Tag Archives: travel

For Those on the Go: Create Your Own Day Spa on Long Trips

-Emily Fraysse

When constantly on the go, it is hard to fit beauty time and sleep into your schedule. I’ve done a great deal of traveling and have found that taking the time to stop and pamper myself has been a plus. Whether you are catching a plane or going on a long car ride, this routine get you feeling refreshed when you reach your destination.

Important things to bring along:

– Snag tea or some type of green drink (Superfood from Odwalla is awesome) from the airport or a coffee shop to keep hydrated.

– Pick up a healthy salad with minimal dressing (or hold the dressing on the side) with different vegetables. Also, grab a piece of fruit, like an orange or pieces of cantaloupe, for later if you feel like the salad will not be filling enough. If you feel that you are getting a craving, drink a tall glass of water or tea. This can be difficult at an airport, but do the best that you can to find a different healthy alternative to snack food.

– Make sure you have all your tools to improve yourself before your flight! Remember: according to TSA regulations, each passenger is allowed one 3.4 ounce (or less) bottle of liquid or gel,  and one quart-sized, clear plastic zip-lock bag holding 3.4 ounces or less of containers.

– Print out a stretching guide if you will be in a cramped position before the trip begins!

The on-the-go beauty routine:

#1 The Tools: Before you head out on your trip, make sure that you have all the products and utensils ready. First thing’s first: establish what area you would like to work on, and then get the right products (or create your own product!) to maximize your spa experience.

Face: A gentle facial cleanser, two good moisturizers (one with sunscreen for the day and another to wear at night), an exfoliant, and under eye patches.

Hands: A thick hand crème and possibly gloves so that you let the crème soak into your skin. Dry hands are the worst.

Feet: Tea-tree oil is really good for feet!

Hair: Hair mask and heat protectant.

Body: Sleep (at least eight hours no matter what age), deep breathing, and water. These are all key to feeling refreshed, relaxed, and cleansed.

#2 Breathing comes first: Whether you are in a boat, a car, or a plane, the important thing to do is relax and breathe. It seems simple, but deep breathing calms and relaxes the body. Reading a book, drawing, or writing can also help you unwind.

#3 Think Positively: Remember, this is time that you are taking for yourself. Either write down or make a list in your head of all the things you are grateful for, write a letter to a friend or family member, or list three good things that happened to you that day.

#4 Remember to stretch: If, at any point during the trip you feel that your muscles are getting tight, feel free to stretch. Check out these poses for inspiration.

#5 Apply! Apply your face mask, under eye patches, or whatever else you would like to work on. Remember to make sure you have enough time to really let things soak in.

#6 Take a nap: Even a short 20-minute nap can make a huge difference. So pop off your shoes, shut the blinds, get comfy, and recline (if you can).

#7 Other things to remember: Bring gum to pop your ears if you are flying! And a nice head rest blow-up pillow will do you wonders for your neck.

Enjoy your trip!

Submarines: I like the movie better


-Casey Klekas

The few pictures I have of that dreadful boat have Facebook captions like, “ten seconds before five of the most uncomfortable minutes of my life. Don’t go in old soviet submarines if you value space, hygiene, safety or life in general.”

Some context, perhaps. I spent a solid month in Germany this summer. My last few days were spent in Hamburg—Germany’s second-largest city and the second-largest port town in Europe. On the night train from Bamberg to Hamburg, I made sure I had a few attractions circled for the next day, minor preparations for walking off a hangover I’d brew in one of the most famous red light districts in the world, the Reeperbahn. One of the sights that caught my attention was the Soviet submarine U-434.

A member of the Soviet Navy since it was launched in 1976, this Tango-class sub spends its retirement as a museum docked on the River Elbe. I was traveling with one of my closest friends, Mike. Mike and I share a love of submarine movies, so he didn’t need any convincing to walk the few miles from our hostel down to the docks.

As soon as I walked down the spiral staircase, I realized I could not turn around and go back out the one-way entrance. The only exit was on the other end of the ship. The ship is five feet short of a football field in length, although I only had to walk about half of that.

If I haven’t given it away, it was a claustrophile’s paradise. You could hardly manage a shuffle behind a family of Turkish immigrants and with Scandinavian tourists breathing down your neck. Crouching was a must.

Also, it made me doubt the party propaganda around the magnificence of Soviet workmanship. My only thought: “Tetanus!”

Jim Morrison coming out of my headphones wasn’t helping either, “Five to one, baby/ One in five/ No one here gets out alive.”


I left Mike behind, and he surfaced out the other end ten or so minutes later to find me sucking heavily on a cigarette.

What was most shocking was the lack of space. I can hear you saying, “Well, no ship—it is, after all, a submarine.” Yes, I had acknowledged the fact that Hollywood might have made submarines look a bit roomier than the real deal, but nothing quite prepares you for being trapped like a greasy sardine. I hadn’t even left the port—the ship was DOCKED. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be out at sea, way out away from the dock, Ahoy!

And yet, I would not turn down the opportunity to revisit any fictionalization of these metal tubes filled with sweat and Spam. Why? Well, that’s for next time. As far as my own limited experience, it has taught me to only reenter a submarine if it is through a pair of Hollywood lenses.

I’m leaving on a spaceship, and I’ll never be back again

 Big Red Mars

-Casey Klekas

Putting a human footprint on Mars is possible within the next twenty years, scientists and Martian advocates say. But, if you don’t want to wait for the technology and funding to come through so you can get to and from the Red Planet, you can now bid for a one-way ticket. That’s right! Scientists say that a sending humans to Mars without the intention of bringing them back to Earth would cut the cost of a mission, just as a one-way ticket to Denver costs less than round trip. This would make the project more economically viable, which is one of the most deciding factors in what has become an ice-cold space race.

Discovery News reports that the ideal and lucky few would likely be past their reproductive prime and spend their retirement establishing a base camp and creating a sustainable environment for future planetary pioneers.

So what would be positive about spending your last years on Mars? On the plus side, you’d weigh 38 percent of what you do on Earth (I’d be past my summertime goal at sixty-nine pounds). Your Martian days would be thirty-seven minutes longer than Earth’s if you wanted to get in some extra reading. You’d also have 669 Martian days, the equivalent of 687 Earth days, in one Martian year. The average temperature measured on Mars is -67 degrees Fahrenheit. But, temperatures have ranged from -200 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit, well above Eugene’s shorts and tank-top level.

You could spend your slightly longer days on Mars mining for water, fossils, and precious metals. You may get sick of the monotonous hue of the Martian backdrop, with colors ranging from orange to darker orange. It’s surface is basically made of rust, or iron oxide, which gives it its red shading. At night you could gaze at Phobos and Deibos, Mars’s two irregular shaped moons.

Let’s say NASA went with the plan to send a few cosmonauts on a one-way trip. If that were the case, it would not just raise questions about cost and engineering, but ethics as well. I guess it depends on how you look at it: Shooting a couple of people in a rocket headed for a barren planet without any chance of bringing them home may sound like a cosmological form of exile. Or, maybe it doesn’t sound that different from the stories of pilgrims leaving the old world of Europe to establish a new life in America.

Let’s grant that the two to four people sent to Mars are going willingly. Does that mean it would dissolve our ethical responsibilities? Certainly not, because we would be the ones sending them to their eventual, lonely deaths (can you make it to heaven from Mars?). Without our consent, the consent of NASA, and the good ol’ tax-paying American citizen, the mission would not exist.

The effects of a thirty-five million to 250 million mile journey on the human psyche are also under consideration by the Mars-bound hopefuls. Russian researchers have been conducting isolation experiments on six poor devils that have been locked in a room for over 500 days. Their internal clocks never adapted to the office lighting, causing the men to suffer insomnia. Add this to the knowledge that you’re in friggin’ space and can never turn around and that your destination is also where you’ll be buried. Again, the troopers on the voyage will have full knowledge of what they’ve bargained for, but if they change their mind on the interplanetary flight or when tilling the Martian sand, expect the world’s first cosmo-mutiny.

Sending two to four people to stay on another planet for the rest of their lives would be an unprecedented event. I mean that quite literally. It would have no equal in human history. Of course, this will open the pod-bay doors (HAL) to further man-and-womanned-missions to Mars. It could possibly mark the first chapter in the story of human colonization on the fourth rock from the sun. Or we could find ourselves being made to listen to the cries for help by the sick and deranged trailblazers from the Martian surface. (Hypothetical newsflash: at least three dead on Mars, no source to confirm fourth). My hope is that we wait to do this the old-fashioned way, with government money, a NASA logo, and a return flight home. “Cheap and quick” is liable to land you on Venus or something.

Image by Kevin M. Gill.

Fun in Florida: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter & Disney World

-Brianna Huber

When I learned that my family would be going to Disney World over winter break 2012, I was thrilled.  It’s rare that I get to travel anywhere outside of Oregon and Washington.  Before a trip I took with my mom to Disneyland in winter 2011, I hadn’t been on a plane since my eighth grade trip to Washington, DC.  The only time I’ve been out of the country is when my family went to Victoria, Canada.  Florida is the farthest I’ve ever traveled from home, and even though the trip had some complications here and there (like my whole family getting sick with food poisoning and our flight home being diverted to Portland) it was a great experience. This blog will include some of my photos from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Disney World.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was like walking into a book.  I was greeted by a train conductor and a replica of the Hogwarts Express before venturing onward through the streets of Hogsmeade.  The ride through Hogwarts castle, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, was so much more than I expected.  I figured I was in for a mellow tour through the castle, but that was just while waiting in line.  The actual ride was a fast-paced, immersive thing where I flew across the Quidditch pitch, got spat at by Aragog, and was nearly smashed by the Whomping Willow.  I think a Dementor tried to steal my soul, too.  It was pretty intense.

Florida weather is even more temperamental than Oregon weather.  Torrential rain will come on in a matter of seconds, last for about twenty minutes, and then disappear for the rest of the day.  I took this photo during the second half of a downpour with a brief pause in the middle that my family and I used to run from under a covered doorway and into Honeydukes.  The rain started again the second I passed through the door.

This roller coaster was in one of the ‘lands’ adjacent to the world of Harry Potter and was based on the Incredible Hulk. It’s probably the coolest roller coaster I’ve ridden in my life. “Expedition Everest” in Disney’s Animal Kingdom was a close second. There were two Harry Potter-themed coasters, but they were both closed the day we were at Universal Studios due to nearby construction.

There was a skywriter above Epcot.  I have never seen a skywriter in real life before then, and it brought out my usual sense of childlike wonder.  I didn’t get to read the whole message because some clouds moved in front of it before it was finished.

No Disney World photo essay would be complete without Epcot Center, or as I like to call it, the giant golf ball.  There’s a ride inside of the ball that takes you through the history of human knowledge with animatronics.  I just missed getting a photo of “Michelangelo” painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and still haven’t gotten over it.

At the end of the night at Epcot, there was a spectacular fireworks show.  Apparently it could be seen every night around 9pm from one of the top floors of our hotel.

That’s the first half of Disney vacation in a nutshell.  I look forward to sharing my adventures at the space center with you soon.

Home Exchange: Traveling on a Budget


-Emily Fraysse

The daydreams of lounging in a villa on a sandy white beach in Barbados or skiing to your hidden log cabin in the Swiss Alps could become a reality. And that reality is only a percentage of the price through home exchange. Ultimately, it is “you stay in my house while I stay in yours.”

There are two types of home exchanges: hospitality exchange and home exchange. Hospitality exchange means that the family who lives in the house allows others to stay at their home simultaneously at designated times. The benefit of this, besides the social aspect, is the in-house tour guide. Home exchange happens when each party switches houses completely at a time that is convenient for both to swap.

While many people can be leery about swapping houses for multiple reasons, the number of reasons why you should take the plunge exceeds those. It can be a scary concept to stay at someone’s house that you’ve never met before or allow others to stay at your house, so the exchange relies on mutual trust. With thousands of successful house exchanges per year, the exchange is rewarding in more than one way.

The swapping works best for people who have an alluring home to offer and those who are okay with having strangers living in the house and touching valuable items. Once you’ve found a potential host, get in contact, exchange information, and be clear about your expectations before the swap occurs. After all the nitty-gritty details are finalized, I’m sure you’ll feel less like you’re living in a stranger’s home and more like living in a friend’s.

So, now where would you like to go?

Home Exchange programs to look at:

Home Exchange

Love Home Swap
Trade to Travel
Home Link
Intervac Home Exchange

Some of my personal favorite spots:

Watamu, Kenya

Noosa Heads, Queensland

Whistler, British Columbia

Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

Buleleng Tejakula, Bali
Pecatu, Bali

Kilalloe, County Clare

Amelia, Umbria


Ko Samui, Surat Thani

United Kingdom:
Lewes, East Sussex
Beadlow, Bedfordshire

United States:
South Beach, Florida
Battery Park City, New York

Image from http://blog.barterquest.com

The Discipline of Dance

[caps]F[/caps]rom a young age, Geoffrey Bergold knew he was meant to move, but he didn’t realize until 2 years into college that he had a love for ballet. He abandoned traditional higher education, and found a disciplined home at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet in Carisle, PA.

“For the first two months, I couldn’t walk,” recalls Bergold.

Transported from the east coast, Bergold now dances across the Pacific Northwest for the Eugene Ballet Company. Here, Bergold is surrounded by a devoted family of fellow dancers; “I don’t miss a day of work,” he says.



Let Me Just Google Map Croatia…

-Brooke Brown 


Pictured is the island of Susak. Croatia lies on the Adriatic Sea and extends all the way from Slovenia and Hungary to the North, all the way down to Montenegro in the South.


In the span of 48 hours I was in Seattle, Frankfurt, and Zagreb, Croatia.

Needless to say, the start of my European summer was a zombie-like daze dealing with a serious time zone mix-up. Especially after leaving Eugene, Oregon in the typical frenzy of packing for three months with a brain like Jello from a good-old 8 a.m. math final that day.

I’ll be living in Heidelberg, Germany for the summer doing the college summer Euro-vacation and soaking in every second of it. Heidelberg is known for being on the verge of a little too touristy, but I’m convinced there’s more to explore here than what your average tourist looks for. Sure, many of the Germans speak English and there are plenty of cliché touristy items lining the streets (admittedly, I already purchased a ‘Das Boot’).

But there’s also one of the oldest castles in Germany and a thriving college bar scene, which I’ll be sure to drunkenly embarrass myself at some point or another as a stupid ‘Americana’ (the beer is a lot stronger here, I can’t help it).

But as I flew into Zagreb, Croatia for a brief visit, it felt like anything but a stereotypical Euro-trip kind of vacation. It could just be my naïve American perspective announcing its annoying presence to me once again, but I don’t think I’ve ever known of anyone going on vacation to Croatia.

I thought I knew my geography fairly well until I realized Google Maps was the only way I could really accurately pinpoint where the country was. I guess I can’t be too mad at myself, most Americans probably don’t even know there is a country named Croatia.

It’s sandwiched between Eastern and Western Europe, making it an odd jumble of cultures that used to have control over the country. It’s incredible the Croatians have been able to hang on to their language and culture at all since the first time they ever really had control of their own country was in 1991. They’ve been littered with war, surviving brutal and bloody ethnic cleansing, a Nazi puppet government, and finally winning a bloody battle for their independence from Yugoslavia.

But now it would be hard to guess that war was taking place here just a couple decades ago.  Europe’s new Italy is filled with plush resorts on glimmering turquoise water and plenty of culture that comes along with them. It’s cheaper than Italy and its beaches are just as beautiful, which draws tons of Europeans during summertime.

I almost had a heart attack at seeing the Roman ruins in Split, where the city itself was built around the remains of Diocletian’s palace from 300 A.D.

Well-built is a bit of an understatement. It’s hard not to compare our own buildings and architecture to this insanely old and intact emperor’s retirement home (there’s a nice alternative to Florida golf courses). Our buildings in the U.S. start deteriorating after forty or fifty years, let alone 1600. They even have fully intact remains of the palace’s stone olive press and several coffins, which makes me wonder if Ghost Hunters has ever thought of tapping this potentially very spooky and plentiful resource.

The basement of Diocletian’s palace. I wouldn’t want to walk these halls at night.


In Split, you can be eating gelato at a café that was built right into the ruins of Diocletian’s palace. How ‘bout that for some history? The white wine and seafood here is a deadly, mouthwatering combination that I’d probably consider as another very serious reason why I need to visit this country again.

The one other place I explored in Croatia is Susak, one of the very smallest inhabited islands off the coast (there are over 1200 islands in all). It’s the type of place where you could hide out if you were wanted for some crime; you’d at least get a couple years of beach-bum solitude before anyone would discover you.

There are no cars on the island and only one small, sleepy town where they still use a well to pump out water. It felt almost a world away from everything.

I ordered a beer at the one bar on the island and when the bartender asked where I was from I said Oregon. He responded nonchalantly in a thick Croatian accent with “Oh yeah, they have that good football team, the Ducks.” I smiled and realized it only takes a small reminder to see that home is never really too far.


When making my preparations to go to Edinburgh, I knew that, given the diet of fried foods that defined my trip, I would need to spend all the time that I was not eating being active enough to turn my body into a big, albeit slightly flabby, calorie furnace. Fortunately, Edinburgh is a city hilly enough to rival San Francisco, with the added benefit of a royal park full of giant hills smack dab in the middle of town.

Hiking is not exactly my deal. It’s actually pretty far from my deal.

God bless the hikers of the world, but I’ve seen trees and rocks before. I enjoy trees and rocks, and I like seeing them.

However, I don’t feel the need to spend several hours clambering over uneven terrain in order to see more trees and rocks. I know it’s a matter of personal preference, but whenever I hear my friends raving about how much they love hiking, I can’t help but think that maybe I’m not enjoying it because I’m doing something wrong. It’s like I’m playing Modern Warfare 2 without knowing that you’re allowed to shoot people.

However, after two days in which I consumed a haggis burrito, a deep fried cheeseburger, and a deep fried pizza, I knew that the only way I could make it out of Scotland without heart failure as a souvenir was to hike my nuts off, and the place to do that was at Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park, home to Arthur’s Seat and the Salisbury Crags. The fact that I did this on a day so hot that a runner in the Edinburgh Marathon died of heat exhaustion should also be noted.

Right away, I realized that this hike probably couldn’t be classified as a hike – not because it wasn’t difficult, because it definitely was, but because I was actually enjoying it. You see, while I don’t like hiking, I do enjoy panoramic views of major cities, and the advantage to these hills being in the center of a major city is… Well, really, do I need to explain?

The hike where I first learned that I was not a hiking enthusiast was a muddy slog through dense forests, affording no real views of the surrounding landscape and, more importantly, no way to look back at how far you’d come and think, “Well, I’m covered in mud and sweat and there isn’t a bathroom for miles, but look what I’ve done!

For all I knew, we could’ve been going in circles. Furthermore, there was no tangible goal to what we were doing, save for “Get to the end of the trail so we can hike the entire trail backwards and then go home.”

Climbing the steep, uneven path up to the top of Arthur’s Seat, 823 feet above the city, was an awe inspiring experience. No, like, literally.

I would stop and turn around and see the tiny brown path I’d taken snaking up the sheer edge of the hill with the entire city of Edinburgh laid out in the distance all the way to the North Sea, glimmering in the afternoon light, and awe was actually inspired within me. And along with that awe was ambition to keep climbing up to the top, which was also within sight, because the view only got better the higher I went. Refreshing cold winds off the North Sea also helped.

Maybe 50 feet from the summit, the hill leveled out into a wide, grassy plateau where several other hikers were sitting with books or lying on their backs for a high-altitude nap. From here, you could turn 360 degrees and see everything for miles in every direction.

I could see from the docks at one side of town all the way to where houses and deep fried pizza shops gave way to lush green fields and farmland. A city the size of Portland laid out underneath me, like I was some sort of sweaty alien riding on a floating grass disk.

Edinburgh is probably the second most beautiful city I’ve ever seen (after Portland, which, if it were a woman, would be Christina Hendricks). I don’t think I’d ever want to live outside the United States, for reasons I’ll elaborate on in a later update, but if I had to flee the country after pulling a massive casino heist, Edinburgh would be the place I’d go to start my new life.*

*Not that I’m planning a casino heist.

And what’s more, I’d use my newfound wealth to bribe city council members to let me build a modest house up on that grassy plateau, that little disk in the sky. Every morning, I’d be able to walk out my front door and see everything in the city I called my home, and at the same time, if the police tried to catch up with me, they’d be forced to run single file up a narrow path, which gives me a clear advantage, tactically speaking.

Truman Capps has all sorts of other interesting travel tidbits on his blog, Hair Guy.

Destination Surgery

With the rising cost of health care comes the controversial new trend of medical tourism.

Cristina Ramos sits on a plastic-cased chair, the back of her legs glued to the covering as she attempts to peel them off the sticky surface. She readjusts herself, looking to her left to see a tin table adorned with a blue sheet of paper and half a dozen metal tools resting on top. She takes a deep breath and turns to see her father, seated adjacent to the over-sized chair in which she sits. He smiles and reassures her that the process will be quick and painless. Ramos’s visit to the dentist is similar to any other routine procedure, except for one detail: She is in Mexico, hundreds of miles from her home in Santa Cruz, California.

Ramos, 22, is one of a growing number of people who have chosen to undergo medical procedures outside of his or her home country. In his article “A revolution in health care: medicine meets the marketplace,” Fred Hansen, physician and journalist, says that the market for medical tourism is predicted to jump from the $20 billion industry it is today to one worth roughly $100 billion by 2012.

The phenomenon of “medical tourism” encompasses people from a variety of backgrounds. According to a 2008 report on medical tourism by the Institute of Development Studies, a global charity for international development, medical tourists used to be affluent people able to afford to travel, typically in the United States or Europe, to receive the best medical care possible. As international travel has become more attainable, however, more and more people from a range of backgrounds are choosing this option. The primary motivator for medical tourists: costs. In some foreign countries, such as India, Thailand, and Mexico, the price of medical procedures can cost a fraction of what it does in the United States.

Medical tourists seek out a wide array of treatments and procedures, everything from routine medical and dental work to complex surgeries and procedures, such as joint replacements and cardiac surgery. Many of the procedures sought out by medical tourists are elective, such as plastic surgery and cataract surgery, simply because many health insurance companies do not cover surgeries that are not emergencies. Fueling the trend is the fact that the quality of medical care around the globe has improved. India, for example, is a forerunner for medical advancements like hip resurfacing procedures.

Although Ramos’s trip to Mexico was for a medical procedure, her father is from Mexico. Because her family was already getting prescriptions across the border, heading south seemed like a logical step to save money in an age of rising health care costs. “I’ve been in American hospitals for everything from concussions to torn ligaments,” says Ramos, noting her experience with costly medical procedures in the U.S.

Amy Costales, an adjunct instructor of Spanish at the University of Oregon, lived in Thailand and witnessed medical tourism on a regular basis.

“People from Australia, New Zealand, and Europe would come to Bangkok because they had a hospital set up just for medical tourism,” says Costales. “They had an online Web site where you could find your doctor, plan your trip, and they even helped with accommodations. People would fly to Thailand because it was cheaper,” says Costales, noting that later on, she became one of these tourists, flying from India to Thailand to have knee surgery.

Jim Krois, 62, from Williams, Oregon, traveled to Mexico in 2009 to have his hip replaced while he was uninsured. “I was diagnosed for a hip-replacement two weeks before I was laid off. To have the surgery in the U.S. it would [have] cost me anywhere from $52,000 to $80,000. India was the cheapest I could find for about $8,000 to $10,000, but I decided on Puerta Vallarta [Mexico] because of the shorter flying time,” says Krois. The surgery cost $12,000 with an added $2,500 for airfare and accommodations. In spite of the significant cost savings, Krois had reservations and worried about the safety of the procedure.

“I’ve been around the world a couple of times; I was never afraid of going to another country, but I was concerned with hygiene,” says Krois.

“We’ve all heard horror stories [about] Mexico, but I stayed in a brand-new hospital.”

Ramos could relate to these concerns. “My dentist at home is very upscale and fancy, and the place we went to in Mexico had old ads on the wall and a dirty exterior, but their quality of work and customer service was better than all the years I had gotten from my dentist in the United States,” Ramos says, explaining that, in Mexico, most of the time one or two nurses were at her side to comfort or assist her throughout the process.

Because of worldwide improvements in medical and sanitation standards, tourists have become more confident that the treatment they seek will be just as effective, if not more so, than if they stayed in their home country. Medical amenities across the globe are now comparable to medical institutions in the United States, which were once said to be the standard of quality treatment and cleanliness. These facilities offer the same standards of treatment at a much lower rate, presenting an opportunity for first-world countries such as U.S., Canada, and Europe to save thousands on health care bills.

For Krois, the thought of saving thousands of dollars outweighed his mild hesitation of the health-risks he might encounter in foreign territory.

Another worry for those seeking low-cost medical attention is the risk of scams. According to Ian Youngman of the International Travel Journal, medical tourism offices catering strictly to medical tourism are allowed to go unregulated by the government, and it is easy to become a victim of a trick. “Some national sounding names have been found to be nothing more than a guy using a laptop and an Internet café,” he says. Many medical tourists rely on what they read on the Internet—being that they are so far away—a source that may not be reliable.

According to medicaltourism.com, a Web site catering to those who are considering medical tourism, the credibility of the facility and the doctor varies from practice to practice. The key to finding a safe and suitable doctor in a foreign country is careful research.

While medical tourism might benefit those seeking treatment, it can carry some downsides for the host country. According to the Department of Tourism at Pondicherry University in India, medical tourism can create a shortage of trained health care workers for native people.

According to the department’s research, medical tourism generates an estimated $60 billion in business for India and has led to the creation of high-tech private medical facilities in India. However, questions remain about whether local residents benefit from the revenue these facilities produce. “Experience from India suggests that private hospitals attract health professionals away from the public health sector and rural areas in India,” says a report from the university’s department of tourism.

“This is a valid point,” says Costales. “Ideally, if a country has set up medical tourism, it would be nice if it benefited the country and wasn’t just a pocket of businessmen and doctors getting really rich and depleting these resources from the rest of the country.”

The idea of traveling to a foreign country for something as intimate as medical care may seem daunting to some. “There are all these fears of the unknown,” says Costales. “I think there are times when we think other countries have inferior medical care, and some do, but there are also countries with very good care.”

Despite these adverse effects, officials at the Confederation for India Industry predict that the practice of medical tourism will not slow anytime soon.

Looking back on his surgery in Mexico, Krois says, “I would do it again in a second.”

Eating in Edinburgh

– Truman Capps

Between the round trip train tickets and three nights in a hostel, my trip to Edinburgh cost me roughly 130 pounds, which comes out to nearly $200. I consider myself to be a slightly cultured person, but the simple fact is that no art museum or guided history tour alone will encourage me to drop $200 on a weekend trip.

An international reputation for deep fried food, on the other hand, is exactly what it takes.

You name it, Scotland deep fries it – hot dogs, rotisserie chickens, ribs, pineapple rings, eggs, McNuggets, doner kebabs…

The only limitation here is that whatever you want to deep fry has to be solid enough to be coated in batter and dropped in the fryer, hence why the Scots have yet to develop deep fried whiskey.

This penchant for deep frying anything edible has made Scotland late night talk show joke fodder in recent years, which I think is wholly unfair. Firstly, up until this deep frying craze began, Scotland’s best known food was haggis, which is made of sheep’s lungs, heart, and liver minced with onion and oatmeal, heavily seasoned, and then simmered inside the sheep’s stomach.

When your jumping off point is inedible bits of animal jammed inside another inedible bit of animal, anything is an improvement.

Incidentally, they deep fry haggis, too.

So, without any further ado, please enjoy my reviews of the three deep fried foods I consumed during my time in Edinburgh. Kids, don’t try this at home.

Deep Fried Cheeseburger

I am a tried and true burger lover. I’d say that it’s probably one of my favorite foods – juvenile a choice as it may be, there’s nothing quite like a big, high quality cheeseburger when you’ve had a long day and all you want is to clog your arteries in the most efficient way possible.

So when I saw the deep fried cheeseburger on the menu at Café Piccante, a chip shop near my hostel, I knew I had to go for it.

Deep frying is a tricky proposition – you’ve got to drop the whole business into a vat of boiling oil, which makes frying small things (M&Ms) or multi-layered things (burgers with their buns) difficult, as it’s very easy for everything to come apart and sink to the bottom of the fryer. That’s why I was interested to see how they handled a deep fried cheeseburger – a layer of cheese on top of the patty would all too quickly separate and disappear into the fat. It’s for this same reason that you can’t deep fry a pizza with any toppings that are liable to come off when submerged.

As it turned out, the Swiss cheese was inside the patty, an ingenious and effective delivery method that I would’ve taken a photograph of had it not been so delicious that I devoured the whole burger before I could think. The act of forming the raw patty around the cheese and then cooking it put me in mind of the South Minneapolis ‘Jucy Lucy’ burger.

Jucy Lucy

Deep Fried Pizza

When I mentioned it a second ago, maybe you said, “What? Deep fried pizza!? He’s joking, right?”

No, I wasn’t.

The deep fried pizza was something I’d been itching to try ever since seeing it on a Food Network special about deep fried foods, and my trip to Castle Rock Chip Shop in the Grass Market was the culmination of many months’ planning and fantasizing.

The closer I got, though, the more apprehensive I felt – was I actually going to go through with this?

I already felt bad enough for my body after the previous day’s deep fried cheeseburger – a battered and fried pizza would surely be adding insult to injury. I paced outside the chip shop for a minute before forcing myself to go inside, having already come this far.

“I-I’d like a d-deep fried pizza, please,” I murmured to the woman behind the counter as though I were asking for a volume of deep fried hardcore pornography.

She cheerily went to work, pulling a cheap frozen pizza out of the freezer and covering it in batter before dropping it into the fryer. Just like top quality steak never goes into a steak sandwich, you’re going to have to look far and wide to find a brick oven deep fried pizza.

To my knowledge, virtually every chip shop in Scotland buys the bottom rung school cafeteria-style cheese pizzas to throw into the fryer. Buy a pizza at WinCo and you’ll know what I mean.

Thing is, you’re not paying for the pizza – you’re paying for the fact that it’s deep fried, and I can tell you that when you’re experiencing the novelty of eating something cheesy and tomatoey that’s also been beer battered, you really don’t care that much. The deep frying process covers for a lot of ills.

The experience was not that enjoyable for me, however. They dropped the whole deep fried pizza into a box and shoveled in a liberal amount of fries along with it, and then sent me on my way. Yes, as this was a take-away establishment, I was going to have to find a park bench and eat this embarrassingly unhealthy meal in public, bearing my shame for all to see.

It was good enough, I suppose, but I felt so bad – psychologically, I mean – about what I was eating that I only finished about three quarters of it and maybe half of the fries before dumping the remains in a garbage can and fleeing the scene, promising that my next meal would involve bean sprouts in some way.

(Also, I washed this meal down with a can of Irn-Bru soda, the Scottish soft drink so popular that in Scotland it outsells Coke and Pepsi combined. It tastes like a combination of orange and cream soda and has so much sugar and so many additives that it is allegedly illegal in Sweden. I have never in my life tasted a soda so steadfastly committed to being gross.)

Deep Fried Mars Bar

After my PTSD-inducing experience with deep fried pizza, I promised myself I would abstain from trying a deep fried Mars Bar. However, on my last night in town I caved and slipped out of the hostel under the cover of darkness, making my way to the Clam Shell chip shop on the Royal Mile with the dark and insane drive of Martin Sheen going to kill Kurtz at the end of Apocalypse Now.

I could practically hear Jim Morrison echoing in my head when I approached the Indian guy at the counter and said, “One deep fried Mars Bar, please.”


Don’t do it.

The Mars Bar is what we in America know as the Milky Way bar, which is actually one of my preferred brands of candy bar. But something about coating it in batter and throwing it in the fryer turns it into a sugar-charged orgy of molten chocolate and nougat coated in enough grease to render multiple sheets of paper clear as a car’s windshield.

It was a dark but delicious three days. Also, in case you were wondering, I was able to make it through the weekend without turning into 1970s Elvis by doing uncharacteristically athletic stuff, like climbing these volcanic rock formations:

Of course, I guess I’ll only really know if I ducked the consequences when I die of natural causes at a very old age, instead of succumbing to a heart attack before I finish writing thi

Truman Capps also recounts his experiences with haggis and Scottish hiking on his personal blog, Hair Guy.