Thailand Travel Tips and Customs – Travel tips

After living in Bangkok for over a year I have learned many things about the Thai People that I wanted to share with other foreigners living or vacationing here should know. The first thing you have to accept is that eastern culture is different. The people in the east are less emotional and more polite and while they know westerners are different, they often are uncomfortable when we stray from their norms. The things I found to be important are listed below in order of importance:Be Polite – Thai people hold being polite above all else. Their very language has politeness built into it. If you follow what is considered “common courtesy” you will be fine.Thai King – The Thai People Love their King, King Rama IX. Never show any type of disrespect to him or the Royal family. The Thai people have a deep traditional reverence for the Royal Family, and the visitor should also show respect for the King and the Queen, and the Royal Children. When attending a public events where a member of the Royal Family is present, the best guide on how to behave is to watch the crowd and do as it does.Safety – Stealth crimes, such as pick pocketing, are the most common problem so it’s worth keeping a close eye on your belongings at all times and being aware of the people around you. Unprovoked violence against tourists are very rare, but it pays to exercise common sense.National Religion – Buddhism is Thailand’s national Religion with nearly 95% of Thailand’s population being Buddhist. All Buddha images are considered sacred and there are laws against removing these images for anything other that personal worship.Buddhist Monks – Buddhist Monks are recognized quickly by their shaved heads, bear feet and bright orange robes. It is forbidden for women to touch Buddhist Monks, this includes a woman handing something to a Monk, The items should be first given to a man, who hands the item to the monk. Also, western men should never attempt to shake hands with a monk.Buddhist Temple – Wearing shoes around a temple is acceptable but they should be removed when entering their church (the area where the Buddha image is kept).Be Quiet – Loud people are considered impolite. Speak softly and do not laugh loudly. Of course there are the common places such as bars, celebrations and parks that being loud is appropriate and expected.Greetings – Greetings in Thailand can be quite formal in appearance to the western eye. The basic gesture is to put hands together, fingers up, with a slight bow of the head. The words “saw dee (krup)” (or “kaw” for women) are spoken during fm bow. It is more complicated for Thai people, with three levels based on age and position but westerners attempting this greeting are not expected to understand. (levels: 1. Monk, thumbs touching forehead durin bow; 2. Same age or older, thumbs touching lips; and 3. Younger person, thumbs touching chin.)Food – Food in Thailand is customarily HOT, spicy HOT. Most westerners can not handle the amount of chili spice that Thai people enjoy. For the westerner visiting foreigner, the best tip i can give them is how to ask to make the food less spicy. There are two phrases to be used based on you preference: 1) “mai ped” – not spicy and 2) “ped nit noi” – a little bit spicy. The food is awesome in Thailand and this tip should help you enjoy it even more. In the near future I will be publishing a description of my favorite foods. Stay tuned.Street Food – There is an old Thai saying “a little bit of dirt makes the food a little bit more delicious (rough translation). For westerners, buying food on the street can impact your health with the possible contraction of various gastro digestive problems. While most street food vendors are clean, this only by local standards. I live by “rule of thumb” which has served well living in Bangkok. This rule is simple but you need to stick to it. It is “only eat from the street what is cooked in front of you”. This ensures that the food is fully cooked one more time before you eat it. Unfortunately, this eliminates a lot of food served on the street but better safe than sorry for week.Body Odor – Thai people almost never smell badly and they find it offensive if others do.Crowds – if you go to areas in Thailand during Thai holidays and celebrations, be prepared to encounter many people. To Western experience the volume of these areas can be incredible. Be prepared to be pushed and shoved and be aware that they mean no harm. There sence of personal space is quite different than westerners.Watch where you walk – The sidewalks in Bangkok are uneven and full of obstacles, pay attention. Oh, also, the streets have many stray dogs; the dogs are not aggressive but do leave landmines on the sidewalks.Taxi Drivers – Most taxi drivers are fine. Generally, it is always better to use the metered taxis. Tuktuks are always more expensive and with Bangkok traffic you could be breathing in a lot of smog on the way. If you are going a significant distance negotiate… Also, the Taxis marked “We love farang, we speak English”, well most of them do not. They do have a radio that has a person that knows a little English.Movie Theater – After the advertising and right before the movie a tribute to the Thai King Comes on and everyone stands in respect.Driving in Thailand – If you are a brave one and decide that you want drive yourself around Thailand, don’t be too worried, it really isn’t that bad. There are just several things to understand. Drivers use the left side instead of the right, like in the US, and the roads tend to be narrower than in the US. So driving next to a bus or a truck can be a little intimidating.Toilets – Eastern toilets can be quite intimidating to the western traveler as well. Be aware that eastern toilets are little more than holes in the ground surrounded by ceramic and involve water, not paper, for cleaning. To be honest, I still have not gotten used this type of facility to its full extent. Also, there are often women in the men’s room, stationed there for cleaning. It can be quite unnerving when you first experience this but they are not there for any more than cleaning.Following these tips will allow you to have better understanding of the Thai people and more fun in your stay in Bangkok, allowing the locals to be more comfortable with you and give you a better understanding of how things function in Thailand.

Top Travel Tips for March Madness – Travel tips

Basketball fans beware, you’d better get your travel plans in place for the March Madness regional games and Final Four Championship now; expect flights and hotels to be sold out as soon as the teams are announced. Even if your favorite team doesn’t make it to the end, you won’t want to miss all the center court action at the most exciting games of the year for college basketball. So use this information to ensure your trip is fun and exciting instead of stressful.2011 March Madness Venues
Let’s start with the big event. This year Houston’s Reliant Stadium and the University of Houston/Rice University host the championship games on Saturday, April 2nd and Monday, April 4th. Of course, feverish fans will also want to attend the regional play-offs. This year, the West region will be hosted by the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA; the Southeast regional games will be hosted by Tulane University and take place in New Orleans; Newark NJ’s Prudential Center hosts the Eastern regionals; and the Alamodome in Austin, TX will be the place to see all the action for the Southwest regional games.General Tips
Of course, transportation is the big issue when it comes to attending March Madness games. The biggest cost could be getting to and from your city to the regional host city. Book your airline tickets as soon as possible. There are going to be lots of other fans taking the same trip so cut down on your time at the airport by prebooking your parking arrangements.Once you arrive, try to avoid driving your car to and from the stadium. Not only is it a nightmare to find a good parking spot, you will wait in long lines for hours after the game trying to get back to your hotel. Park and ride to the stadium for a stress-free experience.Information on the Championship Games at Reliant Stadium
Houston is a thriving city and Reliant Park, which is home to Reliant Stadium, is almost a town unto itself. Restaurants, grocery stores, banks, and even two post offices (instead the CVS and Walgreens pharmacies) are all handily located onsite. While there aren’t any hotels directly within the park, there are several located across the street – but beware of higher prices due to the proximity to the stadium.The stadium itself is quite impressive and boasts the first retractable roof to be installed on such a facility – although it is usually only opened for football games. There is a fee for parking at the stadium; once again, parking offsite and taking a shuttle to the games is recommended not only because it costs less, but because this is a much less stressful way to get back and forth from your hotel.If you choose to grab a bite to eat in Reliant Park before or after the games, you are bound to find many other fans of your team at the sports bar located around the stadium. Just look for your team colors and pick a place where you can enjoy the camaraderie of others rooting for the same team.March Madness is already underway while the regional and championship games are coming up quick. Be sure to make your reservations right away and use this information to have a great time!

Germany Travel Tip – Christmas Market in Osnabruck – Travel tips

The biggest Christmas music box in the world, playing 25 of the most popular Christmas carols and a six meter high nutcracker will attract visitors to the Christmas Market in Osnabrück in Lower Saxony. It takes place on the market square, around the Johannis Church and in front of the Cathedral; and are connected by the popular miniature railway.If you prefer a real traditional and romantic Christmas Market you might want to consider heading to Germany, where gifts are not mass-produced but craft-work of real quality. Especially traditional things such as crib figurines, toys, wood carvings, marionettes, straw stars, glass balls, tin tree ornaments, cookie tins or candles are hard to resist. Delicious mulled wine and the baked apples are very welcomed on crisp winter days and the flavors of gingerbread biscuits, marzipan, grilled sausages, roasted almonds and hot chestnuts add to this special Christmas experience.Osnabrück in Lower Saxony hosts one of the most beautiful Christmas Markets in the regionThe cosmopolitan city of Osnabrück and the beautiful surroundings has a lot to offer for the whole family throughout the year and that includes first-class shops, lively markets, typical pubs and restaurants, stylish coffee bars and lots of colorful festivals.From the 25th of November to the 22nd of December the, previously appointed as the “Most beautiful Christmas Market in the North of Germany”, will once again attract large numbers of visitors. To get into the perfect Christmas mood, the air of the festively lit, historical old quarter with its half timbered houses and historical buildings, is filled with Christmas carols. The lovingly restored children’s Merry-Go-Round from 1907 revolves, while playing 25 of the most beautiful carols. Soak up the seasonal atmosphere at this historical Christmas Market and take the red Bimmelbahn miniature railway to St. John’s Church for a magical Christmas experience. Also the fully functional Nussknacker, or Nutcracker, is a local attraction not only for children and can easily be seen, since its standing more than six meters tall. For the children, St. Nikolaus visits each day to open a window on the huge Advent calendar in front of City Hall. The churches next to the Christmas Market, including St. Marien, the Cathedral, St. Katharinen and St. Johann, offer special performances of organ music and festive choir music.A regional specialty also available on the Christmas market are Mandelmutzen. They are a kind of small pastry in the shape of almonds. You need a basic recipe for short crust; flour, butter, sugar, eggs, baking soda and ammonium carbonate or known as salts of hartshorne. You might add marzipan and definitely the aromas of bitter almond and/or rum. Mix it all well and form the little Mutzen and bake them in a lot of hot oil. After they become a nice brown color drain the oil off and turn them in icing sugar, which add a nice and very tasty finish. Now, all we can hope for are lots of snowflakes to transform the Christmas market once again into a white Christmas wonderland; let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!This is an example of what you can do in Osnabrück while traveling in Germany. If you want learn more about Osnabrück we compiled a more comprehensive Osnabrück travel guide in collaboration with local residents that provides unique travel insider tips which you can use during you Germany vacation.

Traveling Tips for Thanksgiving With Your Dog – Travel tips

It is less than one week now before the holiday season really kicks off with Thanksgiving day. For many people, that means that within the next several days they may be leaving to go visit family or friends for the Thanksgiving break. For thousands of people, their holiday trip will include bringing their dog or dogs with them.I know that things may get crazy as you finalize your travel plans. However, please be sure to take a pause to make sure that you have also thought about what it means to travel with your dogs and to make sure that they are also well prepared for their trip. Here are some things to keep in mind before you head out the door.Make sure that your dogs are up to date on all of their medical information and tags are current. Bring that information with you. It will be very important to have in the event your dog becomes ill on your trip and the tags will help in the event they get lost. But, make sure the tags include a phone number where someone can reach you right away. A home number is not going to help you become reconnected with your pet if you are not at home.
If you plan on flying to your destination then please check with your airline ahead of time. You want to make sure that your dog carrier meets the airline standards before you go.
If your dog is going to be flying, they will have to be in a carrier. Make sure that your dog is familiar with that carrier before the trip so that they do not get anxious the day they have to go inside of it.
If you are going to travel by vehicle with your dog then make sure that you have a proper restraint for them. Dogs should be restrained with a vehicle pet restraint or within a vehicular pet cage or crate. Just make sure that if they are going in a cage or crate that the cage or crate is also properly strapped down. This may seem like a lot but the last thing you want is for your beloved dog to become a projectile if you have to suddenly brake or are involved in an accident.
Bring something that the dog is familiar and comfortable with. This may be a dog blanket or a favorite toy. Again, this will just make the dog feel a little less anxious.
If you are going to be staying in a hotel then make sure that the hotel you have selected is pet friendly. Some hotels may not allow you to leave your dog in the room while you are out so make sure you have also checked into this and made other arrangements ahead of time.
If you are going to stay with family or friends then make sure that they know you are bringing the animal ahead of time to prevent any hard feelings and again to make alternate plans if need be.
When driving, take breaks often to allow your dogs so stretch their legs and use the bathroom.
Finally, you should feed your dog five hours before leaving and hydrate them two hours before leaving. Sometimes traveling on a full stomach can cause nausea. I had a dog who would get car sick anytime I had to travel anywhere that required more than an hour drive. I would even feed her the recommended five hours ahead to make sure she would not get sick and she still did. In her case, I had to make a visit to her vet before traveling for anti-nausea medication. Just something else for you to keep in mind.These simple tips are something to think about before you are ready to actually leave for your Thanksgiving break. I hope that they help to make your final preparations less stressful and to make your journey a stress free and safe one for you and your dogs.

7 Airport Travel Tips – Travel tips

How are you going to stay sane and avoid the usual holiday pitfalls during the travel seasons this year? Well, here are seven tried-and-true tips that will definitely help you avoid the worst and most common problems:1. Get Plenty of SleepThe night before you leave, you’re going to be tempted to stay up late packing and ensuring that everything’s in order. However, think twice before doing this, because if you’re sleep deprived the next day, you’re going to be cranky. And if you’re cranky, you’re going to find everything about traveling even more irritating than usual. All you have to do is get a good night’s sleep before you leave.2. Do Everything You Can NowDo everything possible before you leave. Check one last time on your airline reservations the night before you leave, and then again before you leave for the airport. If possible, print out your boarding pass and a luggage tag for your checked baggage. It’ll save you time and possibly money too.3. Arrive EarlyRegardless of whether you’re traveling by train, plane, or automobile – head out and arrive early. If you’re going by plane, you’ll want to be there two hours early for domestic flights, or three hours early for international4. Keep an Eye on Your WeightNope, not your body weight. Many airlines have recently started introducing fees for standard checked bag. And of course there’s always a hefty fee if they’re overweight or oversized. Read up on your airline’s guidelines before you even start throwing stuff in your suitcase. Leave what you can behind.5. Dress for SpeedAll airport security checkpoints in the USA require you to remove your shoes, coat or jacket, big belt buckles, and pretty much anything else you can easily remove without completely undressing. Your laptop will have to be removed from its case. Want to take any liquids aboard? You’ll definitely want to refresh yourself on TSA’s 3-1 regulations.6. Take Advantage of Special OpportunitiesAs you’re planning your vacation, check into the TSA’s Black Diamond Self-Select program, which is now in place at over 50 airports. This program lets passengers pick a security lane that matches their travel style: expert, casual or family. Each line differs significantly. For example, if you don’t like being rushed, head for the family lanes.7. Know What Is and Isn’t AllowedThe regulations have been in place for years now, but travelers still end up giving up tons and tons (and tons) of items that are prohibited to take past security checkpoints. It doesn’t matter if you’re an amateur or expert flier – take a moment before every flight to review the TSA’s long and detailed list of what’s permitted and what’s prohibited as part of your carry-ons. Taking some knitting needles as a gift for grandma? Go right ahead and take them with you! Also taking a pool cue for your brother? Don’t even try it.

Environmentally Friendly Travel Tips – Travel tips

Plan your trip to avoid excessive fuel use. If you know what you want to do and see before you go, then there is no need to be driving around aimlessly burning up precious fuel. If possible, use public transport. A more relaxing way to travel in many instances.Support local businesses. They support their local community, economy and employ local people. If you shop at large shopping centres and chain stores, a large percentage of the profits will not go back into the local economy.At your accommodation, open the windows or put on a jumper rather than using air conditioners or heaters. Hang up towels to dry rather than having housekeeping supply you with a new towel each day. Turn off all lights and power when leaving your room.Try and find out if there are any community based activities in which you can participate. For example, local markets, fun runs or even garage sales. All great ways to meet the locals.Try and engage in low impact activities such as sea kayaking, bush walking and the like rather than activities that require a high degree of power such as jet skis.Recycle your rubbish. Most accommodation providers have special recycling area or bins. Avoid using plastic bags to carry your shopping.Observe and protect the native animals and plants. Don’t pick specimens or feed the animals. Incorrect diet can lead to health problems and make them dependent upon humans.Take care with water and don’t waste any. Where possible reuse it on nearby plants. Use tap water if possible rather than buying water.Take nothing but photographs and leave nothing but footprints. An old saying but very relevant.Stay in accommodation that has credentials as being an environmentally friendly establishment. If in holiday parks in NSW, Australia, look for caravan parks that have “Gumnut Awards” which are presented to parks that follow environmentally sustainable practices.

Itchy Penis on the Road: Travel Tips for the Scratching Man – Travel tips

The occasional itchy penis is one of the occupational hazards of being a man. Guys learn to live with it and, if the itchy penis becomes more frequent than is acceptable, they learn to take steps to correct the situation. When one decides to travel, however, exercising typical penis care is not always as easy as it is to do while at home. With that in mind, the following are a few tips for taking care of the tool while on the road.Bring one’s home along.It’s impossible to bring one’s entire bathroom along on a trip, but it makes sense to bring the essentials. Most men travel with a toothbrush, a comb or hairbrush and other essentials; they should do the same with products that can help with an itchy penis. For example:- Soap or body wash. Hotels provide their own soaps for guests, as do relatives or friends in whose home a man may be spending a few days. However, it pays to remember that penis skin is enormously sensitive. This is due to the facts that it is quite thin and the organ is typically kept in a very warm, moist environment, which encourages the growth of bacteria. Sensitive skin can react to an unfamiliar cleanser, especially if it contains fragrances or strong chemicals. For this reason, bringing along one’s own reliable, trusted soap can help to avoid the need to scratch the crotch relentlessly.- Shaving supplies. If one is an active manscaper and likes to de-nude the pubic area, using one’s own shaving cream/gel and razor while on the road is necessary. Under no circumstances should one use another person’s razor, for hygiene reasons; a strange cream/gel should also be avoided, as it may cause the skin to react negatively.- Lotions and creams. Again, hotels often provide lovely skin creams and gels, but they are not necessarily what is best for the penis skin. If one feels the need for some lubricant for a quick stroking session, it’s better to have one’s own lubricant on hand. And if one uses a quality penis health cream, it should definitely be brought along for its regular health applications, including reducing penile itch.- Condoms. A man should always be prepared. Having one’s preferred brand and size of condom on hand is good in case of an emergency, but also because a member that is accustomed to a specific condom may react negatively to a different fit and feel, resulting in irritation and a subsequent increase in itchiness.Plan ahead.It’s always a good idea to bring along extra underwear – and extra types of underwear, especially if heading into an unfamiliar climate or temperature. Men who only bring along enough underwear for each day of the trip may regret it; a very hot day may cause a sweat-filled crotch. Having spares enables one to change, decreasing the likelihood of unbearable itching. It also pays to have both boxers and briefs (or jocks, thongs, etc.); again, the heat one day may make one wish for a “breezier” option.If one is going to travel, it’s best to think ahead about what is required to avoid an itchy penis. This planning may also inspire a man to make changes; for example, if he does not already use a first-rate penis health cream (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil), the start of a trip is a good time to start. When deciding on an appropriate cream, a man should carefully check the ingredients. Does it include natural moisturizers, such as Shea butter (a high-end emollient) and vitamin E, which can soothe irritated skin and calm itchiness? Is a potent antioxidant like alpha lipoic acid included? This is a crucial ingredient for offsetting harmful oxidative processes and helping avoid an unsightly wrinkled look in the penis. A cream with these assets, along with vitamins like A, B5 and D, is a major boost to maintaining penis health.