Travel guide for Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it here, but I’ve been to Thailand. I went last November. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life so far and I knew as soon as I arrived that I’d want to revisit Southeast Asia. The culture, pace, lifestyle, landscape, people were absolutely amazing.

Fast forward a year and I’m heading back to Southeast Asia with my friend Chris Lea for almost a month. A few friends have asked me what I’ve been doing to prepare for this big trip so I thought I’d write up some notes here.

  • First off, go to your local immunization clinic and get immunized. You’ll most likely get Typhoid, Tetanus, Hepatitis A/B and flu vaccines. Additionally, they’ll probably give you an antibiotic in case you eat something that “doesn’t agree with you” and malaria medication. In addition to these medications, I suggest you get a small first aid kit and some basic pain medication for those bucket induced hangovers. 
  • Make a color copy of your passport and give it to a friend or family member. Additionally, scan a copy and send it to yourself in an email as a PDF.
  • Register with the State Department that you’ll be overseas along with where you’ll be.
  • Call all of your credit card companies and tell them that you’re going to be out of the country, which countries you’ll be visiting and when you’re leaving/coming back. I went ahead and put fraud prevention on one of mine, which covers all of my cards against identify theft, including my bank accounts.
  • If you own an iPhone get the Pwnage tool and jailbreak/unlock your iPhone. It’s extremely important that you use the Pwnage tool as the QuickPwn doesn’t unlock the SIM card. In addition to this, I’ve installed a VoIP client, which will get me 1.8 cent phone calls back to the US from WiFi access points.
  • When you pack make sure to put a copy of your passport and your driver’s license in one bag and your passport in another. Additionally, split up your credit cards in this manner. Do NOT keep all of your identification and forms of payment in a SINGLE place.
  • Buy a key lock. All of the places I stayed at in Thailand last time had lockers in a secure closet/room. You could either use your own lock or one of theirs. I highly suggest you use your own.
  • This time around I’m leaving the camera to my companion, who is a professional photographer. If you’re not so lucky I highly  recommend the Cannon XTi or similar. In addition, I’d get a decent lens (I used the Canon 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens with great success last time) and an external hard drive that lets you rip photos directly from the camera’s card to the hard drive (e.g. DigiMate II).
  • If you’re going to be truly backpacking then I suggest a light sleeping bag, small travel pillow and a towel.
  • An absolute if you’re going to be island hopping is an LED headlamp.

Overall, Thailand is a great place to visit. It’s insanely cheap, easy to get around and the people there are very welcoming and accommodating.

Giving back to the community

At Digg we use a lot of open source software. A short list includes PHP, Memcached, MogileFS, Gearman, Debian GNU/Linux, Python, Perl, MySQL, Apache, APC and PEAR. Something that may not be quite as well known is that Digg developers have been busy giving back to the community as well.

The best part, in my opinion, about all of this is that we release our code under the most liberal license possible given the circumstances – the New BSD License (We use New BSD to protect Digg’s trademarks).

Of course there are other companies that contribute significantly to FOSS. Flickr, Facebook, Yahoo!, IBM and Google are just a few and I’m more than happy to say that Digg is giving back as well.

You can't have it both ways

I just had a good friend send me a video that they had posted to Vimeo with the caveat that I not share it elsewhere. A public video. On a video sharing website.

This isn’t the first time such things have happened. I’ve had other friends tweet out “Having beers at Zeitgeist with a bunch of my friends. Come join us!” and then get angry when a person they didn’t “invite” showed up.

An here we are, the insanity of social norms being transformed by social networks before our very eyes. Somehow it’s acceptable to post a public video on a video sharing website, but not kosher for me to post that link in a chat room. It’s okay to post a public invite that’s disseminated to hundreds or thousands of people on a public service, but not okay for someone you don’t like to show up “uninvited”. And this is the inherent bullshit that’s being woven into social networking. You can’t have it both ways. You’ve got to think before you post every detail of your life to the internet. You have to have thick skin. You have to be okay with who you are and what you do as a person.

Because you can’t have it both ways.

Cross posting is bad for the internets

With services like del.icio.usTwitterPownceTumblrFriendFeed, etc. there has been a rise in something that I consider highly insidious – cross posting. Cross posting is the exact opposite of post aggregation and should be discouraged and, in my opinion, treated as spam.

  1. It increases noise. I’m following you only on Twitter for a reason. It’s not so I can get pinged every time you post something new to one of the 30 social sites you’re on. It’s so I can get your thoughts, musings and annoyances in little 140 character pieces throughout the day.
  2. It hurts usability. Not only do I have to log in and take action on Twitter or, but I also have to go and log into Pownce or Facebook to see what you really posted.

I’ve unfollowed people that actively practice this (including a good friend whom I’ll leave nameless). I don’t have any problems with posting the same thing to two different networks. Just don’t automate it and don’t make me jump through hoops to get to the end result. 

UPDATE: I also hate it when people automatically tell me where they are on Twitter via the billion different location services. If I really care to stalk you I’ll follow you on Brightkite, Dodgeball, etc. 

UPDATE: Updating your Facebook feed with your Twitter status isn’t too bad with the exception that it still kind of messes up usability since my Facebook friends probably have no idea who @a is.