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Pirate Dinner Cruise Pattaya Every Friday

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Pirate Dinner Cruise Pattaya Admirallica is the largest and most comfortable cruise vessel in Pattaya! The first and only real pirate ship in Thailand!

Location: Pattaya Bali Hai Pier

Available: Every Friday.

18.00 Check-in at Bali Hai Pier.

18.30 Enjoy your welcome drink and a snack.

19.00 Time for your Dinner under the candle light with Live Music.

Delicious Thai food & International Buffet.

Enjoy the scenery of the night life along Pattaya Bay.

20.00 Original Pirate show by Admirallica.

20.30 Lottery.Winner will get a special gift from Admirallica

21.00 Arriving to Bali Hai Pier

Includes : welcome drink, snack, live music, buffet, pirate show, souvenir and memories for a life!

Admirallica is the largest and most comfortable cruise vessel in Pattaya!

Introducing Admirallica, this grand pirate ship is now available in Pattaya for day trip excursions. The mighty galleon offers a truly unique experience and is totally family friendly, with on board entertainers performing pirate shows and catering to all guests, whatever your needs may be.

Admirallica guarantees maximum comfort with easy access to six bathrooms equipped with showers, a large dining area with ample seating to sit down and enjoy the delicious meals prepared by our chef.

The upstairs lounge area is the perfect place on the boat to sit and enjoy drinks from the bar, with draft beer available as well as spirits. The bar is covered and shaded offering a lovely breeze and is furnished to amplify the comfortable and luxurious style that flows throughout the vessel.

The second deck is also occupied by the DJ booth and dance floor, while the upper decks are perfect for relaxing and catching some sun on the lounge beds.

The whole ship offers fantastic view points and ideal photo opportunities, with our on board photographer you can capture every moment!

The islands around Pattaya offer gorgeous clear waters to swim, and all guests can enjoy the water from the swimming platform at the rear of the ship. Should any guests wish to venture to the beach, our tender Admirallica 2, will deliver you safely to the shore.

Admirallica is the finest touristing vessel in Pattaya, safety and customer satisfaction are top priority and our staff are on hand to ensure you take full advantage of what the ship has to offer. Hope to see you aboard soon!

From:
฿150.00

To:
฿1,150.00

Pirate Dinner Cruise Pattaya Every Friday

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napa2

How to Visit Napa Valley on a Budget

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napa valley
With its verdant hills, acres of vineyards, and temperate climate, Napa Valley in California is one of the world’s premier wine-producing regions. Every year 3.3 million people flock to this region to bike, hike, swim in a veritable pool of wine, and eat rich, delicious food.

However, Napa is not easy on the wallet. Restaurants, hotels, and winery visits add up quickly. Like a money-sucking feedback loop, visitors expect to spend a lot of money, and prices reflect people’s willingness to open their wallets.

I went seeking an answer to the question I ask of all destinations: “Can you travel here on $50 a day?

I found you can, but it takes work. Even if you don’t desire to do it bare-bones, there are ways to cut your expenses and still enjoy an affordable visit to Napa Valley.

Accommodations

napa valley
If you cut your accommodation costs, you can visit Napa on a budget. The average cost for hotels in the area is around $175 per night, with some basic options starting at $99 (before taxes). Unless you’re traveling as a pair or part of a group, that’s a lot for one person to spend per night. (Heck, I think that’s a lot for a pair, too!)

The best way to save money on accommodations, especially as a solo traveler, is to use Couchsurfing, a website that connects locals with travelers who need a place to stay. It’s a wonderful form of cross-cultural exchange and a free place to stay at night! However, there aren’t a lot of hosts in Napa, so look for one in advance since, given the cost of accommodations, they get a lot of requests. I found a host two weeks before I went, and they had other people staying with them at the same time, too.

But if this doesn’t appeal to you, go with Airbnb. It’s also a cheap option. There are a lot of listings for the region, with some costing as little as $65 per night for a private room. (Note: If you sign-up for the service using the link here and the code MKEPNES, you’ll get $25 off your first stay!)

Food

napa valley
Napa is home as much to world-class food as it is to wine. That doesn’t bode well for your pocket. You can easily sit down for a meal and pay over $10 for just an appetizer!

Stick to the markets and sandwich shops if you want to survive on a budget. There is a farmers market (with a few restaurants) in downtown Napa. Gott’s Roadside has locations in both Napa and St. Helena and serves delicious burgers for under $8, while Ad Hoc runs a delicious food truck offering fried chicken made by a Michelin star chef for $15 with sides.

Beyond that, cook your own food. There are food markets galore in the region where you can buy fresh groceries.

I would definitely splurge on at least one meal, though, as the region is famous for its food, but I would limit how many meals you do this on — it will add up quickly! You can find world-class food anywhere. Why blow your budget? So splurge sparingly — save it for the wine!

Transportation

napa valley
Transportation in Napa is complicated. Unless you have a designated driver, driving is neither the best nor safest option. (Remember: Don’t drink and drive!!) To get around, you’ll need to find other means of transport.

You can rent a bike. Organized bike tours are over $100 and don’t include tasting fees at the wineries. Instead, make your own bike tour. You can rent bikes for around $45 per day. Two good rental companies are Calistoga Bikeshop and Napa Valley Bike Tours.

Second, you can hire a car service — there is no shortage of companies that will take care of driving you and your friends around. However, this is a really expensive option. Most cost $35 per hour and have a multi-hour minimum, while some of the more luxurious options cost around $115 an hour. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you are part of a larger group.

Third, you can join organized group tours that cost around $100 per day (and don’t always include free tastings). You’ll be shuttled from winery to winery on a timetable, but it can be a good way to see a lot of wineries in a single day. However, I do think these tours are overpriced and this option should be avoided!

Your cheapest option is Uber, a ridesharing service that operates around the world. You download their app to your smartphone, register your credit card, and request a nearby driver directly through the app. It’s a door-to-door car service! (Personally, I like their competitor Lyft better, but they don’t operate in the area.) There are plenty of Uber drivers in Napa, so you’ll have no problem getting a ride. A 15-minute, five-mile drive will cost around $14. If you’re traveling with a group, this will be the cheapest way to get around.

Wine

napa valley
Tastings at all the wineries in the area run $15-20. The city of Napa offers a tasting card for $30 that lets you partake at any of the tasting rooms in the city. Though you aren’t at the wineries themselves, you do get to enjoy a lot of tastings for one low price. I took advantage of it!

Moreover, if you stop by the tourism office, you can pick up a number of 2-for-1 tasting cards, which are great if you are traveling in a pair. I tried to redeem them on my own in hopes that I would either get two tastings or half off of one, and the results were hit or miss.

There’s also an app called Winery Finder that lists current promotions at wineries in the region. I highly recommend using this app, as many of the promotions listed are not advertised at the tourism office.

Additionally, most wineries will waive the tasting fee if you buy a bottle or two of their wine (shipping not included). So if you plan to stock your wine cellar, you’ll find you’ll be able to taste lots of free wine!

I really enjoyed my time in Napa. The region was beautiful, the food was incredible, and the wine… well, simply divine. However, I wouldn’t go alone again. First, it’s more expensive, since I couldn’t split costs, and in a region as expensive as Napa, that’s important.

Second, the joy of Napa is exploring the area with your friends and sharing some stories over good wine and food. You can have fun on your own, but I enjoyed myself the most when I met up with my friends and had people to share the experience with. If you’re thinking of going alone, spend a day and move on!

Napa doesn’t need to bust your budget. There aren’t many ways to save money, but there are a few and, when used together, they can significantly lower your costs and make your dream trip to Napa a more affordable reality.

P.S. – I have one spot open on my Paris/Amsterdam tour in October. If you want to come tour Europe with me, here’s the itinerary and how to sign-up.

The post How to Visit Napa Valley on a Budget appeared first on Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site.


How to Visit Napa Valley on a Budget

If you need a bangkok airport transfer
look no further bangkokairportlimo.com offers the most reliable, competitive deals (all rates are inclusive of tolls).

Travel Better, Cheaper, Longer

Bangkok Airport Hotel 3 of the most popular Bangkok Airport Hotels – great deals, all hotels within 10 minutes of the airport terminal, 24 hour reception and transfer service – instant confirmation and secure payment.

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Bring friends or family for free

Bring friends or family for free

Enjoy this full board private pool villa with your friends or family.

 

The more the merrier, so:

4 guests staying: pay 2 guest rate

6 guests staying:  pay 4 guest rate

Bangkok Airport Hotel

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Friends come free

Friends come free

Come in a group of 3 or 4 and pay only the  2 guest rate.

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losingfriends

Travel and the Art of Losing Friends

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walking away from friendshipsAfter months on the road, you find yourself back home and excited to resume old friendships. You plan dinners, get-togethers, and nights out. And, as some people fail to respond or show up, you begin realize an awful truth — while you were out exploring the world, your friends crept out the back door of your life.

And, unlike you, they aren’t coming back.

They ghosted.

After being away for over six months, I came back to New York eager to reconnect with my friends. I missed their faces, stories, and presence. But, as most New Yorkers will tell you, friendships are often hard to maintain under the crushing pace of life even when you’re in the same city. Everyone moves a million miles a minute, there’s always an event to attend, and making time for each other is a constant battle of highly conflicting schedules.

“What are you doing two weeks from now?” is a common question in the city that never sleeps.

I expected it but, after many weeks of missed connections and noticed absences from events, I realized that while I was away, I too had been ghosted on. Many had taken my absence as an excuse to finally exit stage left.

At first, I was sad. People I cared about left my life for seemingly no reason. “What did I do wrong? How can I change to get them back?” I wondered.

Then I was mad. “Screw those jerks! They weren’t fun anyway,” I said in an attempt to mask the hurt.

But as I calmed down and thought about it more, I realized I was looking at this situation the wrong way. Going away didn’t lose me friends; it had shown me who my true friends were.

Most people maintain a wide social network, and when you are in touch with that network it’s easy to think relationships are deeper than they are. Traveling showed me which connections were really deep and which ones were only deep in my mind.

It’s true that friends move in and out of your life regardless of whether you travel or not. It’s life — people change and grow apart. I have many friends I no longer talk to. We moved to different cities, our interests changed, and the ties that bound us grew weaker over time.

But that is a gradual uncoupling and one less emotionally blunt. We know and understand why it’s happening.

But imagine throwing a party, having a great time, going to grab a drink, and turning around to see everyone is suddenly gone.

It’s sudden, shocking, and very depressing.

Part of me thinks “Well, this is just New York. This city is just hard.” But then I remember the tales of other travelers who’ve experienced the same thing and realize it’s not just me and it’s not just city.

Travel expedites the process of separation and exposes the quality of your friendships. Being away frays the weak bonds you attempt to maintain while strengthening the ones that will withstand the distance of time and space.

My lifestyle doesn’t make maintaining friendships easier, but it doesn’t make it impossible either. I have friends around the world I only see every few years but we make the effort to stay in touch. When we are together, our bond is still strong. I know my friends wonder if I’m actually back or passing through and thus often leave it to me text them. However, after establishing that I am really back and I do want to hang out, you begin to wonder how strong the bond is when you’re doing all the work. When your texts go unanswered and plans constantly get cancelled, you see the writing on the wall.

Maybe they want a friend who isn’t a nomad. Maybe we grew apart and I just didn’t realize it.

But, as I said last week, I need to find balance in my life again – and that includes coming to terms with this.

Maybe one day the people who’ve left will wonder how I am and what I’m doing. Maybe a part of them will be sad that they don’t know.

But what I do know is that while they were ghosting, those that stayed and I became closer.

And, for that, I am truly grateful.

The post Travel and the Art of Losing Friends appeared first on Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site.


Travel and the Art of Losing Friends

If you need a bangkok airport transfer
look no further bangkokairportlimo.com offers the most reliable, competitive deals (all rates are inclusive of tolls).

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Bangkok Airport Hotel 3 of the most popular Bangkok Airport Hotels – great deals, all hotels within 10 minutes of the airport terminal, 24 hour reception and transfer service – instant confirmation and secure payment.

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laurence14

How to Take Professional Travel Photos

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Stunning travel photo of a Dubai roundabout at night

Photography. It’s not something I’ve very good at. I take all my pictures on an iPhone and, if they aren’t used on the blog, they mostly just sit on my hard drive. But I still think photographs are important for the memories they represent. You look at a picture and it conjures up thoughts, feelings, and smells that take you back to a long forgotten place. Today, professional photographer Laurence Norah of Finding the Universe, begins a five part series on how to become a better photographer. Part one is on composition and framing.

In 2009, I gave up my job in IT and set off to travel the world. My first destination was Australia, a stunning country where I desperately wanted to capture my adventures. I’d been taking photos since I was 13, but it was only on this trip that I started to focus on learning the art of photography and realized that this was something I could be truly passionate about.

I quickly learned the reality that photography is a skill that takes time, effort, and practice to master.

It’s also not a question of gear — great photography is very much about the photographer.

Photo of natural rock formation Wave Rock in Australia
Wave Rock, Australia, from my yearlong road trip there in 2009-10.

Composition: Taking pictures people REALLY want

Patterns: the human brain is a sucker for them. We’re always looking for patterns — be they shapes in the clouds, symmetry in buildings, or colors that compliment each other. There’s just something about a pattern that our brains love.

Understanding these patterns and what pleases the human brain is a nifty shortcut to taking better photos. And that’s what composition in photography is all about. Learn and apply the rules below, and you’ll start taking more photos that people will enjoy.

Before launching into them, though, some important basics. First, ensure that your camera is level. You don’t want wonky horizons. Your brain generally doesn’t like them; they’re the visual equivalent of nails on a chalkboard.

Next — stop moving. You want to be as still as possible when shooting to avoid blurry images. Hold your camera with both hands and be steady, or use a tripod.

The rule of thirds

One of the most important rules of composition is known as the rule of thirds.

I learned recently that this is based on how babies learn to identify their mothers’ faces, which can be split up into three parts, comprising the eyes, nose, and mouth.

The rule of thirds requires you to break an image into three equal parts either vertically, horizontally or both. The goal is to place key compositional elements into those thirds.

On your device, find the setting to enable a grid over the preview screen. Four lines will appear, two vertical and two horizontal.

Photo of surreal art sculpture park in the Australian Outback

Take a look at my shot above of a surreal sculpture park deep in the Australian outback, over which I have overlaid a grid to demonstrate the horizontal and vertical thirds.

With the grid, you can see how I have composed the image: one-third land and two-thirds sky, while the plane on the left is on the left-hand grid line, close to the intersection of two lines.

Placing subjects on the intersecting points will naturally draw the viewer’s eye to them, as these points are usually where we focus first in an image, and doing so is a great starting point for a good composition.

Another of my favorite subjects to shoot is a sunset. I love how they are always different and how wonderful the light is at that time of day.

To get a great sunset shot, you can easily apply the rule of thirds — composing the shot with two-thirds sky, and one-third land or sea. You want to avoid splitting the image half and half, as it won’t look as good. The shot below of a sunset in Santa Cruz illustrates this and also has an interesting subject in the left third of the image.

Photo of a beautiful, golden sunset over the ocean in Santa Cruz, California

Leading lines

When composing a photograph, you want to make it as easy as possible for the person looking at it to figure out the subject and focus of the image.

One way to do this is with leading lines — the use of natural geography or other features that the viewer will naturally look at first and which will lead their eyes to the main subject.

Roads are excellent as leading lines, particularly in big landscape shots. When I was traveling in New Zealand, I wanted to create a photographic story of the hike up Mount Taranaki, one of my favorite New Zealand hikes. Near the start of hike, the walking trail itself gave me a perfect leading line to illustrate the journey ahead, drawing the viewer’s eye into the frame and up to the mountain.

Photo of the walking trail up Mount Taranaki in New Zealand

Another good illustration of a leading line is this shot of me walking on railway tracks in Italy. Obviously, it’s only advisable on either disused or somewhat infrequently used tracks!

Black and white self-portrait of Laurence walking on railway tracks

The goal for this image was a self-portrait that evoked my life of travel. The parallel tracks, which appear to converge, were perfect for leading the viewer’s eye to the subject — me. I felt I captured the imagery of wanderlust that I was looking for by using them.

Foreground, midground, and background

Have you ever taken a picture of a mountain or city skyline and then looked at it later and wondered why it doesn’t manage to convey the majesty of what you were looking at?

This is likely because your photograph is a two-dimensional image and you have lost the sense of scale that is apparent when you are present and in the moment.

When composing a shot — and this is particularly true for landscape photography — think about the different elements in the foreground, midground, and background of the shot.

Here’s an example of a sunset in Glencoe, Scotland, easily the most stunning place I’ve photographed in 2015.

Breath-taking sunset photo over a frozen lake in Glencoe, Scotland

I used the rock in this frozen lake to provide something interesting in the foreground, helping to provide scale and balance to the overall image. The viewer’s eye is drawn to the rock, and then likely to the mountain and sunset, before heading into the distance of the valley.

When you are out and about in the world, think about everything around you. If you see a far-off mountain you want to shoot, look around and see if you can find something interesting in the foreground or midground to incorporate into the shot. If you’re near a river, maybe that could be a canoe. Elsewhere it could be a house. Or a group of sheep. Or a car starting to scale a winding road.

If you’re shooting a city scene, look at what is happening all around you. Street vendors, different modes of transport, and signs and storefronts can all be incorporated as foreground to provide context and scale for your city skyline or that interestingly shaped building.

If you can’t find something, be creative. Find someone to stand in your shot to provide that scale. If you’re travelling with a tripod, do what I did in that railway shot and use yourself as the subject. Just remember not to confuse your viewer too much with too many compositional elements, and keep it clear what the photo is of.

Thinking beyond the big background parts of the image and focusing on the smaller elements will help you create more balanced, pleasing images.

Photo of the sunsetting behind mountains in Glencoe, Scotland with a house in the midground

Another shot from Glencoe. Here the house provides that midground scale, while the river works both as an interesting foreground subject and as a leading line to draw you into the photograph.

Framing

This compositional technique isn’t about hanging a picture in a frame; it’s about using what’s around you to “frame” the subject you are trying to capture, illustrating to the viewer what the shot is of and drawing their eyes into the scene.

Photo of old bridges in the Medieval town of Besalú, Spain

In this shot of the bridge into the medieval town of Besalú in Spain, I used the old bridge and its reflection as a natural frame for the newer bridge.

When you have found your subject, look around to see if there’s a way you can frame it creatively. Some good options for framing include vegetation, like tree branches and trees, as well as doors and windows.

Take a look at this shot of a temple in Ayutthaya, Thailand, to see what I mean. I wanted to capture the beauty of this temple scene, while drawing the viewer in to the wat in the center.

Photo of beautiful, old temple in Ayutthaya, Thailand

The frame in this case is much larger than the subject, but it is never unclear what the shot is of. This is a really easy photography technique, but it might require you to scout around, or step back from your subject, to find a good way to frame it. Don’t be afraid to stand further away and use the zoom on your lens to get the frame you want.

As another example, using trees to frame a waterfall, here’s a shot of Lower Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park.

Photo of Lower Yosemite Falls between the trees in Yosemite National Park

I felt that the trees added much more to the shot with the waterfall between them. There was a pleasing symmetry to the shot with the two parallel trees.

There are many more options for framing. Experiment and see what works!

Focal points

One way to be sure that people look at the part of the image you want them to look at is to have only that part of the image sharp and in focus and the rest blurry.

This is particularly effective for isolating people or animals in shots — take a look at wedding or sports photos of people, and you’ll see how often the subject of the shot is the only thing in focus.

I love shooting events with friends and family, and I find that this technique works really well at isolating the subject from a crowd and making it obvious who the photo is of.

Photo of a woman having at a party with friends

To start with, you can achieve this effect with the “portrait” or “people” mode on your camera. You can see some more examples of subject isolation through focus here.

Use of color

Color is really important in photography, particularly how different colors work well together. For example, blue works well with yellow (sunflowers in a field), and red works well with green (Christmas!).

To figure out which colors work well together, take a look at this color wheel.

Generally, colors opposite each other on the wheel will complement each other. These colors don’t need to be evenly balanced in a shot — often images work best with a small percentage of one and a greater percentage of another.

Photo of houses reflecting on the Nyhavn Harbor in Copenhagen, Denmark

Take a look at the shot above, from Copenhagen’s gorgeous Nyhavn Harbor. You can see all sorts of colors, but in particular the blue of the sky and water is the predominant color, with the houses’ reds and yellows (yellow is opposite blue on the color wheel) offering a counterpoint.

When you are on your travels, keep an eye out for contrasting and complimentary colors that you can incorporate into your shots. Spice markets, old European cities, rural meadows, and old colorful barns in green fields are a great place to start.

Storytelling

Remember that when you are taking a picture, you have all the background and surrounding knowledge of your trip in your mind. When you look at the image later, all of that will come back to you.

No one else has that advantage. To them, that shot of a waterfall is just that — a shot of a waterfall. The story of the five-hour hike there through a leech-infested jungle? Lost. The feeling of how refreshing it was on your skin when you took the plunge in to cool off? Also gone. It’s just a two-dimensional image on a screen, likely quickly flicked by to be replaced by the next image in the stream.

It’s your job to bring all that lost context to life.

We’re often told that a photograph is worth a thousand words. As a photographer, it’s your job to convey those words. Figure out how to tell that story with your image. Get the shots that pull your viewers into your stories. Use emotion, find and freeze moments, and incorporate the human element so your shots resonate with your viewers.

Take this monkey in Rio de Janeiro. These guys were being really cheeky with tourists, trying to get food from them and generally playing around as much as possible. I wanted to try and capture some of that, and I managed to get this monkey sticking its tongue out at me.

Photo of cheeky Monkey in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

I’d advise spending time thinking about the shot you are trying to create, the moment you are trying to capture, and the story you are trying to tell your viewer. Put yourself into their shoes, imagine you are going to be looking at the shot with no other context, and try to build the shot from there.

This is probably one of the harder parts of photography, and — like the shot of the monkeys above — will likely require some time, patience, and luck. You will make errors. But with research and practice, you will be able to master it!

Now, I’d like you to go and look at some of your favorite images from your favorite photographers, and see if you can spot some of the compositional techniques at work or the stories they are telling. I’m guessing now that you know them, you’ll see how effective they can be in creating an image you enjoy looking at!

You also need to get out there and take more photos. Practice makes perfect, and photography is no different in this regard! The more photos you take, the more you will learn how to compose and capture great shots. So get out there and take some photos, and come back soon for the rest of this series!

Laurence started his journey in June 2009 after quitting the corporate life and looking for a change of scenery. His blog, Finding the Universe,catalogs his experiences and is a wonderful resource for photography advice!  You can also find him on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Flickr.

The post How to Take Professional Travel Photos appeared first on Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site.


How to Take Professional Travel Photos

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searchingforbalance

Searching for a More Balanced Life

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nomadic matt in bermudaSomewhere in Wyoming, I realized my life had gone off track. I was at a scenic overlook, gazing upon these majestic mountains rising up from the ground in the distance, and all I could think was “OK, it’s time to go!”

As I got back in the car, I yearned to stay longer, but I had 1,500 miles to drive and little time to do it in.

During my book tour, I was often asked “Are your travels as interesting as they used to be now that travel is work?”

Working as a travel writer has definitely changed how I travel. In the past, every day on the road was Saturday. I had nothing to do and all the time to do it in. But travel is different now: I need to stay in each destination longer in order to balance work, research, writing, and just having fun.

While I love this blog, the people I meet, and everything I do, there are times when you realize your life has become unbalanced.

Wyoming was one of those times.

Both work and play were suffering. I could no longer keep up with either. Projects and ideas accumulated but none got done. I never had time to do the things that relaxed me and was tired and worn out.

When I got back to New York City last month, I resolved to find balance again. I created a schedule to clearly separate work time and me time. I hired people to help run the website, am reading more, rejoined the gym, and started swing dance class again.

Because tomorrow is my thirty-fourth birthday, and, if this past year has taught me anything, it is that time is the most precious commodity in the universe. You can never get it back and we have so little of it. I’ve thought a lot lately about the times I watched TV over reading, drank a little too much, spent way too much, and skipped the gym because “there’s always tomorrow.”

But there is no tomorrow. There’s just this moment now and you have to ask yourself “Am I using my time wisely?”

I recently read the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which talks a lot about internal balance and time management. I realized that to be the person I desire and do the things I want to do, there needs to be better balance in my life.

By using my time for what is truly important (Sorry, Facebook, you have to go. It’s not you, it’s me!), I can focus on what improves my life and the lives of those around me.

This is about progress… because every moment of every day is a chance to be just a little better than you used to be.

And if I can do just one thing differently each day, next year, I just may be where I want to be.

Or, at the very least, heading in the right direction.

The post Searching for a More Balanced Life appeared first on Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site.


Searching for a More Balanced Life

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southafricasafety2

How to Stay Safe in South Africa

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A Pride of Lions Relaxing in a Bush in SA
On the second Wednesday of the month, Kristin Addis from Be My Travel Muse writes a guest column featuring tips and advice on solo female travel. It’s an important topic I can’t adequately cover, so I brought in an expert to share her advice. This month her column is on safety in South Africa.

At the dinner table back home in California, I asked my friends to name the first thing that came to their minds when they thought about South Africa. I expected them to say things like “elephants!” and “Lion King!” but instead “Ebola,” “soccer,” and “crime” were among the responses I got. When I told them that I would be traveling there by myself, they were horrified at the thought.

This is proof to me that much is misunderstood — or at the very least generalized and oversimplified — about this country, which has a lot more going for it than some misplaced Ebola rumors and a World Cup that took place a few years ago. South Africa is huge and diverse, spanning 471,000 square miles, with a population of over 53 million and eleven official languages.

Why South Africa gets a bad rap

Beautiful view off a mountain in South Africa
South Africa is the first country where the locals have repeatedly told me that muggings and violent crime are a big problem and, according to most I’ve spoken with, on the rise. It seemed to me that South Africans were among the first to caution me about the dangers traveling around the country.

According to this post by the BBC, the rate of violent crime is the ninth highest in the world, and incidence of rape is the highest in the world. And in a 2012 study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, South Africa had an annual intentional homicide rate of 30 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.

While this may seem high, it’s lower than Detroit (54), Honduras (92), and Belize (44). Moreover, the homicide rate has gone down since apartheid ended, and there have been no murders in Cape Town’s five safest neighborhoods, where tourists tend to flock. It’s not a war zone — most violent crime takes places between people who know each other in dangerous neighborhoods that tourists don’t tend to visit. Tourists in South Africa are the targets mainly of petty crime.

The country’s history — apartheid’s forced racial separation followed by its abolition and the subsequent movement toward reconciliation spearheaded by former President Nelson Mandela — lends a bit of understanding to where the country is today. Though still rife with political, economic, and racial struggles, South Africa is not as scary and dangerous as it is often perceived.

Staying safe

Solo Traveler making friends with the locals of South Africa
After spending nine weeks solo traveling through the country, I did find that I had to take more precautions than I do in Southeast Asia or Germany, but the dangers are not all that different from the big cities back home in the United States or other parts of Europe.

While much of staying safe means following the safety rules you obey back home and following your intuition, the following are some tips to make your visit to South Africa more likely to be hassle-free.

Know where not to go

Though crime rates are higher in the townships, which are settlements established during apartheid for forced racial segregation, staying safe does not mean staying out of them altogether. Some of my favorite memories, such as drinks shared around an unlicensed bar, little kids swinging from my arms, and delicious streetside BBQ, all came from my time spent in the townships.

They’re friendly places. They’re just better visited during daylight hours and with a local guide who lives there and knows the lay of the land. This can be organized through your guesthouse or by seeking information from the tourism board. Soweto in Johannesburg, for example, has everything from biking to bus tours and welcomes tourists thanks to the benefits of the money they bring in.

Don’t walk at night

People tend to become targets by walking in cities rather than taking private or public transportation. Even in a group, pickpocketing can occur, but it’s much more likely to happen when walking alone. Avoid walking alone when possible, especially at night.

Don’t be flashy

Wearing jewelry and designer clothing and taking your phone out when out and about are all great ways to become a target. Bringing expensive jewelry on vacation is not advisable in the first place, but if you do have pricey things like a camera, keep them hidden. And never keep your passport on you.

The more likely it seems that you’re a foreigner who does not know the lay of the land, the more likely you are to become a target for petty theft. Put the phone away and take it out when safely at home or in a café.

Lock your car doors and keep valuables hidden

Other common occurrences, especially in big cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg, are car break-ins and carjackings.

Avoid these by keeping the doors locked while driving and keeping absolutely everything — sunglasses, phones, bags, and wallets — out of sight. Nothing of value or anything that seems like it could possibly be valuable, including cheap sunglasses, should be visible when the car is parked and unattended.

In the big cities, unlicensed parking attendants are always around to “watch” your car for you, so throw them a tip now and then for keeping an eye out for your car when you’re not around.

Have a dummy wallet

Though I believe I stayed safe mostly because I didn’t walk around much, there were a few times when I got tired of being scared and walked short distances instead of taking a taxi or a bus. To protect my belongings, I carried a “dummy wallet” that had just a few canceled credit cards and a bit of petty cash in it, while I hid everything else in my shoe or, honestly, in my bra.

If anyone approached me, I planned to freely hand over my bag so that the thief had something to take while the rest was safely hidden. It never came down to this, as I never experienced any crime first-hand, but I felt ready should a thief approach.

Be aware and listen to your instincts

It also helps to be hyper-aware. If you must walk, take in your surroundings, look in every direction, make a point of letting everyone know that you’re paying attention by keeping your head up and looking alert. Try never to be alone on a sidewalk, and get as close to families as possible.

I once walked down a quiet side street in the up-and-coming Woodstock area of Cape Town and, realizing nobody was around, immediately turned around and went back to the busy main road. It felt sketchy, and my alarm bells sounded.

If someone appeared to be paying me too much attention, I’d look that person in the eye and say “hello” or step into a store with other people inside.

Use universal common sense

I thought about my safety precautions in South Africa compared to what I would do at home. I certainly wouldn’t walk around most parts of Los Angeles or other major American cities alone and wouldn’t even consider it at night, particularly not with my phone out. I guard my bag like a hound in most major European cities due to the incredibly high pickpocketing rates. It really wasn’t so different in South Africa.

Solo Female Traveler relaxing by a South African lake on a nice day

It’s very easy to travel safe in South Africa. You just need to take more precautions than you would in, say, Germany or Thailand.

It used to be that I couldn’t answer the question when asked about my favorite country I’ve been to. Now I reply “South Africa.” Though statistics can make it seem like a scary place, in reality I spent much more time enjoying myself than ever worrying about being robbed or becoming a victim of violent crime. While safety should always be foremost in your mind, South Africa did not feel scary, uncomfortable, or dangerous.

Kristin Addis is a former investment banker who sold all of her belongings and bid California goodbye in favor of traveling solo through Asia while searching for off-the-beaten-path adventures. There’s almost nothing she won’t try and almost nowhere she won’t explore. You can find more of her musings at Be My Travel Muse or on Twitter and Facebook.

The post How to Stay Safe in South Africa appeared first on Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site.


How to Stay Safe in South Africa

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First-aid-photo

How To Pack A Professional Travel First Aid Kit

Bangkok Travel deals

first aid kit for traveling around the world
I get a lot of questions about health care on the road. How do avoid getting sick? What do you do about vaccines? What happens when I do get sick? Since I’m not a doctor, I don’t like giving medical advice beyond a few general tips so I’ve asked Mike Huxley, a registered nurse and author of the blog Bemused Backpacker to pen a few articles on health and safety on the road. This is the first in a series on the subject.

A first aid kit is an essential piece of equipment on any gap year or backpacking adventure, but most travelers aren’t sure exactly what they need to take with them. So here is an expert guide on how to pack a first aid kit and what to include in it.

I have been traveling the world for almost fifteen years now, and in all that time I have patched up more travelers’ scrapes and sprains than I can remember. Before I was a nurse this generally just involved handing out the occasional plaster (adhesive bandage or Band-Aid for you Americans) and laughing at a travel companion’s misfortune, as guys tend to do to each other, but since qualifying to work as a nurse I have strapped up a sprained ankle or two on jungle treks, dressed countless small cuts and wounds, and even once cleaned and treated a dozen small leech bites on the legs of an unlucky trekker, among other things.

Thankfully pretty much all of the incidents I have dealt with so far have been minor. Even during my times spent volunteering as an expedition medic in the Sahara, the jungles of Kalimantan and Borneo, and many other amazing places, I have been able to deal with most accidents and injuries that have crossed my path.

I have only been able to do all of this, however, because I have always packed my trusty first aid kit. It has evolved and been refined over the years, but I have always carried one. As any experienced traveler or health professional will tell you, things can and occasionally do go wrong on any trip, and taking a well-stocked kit with you is always advised.

What most of this advice is missing, however, is a note of balance. A well-stocked kit is vital, but there is absolutely no need to go overboard. You don’t need to heft a pack around that the average paramedic would be proud of, and you certainly don’t need to carry around the entire stock cupboard of your local pharmacy.

When I first started traveling, I did what most sensible people do and carried a commercially available emergency first aid kit. There is absolutely nothing wrong with these packs at all; in fact they are excellent and in a pinch I would still recommend them to any traveler. However, over the years, with a lot of experience and my nursing qualification behind me, I have refined my own kit to reflect what I will use out on the road and what I know what will make for a much better first aid kit for the average traveler too.

The best first aid kits are simple but varied and will have a variety of dressings and equipment to deal with the absolute basics. More importantly, they can be used with little or no training. So what items should you include? Here are my picks for the essentials.

Plasters (Bandages)
It goes without saying that these are an absolute essential in any first aid kit. The most common form of minor injury is a cut or a graze, so it is always a good idea to carry a handful of plasters in a variety of sizes. If you think you will be doing a lot of trekking on your travels and you aren’t used to that form of exercise, then some blister plasters are a good idea. It isn’t necessary to go overboard and carry so many you could start your own tiny field hospital; just a few of each type will do, as you can always restock when you pass a pharmacy.

Gauze
Gauze is the medical jack-of-all-trades. I never carry a first aid kit without a supply of gauze in it, and I can’t tell you how many times it has come in useful over the years. It can be used to apply pressure to a wound, clean an injury, soak up blood, help stop bleeding, and even form part of a basic dressing for small-to-medium wounds.

A clean wound and a layer of gauze kept down with either tape or a bandage is often enough to allow time for you to go and get it looked at by a professional.

The best type of gauze to carry in a first aid kit is individually wrapped sterile squares. This eliminates the need to cut them to size when you need them quickly and obviously makes it easier to keep the wound clean and sterile.

Crepe bandages (ACE or elastic bandages)
For when you have something a bit bigger than a cut, basic crepe bandages are useful for keeping small dressings clean and in place until you can get some medical attention. Remember, you’re only going to use them in an emergency and hopefully only until you can get some professional medical care, so you don’t need too many of these, just one or two at most.

Surgical tape
Surgical tape is one of those essential emergency items for when you need to apply and secure gauze or a bandage to a wound, although plasters can do the same job if need be.

Small scissors
These come standard in any commercially available first aid kit (although you can buy them separately too) and are obviously useful for trimming gauze or bandages to size. Just be careful if you do carry scissors to ensure that your first aid kit goes in your checked bag when you are in transit or else airline security will take them off you.

Tweezers
Tweezers are another item that often come standard in most first aid kits and can be useful for pulling out splinters, getting out little bits of stone or dirt when cleaning a wound, or any number of other practical uses.

Antiseptic wipes
For some reason this tends to be the one thing most people overlook when thinking of first aid, but antiseptic wipes are an absolute essential in any good pack. No one wants a cut or wound to get infected, and antiseptic wipes are perfect for cleaning it before applying a dressing. Just a small handful will suffice for most packs. Like most basic items, they are easy to replace at any pharmacy when you run low.

Condoms
Apart from the obvious benefits (staying sexually safe), these handy little items can be used as emergency water carriers or even filled with ice as an emergency ice pack. I’ve personally never had any call to use them in that manner, but it is a handy bit of information to keep in mind.

Pain relief medication
A small pack of basic paracetamol (acetaminophen if you are American) or any of the associated brand names is usually sufficient, but ibuprofen or other similar medications are fine too. It doesn’t have to be fancy — basically whatever you normally take for pain relief when you have a headache or minor pain.

Loperamide tablets
Also known under a variety of brand names such as Imodium, this is useful for stopping diarrhea for short periods when you need to catch a bus or train. Remember, these are for those emergency moments only when you are actually in transit, as they do not cure diarrhea and shouldn’t be used when you can rest up for a couple of days. (Normally the best way to treat diarrhea is to let everything pass through your system normally and drink plenty of water to replace lost fluids.) If you use them sparely, properly, and as directed on the pack, loperamide tablets can be useful additions to any travel first aid kit.

Antihistamine cream
It happens to all of us on our travels: we get bitten by some form of insect and end up with a painfully itchy bump or rash. Don’t worry, the absolute majority of the time the bumps and stings aren’t anything to worry about at all, but they are damned annoying! This is why a good antihistamine cream is a useful addition to help control the itching and swelling.

Antibacterial creams
It’s also a good idea to carry antibacterial creams like Neosporin for any cuts and scrapes you get. This will help health them faster as well as prevent any possible infections.

Obviously this list can be tailored or added to depending on your trip needs (a tropical jungle trek will require different planning than a city break in Europe), and any good first aid kit should also include any specific, individually prescribed medication or antimalarial prophylaxis. For the majority of travelers, however, the items and kit listed above will cover the absolute majority of basic incidents and accidents.

For any injury, illness, bang, or scrape that requires more than the basics and cannot be covered by the kit above, you should seek professional medical attention. Keep the weight and bulk in your pack down, and remember that unless you are extremely far off the beaten track, you should be able to seek out professional assistance to deal with medical emergencies pretty easily if something happens you can’t handle yourself.

So go pack up your own little first aid kit and keep it stashed in your pack for emergencies. Odds are you will probably never use it — and I hope you never need to — but if you have one, at least you can enjoy your travels with peace of mind and be safe in the knowledge that you are prepared.

Important Note: When carrying any generic medication, it is essential that it is kept in its original packaging when you are traveling in case customs officials need to check it. If you have never taken any of the above medications before, check with your physician, nurse, or pharmacist before you do, as you may have a specific medical history, condition, or allergy that general advice cannot cover.

The information provided here is for general travel health advice and information only. It is provided by a qualified nurse, but it is not a replacement for a personal consultation with a travel nurse specialist, your GP, or a doctor specializing in travel medicine who can tailor advice to your individual medical history and needs.

Michael Huxley is a registered nurse from the U.K. and writes about his travels on the blog Bemused Backpacker. There he blogs about backpacking, sustainable travel, and health related issues. It’s an awesome blog!

The post How To Pack A Professional Travel First Aid Kit appeared first on Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site.


How To Pack A Professional Travel First Aid Kit

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wat-son-mondop3

Wat Son – Thai temple art and architecure

Thailand Miscellaneous

5 June 2015

Wat Son is a Bangkok temple in Rat Burana district, with some interesting temple art and architectural features but it’s overlooked because it’s not on the usual tourist circuit and temple tours.

It’s in an area on the southern bank of the Chao Phraya about 8 – 9 km from the city centre, on about 6 rai (9,600 hectares or 2.4 acres) of low-lying land just south of the Chaeng Ron Canal which flows into the Chao Phraya River.




Wat Son

Take a virtual tour of this temple with us. Please see permalink for more.

Wat Son – Thai temple art and architecure

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