parents and kids are separated and the parents are taught to do things for the kids- it really brings together the happiness a family can share and many have never experienced. We got to see one of the daycare centers and walk around the slums, which wasn't quite like anything I had physically seen before. There was garbage literally everywhere and one room we passed there was an elder sleepig on the floor by the door using a cynder block as a pillow. I felt a lot of sympathy for the way these people have to live, so that is the main reason I liked learning about the Foundation and also an elder care center we got to experience.
Tomorrow we will be listening to the Prime Minister of Health speak and we have our last dinner together at the Mariott- Friday we have off and many of us will be taking of around 2am to catch our 5:40am flight. It has been an amazing experience but sometimes the best part of traveling is going home.


Today we went to the slums area of Bangkok. We visited two foundations, Foundation for Slum Child Care, and the Duang Prateep Foundation. The slum child care center was very interesting. They have camps for families, and also for pregnant women, that can be very useful, if the US were to have it as well. These camps helped these people to live a better and normal life that can change them completely after the camps. After the lecture, we were able to meet with the young children at the center and gave out gifts to them. After playing with these children for a while, we went upstairs and played with the little babies. They are so cute. It was sad to see one baby cry when he didnt want to leave Jenna.

After the child care center, we walked to the monastery, for children in kindergarten. We went and observed these little clever children and played with them for a while, before we had lunch that was provided from this place.

After the monastery, we went to the elder center, which is part of the Duang Prateep Foundation is for people who live in the slum area, especially those who wants to have a better environment and have a good education at the same time. As said in the video seen at the place, they said that 'poor people are the main contributors to the society's health.' After watching the video, we went downstairs and met with the elders. They sure are very active and love to sing and dance a lot, because we had to dance with them 3 times. Since they sung some songs, they wanted us to sing some as well, so some students went up and sung Amazing Grace and the Star Spangled Banner, great job you guys! Even Dr. Solheim had to sing in front of them by herself, but she sung it in Thai, which the elders knew the song as well, she is pretty good. By the way, I recorded her when she was singing if any one would like to see it. After all that, we left the place and went back to the hotel.

When we got back to the hotel, most of us went to the Big C Mall again and got some stuff. We will only have a few days left until most of us will be leaving here and coming back to the states, so some people still have to shop for their people back at home. Anyways, we will be having a lecture tomorrow morning, and have our last official night together as a group at a restaurant for dinner before we leave. Well, this is all I have to say as of now.

~MJ Vang

Last day in Thailand....

Leaving late tonight to head back to the states....This has been an incredible experience and I I'm glad I have about 30 hours of travel time back home, lots to organize and reflect on the way back!

Looking forward to the final speaker we have today as I feel like he will be a good wrap up for the program since he's the "head" of it all. I really took in the whole culture of families here and how thier values and belief systems, what they feel is important to focus on in their activities of daily living and how that has an effect on their overall health...This culture is so incredibly rich and fascinating I don't even know where to start! The Duang Prateep (sp?) Foundation we visited yesterday was really cool in seeing how people are getting together to help the less advantaged and making a better community...

Looking forward to the states though it is so cold! Glad I bought a $5 sweater last night so I don't get in and freeze!


I can't believe that we only have today and tomorrow left before we leave!!! I'm sad but at the same time I'm really happy because I'll get to see my love ones!
Yesterday has been one of the most enjoyable thing that we've done on the trip. Going to the slum area and visiting the Foundation for Slum Child Care had made me felt very appreciative towards my life but at the same time, I was really amazed by just how healthy and ordinary the children were. Getting to play with them and trying to teach them was very fun. I had a great time just watching and looking at them. Afterward, we went to the Duang Prateep Foundation. First we stop and visit a school and then we had lunch in that building. The fried eggs and morning glory (I assumed this is the name of the vegetable dish)-which was delicious! We were also able to take a walk around some of the house in the slum area. While walking I thought about how sad it was that they had to live in that kind of condition, where their house was made out of wood and how they have to find plastic bags and wash them out and then bring them to the recycling center for money. However, when I look at the children walking and running and playing, their face doesn't seem to tell about the worries of their living condition, but it seems to be carefree! After some exploring, we were able to finally go into the elders center and sit with them and listen to them dance and sing! (It's so kind that they came up to each of us to tell us to dance with them... I think we're all kind of getting the hang of dancing now!) Being able to spend the time that we did with these two foundation, was really great! Watching them laugh and talk along with crying and taking a bath has really capture me and made me realized that even the simplest thing can make you happy.
Well, that's all I have to write about now... but because we only a few nights left, I'll probably write more about what we're doing and had done later on in the day! Till then, take care and can't wait to see you all!

With love from Thailand,

Yesterday we went to the slums in Bangkok and met with two organizations that aim to improve the quality of life for the local community. I was very impressed especially by the first organization which focused on children age 5 and younger and on their family. The foundation provided a whole array of services from couseling teenage mothers to holding family camps for the parents and children in the community. The training and support that they are giving to the local parents has been very successful (i.e. 100% of the teenage mothers have decided to keep their children after birth), and it is so encouraging to hear the differences that they are making. One thing that really struck me was when the director said that many of these people have not had anyone to love them or care about them in their life, and so they don't know how to love and care their own children in return. When she described how so many of the young mothers just think that they are "nobody", this really broke my heart. Afterwards, we walked around the slum and looked at the houses and neighborhood that the people were living in. I can honestly say I have never seen or smelt anything like what I saw in the slums. It was so sad and yet so many of the people there would smile and say hello when we passed by. Their warmth was absolutley amazing. It seems like they would have every reason in the world to be bitter and full of anger, but so many of them did not seem this way at all.
I could definatley see that the roles of the two foundations in the community are critical roles and that they have already made a huge positive impact. And yet there is so much work to be done!

Today we met with an officer from the ministry of public health. He gave a very interesting and well organized presntation on the status of public health in Thailand and on the system of universal healthcare offered in Thailand. Some of the major health problems that he discussed were HIV/AIDS, cancer, traffic accidents, liver failure, and alcohol and tobacco use. Men had the greatest risk in many of these categories, compared to women. There definately seems to be a need for cultivating safer behaviors in Thailand. When thinking about this, I couldn't help but think of all of the commercials I've seen in the last year about "Buckle up, it's the law" . And I thought about how the US stopped allowing cigarrette companies to advertise in magazines or TV commercials when I was growing up. Safer behaviors do not just happen because we want them to. Cues have to be provided, such as when the University of MN installed several hand sanitizers throughout the Minneapolis campus to reduce transmission of the flu. Also messages need to be sent to society, through advertising or programs like D.A.R.E or MADD, for example.
It was encouraging to see the progress that Thailand has made in decreasing their rate of infant mortality and their incidence of HIV/AIDS.
Overall, I felt that today's guest speaker gave the bigger picture of public health in Thailand, tying together many of the thjings that I've observed on this trip.

Hello again,

This morning-afternoon, we had a guest speaker from the minister of public health and also a debriefing session. During the guest speaker speech, I felt that it was really interesting because he seemed to have sum up everything that we've kind of learned about throughout the past 3 weeks.

As for the debriefing session, I thought that it was really good because we were all able to open up and step out of our comfort zone and talked a lot of about the things we felt and experiences.

Anyways, right now is 5:33pm here and we're all getting ready for our dinner with the whole group! I can't believe that our Thailand trip is slowly coming to an end... it makes me sad! But as of right now I have to get going, so I'll write later!


Today we had a lecture this morning from 9am-11am from a government official at the Ministry of Public Health. He talked about the leading causes of death and how the government also plays a role in providing finance to families who are in need of health insurance/care.

After the meeting we did a debriefing of the trip and how we as a team/group developed over the time period. It was interesting to hear that although we may tell people about this trip, they will never be able to understand it like us, because we were the ones who experienced the opportunities that were available to us.

We had our last get together for dinner at the Marriott Hotel, which was a wonderful buffet set up by Dr. Catherine and Dr. Jill, Thank you! We also took some pictures together and said our goodbyes to the two who are leaving tonight, Rachel and Amanda, bye. We will miss you guys! It's so sad, we are going to leave Thailand soon, and going back to reality, being in the states, in the cold weather, and probably wont be able to see anyone from this trip for a long time. Since this is the end of the trip, until then, I will see if I will have any more to say in a couple of days.

~MJ Vang

Hi Everyone, again.

OMG, today, I have been full all day! We had buffets for the whole day, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I ate so much that I think I can starve tomorrow. For dinner, we ate at a really fancy place that is inside of another hotel. There were many foods, many seafood, even a chocolate fountain. This event was held because it is our last night together before our free day.

I am not ready to go back to the states. I wish we can extend this trip for the spring semester. But, unfortunately, we have to go back to reality. Back to snow, back to school, and back home. I haven't really missed my parents and family much yet. I think it is because I have been having too much fun here. Especially too much fun with shopping almost everyday since we've got here.



Hi Everyone!

*Whew* Just got done with another buffet! Today was buffet city all day long. Breakfast buffet, lunch buffet and dinner buffet! I cannot believe that we'll be leaving Thailand in just a couple of days! I will will truly miss Thailand and everyone on the trip! It wouldn't be the same with someone from this group gone! The wonderful experiences and memories I've made on this trip was solely to all those who came with me. Our last day together will be gone shortly.

Amanda and Rachel just left to head back to the states, so the reality of coming home is starting to hit me. I just can't believe it. The environment and everything here is just so different. I'm very excited to get back home and see how I adjust to everything back in MN. I can't wait to see my family and friends!

See you all soon! :)


we had a fabulous farewell dinner at the marriott hotel in bangkok. i couldnt think of a better way to end the trip. it was especially fun for me because unfortunately i was stuck in the hotel at the beginning of the week due to illness. but luckily i was able to go to the grand palace and my favorite, the slum care center for children. that was a really fun experience i enjoyed playing with all the little kids. they were soooo adorable! this foundation is doing such wonderful things and making huge strides in family development. it was really interesting to learn more about the organization.

Hello again... My 6th and final blog!
I can't believe it is already our last day here in Thailand. It went by so fast! I have to be honest though, I am ready to be home. I miss everyone dearly!

The other day we visited the slum areas and learned about programs that are being implemented to improve the quality of life for the children there. The infants in the daycare center were so beautiful and adorable. One little boy crawled right up to me and into my lap. I loved that little one! This was one of my favorite activites on the trip so far. We also visited the slum elders and had a little talent show. I sang a verse of Amazing Grace for them. It was a grand ole time.

I look forward to seeing how the adjustment goes upon my arrival to freezing MN, see you all soon!

Wow it's going fast in Thailand. In 2 hours then Ill leave Benja Hotel to the airport. In 2 hours, Ill leave Thailand to MN and Im not ready yet. Staying in Thailand for 3 weeks, things has opened my eyes completely and widely. When I went to Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai, I looked around and noticed that things in Thailand has changed. Fifteen years ago when I lived in refugee camps, I noticed that most of the Hmong people has brand new cars and lived in brick houses. I remember when I lived in Thailand, I lived in bamboo house and barely have meat to eat. Earning money back then was so complicated that my family barely survive but now it is something new and something I've learned when I came to Thailand. Up in the mountain in Chiang Rai when we went to see sunrise, I saw some girls and boy dressed up in Hmong but I've no clue why they dressed in Hmong clothes until my uncle came and he translated what the children were saying. The children were saying in Thai that if anyone wants to take picture with them then they have to pay them. I saw couple of people giving them money and taking pictures with them.
I asked my uncle how much they earn per day and he told me that during the holiday season, each person earn about 100 baht which made me surprised because 100 baht can buy a meal for the family to eat.
Besides that, when we first got to the mountain, there were two boys leaded us to the mountain and my uncle told me that the two boys also earn their living by taking the Hmong Americans or other people to the mountain.
This is why Im so suprised that earning money in Thailand is so easy unlike in America where 16 is the legal age to work at McDonald or other fast food places.

Anyways, things in Thailand changed but Im still happy that I had the chance to come and learn about healthcare and stayed in Bangkok. Without Jill and Cathy, I dont think Ill have the chance to come here and see and learn about Thai healthcare system because their healthcare system is different from my healthcare plan in MN :)

I got to go and get ready to go to the airport, I hope to see everyone during the reunion at Cathy's house I think.
Have fun in Spring sem and good luck :)

Hey there everyone. Will, today is the last day and I have made my days worth in Thailand!!!! I went and did ALOT of shopping today out on the streets and at Big C Supermarket. Oh yeah, and yesterday night, Pai, Sheng, Terese and ME went shopping at Khao San Road yesterday night until 11pm!!! That was alot of fun!!! We spent money on clothes that we weren't able to find near Royal Benja. I have had a great trip with everyone and I have had alot of fun. I may have spent alot of money but I got my money's worth because I bought all the things that I came here to purchase and I got good deals for them. I will go home learning how to bargain from now on!! When I go to the flee markets back in the states, I will see if I can bargain there!!

-Natalie Thao

Many of us may have gotten sick and so did I but it seems like all of us tried to make the most of the trip!! I have learned alot these past 3 weeks!!! I have learned how to work together with students that I haven't even met before and I have learned how to be more "Thai" such as "Going with the Flow". I have learned to not think about time over here in Thailand and I have just been living my life over here for the past 3 weeks not relying on time and the day but just making the most of the days and time that I had. I enjoyed Bangkok alot and also the other provinces. I had a great time. Thanks everyone.

Natalie Thao

Hi everyone,

This is the final night before leaving for the airport. I am ready to go back home after a tiring three weeks in Thailand. There have been many ups and downs during the trip but overall it has been worthwhile. One interesting fact that I noticed in Thailand was that 7 Eleven is so common throughout the country and it never closes! All of the experiences that I have been through with the group will always remain with me throughout my life. I remember first getting to Thailand and it was very humid. The first couple of weeks I did not want to stay in Thailand but now, I have grown more accustomed to Thailand. Well, now I am leaving for the airport and heading home. See everyone later!

Ge Pao Moua


Most of us got back home yesterday. It sure was a long flight back home. Hopefully everyone got back home safe and sound. I can't believe school starts in 2 days already.

The weather in Thailand was so different from the weather here at home. As soon as I walked out of the airport and into the parking lot, the air was already cold. It's like wishing I would be in Thailand right now, but when I was in Thailand the first week, I sure wanted to be back in the states because it was so hot.

I guess what I've heard from my classmates and being in Thailand is that I make people feel alot safer when I am around them, like what Hnuchee, Mai Lee and Pa said about me. Well, as of right now, I dont have much to say. So maybe later on I will right again in here.

~MJ Vang

I couldn't get the blog working the last day so my other post was sent to Jill hopefully she cant post it and I decided to do this one even though I'm already home and plan to do another one incorporating everything we have done.

On January 13th we went to the Foundation for Slum Childcare, this was one of my favorite days of all the days we spent in Thailand. They were celebrating there 29th year and I am amazed by how much they have done for the children and the slum community. They target children under the age of 5 and parents (pregnant women)and are not an orphanage they children have parents. They have 4 daycares in 4 locations, 118 homes in 103 communities, and are benefitting over 3000 children a day.

One of the things I thought was very cute was that they allow the kids to make signs of things that they wish for and on certain occassions throughout the year they allow them to walk in a parade with the signs they have made. Some of the signs will include "I don't want my mom to drink anymore" or "smoke anymore", or "I want mom to stop gambling and help me study". They were great! Then we got to go visit the kids and Thai children are the cutest!!! The babies were so precious and some of them just did not want us to leave. We brought games for the 3 and 4 year olds and they just loved them. The people there were all so nice to us and gave us each a beautiful flower decoration that smelled amazing. This was such a touching day and I'm so grateful for all the planning Jill and Cathy put into this trip. Thanks so much!!

Hello everyone,

The experience in Thailand was once in a lifetime. I am so glad that I was able to be part of it. I never expected Thailand to be so modernized. From the stories that my parents told me, I thought that most parts of Thailand had mountains and mostly everyone were into agriculture. It was much different because we went to the biggest city in Thailand, Bangkok. My parents lived in the refugee camps and never saw the big city. That is probably why my vision of Thailand is more of the hill tribe village that we went to. I am so surprised of the traffic in Bangkok. There were no speed limit! Everybody passed those who drove slowly on the streets. It was so scary at first but I learned to get used to the driving. Just when I was getting used to Thailand, we had to come home.

It was a long flight home. I did not sleep because we went to the airport at 1AM so basically, I was awake for 24+ hours and I lost count because I had no sense of time anymore. As soon as I got home, I was so excited to give my family what I had bought for them! They were all excited to see me and I was excited to take a shower and sleep. I felt sad because my sister was not home to look at what I had bought her. She had already started her semester at Itasca College up north.

All in all, it was such a nice experience. I can't believe that yesterday I slept throughout the traditional shaman party because I was so exhausted. I woke up this morning at 5 so I am not adjusting to the Minnesota time at all. Hopefully, everyone is doing better than I am!

Ge Pao Moua

Hi everyone,

I guess everyone got home safely, especially everyone's luggage. When I got home, my parents saw my luggage and was surprised that I bought spoons and knives. They were surprised that it went through security. Since all of my pictures got deleted, I only showed my parents my videos. My parents were very amazed at what I went through. They said that I was lucky to go and see temples because when they lived in Thailand, they do not have the chance to see those amazing places. They asked me a lot of questions about Thailand. One time I told them about the prostitutes near The Royal Benja Hotel. They said that they weren't prostitutes, maybe it was people shopping at night time because more shops open at night time. I told them that people who come and shop at night time never wear short dress and put make up on. My dad was like, "That's how Bangkok is."
I guess my parents lived in the old days without seeing technologies in Thailand and there wasn't a lot of prostitutes standing on streets. I hope that in the next few years if I went along with my parents to see my aunt and uncle in Chiang Rai and then come back to Bangkok to shop, lets hope that I would see less or no prostitutes.

Hi everyone,

I guess everyone got home safely, especially everyone's luggage. When I got home, my parents saw my luggage and was surprised that I bought spoons and knives. They were surprised that it went through security. Since all of my pictures got deleted, I only showed my parents my videos. My parents were very amazed at what I went through. They said that I was lucky to go and see temples because when they lived in Thailand, they do not have the chance to see those amazing places. They asked me a lot of questions about Thailand. One time I told them about the prostitutes near The Royal Benja Hotel. They said that they weren't prostitutes, maybe it was people shopping at night time because more shops open at night time. I told them that people who come and shop at night time never wear short dress and put make up on. My dad was like, "That's how Bangkok is."
I guess my parents lived in the old days without seeing technologies in Thailand and there wasn't a lot of prostitutes standing on streets. I hope that in the next few years if I went along with my parents to see my aunt and uncle in Chiang Rai and then come back to Bangkok to shop, lets hope that I would see less or no prostitutes.


Well, I made it home!
It was kind of weird walkig back into my apartment for the first time again--it dawned on me when I walked in that even though everything was unchanged and just as I had left it, it all seemed different. I realized that it was because I am different--that I've changed and that this trip has had a much bigger impact on me than I thought.
As I've talked about the trip with my boyfriend and family, I've really become aware of what an amazing experience it all was. We had opportunities to see so many different sides and faces of the country and people, and the experience really was comprehensive. I've been on other study abroad programs but this was the first one where I felt that we really immersed ourselves in learning about all aspects of the culture--from the educational system to the healthcare system, from families to individuals to economics, from religious systems to environmental/ ecological systems.
I had an amazing time and definately feel that this trip expanded my horizons, changed my thinking, and challenged me in a great way!

Hello everyone!
So I am feeling the impact of jet lag and am happy that I have another day to try to recoperate because I don't have any classes on Tues or Thurs. I have ad troubles sleeping probably because I am used to sleeping in what is the day here so I am tired all day and up all night. It was well worth it though, I wouldn't take back going because it got me out of my confort zone and I know I was experiencing culture shock first hand and it is something that I think will make me a stronger person, especially in having the capacity to understand and consider others different views, opinions, etc. Learning a new culture and visiting another country is something I would like to experience again in the future and I know that this experience in Thailand would never have been the same if we didn't have the planners or group of people we had. Thanks everyone! Stay in touch!

january 15, 820pm

On January 11th we went to the Buddhist Temple, I wasn't really sure what I was expecting
but was suprised by how beautiful the atmosphere was. They were located out in the forest
and seemed to me like the perfect place for a monk to be. They live on just bare miminal
resources and the whole point of Buddhism is to relieve themselves from all suffering. We
were expected to sleep in small huts by ourselfs and not talk or listen to music. I was
too scared of all the bugs and geckos so luckily Jenna let me sleep with her in a hurt
barely big enough for one person. I was very happy that I brought earplugs because at 4
in the morning the alarm clock that sounded like a monk yelling in a megaphone with
anmial noises and other crazy things added in. This lasted for a half hour and 4 people
from our group decided to get up and walk with the monks about 3 miles to get there food
(the monks do this everyday). They walked barefoot because that is what the monks do
because they are then closer to the earth, Joe said his feet were very sore after doing
this. I opted out and slept until about 7am. The sleep was very different than usual,
with crazy animal noises on a hard floor with just a mat under us. I'm so excited to get
back home to my bed!! danielle

Hi everybody!!
Hopefully everyone is getting adjusted to being back home! I have been having quite a struggle with it. Every morning I wake up between 4 and 5am and can't fall back asleep. I always feel tired, but this morning I was actually able to sleep til 8 so that was good. I had no idea the time difference was going to impact me so much...but then again it could just be me getting used to being back in school :)
I am missing everybody already, and I can't wait for our reunion!!

I really enjoyed telling everyone at home about my trip. I found it near impossible to really express some of the feelings/experiences I had verbally, but I did my best! It helped to have the 500 pictures I took over the course of the program!

Lastly, I just wanted to say thanks again to everyone. It wouldn't have been the same without every one of you. Love you all~

Hello everyone!! It has been a long time since I have been in here!! Anyways I had a wonderful time in Thailand. Gosh..it was so hard to leave Thailand. I wanted to stay longer. I really want to go back if I ever get a chance to again. I am actually reconsidering about going back. Going to Thailand has totally changed the way I think and see things. I am usually a picky eater in America. However, when I was in Thailand, I just ate whatever was on my plate so when I came back home, I went to the restaurant and I ate everything that was given to me on my plate. I choose to eat different things now these days. I am really proud of myself.

When it comes to sleeping, it has been really hard for me. I get tired in the day time over here and then I stay up late in the evenings over here. I miss Thailand everyone!!! I want to go back and explore more!!!

Natalie Thao

hey all,
it's been a while since i last remembered thailand. well, i am working on the paper. i hope to see u guys there.

since we got back, i realized that if i am able to survive in thailand for 2 weeks without my personal belongings, then i am in good shape!

this semester is so crazy since i will be done in May. i am excited but sad. i don't know what to expect. perhaps another trip overseas would help! kidding. i do really want to go teach overseas so i might just do that.

anyhow, i hope you guys are doing great.



I really miss home too. I was ready to come home when we went the slum. Though their living conditions were not-so-great, I really like the fact that there was some kind of family support. I wish we saw more of the families.

Oh, I also liked seeing how the little children were all busy wondering around and doing their own little "thing." They all seem to not care about how they lived. It just made me think about my childhood years. Being carefree is so hard to do as we age. I find that my childhood years were a lot like these children. Though my family and I did not have much, it was enough to make me happy.

One day I wish to return and hopefully I am able to offer some kind of assitance to them.


Hi All,

It has been a little over a month since we've got back from Thailand. It seems like everyone's busy doing their own things now. I know I have been busy myself too back into the real world. Life in Thailand for 3 weeks was very different. I'm surprised by how much I have grown so much personally. I felt that I have become more well rounded in those 3 weeks.

Besides being busy now, I miss Thailand. I still have dreams about the group being back in Thailand. I miss shopping everyday. I miss eating the great seafoods and fruits. I miss all the fun activities we did. Overall, I miss being away from home. It was great while it lasted. Sadly, now we're back home, back in reality.


My favorite part of Thailand was the Night Bazaar in ChianMai. It was a lot of fun walking around and shopped at night. Although we didn't spend that much time, it was great while it lasted. Next time, I would advised to have this trip start in ChianMai or ChiangRai. Spend more time in the Hmong Village as well. It would be a great idea to learn some herbal medicine from them. This can be related to Health Care Management as well.

I also missed the noodles in Thailand as well. It doesn't seem to be filling in the stomach because there was only a little noodles, and mostly liquids. However, they were pretty good tasting. Not to forget, the breakfest buffets too. I think I gained a good 7-10 pounds because of Thailand.


I have created a Flash slideshow about my study abroad trip in Thailand. Check it out, it has 4 pictures only, but it's great for a start!


I do not why but I did not see any Hmong vendors at the weekend market in Bangkok. I did see many Hmong vendors in Chiang Mai when we went to those night markets. Well, I told my mom and she says that we actually have some relatives that live in Chiang Mai. She was saying that one of them, an aunt, of mines actually has a market. I wish I saw her. But knowing how little I know about my relatives in Thailand, I think it would be hard to find them. Or to know if they are relatives of my mom's.

I do miss the shopping that we did at night. I wished America had night markets. I kinda like it more. But knowing how America runs, I do not think it's possible for those night markets.

Yes, back to reality!

By the way, this is Pa again.

Oh! I really enjoyed the home stays, especially the first one where there were all those elders. I really love being around elders. I learned that they are still very young at heart. From that experience, I really want to work with older adults in the future in my career. I wished I knew Thai so I could of conservator with them. It's amazing how much I take for granted in America. I have many Hmong elders and yet I am not getting to know them. I am positive they have many stories to share with me. This makes me want to see my grandma. She does not really talk much to me, but perhaps I should take the initiative and talk to her. One of my goals is to socialize with my grandma or a Hmong elder by the end of this year.

It's so hard to conversant with older Hmong adults because I do not know how to formally approach them. I suppose I should get over that fear and challenge myself.

I miss the massages. I could really use one right now. Even since spring semester started, I have been constantly working on my "papers." I really hope to graduate and all so I feel like Thailand side-tracked me from focusing on what's really important. I need to learn how to prioritize what's important to me now.

Anyhow, I would love to return to Thailand but just not now. I have too much other important things to worry about. I do miss the weather and inexpensive food. Oh, and the fresh fruits! I feel like though the fruits are fresh in America, I still prefer the ones in Thailand more.


Hello all,
I hope to see you all at our reunion at Cathy's house. I am looking forward to hear about your experiences back in the states. I remember getting jet-lagged! I remember that it was so hard getting ready for school because I lacked so much sleep. Oh well! I think I made it all up already. HOPEFULLY.

What I do not like about living in this society is the constant staring on the computer. I know I can't live without the internet but to limit myself in Thailand was a great thing to do. Working on campus, I noticed that I sit and look at this computer screen for most of the time. Then I go to class. Then it's this computer screen again. BOY! My vision is getting affected by this.

I wonder if this is the life I want my children to live. And what about my career? I just know that I don't want to deal with any computers! I can't sit and stare for an 8-hour shift.


I love the hospitals in Thailand. I think I would not mind coming to Thailand for medical reasons. They have a way of welcoming their patients. And it's so "homey." The hospitals did not have that "scent" to it. I enjoyed all parts to it. I really liked the rooms. I mean it's super nice. Like Ge said, it looks like a hotel room.

But is it really possible to serve all those in need in such a nice hospital? What about those that are most in need? I wonder about the kind of hospitals that are available for those from the poverty population. I should research that.



The semester is going by pretty quick and it's almost spring break already, next month. I can't believe how much fun we had in Thailand, we were all so carefree and enjoying the scenery and the atmosphere. It sure does seem like a dream that we actually were in Thailand for 3 weeks.

I can't believe that Pai and Ge and thinking about going back for the May session to Laos and Thailand. This just means that we miss Thailand very much and the time we had there was too short for us.

I was able to be a FB friend with one of the Thai student, May from ChiangRai University who greeted and hanged around us that day when we visited the school and had a Khan Took dinner. She said that she is doing good. Hopefully we could be pen pals, so that she could be able to improve her english better as part of her major.

I dont know if most of us will be at the reunion at Dr. Solheim's house on Sat, Feb 27, but I am hoping to see most of those who went with us to Thailand. After we came back from Thailand, we barely see each other anymore, even if we are on the same campus as well.

Oops, I forgot to put my name at the end of the blog. It's me, MJ.

hELLO EVERYONE! Sorry i couldn't make it down to the reunion, hope you had a fun time. I can't believe we have been back for over a month, the semester is flying by. I was just thinking earlier today that i wanted to get some thai food sometime soon, or maybe i could try to make something out of the recipe book from the cooking school!! The snow is starting to melt and i am ready for some nice weather to come. Hope all is well, see ya! Joe Sampson

Hey yall! I have been so busy since I have been home-- working and school is non stop. I haven't been able to get off work so I apologize for not being able to attend the reunion :( I miss you all and hope you had a good time! I can't wait to talk to Jill and hear what she has to say about it.

It was so nice to write my paper and reflect on all the amazing times we had. Some of the things I wrote about that were my favorite memories were the floating market-- how cool was that? I've never seen anything like it in my life, it was so fun and I hope I am able to do something like it again in my lifetime. The home stay with all the dancing and all the FOOD-- FISH, FISH, and more FISH, can you say culture shock!!! They even got Joe to dance with the paddle- he loved it. :) And then like everyone else probably wrote about the lighting of the lanterns, making wishes and sending them off to the sky that night was so fun! I feel like we were all able to really connect, and the show that they put on for us was another one of my favorite moments. I'm so glad our schedule was so packed because I'm sure that I will never experience a trip like that again. Thanks for the memories :)

---Danielle Radotich

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This page contains a single entry by Catherine Solheim published on December 14, 2009 9:29 AM.

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