Donate Button Test



Help Logan to get enough money to visit the USA!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

THAILAND BACK TO MALAYSIA

THAILAND BACK TO MALAYSIA

I should have booked the train ticket earlier.  My fault came about in not keeping a close eye on Chinese New Year.

They go nuts for it in Asia - for some reason.  I suspect it's because their companies give them time off work.  Why this is celebrated outside of China is something I really don't understand.  Why it still exists in these modern times, also something I don't understand.

There are lots of things I really don't get.  But as David Lopan says...


So I booked the sleeper train for a twelve hour fun ride south.  The problem was there were only four spaces in the next several days available.  And they were all top bunks.

Asking me to get climb the narrow ladder into something roughly the size of a coffin and squirm my way in there is almost cruel.  But, it was that or nothing.  Since my visa only had a couple days left on it, I opted for attempting to fill the space allotted to a small Asian person.

It was nightmarish.

At my age and with my various problems, the thing I love to do more than anything else is get up several times a night to go pee.

So it became a painful obstacle course.  Bashed my back, nearly tore my shorts, spent a lot of time wishing I had a pee bottle.

It felt like this.

Best of all - zero sleep.

Eventually, got off the train in Penang Malaysia.  Really close to Georgetown.  The place where I nearly died from Dengue Fever before.  Didn't want to go there.

Decided to go with my traveler mentor's advice and did some walking around.  For some odd reason there seemed to be only two hotels close to the train station - one was 'closed' and the other was some dilapidated crap that wanted the equivalent of twenty USD for a night.

What the fuck.

As I wandered around with my stuff, I took care to stop and rest occasionally as well as drink water.  I don't think it helped.  I was only out for an hour or two but that sun is merciless - especially when you are carrying all your stuff.

I eventually decided I'd just have to go sleep in disease central.

As I'm waiting for the ferry, I felt my blood pressure begin to plummet.  My hands and arms started shaking.  I managed to sit down and remove my kit.  There were a couple super friendly Spanish folks and a French guy there to keep an eye on me.  Tourists look out for each other - which is awesome.  My vision began to narrow.  There was a rushing in my ears.  I wanted to shit myself.

I concentrated on just breathing.

Eventually, I came out of it.  I'm thinking it was probably sun stroke, heat exhaustion or something like that.  I've no idea.

Passing out and shitting myself in the medically wildly overpriced Malaysia - not high on my 'to do' list.

The Spanish guy grabbed my computer bag and carried it for me.  I was hella grateful.

Eventually, we got to the ferry.  I started drinking water.  Whether it is Dengue or heat stroke, water and rest are the cure.  Water I could do but there was a bunch of walking that needed to be done yet.

For Logan's Voyage readers not from Earth, here is an example of water.  Note, if an Earth-man is dehydrated, complete submergence for an extended period of time will cure him completely of dehydration.

Since I knew the place pretty well after living (and nearly dying) there, I took them over to the row of cheap places to stay on "Love Street".  The locals don't seem to know that name but all of the tourists do.  Ask them if you need it.

Full.  Chinese New Year.  Amazing.


They weren't digging the accommodations, so they moved on.  I found a shameful nightmarish place that the room was nearly the same size as the bed for fifty ringgits.

By comparison, the place I'm staying now is sixty and still has an outdoor bathroom (that only parts work - plumbing is hard) and it is sixty.  It also reeks of cigarette smoke because they'd rather have people smoke in their rooms that in a hallway or something.  I've been told that for eighty I can get a 'reasonable' place.  Although spending close to twenty a night is annoying (and double what I want to spend) I might have to do it for a couple days till I find the cheaper places.

After checking into the room, I ended up falling asleep on the porch in an uncomfortable chair for a few hours.  Not sure how many - more than one, less than four.

Probably not me.

It surprised me how many people I saw there who recognized me.  Even the super old guy who runs the gangster bar said "Oh - you're back".  When he recognizes you... Well, you're probably an alcoholic.

One of my contacts there told me Dengue continues to plague the region.  Not so bad recently but a lot of tourists have fallen to it.  Pity there are no international laws to get people to fess up to this so they'd actually fix it.

Came across the Spaniards and insisted on buying them a drink there.  Carrying my bag was quite a lifesaver.

The next day was escape time.

But with less guns.


Booked a bus ticket at the place where I'd contracted Dengue from.   Oh, nostalgia!

Got picked up by a mini van which transferred us to a bus to get to the bus station where we caught the actual bus.   Seems like a lot of steps to me.

Once we got aboard the bus for Ipoh (heard it was around a four hour journey) I fell asleep.  Big time.  Out like a light.

Of course, it didn't drop me off at the bus station in town.  No, it was some 'new' bus station north of the city.  Great.  Paid thirty five ringgits (heard it was suppose to be thirty but the five foreigner tax I could live with) to get dropped off in the 'hotel area'.

One of the things I like about the USA is that if you have something on a sign, you must actually have that thing or you can get sued over 'false advertising'.  This is not the case in other places.  The hotel advertising a thirty ringgit room - no, their cheapest was a pretty horrible looking eighty.  I was given vague directions to a different place supposedly owned by the same company which might have such a room - no, I just left.

"Arguing with the dishonest will not make them honest." - Logan Horsford

Went to a different hotel which wanted fifty five.  "Do you have wifi?"  Oh no - we are just a hotel, they told me.  Indicating they felt such things as wifi would be way too fancy for them.  The one next door cost five ringgits more and has good wifi.   But smells as though smokers were having a 'fuck it, lets get cancer' party in here.

Got directed to a 'famous' noodle house.  The 'chicken rice' places (they have no other designation) are the most disorganized worst run establishments I've come across in SE Asia.  I asked if restaurants of this type have some sort of special name (restaurant doesn't seem appropriate) but was told they don't.

Here's how they work.  You go find a place to sit, usually sharing a table on simple plastic stools with other people.  If crowds freak you out, you'll run.  You must then somehow attract the attention of only specific people who are suppose to take your order.  If you get the wrong person's attention (though they are still wearing the restaurant's uniform) they will tell you 'not my job'.  The waiters are trained to not see you.  If you wear them down, they will come find out what you want.  You then wait for a different guy who brings around drinks of various types.  They may or may not charge you separately.   After a couple drinks, I gave up on the first place.  Went to the second - same sort of place.  Hated the food.  Paid, left.

Later, I discovered the restaurant literally across the street had better and cheaper food.  Wondered why I'd been sent a few blocks away.

And that's my first two days back in Malaysia.

Looking forward, I'm thinking that I'd like to stay in this town for at least a couple days.  I may have to upgrade to the more expensive hotel a lawyer I was chatting to recommended.  Not only would I like to see this town but I need to monitor my physical condition for a couple days.  Right now, I'm experiencing twitching, muscle pain and a bit of weakness.  Need to relax for a couple days I'm thinking.

Yeah.  The glamour of travel.



BOOK RANKINGS

Whether you like or hate the Goodreads site, I'm using it to keep track of what books I listen to.

My profile. Hopefully that will link it.

Fair warning: Most books get a 1/5 (they don't do /10 ratings) simply because if I don't like a book after listening to it for 1-60 minutes, I will move on trying to find a book that rates on my scale at least a 6/10 or higher. Life is too short for mediocre shit. Hence, if someone says "Oh, it gets better", I've found this to be (for me) usually not true. Every author knows the beginning of the book (and the 'hook') are vital. I have no time for authors that can't make the beginning grab me just a little bit.
Or readers whose voices I find annoying.

But, I know that some people like keeping an eye on which books I actually like and know that I am pretty frigging selective on what I actually finish.

So I'm putting up this link to my profile for those people.

Just to recap - I'm not interesting in giving all books a 'fair chance' - rather I am trying to quickly sort to find the best and give them my time.



PRICES (Malaysia, in ringgits)

Under 20:  Meal.
50:  Horrifying place to stay.
60:  Larger, though yet horrifying.
80:  Supposedly reasonable place to stay.
100:  This is too fancy for Logan to contemplate.























Thursday, January 28, 2016

MINI FRIDGES, HOSTAGES AND A PAINTER'S RADIO

MY ROOM

After looking at the currency conversion rates, I suddenly feel better about my 'luxury' room.  440 baht sounds like a lot but it comes out to $12 per night.  And it has a mini fridge.

I'd read the reviews of this place and people bitched.  In the bathroom, the area between the tiles is black!  (Nobody likes anything black, apparently).  My first thought was 'oh, tiles?'  The people that wrote these reviews are perhaps use to staying in $100 per night rooms.  Perhaps they are too fragile for SE Asia where you can stagger into your bathroom late at night to take a leak and find a gang of cockroaches.  Who have set up a card table and gambling hall.

Like this, but with cockroaches.



ON MINI FRIDGES

On mini fridges, have you ever noticed that the majority of them are sold to people who will never personally use them?  I can't help but think if this were not the case, they'd be better designed.  Get rid of the 'freezer' area.  You are never going to put anything in it.  Too small.  All it does it cause extra condensation and water leakage.  It's a silly design.  Just make it a cooler with a plug in that you open from the top.  You can fit more.

I'm sure someone already has the design and has made them.  However, it's not common knowledge or at least common to find in hotels.



WHY DON'T I BLOG MORE?

Money.  That's pretty much it.

Honestly, there isn't a lot going on in my life most of the time.  I wander aimlessly around towns that look surprisingly like other towns I've been to and play a lot of Farmville 2 while I try to save five or ten dollars a day to go into the 'do interesting shit later' fund.

If I had large piles of money (I'd probably get mugged) then I'd do more interesting stuff more often.  Since I don't, 'yall have to wait'.



DAY IN THE LIFE

Speaking of not blogging enough, a friend of mine (blame Derek) told me he wanted a day in the life written up for his personal amusement.  I told him I didn't think it was all that interesting.  He threatened me.  Here it is.

When I did a search on the internet for Derek (last name withheld) this guy came up.  This is not the Derek I know.  His picture is here because he has the same name and it's his own fault for having stuff on the internet.  So now, he is (sort of) famous.  Good job without even trying, other Derek!

Woke up around ten in the morning.  Unless you're a tourist trying to cram in as much as possible, there is no fecking reason to get up earlier in most of the world (aside from the USA which puts in too many hours) unless you like wandering around looking at closed shops.  These are less nifty to see than shops in many parts of the world because all you get to see is a metal flexible screen (think garage door) covering up the door and any windows.  Unless you can read the local lingo, you can't even tell what kind of store it is.  Totally useless - hence I stay up late into the evening and wake up later than most.  In places where I've paid further ahead I might not even get up until later than that but here I need to pay rent before noon so nobody gets overly excited and starts pounding on my door.

When you want to sleep late after a night of drinking, it can sound like this...

Like many people, I think a slow wake up is best.  I have enough water to take my handful of pills then sit and play on the computer.  Check the usual social media things (Facebook, Twitter) to see how my friends are and if I posted any inflammatory insensitive shyte while I was drunk the previous evening.

Then, I dick around with Farmville 2 for awhile.  Yeah, it's an old person game.  I know.  Don't have better that my computer can handle and they've not yet made anything better I can find.  So I fuck around with Farmville 2.  Sad, I know.  But it gives me something to do while my brain makes a dramatic comeback from the lands of Morpheus.   Not the one of Matrix fame...

No, not this guy.  And what would have happened if Neo had taken both the red and blue pill together?  He'd be a drug addict?

After sitting around quietly for an hour, I prepare to go out.

The exact nature of my preparations depends on the kind of room I've got.  Generally, it involves chaining up my computer.  Despite having painted on it (and it being woefully outdated), it is still the single most valuable thing I own.  Having already had one computer stolen, I take a bit of extra care.  Keep in mind that pretty much every door look I've come across can be defeated by a screwdriver (serving as a torque wrench) or just jimmying the door.  The place I'm at luckily has a place I can use my own lock to secure the door.  Although it is only a small padlock, it does make me feel better.  Have USA or Western European padlocks with you always.


The question then becomes "Were you smart enough to carry good locks with you?"

Another thing I make sure to do is to put on my security pouch as faithfully as a cop wears his sidearm.  Maybe more so.  The computer, documents and credit cards are hugely important.  The tourists that have their passports and such stolen from their hotel rooms get to spend days on the phone and going to embassies.  Fuck that.

Make sure I'm wearing pants.

No, still not this guy...And 'disturbing'.

I then prepare my wallet (see Traveler's Tip, below) and head downstairs to pay for the night.

"One more night" I always say.  Even if pressed, I will commit to nothing else.  Unless there is more than a nominal discount for paying multiple nights they get to take my money and I get the receipt (Thai it is 'bin').  No receipt, no money.  Receipt means no 'you never paid' bullshit later - and I am all about avoiding the bullshit.  I also follow the advice of my travel mentor (Adam) and do not discuss plans with anyone.  Unless I need information, they don't need to know my plans and nothing good will come of it.  "Will you be staying another night?"  "If I do, I will pay you before noon tomorrow, same as today."  By committing to nothing, you are committed to nothing.  If pressed, I always shrug and say maybe.  In some countries, if you say you will be staying and don't, they will try to hold you to it, simply for the purpose of attempting to extort more money.  Nooope!


As to the clothing I wear, it is pretty much the same every day.  I own about eight shirts and three pairs of shorts.  One of the shorts is a bit small so those are my 'while I'm lounging around at home' ones.  That means the other shorts are worn daily.  The last pair of shorts is a material that doesn't do well with sweat and sometimes gets used when the daily shorts are away getting washed.  Same clothing every day.  Much of my clothing is patched or has some small holes in it.  This is the disadvantage of both being poor and in a land where I am a huge fat giant compared to the locals.  Rare to find things that fit.  My sneakers are rarely worn in hot climates and my sandals usually look as though they need to be replaced soon.  Generally, they last half a year or less and yes, finding my size is a bitch.

As always, I take my satchel (or 'man purse') full of various goodies with me.

Most tourists don't respect the sun enough.

The sun.  Often mistaken for the Eye of Sauron by Americans.

They think it is like it is back home.  Or that sunblock will save them.  In the heat and humidity of SE Asia, you'll sweat off most of the sunblock in an hour or two and forget to reapply it.  Then, you end up sitting around burned for a few days of happy pain.  For English people this is regarded as a 'good thing'.  Really.  For the rest of the world, it is a painful way to waste their precious vacation time.  Before I go out onto the streets, I will put on sunglasses, a bandanna and over that a boonie style hat.

Generic boonie hat.

Lots of people (tourists) generally love the straw fedoras and such but quickly discover why these sort of hats have generally gone out of style.  You can't easily store it when you don't want it.  The boonie cap, while not as fashionable, can be rolled up and stuffed into your bag.  Better.  It keeps the sun off my head and the rain off my glasses.  Highly durable.  I've got two and one of them is older than a lot of the tourists I've hung out with.

It is then time for breakfast.  In Thailand, there is no place cheaper than 7-11.  You might think of 7-11 as an American (USA) store but in Thailand they are fucking everywhere.  Sometimes, you can see the next one from the one you're at.  When I was in Cambodia, I'd go have an excellent 'English breakfast' every day but Thais don't eat anything I want for breakfast.  Much of the Asian world seems to favor soup.  I've always been suspicious of soup.  It's not quite a drink, not quite a meal but somewhere between.  Suspicious.  Plus, you can hide a lot of crap within.  So I go to 7-11.

Here they often call it "Seven".  No, I don't know why.  Reading words is hard?

At 7-11, they have little sandwiches you can buy.  Some tourists have told me they taste like shit but they apparently didn't know you are suppose to get them cooked.  You take the plastic wrapped sandwich to one of the counter girls (or boys or here in Thailand, ladyboys - lots of them work retail) and they put them into a sandwich press cooker thing.  Then you go back to shopping.  In a couple minutes it is cooked.  You get that and your other stuff rung up, pay and leave.  Generally, this breakfast is about two dollars.  Sandwich and two small boxes of coffee.

Generally, they speak to me either in extremely broken (shattered?) English or Thai when I am in the 7-11.  If I was in a tourist area, the English is better but I'm not.  So, I watch the computer screen and it tells me what to pay.  Taking my purchases and hot sandwich, I wander out to the street and find some bench (or stairs or slab of concrete) to sit on and eat.  Here, I've scouted out several benches a block away from the 7-11 and generally eat there.  Then smoke.  Yeah, I shouldn't be smoking but I am a dysfunctional person held together by a string of bad habits and strange beliefs.

 After my breakfast, it's walking time.

There is an app called My Tracks.

My Tracks logo.

This is a very valuable free app on my phone.  Not only does it complain to my fat ass that I've not walked far enough but tells me how to get back home.  Just this app makes the phone worthwhile.

So, I wander around for a couple hours.  Sometimes, I'll confine myself to the bigger roads but often (like today) I'll head down smaller roads where the people react as though they've never seen a fat white guy before.  Or are confused as to where I could have come from.  I've been down a lot of strange twisting paths.

During my journey, I'll often buy a drink sit and smoke.  I'm old and crippled so endurance isn't really my friend.  Then, more wandering.  The best wanderings are when I have some sort of goal.  Buy eye drops.  Look for medicine.  Find new shoes.  When I'm doing this sort of thing I tend to walk a lot further than when I'm just listening to my audio book (fuck music) and walking for exercise.

Often, while I'm walking around, people like to ask "Where you go?"

In the USA, the responses to this are much different.  At the low end of the aggression scale is "What's it to you?"  People don't like being asked where they are going.  They might also respond with something like "You're not my mother!" or "You're not the boss of me!"  For the more aggressive, they may respond with "Fuck you!" or give the New York salute.

Or the Presidential bird.

On the extremely high end of the aggression scale they may respond with "I'm going to make your mother look like a painter's radio!"

A painter's radio.

I would like to apologize to my female readers for this one.  Not because of the mental picture it paints (pun!) but because for them it is not really a good insult to hurl at people.  They will just look confused.  Damn misogynistic world.  Worse, some will want a description.  A slow, sexy description.  Avoid these people.

However, in Eastern Europe and SE Asia, this is a common greeting.  Don't even think about saying "How you doing?" to people - it just confuses them.  I will usually say "I hope you are happy today" or ask "Today good?"  Still a bit confusing but they get it.

Now some of the people who ask "Where you go?" are taxi or tuk tuk drivers who are just wanting to get money from you.  A surprising number of friendly people though may just ask, out of the blue "Where you go?"

I have no idea why the hell this is a good greeting, relevant or not considered personal.  Since I either don't know where I'm going or don't feel like sharing that information, I have come up with an easy response that is always met with a nod and a smile.

"Exercise!"

Though in most 'third world' nations, being a tubby bitch really isn't an option for most people, exercise has been heard of.  It's rare to find people jogging.  This could be because working out at fashionable gyms where you can flirt with other in shape people is better.  Or the fact that most roads either don't have clear sidewalks or any at all and jogging is a lot like playing Frogger.

Hopefully, you don't go splat.  If you'd actually like to play this amazingly old video game, here is a link.  It should give you an idea of many of the roads in SE Asia.

I love the answer 'exercise' because it covers everything.  You're not looking for anything, you're wandering randomly, you don't need help, you won't be getting into their tuk tuk and when they look at me they think "Yeah, he could use some."  And no information at all is given out.

Does that sound a bit paranoid?  It could be but why be stupid about it?

Eventually, I'll get tired or bored.  Return home (home is where the backpack is) sweaty and stinking.  Shower and change clothing.

Mess around on my computer.  Depending on how much time I've got left, I may do some heavy research into the next location.  Today I'm writing the blog.  More Farmville 2.  If I'm tired (or my back hurts) lie down.  Maybe take a nap for an hour or two depending on if I pushed myself.  Sometimes I just need to lie down because my back hurts a lot.

Once say six PM rolls around, the temperature is starting to go down and the street food vendors begin to come out.  Now, I can get fed.

See this picture of Thai street food?  Yeah.  There is nothing that looks a quarter that good within this town.  Seriously, WTF.

Generally, I try to stay away from any vendors that serve seafood.

DIE, FLIPPER!

Once you serve seafood, everything at a small stand tends to get a bit of that flavor and it's the kind of thing that smells appetizing only when I'm starving to death.  Given my girth, that time is not close.  So, wander around, look at food and eventually eat something.  I've noticed that - unless more than one thing looks really good and it rarely does with street vendors - I tend to eat the same thing over and over until I get tired of it.  For the last two or three nights I've been eating at some Muslim place that serves a chicken leg with rice covered by sauce.  There is also a place that makes strawberry shakes using actual strawberries.  Both things are about a dollar each.  I'll end up spending around three or four dollars on the meal and drinks unless KFC (or McDonalds if I was in a town that had one - which I'm not) calls too loudly to me.  Then, my price doubles.  But after you eat street food long enough you begin to want something else.  Given that the local restaurants in this town and the street food are pretty much the same thing - and there aren't any (?) foreign places around it is a choice of local or fast food.

"I'll feed yer tubby ass!  Waddle on in here!"

After that, stop by some stores to get refreshments and snacks for the night and return home to play computer games, watch movies and maybe drink.

Somewhere between midnight and five in the morning - depending on fatigue, drunkenness or boredom, go to sleep.  Repeat the next day.

I call days like this my 'holding pattern' days.  These are the ones where I am not really doing much - just working on saving five or ten bucks a day to do something interesting later.

Personally, I don't consider it all that amazing or interesting but - at Derek's request - I've put it all up.  Now, Derek, please release my family.




TRAVELER'S TIP

Small bills vs large bills.


Before dealing with a place that should have change for large bills (large chain store, hotel, etc) I will often remove small bills from my daily wallet.  Just leave in the large bills.  Otherwise, when you attempt to pay, they will demand you pay with small bills.  This is due to a combination of laziness and incompetency - they don't like to stock up on the small bills as a business should.  Hence, they want yours.  If later you go to a place that can't really be expected to have change (street food vendor, etc) if you only have large bills you will have to wait several minutes as they run off to try to find change.



BOOK REVIEWS

The longer you travel, the more downtime you have.  This isn't a case for most people.  They have somewhere between two weeks and two months to try to fit as much 'life' in as possible.  They go to extraordinary lengths to see 'as much as possible'.  It is easy to understand why they do this but yet many talk of how 'they've seen everything yet nothing'.  Regardless, I would say that when you have loads of time (and little money) you have a lot of time to read (listen to) books and such.  Hence, you get more book reviews.


ALEX VERUS SERIES

If a title is taken by one other book, it is not that great of title.  If it is taken by many other books, it is a lousy title - if you're going for any sort of creativity.  Assuming authors want to write about different sorts of things, they are.  These are not great titles.

The books themselves are OK.   This review encompasses books one through six.  The reader is very good - the characters come out in his voice.  Despite this, I almost didn't make it through the first book.  It was just 'meh'.  However, it was decent enough that I stuck with it.  Besides, it's not every day you can stumble across a six book urban fantasy set.

These six books should be considered 'one long book'.  Don't try to read them out of order or skip any.

A bit of non-spoiler material.

The book is about mages and the various machinations they get up to.  Essentially, one hero (Alex) and his entourage.   The strong points of the books include the magic system (bit different, I'd like to see the stats on it if they existed), the politics and some of the NPC's.  The weak points include the lack of diversity in the creatures in the world (mostly all dead or fled, little bio-diversity on the magical side).  The world just feels a bit simplistic.  Dark and light.  True that within the dark and light there is a lot going on but in this world apparently all of the other power groups have been snuffed out.  Maybe it is just to try to keep the story from becoming so horribly convoluted that nobody can follow it and you could never get to 'the end'.

One thing I really liked is that the lead character isn't 'stupid' or 'slow'.  He gets things before others.  He plans ahead.  I'd put him as 'above average intelligence' though he's not really Machiavellian enough to do well in the world.  Pity for him but I suppose it creates drama and some suspense.

5/10

Saturday, January 23, 2016

THE SLOW WANDER SOUTH

DEATH RAILWAY TOURISM

As I was wandering around, I picked up a 'Death Railway' t-shirt. Hopefully, a mere XXL will fit as they don't seem to know what a XXXL could be.

I was imagining the people who were cruelly tortured brought here as old people. While they were crying thinking about their comrades in arms lost to the brutality, t-shirts saying 'death railway' could be yanked over them and pictures taken with Asians idiotically grinning and making the peace sign next to and behind them.

What a great homecoming they'd have had.



PRACHUAP KHIRI KHAN

On the rail headed south.  Of course, I had to take a bus to Ban Pong because you can't take the railway from the death rail place.  That's just a tourist schlock.

Well, I'm in Prachuap Khiri Khan.  It's a small quiet town.  Haven't been able to find a place nicer than the one I'm currently staying that isn't double the price or much much more.

The place I'm staying is small, dark and the bathroom is a step above the hole in the floor type.

There is a spittoon filled with water within and I've no idea why.

This town has quite a few tourists who say they come here to get away from other tourists.  Then, they hang out with tourists and talk about how glad they are to be off the tourist trail.

I'd asked what there was in this town to see and was told it is a town to 'relax' in.  By relax, they mean 'drink' or do drugs.  Like the guy on heroine I'd met last night.

It's a dull fucking town.  Researching my further moves to the south now.

Looking ahead at the next two towns I may go to (Chumphon and Surat Thani) I'm not seeing anything too nifty.



CHUMPHON

Now I'm in Chumphon.  Absolutely delighted to have something much closer to a 'proper' hotel room.  By that I mean that corpses of various insects aren't on display with a spittoon within the bathroom and I don't have to suck in my gut to get the door closed.

The price is 440 baht - much more pricey than the 300 baht room but at least for awhile it seems worth it.  A kind Frenchman I'd met showed me a place that could be gotten for 100 baht.  It is run by Chinese and seems to be built along the lines of an opium den.  Since they've never heard of wifi, I took a pass on it.  Do opium dens have wifi these days?

Tomorrow, I'm going to start wandering the town.   Hopefully, it will be more interesting than Prachuap Khiri Khan.



TRAVELER'S TIP

When people are vague on prices, RUN.  Don't think about it, just run.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

TWENTY FIRST CENTURY DUH

THE NARRATIVE

At the place where the bridge over the river Kwai was built.

Note, the guy who made the story sucked at geography but the Thais renamed the river.  Capitalism wins!

Anyway, the town is pretty sucky in terms of places to stay.  I did get lucky (kind of) and found a cheap place.  No wifi in the mosquito infested room but I was fricking exhausted last night and pretty much passed out after a full day of travel.

After checking a dozen (maybe more) places I can tell you that they want a premium to look over their slightly historic river.  Twenty five to thirty dollars (or much more) will secure you a moderately average room that would cost half that elsewhere.

The streets are littered with the small hole in the wall bars where tourists of a certain age go to get drunk and women of a certain demeanor go to extract money from their wallets through their penis.

Overall, not feeling this town.

After spending a couple hours listening to people quoting stupid prices to me, I found a place (400 baht) which says they have wifi in the room.  Due to the Asian mindset of 'copy the hell out of anything that works' it seems a town is either wifi or not.   This one is not.  Which is sad for Logan.

Naturally, I can't check out the room until 12:30pm as it is occupied currently.  That gives me an hour and a half more of sitting around.

Fortunately, this place is (for some reason) on the 'tourist trail' so getting around is very easy.  For 100 baht, I can take a tuk tuk to the bus station.  For 140 baht, I can go all the way back to Ko san road in Bangkok.  I didn't come up with the pricing structure.

Hence, my current plan is to head to the hotel which has promised (hum) wifi in the room.  And a table/chair.  I have doubts.  If it doesn't work out, it's back to the bus station and I head to a less touristy place hoping to find a hotel whose owner hasn't taken a lot of crack before coming up with the price structure.  If it does work out, I'll hang out here for a bit to check it out.

Not sure what the next town on the list will be like but I'm heading off the tourist trail as I go south toward Malaysia.



TWENTY FIRST CENTURY DUH

I was going to call this the 'duh factor' but according to Urban Dictionary, it has already been assigned a different meaning.

I've been listening to a lot of audio books and have noticed a common element.  Many of the main characters are stupid.  I'm not talking average intelligence but just dim.

As George Carlin said, "Think about how stupid the average person is and realize half of them are stupider than that!"

I've come up with two possible reasons why authors are writing about stupid people, especially for purposes of comedy:

a) relatability.  There are a lot more stupid people than smart ones and you want to sell more books, right?

b) ease.  It's easier to write books about stupid people.  Need them to go into bad situations with no preparation?  Have to get stuff explained to them for the purposes of exposition?  Playing some sort of word game to try to ratchet up tension because your story is kind of lame?

He's coming!
Who?
Him!
Oh gods - you don't mean - .
Yes - Gregor!

Yeah, fuck you, nobody talks like that.  Only lame writers.  Here's the real way.

"Gregor is coming!"
"Fuck!"

Less build up.  Sorry.  Write a better story and it will be build up enough without that shitty literary device.  However, if you are writing about morons, it is at least conceivable they talk like that.  They probably won't object and say they don't because morons aren't big readers.  Otherwise, they might not be morons.

This means you should feel better for reading this blog.  It may not be "Phaedrus" but fuck, you are actually reading something that doesn't have a lot of pictures.  You should feel better about life.  Plus, Phaedrus hasn't gotten any better in the last couple thousand years and this blog is much more topical.

I also worry about so many stories getting made about below average intellect people simply because it may be another step toward the inevitable outcome that is Idiocracy.  That movie still gives me the chills as it is a sad prophecy.

To reward you for your resilient reading, here's a picture:


What kind of dickhead would reward people for reading with a picture that has more writing on it?  The same kind of guy who walks into a house with a big ole bucket of KFC, announces "I've got KFC!" then sits down and eats the whole bucket?

Eh - close...


BOOK REVIEWS

The Shifter Chronicles

7/10

In this book, the mundane and supernatural worlds already have a treaty.

The melding of the two worlds seems to me much more benevolent than I think it would ever go down in real life - contrast this with the Demon Accords series.

As can be seen by my rating, I did enjoy this series.  You can see the slow advancement of the main character who is in his early or mid twenties but acts like an angsty teen in the first book up to a fairly mature figure in book three.

The three books should be taken as one long book - they don't stand on their own.  You need to read them in order.

I liked the minor characters and the world (backdrop) seems OK.  You don't see the authors gaps in knowledge too often though like any teen book (more noticeable early on, less later) authority figures are either evil or inept/ineffectual.

If there were more books in the series, I'd have read them but for some reason there are currently only three out.  This series should easily lend itself to many more.

For some reason, the author doesn't seem to have an easy (for Logan to) find Facebook page so I can find out when more books are released.  For small (not Stephen King) authors, this seems counter intuitive.



PRICES (Thailand)

Pedicure, 100 baht (about $3)






Thursday, January 7, 2016

ARE YOU WEARING CLEAN UNDERWEAR?

So far as the travel thing goes, hey, not a lot to talk about.  Right now I am still (ug) sitting in Siem Reap, following my plan of 'not traveling during the holidays because I know better'.

It is working out well, though it is a bit dull.

After another week or so I will catch the $10 bus to Bangkok where I will immediately attempt to go to a different town a couple hours west.  I've spent way too much time in Bangkok and don't want to spend any more.  There is nothing I want to see or do there.

West and a bit south of Bangkok are three towns I will begin to explore.  If I can find one I want to stay in for a month I'll do so.  If not, move to the next one.

Should all three of those not pan out, in the far south of Thailand there are three more towns.  Unfortunately, there are reports of various Islamic extremist activities that took place a couple years ago.  Bombs and shit.  But hey, the last couple months have been pretty dull.  After checking out and or staying in those towns, I'll head into Malaysia to look for a place to hunker down for a bit.

Normally, I wouldn't mind going back to Georgetown but nearly dying of Dengue Fever really made the town less appealing.  I wouldn't have minded going back to the mafia bar for a drink or few.



I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO CALL THIS SECTION

#51:  "Clean Underwear"

When an animal dies, it's buttocks attempts to protect itself by crapping.  No creature enjoys literally 'eating shit' so the juicy buttocks is spared in favor of less 'juiced up' body parts as arms, legs, chests and heads.  The self indulgent buttocks.

Sadly, this then causes the mother of the creature - irrespective of species - to 'die of shame' when she finds out their offspring wasn't wearing clean underwear when it perished.  Clean underwear is a priority even over survival.



BOOK REVIEWS

"Alterworld" - Play to Live, books 1 to 4.

Irritated that they haven't released 5-8.  Apparently, the Russian author hasn't mastered English so he has to get them translated.  Pity - puts him out a few grand.  English FTW!  Anyway, the books are solid.  From reading the reviews on the translated book 5, not so much there - but I'd wait to listen to it in audio format.  This is a series that is pretty much actually just one long book.  Outstanding for the players of MMO's - it will give you some nostalgia moments and make you wish they'd release one a fraction as good in real life.


Nikki Heat series by Richard Castle

A cross between a murder mystery, police procedural and the TV series Castle.

I'm listening to the audio books now (up to the fourth or fifth) and I find them surprisingly good.  Honestly, I didn't expect all that much but they're keeping me plenty interested.

6/10


Hard Day's Knight

This is another book (see also the Bill the Vampire series) about nerds who become vampires.

I've got to say that it is fortunate the world the author has made is relatively simplistic because these two vampires are about the dumbest I've seen in a while.
That's not to say that the book isn't entertaining.  It's got a bit of the snark and geek factor that make these sorts of books entertaining - but don't expect too much over Laurel and Hardy Meet the Mummy.  Simple world with very simple characters who sometimes do funny shit.

5/10 for the first five books.  I'd written the above review after reading just the first book but I blasted through the rest pretty quickly.  If the final scene in the last book (no spoilers from me) doesn't convince you that 'the heroes are stupid as shit' then there is no way to convince you.  Stupid, sexist and small minded.  But mildly entertaining.  The books were easy to listen to.  Bubblegum for the brain.



Phillip Marlow series by Raymond Chandler

Better in the movies with Boggart, IMO.

Yeah, I realize it is pretty much the last (first?) word in 'noir' but holy crap, it's rough for me to read. It's like talking to your great grandfather who bitches about all the kids being on computers all the time. When you ask what he and his friends did for fun when they were kids, he responds "Beat niggers with sticks!" with the gleam of remembered racism.

Seriously, they're rough to read. It is pretty obvious that Chandler may have hated blacks and gays slightly less than others of his time, but trying to put it in this time is rough.

When I was running 1920's Call of Cthulhu (tabletop RPG), the players thought a bit of the stuff was pretty racist. Given that Chandler is one of the more tolerant, educated writers of his generation I think I wildly undersold the racism.

Parts are good but honestly, I'd rather just watch the movies.


"You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)" - Felicia Day

Neurotic and funny.  Being that neurotic is totally inconceivable to me.  Totally.  But it is interesting.  Rates high on my 'geek meter' (a good thing) as anything written by someone who became addicted to MMO's would.

5/10.


Let's Pretend This Never Happened - by Jenny Lawson

Another neurotic autobiography.  Entertaining.

5/10.


Logan's thoughts on both neurotic books (Never Weird and Let's Pretend):

Both of these books deal with anxiety, depression and feelings of awkwardness in social situations.  The depression part I can completely relate to.  After suffering that for a year or two before I went onto disability and then left the USA (yea!) to travel the world I can relate.  Having no money, no job and no hope of getting either I think I get it.

The anxiety and social awkwardness, nope - I don't relate.  Even a little bit.  Sorry if that makes me totally unrelatable.  After reading both books though, I did find what I find to be a common thread.  When in those situations, both authors are busy looking inward.  How am I being perceived?  What do I feel about this?  How are they looking at me?

I don't do that.  I try instead to figure out the other person.  How do they see things?  What would they like to talk about?  (Clue, the answer is always themselves.  This is human nature.)  My favorite thing is to search around (conversationally, I don't go through their pockets) to find out what they know which interests me.  If I can find something they are excited to talk about and I am honestly interested in then not only do they get to carry the conversation but are delighted to do so.

If I can't find anything, I might just jump to "What makes you special?"  This is a huge bombshell of a question.  As it totally puts them on the spot I look at it as a last ditch effort.  Most people will try to claim they aren't, but I've yet to find someone who isn't in some way special.  Disclaimer - it may be that they were the only preschooler who was able to color within the lines and used the correct colors hence no longer relevant but until you ask you just don't know.

Am I saying this outlook makes me any better?  Well, both the ladies who wrote the books are famous, make a living writing acting and such.  I live in some of the dirtiest undeveloped countries in the world and am usually broke.  Hence, no.  Maybe being a bit neurotic pays.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

DRAMA IS BAD

DISCLAIMER:  There is a lot of my medical nonsense in this.  I apologize for that.  I put it in because a) people seem to enjoy reading about it - I've no idea why  b) going to a hospital in a foreign country can be a bit scary  c) it may give insight - not complimentary - into the mindset and practices of medical people in other countries  d) it's what I'm up to.  If I have to suffer, you do too.



HOBBLIN' ALONG

My body annoys me.  If there was a way to become the 'ghost in the machine' or cyborg, I'd be interested.  Damn medical science.  (See book reviews below!)

Earlier today, I was feeling pretty good and decided to attempt the walk from Siem Reap to Angkor Wat.  I'd done it a few years ago and wanted to do it again.  It's a long damn walk but I had a good book going on the phone and needed the exercise.   Let's go for it.

Part way there, my foot suddenly said "Nope!" and went back into the massive pain thing.


I suspect it is my full body arthritis.  Last time it happened, I went to a doctor who took xrays and all that and - no surprise - had no medical idea what was up.

So now I'm back hobbling around on the cane.  Very glad I'd bought a collapsible cane a couple months back and kept it with me the last time this shit happened.

I was doing OK until Jana​ exerted some sort of long distance mind control on me causing a unquenchable hunger for KFC.  Hobbled my ass there, ate a mess of chicken then back for 'self medication' (read as alcohol).  More fun than pain killers.



THE NEXT DAY

Note, my life has no zombies in it other than the people attached to their cellphones and what I'm reading.  See also, book reviews below.

Decided it was time to head over to the pharmacy and see what kind of drugs we could get and so forth.  They didn't seem happy just issuing me anti gout medicine to see if it would help so I went across the street to the local hospital.

At the hospital, all of the medical staff had left.  Seriously, everyone.  It was their lunchtime.  The whole idea of revolving shifts and such hasn't come to this part of the world yet.

When I returned from lunch, the staff had reappeared.   I asked for a doctor who spoke English.

L:  "How much for a uric acid blood test?"

Dr:  "Five dollars.  Plus the ten dollar consultation fee."

L:  "What consultation?"

Dr:  "What do you think we are doing now."

L:  "I'm just telling you what I want.  There is no actual consultation going on.  If I need a prescription and you have to look at drug interaction, that's a consultation.  Using the medical knowledge and such.  I'm just asking for a blood test."

Dr:  "Um...  It's just something the hospital charges.  You can get a blood test with no consultation fee outside of the hospital."

L:  "How long for the results?"

Dr:  "Don't know - it depends on how many other people are getting blood tested."

I thanked him kindly and went across the street to the independent blood test place.  Yes, I know where it is.  Been in this town too goddamn long.

Three dollars, fifteen minutes and no strange 'consultation fee' later, I had the results.  Slightly high but not huge (7 is upper end of normal, I was at 7.5).

Yes, I had to order the blood test in French because that's all they had it in.  Though the staff didn't speak French, they spoke English.  Weird but if you need medical stuff, knowing some French is probably helpful.  Not that 'acede de euric' or some such is that far from English.

Back to the hospital.  Apparently, I didn't thank the doctor kindly enough because now he was bitchy and didn't want to consult with me at all.  He pointed out several times that he had the 'right to refuse treatment' to anyone.  No, he had never heard of the Hippocratic Oath.  It was like dealing with a petulant child.  I found a different doctor in the same hospital.

Not  the guy I spoke to, but same expression.

This one sounded knowledgeable and did try to scam me out of some extra money after we'd 'consulted'.  Twenty five.  I gestured toward the front and said "They said it was ten."

He accepted ten and gave me his business card, telling me to contact him if I needed anything else.

Oddly, I paid the money straight to the doctor instead of to the hospital who would then presumably pay the doctor a salary.

This would explain why the first doctor was experiencing drama.

Note that I don't blame the first doctor - I blame myself more.  It was clearly me failing the teaching of "How to Win Friends and Influence People".  Fortunately, he works in a hospital in case someone needs to call the Wambulance.


I suppose another way to look at it is that the first doctor is down a tenner ($10 USD) due to not being in control of his emotions.  Read as 'professional'.  But, there is no faster way to get on someone's bad side than messing with their money or income.

According to the second doctor, one of the meds I'm on might be messing with my kidneys just a bit, causing the release of more uric acid.  The simple solution is to switch medicine.

Unfortunately, I've already got about three months of pills sorted.  Guess what that means?  Right.  It can't be done.  It is simply not possible (I checked) to pick out all of the one pill as all of the pills came from different sources and look different.  In other words, I can't pick out one certain medicine because it may be in five different forms from five different nations.

Well, shit.

It sucks.

Knowing kidneys are involved, I'm going to try to drink more fluids.  I might even try buying a bit more medicine and then alternating days with the new and old drugs.  I'll figure something out.

No way can I say "Well, fuck, let's just throw out a few hundred dollars worth of pills because they're not possible to sort."

The downside of pre-sorted pills.



THE FUCKERY TRAIN

And the fuckery continues!

Despite using my Paypal card a couple times successfully in Cambodia, Paypal suddenly got it into it's tiny automated brain that there was trouble.


It decided to lock me out of everything.

Well, there goes a couple hours I'll not see again, blessed Skype and got on the horn.  (What an expression.  Did we use to use horns to talk?  Some people still use their cellphones as though they think they are...)

It eventually came down to ID.  I needed to show them one.  They didn't like my government issued card - said it didn't have enough information on it.  I figured after all this time my drivers license would be expired and naturally, my passport was still out to the capital to get the visa extended.

I knew the fuckery train had my name on it.  If I said "Oh, let me go get the passport" something would prevent it.  And the Paypal offices would be closed when I got back.  Turns out both things were true.

So, I sort through my small pile of documents, wondering why the fuck it would matter if the driver's license is out of date.  I mean, it is still you, right?  Do you expire?  More bureaucratic crap that doesn't really matter.

It turns out that my drivers' license (lo!) still had a bit of time on it.  Weird.  Those things last for awhile.  I snapped a photo and sent it off.  Everything is apparently fine now.

Went to pick up my passport but wouldn't you know it - today is 'international humanitarian day' or some such.  The fat cat government employees get the day off.  Nobody else in Cambodia (and possibly the world) does but they do.  Result?  No passport for two more days.

I attempted to look shocked so as not to piss off the fuckery train as it passed me by.

When I got back, I tried calling Paypal.  Wanted to find out the date I needed to check back with them to let them know I was still 'on vacation'.  Wouldn't you know it, their offices were...closed...



BOOK REVIEWS


ADRIAN'S UNDEAD DIARY


My one word review:  Addictive.  8/10.  Note, the author told me that next year, three books in a new series are coming out.  Presumably this is set in the same world.

The eight book set is pretty much just one big book.  Anyone wanting to run a tabletop RPG set in a zombie world would be very happy to get ahold of these books.  (Side note:  My spell correct didn't have 'ahold' in it.  Are you kidding me?  Double checked it - dictionary.com thinks it's real.  Apparently, I'm starting to use more archaic words than my spell check comes loaded with.  Makes me feel really sorry for immortal people.)


PLAY TO LIVE SERIES

No, I don't dig the cover art.  Book is better.

You into MMO's?  Reading?  Urban fantasy?

Check this out.

Written by a young(ish) Russian.  His first name is Dmitri though why he shortens it to D. for his English speaking audiences is a mystery.  The Greek rooted name has some famous people named that including a liberator of Moscow.  Maybe he doesn't like Moscow.  Who knows.  A lot of Russians don't.

Apparently, this guy uses his own money to get his works translated into English.  Smart as I'm thinking that is a bigger market.  Through reading one of his crowd funding pages, I discovered that it is 7000-15000 USD to get a book translated.  A good chunk of change.

Now that's a lot of rubles!

Those interesting asides...uh...aside, the series is pretty interesting.  When the author first gets going, he does spend a lot of time giving stats and things like that.  Slows the story down considerably but it did make me pine for the 'good ole days' of EQ1.  Not enough to put myself through that fucking torture again, but a bit of nostalgia.

The story itself I find interesting and it slowly creeps into you.

The basic premise is that they've found a way to get 'deus ex machina' (Latin:  the ghost in the machine).  This time in a literal fashion.  What can first start as a 'plug into the pod and you are there' can lead - for fortunate and unfortunates alike - into 'and you're stuck there'.   While  being perpetually young and immortal can be quite a boon, it is doubly so for the terminally ill, old and disabled.

The other twist - the developers have lost control of the game.  For those who have ever played the old RPG "Paranoia", it's a bit like that but the computer seems less crazy and evil.

The computer is your friend!

There are currently seven books, the first four are out on audio.

Not sure of my rating yet as at the time of this writing I am part way through the second book.  As of now, I'd probably go 6/10.  Given how hard my ratings are, that's pretty good.  Shit, if I get past the first fifteen minutes of listening we have a rare and wondrous flower!

More next time, true believers!




Thursday, December 3, 2015

TALES FROM THE HOOD

TALES FROM THE HOOD

Walking down the street and espied a guy walking the opposite direction toward me. "Trouble", thinks I. "Probably a con man who will try to talk me up."

Sure enough, he stops me and launches into his spiel alternatively telling me I am a 'lucky man' and 'do you know what your trouble is'. Push/pull technique. "Well, I know what unsolicited advice is worth." I retort. He is trying to come off as some sort of mystic who has just happened to run across me and has a message.

[Any real mystics would know the best way to get my attention is to hand me ten thousand dollars and a crossroads to meet at after a couple hours. Gives me time to get to the bank and get the money changed, make sure it is real. A crossroads is still public so I'm less worried about getting rolled.]

Sadly, this guy's English isn't good enough to get more than the very basic responses from me. I'm thinking if you are going to scam someone in a new language you need to get pretty fluent in it. Eventually he needed my input. "Where you from?"

"Say goodbye!" I responded.

It took him a couple of repeats to get it, so entrenched in his anticipated responses. Then, he just left without a word - which was a mercy.

Being able to read people - at least on some basic level (always learning, pity I'm not immortal) is something I'm very happy with.



SIGNS YOUR WORK MAY BE TOO DANGEROUS

You don't feel comfortable cleaning your gun unless a different loaded gun sits beside you.


Notching your gun belt each kill would weaken or destroy the gun belt.

Having so many scars people often mistake you for Frankenstein's monster.



A BIT O RAMBLING

Found out I should not leave my phone in my pocket when applying talcum powder to my torso.  Felt like a pretty 'duh' move.  Did I mention it is damn hot here?  I do feel a bit bad for all of the people who suffer through the cold but apparently they like it well enough not to expat.

In better news, it seems there is a chance that paying for an entire month may cause the price of the room to drop by perhaps a third.  Honestly, I didn't even check on it because the place is so cheap.  It may be one of the few places in Siem Reap with air conditioning for $10 per night.  Aside from the three hour nightly concert of xylophone music (which in the US I think may only be in grade schools and huge concerts) it is a pretty decent place.

They even make sure to give me a couple bottles of water every day.  It could be that I walk in looking like I was just playing the 'who wants to drink from the fire hose' game after wandering around during the heat of the day for a few hours every day.

We'll see after the guy talks to his sister who seems to be running the show.  She seems like a shrewd businessperson and I'm thinking the price won't drop but we'll see.



OTHER TALES

Demon Accord series

Honestly, I didn't expect to like them.  They have painfully overused fantasy elements.  The indestructible super hero, the sexy vampires, werewolf pack mentality, no ugly (read as 'realistic') people etc.

So why did I try it out?  Main answer - it's a series.

While there are some 'stand alone' books I like, they generally piss me off.  When you are done reading, it's over.  No more.  And anyone who has ever met me knows there is nothing more I enjoy than overindulgence.

Why do I like this series?  I have no fucking idea.  I'm up to book four and haven't flagged.  I would compare it to a simplified Dresden or a 'Bill the Vampire' (but without the slapstick) type of series.

Check it out if you enjoy urban fantasy.



Book review, Adrian's Undead Diary series by Chris Philbrook

Normally, I'm not a big fan of zombie books.  The buxom girl looks back while fleeing, trips over something gets eaten.  All that kind of crap.

It will take a better psychologist than I am to figure out why the hell zombie books/TV/movies are so popular.  I suspect it is a combination of first world guilt, boredom with the status quo, the need for massive change and humans desire for some sort of global apocalypse.  Until it happens, of course.  Nobody got real excited about the Black Death when it was under way but there have always been religious nuts who forecast that very soon the apocalypse will be upon us.  And other nutters who listen.

I'm not a huge fan of zombie fiction.

This book is a lot like World War Z (which I didn't like and the movie was a 'WTF has Hollywood done') so if you like that, you may well enjoy this.

I'm not sure why I enjoy this book.  Part of it may be that the main character isn't the kind of tool that you yell 'What is wrong with your brain!' and end up hoping the zombies will messily get.  He strikes me as a calm, thoughtful individual who is doing what he needs to in order to survive.  He has emotions which creep out small ways but he holds himself together admirably.

About a third of the way through the first book and am doing fine in this massive series thus far.  While it may turn to crap later, thus far I'm enjoying the book.  (Update, into sixth book - check out this series if you enjoy zombie stuff.  Even if you don't you might end up getting hooked.)

Also, the audio reader is good.  Very good.

For RPG gamers, this series (or at least the first couple books - not past that yet) should probably be a 'must read' for any GM wanting to run a long term zombie campaign.

One word review:  Addictive.  8/10.



LOGAN'S THOUGHTS ON ZOMBIE STORIES

Zombie Tales:


The downside about zombie stuff seems to be that it follows the same story arc. Since I'm currently reading a zombie book series, I'm going to try to list them here. These may not always be in this order and some of them may be mixed, depending on the plot.

Phase 1: The shit has broken out. Everyone tries to come to grip with the new reality of zombies bite bite biting everyone.  At some point, one or more of the characters will become bitten or infected - usually through some sort of easily avoidable mistake.  When the others discover one of their group has become infected, more drama ensues.

Phase 2: The looting phase. Humans need a huge amount of shit to live. Water, shelter, food, Twinkies, guns and so on. All of this must be hauled back to...

Phase 3: The set up of the fort. In addition to making it zombie proof, it needs to be hidden and human proof because of the...

Phase 4: Raiders! AKA the 'who is the new asshole who wishes to become the next Lord Humungus. Always one will arise with his band of raiders. The always want YOUR shit.

Phase 5: Fighting of Lord Humungus. Lots of fighting. Sure, most of the population of the world has died and zombies are busy trying to infect everyone but by now fighting stupid zombies has gotten old. Fighting other humans is the new red. So to speak.

Phase 6: Resolution of the fight with Lord Humungus and the rebuilding of society.


Phase 7:  Struggle for the leadership of the group.

Phase 8:  Integration of zombies with everyday life; news service.


Note that in most tabletop RPG's, usually only phase 1 and 2 is usually hit. I think there are a combination of reasons why such as the group only meets on the second Thursday of alternative months (ie 'unmotivated gamers') and combat is much easier than story (ie 'lazy or inept GM's/players). Also, maybe the logistics of tracking how many shotgun shells you have left for your aging twelve gauge have just gotten to cumbersome. While I'm sure that there are many gamers who have taken it beyond the first two phases, unless I was GM'ing, I didn't see it in three or four decades of gaming.

Thanks to Kevin D., Stephanie T. and Travis B. for their great input.


Further reading:

If you are wanting to write zombie stuff, this and this may be of assistance.

What other phases did I miss?



PRICES - SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA

Note - all prices given are in USD as that is their currency here.  Many tourists do get suckered into buying Cambodian reil but don't fall for it.  Those are only used for small change (a 1000 reil bill is twenty five cents) or by people who don't know better.

Mexican food at 'Viva' restaurant - 5-9

Lovely margarita in the half liter size (why go for less?) also at 'Viva', 5

Indian food with large bottle of water, 4 at 'India Gate' restaurant though it costs more elsewhere.

Laundry per kilo, 1

Room - I've found that the average cost is about 20-30.  This is fine if you are traveling with another person and splitting the bill (or have more money than this poor author) but a horrible price for me.  Finding cheaper  places takes a day or two.  Booking on the internet is a terrible idea, especially since many of the places are no where close to 'Pub Street' - of which you want to be in easy walking distance.

8% - getting the bank to do a CC transaction, less if you take your chances with the ATM's.  Which may or may not work.

Bottle of cheap wine, 5.

Alcohol, about 50-60% of the price within the USA as they don't have 'sin tax' as they aren't brought up to feel bad about alcohol and tobacco.

Packet of smokes, 1.  This is a bad country to come to if you are trying to give up smoking.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

RUN WHEN THEY GO CRAZY

RUN WHEN THEY GO CRAZY

The place I was staying - and had been staying for awhile - developed problems.

The owner has hit the 'burn out' part of owning his own guest house.

When I first got there, he set the price ($12 per night) and since it was a good price I didn't haggle.  We did agree that after the guests who were in my old room moved out I would retake it since it was a comfortable room.

Then the problems started.  The toilet (or drain?) wasn't working.  Days went by.  First, he tried to clear it himself.  Then, he got a plumber's snake.  Then, he called in a plumber.  Then, he discovered that not emptying the septic tank for four years even though it is expensive is not really a good option.

Either he got sick of me checking on the status of the room I'd been promised once per day or he figured he could rent it for more than the price he had set.  While very drunk he just kept muttering "Maybe you should go find a different place to stay."

Not wanting to be cast out during a time when many of the rooms would be full (boat race festival currently going on), I tried to pay him and tell him I could just keep the same room.  He refused payment.  The next day, I caught attitude from his family as well.

It was obviously time to move on.

Run when they go crazy.

Searched around for an hour or two and found a nice place for $10 per night with mini-fridge, AC, desk, etc.  All the stuff I like.

The only downside is that it is next to a fancy hotel which is pleased to have a nightly 'native music and dancing' show.  This is populated by the kind of tourists who think that sort of thing goes on outside of fancy hotels.

But that's only for a couple hours a night.  There are no barking dogs outside my window.

So this place is looking good enough that I ordered some new glasses.  Since the festival will be going on for about three days, it's going to be ten days until the new glasses are done.  I'm getting two pair of normal glasses (vision has gotten slightly worse), one pair of prescription sunglasses and some reading glasses for $135.

You know you are old when you are excited by reading glasses.

My stomach looks exactly like this - filled with Oreo stuffing.



MOVIE REVIEW

American Ultra

I like quirky spy movies, found this and decided to check it out.

Pretty much the first twenty minutes is the slowest thing ever and can be summed up by:  "The protagonist is in love with a girl, a bit of an apologetic looser and wanting to marry a girl.  His face is in CIA records."

Christ, the first twenty minutes were painful to get through.

It had some good parts in it but overall wasn't quite quirky, funny or interesting enough to be a movie really worth watching.  I'd give it a five, boosted up from a four just from some decent killing scenes.



BOOK REVIEW

"Agent to the Stars" by John Scalzi

The audio book is read by the talented Will Wheaton.  I like him a lot better as an adult than I did on Star Trek: TNG.

Without giving away the plot I can say that it has humor, aliens and movie stars aplenty.  Check it out.

I've got to say that his ability to read, do various characters and so on is mighty impressive.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

BEAR NOODLES OR LINES DEVELOP?

GOOGLE TRANSLATE

"Bear noodle or lines develop?"  The waitress asked me on her phone.  Taking a wild guess at it, I went with making small motions.  She smiled and nodded.  Got small noodles.  I've no idea what is going on with google translate but it doesn't seem to like Thai.

The restaurants were pretty much the only thing I really didn't like about the town of Khon Kaen.  Sure, Thai food is in my top ten but after a couple weeks solid of eating it I really wanted some variety.

The hotel room was lovely and large with a non-Narnia (or dead hooker) wardrobe.

It didn't look as cool as this because Asian creativity seems to be reserved for historical times or I'm staying in places that simply can't afford it.  And there were no children creeping around.  Or goat legged freaks.

The wifi was good at the hotel until about three or four AM when some idiot would turn it off.  Till I went down and convinced them it did not need to 'rest' and the amount of electricity they would save for having it off a couple hours was negligible.

The town itself was OK and I did spend a decent amount of time wandering it.

After a couple weeks there I was ready to go somewhere else.

Because the town is not on the 'tourist trail', that means I got to travel on a series of buses and such like a local.  Cheaper, slower and more crowded.  (See 'costs' section below.)

Eventually we reached the border where a dirty scruffy guy attached himself to me saying I would need his help.  Turns out I did.

The border is poorly organized with the place you need to buy your visa stamp inexplicably far away from the place you get your stamp.  I've no idea why they do this as it is illogical and frustrating.  Also, the building is fairly innocuous and unlabeled.  Maybe they just want a reason for the dirty scam artists to be employed.

But yet...

Soon enough he started in on wanting to get me transport.  Forty dollars.  Oh yes, he was the driver.  Yes, it was a normal taxi.  You would be sharing the vehicle with two other tourists.  All lies, of course.  After I told him I wouldn't be needing transport the price dropped by half.  Note, this is pretty close to the regular price.   Because it was so late in the day (we'd end up arriving at midnight) I went along with it.

The vehicle and company oddly ended up better than advertised.  I was going with a Russian tour guide named 'Oscar' (harder 'ar' on the end than the USA pronunciation) who was getting his ride for free as his company often rented the van.  Just the driver, Oscar and I.  We had an enjoyable conversation and decided to pay a visit to the Mexican restaurant Viva before the kitchen closed.

Over my objections Oscar paid for the food.  I was suppose to hear from him over Facebook and get the next meal but I suspect he got busy.  Some other time.

And now I'm back in Siem Reap.  I'd picked up the extendable 'ordinary' visa rather than the normal tourist visa.  We'll see how I feel about staying here after a month has passed.  If I can tough it out, I may stay a second month to avoid travel during Christmas/New Year.  Bad time to travel if you don't have to.

There's not a whole lot going on worth blogging about right now.  I'm back to having a choice of food and the staff of Viva has taken to tempting me with margaritas.  Oh, the evil.



COSTS

Taxi from the hotel to the bus station, 70 baht
Bus to Kolat, 120 baht
Bus from Kolat to near the border, 155 baht
Crossing the border, 100 baht in a 'tip' to a guy who lied about everything but did help out.
Private vehicle to Siem Reap, $20

PICTURES

{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje Bitola Ohrid Struga | Albania: Berat Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples Pompeii Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya Khon Kaen Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi Chumphon

For videos with a Loganesque slant, be sure to visit here. You can also Facebook Logan.

If you enjoy this blog, please donate! Help Logan keep on traveling.