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5 Wonderful Natural Gems To Explore in Southeast Asia

5 Wonderful Natural Gems To Explore in Southeast Asia

So you want to go out in the world and travel? If you are a fan of simply going out and seeing some natural wonders instead of the sometimes over-hyped cities in the western world, then maybe you should consider traveling to Asia and seeing what this amazing continent has to offer. The reality is, we all got caught up so much in traveling to Europe or the States that we forget about Asia.

Even as just a small part of the whole continent, the Southeast has a lot of exciting natural wonders you can visit and spend weeks exploring. Not only is the Southeast quite rich in various attractions, but the whole continent, in general, is quite cheap. All of the expenses you would have for a typical holiday in the western part of the world are halved in Asia and your biggest expense is the plane ticket needed to get there.

On top of that, the regulations for visiting Southeast Asia are quite lax and most countries don’t require visas to visit them. This means no waiting period, just hop on a plane and go to whatever place seems attractive to you in Southeast Asia. While we are at it, let’s see what amazing choices there are for visiting nature’s works of art in this part of the world.

1. Chiang Mai, Thailand

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    Since the airport in Bangkok has the most flights from everywhere around the world, Thailand is a good place to start your trip. Although Chiang Mai is a city located in the north of Thailand, its cultural heritage and epic sights around it simply need to be mentioned.

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    The city of Chiang Mai has a lot of culture, amazing food markets, relaxed atmosphere, polite locals, old temples and pretty landscapes. It was able to become “the spot” for backpack travelers and digital nomads in the past couple of years.

    Chiang Mai offers some of the best street food in whole Thailand and it is very cheap with the cost-per-dish being around one dollar. You can find hotel accommodation for just 3 dollars per night and get a place to stay with the locals for an even cheaper price while learning more about their culture and enjoying their hospitality.

    Once you’ve settled in, go jungle trekking as Chiang Mai is the start for many routes. Go to the Elephant Nature Park, go zip lining through its surrounding mountains or tour the amazing temples you can find all around Chiang Mai. Set aside some extra time when visiting Chiang Mai as you will love it and want to spend more time here.

    2. Sapa, Vietnam

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      You can get to Sapa through two separate means of transport, by bus and a train ride. You can grab a train from Hanoi to the station called Lao Cai. When you arrive there, take a taxi or a shuttle bus to Sapa. The road from Lao Cai to Sapa costs around 3 dollars and it can get a bit shaky.

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      The Sapa valley is full of beautiful sights and this city is the main base for all trekking that goes around here. Apart from having amazing nature around the whole valley, there are also many traditional small villages and various hill tribes you can visit while trekking.

      Sapa is also well-known for its marketplaces where you can buy a lot of souvenirs including the handcrafted items people from the tribes around the city come to sell at Sapa marketplaces.

      3. Taman Negara

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        Taman Negara is a large rainforest and one of the oldest of its kind. Thousands of tourists visit this national park every year to see all of the beauties that it has to offer. The best way to get to Taman Negara is to go through the Tembeling river with a boat.

        Through the river, you can reach the small village called Kuala Tahan, which is the base for all of the adventures you can have in this national park. If you do this through tour companies, make sure that they explain all the details to you and make sure that they don’t simply drop you off in Kuala Tahan, and leave you there to manage the rest of the tour on your own.

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        One of the most famous canopy walkways is located in Taman Negara as it is the longest in the world. The whole track is well signposted and just after 45m, it offers tourists amazing views of the whole rainforest. Experiencing it costs less than a dollar. What’s even better is the fact that you can find all the information you want on the wildlife and birds you see from these treetops.

        4. Mount Kinabalu

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          One of the tallest mountains of Southeast Asia is called Mount Kinabalu and its 4095 meters tall. This mountain stretches across north Borneo and it’s the highest peak between the island of New Guinea and the Himalayas. A person with good physical conditioning can climb this mountain easily, as there are no difficult slopes and there are many routes and roads that lead to the top of the mountain.

          There is also no need for any climbing equipment, but just in case, there are a lot of guides who will go with you and help you avoid any problems. The climbing experience is amazing and even those people who’ve done this a lot say that it’s fun to climb Mount Kinabalu. The easiest way to get here is to catch a minibus from the capital of Borneo Kota Kinabalu.

          The whole area around the mountain is also a national park and there are many tourist guides who can show you around and help you experience the complete beauty of this place.

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          5. Komodo National Park

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            The Komodo National Park is located in Indonesia, a country further to the south. This island is located between two islands called Flores and Lombok. To get to the Komodo National Park, you will first have to go to Bali and from there, catch a plane or a boat.

            You can catch a flight from the airport in Bali to Labuan Bajo which is one the Flores Island. This is the leading base for exploring the national park. From this place, you can take some great diving tours and enjoy the marina located there.

            At Labuan Bajo, you can also get a charter boat and go on a cruise around all of the Komodo islands and go snorkeling or discover some interesting things about the archipelago. You can also go sightseeing from Bali. Here, you can get on board on a liveaboard and go on an amazing diving cruise around Komodo marine and Lombok Island.

            When in Labuan Bajo, go discovering the whole island with a bus or hire a driver guide that can take you around all the gems this island has to offer. Everyone who visits this national park is, of course, there to see the Komodo dragons. These are the largest lizards on the planet, and they can only be found here so, if you are nearby, take this amazing opportunity.

            The best locations for seeing them are on the Komodo and Rinca islands. They are dangerous and they have attacked people in the past, but they are usually quite slow and don’t move a lot. But still, always have a guide present and listen to their instructions.

            No matter which of these places you visit, make sure that you get to know the locals living there and talk to them. You can learn amazing things and they can show you what these places have to offer to the tiniest detail. If you can visit Southeast Asia, I guarantee you that you will have a memorable holiday with a lot of great experiences.

            More by this author

            Vladimir Zivanovic

            CMO at MyCity-Web

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            Last Updated on January 17, 2019

            8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

            8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

            In life, we all need to be conscientious of what we are doing. You don’t need to live a life of stress if you don’t want to. You can achieve peace and happiness in life by carefully building mindfulness exercises into your life’s routine.

            Exercising mindfulness isn’t rocket science and as importantly, you can do it. It will, however, take a few tries to get into the groove of things but once you get it, it is like riding a bike, you will never lose it.

            Trust me. It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. In this article, I will share with you 8 mindfulness exercises that will help you to boost your energy, vitality and live a more peaceful and happier life.

            Why Is It Hard to Live A Peaceful And Happy Life?

            Our Habitat Has Become Too Technological

            The world has accepted the idea that technology is often the cure for all evil. We have accepted, as a society, that everything technological will make us live a better life without fully investigating the many side effects that modernity brings.

            There are a number of technological side effects that have a tremendous impact on your life that the media rarely tells you about.[1] Some of them include self-harm, economic inequality, having less sex, and even suicide. The global community is becoming less happy because of technology.

            How can anybody live a peaceful and happy life when they are depressed? Technology advancements, ladies and gents, is a major reason for why we are living a poor life because it has infiltrated our lives too much.

            According to my research, Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day looking at the computer screen — The average screen time spent on smartphones alone is about 20 hours per week. That’s a lot! No wonder why living a happy and peaceful life is so difficult these days.

            Too Many People Don’t Want to Unplug

            Americans check their phones an average of 80 times during vacation.[2] Some admit to checking their smartphones 300 times every single day. In countries like Brazil, India and China, the situation is no different.

            The reality is that people are constantly plugged into technological devices and this behavior is literally making people all over the globe fight an inner war with themselves, which consequently makes them very sad. As we know, war is the enemy of peace which won’t make anybody happy.

            Listen carefully:

            We have a global anxiety epidemic because people don’t want to unplug from their smartphones and most people aren’t doing anything to fix it. It is a sad state of affairs but very real. This obsession with technology is turning us into perishable robots who live terrible lives.

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            The era of anxiety is here to stay. There is little doubt about it. We can, however, fight back with the best remedy of all — We call it mindfulness!

            Thank God there is an antidote to this whole technological madness. Without further ado, let’s go straight to the mindful exercises.

            8 Mindfulness Exercises to Start Practicing

            There are tons of mindfulness exercises available for you to engage with out there.[3] In the paragraphs below, I will include the best ones I’ve personally tried or have seen my close friends and family members try.

            Are you ready for it? Let’s go!

            1. Pray Daily

            You should pray on a daily basis. Why is that you may ask — Well, because science has told us to do so.

            When people pray, they feel peaceful, almost eliminating anxiety. Worries become secondary, and often gives people energy and hope to cope with the difficulties of life.

            Prayer can make you more confident and focused. Prayer also helps you with self-control, helps to control pain, and can protect you against illnesses and disorders like cancer and high blood pressure. At least, this is what researchers from Harvard Medical School have said.[4]

            Pray. You won’t regret it.[5]

            2. Pay Attention to Your Inner Thoughts

            A lot of people allow themselves to be influenced by their negative thoughts. Be different and resist believing in them. It is a bad habit that can lead to unhappiness.

            By the way, if you do feel this way, chances are high that somebody other than you put these thoughts into your head.

            Here is my secret to combat this cancer — look at things objectively. I bet that if you look at things as they are, you will realize that most if not all of your negative thoughts are only inside of your head.

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            If you pay close attention, you will quickly realize that these voices aren’t worth your time. Believe me — Ignoring them and looking at things with objectivity is often the best course of action.

            This article can guide you to beat negative thoughts:

            How to Stop Automatic Negative Thoughts When You’re Overwhelmed

            3. Smile Often

            Smiling will slow down your heart. It will also relax your body because when you smile, your body releases endorphins which in itself has a number of positive benefits for you as a person.

            Smile often! You may want to smile early in the morning, during the day, and late in the evening. It is amazing what happens to you when you decide to smile instead of being grumpy.

            Surrender your problems to a nice smile. You will notice two things. First, most people just don’t which makes them live a miserable life. Second, if you decide to smile often, you will eventually smile unconsciously which is the ideal.

            The moment that you smile unconsciously, you then know that you are truly happy.

            4. Organize Your Working Desk

            A messy desk will make you less productive and can agitate and overstimulate you. You don’t want that.

            When you clear your desk, you engage in deep inner-thinking and your systematic decision making ends up becoming therapeutic.

            Most people realize that they are most creative when their creative space is clean and organized. The former often makes people more aware of what they are doing which lends to less stress and more productivity.

            Organizing your desk will also make you more energetic and focused because order often decreases chaos which is a condition that often slows down daily progress.

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            5. Celebrate Your Friend’s Victories

            I love this mindful exercise. One of the best ways to live a happy and peaceful life is to celebrate the victories of others. When you do that, you automatically make your friends in a better mood which makes you in a better mood, as well.

            Happiness is contagious! We might as well celebrate others as much as we can. If you find out that your peer has won an award, celebrate with him! If your friend is the recipient of a local charity award, celebrate with her!

            What is also awesome is that when you celebrate with others, they often celebrate with you in return. This, ladies and gentleman, will make you feel fantastic. You can’t go wrong with this one, period.

            6. Listen to Your Spouse/Partner

            God put someone in your life for a reason. You might as well listen to him or her.

            I listen to my wife everyday. In fact, I often ask the following question to her, “Amanda, what are your thoughts about…” or “What am I missing about…” It is shocking what I hear back from her. Without her having much context and perspective, by the art of observation in my own nonverbal behavior and the behavior of others, she accurately gives me incredible insights which helps me out with living my life to the fullest.

            I’m a firm believer that spouses are supposed to engage in interpersonal communication every day. I most definitely do and will continue doing it. You should do the same.

            7. Give Yourself a Break from Technology

            You can’t be in total equilibrium if your computerized devices control your life. You must get away from technology on a daily basis.[6]

            How do you do that? This is my formula:

            First, take this smartphone control test. It is only ten questions but this test will place you somewhere in the human robot cycle continuum.

            If your score is between 25-30, take a break from the computer (or smartphone, pad, laptop/desktop) every twenty minutes and stop being on a computerized device after 8:00pm.

            If you score between 30-35, still take a break every 20 minutes but stop being on these devices at 5:00pm.

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            If you score more than 35, you need to take action immediately.

            Limit computer use as much as possible throughout the day. Give yourself as many breaks from the computer as possible. Are you ready for the challenge?

            8. Go Exercise

            Go exercise at least three times a week. I don’t care if you need to workout early in the morning, late in the evening, on the weekends or during work days. Working out is absolutely imperative for you to live happy and peaceful life.

            The stresses of the modern world are too much for you to neglect this important mindfulness exercise. When you go to the gym, you burn calories, focus on activities one step at a time, your mind relaxes, anxiety decreases, you sweat and often think about topics unrelated to your work place among many other benefits.

            You must exercise at least three hours each week for optimum results. Why? Just take a look at all the benefits of regular exercising:

            12 Benefits of Regular Exercise You Should Know

            The Bottom Line

            It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. Now that our habitat has become too technological and many people just don’t want to unplug, engaging in daily prayer, celebrate your friends’ victories, and listening to your spouse are among the best ways to be mindful about what you are doing and how you are living.

            It is possible to live a happy and peaceful life. It only depends on you.

            Go exercise! Take a break from technology and invest in you! Life is too short for distractions.

            More Resources About Mindfulness

            Featured photo credit: Lesly Juarez via unsplash.com

            Reference

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