Travelling to Thailand with Global Neighbors
SOME IMPORTANT ITEMS FOR YOU TO LOOK AFTER
- Valid passports - Make two photocopies of the main page, leave one at home and take the other one with, but keep it in a separate place from your passport.
- Aeroplan number with Air Canada - You will collect almost enough air miles from this trip to get you a free trip within Canada. (Note: Be sure to keep all ticket stubs, so you can make sure Air Canada has credited you with these miles, once you return home.)
- Medical considerations - Please visit a travel clinic in your area for advice on the shots you will need for the MaeSot area of Thailand. (On the Burma border south and west of Chiang Mai.) Malaria is an issue in this area, although not within the city. We will be traveling to outlying areas (Umpang etc.), so precautions need to be taken. Malerone works on this type of malaria, but is quite costly. (There are cheaper drugs, but some have bad side effects !) The malaria mosquitoes bite from dusk till dawn, but not during the day. Be sure to bring mosquito spray along, for when you go out in the evening. (Note: The Watkins brands have the highest amount of DEET that is allowed in a Canadian product.)
- Medical and Cancellation Insurance - at your own discretion. Air Canada does allow one change to your tickets, without a fee.)
- Liability Waiver - Please sign and date your waiver and return it when you send your money for your hotel rooms.
INFORMATION ON THAILAND
- Literal translation for Thailand, is "Land of Smiles." The people are very friendly and will greet you with a wai. (The person has their hands in a prayer like poise and bow their heads when greeting you.) They love when you try simply phrases and will help you get them right.
- They have three seasons:
March - June - hot season
July - November - monsoon
December - February - cool season
- Population : 62 million (2002) -10 million live in Bangkok.
- Land mass is equal to the size of France, & double the size of Britain.
- Thailand is the only country in S.E. Asia not to be a European colony. In the past it was called "Siam", but the name was changed in 1939 to Thailand.
- 95% Buddhist. Women do not touch monks.
- There are lots of dogs. DO NOT pet them, (or monkeys) as they could be rabid.
- Driving is on the left side of the road. An International Driving Permit is necessary for renting vehicles.
- This country hold their King and Queen in high regard, so please do not criticize or demean them. Their national anthem is played before a movie is shown, and everyone is required to stand for the playing of it.
- When you enter a private home, it is expected that you leave your shoes at the door. Feet are considered the lowest part, therefore you would never step over another person, or point to anything with your feet.
- Never touch Thai's on the head. It is the most important part of the body. Apologize if you touch someone's head by accident.
- When visiting temples:
- Remove your shoes.
- Don't pose in front of a Buddha.
- Dress neatly. Shorts and sleeveless shirts are considered improper dress for men and women visiting temples.
- Never use left hand (used for toilet duties) to hand something to someone. Use both or right hand.
- Bartering or bargaining at the markets is acceptable.
- Ask permission, before taking a person's picture.
- Work clothes (enough for one week). Hat & work gloves- optional. [We have found a good laundry service, if you need things washed.]
- running shoes for work and for hiking. Sandals - (You will live in them!)
- leave good jewelry at home.
- Mosquito spray, sun screen & sunglasses.
- Day backpack. Either take it as your carry on or pack it flat in your suitcase. We will use it for day trips, and especially for the trip to Umphang, as we will need one change of clothes while we are away from Mae Sot. (We will store rest of our luggage at the hotel.)
- Medical kit- Include things like tylenol, immodium, gravol, (there are 1200 curves on the road to Umphang, so you may need it!) cold tabs, throat lozenges, bandaids & antiseptic cream, allergy medicine. (For those who need it.)
- Adapters for electrical outlets- Everything in Thailand is 220, so if you need to recharge batteries, run computers or razors, you will need a converter.
- Cameras and reading material for the time you are away.
- Kleenex packages. The public bathrooms do not supply toilet paper. The hotels have western toilets, but away from the hotel, "squatty potties" are the norm.
- A bottle of hand sanitizer. (Handy for a quick clean up when eating at a street vendor or market, and most public bathrooms have a sink, but no soap to wash up with.)
- Bring an ATM card for accessing your money. They are readily available, and offer the best exchange rates. (30-35 baht for 1 CDN dollar.)
- High speed internet is also readily available, at very reasonable prices, making it possible to keep in contact with your families throughout your stay in Thailand. (Thailand is 11 hours ahead of us.)
- When leaving any hotel, take a hotel card with you. It will contain the address and phone number, in Thai, so you can get help finding your way back to the hotel, should you ever get separated from the group.
- Bottled drinking water is available in all the cities we will be visiting & the hotels provide bottled water in each room.