Day 5 – Free Tourist Day
In traversing throughout Bangkok, much of our travelling methods other than walking comprised of taking the local Skytrain system and our one experience with taking a river boat tour to visit temples and sites. Firstly, our train experience was a literal refreshing change of pace as the cool winds of the air conditioning breezed across our sweat glazed bodies. As an animal covered in fur, Ed was particularly happy to enjoy this period to cool off.
Perhaps it would have been a good idea to take off his snazzy U of A sweater as well. Regardless, the train system was quite efficient as we could navigate smoothly with transfers and arrive at our destinations. Other passengers were also visibly relieved upon entering the high-speed locomotive, showing that the Southeast Asian heat does not evade the locals. One thing we did notice was the level of security of the system as some of us were checked by guards with metal detectors. I guess as tourists, some of us looked quite suspicious with our large bags.
Our riverboat experience was very fun as we travelled across the tepid waters making stops across temples and other sites. Ed was quite excited looking out despite the risk of being splashed by the water. But as a bear, it would not have been anything he may not have experienced before. The tour guide was also able to give us some descriptions of the stops in English to appease some of the passengers including us. Overall, our round trip across the river was a highlight as we observed many unique and beautiful architecture ranging from ancient temples and modern day skyscrapers.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
The weekend market was a fantastic experience. Chatuchak is the largest market in all of Thailand! It was a little overwhelming, there was so many new sights and smells to experience. The market encompasses 8,000 stalls and 27 sections! Ed made sure to make the most of his time doing a variety of activities! He received a head massage, and experimented with ice cream and smoothies.
The market was a mix of open areas with lots of sun, as well as huge sections blocked off. The sun was beaming down and we were thankful to run into the odd air conditioned portion. Ed was sure to pick up some souvenirs from the enormous selections. There were so many different items to choose from, Ed had a tough time selecting what to take home. It was a unique and very interesting experience that would be fun for anyone to try!
One of the highly recommended cultural sights in Bangkok Thailand is the Grand Palace. Since the seventeenth century, the Grand Palace has been the official residence of the kings of Thailand. Our visit to the palace was particularly timely as we were visiting during a time of mourning. The most beloved king of Thailand, King Rama IX previously past away October 13th, 2016 and the country was in a state of year long mourning. Today, young and old (and everyone in between) had travelled to the palace to pay their respects to the late king. It was most fascinating to see the people’s devotion for their king as they dressed very conservatively in all black attire. The temperature this day was nearing 33 degrees Celsius, 44 degrees if you factored in the humidity. Lines of patiently waiting Thai people stretched for blocks and blocks encircling the palace. This unique experience provided some insight into the Thai people and their culture.
Thailand has such a diverse food culture that is like no other in the world. Known for fresh fruit and many spices, we were all excited to try everything, especially Ed! The marketplace was bustling with various types of meat on sticks, fruit cut when ordered, the famous mango sticky rice, and cold treats of all sorts. Ed opted for coconut and mango ice cream with fruit and jelly toppings!
Like other countries in Asia, Thailand has food courts in all their malls that feature a wide variety of food at extremely reasonable prices. A typical meal will set you back the equivalent of $2-$3 Canadian and a drink another $1-$2. Popular dishes include green curry, tom yum soup, Thai style omelettes, and Pad Thai noodles. We found out that each food court requires you to load a card with money, purchase your food with the card, and then return the card for the money remaining on it. We think it might help each of the vendors with their business operations, but in the end, it was simple to not have to reach for cash at each shop.
Day 6 – Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration of Chulalongkorn University
Our second day in Thailand was a full day with our gracious hosts at SASIN and their Centre for Sustainability Management. The day kicked off with an introduction from the SCSM Director Nick Pisalyaput followed by a session on the history of Thailand. During this session, we learned that Thailand is one of the few South East Asian nations which was never colonized, giving the nation rich cultural roots. We then got an introduction to some Thai customs and the “dos and don’ts” of visiting the country. For instance, we now know always eat with a spoon, never leave rice left on our plate, and not to show the bottoms of our feet to people!
The afternoon session consisted of an introduction to sustainability and “redefining good business” where we were posed the question: what is the ultimate purpose of business? After a thorough discussion and refreshing our minds on the theories of why a business exists (Friedman, Ford, Porter, etc.) we took part in a group sustainability exercise. Our last topic focused on stakeholders and used a “compass tool” to analyze the numerous stakeholders from multiple perspectives, including nature, economy, society, and well being. The day concluded with a homework assignment for each group to learn about the Sufficiency Economy and we must answer the question “how can the sufficiency economy philosophy be applied in certain industries?” Ed has a long night ahead of him!
Blog post submitted by Korea Thailand Study Tour participants Matt, Trevor, Brian, Christine and Jeremy.