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TravelDiabetes travelogues

Endless Southeast Asia

Follow my nearly year-long, open-ended backpacking voyage through the friendly and unbelievably beautiful countries of Southeast Asia. This is what you can see – and how you can handle diabetes, keep insulin cool, and find new medical supplies – in some of the most welcoming and culturally varied areas in the world: eleven months in Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam!

Articles: Southeast Asia

Day 333: Vietnam

The strange beauty of Sa Pa, Vietnam

Sa Pa is the best of northern Vietnam in winter: cold, rugged, with nice guesthouses and a mystical feel. Here's how it inspires you to continue traveling.

Day 218: Thailand→Cambodia

Why nobody stays overnight in Poipet

Between Thailand and Cambodia lies the town of Poipet, a rough and chaotic place. Most travelers pass right on through but I stuck around to check it out.

Day 211: Thailand

Sukhothai's split but happy personality

Visit Sukhothai, Thailand to feel the instant and warmly welcoming embrace of 800-year old ruins lying with beautiful inevitability under the golden sun.

Day 206: Thailand

Somewhere over the rainbow is Udorn Thani

How much insulin do you need for chicken feet? I had the chance to explore this dilemma in Udorn Thani, Thailand, but my stomach was having none of it.

Day 201: Thailand

Recuperating by the Mekong River: After the hospital

Out of the hospital and eating more and more, the last week in Nong Khai, Thailand has gotten me over my weird tropical illness. Time to continue the trip!

Day 192: Laos→Thailand

Emergency ambulance across an international border

The gory tale of how I got so sick with a mystery illness in Laos that I had to take an ambulance across the border back into Thailand.

Day 183: Laos

International culture and medicine, Laos-style

Vientiane is not chock-full of amenities but we have managed to find wi-fi, coffee, riverside meals with new road friends, and even some thyroid pills.

Day 180: Thailand→Laos

Over the river and through the woods to Vientiane we go

On Day 180 of this long SE Asia trip we entered only our fourth country: Laos, and its capital of Vientiane. A busy day of trains 'n' tuk-tuks.

Day 179: Thailand

A reunion and a romp through Bangkok

Long-term, open-ended travel allows you to explore obscure sights in a big city at your own pace. For example, these places in Bangkok, Thailand.

Day 127: Thailand

Forget the big cities – go to the provinces

Do you prefer big cities or smaller, unknown places when you travel? Here are some reasons the smaller places might offer you a better experience.

Day 121: Thailand

Just visiting Chumphon, Thailand – or do we live here now?

A day in Chumphon has become a month – I've restocked my insulin, joined a bike rally, seen ladyboy shows, and even fixed my MacBook with a toy keyboard.

Day 113: Thailand

The MacBook breaks and threatens to end my trip early

When several keys on my money-earning MacBook stopped working in Thailand, I thought I'd have to end my trip. Here's how I fixed it (I think).

Day 102: Thailand

Buying cheap insulin in Chumphon, Thailand

I ran out of insulin in small-town Thailand and had to find more somehow. I couldn't find my usual so I bought another type. It worked out fine, luckily.

Day 100: Thailand

Soaked with water and chalk: Day 100 on Songkran!

As it happened, Day 100 of this Southeast Asia trip was Songkran, the Thai new year when people squirt water and smear chalk all over each other.

Day 99: Thailand

Ladyboy show at Kae's Guesthouse, Chumphon

We were persuaded to extend our stay at Kae's Guesthouse in Thailand to see a ladyboy show. We didn't know what that was but we sure found out!

Day 96: Thailand

Out of harm's way and into Trang

Trang, Thailand is pleasant with a typical Thai feel but with amazing temples hidden amongst the trees on the periphery. Plus, my insulin stayed cool there.

Day 94: Malaysia→Thailand

Sleeping between bombs: An accidental night in Hat Yai

Thanks to some miscommunication, we ended up staying overnight in Hat Yai, Thailand where bombs had killed people at locations all around our hotel. Gulp.

Day 92: Malaysia

The total rip-off tour of George Town, Malaysia

Some "local tours" are just crass, dull visits to trinkets dealers. This one in George Town, Malaysia was a particular waste of money. Here's what happened.

Day 80: Malaysia

The waterfall walks of the Tanah Rata jungle

Traveling slowly means you can see everything a place has to offer – like the Jungle Walks and waterfalls in the green hills around Tanah Rata, Malaysia.

Day 77: Malaysia

A dizzying day of merging cultures in Cameron Highlands

A day in central Malaysia turned out to be a kind of trip to Britain and to Tamil India. Every day should be as illuminating and varied as this one!

Day 69: Malaysia

Visiting the Orang Asli deep in the Malaysian jungle

About a trip we took into the mystical deep Malaysian jungle to visit a primitive Orang Asli community and get to know about their lives among the trees.

Day 62: Malaysia

Rich cultural mix of Malacca, Malaysia

Sometimes a mix of international culture, rather than local color, makes a place interesting. Malacca, Malaysia is one such place. But bring enough insulin!

Day 58: Malaysia

22 days in Kuala Lumpur: now THAT'S slow traveling!

Your traveling pace can be super fast or super slow, or somewhere in between. Read about how we killed 22 days in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and loved it.

Day 36: Malaysia

A single night in Klang, Malaysia isn't enough

Klang's Indian food gave me high blood sugar, but still I want to go back because it's one of those places you pass through without seeing properly.

Day 35: Malaysia

Kuala Selangor's wild menagerie

Monkeys and human-sized lizards are just some examples of the bountiful wildlife in and around the town of Kuala Selangor, Malaysia.

Day 31: Malaysia

Thumbing a ride from Muhammad Ali

Lost in rural Malaysia without a place to stay, we were offered a ride by a guy named Muhammad Ali. The kindness of strangers always comes when you need it.

Day 29: Malaysia

The crazy weightless room of Kuala Lumpur

You can't keep your balance in the "Crazy Weightless Room" in Malaysia's national planetarium, which looks vertical but is actually on a steep angle.

Day 15: Malaysia

How your travel funds can get stolen via wi-fi

Tips about not getting your ATM card info stolen over public wifi, based on this real story that happened to me at a Malaysian Starbucks.

Day 12: Malaysia

The view of Malaysia from atop an elephant

Sometimes a regular day turns into a crazy, unique, and unexpected experience. That's how I ended up petting elephants in central Malaysia one afternoon.

Day 10: Malaysia

The tourist scam that actually worked

Unbelievable tourist scam story from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Would you play a card game for money with a stranger on your first day in a new country?

Day 4: Malaysia

Multicultural Kuala Lumpur makes your head spin

Kuala Lumpur offers a very potent dose of multiculturalism, and it's not just limited to Chinese, Malays, and Indians but includes many others.

Day 1: Taiwan

How to get back into the rhythm of travel

How do you switch from being at home to being on a long trip? It helps to open your eyes to small but significant events along the way.

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