On your left!  On your right!  Above you!  Between the legs!  They are everywhere in Thailand – tourists.  The phrase “crowd control” is clearly not in the Thai vocabulary. When I visited the Royal Palace in Bangkok, the pictures I took should have looked like this:

bangkok royal palace

Pretty, no?

But instead they looked like this:


Not pretty!

It was a beautiful palace, but with 1,000 people wandering the site at any given moment in the day, the Disney Land atmosphere made me light-headed and nauseous.

Thankfully, many of my experiences so far in Thailand have been “tourist reduced,” so hopefully the following can help other travelers in similar situations.

Go to local events.  Yes, there were a few tourists at the Muy Thai fights I attended, but 97% of the audience was Thai, and the roar of the gambling frenzied crowd reminded me of that every 30 seconds.

thai fighter

Focus my young Jedi.

Eat local food.  Once again, there were a few tourists at the floating market I ventured out to, but it was only one small tour bus group, so not a big deal.  And the Thai mango salad was kick-ass.

floating market

Mmmm, food.

Walk with the locals.  Most tourists in Thailand are, well, let’s be honest, lazy.  Taxis, tuk-tuks, the skytrain, etc. are the norm.  If you are traveling a long distance, then I understand the need for some form of transportation other than your own two feet (especially if you have your backpack with you).  But barring this situation, please walk around the city.  There are so many nitty-gritty details you will see that a taxi ride
will never reveal.

bangkok traffic

Is this New York City or Bangkok?

Do local errands.  Thailand is the epicenter of medical tourism in Southeast, if not all of, Asia.  So when I took advantage of this dirt cheap anomaly one day (i.e., dental check-up and cleaning, routine blood work, etc.), the number of tourists I saw were less than the digits on my hand.

Forgo normal sleeping options.  The national park I went to was crowded, but only during the normal operating hours.  So by pitching a tent in the park for two nights, I had beautiful waterfalls virtually to myself when the day-trippers dispersed.

erawan national park waterfall

My very own pool!

There are plenty of other ways to ditch the herds of sightseers, but I just wanted to share a few personal examples.

As for all of the non-travelers out there, take this post as a lesson in thinking outside the box.  Or a lesson in not being afraid to do something a little offbeat.  I understand there will always be a way that most people are performing an activity, but there is no reason for you to follow in line like the rest of the sheep.  A man who ventures towards the unconventional returns a man wiser of the conventional.

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I was fortunate enough to have the humble honor to volunteer at a local school in Siem Reap, Cambodia the other day.  This school needs help, so please do whatever you can to assist.  Thank you.

For more information, you can contact:

jimmysvillageschool@gmail.com or Jimmys Village School on Facebook

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Visiting the genocide museum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia was hard hitting, but for more reasons than meets the eye.


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Many countries dispose of their toilet paper in the toilet, while others place it in a trash can.  Others do not use toilet paper (i.e., a water hose is used), while others do a combination of the aforementioned.  And to make sure people exercise the correct local protocol, owners of restroom facilities often post a brief sign as a polite reminder.  But the sign I saw today in my hostel bathroom most definitely wins first prize!


justin bieber

Music to my ears!

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Recently, I had the fortune of visiting both Hang En Cave and Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, but with drastically disparate experiences.

My Hang En group consisted of ten amicable people and we were the only ones allowed to enter, and sleep, in the cave that day and night.  Not a trace of garbage was in the cave and it was almost as if we were the first people to discover the subterranean paradise.  The tour company staff were very pleasant and genuine people, while the expedition equipment provided was more than adequate.  And the food … was excellent!  In short, a memorable experience.

In Ha Long Bay, while my boat had sixteen people, we saw approximately twenty other boats during the day and at night three of them were parked next to ours (including a party boat).  The limestone islands and sunset/sunrise were impressive, and the kayaking was as serene as it gets, but the polluted green water was a massive turnoff.  The boat staff were stingy with the subpar food and flat out rude at times.  Maintenance problems plagued many of the rooms and bathrooms.  In short, not the most memorable of experiences.

Generally, there are two ways to handle a tourism experience.  One way is to charge a low entrance fee and profit from the masses.  Alternatively, employ a high cost and target wealthier clients.  Both strategies can be successful, but only one guarantees the preservation of the area in question, along with a more noteworthy memory.  The more a person pays for a product/service, the more serious he/she takes the purchase since the price hits the wallet (and psyche) harder.

So the next time you decide to explore a beautiful park, or ancient structure, do some research on the above avenues.  Saving money is good, but not at the expense of an irreplaceable piece of history, Mother Earth or your own personal experience.

phong nha

Tourism done right.

ha long bay

Disney Land?

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