Food Procurement in the Wilderness

When stranded in the wilderness, the most prominent concern of an unintentional survivalist is “what will I eat?” The fear of starving to death irrationally takes over from more rational fears. While each survival situation is different, truth be told – starvation is one of the least severe threats to a person in the wild.

Photo: Procurement of Food is One of the Least Pressing Needs for a Survivalist in the Wild
Photo: Procurement of Food is One of the Least Pressing Needs for a Survivalist in the Wild

As the rule of threes would have it – you can die in three minutes without oxygen or when bleeding profusely (making the need to treat injuries the #1 priority), you can die in 3 hours from exposure to elements (making the need to have shelter and fire the #2 priority, though this priority changes from situation to situation), you can die in 3 days from dehydration (making the need to find source of drinkable water your #3 priority, though this also changes from one environment to another), but it takes more than 3 weeks to die from starvation (making procurement of food one of the least pressing needs in a survival situation).

The rule of threes is well known to the survivalists, medical professionals and other people in the know, yet even though it makes the procurement of food look like a waste of energy when more urgent needs put one’s life at stake, it’s important to realize that even though starvation takes while to kill you, it will leave you weak both physically and mentally and weakened body and mind won’t keep a person alive for very long. Especially not when they’re on their own devices, with little chance of help from the outside sources.

Still, it’s necessary to realize that unlike water (unless you’re in a desert), procurement of enough food to keep you going in the wilderness is an ongoing struggle which requires a great deal of time and energy and needs to be repeated day after day. Water sources, on the other hand, are much easier to find, they do not try to flee from you and once a plentiful source is found, your hydration problem is solved, and it is solved indefinitely.

As an important note, I would only briefly mention that if you’re stranded in the wilderness involuntarily, signaling should be one of your top priorities and should be on your radar long before you even start thinking about procurement of food or water. Unless, of course, you do not want to be found – kind of like when I went into the wild.

My withdrawal into the wilderness was not meant to be a test of my wilderness survivalism skills, even though any stay in the wilderness IS, ultimately, a test of wilderness survivalism skills. Still, I went into the wild to seek answers to deeper questions, to reattach my connection with Mother Nature and to enjoy company of celestial beings, whose company can only be enjoyed in absence of men.

What I Ate in the Wilderness

Since I had a car at my disposal, I stocked up on food before disappearing from the civilized world. Freshly caught fish was to be my source of animal protein, but I brought with me a supply of dried organic pinto beans to use as main accompaniment with the fish. Aside from being very nutritious, beans are loaded with fiber and slowly absorbing carbohydrates so I’d never lack energy and wouldn’t feel hungry. I used beans the same way you’d use rice. I didn’t have salt or any other spices or seasoning, yet I found the taste of beans boiled in nothing but pure water as delicious as ever.

I also packed in a large bag of organic garlic, which lasted for almost whole three months. Garlic is packed with vitamins and contains compounds known for their antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. To satisfy my spicy tooth, a sack of Thai hot peppers was an absolute must have, unfortunately my spicy tooth made me go through them way too quickly leaving the resource depleted shortly after first month.

Another amazing survival food I took with me was organic almond butter. I packed in 5 large jars yet even though I originally thought I was being ridiculous taking so much of it, I went through all of it in less than two month. I started with two spoonfuls three times a day – after each meal – but after one whole jar went empty on me shortly after one week, I restricted the intake to one spoon after each meal. Still, I spent all almond butter long before whole three months were over. There is a lot of goodness and a pile of energy in every single spoonful of almond butter. I strongly recommend it to help with survival when one doesn’t have to carry their food in a backpack with them.

To further help keep myself healthy, I also packed in a huge bag of dried organic prunes (or dried plums, as word prune implies it’s a dried fruit already). This antioxidants rich preserved fruit makes for an amazing desert after meals. Problem with delicious goodness of prunes (which is the same with almond butter) is that they are so tasty, you can’t have just one. I had enough prunes to last me three months if I only stuck with one after each meal. I could not do that.

As a backup in case of emergency, I also brought with me dozens of granola and protein bars. I ate half of them in the first week and a half of my stay. The initial week was the most difficult time when junk food and sweets withdrawals kept me in a state of vicious torment. Diet composed of freshly caught fish, organic beans and garlic however made dealing with withdrawals easier and soon I found myself feeling so internally clean, a mere thought of junk food made me feel sick.

Positive Change in Diet

Cold turkey change in diet left a very positive impact very quickly. I felt much more energetic and healthier within first two or three days. The overall wellbeing of my physical body, just from this immediate change in diet was profound. I heard my body speak to me of how relieved it was having had the burden of awful diet lifted of its shoulder.

I wished I had access to fresh vegetables, as with them, I could make it even better, but alas, it wasn’t the case of this experience. I will, however attempt growing my own garlic, onion and kale when I withdraw into the wilderness next. I’ve been educating myself actively on gardening and feel ready to take this challenge on. I may even attempt to grow Enoki mushrooms which can be grown in small places indoors.

The biggest challenge with wilderness indoor gardening would be to succeed in growing anything at all in winter, when daylight is limited and temperatures extreme. I’ll give wilderness indoor gardening my best try long before winter comes and will rely on trial and error to teach me the ins and outs of it so hopefully by the time winter comes, I’ll have a chance to succeed.

I think the three months in the wilderness was the time in my life when I had the healthiest diet in my life and it did leave its mark. Falling back into the junk food craze was… sadly – easy. My reintroduction into the civilized world didn’t go without stress and peer pressure which resulted in my clogging the digestive system up with crap food very quickly. The crappier food I ate, the crappier food I desired and before I knew it, everything I gained in terms of overall well being with food I ate in the wilderness, was irrevocably lost. Can’t wait to return to the wild again very soon.

Cost and Safety of Drinking Water in Laos

Tap water in Laos is not potable (not safe for drinking). I would not drink tap water anywhere in South East Asia but as a long term traveler who really doesn’t need to get sick while on the road, I also brush my teeth and gurgle them clean with bottled water. Unfortunately when it comes to the cost of safe for drinking bottled water, as is the case of virtually everything else a traveler needs, the cost of staying hydrated is also far more expensive in Laos than in neighboring countries.

But that’s not all – as if being unreasonably expensive wasn’t bad enough, most bottled water available in Laos is not mineral water from quality underground source. It is mostly treated tap water, run through some filters – perhaps exposed to the UV radiation or ozone to kill potential bacteria – but to what extent it is being done and how reliably is the filtering process supervised is anybody’s guess. In an economy where food and beverage regulation are lax, it’s easy to cut corners, especially if there are quite decent profits looking to be made. Yet despite being of such low quality and questionable purity, bottled water costs more in Laos than quality mineral water from a coveted sources in Thailand or Cambodia.

Tiger Head appeared to be the one bottled water quality and purity of which didn’t seem to be as questionable, but a bottle of Tiger Head was even more expensive than already overpriced treated tap water. Careful though as lesser quality Lion Head bottled water is also sold in Laos but it’s not the same as Tiger Head. Lion Head simply utilizes the game of words to make itself easily confused with its superior competitor.

Tiger Head water is bottled by the same company that brews Beer Lao and as such, bears the same tiger head (yellow silhouette of the big cat’s head) logo as you would find on their beer. I found Tiger Head to be the best tasting and purest drinking water available in Laos, but while you can find it for as little as 5,000 Kip (roughly $.60 US) in Vientiane and Pakse, be prepared to shell out 6,000 (roughly $.75 US) or more for it in Luang Prabang and other areas.

For comparison purposes, 1.5 litre bottle of Water O – quality mineral water treated by using Japanese water purification technology can be bought for 2,000 Riel in Cambodia (about $.50 US) and two 1.5 litre bottles of Minere – the finest quality mineral water available in South East Asia can be had for 22 Baht (roughly $.68 US) at Thailand’s Family Mart stores. One bottle of Minere costs 15 Baht (about $.45 US) in Seven Eleven.

There is also a wide availability of water kiosks all over the countries like Malaysia or Thailand. These purified water dispensers can be found on the streets of every town and for mere 1 Baht (in Thailand) or 10 Sen (in Malaysia) – equivalent to $.03 US – you can have your 1.5 litre bottle refilled with treated and purified, safe for drinking water. Since owners of these water kiosks can choose how much water he/she wants to dispense per which coin, some of the kiosks would need as much as 2 or 3 baht (or 20 to 30 Sen in case of Malaysia) to fill up your 1.5 litre water bottle, but this is the most economical and most environment friendly way to stay hydrated in South East Asia.

Unfortunately, I have never seen a water kiosk in Laos so having to spend lots of money for bottled water was the only way to survive. The cost of a single bottle of water doesn’t seem that high, but since Laos is in a tropical climate, excessive sweating is normal and that increases your body’s demand for water. At the end of the trip, the cost of staying reasonably hydrated in Laos added up to quite a chunk of money. And dont even start me on the cost of energy boosting coconut water in Laos…

East Mebon Temple

After I was done exploring Pre Rup Temple, I gave my last wave to the young Water Buffalo herder who had not left my side for a second and kept insisting on more money after I gave him a dollar, I mounted my bicycle and quickly darted off further north to reach my next destination on the Grand Circuit of AngkorEast Mebon.

Photo: View of Collapsed Main Gopura to the East Mebon Temple
Photo: View of Collapsed Main Gopura to the East Mebon Temple

The East Mebon Temple was built on an artificial island in the middle of a large water reservoir called Yasodharatataka, or as it is known by its present day name – East Baray. While most maps of Angkor Archaeological Park still display East Baray as a water reservoir, you won’t find any water there these days. The reservoir has been dry for a long time and little remains to give visitors hints on an immense area this body of water once covered.

Photo: Guardian Lions at Both Sides of the Entrance to East Mebon
Photo: Guardian Lions at Both Sides of the Entrance to East Mebon

East Mebon was built by King Rajendravarman II – the same king who built Pre Rup. Both were constructed in the same style of a temple mountain with two enclosing walls and three tiers. The water reservoir the temple was originally built in the middle of was 2 kilometers wide and 7 kilometers long. It was fed by the water of the Siem Reap River and used as a regulator of its flow and irrigator of surrounding planes in the dry season. Its south bank was just 500 meters north of Pre Rup. It must have been quite a lake back in its day, even though judging by the size of the island on which East Mebon still stands, it would have been only about 3 meters deep.

The inscriptions found on of near East Mebon suggest that the temple was finalized in 952, predating Pre Rup by mere 9 years. It originally housed several Hindu deities, including several gods – notably Shiva and Parvati whose statues were carved in the likeness of the father and the mother of King Rajendravarman. Some sanctuaries housed statues of Vishnu and Brahma.

Photo: Small Elephant Statues Adorn East Mebon on Corners of First Level
Photo: Small Elephant Statues Adorn East Mebon on Corners of First Level

From a distance, East Mebon appears to be in greater state of ruin than Pre Rup, however there were few elements that made this temple more interesting than her younger brother. I particularly liked the lone elephant carved out of a single block of rock guarding the temple from the ground level (there is one on each corner and more on the upper level – I took the picture of the one I liked the most). Carvings of Apsara dancers on both sides of the entrance to the main tower of the central sanctuary, as well as other carvings found on the lintels were also worthy of attention as they were much better than anything found on Pre Rup. What would have been the most impressive part of visiting East Mebon – the large body of water that once surrounded it – is unfortunately no longer there making the visit to it otherwise vastly unspectacular.

Photo: Elephant Carved Out of Single Piece of Stone at the Base of East Mebon Temple
Photo: Elephant Carved Out of Single Piece of Stone at the Base of East Mebon Temple

There was one other random person at East Mebon when I paid it a visit, which was really odd cause other than him, I would be the only one at most other temple ruins along the Grand Circuit I visited that day. The sun was already roasting everyone in the area like she liked her roaches very well done, so knowing that it’s only gonna get worse as midday gets closer, I didn’t waste any more time and moved on to my next destination.

Photo: East Mebon Central Tower is In the Middle of Square Platform with Smaller Towers in Each Corner
Photo: East Mebon Central Tower is In the Middle of Square Platform with Smaller Towers in Each Corner

Sras Srang

Sras Srang is a man made, rectangular shaped water reservoir located just across the road from the Banteay Kdei temple. Many water reservoirs were integrated into the designs of ancient cities of Angkor but nowadays, most are dried out. Sras Srang is one of the few still holding water which lead to speculations that it may have been a natural lake prior to its transformation.

Photo: Sras Srang Water Reservoir at Angkor, Cambodia
Photo: Sras Srang Water Reservoir at Angkor, Cambodia

Built during the reign of Rajendravarman II, Sras Srang was designed by the Buddhist scholar Kavindrarimathana whose name is the only name of an Angkorian era architect that survived and is known to us today. In Khmer language, Sras Srang translates into “royal bathing pool” which, given the size of Sras Srang was quite the pool. Being 350 meters wide and 700 meters long, it takes 30 minutes of brisk walk to just go around it.

It is quite possible that the original access route to Sras Srang was via Prasat Bat Chum, which would explain its inscription which requests the elephant owner to prevent their animals from trampling the dikes and polluting the water. Later date construction of Banteay Kdei has moved the access point to the lake’s west bank.

Photo: Sras Srang Before Dawn
Photo: Sras Srang Before Dawn

There is a small, artificial island right in the middle of Sras Srang. It is believed that it once housed a small temple, but that has since been washed away. The western side of Sras Srang, the one immediately accessible from the road one which you will ride to access the lake contains a decorated, laterite landing stage for boats. This was added during the reign of king Jayavarman VII two centuries later. King Jayavarman VII is also believed to have ordered the sandstone facing of the dykes which also resulted in shortening of the original (larger) lake into its current size.

Photo: Sras Srang Boat Platform with Stone Lions and Naga Balustrades
Photo: Sras Srang Boat Platform with Stone Lions and Naga Balustrades

Landing stage on the western dyke is decorated with naga balustrades and guardian lions flanking both sides of the stairs. These decoration are rather damaged with parts of them missing making for a lack of impressiveness upon an initial visit to the reservoir. As a result, most visitors don’t spend more than a few minutes at the lake.

Photo: Boat Platform Steps of Sras Srang Flanked by Stone Lions
Photo: Boat Platform Steps of Sras Srang Flanked by Stone Lions

It is quite likely that Sras Srang was originally flooded all the way to the edge but nowadays the water barely reaches half way. Still, considering that many other Angkorian era barays (water reservoirs) are dry now, Sras Srang is doing pretty well.

I spent much of my time in Cambodia involved with the village on the south bank of the lake and found the abuse of it alarming. Villagers have been using Sras Srang the same way other bodies of water in Cambodia are used – as a general dump site into which they piss and shit. It is also where people bathe using non bio-degradable soaps and wash their clothes in using non bio-degradable washing powders. Thanks to its great size, Sras Srang still looks like a large lake, rather than a large septic tank, but how long before the scales are tipped?

Photo: Villagers Bathing in Sras Srang at Dusk
Photo: Villagers Bathing in Sras Srang at Dusk

Environment doesn’t seem to be on the radar of anyone in Cambodia. It’s usually only through funding provided by some foreign organizations if any part of the natural treasures gets non destructive treatment. For months I had tried to explain the villagers that it should be their foremost interest to protect Sras Srang as it’s their lake, the lake by which they live but it all seemed to have fallen on deaf ears.

Photo: Sras Srang View from the Village - Not Many Tourists Get to See it From This Perspective
Photo: Sras Srang View from the Village - Not Many Tourists Get to See it From This Perspective

I was told that their predecessors used to bath and wash their clothes in the lake for centuries yet the lake is still there, so why should they start getting concerned about it and change their behaviour now. What they don’t realize, though is that their predecessors probably used some organic compounds (coconut extract or who knows what?) as washing fluid, not any of those cheap, chemically produced non bio-degradable powders the villagers use today. No matter how hard I tried, it has not stopped anyone from abusing their own lake or taking any kind of measure to prevent an unavoidable bad ending to it.

Photo: View of Sras Srang from the West Bank with Sky Reflection on the Surface
Photo: View of Sras Srang from the West Bank with Sky Reflection on the Surface

Sras Srang is still there today and it’s still flooded. Thanks to its size, the lake offers quite a buffer zone so it may be able to take a lot more abuse before it’s irreversible destruction is complete. It’s just sad that none of the villagers showed any form of interest in protecting their own front yard. Perhaps when the lake quits on them they will realize what they had done but by that time it will already be too late.

Coconuts at Angkor Wat and Value of Repeat Business

Man, this heat really wears you out. I was enthusiastic and ecstatic to see Angkor Wat at last, but I was quickly running out of juice. My clothes were drench with sweat and the supply of water I took with me was exhausted, yet thirst remained unquenched. I knew I was fit enough to pull entire Angkor adventure off on a bicycle, but the heat made it far more challenging than I was ready for. Here I was after just one temple out of hundreds and already parched out of myself. I needed an escape from the heat and something to both rehydrate my moisture stripped body and boost my energy. I desperately needed a coconut so I can replace lost minerals with its isotonic, re-energizing water.

Photo: Line of Trees Along the North Pond of Angkor Wat Hides the Line of Stalls Selling Junk and Refreshment
Photo: Line of Trees Along the North Pond of Angkor Wat Hides the Line of Stalls Selling Junk and Refreshment

Line of trees along the northern exterior wall of Angkor Wat hides a line of shops full of desperate touts who make a point of earning money on every foreigner who comes to sight. Entering their reign meant giving myself in to their relentless harassment, but I had to. I needed a shade of the trees and needed a stall with cold coconuts so I can cool myself from within and refresh my stagnating vigor.

As I walked down the stairs from the Terrace of Honors, I already had a few dozen kids running towards me with postcards, scarves, bootleg books, and other useless junk they were determined to beat me into buying no matter what. Already armed with strong ability to resist their arguments as to why I can’t afford to not buy from them, I adamantly insisted that I didn’t need anything of what they had to offer. They instantly continued to offer anything and everything I have not yet said “No” to, yet I knew that if I tell any of them that I wanted a coconut, they would take me to any stall where I would have to pay higher than normal price to also cover for their commission.

I continued walking along the stalls keeping a keen eye on what which shop had to offer and when I saw the first one with coconuts, I asked how much they were. She said 3,000 Riel which instantly meant loss of potential business. I could appreciate that they were trying to rip each new tourist off as much as they could, but I wasn’t ready and willing to play their game. I saw there were many stalls selling coconuts so I was just gonna walk along and would refuse to buy from anyone trying to rip me off. Some went as far as to ask $1 for a coconut which only affirmed my position of not giving them my business. First shop to quote me a fair price for coconut (2,000 Riel or $.50 US) would get my business, which would involve at least two coconuts and a large bottle of water.

Cambodians focus too much on attempts to make quick and easy buck the first time a customer is there. Such things as building continuous relationship with a customer and striving for repeat business are unknown to them. They just try to rip you off as much as they can, even though they know sooner or later you are going to find out that they ripped you off and you will never buy from them again. This is a bad business practise and results in lower earnings overtime. Understanding the importance of repeat, loyal customers could make a difference between how long the merchant stays in business. Cambodians fail to recognize this important aspect of business and work strongly against it.

Being a man, I was happy to have been quoted a fair price for a coconut by a stall with a couple of very pretty Cambodian girls. Dripping with sweat, obviously visibly exhausted from heat and mentally drained after endless attempts to rip me off while dozens of touts didn’t give me a second of peace, I took a seat on an offered chair and asked for a coconut from the fridge (fridge at Angkor Wat where at the time of my visit was no electricity was a plastic box with large cubes of ice which keep the content, such as bottled water, soft drinks or coconuts cool).

Photo: My New Friends From the Stall at Angkor Wat Where I Was Buying Coconuts
Photo: My New Friends From the Stall at Angkor Wat Where I Was Buying Coconuts

My first coconut went down like I haven’t had anything to drink in weeks. I instantly asked for another one and a large bottle of water. I also needed a break from the sun and since there were no air-conditioned rooms to have, sitting in the shade of large trees was the best it got. Cooling off inside Angkor Wat is no solution to being hot. It shelters you from the sun, but ancient stones radiate as much heat as the sun so stepping inside for a minute to relax will drench you with sweat as much as sitting outside in direct sun.

Trees provided the shelter from the sun but also some exposure to cooling breeze. There is very little of it in Cambodia, but at least I was standing a chance, unlike it is inside the temples.

Photo: Angkor Wat Resident Monkeys Kept Me Company by Eating Coconut Leftovers
Photo: Angkor Wat Resident Monkeys Kept Me Company by Eating Coconut Leftovers

As I was sitting there drinking my coconuts and water, I had the kid touts continue approaching me. Having a foreigner seated at a coconut is a good opportunity to offer junk as he’s not gonna run away. That’s their thinking. However, as much as I was getting fed with all this abuse, while I was sitting there catching my breath, I got a different perspective on the hardship people from surrounding villages go through on day to day basis.

I spoke with the girls from the stall where I bought the coconuts and many things took a whole new image. I already bought from them so they had no more reason to harass me, except from occasional attempts with upsales, but as I was sitting there, hustling turned into friendly chat. I really needed a good break so I spent about an hour at their shop recharging. I explained them the importance of building quality relationships with customers and what value repeat business means compared to one time increased gain, and told them that if they tried to overcharge me like so many stalls before them attempted to, they would not get any business from me. I also explained that this simple act of quoting me a fair price will result in me seeking them again next time I’m in the neighbourhood and in need of a coconut.

This is what previous stalls failed to realize and it was gonna costs them many dollars in lost profits. Instead, all of the money I was going to spend at Angkor Wat would go to to my new friends who showed decent business sense and kept me comfortable and amused while I was in their care.

Photo: Girls from the Stall Introduced Me to the Cambodian Way of Eating Coconut Meat
Photo: Girls from the Stall Introduced Me to the Cambodian Way of Eating Coconut Meat

Before I left, I had yet one more coconut and bought another bottle of water from them. I drank six coconuts that day, five were from these girls. Three at this first visit and two later on when I was on my way back to Siem Reap. And it didn’t end there. Each day thereafter, during my seven days long adventure exploring Angkor Archaeological Park I started and finished my day by going to Angkor Wat to have a coconut and buy a bottle of water from these girls. This is what loyal customer base does to you. You never know how long who is going to stay in your neighbourhood. Don’t try to rip them off as much as you can with their first purchase thinking you will not see them again. Value of repeat business is immense. Many Cambodiian business need to realize that and act accordingly.

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.

Siem Reap River

Siem Reap River flows through the town of Siem Reap dividing it from North to South into a West Bank and an East Bank. Most of the things to do in Siem Reap are on the Western side of the river, however East is the backpackers area with budget guesthouses and inexpensive, yet good restaurants. From a standpoint of a backpacker, East side also has laundry services that are priced at $1 per kilo whereas most laundry spots on the West would ask for $2 per kilo or at best $1.50 making it an extremely expensive venture.

Eastern Bank of the Siem Reap River at Wat Bo Area
Eastern Bank of the Siem Reap River at Wat Bo Area

Two Dragons Guesthouse where I was staying during my first week in Siem Reap was within the budget area of the East of Siem Reap River even though I would not particularly think of it as budget accommodation.

I was in Siem Reap during rainy season by the Siem Reap River seemed slow flowing giving an impression of almost standing still. Waters of the river are murky and it’s very common to see a floating plastic bottle or any other piece of garbage to float on the surface. Cambodians are not clean. Throwing garbage in the river is a common practise, as is pissing and shitting into it. Many people fish on the banks of Siem Reap River and they all complain that there are fewer and fewer fish. Well duh! What did you expect if you merrily pollute your own river like there is no tomorrow and nobody regulates fishing. Overfishing will not give the fish a chance to populate the waters and those who don-t get caught have hard enough time surviving in the water atrociously polluted by both human waste and chemicals.

Water in the Siem Reap River is Dirty. Human and Chemical Waste Pollute the Water Dubbed by Garbage that's Not Bio Degradeable
Water in the Siem Reap River is Dirty. Human and Chemical Waste Pollute the Water Dubbed by Garbage that's Not Bio Degradeable

There are huge trees lining the Siem Reap River on both sides which is a good thing. Occasional benches allow for heat weary passer-by to take a breather and hide from the sun in the shade of the trees. There are ongoing efforts to decorate the area around the Siem Reap River and make it more eye popping which I highly approve of, however there should also be far stricter efforts to protect the river itself from its biggest enemy – people of Cambodia.

Photo of Large Tree On a Side of the Siem Reap River
Photo of Large Tree On a Side of the Siem Reap River

Decorations that already exist along the banks of the Siem Reap River are a solid reminder that nearby Angkor Archaeological Park draws a lot of money to the town by having tourists stay, dine and buy useless junk here. Here’s hoping provincial government will not ignore the signs and will do their best to preserve the environment and save the Siem Reap River before it’s too late.

Decorative Light Posts Like This One Line the Siem Reap River on Both Sides
Decorative Light Posts Like This One Line the Siem Reap River on Both Sides
Angkor Diamond Hotel is Located on the Eastern Side of the Siem Reap River
Angkor Diamond Hotel is Located on the Eastern Side of the Siem Reap River