Monthly Archives: January 2011

Visiting a Thai Hospital

Posted by on January 30, 2011

CAT Scan machine used during my check-up

CAT Scan machine used during my check-up

Last summer my father passed away.

I only mention this because his illness forced me to spend far more time in hospitals than I ever hoped to spend. He spent almost three months in ICU unites, regular hospital rooms and nursing homes. He received kidney dialysis, CAT scans, X-rays, and almost every procedure you can think of. I saw first hand what the American medical system could do and I also I also had a front row seat to its downside.

When I mention to most people the idea of seeking medical treatment in another country, especially Thailand, it invokes a knee-jerk reaction. They couldn’t conceive of going to a hospital in Thailand. They assume the facilities are unsafe, unclean, and lacking in modern equipment.

This reaction is based mostly on ignorance.

Late last year I had the chance to visit the Bangkok Hospital in Ko Samui, Thailand. It was an eye opening experience.

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A Traveler’s View of Events in Egypt

Posted by on January 29, 2011

Cairo and PyramidsAs I have mentioned many times, and will probably mention many times more, travel makes you perceive a place differently after you’ve been there. (Please read my 2009 essay on Travel and Tragedy and the corresponding quote from Adam Smith.)

Last week there were riots and political protests in Tunisia and I watched the events as a detached observer. I’ve never been to Tunisia and I don’t know any Tunisians.

Then the riots spread to Egypt and my attitude changed. (more…)

Thoughts on Acapulco

Posted by on January 26, 2011

Boats in Acapulco

Boats in Acapulco

I’ve been in an internet black hole the last several days in Mexico.

Here are a few observations from my brief stay in Acapulco, Mexico:

  • I booked a place via Hostelworld.com. It turns out it was quite a bit out of town. The taxi ride from the airport was 610 pesos, and that was the price from the official desk in the airport. Once I got there, it turned out to just be a room attached to a house, and the family had no idea I was coming. Just as a kicker, they didn’t provide anything other than breakfast, and the only dining option was an all inclusive resort which was a 20 min walk away.
  • (more…)

Traveling to Dangerous Places

Posted by on January 21, 2011

Soldiers in Preah Viher, Cambodia

This Saturday I’m flying to Acapulco, Mexico. I’ll be there a few days before sailing on the Queen Elizabeth up to Los Angeles as a guest of Cunard Cruise Lines.

Not surprisingly, almost everyone I’ve told mentioned something about crime, murders, drug gangs, or beheadings.

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Video – Yakushima, Japan

Posted by on January 18, 2011

Back in November 2007 I visited Yakushima Island in Japan. It is one of the one of the most magical places I’ve visited during my travels. I created an audio slideshow of the photo I took on the island. Yakushima was the inspiration for the animated film Princess Mononoke.

I’ve recently been working on some audio slideshows again and finally got around to converting it to a video and uploading it to YouTube. I’ve decided to repost it for your enjoyment.

Question and Answers: January Edition

Posted by on January 17, 2011

I've been to Fiji several times now, and would gladly go back again

I've been to Fiji several times now, and would gladly go back again

Melanie Bishop Fine asks: How do you decide which place to visit next? Do you prefer to visit new destinations or return to ones you have visited before?

There are a small number of places in the world that I really want to visit. I’d could probably count them on my hands. These are high priority places that I absolutely want to visit. Antarctica is a good example.

There are a whole bunch of places that I’d be happy to visit and I have no problems going if invited. The vast majority of the world fall into this category.

There are a few places I have no desire to visit. There aren’t many of those and I don’t have to worry about going to the middle of Congo anytime soon.

Most of the trips I’ll be doing in 2011 fall into the middle category. Where I end up going will often depend on who invites me. It keeps my costs low and it adds a sort of random/surprise element to my travel planning.

However, I have an eye on those places in the first group. I will try to get to one or two of those places every year. I think in 2011 I may go to Antarctica or the Galapagos Islands. I really want to start doing more adventure travel. Something above and beyond visiting cities and historical places.

I would usually prefer to visit someplace new, but there are always new things to see and do in a place you’ve been before. I’ve been to Fiji, Thailand and Singapore multiple times and each experience is different.
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Sunday Traveler – Chris Guillebeau

Posted by on January 16, 2011

This week’s traveler is Chris Guillebeau. There are very few people I know of who have been to more countries than me, but Chis is one of them. He has created as his mission to visit all 192 member states of the UN by the age of 35. So far, he’s been to about 150. Much of his travel is done through extensive use of frequent flyer miles and around the world tickets, an area in which he has become an expert. (Believe it or not, since I began traveling in 2007 I have never purchased an around the world ticket or cashed in any frequent flyer miles)

Chris is also a published author and his book The Art of Non-Conformity was released last fall. I recieved a review copy of the book which I ended up carrying with me to five countries (South Africa, Canada, Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao). In addition to discussing travel and how to make the most of frequent flyer miles, he also discusses entrepreneurship and making the most out of your life. The book itself is a pretty easy read. I managed to finish it in a little over an hour while flying to South Africa.
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Being Productive and Working While Traveling

Posted by on January 15, 2011

Me on the computer at a desk which is not my ownLast night at about 3:30am I achieved Lightroom Zero, or in other words, I finally finished all my photo editing.

If you’ve noticed, I haven’t written much in the last month. This is because I don’t like writing unless I have corresponding images to go with a story. That means my article writing is on hold until I can get my photos edited. The problem with editing photos is that when I go out to shoot, by the time I come back it is usually late, I’m tired, hungry and I put off editing the photos for later. By the time ‘later’ comes around, I’ve taken more photos and am probably in a new city. Fast forward through enough travel and I have thousands of images I have to plod through, which is exactly where I found myself. Once the pile gets big enough, it is so daunting that you come up with reason to put off doing it and that just makes matters worse.

I’ve come to realize the hard way that I need to change how I’m doing things. Traveling is one thing. Constantly moving and trying to run small business is quite another. Most of the productivity tips I read really don’t apply to my special set of circumstances. I don’t have a regular daily routine, I’m seldom in the same place for more than a week, and I’m often changing time zones. (more…)

Historic Area of Willemstad, Inner City and Harbour

Posted by on January 14, 2011

UNESCO World Heritage Site #126: Historic Area of Willemstad, Inner City and Harbour

Historic Area of Willemstad, Inner City and Harbour: My 126th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for the Historic Area of Willemstad, Inner City and Harbour:

The Historic Area of Willemstad is an example of a colonial trading and administrative settlement. It was established by the Dutch on the island of Curaçao, situated in the southern Caribbean, near the tip of South America. Starting with the construction of Fort Amsterdam in 1634 on the eastern bank of Sint Anna Bay, the town developed continuously over the following centuries.

The modern town, the capital of the island nation of Curaçao, consists of several distinct historic districts, reflecting different eras of colonial town planning and development. Punda, the oldest part of the city, was built in the 17th century on the eastern side of Sint Anna Bay, adjacent to Fort Amsterdam and is the only part of the city that had a defense system consisting of walls and ramparts. The other three historic urban districts (Pietermaai, Otrobanda and Scharloo) date from the 18th century. Water Fort and Rif Fort, also included in the inscribed property, were built in the late 1820s as part of a more extensive series of fortifications. In the midst of the historic area is a natural deep-water harbor. The entire property encompasses 86 ha and is surrounded by an 87 ha buffer zone.

The architecture of Willemstad has been influenced not only by Dutch colonial concepts but also by the tropical climate and architectural styles from towns throughout the Caribbean region, with which the settlement engaged in trade. Early residences constructed in Punda followed Dutch urban design. In the 18th century, local materials and craftsmanship as well as new architectural elements, such as galleries, began to appear. As the city expanded beyond Punda, the architectural style of the residences evolved. For example, the development of Otrobanda was not restricted by ramparts and houses were built on spacious lots and resembled plantation houses surrounded by galleries. Moreover, the social and cultural differences from Afro-American, Iberian, and Caribbean inhabitants have contributed to enriching the building traditions as well as the city’s cultural life. The result is a European architectural style with regional adaptations in a rich array of Caribbean colors. The colorful buildings of Willemstad are a local tradition dating from 1817 when the previous style of white lime finish on a building exterior was prohibited, apparently to protect eyesight from the glare. Predominant colors are red, blue, yellow ochre and various shades of green.

Curacao is unique among the former Dutch colonies in the Caribbean. It has a very European flavor compared to nearby islands such as Aruba and Bonaire. Even today you will see more European tourists on Curacao and you will be more likely to find Dutch actively spoken than on the nearby islands.


View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in The Netherlands.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Mar 12, 2017 @ 2:56 pm