50 things to expect in South East Asia – Part 5: Miscellaneous

Arriving in Thailand on the first day of my travels, I had no idea what to expect.

But this is what I found, the Good, the Bad and the ugly.

Here’s 50 things you should expect in South East Asia!

Part 5: Miscellaneous

Lets take a look at some of the other sides of this part of the world that aren’t always present. These facts should not dissuade you from travelling to this amazing part of the world, but simply make you aware of the current state of these countries in both tourism and political aspects.

41.Thailand – Surrogacy

A headline to rock two countries.

“It was a scandal that rocked the surrogacy world: A 6-month-old baby boy with Down syndrome born to a Thai surrogate mother had been allegedly abandoned by his Australian parents.” – Washington Post

Surrogacy is – or was – a large market in Thailand during the last decade. According to the Washington Post, the cost of having a Thai woman carry your child is roughly $40,000 – which is less than half the price of birth surrogacy in the US, over $100,000.

A recent and disturbing scandal saw a couple from Australia refuse to take home one of their two new-born children from Thailand due to his downs syndrome. This controversy rattled the foundations of the Thai international media, and caused the leading Thai officials to put a permanent ban on surrogacy in February 2015.

As controversial as this topic is, everyone is hoping that the trade of “fertility tourism” does not fall into the hands of the Thai Underworld.

42. Thailand’s Medical Tourism

On a lighter note, Medical Travel is a sector of the tourist trade that is seeing a giant growth.

Due to increasing quality levels in their hospitals and cost-effective medical operations, Thailand is becoming a hot-bed for wealthy tourists to find a cheap boob-job or face-lift – that’s right, the real deal here is plastic surgery.

In an interview with US website bloomburg.com, an Australian women explains why this industry is booming.

“The whole thing, airfares and hotel included, cost me 15,000 Australian dollars ($13,050), when back home, it would have been twice as much … And the surgeon did such a good job. It’s like the clock has been turned back 20 years. What’s more, I’m having a wonderful two-week holiday as well. Even the hospitals are like five-star hotels.”

Something at I found amusing when entering Thailand is the fact that on the immigration/tourism form, one of the ‘reasons for entering Thailand’ is Medical Tourism.

Strange as it may be, it’s actually nice to see this part of the economy gaining steady growth with strong investments into hospitals and healthcare.

Here’s two of Asia’s coolest cats to lighten the mood.

43. Thailand’s King

The people of Thailand love their King. There’s posters everywhere, and during his 5 day birthday celebration, the entirety of Bangkok is heavily clad in his favourite colour – Yellow (or maybe it’s gold). Anytime that the national anthem is played – notably before every cinema movie – everyone must stand in respect for the kind and the Royal Family.

During any backpackers stay here, it’s good to remember to not pry into the current political status of the country and it’s people. There are rumours of locals being not-to-friendly towards foreigners after hearing any remarks related to the king and his reign.

The King’s ill health has seen him in and out of hospital since he was diagnosed with a form of Spinal Stenosis in 2009. After being released from a 7 month-long hospitalization, the king was remitted 3 weeks later in June 2015. It is no doubt that this will have troublesome effects on Thai Politics.

Since 1932, Thailand has seen over 19 coups and control now sits in Thailand’s military powers. With the Thai king not well enough to lead his country, anything could happen over the next 12 months – especially if he passes away.

This characteristic of Thailand’s politics should not be of concern to tourists in most areas as the government has a strong investment in the protection of foreigners and the tourism sector.

44. Nepalese Earth Quake

In April and May of 2015, two terrible earthquakes shook the mountainous country of Nepal. Tragically over 9,000 people lost their lives and over 27,000 people were injured.

Check out Doran Graham’s experiences during the 2015 Nepal earthquakes.

This is a devastating blow to Nepal and their people. Aid from both the Nepalese Army and the Indian Army has stretched across Nepal. UNESCO has been focused on restoring World Heritage Sites.

45. Post Communist Cambodia

Lost of people don’t know the history of Cambodia. Most travelling through this beautiful country will head to Phnom Phen – the capital city. It’s here you’ll find a tourist attraction that will surely bring a tear to your cheek – The Killing Fields.

I wont go into detail about the killing fields, as it’s something that must be experienced for yourself, but lets talk about what caused it and one thing that still blows my mind about Cambodia.

Cambodia’s monument to the lives lost at the Killing Fields – Phnom Phen

The Khmer Rouge (Red Khmers) was a communist political party that arose in Cambodia in the late 1970s. After a brief rise in popularity, the leaders of the Khmer Rouge incited a full militarised take over of Phnom Phen by the working class with leader Pol Pot at the head of the charge. In the years after the brutal invasion on Phnom Phen, the intellectual class including most doctors, engineers and scientists were jailed, tortured and slaughtered. This accounted to roughly 2,000,000 lives and almost one-quarter of the population of Cambodia at the time.

This event in Cambodia’s history shattered the entire country and they are just trying to emerge from the ruins in the last decade or so. One of the strangest things about this, aside from the resulting corruption, is the idea that many of the people who were instruments in the mass executions and the coup itself are still walking the streets of Phnom Phen today. After the fall of the short-lived Khmer Rouge, many went into hiding after the Vietnam Army swept through Cambodia to eliminated Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. From abandoned towns and buildings, to the lack of upper-class intellectuals, the after effects of the Khmer Rouge can be seen through-out the country.

46. 70% of your money leaves Thailand

According to the Thai Institute for Development and Administration, roughly 70% of all money spent in South East Asia by tourists ends up leaving to foreign investment. This is described as leakage and is one of the sad truths about the current tourism industries. It is important to remember that when travelling through this part of the world, your money is best spent in the local independent businesses.

47. Watering one gold course uses as much water as needed by 60,000 each year

It’s no secret that the tourism industry in South East Asia is not doing any good for a big ol’ planet. According to UK site Tourism Concern, the water used to water one golf course is most than the uses of 60,000 rural villages in a year.

One of the many Full Moon parties in South East Asia.

48. Full Moon Parties create 11 tonnes of rubbish

Another study by TC shows that each of Thailand’s infamous Full Moon Parties creates at least 11 tonnes of rubbish each MONTH. Only until 2011 did the Thai government implement trash cans on the beach and around the bars, though this does not stop a lot of that rubbish from just flowing into the ocean.

49. Human Trafficking

A 2012 study has found that in South Asia and the Pacific, minors account for at least 40% of all victims of human trafficking. At least 1/3rd of all customers of this horrible trade were reported as being ‘forgien’.

50. What have I missed?

It’s definitely true that I have missed something. If you think there’s anything notable to should be included in this post, leave a comment below.

It’s important to remember the effects that we have on a country as tourists.

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