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Pic of the Day: Caving in Laos

Cavers Pic of the Day: Caving in Laos

Cavers set up camp in the Hang Son Doong Cave, on the border in Vietnam near Laos in┬áVietnam’s Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. Photo from National Geographic’s Your Shot contest.

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Surfing Bangladesh

Beautiful video of locals surfers in Bangladesh.

“Here are a few images from a recent trip Kahana Kalama and Surfing the Nations went on to Bangladesh. It is a glimpse into a documentary that Russell Brownley is working on about a surf club in Bangladesh. Many of the children are street kids or come from very poor families. Some don’t even know how to swim, but their love for surfing brings them together and into a way of life they never even knew existed. An ocean that was once deemed off limits due to fear and a very conservative Islamic culture, is now becoming source of fun, escape and even a chance for a way to make a living.”


The Bangladesh Surf Club from Jedidiah Clothing on Vimeo.

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Where to Travel During the Recession

So the gloom of the recession is on us. The press is suggesting a global meltdown. The good news is that the dollar is actually staging a staggering recovery and international currencies are losing value vs. the dollar. Time magazine published a good article on the best places to travel during the recession. It lists Iceland, Canada, Australia, Great Britian, and South Korea. All of who’s currency has dropped against the dollar, especially Iceland (down 51% vs. the dollar!). How different things are from a year ago when the Canadian dollar was actually valued higher than the US dollar.

I’m always an advocate of the cheap out of the way destinations, off the beaten track, away from the crowds. All through Central America, India, Southeast Asia, and in parts of South America, you can travel for $20/day. Here a post on the places to learn to surf for $20/day and how to travel in Southeast Asia for $20/day. Happy travels!

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Learn to Surf for $20/day

most surfers on a wave 200x300 Learn to Surf for $20/day

I’ve tried to teach dozens of friends over the last few years. I’ll take them out in small surf, show them a few things, they get the hang of it, buy and board and never use it again. The same barrier seems to hit everyone: the surf is too crowded. My advice to everyone has been to head off somewhere tropical and surf everyday for a week. You just won’t get better at something, especially something like surfing, going once a month. It’s a way to guarantee you won’t really enjoy the sport. Also, paying an instructor in the US is going to be $80-100/hour for individual instruction! Add the price of renting a board and wetsuit and it’s $150 or more a session.

Flying off somewhere tropical and spending a week on the beach is a lot cheaper than you’d think. Aside from the cost of a flight, staying in a cheap beach hostel can cost as litte as $5/night. More reasonable accomodations can be $10-20 night in the right places. Board rentals are around $50 a week and you can always find local surfers willing to give instruction for $10-20/hour (probably free if you’re a girl). The waves are likely to be less crowded depending on where you head (beach breaks are ideal at first because they spread the crowd out), and you’ll be in warm water surfing and drinking cerveza on the beach after each session. You’ll fall in love with surfing and get good enough to be able to navigate the line-ups when you get back home.

Here’s a list of the cheapest places to go to learn to surf (also check our previous post on the best places to learn to surf). The surf season is from March until September, but this is when the surf is biggest and can often be far to big for beginners. Better bet is to go during the surf off-season when the waves will be smaller and the line-ups will be empty.

El Tunco, El Salvador – Small surfing village outside of La Libertad, El Salvador. Walking distance from one of the best waves in the area: El Sunzal, a gentle long right, ideal for beginners. El Salvador has become much safer than in the 90s. El Tunco is nothing more than a couple guests houses, restaurants, internet cafe and a few families living there. Accomodations range from $5/night to $25 for a private room with AC and a pool. For more information on traveling and surfing in El Salvador, check out the surf travel guide for El Salvador at SurfThereNow.com.

sunzal from above Learn to Surf for $20/day

San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua – San Juan Del Sur is a beautiful, sleepy fishing village in Southern Nicaragua not far from the border with Costa Rica. Although the town itself doesn’t have surf, you can take a daily shuttle out to Playa Maderas where there’s playful surf all year long. It’s cheap to stay in SJDS and there’s multiple options starting at $8/night for the cheapest accomodations. There’s plenty to do, restaurants and bars as well. If you want to graudate to a more intermediate spot and stay right on the beach, then you’re best bet is to head up the coast a hour and stay at Playa Colorado’s.

nicaragua maderas Learn to Surf for $20/day

Santa Teresa/Mal Pais, Costa Rica – The adjoining towns of Santa Teresa and Mal Pais are on the southern tip of the Guanacaste Pennisula on the Pacific in Northern Costa Rica. The towns are beautiful and hardly developed, offering just enough options to eat, drink, sleep, and surf well. The beach is stunning and pristine and goes on for miles offering miles of empty surf. Many first timers to Costa Rica head to the only place they’re head of: Tamarindo. Tamarindo is over-developed and the waves are crowded. Mal Pais is just the opposite. Accomodations here start at $10/night, not as cheap as surrounding Central American countries but still plenty cheap. There’s waterfalls and a national park close by to check out as well.

costarica mp hammock Learn to Surf for $20/day

Bali – Bali is everything budget travel should be: incredible scenary, beautiful beaches, exotic culture, welcoming locals, and cheap, very cheap. Although flight will cost more than destinations in Central America, you would be surprised at how little it costs to get by in Bali. $5-8 for the cheapest accomodations. Bali has become a hot spot in recent years and in addition to the beaches and culture, it has a thriving nightlife, music, and art scene. It also boasts some of the best surfbreaks in the world on the Bukit Pennisula. Bali get good surf year round, with the best swells arriving from March to September. Kuta Beach is a long beach with smaller surf, ideal for learning. You can party all night and walk out to the surf at sunrise. For more on Bali, see the surf travel guide on Bali at SurfThereNow.com.

uluwatu Learn to Surf for $20/day

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Southeast Asia on $20/day

phnom pehn guesthouse Southeast Asia on $20/day

I just had a friend email me on a daily budget for traveling. It depends a lot on the area you’re headed to, but in my travel experiences Central America and Southeast Asia ranked the cheapest. Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, among other destinations can all be done on $20/day if you’re really willing to push the budget (don’t expect AC or your own room). Some places like Cambodia could be pulled off for even cheaper. I stayed for a night in Phnom Pehn for $8 for a clean private room with AC and bathroom, dorm room at the place were $2/night!!! Central America was cheap but not this cheap.

I generally budgeted about $30/day in Central America and Southeast Asia and would occasionally splurge for a private room and/or AC. Most places this worked pretty well, but I’d sometimes end up with some dingy options and then just upgrade to a hotel nearby. Some of the cheapest places I traveled to were Cambodia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras. It goes without saying that the more touristy and more well established a destination (Costa Rica, Thailand, etc) the more expensive they’ll be.

Mint has a good blog post on some of the areas in Southeast Asia that are the cheapest.

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Tokyology – Boing Boing TV

Boing Boing TV has feature on Tokyology, a documentary taking viewers through the eclectic and colorful world and culture of Tokyo. Tokyo is a place like unother for fashion, music, and culture. Check out the preview.