The people of Thailand make you feel fat!

If you have never been to Thailand, well for one, you are missing out. Secondly you may not notice that the average Thailand resident is tiny. To put it into perspective the average American comes in at 87kg (average height – 176cm), while the average Thai comes in at 62 kg (average height – 167cm) – Source 1, Source 2, Source 3

When I first came here I felt quite big. Now compared to a lot of the rest of the world I am quite average. I stand 184 centimeters and weigh around 91 kilos. Here, I feel really big. When I’m walking down the street I tower over people. While a lot of the locals may look at me because of the color of my skin, they probably take a second look because I’m the tallest bloke they have probably seen in a week.

 

Thai Children

 

And the Thailand girls are even smaller! There are several reasons for this. No they are not all using diet drugs! Here are some of the reasons proposed by the experts…

 

Genetics

Some countries have grown, while others haven’t. In the last 200 years Swedish people have increased in height by over 10 centimeters. In the same time Asian countries haven’t changed greatly. There is no proven reason why this is, but the world is an unusual place.

 

Food Intake

While Thailand has increased it’s junk food quota several fold in the last 10 years the diet is still traditionally healthy. Most families (particularly in the rural areas) have small rice based dishes for most of their meals. The calories in these is only a small percentage of what a typical American might have in a sit down meal.

 

Thais

 

Wealth

Honestly, there are a lot of poor people here. Over 30% of the population earns less than $1 per day. With limited income they are limited in what they can eat and the quantity of it. When you aren’t eating much (particularly when you are young), your body will respond by not growing as quick.

So if you come to Thailand, expect to be amongst the biggest here. It does make shopping more difficult (particularly for woman), but there are ways around the shopping problem here.

 

 

 

Getting sick in a 3rd world country isn’t that bad

One of the biggest concerns I had coming here was what happens when something goes wrong. When you are in a first world country you take for granted a few things in life. One of those is that if you get yourself in trouble you have government services that will back you up. Never is this more applicable than for sickness and injury. Yes, it may cost you money, but you know you have a nice clean and safe hospital around the corner. Not so much in a 3rd world country. Yes, they do have hospitals, doctors and pharmacists here, but it’s not the same. I read a lot of horror stories. Here’s one from around the web (Horror story 1). Do a Google search and you will find many many more.

My concerns didn’t obviously stop me from coming, but always played at the back of my mind. So, I thought I would tell you about a couple of my experiences when I needed medical attention. I’ve been pretty lucky and not had an emergency (which is good because the closest real hospital is 2 hours away!)

 

sling

 

Wrist Sprain

While doing some work in the garden I fell over and hurt my wrist. A neighbor drove me down the bumpy road to the local doctor who fixed me up and prescribed some great pain killers to get me through. He was friendly and did a great job. I wasn’t waiting too long and he seemed to know what he was doing (even spoke some English). He also asked me to come back for free one week after I saw him to make sure it was healing okay. I will comment here that the doctors office wasn’t exactly 1st world. It’s hard to explain, but it felt a little dirty. I’m glad it was only a sprain and I wasn’t in need of any treatment of a cut.

 

medicine

 

Just your standard stuff

The good news is that the pharmacists around Thailand are fairly well stocked. Not 1st world stocked, but enough to get you by. I’ve had your standard cold and flu medicine and pills to help with diarrhea. This stuff is straight off the shelf. Fantastic.

I’ve also had a hemorrhoid problem that I fixed up with Venapro. Worked fantastic and never had to go more than 1km from my house.

Yes, there is plenty available and you don’t have to rely on mailing in and out of the country (plus the potential issues getting mail here in the first place). While sending in food isn’t too bad, medicines is another matter. The last thing you want to do is be arrested over trying to import illegal drugs.

 

Overall it is still a bit of a worry, but you can’t spend your whole life worrying about everything otherwise all you will do in life is sit at home and not actually live.

My visit to Singapore Zoo

I’ve always liked wildlife. It’s one of the reasons I moved to Asia. The wildlife is amazing here and abundant through many different settings. During my time I have explored some wonderful places (my favorite being the jungles through Malaysia). It’s not a big surprise then that a Continent with such amazing wildlife also has one of the world greatest zoos. Welcome to Singapore Zoo.

Singapore Zoo can be found about a one hour public transport ride from the city. This is by far the cheapest way to get there. You can pay for tour or a taxi, but it will cost you. Here’s some public transport information for you…

Catch the MRT public transport system on the North-South (Red) line to the bus line and jump on one of the below buses.

 

Nearest MRT stations Connecting buses
Choa Chu Kang (NS4) 927
Ang Mo Kio (NS16) 138
Marsiling (NS8) 926 (operates on Sundays and Public Holidays only)
Woodlands (NS9) 926 (operates on Sundays and Public Holidays only)

 

Once you are there, get ready for some exercise. This place is massive. It’s the biggest zoo I’ve ever been to (along with San Diego) and it has every imaginable animal you can think of (including a lot that you can’t think of!). It’s also very popular. In fact it ranks at number 5 in the world according to TripAdvisor.

The zoo is over 40 years old and improving year to year. The zoo is going to undergo an expansion in the coming years, so it’s going to get even bigger (which is hard to believe).

There’s not much more to say, so I thought I would share some of my favorite photos from my visit. I’ve been to Singapore on 3 occasions and visited the zoo every time. It really is one of those must see activities when you are in one of Asia’s most impressive cities.

 

White Tiger

White tiger going for his daily swim.

 

DSC_0024

Look at those colors. Love them.

 

Lion

You can’t see in this view, but she is pregnant. Think I will stand clear, she might be a protective mommy

 

Monkey

Yum yum – Got to have your greens to be a healthy monkey

 

DSC_0123

I’m looking at you kid

 

DSC_0150

Deep in thought. A wonder what he is thinking. Probably something about how strange those humans are that are watching him.

 

My Trip to Japan

About 6 months ago I finally got to visit Japan. While I’ve been here (Asia) for a while I have never ventured to the famous little island to the East. Unfortunately due to the lack of funds I could only stay for 3 weeks, but it was well worth it. Japan is an amazing country. It is completely different to any other part of the world I have even been to. And I mean that in a good, yet strange, way.

Here’s some highlights of my time there…

 

Japan

 

Temples

Japan has some of the best looking temples in the world. They keep them renovated to look brand new. Even though they are look fantastic they still have that traditional feel. Most of them are still in operation and you can only visit in hours outside of their services. Kyoto has the best ones. I also recommend going to some of the smaller ones. You can often find that you have those ones all to yourself.

 

Tokyo

Tokyo isn’t just big, it’s HUGE! It’s like 20 cities in one and you could spend a day exploring each one. Just jump on a train/subway and go exploring. It’s tiring on the legs, but well worth it. There are so many markets, temples and buildings to see.

 

kids

 

Traditional Dress

I love it when Japanese girls dress up in a kimono. It’s probably my favorite traditional dress. Children look cute and ladies look stunning. I imagine it takes forever to get dressed up like that. It’s always amusing to see someone so dressed up on a subway!

 

Japanese

Before going I tried to learn their language using the Rosetta Stone Japanese Box Set. I had mixed success. I’m not too bad at picking up languages and I think I did okay, but I would need longer there to really get into the swing of it.

I do like their language and when it’s sprawled across advertising. When you see it, you KNOW you are in Japan.

 

Flower

 

Kyoto

This was my favorite part of Tokyo. It had the perfect balance between busy Japan and laid back Japan. It has more temples than you can poke a stick at and the town is really easy to get around. I can’t recommend visiting this place enough. I’d even pick this place over Tokyo.

 

Friendliness

Japanese people just seem to be the friendliest people I’ve ever met. They seem to want to be nice to you and if you try your best with your Japanese, they will go out of their way to help you out. I’m not the only one who thinks so.

 

Game

 

Weirdness

Japan is weird, but in such a good way. Everything is over the top and is mind blowing. People get dressed up and look like, well, anything they dam well want. Around every corner you will find something different to look at that you would never have seen before. One of my favorites was the weird slot machine game they have there called Pachinko. I had no idea what I was doing, but it was fun!

 

Food

I love Japanese food. It’s also pretty cheap too, which is great considering the country on a whole is pretty expensive.

 

Sources – en.rocketnews24.com/2012/12/21/the-nicest-city-to-visit-in-the-world-according-to-tourists-is/

rosettastonejapanesereview.com

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pachinko

Phi Phi Island – Yes everyone goes there.

Phi Phi Island is one of the most popular places in Thailand. While I enjoy the more off the road places, I can easily see why this place is so popular. It has some of the most scenic places you will ever see in the world. Yes, it is a tourist trap, and if you go there you will be surrounded by a million other tourists just like you, but make no mistake it is still definitely worth it. I suggest everyone that comes to Thailand make the effort to go there.

 

Phi Phi Island

 Above map is from google

Phi Phi Island can be found just off the coast of Phuket Island on the west coast of Thailand. There are several ways to get there, but the most popular is on a day tour from the main land. I suggest actually spending a few nights here, to get to know it a bit better. The main advantage of staying over night is that if you get up nice and early you will be able to go to some of those beautiful beaches by yourself before all the tour groups get there. While the beaches are still great during the day, they are infinitely better when there are only a few people around and you aren’t fighting for a place on the beach to put your towel.

 

Phi Phi Island - Whole Island

 

Some people that have stayed over night have told me that they don’t like it because the only food they can find is over priced touristy food. I tell them that they mustn’t be looking hard enough! I have stayed 5 nights all up on Phi Phi Island and have never had a problem finding any food for myself that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. The best way is to ask a local (as in most places in the world). Find out where they shop. They bring fruit and vegetables in on boats every morning, perfect for any Paleo Recipe Book if you like a healthy diet, and if you get there early enough you will be able to get the freshest food.

People also complain about that the island doesn’t seem to have comfortable beds. You definitely get what you pay for here. If you don’t want some dodgy sunken bed that has more dead skin cells than cemetery, then pay the extra $10 a night for an upgrade.

Phi Phi Island - Beach

 

While on Phi Phi Island you need to go to several of the remote beaches. The water is crystal clear and beaches are a stunning white. And then there is the backdrop of jagged mountains. It’s just stunning. It’s honestly some of God’s best work. I found the best beaches to be Secret Beach, Ao Poh, Maya Bay and of course Maya Bay (which is probably the most famous, and hence the most crowded).

Monkey Beach is very cool, but just be careful. Those monkeys are wild and I have seen on more than one occasion someone being bitten or scratched. I remember one child who ran up to a monkey making monkey sounds. The parents were then surprised that the monkey attacked him and tried to blame the tour operators. This is after the tour director gave numerous warnings before we got there, and actually said children should stay on the boat. And they wonder why people complain about tourists!

Monkey attacks aside this is a must do for anyone that is visiting Phuket. It is just a slice of heaven.

 

Sources – google.com

topratedmattress.net

www.lonelyplanet.com

en.wikipedia.org

Difficulties in Shopping for Food in Thailand for a Westerner

Every country has it’s differences. If they didn’t they would get pretty boring. You don’t want to travel somewhere only to find exactly the same thing there as you would have back home. In whatever country you find yourself in you are going to be overwhelmed with difference. As much as anything this applies to food. Every country has it’s delicacies and Thailand is no different. But not only is there different food on the table, you just can’t find some of that food you can get back home.

Now I’m use to it, but it hasn’t always been that way. I had to give up foods I love and I have also learned some little secrets on how to find some of my favorites. The fact is there are going to be difficulties in shopping for food in Thailand for a Westerner.

Having said that here are some of my tips to get over that difficulties in shopping for food in Thailand for a Westerner.

 

Difficulties in Shopping for Food in Thailand for a Westerner - Thai food

 

Delve into the local cuisine

Well this is obviously the easiest way to handle it. It’s also the cheapest and least frustrating. I never use to like Gai Med Ma Moung (Chicken Cashew Nuts) before I came here. Now it is in my top 5 meals. Give the local Thai food a try. You will be surprised. The food is fantastic.  It’s also very simple, so it shouldn’t cause you too many problems with your digestive system.

Also eat the local fruit. Thailand has some great food grown locally and you don’t have all that pesticides that you have around the world. Try the pineapple, banana, the healthy macqui berry, custard apple, dragon fruit or even the local favorite durian (yes it is meant to smell like that).

 

Care packages

If you are staying for a while, then get some foods sent over to you. There are some laws and regulations you are meant to follow, but I’ve never had a problem getting food in. Now when I say food, I’m not talking perishable items. Keep to the box and can stuff. Now this is a pretty expensive option, but if you really want something, you really want it!

 

 

Difficulties in Shopping for Food in Thailand for a Westerner - Energy Drinks

 

Substitution

When I came here I was hooked on Energy Drinks.  But they didn’t have my favorite one here (Monster), so I tried the local ones. There are a dozen different types. I had a Monster about a year after I got here and now find that I like the local ones even more.  Amazing. There are plenty of like for like products here.  It is a bit of trial and error, but it’s usually a cheap way of finding something you like.

 

There are Bigger Supermarkets

It may take some traveling, but there are plenty of bigger supermarkets that offer western food. You will pay for it though.  Big C is probably my favorite and has most of the western food and products I need. Make sure you stock up though as it is common for some products to be off the shelf for months. You don’t want to miss it!

 

I hope this post helped your difficulties in shopping for food in Thailand for a westerner. The good news (or maybe it’s bad news) is that that Thailand seems to become more western everyday, so it is getting easier and easier to find these products. I, personally, hope it doesn’t take over the country, as I love the uniqueness of the food here in Thailand and hope that it stays that way. If you stay here a while, you will feel the same way.

 

Information sources – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cashew_chicken

http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/e/energy_drinks/index.html

 

Stunning Beaches of Thailand – Part 1 – The Gulf

Thailand is famous for it’s beaches and it’s easy to see why. There are countless beaches with pristine white sand and beautiful blue water that surround this beautiful country.  Add to that the warm weather in Thailand and you have a perfect recipe for going to the beach.

I thought I would hand select my favorite beaches from the Gulf of Thailand.  It wasn’t an easy task, with so many to choose from.

 

Click here

Above photo is an edited photo from google maps.

 

Noi Na Beach – Koh Samet

Located on the north side of the island you will find one of my favorites.  It has far less traffic than the busy Hat Sai-Kaew (which is also a great beach), which makes you feel far more relaxed. This secluded beach is a paradise for any couple.  Just sit back under a palm tree and soak in the atmosphere. You will definitely feel relaxed here. From this beach you can see all the way back to the mainland.

 

Tapao Beach – Koh Kood

Koh Kood is one of the least developed islands of Thailand, so is great for just getting away from it all.  My favorite beach here is Tapao Beach (also known as Haad Tapaw and Aw Taphoa).  This one kilometer long beach is usually fairly quiet.  You will get to enjoy the powder white sand and blue waters to yourself. It is best to visit at low tide.

 

Koh Samui

 

Lamui Beach – Koh Samui

This beach is well protected from the weather and great for relaxing.  there tends to be a few people on the beach with you, but there is more than enough room to sit back and relax.  I was here for 3 weeks once.  It was amazing.  I was still happy even after finding a bottle of workout supplement Betancourt Nutrition Bullnox Androrush washed up on shore on day.  Unfortunately there was no treasure inside!  Also there are plenty of shops, food and entertainment in the area to keep you busy.

 

Mae Rumpheung – Rayong

You can find yourself alone on this beautiful beach.  This area of Thailand is often empty of tourists. I suggest you take the time to hang around for sunset.  You won’t be disappointed.

 

Koh Phangan

 

Thong Noi Pan Beach – Koh Phangan

The best way to get to this beach is by boat.  It allows you to enjoy the stunning coastline of Koh Phangan on your voyage there.  There are a handful of beaches on the east coast of the island that could have made this list, but Thong Noi Pan is my favorite.  It has great swimming and beautiful white sand beaches in a stunning jungle setting.

 

Jansom Bay – Koh Tao

This list wouldn’t be complete without including a beach from the stunning Koh Tao.  Known for it’s unbelievable diving it also hosts some of the best beaches not just in Thailand, but all of Asia. Jansom Bay is my pick of the bunch.  There is a small fee for entering the beach (as you need to enter via Charm Churee Villa Resort), but it is well worth it. Because it is associated with the hotel the beach is kept spotless.  Don’t forget your snorkel as there are plenty of fish to see (people have even spotted sting rays here).

 

There are plenty more beaches in the Gulf of Thailand that could have made this list, but I had to draw the line somewhere.  I hope that you can use this list in your future travels, but you can’t go wrong with most of the islands and beaches here.  That’s why Thailand is such a great holiday destination, particularly for those that love beaches.

 

Sources – https://www.google.ca/maps/

http://bullnoxandrorushreview.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ko_Tao

 

 

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