Traveling in Asia can be fascinating since life happens out on the streets. People meet, talk, eat, sleep, and party outside. It is the total opposite of life in many western countries where most activity takes place indoors, and where streets are mostly devoid of people except for the ones in their cars.

In Asia you can just walk around and you will find something going on in most places. I live in Thailand which is primarily a Thai culture with some Chinese and Muslim mixed in. Malaysia however is a country (right next to Thailand) with three distinct cultural groups: Malays, Chinese and Indians. They all have their own languages, customs, festivals, religion and culture. Read the rest of this story

If you read my previous article, you know that I escaped the seasonal pollution of my hometown in Thailand, Chiang Mai, during March and April and settled in Penang, Malaysia, for that period. Penang is a tropical island, but probably not the kind you might be thinking of. Here is what it’s NOT:

  • It is not a tropical island where you lie on the beach, slathered with sun tan lotion, while trying to accumulate the evidence on your skin for your friends at home that you have been on vacation.
  • It is not a third world place with old, rickety cars, pot-holed streets, and begging children.
  • It is not a place where you need a dictionary or a translator to be understood or to communicate. Read the rest of this story

This is not a story about tourist attractions in Malaysia, temples, cultures and festivals. It is a very human story, something that happened to me, and something that changed my way of thinking.

Penang Tower Budget HotelWhen I arrived in Penang, Malaysia, I spent quite some time looking for a good and reasonably priced accommodation.

Finally I found the brand new and very clean Tower Budget Hotel which has a friendly helpful staff that made me feel like I was part of a  family and not just some stranger.

Also the location is perfect, right next to Little India, the most colorful part of Penang and my favorite area in this city.

But then something happened that made me wonder where I had ended up, and a peculiar story started to unfold.

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Singing the praise of Chiang Mai

drinking fruit juice in Chiang Mai

The author with a bottle of fresh squeezed orange juice at his favorite juice place in the Sunday market of Chiang Mai, Thailand

I live in Chiang Mai, Thailand, one of my favorite cities in Asia. Why?

The cost of living is one of the most affordable in Asia. You get great value for your money, there is lots to do, and people are friendly.

The pace of life is pleasantly slow, there is great mountain scenery nearby, and the weather is generally quite good.

On top of all that Chiang Mai is one of Asia’s major healing arts and holistic hubs.

But…..There is one big catch! Read the rest of this story