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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.

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            Vladimir Zivanovic

            CMO at MyCity-Web

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            8 Things to Watch for If You’re Considering Being Vegetarian

            8 Things to Watch for If You’re Considering Being Vegetarian

            Vegetarianism has been around for a long time, finding favor with many people, including Pythagoras clear back around 580 B.C. It’s been presented as one of the most healthy diets around, including being touted by the Egyptians to the point of abstaining from meat and animal clothing due to karmic beliefs. The vegetarian society (vegsoc.org) defines vegetarianism as:

            “Someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with, or without, the use of dairy products and eggs. A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish* or by-products of slaughter.”

            While it’s pretty obvious that there are multiple benefits to following a vegetarian diet, it’s always good to be informed about the cons of this dietary choice as well.

            Outlined below are several things you might want to be aware of before you say good-bye to meat forever. Whether you are a current vegetarian, or contemplating making a shift, keep in mind these 8 things to keep yourself healthy.

            1. You could suffer from B12 vitamin deficiency

            The B vitamins are especially important for stress management, adrenal health, and brain function. Vegetarians in particularly are at risk for B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is attached to the protein in animal products and without enough B12 you can suffer from depression, fatigue, and an inability to concentrate.

            Due to its attachment to animal proteins, B12 is the hardest for vegetarians to obtain when they don’t eat dairy or eggs in their diet. This essential little vitamin can be found in some algae and has been added to some yeast, but research doesn’t currently provide enough information to say whether or not these forms of B12 are of good quality and can provide adequate supplementation.

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            The body is unable to make this vitamin, meaning it has to be taken in through food or supplementation. Essential for making red blood cells, DNA, nerves and various other function in the body, a Harvard Health Medical report in January of 2013 found symptoms of a B12 deficiency can present in sneaky ways including depression, paranoia, delusion, and loss of taste and smell.

            2.  You could suffer from higher states of anxiety/depression, lower sense of well-being

            According to a CBS Atlanta report, vegetarians suffered from a higher rate of anxiety and depression than their counterparts. Read the full report here. Depression and/or anxiety can be a result of many possible deficiencies including essential vitamins and amino acids you can find only in meat products, including Omega-3s from wild caught salmon.

            Without the correct supplementation and proper understanding of diet, including the importance of micro and macro nutrients, depression and anxiety can become a serious problem, bringing down the overall health and well-being of vegetarians.

            Even though reports on health and lifestyle show vegetarians have a lower BMI and lower consumption of alcohol and drugs, it also shows they suffer from more chronic illnesses and more visits to the doctor than their meat eating counterparts.

            3. You could suffer from excess weight

            When you go vegetarian it opens up a lot of food, but just because there isn’t any meat in front of you, it doesn’t mean it’s necessary healthy. Though pizza and beer technically fall under the vegetarian diet, it’s not a healthy choice for your waist line.

            Just because being a vegetarian is associated with a healthier lifestyle in many cases, doesn’t mean it’s always true. Making bread and pasta your staples and not understanding where your protein sources should be coming from, can pack on body fat, which increases your chances of health issues such as diabetes and chronic inflammation.

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            If the choice to go vegetarian happens on a whim without the proper understanding of food control, portion, and nutritionally dense alternatives you can find yourself reaching for vegetarian foods, which could cause serious problems down the road. Nuts are a good example, but just because something is touted as healthy, it doesn’t mean, your should eat it in excess.

            Eating too many calories in fat will still cause you to gain weight. Eating too many calories in carbs will cause you to gain weight. Eating too many calories in protein will cause you to gain weight. See a pattern here? Not to mention you’ll miss out on important nutrients the body needs by over-eating in one area and under-eating in another. Re-read number 2.

            4. You could have a higher risk of heart disease

            Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables should be a goal we all strive for, but when you cut out meat, you also cut out what is known as complete protein, which you find in animal by-products. Complete means more than just the essential amino acids, it means those amino acids contain dietary sulfur. Without enough dietary sulfur, which is found almost exclusively in fish and pasture feed grass beef, the body will struggle with the biological activities of both protein and enzymes.

            The effects cascade downward, effecting bones, joints, tissues, and even metabolic issues. In short, a low intake of sulfur associated with a vegetarian diet can result in high blood levels of homocysteine, which may lead to blood clots in your arteries, blood clots raise your risk of stroke and heart attack. To read the full report click here.

            5. You could suffer from low cholesterol

            I know, at first you’re thinking, wait, low cholesterol is a good thing. Yes, it is, when it’s LDL cholesterol, which you get from eating an unhealthy diet, but low HDL (good cholesterol) can cause serious health issues. HDL, according to the mayo clinic, is in every cell in our body and can help fend off heart disease, not enough of it though, and too much LDL can go the other way, will be building up plaque in the arteries and leading to heart disease.

            Cholesterol, the good kind, is actually vitally important to the making of every steroid hormone in the body! There are six, and without cholesterol the body is unable to convert hormones, and it can cause damage in the endocrine system.

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            A vegetarian without a balanced diet, meaning enough protein, enough veggies, and enough good fats, could disrupt his or her adrenals, which are directly connected to the endocrine system and the body’s ability to make and synthesize the hormones your body needs. The six major hormones in the body help do everything from metabolizing carbohydrates, to the electrolyte balance, to making sure if you’re a woman you can carry a healthy baby through pregnancy.

            6. You could suffer from lower bone density and osteoporosis.

            Osteoporosis, the disease where the bones get thinner, weaker, and fractures become a high risk with day to day movements. It’s often associated with the older generation, but your risk for osteoporosis increases with a lower bone density. Bone density can be directly related to diet and lifestyle, along with many other factors.

            When it comes to eating a vegetarian diet it’s possible to miss getting enough of the right nutrients, causing the bones to begin to break down. If your vegetarian diet isn’t balanced and providing you with the correct nutrients and the means to absorb the correct nutrients, your body could begin to break down.

            Recently, Professor Tuan Nguyen of Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research led a review of both Australian and Vietnamese research around the bone density of vegetarian versus their meat eating counterparts. Helping Professor Nguyen was Dr. Ho-Pham Thuc Lan from Pham Ngoc Thac University of Medicine in Vietnam. The review was designed to sort though years of research surrounded by discrepancies and inadequate clinical data.

            At the end of the review, with vegetarianism rising to around 5% of the populace in the western continents, and with wide spread osteoporosis reports – 2 million in Australia and closer to 54 million in America – the decrease in bone density of vegetarians is a serious issue which needs to be addressed, if you’ve cut meat and animal by-products out of your life.

            7. You could be at a higher risk for colorectal cancer

            Cancer seems to be running rampant through America, and it’s within everyone’s best interest to do all they can to keep their body healthy and happy to prevent cancer from finding a place to grow. In most studies it’s been found vegetarians are at lower risk for cancer, but a European Oxford study with over 63 thousand men and women in the United Kingdom found the risk for colorectal cancer higher in vegetarians than in meat-eaters.

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            Extra care needs to be taken when establishing a diet to ensure the body is receiving and able to up take all the important nutritional benefits and requirements from food.

            8. You could end up eating more processed food

            Depending on how deep you choose to go as a vegetarian, it could create the need to substitute a lot of food and recipe ingredients in your diet, but what happens when you cut out meat, eggs, and dairy and your recipe calls for meat, eggs, and/or dairy? You have to end up using a “healthy” vegetarian alternative which include stabilizers, thickeners, and various other ingredients you can’t pronounce.

            Lauren from Empowered Substance puts it into a great perspective with her comparison of Earth Balance, a vegetarian approved butter replacement compared to butter. She points out the ingredients in Earth Balance consist of: Palm fruit oil, canola oil, safflower oil, flax oil, olive oil, salt, natural flavor, pea protein, sunflower lecithin, lactic acid, annatto color. Meanwhile, the ingredient list in butter, is much shorter. It’s butter.

            That’s only one example. To appeal to the vegetarian lifestyle food manufacturers have found alternatives which fall under vegetarian, but aren’t necessarily healthy for you. Consider baked goods, which though vegetarian can be filled with more sugars and binders than regular baked goods with diary products. It’s the same with vegetarian items like mac and cheese, without using real cheese you may just be getting oil and thickeners, without even the smallest amount of nutritional value.

            The reality is, most vegetarian substitutes contain the same junky alternatives which even meat eaters should be avoiding to remain happy and healthy.

            On one final note, whichever lifestyle you choose to work with, remember anything in excess – including protein and animal by products – isn’t healthy for the body. It takes a wide spectrum of food and nutrients to keep the beautiful body you travel around in all day running in prime condition.

             

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