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Malaysia

Yu Sheng, the salad that Malaysian Chinese toss to ensure prosperity for the coming year. Photo by Jade Chan.

Yu Sheng, the salad that Malaysian Chinese toss to ensure prosperity for the coming year. Photo by Jade Chan.

Chinese New Year (also known as Spring Festival), starts on February 8 this year and continues for 15 days.

It’s the most important festival time of the year in China — when millions of Chinese travel to their home villages and cities to be with family or friends for holiday reunions.

This is the Year of the Fire Monkey: a combination of fire — one of the five primal Chinese elements that include wood, earth, fire, metal, and water — and monkey, which is one of the 12 rotating Chinese Zodiac signs.

Chinese New Year is now celebrated by parades featuring dragon and lion dances and fireworks, family gatherings and feasts, and, on the 15th and final day, a Lantern Festival featuring illuminated red lanterns.

According to legend, Chinese New… Continue reading

Sipadan Island, Sabah, East Malaysia, might be a nice place to recover from surgery.

Sipadan Island, Sabah, East Malaysia, might be a nice place to recover from surgery.

OK, so you need a hip replacement — lots of baby boomers do. Or you need a coronary artery bypass graft (CABG), another increasingly common surgery for the baby boom generation.

If you’re an American, you could get them done in the U.S. and run up bills upwards of $80,000 for the bypass procedure or $30,000 for the hip replacement, and hope your insurance or Medicare foots the bulk of it (if you have insurance or Medicare).

Or you could travel abroad and get the same medical treatments for a fraction of the price — and maybe even have a vacation to boot.

According to the book Patients Without Borders — Everybody’s Guide to Affordable, World-Class Healthcare, a CABG will cost you about $20,000 in Malaysia, while a hip replacement will run about $12,500.… Continue reading

The view from atop Mt. Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. Photo by kevincure on flickr.

The view from atop Mt. Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. Photo by kevincure on flickr.

In our last post, we looked at the case of the ten foreign tourists who climbed Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia, on the island of Borneo, and angered the locals by stripping naked when they reached the summit. One of them posted photos to his Facebook page.

The local people believe that the mountain spirits caused a fatal earthquake a few days later to show their displeasure with the act.

Four of the ten were  caught, jailed for three days, paid U.S. $1,300 fines and were deported back to their home countries.

I argued that as guests in other countries, foreign tourists should respect local customs (as long as they aren’t destructive) no matter how superstitious, backward, or unnecessarily draconian they may seem to visitors.

Just Youthful High Jinks?

Some other writers have argued that the… Continue reading

Mt. Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia, on Borneo. Photo by Saskia Bosch van Rosenthal on flickr.

Mt. Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia, on Borneo. Photo by Saskia Bosch van Rosenthal on flickr.

You may have heard the story: Ten foreign tourists — a group of Canadians and Europeans — climbed Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, East Malaysia (on the island of Borneo), on May 30 and celebrated by stripping naked at the summit.

At 13,400 feet, Kinabalu is the highest peak between the Himalayas and New Guinea. The region is also a World Heritage Site and considered sacred by the local people, known as the Kadazan Dusun.

By coincidence, bad timing, or otherwise, the Kinabalu area suffered a destructive 5.9 earthquake on June 5, killing 18 people — mostly youngsters on a hiking trip.

Angering the Mountain Spirits

The local people in Sabah do not consider it coincidence. They believe the nudity (and urination that was also reported) angered the mountain and nearby forest spirits and prompted the… Continue reading

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According to government and private surveys:

  • Leading-edge baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1955) and seniors account for four out of every five dollars spent on luxury travel today.
  • Roughly half the consumer spending money in the U.S.--more than $2 trillion--is in the hands of leading-edge baby boomers and seniors.
  • Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) travel more than any other age group.
  • When asked what they would most like to spend their money on, baby boomers answered “travel” more than any other category, including improving their health or finances.

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