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Great Ways to Learn Thai Culture : Seeing the Sights and Trying the Food

By Lawrence M. Hynson III


Professor of Sociology & International Studies Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK
Field: Peace Studies
Host Institution: Prince of Songkla University, Hat Yai, Thailand

As a Fulbright Senior Specialist, I worked with Apichart and Chokchai, two recently hired faculty members, and three PSU staff.  We formulated the curriculum for the proposed Master’s of Science degree offered in 2007.  We devised course requirements, created four specialty areas, and proposed elective courses. 

To create a relevant curriculum, we traveled outside the Prince of Songkla Hat Yai campus.  Having begun our journey in Bangkok, we already knew about Wat (temple) Pho and the Grand Palace where the King and Queen live.  We had seen why Thailand is described as the ‘Golden Paradise.”  Royal temples and shrines with their vaults and peaked gable ends literally glitter with reflective titles and gold-plated coverings.


In Hat Yai we leaned about Southern culture at the extensive Institute of South Thailand Studies Folk Museum on Koh Yaw Island in Lake Songkla.   We discovered the textiles in the island's weaving village and had lunch eating deliciously prepared fresh fish. Here we visited fishing communities noted for their hand-painted, lavishly decorated "kaw lae" boats.  We rode a small funicular to the top of Khao Tang Kuan hill. From the hilltop we saw a panoramic view of the city and Sonkhla Lake.  On top we saw the famous Sala Vihan Daeng, the royal pavilion constructed during the reign of King Rama V.


My wife and I especially enjoyed the Thai meals with their combined spices--sweet or sour, hot or bland.  We ate hot spicy food usually with steamed rice.  Our favorites were Kaeng Khiao Wan Nuea (green curry with chicken), Thot Man Pla (curried fish cakes),  Kai Yang Khao Niao Som Tom (barbecued chicken with sticky rice), Po Pia Thot (spring rolls) and for dessert Bua Loi Phuak Taro Balls in coconut cream. 


Just being together and enjoying these delightful dishes were, indeed, the highlights of our trip.  What usually began with the Thai greeting “Sawat’di Crop” always ended with extended conversations, great Thai food, and an unbelievable evening of fun.  


For more information visit my homepage at  E-mail me at about this project and/or peace efforts in general.

ข้อเขียนทั้งภาษาไทยและภาษาอังกฤษทุกเรื่องที่นำเสนอโดยมูลนิธิการศึกษาไทย-อเมริกัน (ฟุลไบรท์) ผู้สนใจสามารถจะนำไปใช้ประโยชน์ต่อการเรียนการสอนและกิจกรรมทางการศึกษาที่เกี่ยวข้องได้โดยขอความกรุณาอ้างอิงถึงแหล่งที่มาให้ชัดเจนด้วย


All the Thai and English articles written and posted by the Thailand -U.S. Educational Foundation (Fulbright) could be used to benefit the academic community. Please give appropriate credit to the author(s) and the Foundation.


Thailand - United States Educational Foundation (TUSEF/Fulbright Thailand) Thai Wah Tower 1, 3rd floor, 21/5 South Sathorn Road, Bangkok 10120, Thailand
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