It´s 7 o´clock in the morning and I´m at Ao Yai beach in Koh Phayam. Barefooted I stroll along the almost infinite beach. I feel the warm and moist sand underneath my feet. The sun is rising at the end of the beach behind a wooded hill. The atmosphere is relaxed and calm. Now and then I pass some other walkers or runners. Everyone is nodding. You know each other.
I turn left, heading to the small village just about 5 minutes away from the beach. It´s a very small place, some restaurants, massage salons and bike rentals. I stop at my favorite restaurant. I don´t even know the name of it, but the food is great and they have coffee from real espresso machines – a luxury on this small island.
Everyone stays longer than planned…
This time of the day everything is restful here. The small main street is deserted. Blissful silence except for the sizzling wok and the boiling coffee pot.
A few meters ahead on the main street you find the best grilled chicken on the island. The Chicken Mama is loved and its few tables are always filled with thankful customers. Next to her you find the best thai massage for a bargain.
I´m at home even though I´m far away.
The people are friendly, relaxed and they help you whenever they can. The prices are moderate, but have already risen since the last time I was here two years ago.
A lot of things changed since I first visited Koh Phayam in 2010. More traffic, more loud mopeds and tourists, more parties, more more more… But I guess that´s just how it goes in a capitalistic system, growth without any thought about the environment and the people. It would be interesting to have seen the island 20 years ago…
I thought long about writing an article about Koh Phayam because I want it to remain as natural and unconsumed as possible and I don’t want the recommendations outlined in this letter to contribute to the compromise of its beauty. I don´t want to see this island transformed into another Koh Phi Phi or Koh Phangan.
It´s still my favorite island in Thailand, but there are more people visiting every year and many of them need 24 hour electricity, warm water and full service.
Animals on Koh Phayam
I´ve seen lizards, snakes, geckos, hornbills, eagles, millipedes, jellyfish, crabs, spiders, cats and of course lots of stray dogs.
An eagle landed right next to us at my favorite restaurant. He tried to open the ketchup and mayonnaise bottles, which he mastered after a few attempts.
A hornbill had its nest somewhere near our bungalow and he would sometimes just land right next to us. Lots of tourists are keen to see one so it was an honor for us!
Living on Koh Phayam
On Koh Phayam you can still find beach huts for 300 baht but they are getting rare. A lot of new resorts have been built and most of them are in the upper price range. Many of them even have swimming pools.
But you can still find cheap accommodations here, including cheap bamboo huts at some resorts. You can live a pretty good life even with a tight budget.
Safety on Koh Phayam
I haven´t encountered any theft or scams here, but common sense should always dictate especially when travelling abroad.
Health on Koh Phayam
There is a small infirmary on the island. I had a very bad cough during my first visit but the nurse was very endeavoured to help. The locals also try to help you with herbs and locally common household remedies.
Money on Koh Phayam
As far as I know, there isn´t an ATM machine on Koh Phayam – yet. The best thing to do is to get some money in Ranong before hopping on the ferry to the island. Although you can get money at some resorts, I wouldn´t recommend it because they charge an additional fee (somewhere around 5% of the total).
Journey to Koh Phayam
The best deal is to take the night bus from Bangkok. It only costs around 55 baht and you can get the ticket at the southern bus terminal. An alternative would be to buy the ticket at the Khaosan road but you´ll pay more there.
There is air service to Ranong but I don’t recommend it because I think it´s better for everyone to take the bus or train since there is so much more to see when traveling slow. There is also a train from Bangkok to Chumphon, which I took during my last visit because I wanted to see Chumphon. However, you have to take a minibus – which takes 2–3 hours or a blue local bus which takes 4–5 hours – to get to Ranong (which is the capital on the mainland).
At the harbor in Ranong there are speedboats and a ferry waiting for customers.
What to do on and around Koh Phayam
Just being lazy, relaxing
Eating cheap and delicious food
A dive or snorkelling trip to Surin Islands
Renting bikes and exploring the island
Enjoying cocktails in the hippie bar
Enjoying the sunset in a beach restaurant
Playing football with locals on the beach
Taking yoga classes
Visiting the neighbor island Koh Chang
Which island do you like most in Thailand? Why? Any and all comments are appreciated!
Travel photography and minimalism – a contradiction??
I think so, cause without my photography equipment I would be 5-7kg lighter. But I don´t have a choice. Sure, the quality of current smartphones is great, but not as great as a real DSLR camera.
I worked with a Panasonic superzoom (Panasonic Lumix FZ100), which is small, lightweight and has a great focal distance, but unfortunately the lense was to faint for me.
Camera, tripod and filters
Besides a good DSLR camera and bright and powerful lenses I need a good and functional tripod which is stable and easy to adjust. The additional gorillapod is for mounting my iPhone to the tripod which, in combination with Triggertrap serves as a remote release. I use the polarizing and ND filters for pictures of the ocean, rivers and waterfalls to get the smooth effect I love so much. The step-up rings are for mounting the filters to smaller lenses, which is quite convenient.
Security and data protection
I use 3 SD cards with 32GB and one 1TB hard disc to prevent data loss. I also keep the SD cards in a waterproof case. I always store the hard disc somewhere else, just in case. If I leave my equipment alone, I wrap it in a Pacsafe steel net and lock all accesses with combination locks.
Triggertrap – a vital tool
I use Triggertrap for long exposure shots, time laps, star trails and much more. This small device is just awesome. It works in combination with (almost) any smartphone. The free Triggertrap app can do things a normal remote release can only dream of! I´m a huge fan of Triggertrap since the first time I´ve tried it and I only can recommend it.
Laptop and photo software
My macbook is always with me. I develop the photos in Lightroom (almost immediately) after the shooting. This consequent procedure is important to me because this way I get rid of lots of pictures and I can keep my photo library slim and organized. My minimalistic attitude makes it easy to delete without having bad feelings about it.
What I´m (still) missing
I´d love to have a GoPro HERO3 Actioncam with a waterproof case for underwater photography and action shots. I find the small weight and the wide angle lens to be perfect for traveling.
I travel with this minimal equipment for travel photographers. Sure, I could pack much much more, but I guess this equipment is just enough to take great shots and be prepared for (almost) any situation to come.
What do you think about my minimal travel photographer equipment? What do you carry? I appreciate you comment!
So it was a long and interesting year for me – and I hope for all you folks out there too. Tomorrow I´m heading towards Bangkok and I don´t know how long the journey will take. Maybe I´ll never come back – who knows?
Anyway I enjoyed the summer here in Austria very much, the weather was just marvelous and we all had a great time here.
I almost can´t stand the November fog therfore I´m very happy to see the sun in a few hours. I keep you informed and I hope yáll my writings interesting. So far so good, have a good new year and hopefully see you some time soon…
I will fail. I won´t make it. I´m not able to achieve this. I can´t stand it anymore. I´m not worth it. I don´t have any friends. I´m all alone and helpless. I´ll never survive this. I´ll end as a drunk in a dark backstreet somewhere. Et cetera, et cetera.
Everybody knows days like this.
You wake up thinking negative thoughts and doubts about your life and your current situation and finding it hard to get out of that mindset. You may think that everybody is against you or even worse. There are good news about those thoughts: They are just thoughts so they are only there because you think them. But there are another good news:
Your thoughts are only true if you believe in them. That said you already know what to do right??
Change your thoughts. Change them into a direction where they don´t harm but instead help you achieve whatever it is you´re currently trying to accomplish.
An easy way to change your mindset and deal with doubt is to start some routines or habits right after waking up. This works perfectly for me. I usually read something inspirational or positive right after waking up to bring me in the right mood. You can also be thankful about anything – see the next list.
Reading something inspirational and positive:
My blog or any other blog who gives you tactics about being positive
I told you already that I turned around 180 degrees this year. I was constantly thinking that bad things happen to me and that life is always hitting on me the hardest. I changed my mindset and now I believe that everything that I want to achieve, I will. Nobody can´t stop me from being who I wanna be, and with that in mind I don´t have any trouble dealing with doubt, fear and negative thoughts.
I cannot change your thoughts of course. That is your job, I can only give you something to think about and some tactics and a little guidance.
Know what you want and never doubt about it again!
Knowing what you want is the first step to freedom.
Life is to short for doubt and negativism. Life the life you want, right now. Do what only what you love. Or at least try to avoid doing what makes you sick both physically and mentally.
Get up from your sofa.
Turn of the TV.
Turn of your computer and mobile devices.
Get out for a walk. Breathe.
Take a look around.
And take a look inside and find the beauty and wisdom within.
What do you want? Do you have a unfulfilled dreams? Do you wanna share them with us?
Funny how things start to change when you start to change your thoughts.
All of a sudden new customers appear from all quarters. It´s like I´m dreaming. “Can you make me a website?” “What about business cards?” “Do you offer personal coaching?” I now clearly see the law of attraction. I don´t think in terms of scarcity. I have everything I need, and if I need more, it will come. If it doesn’t, I don´t really need it. This philosophy is very handy! And it´s easy to include in our everyday life when one understands the perils associated with materialism.
I always lived with scarcity. I never had enough.
Or so I thought. I felt this way all the time, and nothing was good enough. But when I bought something, the pleasure it brought faded away very quickly. So I had to buy more and more things, blinded by the belief that filling my life with material objects was somehow cathartic. In fact, I had a professional guitar and a professional amp but I wasn´t a professional musician at all. I just thought I need this stuff to be a professional. Guess what? I was wrong. What’s more, I discovered that I had been wrong about many things throughout my life. I was a late bloomer, I guess. But it´s better to bloom late than never!
Apps, Ebooks and more
It was the same with apps and ebooks. It´s so easy to buy something very quickly considering that everyone with a smartphone maintains near-instant access to the world’s merchandisers whenever the impulse strikes. And you think, “It´s only 99 cents.” But it adds up. And do I really need 200 or more apps on my phone? Do I really need all this? I don´t think so. Of course, I wouldn´t give away my iPhone since it´s a very handy tool. But in reality, that’s all it is. And therein lies the paradox. A useful tool that implores many to rhetorically ask how man managed to live without them while simultaneously bringing the global marketplace – and unlimited materialism – to one’s fingertips.
Two apps I really need and recommend
iA Writer for iPhone and Mac.(I use this for writing articles for wordpress, for my variable costs list, and lots of other pages. It´s lightweight and comes without knick-knacks so I can concentrate on what´s really important. I also backup everything using dropbox and iA Writer, which is also very convenient.)
Wunderlist for iPhone and Mac. (It´s a very handy list manager tool for my ideas and lots more)
The media, family, friends and neighbors play a role in contributing to the consumption mindset, but the biggest contributor to my consumption was me.
Nowadays I think before I buy something.
I read an article about “consumption” on zenhabits, which by the way is one of my favorite blogs, and where Leo Babauta wrote about a “30-day list.” I took his idea and included it in my daily routines. It’s such a simple method, but it never occurred to me. So every time I think I need something, I include it on my 30-day list. If I still think I need that item after 30 days, I buy it. But I don´t buy it directly. I first look on ebay and other platforms in search of used items. Thanks for that, Leo!
I also have a “variable costs” list. It might seem annoying but every single time I buy something, I put it on the list immediately. It has become a rule for me so I think twice before I buy something! This list is very helpful too. At the end of every month I see exactly how much I did spend on coffee, ebooks, music, tv shows and so on. This gives me the transparency I need to estimate future expenses.
Give away stuff you don´t need
As I recently moved to another city, I gave away a lot of stuff I didn´t need or no longer used. There are some big online platforms which are all about giving. So I joined a community and gave away a lot of stuff and guess what, if felt devilishly good! I met a lot of people and most of them were very grateful, and I felt good about doing it. It´s a damn good feeling to give rather than to buy. Give it a try!
Stuff doesn´t bring you happiness
It´s always up to you as to how you feel. Nothing you buy will bring you freedom or happiness. (Well, not for long). You might think that a new car, a new laptop, a new house [put what you want in here!] will make you happy, but it won´t. It´s all up to you. I´m not suggesting that you cannot have nice things. Some things are good to have, but do you really need a new cellphone every year? Do you need the newest iPad in order to feel you fit in? It´s all just a big bubble and you are a part of it until you begin to see it for what it really is.
How is it possible that we never get enough? This question was popping up while watching a TV show on the Food Channel. A guy on the verge of obesity was touring around America and eating lots of super duper sandwiches, burgers and huge steaks. I´m not mentioning the name of the show, but I just assume that you´ve seen it…
He also did some eating contests which shocked me. While over 1 billion people around the world live in poverty and are starving this guy is eating until he almost bursts…
Well, shocked is maybe the wrong word since I´m already familiar with such madness. But I was amazed that people can live like that and even more amazed that there is a tv-show displaying this behavior.
I cannot imagine being obese. And I certainly don´t want to imagine it. I was almost on the verge of obesity myself. My height was 178cm or 5 feet 10 and my weight was 90kg or 198pounds. Well, that was over 15 years ago but I can recall that time quite well.
I didn’t take part in any sport or exercise, I had a job where I was sitting almost the entire day drinking coffee with milk and sugar and smoking cigarettes, and I ate a lot of fast foods while avoiding fruit and vegetables.
It took me a while to realize that I was totally uncomfortable with my body, not to mention that the girls didn´t seem to show any interest in me either. At that time I was like the guy in the TV show, always eating as much and as fast as I could. And the worst thing was that I didn´t have any self esteem at all!
Why don´t we just listen to what our body has to say? Are we so disconnected with it that we simply don´t realize how bad our body really feels? It took me a long time to realize that I´m feeling very unhappy with myself, and it took even longer to take a step and start changing something about it.
I know in this society it´s all about faster, better and more, but maybe we should think twice.
Here is how I avoided getting obese
I cut a lot of unhealthy foods from my diet
Trans fats (french fries, fried stuff in general, chips)
Sugar (well not all, but most of it)
Bad oils & fat like margarine and hardened vegetable oil
Every food product I see on television
Stopped buying products from Nestle, Kraft and other Multinational Companys
On the other hand I began to
Only drink water & black coffee
Buy organic food
Buy at local markets
Buy only seasonal food
Eat a lot of veggies and fruits
Use Xylit instead of sugar
Eat 70% (or above) cocoa chocolate
Use only good oil: Olive, Linseed, Coconut
I began my new regimen at the beginning of 2013 and I have lost about 12 pounds already without starving! I also workout now that I have more energy then ever before. And I don´t feel guilty when I have a day where I eat a lot of chocolate because on most of my days I stick to my diet plan. (And the chocolate I eat isn´t bad at all!)
And since I started changing my whole eating habit I feel sorry for the old me and all the other people living the “never enough” lifestyle. It isn´t that hard to change but, like everything in life, it has to come from deep within you. You have to want it and soon you will feel much better. Diabetes and obesity shouldn´t be a topic for anybody whilst others are starving to death.