Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
It has been about 10 weeks since I have resided at the International house of Chula University. If you expect me to know everything about this beautiful campus you are wrong. But I can talk about my building. No, about my room on 18th floor, women’s dorm. It’s a 25 square meter room, has a bathroom, a balcony and a closet. It is not a walk-in closet, but there are plenty of storage that proved handy for everything, almost everything you buy in a three-month stay. Two working stations (desks and chairs), a mini-fridge and a shoe shelf are bonuses. The bathroom contains a shower, a toilet and a sink. So, it’s not that small. By the way, every room has a set of dining supplies (a plate, bowl, knife, spoon, glasses) and Wifi. The beautiful Chula campus is almost at the heart of Bangkok and you have access to everything from shopping malls to museums, local markets, clinics, parks, public transportation, etc.
Yes, the campus, the dorm and your room are perfect but you need more of almost everything to survive for three months.
I am sharing a few tips for the prospect peace fellows in this blog; because, I thought it would have helped me better with my accommodation if I’d had enough information beforehand.
Food and Drinks
These days everybody knows about Thai cuisine, and perhaps everybody knows much about it. However, sometimes it’s good to not totally trust your knowledge. If you’re on a special diet, you might find these tips a little useful. Bangkok is heaven for fruitarians, but if you eat raw food or have paleo, vegetarian, vegan diet, it is better to plan in advance. There are no guarantees that your vegetarian dish is totally meat free; the chef might add shrimp, fish oil, oyster oil, or other things to your food unless you let them know otherwise specifically.
In any case, you can figure out what to eat in the first few weeks, depending on where your appetite takes you. You will see even universal products taste different in Bangkok; from Cheetos Puff to Lay’s chips, to Orio.
Another option is to bring your food from home; be aware that there are only two microwaves in fifth floor. So forget about cooking or heating your food in your room. Having salad, fruit, raw food are another story. Dried ready-to-eat food that will be prepared by adding boiled water are a good choice.
Tea, Coffee, Breakfast
If you are a tea or coffee lover, or you start your day with any of them, bring your own supplies; any form of tea or coffee maker will help. You can also find a good and affordable electric kettle, teapot, vacuum brewer and of course, good coffee and tea in BKK.
You can either eat your breakfast in nearby coffee shops, or convenient store, or simply make your own breakfast in your room, as long as you do not prefer cooked food for breakfast. Bringing cereals, pudding powders, or dry fruit is not a bad idea. Finding a good cheese, butter or bread is not that easy. So be prepared.
Rotary provides good lunch everyday but weekends. Meanwhile if you’re on restricted diet, it is better to have a plan in advance. Especially if you have raw diet or lacto ovo vegetarian.
You will have a variety of options for supper or your weekend meals, from 50 TB to 500 TB, depending on your taste and appetite.
Up to 60% of your body is water. But you have to buy your water or drink from the only tap water in your bathroom, or bring your water filter from home. Actually it is a perfect solution to save more money and save the nature from polyethylene terephthalate (PET).
Clothing, Shoes, Toiletries
Do not ever think that high quality clothing and shoes and toiletries in Bangkok are cheap. They are not. Be prepared and bring your beautiful outfits for at least the first three weeks. Because you have to spend lots and lots of time in never ending markets in BBK to find good stuff. Later you will know where to go and what to buy. Also bring your travel box with you for the short trips of 2-7 days; a set of sheet, towel, flip-flop, rain coat, baseball cap or bucket hat and a carry-on baggage.
Cleaning and Laundry
You are lucky to have free room cleaning service twice a month. There is a book in reception and better to book a date 8-10 days in advance. You will have also a mop in your room. If you have enough space in your luggage, bring a role of disinfectant wipes for everyday use, or have an empty spray bottle, fill it with water mixed with vinegar and lemon juice for cleaning surfaces.
You might have pests in your room. Ants, cockroaches or roaches. Do not panic. Bring your pesticide and bug repeller or buy them from BKK. You will get used to it!
In the fifth floor you have access to 5 sets of washers and dryers for 40 BT each. Better to bring your favorite detergent products; tide pods, laundry softener ball or sheets, or even iron if you usually use it.
The electricity in Thailand is 220 volts, 50 cycles/sec. So don’t make your luggage heavy with supplies that won’t work; hair dryer, iron, tea/coffee maker, and other things. Fortunately, computers and most digital devices are compatible with various power voltages. The outlets are universal in BKK, but you can bring a universal outlet for overseas field trip, or you can buy one in MBK fourth floor for better price.
Besides all these tips and clues, traveling is a unique experience and different people take different things out of their experience. What I wrote here was about my personal observation, yours could be entirely different.
Samira Farahani – Iran/USA
Rotary Peace Fellow – Class 25