7 Islands in Southeast Asia Worth a Visit

Much of South East Asia spans the tropical climate and with hundreds of kilometers of shorelines, there is no shortage of islands for a visitor to explore. Since the idea of what constitutes the “Best Islands in Southeast Asia” would differ from one person to another, instead of claiming that mine are the best, I’m gonna list 7 islands located in Southeast Asia which I believe I worth a visit. I’m gonna mention which country each island belongs to, how to get to the island and what to do on the island, aka why is this particular island worthwhile. Without further ado, below is the list of top 7 islands in Southeast Asia worth a traveler’s time:

1 – Koh Phangan

Photo: Koh Pha Ngan Island, Thailand
Photo: Koh Pha Ngan Island, Thailand

Country: Thailand
How to Get There: By boat from nearby larger island called Koh Samui. Koh Samui also has an airport. There is no airport on Koh Phangan at this time. Ferry service to Koh Phangan is also available from Surat Thani, which is the nearest town in mainland Thailand, or from another, yet smaller island called Koh Tao. Company called Lomprayah operates luxury, fast catamarans to and from Koh Phangan, but less expensive and frequent services are provided throughout the day by several other providers. There is no public transportation on the island, so visitors have an option of hiring a taxi or renting a motorcycle, unless they’re OK walking.
What’s There To Do: Koh Phangan is notorious for now world (in)famous Full Moon Party which takes place roughly once a month – on full moon. The entire island, save most expensive resorts, is desperately sold out of rooms during and immediately before the party. It is attended by tens of thousands of people and fills up much of the area on and around Haad Rin beach, creating perfect opportunity for locals to wipe your room clean of anything that’s valuable. Full Moon Party still remains a good item to strike off one’s bucket list.

2 – Koh Samui

Photo: Koh Samui Island, Thailand
Photo: Koh Samui Island, Thailand

Country: Thailand
How to Get There: By plane – Ko Samui Airport (USM) is served by domestic flights from Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya and Chiang Mai as well as international flights from Singapore and Hong Kong. 2 ferry companies: Songserm Travel and Seatran Ferries operate frequent boat services between Surat Thani and the island. More expensive, but also more luxurious Lomprayah offers a combined bus/high speed catamaran ferry service from Bangkok. No public transportation is available on the island, however local trucks operate alongside main roads and can be waved down for a fee. Motorcycle rentals are very popular, despite the fact that Koh Samui tops the world’s list for the number of motorcycle related deaths. Though not specifically small, I covered the the whole circumference of the island exclusively on foot.
What’s There To Do:There are several interesting sights to see on Koh Samui, in particular the Grandfather and Grandmother Rocks, which are two rocks next to each other, each resembling the genitalia of a male and female respectively. Another attraction is in the temple called Wat Khunaram where visitors can find body of a mummified monk by the name of Phra Khru Samathakittikhun (Dang Piyasilo) or Loung Por Daeng. He’s highly revered throughout the area and was able to predict his own death. His body never started to decompose so his well preserved remains are on display in the temple, in accordance with his wish.

3 – Koh Sichang

Photo: Koh Sichang Island, Thailand
Photo: Koh Sichang Island, Thailand

Country: Thailand
How to Get There: This island is too small and undiscovered, hence no airport. Ferry service is provided from Siracha which is well connected especially thanks to the rail service. Ferries run once every hour.
What’s There To Do: It’s a perfect island to escape hordes of tourists Thailand is otherwise flooded with, and get to see a place that’s far more beautiful than anything else in the country. A true hidden gem of Thailand. This small, unlisted in travel books island sees very little in terms of visitor traffic, but it’s so beautiful, it was once the site of Thai king’s palace. The palace was disassembled after the French attempted to colonize the country, and reassembled in Bangkok where it was less vulnerable to the navy attacks. North side of the island has a beautiful Chinese Temple inside a cave half way up the hill. Views are beautiful from there, however those who decide to scale the hill all the way up (not an easy task in Thailand’s heat) are rewarded with views even more breathtaking and get to see an ancient stone bearing Buddha’s footprint which is reportedly 2,000 years old. I discovered the island through my Thai friend. Foreigners don’t know about it. Unlike the rest of Thailand, Koh Sichang also sees little crime.

4 – Langkawi

Photo: Island of Langkawi, Malaysia
Photo: Island of Langkawi, Malaysia

Country: Malaysia
How to Get There: Langkawi International Airport is located on the northwestern side of the island, which is where popular beaches (such as Chenang Beach) are, making access to them fast and inexpensive – unlike Ferry terminal which is at the opposite end of the island, requiring an expensive taxi ride. 2 hour ferry service from Penang is provided by Langkawi Ferry. Their boats are fast and their promise is to deliver the passengers from Penang to Langkawi in 2 hours. If you are like me and do it when the sea is choppy, you will have spent 2 hours throwing up until the last drop of stomach juice is out of you. Everybody on the boat was sick, including myself who has a stomach of steel. Vomit was covering the floor and kept splashing into everyone’s shoes as the boat flew over the waves. The reek of the vomit as well as the sound of people throwing up from every bloody angle would make even the most resilient person to join the army of vomiters. By the time we got to Langkawi, nobody was able to speak and I felt pain inside my torso for 5 days – the type of pain you experience after an overly intensive workout. They did deliver us to Langkawi in 2 hours, though – as promised. I’m sure nobody on the boat would have minded a bit of a delay, but it’s hard to blame the provider. The sea was simply rough that day. The same company also runs ferries between Langkawi and Kuala Perlis and Kuala Kedah in mainland Malaysia. These are shorter rides than one from Penang and usually through calmer parts of the ocean. No public transportation available on the island, however taxis are plentiful and motorcycle rental prices reasonable (the latter definitely worth it).
What’s There To Do: Beautiful island with wide scale of accommodation ranging from backpacker’s dorms to $2,000 a night luxury resorts on what is considered to be one of the best beaches in the world (Datai). Cable Car Ride which starts from the picturesque Oriental Village is well worth the money. Views are incredibly beautiful, you can even see the islands in neighboring Thailand from the top. Hanging Bridge is also part of the experience and is nothing short of breathtaking, though may be unsuitable for people suffering from the fear of heights. Mangrove and limestone area in the north east has some spectacular scenery, but one needs to hire a boat to get there. Tours are available, however they combine them with fish and eagle feeding. Eagles are a symbol of Langkawi and a big magnet for tourist money. Unfortunately, it’s very harmful and can have detrimental consequences. Eagles are getting used to the fact that they get food each time a boat shows up. Boatmen do that to lure the eagles all the way to the boat so money bearing tourists remain in awe and as a result, these majestic creatures are slowly losing their ability to catch their own food, because they don’t have to being constantly fed by boatmen. This was good enough reason for me not to buy a tour package, but to get more money from tourists, boatmen also take them to areas full of monkeys and kick the monkeys into the water to entertain foreigners with sights of swimming monkeys. Horrible abuse of wildlife done to get money from tourists. As an environmentalist, I refused to partake in this and support anyone involved in any way, shape or form. Very sad. Otherwise a beautiful island.

5 – Pangkor

Photo: Pangkor Island, Malaysia
Photo: Pangkor Island, Malaysia

Country: Malaysia
How to Get There: Pangkor Airport (PKG) used to be served by flights from Kuala Lumpur, but because of low popularity of the island, those were suspended during my visit. Ferry service is provided from Lupur. Cheap motorcycle can be rented out from any hotel to get you around the island.
What’s There To Do: Allegedly backpacker’s paradise, the island has yet to get on the backpacker’s map. Very few foreigners make it there. I must have been the only one there during my visit. I stayed for 4 nights and it was awkward because I’d be the only person on a beach, no matter which side of the island I went to. I stayed in a hotel in the town, but the island has one posh resort (Pangkor Island Beach Resort) where most tourists end up staying. Because it’s so untouristy, a foreigner receives a lot of attention and Malay people are genuinely nice, unlike Thais so attention is usually a good thing. It’s a nice place to kick back and take a break from floods of foreigners encountered elsewhere. Old Dutch Fort is located not far from the town of Pangkor and one can also find Tiger Rock – large boulder with 350 year old inscription on it nearby. Fu Lin Gong Temple – which is located on the opposite side of the town from Dutch Port has Mini Great Wall of China in its gardens. I also saw a flock of Hornbills there – which was the first for me. There were many of them throughout Pangkor. Amazing birds.

6 – Perhentian Islands

Photo: Perhentian Islands, Malaysia
Photo: Perhentian Islands, Malaysia

Country: Malaysia
How to Get There: Ferry service from Kuala Besut. No airport, no infrastructure. No cars, no motorcycles, no electricity on the islands.
What’s There To Do: The best place for scuba diving or snorkeling in the world hands down. Incredibly clean water, beautiful coral fringed islands – I’ve been around the world but have yet to see water this clean. Two main islands offer lodging – Besar, which is more upscale and Kecil which is true backpacker’s paradise. Prices have gone up a bit lately, due to growing popularity, but dorm rooms are widely available so backpackers can enjoy a decent price even if they are on a budget. The islands are small, so there is not a whole lot to do, however anyone looking to take a scuba course will not find a better price anywhere in the world and the water is just incredibly clear providing superior diving experiences. People go there to kick back. Booze is expensive – because it’s Malaysia (Muslim country) but the party never seems to end. Nice jungle trail goes around the western half of Kesar and offers great escape from the sun and encounters with tropical wildlife. Electricity is provided during the day only, as generators (which pollute the air with exhaust fumes and noise) get turned off for the night. Internet scarcely available and extremely expensive. Still, a beautiful place where people always tend to stay longer than they intended to. Unfortunately, a group of local thugs operates alongside the popular Long Beach and extorts money under threat of violence from incoming tourists. Swift payment usually ends the threats, but it adds a very bad touch to otherwise beautiful place.

7 – 4,000 Islands

Photo: 4000 Islands, Laos
Photo: 4000 Islands, Laos

Country: Laos
How to Get There: Bus to Ban Nakasang from Cambodia or other parts of Laos and from there a long tail boat to either Don Khon or Don Det. The latter is a backpacker’s paradise, the former is a bit more upscale for people looking for higher end accommodation with air conditioning. No airport – islands are small enough to cover on foot even if a person is not very fit. Bicycle rentals available and are the best option for exploring.
What’s There To Do: Si Phan Det is a group of islands in the Mekong River. This makes them different as they are fresh water islands, not salt water ones. As such, they don’t have beaches with people sun tanning on them, but are nevertheless an amazing place to visit. You can see the largest waterfall in South East Asia there or go see rare and endangered Irrawaddy Dolphins, however those are getting more and more scarce so actually seeing one is a challenge (Kratie in Cambodia is a better place to see them, but unreasonably overpriced). 4,000 Islands is a place to relax and do nothing. It’s very cheap there, beer is some of the best in the world and dirt cheap (Beer Lao) and locals incredibly friendly. Quickly becoming a party place for budget travelers, 4,000 Islands will take you back in time and leave you feeling amazingly refreshed.

So that’s my list of top 7 island destinations in Southeast Asia. Brief, to the point explanation accompanies each of the islands listed to prevent you from getting too bored or distracted reading too much irrelevant junk. What do you think? What are in your opinion the best islands in Southeast Asia?

Enhancing Lives to Alleviate Poverty by Forward Thinking

I am an advancing personality and as such I understand that the surest way to advance in life is by enhancing the lives of others. The trick is in the fact that there are two types of enhancements:

  • Forward Enhancements
  • Backward Enhancements

I take honest pride in enhancing people’s lives by advancing them with forward enhancements. A forward enhancement doesn’t care whether you make the receiver feel good or feel bad. Feelings enticed by such actions are always temporary and should come secondary to the higher purpose – the ultimate goal. Did your actions in the end get your target group to the desired destination or did you end up stuck with perceived added value? Do your actions offer temporary feel good experience which, like drugs delivers temporary illusion of positive feelings only to put the life in serious danger when the effects wear out?

Photo: Would You Give Them a Fish or Teach Them How to Fish?
Photo: Would You Give Them a Fish or Teach Them How to Fish?

Being the most truthful travel blogger in the world, I take a lot of heat from the self righteous protectors of the impoverished people for calling a spade a spade. Take Cambodia for example. Pointing out that Cambodians are lazy and dangerous resulted in a lot of hatemail sent to me by people suffering from fear of reality. These delusional people mean good, but their actions result in naught more than False Enhancements in the lives of Cambodians. The self righteous defenders of Cambodian reputation are like that drug I spoke about earlier. They wanted to help alleviate Cambodian poverty so they gave Cambodians a fish (to use the Bible reference). In their eyes, providing hungry people with fish enhanced their lives. In reality, this presumed step forward was a two steps backwards.

Example of False Enhancements

The result of providing impoverished people with false enhancements is the dependence. Dependence is inability to provide for themselves and that is a perfect set up for a disaster. Let me give you an example – when I was visiting the tropical island of Langkawi in Malaysia, I was tempted to take a boat tour through the mangrove but ended up never taking it because all tour operators and all boatmen combined the tours with “eagle feeding”. Basically, tourists would be loaded into a boat which would head towards the ravine where wild eagles nest. Then in order to provide the tourists with an unforgettable experience, the boatman would throw the eagle soaring around a fish so the eagle comes within the reach of tourists in the boat.

Needless to say, all tourists would end up in awe, which is what the boatman wants because it fills up his pocket with cash. It’s a business I was not willing to support even if I were the only person in the world who would not participate in this activity. What this eagle feeding does, is that it causes dependency and dependency, as mentioned above is a very solid step towards losing the ability to provide for themselves. If this eagle feeding continues, the eagles will get used to the fact that each time a boat shows up, all they’d need to do is come to it and they’d get food. Day after day, their feeding ritual would change from catching their own fish into flying towards boats and if it doesn’t stop, eventually they would lose the ability to catch fish. Then if something happens (and that can easily happen) and boatmen can no longer come, the eagles will be left without food and with lost ability to feed themselves, they’ll die.

And this is what False Enhancements are all about. To a reality fearing mind, feeding eagles may seem like a noble cause. “Poor wild animals have tough time catching fish, so we helped them to survive, right?” I truly understand how some could come to such conclusions and seeing the reactions of the self righteous protectors of the Cambodian people to me instating the True Enhancements in Cambodia only confirmed how gullible much of the population is.

Two Types of People

There are two types of action takers, both sharing the same, honest desire to enhance the lives of impoverished people, but each taking a different approach to it. The types of people are:

  1. Backward Thinkers – The Self Righteous Protectors who Help People By Providing Them with Fish Instead of Teaching Them How to Fish and by Attacking the Forward Thinkers for Taking Seemingly Unpopular Actions
  2. Forward Thinkers – People Who See Past the Point of Their Noses And Address the Issue by Actions That Lead to Resolution, Even If They Cause Temporary Discomfort. Forward Thinkers Focus on Bigger Picture and Achievements of Ultimate Goals, Not Temporary Feel Good Experiences

Let’s take a closer look at how much each of the two types of action takers enhances the lives of impoverished people:

Backwards Thinkers

There is no doubt that the backwards thinkers mean well. In their divine delusion, they are the ones who step up and speak on behalf of the impoverished. They are in the front line when it comes to attacking people like me who dare to speak badly about the impoverished. They are also in the frontline when it comes to helping the impoverished the way the impoverished want. But where does this type of help lead?

Well, let’s take a look at Cambodia again for it’s a good example. Where did the impoverished people get after 30 years of assistance by the backwards thinkers? Yeah… 30 years after the end of the Khmer Rouge rule, and after 30 years of being given handouts on daily basis, the lives of average Cambodians have not approved one bit. I can guarantee you that if backward thinkers continue enhancing the lives of Cambodians backwards, like they have for the past 30 years by encouraging the culture of handouts and attacking forward thinkers for addressing the real issue and encouraging the real change even if it requires slaps on someone’s wrists, we’ll look at what has changed in the next 30 years and we’ll see nothing. Backwards enhancements, the ones practiced by backward thinkers set the impoverished two steps backwards.

30 years is more than enough to achieve a real change – for as long as the backward thinkers are kept at bay so forward thinkers can enhance the society forward without hindrance by the backwards thinkers. Look at Japan, for example. The country was destroyed after World War II and found itself in far more desperate state than Cambodia was after the Khmer Rouge rule, but backward thinkers were restricted from slowing progress down, forward thinkers were put in charge and 30 years later, Japan was an economical superpower. If what backward thinkers do had the potential to change Cambodia around, it would have already happened now that they’d been providing their assistance so relentlessly for 30+ years.

I cannot however deny the good intentions of the backwards thinkers. Sadly, stupidity, even if performed with the best of intentions is the core of hindered progress. A wise man once said that a hyperactive idiot is worse than the enemy of the state. And it’s true. In their bid to do good, backward thinkers rush into “helping” the poor while throwing roadblocks before the feet of the forward thinkers, ultimately hindering the process of enhancement. There is no bigger obstacle to progress than a dedicated moron who can’t see the forest for the trees and relentlessly enforces his/her own backwards agenda.

Forward Thinkers

There is only one shortest distance between two points. And that’s the path the forward thinkers take. Not only does it lead to the finish, it gets you there faster than any other way. As a wise man once said, sometimes you need to lose the battle to win the war. That’s why backward thinkers can never be good generals. They do not have the ultimate goal in mind and focus merely on temporary feel good experiences. They’d focus entirely on winning that battle even if in the end they’d lose the war. Unpopular steps must sometimes be taken so the greater good can be achieved. Forward thinkers take these steps, even though it makes them unpopular in the eyes of the backward thinkers who would not hesitate to assault them.

Despite the looming threat of the attacks by the backward thinkers, forward thinkers won’t give in to their backward thinking and will do all in their power to move the society forward. Roadblocks set by the backward thinkers will ultimately slow the progress down (or completely halt it, in some cases), but without forward thinkers, we would have never gotten anywhere as humans. They are the ones who achieve real results because they are not afraid to think outside the box (Eppur si muove!) and take steps that lead to ultimate goals, even if it creates temporary hardships along the way.

While backward thinkers fight to alleviate poverty by encouraging and deepening the culture of handouts and attacking the forward thinkers for speaking up against it, the forward thinkers understand that the real problem lies somewhere else and must be addressed, even if it requires a slap on the wrist. Take inherent laziness of Cambodians for example. A forward thinker would tell the Cambodians that many of their problems are a result of laziness and would tell them to stop being lazy slacks and start taking responsibility for their lives. A backward thinker, on the other hand would instantly attack the forward thinker for saying things like that and would back Cambodians up saying that they have a difficult life and have gone through a lot, are still recovering from the past and need all support they can get.

Fact be told, the Cambodians don’t need any more support. They got more than too much of it for the past 3 decades and it got them nowhere. They need someone to kick them in the backside and tell them that in today’s information age everyone has equal opportunity to make decent living. Internet gurus earn upwards of 6 figures and can be found in India, Ukraine, Romania, Egypt, and many other countries. Internet creates a level field for everyone so the excuse of living in a poor country simply will not stand. The trouble is that because the internet provides the level field for absolutely everyone, the competition is rough as whole world, down to the last country you didn’t even know existed is your competition. As a result, in order to make it, one needs to work on it daily and constantly grow and improve. And that won’t work if you’re a lazy bum.

Difference Reiterated

I have said it before but it must be said again: backward thinkers feel sorry for Cambodians, give them handouts and attack everyone who speaks badly about them. Forward thinkers tell Cambodians that they are responsible for their own lives and that if they are poor, it’s their own doing because anyone who doesn’t suffer a mental illness has everything they need to make it and have an abundant and fulfilling life.

The problem, as I have personally experienced, is in a fact that backward thinkers are such a loudmouthed congregation of delusional individuals, the presence and actions of forward thinkers are overshadowed and often suppressed by cocky backward thinkers who believe their poop doesn’t stink. As a result, forward thinkers often choose to keep to themselves so they don’t have to put up with the abuse by holier than thou backward thinkers which gives the backward thinkers an impression that everyone does it their way hence it must be the right way.

You don’t have to go too far to see what it does to their ego to have someone go against their religion, address the real issue and call a spade a spade. And imagine how much effort it’s going to take to undo all their actions to start enhancing people’s lives forward, not backwards. I tried in Cambodia, but the damage done by the backward thinkers is so deep rooted, it’s gonna be a major challenge to revert.

I knew that the way out of their misery is for Cambodians to obtain computer skills and market themselves to worldwide audiences on the internet. Regardless of how poor and deprived of opportunities they may feel living in their homeland, it all matters not once they get on the information superhighway. But there was a problem which goes back to the damage done by the years of backward enhancements.

Instead of listening to me and trying to learn a thing or two to actually achieve a change in their lives, the Cambodians I was able to argue into going to the internet cafe with me spent the entire time in chatrooms. Switching between half a dozen chat windows to waste time talking useless crap with random internet acquaintances was more appealing to them than the ability to learn something that could generate them an income comparable to that the people from the western countries earn.

Like eagles on Langkawi, Cambodians know that all they need to do is flock around foreigners when they come to sight and they’ll get stuff for free. Why would they bother studying to gain qualifications which could land them with above average income if all they need to do is a bit of whining and free stuff falls into their laps?

30 years of pampering by the backward thinkers left Cambodians completely uninterested in taking charge of their lives. As I had said many times before, backward thinkers enhance the lives of the impoverished people backwards. They think they move them one step forward, but in reality they set them two steps backwards. They usually do that with good intentions but intentions are useless if the end result is backward movement. Had people listened to harsh, but forward enhancing words of forward thinkers, instead of attacking them, Cambodians would not be this used to getting handouts and unwilling to take charge of their lives on their own.

Things need to be called for what they are, without beating around the bush. There is no polite way to address a lazy person but by calling them lazy. Unless the laziness is acknowledged as such, no attempt will be made to overcome it and set sail for a change. Forward thinkers tell lazy people that they are lazy. Backward thinkers attack forward thinkers by calling them racist bigots for having the audacity to call lazy people lazy.


Cambodians are poor because even though they feel that there is a way out, they are unwilling to put forth the effort necessary to find that way and travel it. And the reason they don’t have that will is because over the decades, they’ve been pampered by the backward thinkers who enforced the notion that accumulating their own wealth was unnecessary. Forward thinkers knew that in order to set them off on that way, they’d need to be kicked down that road. Gently pushing them did not work. They were embedded in their lazy seats so tightly, it delivered no result. A mighty kick was necessary if the ultimate goal of following the road to self made riches was to be accomplished but backward thinkers would immediately step in and attack the forward thinker for kicking a Cambodian. How racist of a forward thinker, isn’t it?

What backward thinkers don’t realize is that the poor don’t need charity. They need inspiration. Unfortunately, actions of backward thinkers, if allowed to perform for a long enough time can kill people’s inherent desire to follow up after they’ve been motivated. When it gets to that stage, simply inspiring people will land little change. Harsh action is then required, oftentimes no lesser than a mighty kick in the backside or a pretty loud slap on the wrist.

Charity only provides the poor with a fish to keep them alive in their raggedness, or to make them forget that they are poor for an hour or two, but wrist slapping action can cause them to rise out of their misery and set on the path to a better life. Anyone wishing to really help the poor is hereby encouraged to enhance their lives forward, not backwards. It is not hard-hearted or unfeeling, as it is not racist or bigoted to bitch-slap an impoverished person if in the end it breaks their poverty cycle. Backward thinkers pity poverty, forward thinkers kick it in the arse. Which one are you?

Fear of Reality and Its Effects on Travelers

Fear of Reality is a phenomenon that was completely unknown to me until I’ve started this blog. As someone who stands with his feet firmly on the ground and doesn’t float in the world of fantasy, starting a blog that doesn’t showcase the world of travel through the rose colored sunglasses was an eye opening experience. Eye opening because the amount of hatemail I get from people who fear reality so much they jump down the throat of anyone who dares to speak openly about it was so overwhelming, it really made me think and try to come to the core of what causes the travelers be so ignorant and arrogant. The study has lead me to the discovery of fear of reality and how it affects the travelers – the very specimen of human race I’d think would get affected by it the least. The exact opposite proved to be the truth, but let’s look at it nicely from the start:

Photo: Fear of Reality Came Alive on Walking Street in Pattaya
Photo: Fear of Reality Came Alive on Walking Street in Pattaya

Fear of Reality and Its Effects on Travelers

Most people associate the names of exotic countries with pictures of a tropical paradise. Most people who visit those countries return back home telling everyone of wonderful, smiling people who were killing themselves over who will be the first to help a lost foreigner with any advice they may need. And most of those people will stick by their notion that locals from that country are the nicest people in the universe to a point that if someone dares to speak otherwise, they’ll be right there responding without hesitation with the most colorful verbal assaults their brains can produce.

Fact be told, the “most people” I speak of in the above paragraph are the most clueless members of the society who wouldn’t know a rip off artist if it came at them with a signboard above their head and hit them square in the face. As a result, even though they’d become victims of mind games played on them by greedy locals who specialize in taking advantage of naive tourists, not only will they not realize that that was the case, they will be so taken aback by the faux-friendship they had just forged and the fake smile they had witnessed, they won’t even admit for a second that they were ripped off and will assault anyone who dares to clarify for them that ripped off they truly had been.

I knew this was happening right off the bat, I just couldn’t come to the core of why. How could a fake smile hypnotize an otherwise intelligent person to a point that they abandon all common sense and set on a path of complete idiocy? How could someone be so gullible that they would thank a thief for robbing them and stay friends with them so that next time they’re around, they’d offer themselves up for him again?

Fear of Reality Does Exist

At this stage I still didn’t know a darn thing about fear of reality, I was just actively pursuing the truth behind the utter naivety of vast majority of travelers. It all started to come together after I took a trip to Pattaya, Thailand – the largest brothel in the world where an excess of 20,000 hookers operate on any given day of the year, with the number growing by 25% – 50% during the high season months.

Walking around with my eyes open and wits unscathed by the unceasing calls of generally unattractive Thai girls desperate for my money, I spoke with many people on both sides of the spectrum to get a clear picture of what really goes on behind the facades played on by either party. And bit by bit I saw the fear of reality slowly take shape before my eyes.

How Harsh is Reality?

Just as I had witnessed in Cambodia where rip off artists thrive because they found out that putting a fake smile on is all it takes to rip a tourist off who would in turn thank them and recommend them to all of their friends, Thai girls also thrive on naivety of foreigners who fall for them acting as though they were their girlfriends and would continue sending them money even after their return back home not realizing that the girl wiped his taste off her mouth with disgust as soon as she was out the door and thought nothing less of him than a stupid walking ATM machine.

Whether it’s the rip off artist from Cambodia or the money hungry hooker from Thailand, at the end of the day, to them you were just a stupid foreigner who was so naive, you made an easy target and will only be a good source of laughs when they brag about your gullible self to their friends.

Thai Hookers

Despite being openly xenophobic, Thailand attracts massive number of tourists, many of whom are repeat visitors with many relocating to live in Thailand as expats. I got a chance to speak with many expats living in Thailand and even though they are aware of out of control murder rate of foreigners in Thailand (many of whom are killed out of sheer hatred of foreigners with the police hating all foreigners just as much hence supporting these murders or seeing them as justified), they still refuse to accept the notion that Thailand is a dangerous country and continue to adamantly protect Thailand’s reputation by attacking anyone who dares to speak badly about their country of choice? It took a very close look at the way Thai hookers operate to properly understand why they fear reality so much.

Like Thai men, Thai women are inherently xenophobic. They hate foreigners so genuinely it gives them shivers, but they love the money foreigners have so they put on skimpy clothes and go whoring themselves out for some of that dough. Forget all about Buddhism – when they take a whiff of the green stuff, all of the Buddhist principles they pretend to uphold get temporarily suspended (as they do when the craving to satisfy their xenophobic ways takes hold).

As a result, even though you’ll see those Thai hookers join their palms together and bow their heads in a prayer each time they see a temple or a shadow house, they forget all about it when a foreigner comes to sight. Selling their bodies for money is as normal as hatred towards foreigners. And – strangely or not – it is that fact alone that keeps drawing such a massive and steady flow of foreigners to the country.

Thailand is no longer cheap, people are not friendly and never ever smile (just look at the king of Thailand who is a reflection of his people – good luck finding one picture of him smiling). Scam is a daily happenstance and murders of foreigners more than common, though frequently ruled a suicide, a natural cause or an accident (the police is perhaps the most corrupt institution in an already corrupt country, so you can imagine how honest they are). Yet people keep coming back, bringing more and more money to fuel this xenophobic society. That’s how powerful the hooker attraction is.

Interestingly enough – Thai girls are not attractive and they are definitely not cheap. I don’t know how much hookers cost in the western countries, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were less expensive than any of those Thai prostitutes. Yet people keep coming to Thailand for hookers, including people who have never been with a prostitute before. I tried to come to the root of this phenomenon as well and based on my research, it is because of sheer number of available hookers that can be encountered in any part of Thailand.

You see, many men fantasize about various women. While prostitutes can be had in almost any country of the world, the difference between Thailand and other countries is in the fact that virtually all Thai women are whores. As a result, if you happen to fantasize a Thai girl you casually spot, you can have her if you’re willing to pay. This is not true in the rest of the world. And this is also why many men who slept with a prostitute in Thailand had never paid for sex before and never will after.

Because when you leave Thailand, most of the women you meet will have some level of dignity in their lives so you won’t be able to just have them for money. Majority of women around the world will not sell themselves out just like that so if you happen to fantasize one who doesn’t particularly reciprocate your feelings, the fantasy will remain the fantasy and you will have to move on. But when you are in Thailand, you can turn that fantasy into reality by just shelling out an agreed upon sum of money. Because when money talks, Thai girls bother not about Buddhism or dignity. They like the green stuff and will gladly spread their thighs wide open for some.

And whether men who repeatedly come to Thailand admit it or not, this is really what attracts them back. Thai girls may not look like much, but they are always ready to go with you if you pay for it. And with so many of them offering themselves up before you could ask, you don’t even have to bother approaching them. If back home it is you who gets rejected approaching women, in Thailand it is you who does rejecting because there are so many of them approaching you, and that my friends is what drives mass tourism in Thailand.

How Thai Hookers Cast Light Into Fear of Reality

It was when I was in Pattaya – the biggest brothel in the world when I realized why people fear reality so much. Men love being constantly approached by women and asked to go out with them. But it changes nothing about these women having no dignity in their lives and craving money more than anything else. As a result, as soon as they’d collected the cash from you, they forget all about you and it’s back to hunting another victim. They would be sweet-mouthing you and act like your girlfriends – they’d do anything and say anything only to make you spend more.

Sob stories of them having hungry kids, mother in a hospital, live stock dying from a rare disease or whatever else is appropriate at the moment are commonly used to make the men feel sorry for them and spend more. The ultimate goal is to enchant the man so much, he would commit to helping this poor girl out any way he can and because many men who come to Thailand are hard working business people, when their time is up, they return home but continue supporting their new found girlfriend with funds wired to Thailand from their home country.

This is where it gets interesting. Before the man leaves Thailand, the sob stories get exaggerated to a larger than life extent and the girl presents the man with a way to stay in touch with her. It is oftentimes a mobile phone number, an email address, a facebook account or whether else has been working out for the girl the best. While the man is abroad, she keeps replying to him in a way which makes it sound as if she was his girlfriend.

Meanwhile, though – she continues whoring herself out. She’ll remain relentless until she finds another naive, gullible foreigner who eats her sob-stories with a chocolate topping and when he leaves, she will have another man to reply to as if she was his girlfriend, until he starts sending money from abroad as well, creating a new stream of workless income for the hooker.

Ultimately, she will engage several men like that, so even though each of them only sends her money every now and again, it adds up to being a solid pile of cash each month. Obviously, the men went to their home countries to work hard to make a lot of money so when their chance at another vacation time comes, they will head back to Thailand to be with their girlfriend who “loves them so much” (based on what she says when she responds to him by email).

With so many boyfriends to take care of, the girl will try to “help them” choose the best time to come to Thailand to ensure she’s available. The last thing she wants is for any of her sponsors to find out that they are not the only ones in her life so if a threat of two or more of them coming to Thailand to be with her at the same time looms up, she’d only respond affirmatively to one of them, while presenting the others with all sorts of valid reasons to postpone their trip till a later date.

As a result, when a man does come, he finds his girlfriend all dedicated to him, waiting for him as if he was her only love. This will encourage him even more and he’ll decide that he doesn’t want the girl to work as a prostitute anymore because she’s his dedicated girlfriend so next time he goes back home, he’ll commit to sending her so much money each month, she won’t have to sell herself out anymore because he’ll send her enough to look after her family (remember the sob stories?) without working as a hooker.

He leaves and she continues with her relentless pursuit to engage more and more men in the same way until eventually she gets a monthly wage from about a dozen of them. This is already enough for her to buy herself a nice car and live it up like a king. She would just respond like a girlfriend to messages from all of her boyfriend/sponsors and continue adding new sob-stories about new hardship that had befallen upon her so they could send bonuses on top of her monthly wage. And when they come over for a week or two, she spends time with them, gets them to buy her more jewellery, fragrances, clothes and whatever else her heart desires before seeing them off to wait for another one of them to come for a week or two.

In brief – these girls will pretend to love you like there’s no other man in the world, but as soon as you’re out the door, you’ll be naught more but a “walking ATM” reference when she goes to hang out with her friends to spend your money and brag about how many men living abroad who are sending her funds regularly every month she already has.

It’s a performance start to finish – just like those fake smiles from rip off artists of Cambodia many travelers won’t allow anyone to say a bad thing about. A mind game tailored to take advantage of these men, yet those men love it and keep coming back. And guess what they would do if someone suggested that their bellowed Thai girlfriend was a whore who is just taking advantage of them? They would jump that person and curse them to world’s end – just the way the self righteous protectors of the rip off artists from Cambodia do when I point out the truth about them. How awesome is that?

Fear of Reality Conclusion

To sum it up, my quest to find out why so many otherwise seemingly intelligent and/or well traveled people fail to see the truth and will not hesitate to verbally assault anyone who calls a spade a spade lead me to the discovery of Fear of Reality. While I may not be the first person to have found out about this phenomenon, it is something that I did not know existed so discovering it on my own affirmed me that I have a solid grip on reality and belong to a tiny group of people who are able to see the forest for the trees.

Fear of Reality is a type of phobia that makes people give up sound reasoning for faux feel-good experience. In other words, if you make them feel good, even if you’re only doing it to rip them off, in the end, they will still put maximum weight on the feel-good experience and will completely ignore the potentially negative part of the experience. Because they fear reality, instead of admitting it into their lives, the weak minded individuals will resort to living in a fantasy. It takes a person of exceptionally strong spirit to handle and face reality hence you’ll only find a handful of people who don’t suffer from Fear of Reality.

I’ve summed up the reasons why so many people suffer from Fear of Reality in three steps:

  1. Lacking Observation Talent
    I’m simply shocked by how lacking most people are when it comes to basic observation talent. Let me give you an example. If you ever get a chance to visit Pattaya – the largest brothel in the world, you will likely go for a stroll down the infamous Walking Street at night. This part of Pattaya is full of a-go-go bars and seems pretty dead during the day, but booms into a massive happening when the sun goes down. Thousands of foreigners of all races slalom among touts lurking to catch unsavvy newbs with ping-pong shows offers and underprivileged locals trying to sell stuff nobody with half a brain would buy. Many of those underprivileged locals are very old, crippled women with jasmine pendants hung on their arms approaching you with a smile and a big hope in their teary eyes that you would buy one.

    Virtually everybody I spoke with was aware of them and felt sorry for these old women who ended up having to sell flowery things in a place like the Walking Street, Pattaya only to make a living. Yet not one tourist in Pattaya could read the real truth from their teary eyes. They are not there to make a living or to survive or for any other similar reason. They are there because they are forced to. They are captured by local mafia, beat up and forced to earn a living for the young punks who control (understand – abuse) them. Each of these women have seen way too many winters and most of them have some visible disability. None can speak a word of English or any other language past their own. They skilfully hide their swollen, bloody lips which are the result of treatment the mafia boys manage them with. They are too old and too weak to stand up for themselves and/or to escape the abuse. And no foreigners can see that. All they see is an old woman struggling to survive so she came to Pattaya. So they buy her flowers because they feel sorry for her and want to help her out not realizing that by doing that, they’re helping out the mafia. For as long as abusing old, defenceless women remains a profitable venture, the mafia punks will continue kidnapping more of them, beating them up and forcing them out on the street to utilize their poor looks to entice foreigners into spending money out of sheer compassion.
  2. Inability to Read Between the Lines
    I think the reason I can read people so well is because I’m a photographer. I established myself as one of the world’s most celebrated nude photographers and a successful photo journalist because I was able to see what people are thinking and capture their real selves without pretence. Most people don’t seem to have this talent or don’t have it properly developed. Skilled photographers as well as traditional paint artists would also possess the same ability, but these account for less than half a percent of the population.
  3. Ignorance and Arrogance
    Most people prefer to live in a fantasy world. Reality confuses and scares them. You show them what the real life looks like and they will unleash the savage beast that dwells within them. The best way to prove it is by sending anyone to a reality news website, such as BestGore.com (WARNING!!! – extremely graphic content on that link. Do NOT click unless you’re ready to face the reality. This website does not mess around and tells it like it is – kind of like mine – which is why 99% of those visiting it WILL be offended. Don’t come back at me if you happen to be one because I have warned you. The front page which I have linked is safe, but read the warning on it carefully and click the puppy unless you’re really ready to see what the real life is about).

    Fear of reality is obvious from people’s reactions to being ripped off by smiling rip off artists. For as long as the rip off artist smiles and sweet talks to them, the victims will not only not perceive it as a rip off, they will actually think that they were treated like royalty and will verbally assault anyone who tries to open up their eyes and tell them the truth. The truth is the reality and they fear it. They prefer to live in a fantasy – the world without their rose colored glasses is too harsh and they refuse to accept it. If you take their rose colored glasses off, they will jump down your throat and won’t get out lightly. Good 98% of total population fear the reality and will fight to protect their fantasy world from those who stand firmly on the ground. They will always deny the possibility that they’re living in a fantasy and will continue lying to themselves no matter what.

BTW, this post was full of hard to swallow reality. Did it give you shivers reading the facts as they are? Did it perhaps enrage you or make you want to get back at me with verbal diarrhea to show me what a racist a$$hole I am? Yep, fear of reality can make people do that and if you found yourself feeling that way, know that this post is about you, whether you admit it or not.

It is not the purpose of this article to enlighten or change anyone. The sole fact that some people prefer the fantasy world to reality is a proof enough that they are lost causes and cannot be amended. People who fear reality also fear the real picture of themselves and as such are unable to look deep into their own selves to realize which side of the spectrum they fall into. Let me repeat myself one last time – reality is often too harsh to accept. If exposure to it through this article pissed you off, take it as a sign that there might be a whole wide world spread right before your feet, but you’re so focused staring at the tip of your nose, you can’t really see it.

iPad for Travel – In-Depth Personal Review

I recently paid a visit to my friend who travels with an iPad (an Apple product). I simply asked him if I could check up on my sites on his laptop to make sure nothing was falling apart since it looked like I was not gonna make it back home for a good while. He handed me his iPad and told me to take as much time as I need. Since I’ve been traveling with what I consider to be the best laptop for travelers, near whole day of iPad use gave me a chance to compare the two and thoroughly review the latest gadget that seems to get so much attention. Is iPad good for travelling or not? Is it better than a laptop or does it lag behind? Read on to find out all about it. This is my in-depth personal review of the Apple iPad with special focus on use by the travelers on the road.

Unfortunately, because it was my friend’s iPad that I got to use (and am reviewing here) and I used it while visiting his place, I do not have any pictures of it. I did not go to visit him to review the iPad, it just so happened that he had one. However given how popular this gadget is, I believe everybody has already seen one or knows how to look up the pictures of it.

Using iPad – First Impressions

Using iPad is no different from using any other Apple product. Nothing is where you would naturally anticipate it to be. Granted, human being is a highly adaptable creature so I eventually get used to everything working backwards, but I still think it’s just plain weird that everything would be set up to go against intuition.

Second thing you also notice right away is the awkwardness of use. This is also something that could be anticipated as iPad was stripped of all the useful things (such as a keyboard) so typing and working with text, or otherwise using any of the features is a major pain (on top of being unnatural as mentioned in a paragraph above).

Photo: Smart Travelers Travel with a Netbook, Not an iPad
Photo: Smart Travelers Travel with a Netbook, Not an iPad

The immediately noticeable positive thing is a crisp and sharp screen with very nice picture. That is also something I would call typical of Apple as usability and functionality have never been strong features of any Apple product. Instead of proper engineering, Apple clearly puts maximum focus on cute design. Regardless of how unusable a gadget is, for as long as it looks cool and has a cool screen, it seems to be enough to trick many people into buying.

How Design Overrides Quality

In the section of this blog which I used to introduce myself, I wrote a post about my past work life where I briefly mention my enterpreneurial life running a photography business. Since part of the business also focused on retail, people could buy cameras from me, but being a photographer, I never offered brands I would never buy myself.

I know really darn well that this was a poor business decision, but my personal and professional conscience made me put the business second. A good example were SONY cameras. They had these cute little buttons and really attractive designs, but while both were strong selling points, one thing hidden from a customer looking to buy a camera was quality of pictures they’d take.

Being a small retailer who had to offer added value to his products in order to survive in the shade of the big box stores, I educated all of the people who came to buy a camera from me on what they could anticipate in terms of image quality from each of the cameras. I explained to them what they would be gaining and losing if they opted for this model as opposed to that one. Being a professional photographer at the time, I had the real life expertise sales people from big box stores did not have and that was the reason many people came to buy their cameras from me.

Many however bought their cameras elsewhere and then came to ask me, whom they knew of being an expert on photography, to explain why their pictures look like crap. Often times, by mere looking at pictures I had but one question to ask – is it a SONY camera you have? More often than not, the answer was “Yes”. After brief introduction, the customer would realize that buying a camera from a big box store instead of from a photographer was a mistake and that deciding which one to take based on what the camera looked like was the main reason why important images did not work out.

Still, despite poor picture quality, SONY cameras counted among the best selling ones among the people who did not buy theirs from me. That only confirmed the fact that people are visual creatures and will side with more attractive looks rather than quality output when making purchasing decisions.

It is the same with Apple products. Ipad could be the most useless gadget to be released in centuries, but thanks to its polished black surface and shiny, sharp-pictured screen, it sees millions sold worldwide. I have seen people’s shopping decisions influenced by attractive looks before, so it does not surprise me with iPads at all.

As a brief disclaimer I would simply state that I closed my photography business down in 2005. I have not kept an eye on SONY cameras since and what I talk about above simply reflects on the knowledge I acquired while I was running said business. Things may have (and likely have) changed since. But let’s get back to iPad and its use as a gadget for travelers.

Cost of the iPad

The biggest drawback of iPads is their high cost. These underpowered, limited use calculators with movie playback capabilities (but without a DVD player) are way too expensive for what they offer. I bought my laptop for $379 Canadian and at the time, Apple iPads were available for $499 Canadian (basic version). Had I been delusional and bought an iPad instead of my Samsung N150, I would have spent more money but got far more limited device which would disallow me from being efficient and productive. This could potentially jeopardise my income to a point that I could entirely lose it. As a businessman who earns his living on a computer, an iPad could never be an option.

Yet despite its extremely limited use, it costs significantly more to buy than my small netbook with which I can do absolutely anything. In a year since the purchase, my N150 was my sole tool I used for all video editing, dozens of photo manipulations done each day, graphics design for high end customers, daily web programming and maintenance of high traffic server serving 3 million unique readers a month.

Ridiculously enough, despite being superbly overpriced to begin with, the functionality of this overpriced product is so limited, you will be stuck having to spend more money to buy various applications to actually have at least any use of your new gadget. Yet even if you were to spend thousands of dollars on aps, you still won’t get the functionality of even the cheapest, crappiest laptop available.

Paying more money to be able to do less makes no sense. As a result, buying iPad – whether for travel or anything else makes no sense. None whatsoever.

Review of iPad’s Usability by Travelers

I frequently use my laptop while standing up. Being a rigorous traveler, I often get caught in need of an immediate information and need to get on the internet to look it up. It frequently happens when I can’t find the guesthouse I want to stay in in a city I just got to. When that happens, I walk around in search of unsecured WiFi signals and get on my laptop wherever I can find it. Oftentimes there is nowhere to sit, or it could be raining so I’d be just hiding under whatever piece of roof I could find and as a result, I’m forced to use my laptop while standing up.

Using a conventional laptop standing up is not a problem. But trying that with an iPad became a major nightmare. You basically can’t use the iPad while standing up comfortably. You would either have to twist your wrist into an unnatural position to be able to type, or band your back and neck too much making for a very uncomfortable use. This thing alone makes the iPad unusable for travel.

But usability suffers in all other aspects as well. As a busy traveler, after a long day of trekking, when you’re really tired but need to check your emails and whatever else you use online, you’d like to just lay on bed with pillow folded up below your upper back to keep the upper body up so you can both relax and do your computer work, but if you have an iPad, you can’t. Putting your laptop on top of your thighs and using it while in near laying position is easy and I do it often while traveling, but it’s impossible to do with an iPad.

In order to use it, you’d have to sit up, which would require you to sit on the age of your bed because as a traveler, you won’t see many guesthouses that also have armchairs in their rooms. Sitting on the edge of the bed means that you have nothing to lean your back against and if you’re tired after a busy day, this can be a real issue. Furthermore, even if you do have an armchair or other seat in your room, because you have to lay the iPod flat on your lap, you will be forced to arch your back till it hurts which will make you feel even more tired and will significantly reduce productivity if you’re like me and earn your money on line. The only alternative to it is to hold the iPad with one hand to have it under comfortable angle but this way you will only be able to use one hand for actual work cause the other one will be stuck holding the darn thing.

As for sheer usability during traveling, iPad is completely and utterly unusable.

Review of iPad’s Functionality for Travel

Aside from being more expensive than significantly superior rivals, completely unusable by travelers and non travelers alike, iPad also lacks in basic functionality to a point that it’s ridiculous.

The iPad I tried had only one web browser on it – Safari (Apple operating systems are rather limited and not user oriented so I wouldn’t be surprised if there was no option to add a different browser to it, but I don’t know that for sure). Using Safari by travelers is beyond destructive. Let’s say that like me, you have a travel blog and you’re writing a new post. Your entry includes something you have previously talked about so you want to link that page. You open another tab and navigate through your blog to get to that page so you can copy its URL and paste it into your new entry. With the URL in your clipboard, you come back to the tab where you had your work in progress only to find out that switching tabs in Safari refreshes the pages so you will have lost all you have worked on. Imagine the frustration!

Typing using iPad is a whole new level of frustration all together. If you are responding to something, you won’t be able to see the text because it will be covered by the keyboard buttons. The iPad I used had an external keyboard (yet another expense) which made typing a little easier, but made the whole thing clunky and disorderly. As a traveler, packing and transporting a laptop is easy. But having an iPad and a separate keyboard requires extra space and makes storage and transportation more challenging. The bulk of stuff and cables turns the use of it on the road into a major headache.

Without an external keyboard, the typing is tough. There is no tab key and no arrow keys which makes navigation through text (especially if you’re trying to write something longer than a couple of sentences) a nightmare. If you need to edit a sentence two paragraphs up, you’ll be up for a major task. Many other tasks which take no time and effort on a laptop are also a major nightmare on an iPad with that touch screen – trying to edit the URL in the address bar for example is nothing short of a complete horror.

Photo editing is impossible for images larger than 2,000 pixels on any side. In other words, unless your camera is 10 years old, forget about editing your photos, even if you shelled out for the camera connection kit. Speaking of photo editing, using any of the intuitive, user friendly applications you are used to using, such as Adobe Photoshop or ULead PhotoImpact would be impossible on an iPad. You would be stuck using weird looking and functioning PhotoGene.

Major Technological Drawbacks of iPads for Travel

No Multitasking – what more needs to be added? I’m a busy webmaster. When I get on my laptop, even though it only has 1GB RAM memory, I have several windows open at the same time because I need them at the same time to do my daily tasks. This is impossible with an iPad. As such, iPad is unusable. If you are a traveler, it is quite likely you have some form of presence on the internet. If that’s the case, then lack of multitasking will make the iPad unusable while you travel. But if you make your living on the internet, then iPad is an absolute NO. Yet even if you don’t, surely you would like to have an MSN Messenger or Skype running in the background while you’re on line so when some of your friends log in, you can step in for a chat. Unfortunately, on an iPad, you can’t.

No USB Ports – If you want to be able to download pictures from your camera onto your iPad, you’d have to buy (yep, more money spending) a camera connection kit which is nothing short of ridiculous.

No Flash – this paralyzes more than you would imagine. WordPress image uploader is flash powered for example. If you run a WP powered blog, tough luck! The uploader is not the only WP feature that doesn’t work on an iPad, though. Some sites use login popup splash screens powered by Flash so if you’re a member of such and visit them on an iPad, you won’t be able to log in. Similarly, many online forms will be difficult or impossible to fill in. If they use flash, they won’t work at all, but because the keyboard doesn’t have arrows, even if it wasn’t a flash powered form, you won’t be able to navigate through it, which makes filling them up an insanity of an effort. Complete nightmare!

There is also no DVD player on an iPad, but that’s not a drawback in my mind. DVD players are a major battery wasters and are a more or less an obsolete technology so they’re not anything I’d expect to be on a portable computer anyway. With flash drives growing in size and becoming excessively popular, DVDs have no place on computers anymore. It’s much faster and more convenient to put data on a USB stick than it is to burn them on a DVD disc.

Statement iPod Ownership Makes

There is absolutely nothing that an iPad can do, what a netbook can not. On the other hand, an iPad can do no more than 5% of what an average netbook can. Yet an iPad costs significantly more than an average netbook. As such, anyone who travels with an iPad makes an undeniable statement that they got to 5 trying to add 2 and 2.

iPad – The Good

  • Looks nice
  • Crisp screen
  • Battery life seems decent

iPad – The Bad

  • Overpriced and underperforming
  • Requires additional purchases to achieve basic (yet still limited) functionality
  • Unintuitive usability
  • Impossible to use comfortably
  • Can’t use it comfortably while standing up
  • Can’t use it comfortably while laying in bed
  • Can’t use it comfortably while sitting without a desk
  • Safari is a default (and only) web browser
  • Typing is very challenging and tiring
  • Text editing is either difficult or impossible
  • No arrows or a tab key for normal navigability
  • Limited photo editing capabilities
  • Impossible to edit images over 2,000 pixels
  • No multitasking
  • No USB ports
  • No flash
  • No camera
  • Limited and difficult file management
  • Slow web browsing (web pages always load very slowly)
  • Touch screen picks up fingerprints and dust too easily
  • Made by Apple (fanboys are just plain irritating)

Review of iPad for Travel – Conclusion

Using an iPad for travel would make absolutely no sense. Even if you don’t need to do any type of computer work and only need a machine to check emails and watch YouTube videos, iPad would prove to be a major headache since even the simplest tasks (typing URLs for example) are a tiring and challenging. If however your use of the internet goes beyond email checking, then iPad is a complete No No. Yet even though iPad is nothing more than a limited use calculator with video playback capabilities, the price tag for that thing is unreasonably high which makes a consideration to buy it a sign of limited wits. The fact that so many people did pay to own it only proves how backwards much of the society is.

The Expat Syndrome

The Expat Syndrome is a name I use to address a phenomenon which affects common traits and behaviour of people who leave their home country to live in an alien one (host country). My extensive travel took me through a wide range of nations, ranging from developed to developing and everything in between. Based on my observation, expatriates from countries I have previously visited did not think and act the way people in their home country normally do, but adapted to thinking and acting of their host country. In other words – if a person moves to a country where society and a way of life are different, their behaviour changes to that of their surroundings. As a result, if a decent person moves to a crap of a country, they start acting like a moron, and likewise, if a person from a crap country moves to a highly civilized society, their savage ways diminish (or vanish entirely) and start acting like fellow civilized citizens they are surrounded with.

Photo: Not Entirely Sure How a Dead Cambodian Rat Relates to the Expat Syndrome
Photo: Not Entirely Sure How a Dead Cambodian Rat Relates to the Expat Syndrome

Granted, moving to a different country to hang out with your own will slow down or block the effects of the Expat Syndrome entirely, but as a general rule, aspects of expats behaviour that does involve interaction with host society will be affected (for better or worse).

Who Is Not an Expat?

People who invade foreign countries – whatever the means and excuse – are not expats of which I speak in this article. Good example are Gypsies that moved from Eastern Europe to Scandinavia. These gypsies first invaded Eastern European countries on which they leeched by making babies because Communist governments paid so much money per child. But after they found out about generous social policies in Denmark, they came up with fabricated racism stories to gain asylum in the country where they moved to live like kings without a need to go to work. People like these are leeches and are not expats hence the Expat Syndrome does not apply to them.

Similarly, Muslim extremists who move to western countries with intentions to spread Jihad are not expats. They may be citizens of other countries living abroad long-term, but they are still not expats, just brainwashed lost souls dependent on a purpose provided by somebody else.

First Exposure to the Expat Syndrome

The Expat Syndrome is something I have noticed a very long time ago, when I first took a trip to London, UK. I was in the first year of the University and having previously visited Poland, I knew that Poles were some of the worst and least respectful drivers in Europe. Lives claimed by notoriously selfish Polish drivers in Poland are notoriously high yet when one goes to London, UK, they could cross the street on a zebra with their eyes closed and will get across unharmed.

For those who don’t know – London is infested with Poles (there is no polite way to put it). There are so many Poles in London (and all of the UK, for that matter), it’s a challenge to overhear a Cockney accent as all you get to hear is Polish language. It truly made me ask whether there are any Poles still left in Poland cause it looked as though they all fled to settle in London. As I continued traveling, I learned that the UK is not the only country infested with Poles. Seriously, I haven’t been to Poland in a while – are there any people in that country still?

So how is it that when you are in Poland, you really have to watch out trying to cross the road, but when you go to London you will never come an inch close to being endangered by a vehicle trying to cross? A chance of encountering a Pole driving a car down the road in London is incredibly high, yet you won’t face the same dangers you would if you tried that in Poland. So many Polish drivers in London, yet nowhere near the danger of Poland roads.

Obviously, even though they came from a country where drivers are disrespectful and drive aggressively, once they join driving etiquette where everybody respects pedestrians, it changes them and they start acting the same. Without thinking about it, they will instinctively stop as soon as there is an indication that a pedestrian is intending to cross the road. And this is exactly what the Expat Syndrome is all about. Regardless of what you were brought up acting as, if you move to live in a society that behaves differently as a whole, your behaviour adapts and subconsciously you start acting the same. Part of the Expat Syndrome is also the fact that people tend to be attracted by countries that follow moral values the person upholds deep within.

The Expat Syndrome in the Third World Countries

The case of Polish drivers in London is an example of the Expat Syndrome acting for the better. But while it does help to turn bad behavioural traits into good ones (in case of expats from crap countries who moved to decent ones) it also works the opposite way. This can be best seen by interacting with expats from the developed countries who have lived in the third world ones for some time.

Take Cambodia, for example. With their well polished fake smiles, the people of Cambodia are always looking to help themselves at an expense of another. When a Cambodian sees a person in need of help, for them it’s an opportunity to take advantage of said person because a person in need is out of options hence easier to exploit. And that type of behaviour also soaks into the minds of expats who choose to live in Cambodia.

Similarly, you don’t have to go too far to see how delusional and deranged the expats living in Thailand are. Just read through threads on any Thai forum board and you’ll soon end up with sore forehead after facepalming yourself for a few minutes.

The most common traits of the expats from developed countries living in the third world countries are holier-than-thou attitude, complete denial of the society having any effect on them and exceptional readiness to attack people who point it out. Since these traits become visible very quickly after the move, it is fair to assume that the seeds were planted while still in their home countries. The rest is in the fact that birds of a feather flock together, so expats who share moral values similar to those found in the third world countries will be attracted by them.

If no seeds of twisted moral values were present prior to the move to a third world country, then the effects of the Expat Syndrome on an individual will be determined by the strength of their spirit.

The Expat Syndrome and Weak-Spirited vs Strong-Spirited Individuals

The Expat Syndrome does not affect everyone equally. Some are affected more and faster, whilst others only suffer from fractional affection and would require long term submergence before the effects can be observed.

The difference between how much and how fast the Expat Syndrome affects an individual is – more than by anything else – determined by the strength of their spirit. Weak spirited individuals get affected quickly and quite significantly while strong spirited individuals would only see small traits of their behaviour changed and only after being in an alien country for an extended period of time. Some of the better established traits of strong spirited individuals would remain completely unaffected even after permanent stay in an alien country.

Finding strong spirited individuals whose behavioral traits were changed by the Expat Syndrome is very rare. Unless there is some more powerful force (love, for example) that would keep them in a weak spirited society, the strong spirited individuals would leave and settle elsewhere long before any shift in behavioral patterns could break in.

The incompatibility between a strong spirited individual and a life in a weak spirited society works both ways. The weak spirited society won’t naturally accept a strong spirited person (an individual with core values and respect for another) and will stoop to unprecedented hostility before he/she can properly blend in. As a result, the strong spirited individual would start feeling uncomfortable and realize that no further digging would bring the water into a well that’s completely dry and would move on to a more compatible society.

Expats Returning Back Home

How much an alien society affects an expat is vastly determined by whether the expat is weak spirited or strong spirited – that much we already know. But what happens when the expat returns back to his/her home country after a few years abroad?

Obviously, they will be a different person. If they’re coming back from a third world country, a return to their homeland will be accompanied with an end to riding around on their motorcycles like they’re larger than life and the world belongs to them, knowing that they can get away with anything and bribe their way out of any situation. They will find adopting back to a society with the rule of law fundamental equality tough but the Expat Syndrome won’t go dormant.

As we have determined earlier – you become a reflection of your surroundings. Even if an ex-expat was to return home after years of living like a savage, a return to civilized society would start shaping him/her back into being civilized. Keep them in a civilized society and among civilized people long enough and the savage ways will diminish significantly or disappear entirely.

The Expat Syndrome – Conclusion

Let me start the conclusion with a Chinese proverb which says that “He who tells the crocodile that his breath smells, must have crossed the river”. And since we’re at Chinese proverbs, let me mention another one: “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names”. And here’s yet another one: “The best cure for drunkenness is to observe a drunk person whilst sober”.

There is so much wisdom in these Chinese proverbs that I could literally close my conclusion right away and it should make all the sense in the world. Let me just say that I’ve crossed the river back and forth and have seen the crocodile. He was beautiful, he was majestic, he had impressive moves yet still, his breath smelled. Shockingly enough, even though I’m not the only person to have crossed that river and encountered that crocodile, not many people noticed his smelly breath. It could be sheer ignorance, or just undeveloped observation talent, but more than anything else, it’s the delusional state of mind which limits the observer from acknowledging that one side of the sugar cane is less sweet than the other.

Expats are some of the most extreme people in the world. They are either absolutely brilliant or a bunch of complete losers. For the most part, you can tell which group they fall within by which country they choose to live in (if they did not choose a country but were sent there – by an employer, for example – then they are likely the former). Expats who choose corrupt, disorderly societies flock there because corruption and disorder match their characters. On the other hand expats who choose peace loving, forward thinking societies flock there because peace and progress match their characters.

They used to say that you are what you read (as far as the spiritual you is concerned, not the condition of your body in which case you are what you eat), but I’d say that to make this statement more accurate for the beginning of the 21st century, we’d have to say that you are a reflection of the surroundings you throw yourself into. It has been proven many times over that people from poshy neighbourhoods tend to have money problems because instead of investing their money and spending the remainder wisely, they waste it on purchases of latest automobiles, electronic gadgets and whatever else can be seen throughout the neighbourhood. It oftentimes happens to high earning professionals, such as doctors who make 6 figures a year, but seem to be scraping it from one month to another. See amazing books by Tom Stanley titled Millionaire Next Door and Stop Acting Rich for reference.

And just as is the case of high earning people who never become rich because they live in high spending environments, so is the case of expats who regardless of how they were brought up will start behaving and upholding moral values of people from the country where they’d moved do. Whether these moral values are high or low is determined on the choice of the country the expat chooses. There is quite a correlation between low moral values and holier-than-though attitudes. The lower they stoop, the more arrogant they act when confronted with truth. And that my friends is The Expat Syndrome.

Why Is There No Looting in the Wake of the Earthquake in Japan?

On March 11, 2011 Japan was hit by what appears to be the largest scale natural disaster in modern history (link NOT safe for work!). If we take the data provided by the U.S. Geological Survey on their website as a reference, then the 2011 Japan earthquake was the fifth most powerful earthquake since the tracking started in 1900.

The devastation unleashed by this massive earthquake was only a beginning. The tsunami tidal wave that followed was easily the most ferocious in our lifetime. There is a lot of water in the Earth’s oceans and a good chunk of it has swept across the Pacific coast of Japan, destroying everything in its path. There is no way the force of such scale could have been contained.

The tsunami water made it as far as 10km in land in some parts of Japan. Yet as if that weren’t enough, the damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami was not the end of it. The earthquake disabled the mechanisms powering the cooling tower of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, and subsequent tsunami then knocked out the backup power generators, removing the possibility to cool down the reactor, resulting in overheating and explosions which could lead to the leakage of radioactive materials (how much has been leaked has not been confirmed at the time of this post).

So within a span of a couple of days, Japan suffered from the fifth most powerful earthquake since the recordkeeping started, quite possibly the largest tsunami experienced on this planet in centuries and a realistic possibility of a nuclear catastrophe. Hundreds of thousands of people live in make-shift shelters, tens of thousands are unaccounted for, parts of towns have been entirely wiped out, transportation options are either limited or completely paralyzed, there is a shortage of food and a shortage of food in some areas yet there still have been no reports of any looting going on in Japan.

Natural Disasters and Looting

There are several interesting points to consider here:

  1. Almost all natural disasters that happened in recent history were followed by out of control looting. Whether we look at Hurricane Katrina, the 2004 tsunami in IndoChina, or recent earthquakes in Haiti or Chile – the looting seemed to have been a natural part of the aftermath.
  2. No mainstream media reports on the fact that there has been no looting in Japan despite it suffering from one of the largest scale natural disasters in modern history.

If you do a search on looting after natural disasters, you’ll find countless experts talking about and justifying the “psychology of looting”. I can’t help but ask – why do these experts ignore the fact that Japan is not experiencing any looting and how would they explain the inconsistencies in their theories?

Since I’m the first to bring this up, I’ll be also the one who’s gonna say it like it is. I take a lot of heat from internet tough guys for not holding back and speaking the truth even if it’s not entirely politically correct. But rather than toning it down for fear of offending someone – which as a travel writer I seem to be the only one to NOT do – let me get right down to it and say that there is no excuse for looting.

Japan vs Other Countries

Internet tough guys like to excuse inexcusable behavior of uncivilized people using the “necessity argument”. When a Cambodian thief robbed me, I called him a thief, but got bashed for talking badly about a person whose struggle to survive forced him to do it. Forced him to do it my arse. When someone is a rapist, perhaps it’s time to call them a rapist and when someone is a murderer, perhaps it’s time to call them a murderer. Instead of looking for the ways to excuse their unlawful behavior (and encouraging it from re-occurring), it’s time to call a spade and spade even if it may sound seemingly bigoted or racist.

Lack of looting in Japan is a proof of that. If you listen to what the prime minister of Japan tells his fellow Japanese, you will notice that he talks about rebuilding a new Japan. He asks his fellow Japanese to support him in this huge task and doesn’t hide the fact that it will require a lot of hard work, but it won’t be the first time when a Japan will have to rebuild itself from the ashes.

This rhetoric is entirely different from that coming from places like Indonesia, Thailand or Haiti after they’d suffered from similar, even though smaller scale natural disasters. Instead of appealing to their citizens to roll up their sleeves and get to work to rebuild their countries, people of those nations focused on whining about how poor they are and made their recovery a responsibility of others. Utilizing the “oh, we’re so poor” excuse, they sat with their feet up on the items they stole during looting, waiting for the people from the west to send money and workforce to rebuild their country.

While it goes without saying that Japan will receive assistance rebuilding, the Japanese will not sit with their feet up whining about being poor and needing others to fix their country up. They will be in the front line, they will be the first ones and the most hard working to see their country back up and running. Japan was the only country that had cities wiped out with the nuclear weapons. There were parts of it that were literally levelled after the World War II. Yet if you look where it got within a few decades from this total destruction, you’ll see that if you swap whining with hard work, anything can be achieved.

After the WWII, Japan was in a far more desperate state than many other countries. Yet they bounced back and turned into an economic powerhouse. If Japan could do it, then countries that had never been brought this low should find it even easier to recover. Taking that into an account – if Cambodia is still poor 30 years after the rule of Khmer Rouge, then there is nobody else to blame but Cambodians themselves. They can continue blaming Khmer Rouge for additional 30 years and then additional 30 years and so on and on and on and they will still be poor. Because complaining about the past long gone will not fix the problem.

The fix to the problem is in the willingness to roll up the sleeves and get to work. As is seen from Japan’s example (as well as an example of many European countries), hard work can turn a country from being completely depleted into being economically strong. On the other hand, there is yet to be one example of a country becoming economically strong after decades of waiting around and complaining about being poor. It only proves that you cannot help someone who cannot help themselves. No matter how much international aid is sent to Cambodia, it’ll end up being nothing but wasted resources. Supporting this culture of handouts is anti humanitarian and should be avoided. If you do want to donate, then support Japan where your graceful donation will not go to waste or to support the laziness.

Yes, it may sound bigoted, but we can either beat around the bush and look for excuses to justify their laziness, or we can say it like it is, and address the real issue. The Japanese people are not freeloaders. They are hard workers and through this approach they were able to resurrect their country from the ashes after WWII devastation. People with this type of respect for themselves and their homeland will not stoop to the level of a looter. If people of Cambodia, Indonesia, Haiti or other similar freeloading countries turned their whining into hard work, they would have as strong economies as Japan has. And this is the fact, as it is the way to explain why there has been no looting in the wake of the earthquake in Japan.

Motorcycle Riding, Gadgets and Traveling Mark

You may have noticed that there has not been as many updates to Traveling Mark as there used to be in the past. There is a very good reason for that. It started several months ago during my stay in Pakse, Laos. Something happened during that stay that made me have a different outlook on the way I do things and subsequent events set me off on a whole new adventure. It all started with my initiation to motorcycle riding.

Learning to Ride a Motorcycle

I have vast car driving experience and have not had trouble staying safe on the road even in countries where driving chaos is nothing short of anarchy. I am also an experienced mountain bike rider having used my awesome Specialized bike as my main means of transportation back in Edmonton since 2007. I love bike riding and I enjoy driving when exploring new areas, but up until my visit to Pakse, I have never ridden a motorcycle.

Number of other backpackers I met in Pakse were renting motorcycles to explore Bolaven Plateau, a nearby stretch of land with beautiful waterfalls and traditional villages. The whole plateau is too large to cover on foot, there is no convenient bus connection and hiring a taxi for the whole day (whole day is definitely necessary to cover such vast area) would add up to being rather costly.

In this case, renting a motorcycle was the most economical means to explore the plateau (despite rentals being unreasonably expensive in Laos). However, it was also the most fun way to explore the area as with a motorcycle you could do it at your own pace and stop where you want and for how long you want without anyone pressuring you or charging you more. It was clear beyond all doubt that renting a motorcycle was the way to go, but how could I possibly consider it, never have ridden one in my life before.

I was encouraged by other backpackers who said that if I could ride a bicycle, then I could ride a motorcycle. Everybody assured me in striking unison that it was easy and that they never used to ride either and learned it in much more dangerous places, such as Vietnam where roads are congested and bike riders speed by default. Despite all that, I felt extremely apprehensive about renting a motorcycle, but continued to relentlessly search for reasons why I should put my fears behind and do it.

One of the best reasons to “learn how to ride a motorcycle now” was that I was in Laos. Unlike many surrounding countries, Laos is not overpopulated so not even in its capital city of Vientiane are the roads congested to a point that it takes you 15 minutes to cross the road. Furthermore, Laos has a reputation for being laid back which is also evident in the way they drive – nobody rushes it on the road so the conditions for one’s first motorcycle ride were perfect: slow moving traffic with nobody minding if you are excessively slow yourself, plus there is not that much traffic to begin with so if you screw up, chances are you won’t cause a jam.

It was clear to me that if I am to try to ride the motorcycle for the first time in my life, I need to do it in Laos. And if Vientiane is not that traffic heavy, then Pakse is ditto not traffic heavy. And when one passes the borders of the city and gets on the highway encircling Bolaven Plateau, the roads become literally empty with only a few vehicles passing by you every now and again. I wanted to do it – I wanted to learn how to ride a motorcycle and I wanted to explore the plateau riding. Motorcycle was without doubt the only feasible way to do it and I knew that there will not be a better opportunity for my virgin bike ride than now. Yet still I felt very apprehensive about giving it a try.

The breakpoint came when I met two American travellers who overheard me asking around about how it was riding a motorcycle for the first time and joined the conversation stating that they had never done it before either but would like to try. We started talking together and this feeling of being on the same boat, each of us having zero experience riding motorcycles but understanding that this was the right place and time to change it, generated feeling that if we do it together, we could support one another and successfully do it.

I think that up to this point, my main issues were that I only had two options I could choose from – either go on a bike ride alone and struggle along with all the challenges a first time rider faces on my own, or join a group of already experienced bikers and feel like an idiot who hinders the group and causes other needless troubles. But if I joined the two guys who were as new to it as myself, I knew that we each would be equally inexperienced and equally slow until we get the hang of it. On our own, each of us would be lost, but together – together we could not only offer moral support to each other, we could also share tips and “how to” tricks should any of us find something difficult. We were the rookies, but we could be there for one another if there was such need. The apprehension suddenly diminished.

So we went to rent a motorcycle each. The beginnings were shaky. First few meters were downright dangerous and didn’t go without mess-ups however nothing major had happened. We made a few slow circles around a block, got a hang of it and proceeded towards the outskirts of the city, riding at a very slow pace but steadily increasing the speed.

By the time we left Pakse, we felt comfortable enough to ride at a speed exceeding 40 km/h and eventually made our first stop where we parked and went to admire beautiful waterfalls. From that point on it was sheer excitement. We got a pretty decent hang of it and rode along passing one another, shouting out of our lungs as we were savouring that feeling of air against our flesh.

By the time we were half way across, we already felt pretty comfortable on the bikes and had no issue handling any traffic situation. We paused to have a meal in the countryside, got off the main road to do some off road riding towards more remote villages and it was all so exciting, the day ended up being one of the best adventures I’ve ever had. By the time we started heading back to Pakse, we were the kings of the road. We owned it, we owned the world and were not afraid to give into it. It was amazing.

Giving Yourself in to the Moment

As we sat in an Indian restaurant back in Pakse after returning the motorcycles, we munched on the food still in awe from how amazing a day it was. Later we realized one thing – we never took a single picture of ourselves with the bikes. We never took a picture riding. We never spent any time focusing on photography because we were so much in the moment, enjoying what we had at the time to a point that pulling out a camera and setting it up would have been a distraction. The enjoyment of giving ourselves into the moment and enjoying it to the fullest was so empowering, there was nothing that could distract us from taking it all in.

And as I reflected on this experience later on, I came to realize that many a time before I focused too much on photography, on setting up a camera and walking away from everything to get that perfect shot, that I may have missed out on opportunities to interact with interesting people, pausing to breathe in the scents of the surroundings, feeling the touch of grass around my feet, living a moment that could have become the best experience of my life. I may have missed out on it because I was too pre-occupied with my camera. Too keen to take a pictures so I put everyone and everything around me on ignore. It took this bike riding experience with two other guys to realize how putting your gadgets aside to enjoy the basics of life can be more fulfilling and enriching.

Slaves to the Gadgets

When I realized this, I took an even bolder step of taking the same look at spending too much time on a computer to blog about everything I did. Keeping the blog updated takes a lot of time – you do it too – and it’s just that time during which something incredibly awesome could be happening in your neighbourhood, but you will not have that experience because you spent that time on a computer. We who grew up in an information age got so used to our little electronic gadgets, we make it part of our every day life, literally robbing ourselves of amazing experiences we could be having interacting with other people. It took me a while to realize that, but I eventually did and now I live my life differently.

I no longer live to take pictures or to blog. I live to enjoy life. It started with my bike trip in Pakse and the experience has grown more and more empowering. I have been though many countries since but made each day an experience, instead of dedicating a good chunk of it to blogging. I took bold steps to set myself free from the rat race of corporate life only to catch myself in a trap of the gadgetry I carried around with me. It’s a different type of rat race, but it’s just as enslaving.

That was and will be the primary reason why updates to this blog have been slow and coming. I’ve known this for many months, I just never got a chance to explain. Now you know. There is one other thing I grew to realize over the months since my Pakse bike trip – money won’t buy you happiness, but not having enough money doesn’t make it any better.

More Money = More Fun

I was a budget traveller for many months and enjoyed it. However I missed out on many experiences because I simply didn’t have enough money. For example, I couldn’t afford to pay for a plane ride over HaLong Bay, or I could not afford to have an experience of swimming in a pool on top of Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore because it is reserved to their hotel guests and at the time of my visit, such stay was too expensive for me. So I’ve focused a bit more on increasing my passive income and made my financial situation a bit better.

I still enjoy travelling on a budget, but it is much better to travel frugally because you choose to, rather than because you have no other option. I now occasionally treat myself to a stay in a fancy hotel, such as Shangri-La in Putrajaya, Malaysia to keep the joy of being able to afford it alive, or pay for a full body spa treatment to rejuvenate my physical form.

I achieved that by pausing for a few weeks after a time of intensive travelling and focusing on work a little. I returned to Thailand twice and rented a place to focus on work so I can increase my income. It got much better but now I’m still in the process of revamping my bigger site to make it more advertiser friendly and focus on direct ad sales so the revenue gets into super high numbers. It will also make revenue far more stable as I won’t be reliant on third parties but rather have everything under my own control.

I know where my future lies. Life is good and I’m gonna enjoy it to the fullest as I continue my quest of self sophistication through interaction with people from different cultures and backgrounds. I will also focus on growing my passive income and strengthening my financial position to complete independence. Being financially secure is an important part of living an abundant life.

Man Created God in His Own Image

While I know where MY future lies, I do not know where the future of this blog will be. I will make a post here and there, but it won’t be nothing like it used to. If I’m gonna spend the time on a computer, I will spend it by doing the most productive thing I can to reach my goals. And one of the important goals is to have things run on autopilot. To withdraw myself from the equation so I have more time to do things that matter. Life is short, don’t waste it.

My great ambition to die of exhaustion rather than boredom is well underway (Carpe Diem). How is yours?

Coconut Meat

When it comes to health benefits of coconut water, the nutritional value doesn’t end with water itself. When you’re done drinking, ask the vendor from whom you bought the coconut to cut it in half for you. If the coconut water you were drinking came from a young and fresh drupe, slicing it in half will reveal the jello like substance commonly known as Coconut Meat.

Photo: Coconut Meat Eaten with Improvised Spoon Sliced Off Nut's Skin
Photo: Coconut Meat Eaten with Improvised Spoon Sliced Off Nut's Skin

Coconut Meat is basically the gel covering the walls of the coconut insides. To eat coconut meat like a native to tropical regions, slice a narrow strip of nut’s skin to serve as spoon and scrape the meat off with this improvised, disposable tool.

The younger the coconut, the softer the meat will be. Older coconuts will have the meat harder and sometimes so hard it’s virtually impossible to scrape it off. The gel like meat of very young coconuts is my favorite. I don’t particularly enjoy the taste of that hardened mass. Unless the meat is very hard, you should not pass up on eating it. Health benefits of this gel are undeniable.

If young coconuts are not harvested, the drupe will continue to ripen and the water inside harden with white flesh of the coconut gaining on volume. Eventually, green coat will peel off and the water inside will become meat.

Coconut Meat – Good News

Coconut meat is very low in Sodium and Cholesterol but rich in Manganese.

Coconut Meat – Bad News

Coconut meat is high in Saturate Fat.

Well, that’s a bummer. Unfortunately it is true. There is some good news to come with the bad news, though. While coconut meat IS high in saturated fat, it’s also high in medium chain triglycerides, which is also a type of fat, but this type of fat reduces appetite and may help to eliminate abdominal fat deposits. Early studies of medium chain triglycerides suggest that these fats are more likely to be burnt off as fuel, instead of being stored as fat and may boost metabolism enabling the body to burn excessive fat on its own.

Coconut Meat and Cholesterol Levels

Early studies of coconut oil showed increase in LDL (Low Density Lipoproteins aka bad cholesterol) levels however this theory was negated with newer studies which attributed the differing results from the old studies to the use hydrogenated coconut oil which is known to contain trans fats (commonly associated with heart disease). Newer studies showed that coconut oil helped to reduce LDL cholesterol levels. The studies are ongoing but initial research suggests that the ability of coconut oil to reduce bad cholesterol could be attributed to high concentration of L-Arginine, an amino acid known for its protective properties against heart disease. More studies are needed to back up these theories, though.

Coconut Meat as Protection Against Bacteria and Viruses

Just as is the case with coconut water, coconut meat is also rich in Lauric Acid and Monolaurin, the components known for their bacteria and virus killing properties. Monolaurin is of particular interest because it’s shown the ability to eliminate the growth of the HIV virus which is responsible for dreadful AIDS.

Lauric Acid, the same acid which is found if milk of breastfeeding mothers is the component which helps boost newborns’ immunity and protects them against infections.

Despite its high Saturated Fat content, coconut meat has significant health benefits and is rich in nutrients that help maintain good health and protect against bacteria and viruses. I eat coconut meat each time I am done drinking coconut water, unless the nut is already too old and meat too hard. If I get young and fresh coconut with jello like meat, I won’t pass on the opportunity to munch on this yummy substance which further benefits my body and allows me to stay healthy on my travels.

Coconut Water Health Benefits and Nutritional Information

Coconut Water is a natural isotonic drink second in purity only to clean drinking water, but full of essential vitamins and minerals (potassium, sodium, calcium, iron, phosphorous and magnesium) in perfect balance. Even though (strangely) there isn’t much buzz about the undeniable health benefits of coconut water, this refreshing beverage overshadows popular superfoods with ease. The electrolytes contained in coconut water match the electrolytic balance of human blood which allows the surgeons in tropical and sub-tropical countries to use it as blood transfusion fluid straight out of the nut. This practise was popularized during World War II when both sides of the Pacific conflict gave emergency blood transfusion to their wounded soldiers directly from the shell of a freshly opened, young coconut. However, you do not have to be wounded to benefit from drinking coconut water. Because it is absolutely essential for a long term traveler to look after their health while on the road, let’s take a closer look at the health benefits and nutritional information of the universal well-being superfood – coconut water.

Photo: To Maximize Health Benefits, Drink Coconut Water Fresh with a Straw Right After Opening
Photo: To Maximize Health Benefits, Drink Coconut Water Fresh with a Straw Right After Opening

Coconut Water Health Benefits

Indigenous people from tropical regions have been aware of coconut water health benefits for centuries and drank it to gain vitality and boost immunity. Laboratory studies of organic compounds found in coconut water conclude that the beverage contains properties that can significantly benefit and dramatically improve one’s health. Moreover, coconut water is 100% natural, completely free of chemicals and kept perfectly sterile (free from harmful bacteria) by an impenetrable shell making the water safe for people of all ages, including babies. The lauric acid found in coconut water is identical to that found in human breast milk.

Regular consumption of coconut water has demonstrated several significant health benefits:

  • Naturally Improves Immunity – body’s natural ability to fight diseases
  • Increases Metabolism – can assist with weight loss by increasing body’s ability to burn excessive fat
  • Increases HDL Cholesterol – alters levels of good cholesterol (High Density Lipoprotein) to battle off the negative effects of bad LDL cholesterol
  • Detoxifies the Body – assists in the process of removal of harmful toxins from the body
  • Regulates Intestinal Function – healthy intestines are an essential part of well being. clean intestines significantly improve complexion
  • Antiviral – our bodies convert Lauric Acid into monolaurin which has been shown to fight off lipid coated viruses, such as Herpes, Flu, Cytomegalovirus, as well as the deadly HIV virus known to cause AIDS
  • Antibacterial – virus killing monolaurin is also known for its bacteria fighting properties. It is also a potent antiprozoal monoglyceride
  • Re-Hydrates and Revives – badly wounded soldiers were revived with coconut water
  • Boosts Energy – coconut water is an isotonic beverage full of natural electrolytes. High calcium, cholesterol free content boosts vigor after workout
  • Low Calorie and Low Sodium Content – most juices and commercially available soft drinks contain more calories and more sodium
  • Reduces High Blood Pressure – Journal of Clinical Hypertension noted that people suffering from hypertension show low levels of potassium. Coconut Water can fix that
  • Balances Body’s PH – combination of cytokinins and lauric acid helps maintain healthy PH. Proper PH significantly reduces the risk of cancer.
  • Controls Diabetes – helps by balancing blood sugar levels
  • Treats Kidney Stones – normalizes the acidity in kidneys which helps prevent kidney stones from forming in the first place. If kidney stones already exist, coconut water can reduce their size upon regular drinking
  • Relieves Urinary Problems – people suffering from polyutra, strangury or other urinary problems could see their symptoms relieved upon regular consumption of coconut water
  • Eases Stomach Pains and Vomiting – often taken by women with painful menstruation, but also works great with people suffering from Malaria or Typhoid
  • Reduces Risk of Cancer – through supply of essential minerals and vitamins, coconut water could prevent mutation of genes that leads to cancer. Furthermore, Cytokinins help regulate the divisions of cell and their growth
  • Kills Intestinal Worms – when consumed with olive oil for at least three consecutive days, coconut water has been found to kill intestinal worms
Photo: Fresh Harvest of Young Coconuts - Source of Coconut Water in Cambodia
Photo: Fresh Harvest of Young Coconuts - Source of Coconut Water in Cambodia

Coconut Water Nutritional Information

  • Coconut Water contains more essential nutrients than whole milk but unlike milk, it contains NO cholesterol and has fewer calories (less fat)
  • Coconut Water is healthier and contains more nutrients than Orange Juice AND has fewer calories
  • Coconut Water contains Lauric Acid which is present in milk from the breasts of breastfeeding mothers making it superior to processed baby milk
  • Coconut Water is naturally sterile (free from any harmful bacteria)
  • Coconut Water is identical to human blood plasma making it a universal donor (referred to as Coconut IV in the Third World Countries)
  • Coconut Water contains isotonic levels identical to human blood. It is hence the best and Natural Isotonic Beverage

Coconut Water as Natural Energy Drink

One glass of Coconut Water (100 ml) contains more potassium than a banana and more electrolytes than most commercially available sports drinks (energy beverages). Below is a comparison to demonstrate mineral qualities and health benefits of coconut water versus that of average sports drinks.

Average content of minerals found in 100 ml of coconut water compared to the content of the same minerals in 100 ml of an average sports drink:

Coconut Water: 294 mg
Sports Drinks: 117 mg

Coconut Water: 118 mg
Sports Drinks: 39mg

Coconut Water: 25 mg
Sports Drinks: 41 mg

Coconut Water: 5 mg (natural sugars)
Sports Drinks: 10 – 25 mg (processed sugars)

Coconut Harvesting

Good news is that the superfood we call Coconut Water grows on its own, with no human input needed and one coconut tree can blossom as many as 13 times a year. It takes about a year for a drupe to mature, but with 60 coconuts picked on average per harvest per tree, the supply is continuous and available year round.

The Best Way to Drink Coconut Water

Because coconut water quickly loses most of its nutritional characteristic and starts to ferment after exposure to air, to maximize health benefits, it is best to drink coconut water fresh, right after the nut has been cracked open. Fresh coconuts are widely available throughout South East Asia, Pacific Island or the Caribbean and are very inexpensive. Vendor would slice small opening into the shell of the drupe with a machete, exposing the water inside. You can easily and comfortably drink the water with a straw. If the coconut is cracked open upon your purchase, the freshness is guaranteed. Put the straw in and drink it in small gulps right away, enjoying the refreshing taste and instant boost to your body and your spirit.

Photo: After You Have Finished Drinking Coconut Water, Have the Drupe Halved to Scrape Off and Eat Equally Healthy Coconut Meat
Photo: After You Have Finished Drinking Coconut Water, Have the Drupe Halved to Scrape Off and Eat Equally Healthy Coconut Meat

Coconut Water vs Coconut Milk

Coconut milk and coconut water are not the same thing. While coconut water is the fluid found inside young coconuts, coconut milk is an extract form the lining inside a coconut (meat).

Coconut Water Side Effects

Being low in carbohydrates, low in sugar and 99% fat free, coconut water helps maintain proper body temperature and promotes natural growth. Coconut water is hands down the best natural drink on the face of the planet that’s safe for babies, pregnant women, breastfeeding women, elderly, etc. There are no known side effect to drinking coconut water so unless one suffers from nut allergies, drinking coconut water can only deliver health benefits.

Despite undeniable health benefits, though my friend Ted who’s a doctor in Thailand warned me that because of high levels of potassium, coconut water could be potentially dangerous to people with weak kidneys. If your kidneys don’t function very well, high doses of fluid with high potassium content could lead to kidney failure or a heart attack.


Please note that I am not a doctor and information found within is not a substitute for an advice from health practitioners. Facts provided in this article are based on my own experiences drinking coconut water as well as experiences of other people I have had a chance to interview. Coconut water nutritional information and list of health benefits provided herein are the result of thorough research of studies found on the internet and other relevant media and are provided with best intentions, however I can not guarantee their accuracy. It is my sincere hope that each and every person reading this article experiences nothing but improvement in their health and well-being. If you believe that any part of the article is inaccurate, please do not hesitate to contact me with correct statements. Cheers :o)

Coconut – Essential Source of Hydration and Energy

I have said it before and I will say it again – exploring Angkor Wat or any other temple at the Angkor Archaeological Park is an extremely hot and sweaty effort. Cambodian sun is scorching hot and the stone blocks temples are made of get exposed to it on daily basis and radiate this heat back. You have nowhere to escape the heat and it will wear you out sooner than you would care to admit. It is absolutely essential that you keep well hydrated in this heat but your body will certainly need more than just water to keep going. For that, there is nothing better than coconut water from fresh (green) coconuts.

When you start traveling a lot and leave your home country for an extended period of time, you’ll soon grow to realize that you need to do more for your health now than you would at home. Getting sick in a foreign country could be a traumatizing experience but moving from one geographical zone to another changes the demands of your body making good care of your health confusing. So what do you do to provide your body with what it needs regardless of whether you are sweating in a tropical country or freezing up in a snowy mountain? The answer is simple – fruits and vegetables endemic to that area.

Nature has the best answers for the needs of people so look to the nature and stick with produce that’s endemic to the area where you currently are. Fruits and vegetables that are native to the geographical zone you are in will contain nutrients you need to keep you going in weather typical of that particular zone. Coconuts are endemic to the tropical climate zones, such as that of Cambodia and contain nutrients that are an essential source of hydration and energy you desperately need in this heat.

Clean, safe drinking water is without doubt essential no matter where you are, but if you are in a tropical location and exposed to excessive heat such as when exploring Angkor temples, you need more than just water. You need an additional source of hydration, which is also a source of essential vitamins and minerals you burn off the fastest as you sweat excessively and is at the same time a source of natural energy.

This is exactly what you get from fresh coconut water. It is 100% natural and full of biologically pure natural sugars, vitamins and minerals to beat off fatigue, boost immunity and hydrate your parched cells. It’s like drinking the most potent energy drink but all natural, without harmful chemicals and preservatives. Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium contained in the coconut water are in perfect balance. Isotonic properties of coconut water replace the minerals and fluids that your body loses during excessive sweating or increased physical activity.

Yet there is one more essential fact to consider – energy drinks can strip your wallet off a few dollars per bottle. Similarly, bottle of filtered tap water of questionable quality costs $.50 (or 2,000 Cambodian Riel) to purchase in Cambodia, yet one fresh coconut costs the same: $.50. You get a little less fluid out of a coconut than you would get one of a 1.5 litre bottle of water, but it is pure nature, not potentially bacteria filled tap water and it is full of essential vitamins and minerals you would have to pay a lot of money for if you wanted to buy as supplements. And you get it in purely natural form, and as a liquid for easy and fast absorption and additional hydration.

Savvy visitors to Angkor drink a lot of coconut. Those unwise stick solely with water (again, you do need clean water but it’s simply not enough) or buy carbonated soft drinks and condemn themselves to inevitable burnout. As a guy who used bicycle as his sole means of transportation from one temple to another, I was exposed to the heat and remained physically active at all times. The demands of my body were severely high and coconut was the only thing that kept me going.

Photo: Monkey Munches on Young Coconut Shells at Angkor Wat
Photo: Monkey Munches on Young Coconut Shells at Angkor Wat

Cambodian heat and radiation of temple stones make exploring Angkor Archaeological Park an extremely challenging adventure even if you hire a cab and get driven around in an air-conditioned vehicle. If you opt for a less expensive option and hire a Tuk Tuk to drive you around, you won’t get the pleasure of cooling down in an air-conditioned space, but you will get a chance to sit and relax for a moment while the Tuk Tuk is moving, creating a fan effect that washes off your sweat during the transport. However if you go for a self powered, environment friendly transportation option – such as a bicycle the way I did, you will face a rewarding, but excessively challenging adventure. To not give up and see it through to the successful end, do yourself a favour and drink fresh coconut water every time you can. Coconut is an essential source of hydration and energy and provides you with nutrients you desperately need to survive in this heat. And what’s more, it’s one of the most effective antiviral superfoods that’s available (in Cambodia) for as little as 50 cents.