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Sunday, April 26, 2015

FORMAL PARTY - THE PREPARATION

THE BIRTHDAY

I'm writing some of this before it happens and some afterward.  It's more organic that way.  Plus, it would be cheating to tell everyone what happens before it happens.  Damned laws of physics.


My buddy I'll call Mr. Holmes (Sherlock - he's really really really clever) has a new special lady.  It's going to be her birthday in a couple days.  I got invited to her party at a very swank place.  I was given two instructions.  Buy a shirt and don't get drunk before the (open bar!) party.

"Logan?  Are you listening to me?  Are you drunk right now?  When I say bring a shirt, that does NOT mean pants are optional!  Now, what did I say?"

Clearly, I am one of those kind of friends who must be explained beforehand and apologized for afterward.

No clue why I am not invited to more formal events...

Fair enough.  I'm a lot like Duran fruit - only some people like me.

And, if you kill me I smell really horrible.  Sometimes, I don't even need to be killed to smell really horrible.  I'm versatile like that.

So I run out and buy an expensive (for me) button up shirt.  It is now my 'one nice shirt' and promise myself to wait to get drunk.   I do have several bottles of illegal liquor on the way.  Good times.

They also tell me they are getting me a hotel room in the swank area.  Really, I'm torn on this.  I know the people involved are all well to do (well, bloody rich compared to Logan) but it's only an hour and a half drive back to where I'm staying.  The upside is if I stay there, I might get to spend a bit more time with them.

They insist, I let it ride.

Yes, I'm greedy to spend time with friends.

What I imagine.  Not pictured, Logan who has been taken by the staff for the 'hosing off of extra food' ritual.

Bit concerned about this area.  It seems to be the kind of place where you can easily blow $100 on a bottle of wine.  Bit more than my normal $10.

Good deal.  So excited to go I have to get reminded by the owner of the hostel that it is not tomorrow (from time of writing) but the day after.

Crap.

Time is a confidence trick invented by the Swiss to sell watches.

Sitting in a mellow happy place when suddenly I remember...

...It's a birthday.

Oh crap!

My expression.

Present!

OK.  I've got to shop for a woman close to my age.  Who I've not yet met.  Or talked to.  Or been told about.

What the hell do you get?

It would be rough even for a guy but I could get him a shitload of little skull candles.  Men understand these sorts of gift - unless they are really sheltered.

Women, not so much.  Women like gifts that show you put time into it and thought about them.

Yes men - if it shows those two things, generally women like it.  Generally.

OK.  I've got one of those two.

I get a general idea of what to get.  Not going to write it down as I'm going to publish this before the birthday and she might read it.  It could happen.

I am one of 'Sherlock's' strange friends and she may be curious.

Not telling, will tell in the blog after.

As I'm walking around, I get hailed by some guy in a cab.  Normally, I just ignore strange men in the cabs.  They see a fat, white ATM wandering around who could be riding around and paying them.

You want a ride tomorrow too?

Turns out it is my buddy, his lady and another couple.  And their driver.  Weird.  They're going to lunch but they just wanted to say a quick 'hi' as they go by.

Neat.  Foreshadowing.

Back to wandering around eight - yes eight - kilometers while it rains on me through the shopping area.  They're really aggressive here.  Putting stuff in your hand and backing away type aggressive.  Irritatingly aggressive.

Decide on quantity.  Maybe one of the things I got she will like.

Who knows.

Escape the shopping area, discover I've lost my key at some point, buy a new one and drop off the gifts.

Go graze.

Think about alcohol.

Write a blog.

Smoke.


Now let's just review for a second here.

For those who remember the classic movie "The Blue's Brothers".  Remember the apartment Elwood had?  "You bring me my cheese whiz boy?"  Full of old men smoking?  That was a lot like the place I was staying at when I collapsed on the floor.  Twice.  A few days ago.

And in two days, I'm going to be at the kind of swanky resort that has an 'interactive website'.

Nobody can say I don't get variety...



TRAVELER'S TIP

Negotiation percentage - street stuff for Bali.  Go for a bit less than half, get talked up to approximately half of their asking price.  Note that shops either have a much smaller percentage or do not negotiate at all.



VIDEOS

Dani's Home Stay - the other room


Thursday, April 23, 2015

AND...BACK TO INDONESIA...

CONVALESCENCE IN INDONESIA

When I am feeling better, exploration is the name of the game.


While there are about three places I can think of I'd like to go back to (visit with friends in Romania, an apartment I've got in Bulgaria and some friends I need to visit in Macedonia) there is one in Asia that I really enjoyed - Dani's in Bali, Ubud, Indonesia.

After getting sick, and because eastern Europe may still be 'too damned cold' and since I was in Asia anyway, the signs pointed to going there to rest and try to get my strength (as it were) back.

Fuck winter.

After sleeping on a box spring (no mattress) for several days in the dull town of Krabi, Thailand I decided it was time to say goodbye to my new friend Chris.  I'd gotten a rather good interview with Chris that will hopefully make an appearance in this blog soon.

It was then time to do the 5 AM wake up - after the drinking with Chris and some Thai expats until 1 AM, of course.

The alcohol I was drinking was not nearly this pretty.  It was shitty red wine mixed with diet Coke.

Didn't hear my normal alarm but fortunately the new cellphone (and my usual paranoia) saved me.

Managed to get up on time, pack a few remaining things and head downstairs to wait.

Eventually, some privately owned car pulled up across the street.  I greeted him and asked who he was looking for.  "My boss."

Fair enough.  Later, I asked him if he was going to the airport.  "Yes."

Taking his boss to the airport.  Sounds great.  Sure wish the guy I'd already hired through the hotel - and paid for - would show up.  He was fifteen minutes late so far and I didn't have a lot of wiggle room on this one.

I even flashed my ticket at the guy waiting for his boss but he shook his head.

Twenty minutes after the scheduled pick up time I said "Fuck it".  I wasn't going to let $200 of tickets slide down the drain due to the usual incompetence often found in Asia.  I began negotiating with a tuk tuk driver who was cruising around looking for work.

He then asked the guy waiting for his boss something...and it turns out this guy was waiting for me.

I had told him I was from the hotel, asked where he was going, telling him I was also going to the airport and even flashing the ticket at him he had to collect in order to get paid.

So.  He's retarded.

If Dr. House says it, everyone loves Dr. House.  If I say it, I'm an insensitive prick.  Like Dr. House.

At least he knew where the fucking airport was.

Not kidding.  This sort of thing happens all the time in Asia.  As is said by many long term travelers I've run in to "there is a reason their country is poor".

Sorry for sounding like I joined the USA's Republican Party there.  Fear not, I will not be trying to shame the poor.  It's just when people have done something for a long time - even if it is stupid - they often keep doing the same crap over and over.  I know I do.

So I make it to the airport on time.

The flight on the extremely cheap (good value) AirAsia is uneventful going from the grubby airport at Krabi (that town really has nothing to recommend it) to the massive airport at Kuala Lumpur.  The Malaysians also managed to not lose the plane from Kuala Lumpur to Bali.

Logan was thrilled to survive.

According to things read on wikitravel, the fare from DPS (airport code of main airport at Bali, ie 'where you will arrive') it costs 200,000 IRP (Indonesian rupees) to leave that town and head to Ubud.  Oh, the offers I had.  500,000 IRP on up.


I scoffed at them, told them not to talk to me and often walked away.  This is part of the game.


Eventually, found a guy who would not go down to my 200,000 but would go for 250,000.  [Edit:  According to Dani, this was the correct price.]

Remember, the guy who can speak English you find at the airport is often not the person who will actually be driving you - they are just the tout.

After getting passed off to his minion, we leap frogged through traffic for about half the time they claimed the trip would take before making it to Ubud.

Once here, I got to see my new accommodation.  Not nearly as nice as the room I stayed in last time but Dani does work hard to make things work and make you feel welcomed.

After fighting his broke assed internet (he doesn't know much about computers and the internet is a new thing for him) for half an hour I finally got back online.  [Edit:  The government blocks downloading sites and such.  Be sure to stock up before you come to Indonesia if you want to watch movies and such.  They also seem to block proxy stuff.  Unfortunate.]


It looks like a lot of things will be working out here.  Long time readers may recall that when I started to travel I got to travel with Pete and Jana through a couple countries outside England.  Pete, who had never traveled outside of Australia has become a fairly avid traveler.  He will be here.  Barry and Kim, friends I'd met last time in Ubud Bali - also here.

So it should be a nice trip!



FUN PICS

Although I am still currently recovering from Dengue, I would like to assure everyone I am still dry humping statues whenever the opportunity...arises...



Plus, it is always a complete waste of time for both parties unless they are already in agreement.



VIDEO

Chris' bottle collection



AUDIO

Interview with Chris


Thursday, April 16, 2015

GOTCHA, WALDO

JASON P IN THE PHILIPPINES

An introduction on Jason.  I first met him when he was something like fifteen or sixteen years old.  We'd do tabletop roleplaying games together back in the heady days of the 'Swamp House'.  I've no idea why his mother thought it was OK to drop her teenager off with the creepy guy who lived in the swamp (me) but we've been friends for something like two decades.

Life went by as it often does and Jason met and fell in love with a nice girl named Julie.  Julie lives in the USA but her extended family lives in Philippines.  And I do mean 'extended'.  At fairly regular intervals, Jason and his wife - and now his child - go to Philippines to visit them.  Their extended family lives in the southern part of the islands.

The author and his immediate family.

Repeated visits and a huge family to find out information from have given Jason a lot of insight into these islands and he has been kind enough to share it with us and permit it to be published in the blog.

I'm hoping that other people who regularly travel and have insight into other lands will be compelled - nay, forced - into making contributions to the blog.

Let's see what Jason has to say about Philippines:



Manila

Traffic! Manila is a massive sprawl that is bustling at all hours. We arrived at the airport shortly after midnight and I was amazed at how busy the streets and sidewalks were.

 Manila is very commercialized with signage everywhere, more so than the U.S. in some ways. Kind of reminds me of the 'cityscapes' in Bladerunner. Manila is a giant city, as big and crowded as any international city. The sprawl is even larger and more populated than the Chicago metro.

You don't go anywhere quickly. Manila has the good sense to ban tricycles in certain areas so cars and trucks can actually reach top speeds over 25kmh, but there are so many vehicles on the main streets and highways. In the provinces it’s a constant battle with tricycles though. Manila competes for worse traffic world-wide, for sure.



General Santos City

Beautiful, lush, dirty and dusty all at the same time. Mindanao is a drier part of the country so it's a very tropical environment without being as wet as the northern provinces. November to May is the dry season, and probably the best time to visit.


Prices

Cheap labor. Minimum wage is about 450 pesos, $9-10 a day, and probably not enforced in many places, so many services are cheap by western standards. Personal servants, or helpers, are usually paid 200-300 day plus room and board. These are usually people that live deep inland and cant find work beyond plantation labor, so they migrate to the towns and work for middle class and wealthy folks. Which in itself is an interesting contrast to the US, where even middle-class folks are usually living paycheck to paycheck and don't have nearly the budget to afford live-in help.


The exchange rate for Pisos to Dollars is about 44-1 right now.


Food

You can easily eat well for 100-300p($3-7) a meal, half that, if you're having a small breakfast and lunch, or eating at local eateries and street diners vs restaurants in the shinier parts of town and in the big shopping malls. Rice is eaten with everything by the locals, even breakfast. If they're not eating rice 3 times a day, they're probably having a bad day.



You can find plenty of local food diners, native food and really cheap prices, or you can go to a mall and get just about anything you can in the US. McDonalds is there, but everything still tastes different, the beef is different than US Angus beef, sweeter almost, coconut oil permeates most other foods, most breads will have some coconut oil. You can find Indian food, Chinese, Italian and others too if you have a foreign craving, but they all have a local twist.


Alcohol

Can of beer 30-40p. San Miguel is good, as good as any western lager. 5th of tanduay rum for 60p. A liter, for about 200p. Western favorites can still be had at western prices too.


Real estate

Lodging can be had at any price point you desire, from $5 day on up depending on quality. You could rent a room house or apartment monthly fairly easily for $50-$350/mo depending on the build out and neighborhood and security level you're comfortable with.

I can see why the Philippines is attractive to retirees and expats. You can build or buy a home at any price range, from $20k on up. The challenge though is, you can't really own real estate or a business, with any real legal protection, unless you have family or a spouse, and hold titles in their name. You can still sign leases, you can open up utilities, and construct buildings on your lease, but you'll always require a local you trust to partner with for ownership of land or business permits.



Medicine, Services

Medicine for colds and coughs seems reasonable. 5-10p a dose. We typically get a little cough and runny nose the first couple days we’re there, probably just adjusting to local environment. Pharmacies are everywhere and can probably provide most things. I’m not sure how well most prescriptions are filled though.

Hospitals and clinics are available if you're really bad off.  Groceries, and markets are abundant, if you’re preparing some of your own food in a kitchen, you can easily eat for $3-5/day.

Haircuts 35p at the barber shop. Spa treatments and Massage are 200-400p on average. Professional quality places even by US standards, with comfortable lounge area’s and good service, they’ll wash your feet and serve tea.


Transport

Transportation is cheap. Tricycles are dominant mode of transport everywhere, and about 10p, per person around town. Jeepney about 15-20p. Car Taxi about 50p. More expensive rentals to be had as well. If you can afford your own car or truck, you don't go anywhere quickly, only as fast as the tricycle in front of you.

GenSan to Manila is about 1 hour 45 mins by plane. Airports are readily available throughout the big islands in the Philippines. Most are hot and no AC, but otherwise same typical process as in the States. Porters are every where though. 10p per bag plus whatever tip you're comfortable with. I usually tip 50-100p, they'll expect it from westerners but it's not mandatory. With such a favorable exchange rate I don't mind, and I'm typically traveling like a merchant caravan anyway, carrying a couple hundred pounds of pasalubong back and forth, both ways, so porters earn their pay with me.


Expats and Logan-Type Travelers

There are a lot of Western expats in GenSan, most of them are in their 50's or older, it's pretty rare to see a white guy under 60. Some of them are simply retiree's, some have relocated, or fled perhaps, making the most out of their pensions, some have done quite well and own farms and businesses with their families.

Backpackers are far less common in GenSan though, most brave enough to venture into Mindanao stick to Davao City, which is safer with far more tourist locations and resorts. Driving to Davao by air conditioned bus to and from GenSan is about 250-300p, and only takes 3-4 hours, it’s a beautiful ride too.

Davao City is one of the larger cities in the Philippines, and is probably one of the best places to visit as a foreigner, where its safer, yet not as commercialized as Cebu and Manila. Davao would be my recommendation if Logan wanted to try a couple months in the Philippines. Cebu, or Subik Bay in the north, being a close 2nd.


General thoughts on General Santos

As in most 3rd world areas,as a westerner, you're a target as soon as you step off the plane, avoid any flash and dress down. You're a novelty to everyone in the provincial areas so you'll be stared at wherever you go, but it’s not really impolite to stare, just stare back, nod and they'll probably start smiling at you. You’ll probably find that most Filipinos would want to talk to you and will enjoy getting a chance to talk with a westerner.

The average worker here is probably making $5 a day. You're carrying items on you that potentially equate to a years worth of wages to many folks, so don't let your guard down in public and exercise your usual caution. All the security precautions you write about will undoubtedly be put to the test here.

In public, Filipinos are more curious and friendly, in general, compared to the U.S. Its very easy to engage strangers in conversation and polite small talk. Most Filipinos have some skill in English and many are fluent so it's not hard to communicate and find what you need. In fact much of the signage and marketing is done in English, so it's very American friendly when it comes to finding what you need.

I get the feeling I'm in the tropical version of the Wild West of the frontier days due the lack of police presence . In fact, I rarely see any police, they don't patrol like they do in the US, and there are probably far fewer of them. Generally you'll see police, or military guarding checkpoints in and out cities along the main roads.

You see a lot of armed guards everywhere though, private contractors, that are generally protecting malls and larger business interests. Some of these guys are armed with some rather questionable weapons for crowded public spaces. Shotguns and Uzi's, for example, on a 20 year old kid. I'm in position to argue.


The glaring poverty is so casually mixed among wealth and modern tech and exotic landscapes, and makes for a very alien environment for a guy who rarely steps out past the suburbs of Illinois.


Thank you very much to Jason P for this look at Philippines!

Remember if YOU (yes, you) would like to submit something, go for it.  I can't guarantee much editing (not an editor) but I can copy paste it in.  If you submit pics, expect to see many of them in.  Do not submit 'Logan only' pics with the batch you send your article with or you may discover I have no discernment.



GEORGE TOWN TO KRABI TOWN
I decided to go with my buddy Chris to Krabi Town (Thailand).  Figured it would be nice to travel with someone else for a week or two and just hang out for a bit.

It ended up that he wanted to leave George Town about a week earlier than I'd expected.

Since I was still recovering from dengue, this was a bit of a bitch.  He kept turning around asking me if I wanted to sit down and rest.

When we had made our way through the port and over to the train, I wrung out my bandana three times and there was still more sweat within.  The puddle of sweat on the floor of the nice train station was a bit funny though.

The worst thing was having periodic bouts of dizziness.  Especially when walking up stairs.  That was my favorite.

Despite what many people told me about the train (Malaysian trains are better!) this turned out to be a complete lie.  It was exactly the same fucking train.  Indeed, we even had to buy an ongoing ticket for the border to Hat Yai.

Yes, I had to go back to the 'what the fuck are we doing here' town of Hat Yai.

Fortunately, it was just one night.
Early (seven) in the morning, we hopped a baht bus (think pickup truck with a roof in the back) for the bus station.

After waiting around for an hour there, we got into the cramped mini van and drove to Krabi.

My first thought upon arriving was 'why the fuck would anyone come here?'

This seems to be another 'way point'.   Not the kind of place anyone comes willingly but they come here in order to get somewhere better.  Even the places to stay we checked out (about five) really sucked ass.  Who can't put a fucking table in the room, really?  Yes, Chris and I managed to find one with a table eventually.


So now I'm back in fucking Thailand.

The town of Krabi seems completely uninteresting.

So, I'm going to hang out for a bit (have a one month visa) and see what I want to do here.

My guess is that I will be buying a plane ticket soon but I have been proven wrong so many times before.
Still interested in getting over to Indonesia but there are several places within striking distance.


In answer to those who are wondering about my physical condition, this is the slow recovery time.  I'm drinking a lot of water and anything else I can get hold of.



PRICES

Within Hat Yai - train station to the bus station to Krabi via 'baht bus', 100 baht.

Very cramped mini van from Hat Yai to Krabi Town, less than 300 baht.  Takes four hours including a fifteen minute stop over.  It seemed to take a lot longer than four hours.  So much longer.

Friday, April 10, 2015

DENGUE DANCE OF DEATH

Disclaimer:  I'd like to apologize for the lack of pictures and this blog being less coherent than some of the others but it is written while I am actually suffering badly from dengue.  I'm forcing it out now because a lot of people have expressed big concern and want to know how I'm doing.



From the guy who travels who has:

Been in a country having a revolution
Been in a country being invaded
Been in a country through a 6.5 earthquake

We now bring you,



DENGUE DANCE OF DEATH

Originally, this blog would have been called 'Tech Triumph' and I was going to discuss something I've never owned before - a smart phone.

But instead, along came a mosquito...

I was staying at a place called "Star Lodge".  Got bit (probably there) by a dengue infested mosquito.  Of course, you don't know right away.  After three days of pretty much lying around in a fever, I was out in the common room talking to some people when I collapsed.

No fuss, no muss, just straight down to the floor like a puppet with his strings cut.

Chris:  "You alright?"
Logan:  (from the floor)  "I'm fine."
Chris:  "This is not 'fine'."

Best line ever.

After the second time within an hour of this happening, I figured my condition may be severe enough to facilitate going to the hospital.

Because my brain was in such a scambled state, I took some very bad advice from a local working at the desk who told me to go to a 'nearby' private clinic.  This is never good advice, nor was it close by.

The rule:  Clinics are for people whose insurance will pay for it.  Otherwise, stick to the general hospital.


Got to hospital and one of the first things they asked for was a deposit.  I gave them all the ringgits I had on me - 600.  "I don't have insurance.  Please tell me when this is out because then I will have to go."  I told this to everyone.  Nurses, my doctor, the admittance people, financing.

I got the cheapest accommodation they had - 45 MYR for the room and I was told food was included.  I was in a large room with six other people.

Little did I know in my extremely out of touch state that the 'every couple hours unnecessary blood test' they gave me was costing me about 150 MYR.

The next day in the morning I asked how much of the 600 MYR was left.  "You currently owe 950 MYR more."

What.  The.  Fuck.

"What happened to let me know when the 600 MYR was finished?"

Mysteriously, nobody knew.

Get to visit with the head of finance.  Amazing how interested they are in getting their money.  We come to an agreement where I'd pay him less - just another 600 MYR I had to convert some baht (Thailand money) into ringgits.  He was far less than happy to be getting just some of the money instead of all of it.

A nice doctor (the only nice doctor) told me just to stay, they'd write it off.

I had been wanting to leave but nearly passed out en-route.

The head of the hospital somehow got word of this plan and lost his fucking mind.  "If I find him in this hospital tomorrow morning, I'm having the police arrest him!"

So I went home (my hotel) during the third night.  I think.  Remember, I was and still am, pretty out of it.

After a nearly sleepless night of paranoia (are the police coming?) I packed up all of my stuff and managed to drag it to a different hostel.  The effort took everything I had and I experienced insight as to what it would be like trying to do this backpacking at age ninety.

Since here, I've found a very supportive staff, much smaller rooms and been hanging out a bit with my friend Chris (another globe trotter) who has been very kindly looking after my broken ass.

It's been two or three days here.  Thus far I haven't gotten better according to new 23 MYR blood tests but I have been feeling a bit better.



WHAT'S IT LIKE HAVING DENGUE?

First, you are always feeling a bit fuzzy and stupid.  You move like an old person.  Not a healthy chipper one - more like the ones that need walkers.

Sometimes you wildly shift before overheating fever and bone chilling.  Just for a change, both at once as well.

Your gut hurts and your shit explodes out of you.

It is more horrible than having the appendix out by a long shot.



BE A PERSON OF...

refinement  [ri-fahyn-muh nt]
noun

1. fineness or elegance of feeling, taste, manners, language, etc.
2. an instance of refined feeling, manners, etc.
3. the act or process of refining.
4. the quality or state of being refined.
5. a subtle point or distinction.
6. subtle reasoning.
7. an improved, higher, or extreme form of something: a refinement of the old system.

There is a German word 'augenblick' which means moment.  What makes this word more interesting is that 'augen' means 'eye' and 'blick' is glimpse.  [Disclaimer, because it is German, there are actually several different meanings for blick but this one is best for illustrating my current point.]

Hence, 'augenblick' could also be defined as what you see at a glimpse.  Each moment is a brief, transitory glimpse which lasts only for an instant.

If you are 'just checking' your cellphone, you are missing that.


There have been plenty of rants done about the mindless checking of the cellphone turning people into a zombie but for me, it shows a huge lack of refinement.   There is a message sent out - meant or not - "Hey, people who aren't even here are more interesting than hanging out with you."  The worst people are the self delusional ones.  "Just for a second!"  "I just want to check this one thing."  No respect.

Hence, when someone pulls out their cellphone, I know it is time for me to go somewhere else and find someone actually interested in having a conversation with me.



WHY BADMOUTH YOUR HOSTS?

Sitting with a white guy at a table at the bar.

He is a rotten drunk. I know I repeat myself but usually not immediately.

This is going on.

What makes it worse is he is being very insulting to Indian men, saying things like 'after a girl hits 9, she is considered too old' and such.

When I am in a foreign country, I consider myself a guest there. Sometimes a reluctant guest who wants to get out quickly but a guest. As such talking trash about the hosts is incredibly rude.

Did I mention there was a silent Indian guy sitting at the same table?

I left.



TECH TRIUMPH

Wow, does GPS make getting back to where you started a lot easier.

I took a nine kilometer limp today and it led me right back to whence I came.

Amazing technology.

The cellphone has replaced my flashlight, camera and MP3 player.  Note that I am not throwing that shit out but not needing to carry it is nifty.

The battery life is a bit worry some, especially since phone companies don't like you able to just replace the battery on many phones.  Otherwise, you could just charge several batteries and be golden.  I do know of the existence (I've seen them) of batteries you can carry around to charge your battery in your phone.  Not sure of the weight issue yet.

For most people, I'm sure 10 hours is enough but I've done a lot of '20-40 hours of travel time' and would like to have more book time if possible.



THAT WHICH LIVES WITH YOU  (story from the old hotel)

Woke up in a weird sort of way this evening.

It's been 30-32 cel for the last several days.  Even at night, my new phone is showing (weather app) it's 30 cel.

Woke up shivering my ass off.  Like "Oh, I've been somewhere bad for the winter and my fingers are numb."

It must be that I have the fan set almost at the limit, 4/5.  Turn it down to two, pull out my wrap pants to make a blanket and shake for awhile.

Eventually, the shaking goes down.

Checked phone again to see if we were moving on to something like the movie "The Day After Tomorrow" and weird winter weather that likes to chase people came to find me.  In SE Asia.  No.

Crap.  That could have  been an interesting blog post.

Stomach hurts.  Haven't had anything but a bagel since 1 or 2 PM.

Limp my ass over to an Indian restaurant I've been to before.  As I go, the pain is moving more into "you're belly is actually sick, not hungry".

Got the smallest portions they'd ever seen.  I think they actually felt bad for me (I dont' think I looked good) and only charged me 3 MYR.  I ate two or three forkfuls, that's it.

 Obviously, tonight is not drinking time but I saw Santana who had gone to get me a business card from someone who has a house for rent.  If I feel better, can check that out tomorrow.

Unlock the door to my room.  Clearly, I'm just wanting to get settled and maybe listen to a book on MP3.

There is a cockroach the size of my middle finger, maybe a bit bigger in my room.

Try the Godzilla stomp but I'm slow and so he scurries under the pillow I have sitting on the floor and clings to it for dear life as I grab the pillow, toss it outside and manage to execute him.  And leave the corpse out there as an example for the others.

It's always a whole lot of 'what the fuck' everywhere.

Because of the apathy, I manage to spot a cat sized rat about every day here.

These factors are why usually sleeping a floor up or more is desirable.



VIDEOS

Graveyard 1, 2





Tuesday, March 31, 2015

FOUR YEAR ANNIVERSARY

FOUR YEAR ANNIVERSARY

At last, today is my fourth year anniversary of non-stop travel around the world.

It's been a hell of a good ride.

I've been in countries that have had revolutions going on, been invaded and even sat through a 6.5 (?)  earthquake.  Talked to more interesting people than I can literally remember - and am fortunate enough to have some of them on my Facebook.   Hell, I even briefly had the now president of Egypt as a Facebook friend though I'd never met him in person.

Yes, my name for Facebook is the same as this blog, "Logan Horsford".  If you want to get in on my random rants, Facebook me but be advised that if you are religious you will probably unfriend me soon.  Or if you are easily offended.  However, if you are you probably wouldn't be reading this blog.

Thanks to all of the people who have taken this ride with me through the magic of the internet combined with a strong desire to slack off at work.

I'd also like to again thank all of those people whose homes I stayed at on my journeys.

At times like this, people usually ask, "What's next?"

More travels.  More crazy experiences.  More exploring the world.

Unless I die - in which case I'll just be rotting in the ground.

Assuming I am immortal (hasn't been proven wrong thus far) I will continue to see the world and bring my opinion of it.  Unfiltered.  No corporate giants have sponsored me.  That sucks.  Er - I mean "Because no corporations have funded me, I am able to give you the honest view of the world as I see it."

If I start getting big money from corporations, I may have to suck a bit of cock but something tells me that's not likely to happen.

Sit back, keep an eye our for your slave driving boss and enjoy the blog!



WHY ARE POOR COUNTRIES POOR?

"There's a reason many of the countries that are poor are that way." says Logan just before ordering food.

"I'll have chicken fried noodles.  NO seafood."

They bring back rice and chicken.

"I don't see any noodles!"

They bring back chicken fried noodles.  With seafood.

"As I was saying..."



MEMES






HAM STORY

Read this.

This is why I never recommend anyone getting career advice from their parents in this world of ever changing paradigms.



COSTS

500 business cards, simple black and white, no design charges:  70 MYR.  (Note this is about $19 so it isn't really cheap but I get them tomorrow and it will be awhile before I give out that many.)

Zenfone 5 (smart phone) with 32 gig memory card stuffed inside, fully unlocked no service plan etc, 588 MYR ($158 at the time of this writing).  Note, this is with no contract, etc.  Totally unlocked phone.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

DROPPING BOMBS FOR FUN AND PROFIT





BARTERING IN MALAYSIA

Finally managed to corner the guy I believe to be the owner and did some bargaining for the room.  If I were to pay everything up front for an entire month, I save $2 per day.  Two dollars!

While that is a savings of 11%, I'm thinking I'd rather leave than stay that long here with the crazy lady.

But wait - we have a government website that we can put in a complaint on.  If we get enough complaints then...well, probably nothing will happen.  And no, I won't agree to give you your money back should she return.

For fun (ie I knew it would be fucked up and I'd have a story to write about) we tried the government website.  Unless you fill out every field correctly you get an error.  And some of them are so obscure the locals had to establish a 'brain trust' to figure out what they meant.

Malaysian government website - works just like this.

After all of those hurdles, when you get to the end you get a lovely message saying the government's shit is broken and will be repaired (not) soon.

Talking with locals I've found out they really haven't gotten to the point where they have real estate agents or anything who (for a small fee) will help put people into rental homes here.  Not quite to that point yet.  What they have is a newspaper in English called 'Star'.

I'll check it out but it is becoming apparent to me that soon it will be time to buy my plane ticket and GTFO.  I'd stay longer - even without the pretty much useless discount on the room - but getting screamed at repeatedly while trying to sleep is wearing thin pretty quick.  That may account for some of the divorce rate.

I think I am one of the people who would actually put this to good use - and no more room rental cost!


CONTINUING THE CRAZY


This morning - early - she was particularly loud.  She had discovered that some of the voices in her head needed to be screeched at for a half hour.

For me, I'd pretty much decided to just suck it up.  I've got some of the locals met at the Speakeasy looking into places to stay because the newspapers are completely useless.  Figured I might not be staying all that long at my current abode in the Star Lodge.

And they told me a room four down had opened up.

Why not?

It's amazing how many trips it takes you to move all your shit when it is unpacked.

Feels like that.

Now set up in a new room it seems much quieter.  I can't hear her scratching around.  What was she doing?  I have no idea but it sounded like endlessly rubbing plastic bags on concrete.  [Edit:  Correction, I can still hear her scratching around.]

Hopefully it won't sound as though she is in the same room when she decides to start screaming tomorrow.

No idea if any of the people I spoke with are going to come back with useful housing but I've told them that it has to have everything included, wifi, electricity and so on.  One old man objected to this and said 'But you don't know what it will cost!'

If I had a place and needed 600 MYR to make the rent, electricity was normally 100 MYR during the expensive months and I charged 1000 MYR for it, I'm guessing I could cover even high electricity use.  It is not that fucking hard to figure out.

With our team of accountants, scientists and statisticians, we can figure this out!

The place has to be at least as nice as where I'm staying and cheaper.  Otherwise, there is no reason at all to move.  To give up the massive flexibility of 'Bored, lets fucking move' it has to be special.

Looking at places will provide some possible entertainment however.

Note on the crazy lady - I'm not planning on going and photographing her or filming her.  I get that this is a rough period in her pretty sure to be fairly short life.  Going with 'basic human dignity' here.  However, I am allowed to bitch.  If she wants to bitch about fat tourists waddling around and judging her solely based on the amount of screaming she does, she can make her own blog.  Maybe call it "Screaming in Peace".  Also, I turned down the offer of a Malaysian gentleman who offered to get me firecrackers I could throw at her to attempt to drive her off.  Is this a normal method of dealing with the homeless?  I am unsure.

Can you believe the kind of shit you see in this blog?  That's what you get for reading 'edgy' travel blogs!



LOGAN AND HIS IRRATIONAL HATRED OF MUSIC

At the Speakeasy, everyone is sitting around and having great conversations.  Suddenly, the guy pictured below starts blaring some music and puts on a badly performed show involving several different props.  He's trying to whirl them around, hitting his arms as he does so.  Fine, get a picture.  If he'd stopped the music after he had tired preforming his mating dance, I'd be good with that - but no, he wants to continue playing his shitty music.

The most elaborate courtship ritual ever.  Guessing just for short term mating as people who aren't broken usually don't stick with selfish children.

I mention it and he gets upset.  "I came here for conversation and there is already music going on someone else is playing."

"I don't like it" he says.  Well, too fucking bad you entitled fuck, I don't like your music either.


Goes back to my essay written in an earlier blog (do not ask me which) about why I now prefer the sounds of cats fucking to music.



COSTS

Hooker - streetwalker, 150 MYR
Hooker - brothel, 200 MYR (kind of seems like you might want to spend the extra on this).

[Disclaimer, no I haven't been making the rounds on hookers.  They were all mysteriously killed.  But finding out the price is still interesting!]

Dammit, Matt!


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

THE AMAZING 400TH BLOG POST!

YES AMERICA, THERE ARE OTHER COUNTRIES

Thanks to Travis G for that wonderful title.



THE AMAZING 400TH BLOG POST

For those of you just joining us, this is our 400th blog.  That averages out to about 100 posts per year of the four years I have been continuously traveling.  I would like to say 'thank you' to all of the fans of the blog and 'eat a dick' to all of the people who tell me that ten posts does a blog make.


Newer readers may think we're going to be doing something special and magical for the long awaited 400th post.

They would be wrong.

Sadly, life doesn't work like that and since I'm not Fox News, I don't just make shit up.

Sorry.  [Editor:  This is clearly a lie as he makes shit up later in the blog.  Watch for it!  He blames the whiskey.]

The Simpsons make a big hullabaloo about their four hundredth episode so I suppose I can at least include some fanfare.

On a more serious note, I'd like to thank all of the loyal readers that are still reading this.  Mainly because I can't swear at those who don't read it.  To all of the new readers, I hope you enjoy this gritty look at 'how things really are for travelers' - at least from Logan's perspective.



THE CRAZY LADY WHO LIVES BEHIND MY ROOM

She's been getting louder.  I wandered around looking for a different room.  At the same price (50 MYR) I can get a shitter room.  Yes, shittier than this decent room with my own madwoman out back.

From time to time, the neighbors here get sick of her and call the police.  They don't do anything.  In the past, they've even called the Malaysian equivalent of 'social services'.  They came and collected her and she went to a place where she received the help she needs.  Probably medicine.


This cured her so they let her leave.

In no time she was back in the alley putting worms into her hair.

And annoying Logan.  (Yes, poor Logan.  I know.)

Talking to the desk clerk it appears that in a couple days a room further away from 'crazy pants' will open up.  I'll go take a look at it.  [Note, this didn't happen.  They really don't care so long as they get paid at cheaper hotels.]

Till then, I get to hear her ranting at the voices in her head.


If it gets too annoying, I'll just go live in Chinatown in KL and be able to bitch about the prostitutes and such there I suppose.

Or, might just get that plane ticket (there and back again) to Indonesia and go see what's happening there.

Could go to Korea but the cost does worry me a bit there.

Realizing the crazy lady does give me quite a bit to write about in the blog, I know part of me should thank her loud ass.   "Excuse me, but could you be crazier in a more quiet fashion?"  Don't see that working.

If I can find a way to mitigate the crazy, I might just stay here a bit longer.

Not her - note this is an entirely different crazy woman.

In San Francisco they sometimes use water to keep the homeless off the stairs of places like churches.  Because everyone knows God hates the homeless.

Sometimes, acid is instead used.  One homeless man was hosed down with acid.  The church assumed this homeless man named Gordon had been killed.  Some people were happy when they discovered he was indeed still alive.  [Editor:  Three unrelated things and a healthy dose of lying just to be able to finish it up with the 'Gordon's Alive' video?  You've been watching that too often recently.  Suggest cutting back.  Also, remember you are NOT Fox News.]

Well, it does make people too stupid to use the internet happy I suppose.  "You have to keep track of what's going on!"  Yeah, right.



CHINA AND THANK YOU PRESIDENT OBAMA

Using this picture is probably as close as I will ever get to having a beer with Obama.

Yes, Obama actually did something which directly helped me.  First time from any president.  Go him.

It is now much easier to get a visa to go to China.

"Yes, Rogan come in to my web.  I've been waiting for you, you so slow and fat!  How you get so fat?  You think you Buddah?  You no Buddah!  Die fatboy!"  - Courtesy of Chinese Consulate.

They still have some weird rules and I'm not sure what I can actually get but if I end up hanging out in Kuala Lumpur, it might be worth it to go to the Chinese embassy to consult.

And thank you Mr. Ambassador.



As you can see in the picture above, any visa for US citizens costs the same.  Why wouldn't someone want to get the multiple entries for ten years?  I'm thinking they might say "Despite it costing the same, we will only issue you this lesser visa" - but I could be wrong.  The webpage this is from is here.

Note that I found out China is more expensive even than Malaysia.  I've said it before and I'll say it again.  And again.  I have no problem going to a fucked up country but when it is expensive what is the fucking point?  I can go somewhere nice 'for expensive'.



KUALA LUMPUR

This is an expensive city and finding a fairly cheap hotel (or even hostel) which isn't a complete horror show took some doing.

What a creepy fucking kid.  Note to our readers, if any of your kids are this creepy, please send in their pictures.  We'll get them into the blog.  Note, if they are actually 'cute' and you are trying to pass them off as creepy we will ignore or mock you.  Nobody cares about your cute kids.  Only your creepy little spawn of Satan pyro kids.

The best value for money I could find is about 60 MYR but it isn't the kind of place I'd want to stay for long.

Checking on hotels near the airport, change the same price into USD.  For some of the airports double it.

My best bet would be busing to KL, going straight to the airport and sitting around for a few hours waiting for my flight?

Why no officer, I wasn't slitting my wrists in boredom.

"Oh, Logan - don't you want to see Kuala Lumpur?"

As tempting as yet another 'they kind of all look the same' glass and steel city is, I'd rather go to a smaller place that costs significantly less money and is more interesting.



ENGLISH

Two things.  First, there is a great chance here of finding people who not only speak some English but fluently, though heavily accented.  Second, English in this country is actually required on some official government forms.

That's why when I run in to people from here who don't speak it, this always comes to mind.



SPEAKEASY

"The Speakeasy" is not it's official name.  Not sure if it has one.  However, given the 'grey market' ('black market'?) nature of the business, I figured 'speakeasy' fit.

Because both tourists and locals freely mix, it is a great place. Well, that and cheap booze.


Sometimes, there are tons of people that flood in. One of the tourists wanted to try to get everyone into one big group. He had them sit in a huge circle.

I'm thinking "This is lame, I can't even hear people from the other side of the circle."

Got my chair into the middle and started working my way around the circle.

A picture taken as it happened.  Photo credit to Josi H. and a big thank you.

Fuck thinking 'inside the box'. Or, in this case, the circle.

For those who don't know - but care - I believe the red arrow points to about where the watering hole is.


SHOPPING

There is a huge tower which would be absolutely fabulous to go up and take a long majestic look at the city.  In 2017, you might (might) be able to do that.  Because they are 'refurbishing' it.  Better than it collapsing, I guess.

Around the base are three malls connected by bridges.  The stores in them range from the guy with a table of crap to modern stuff you see in 'westernized' countries.

The shops are all manned by phone zombies who seem to have no skills outside of playing with their phone and express heavy annoyance when taken away from their phone to deal with customers.

Carefully questioning fat natives revealed two stores which had clothing huge enough for even me.  Needless to say I was excited.

Just like this guy.  So...excited...  (Disclaimer, not my pic - I've not seen grass here.)

After spending time rousing the zombies, I managed to buy a pair of shorts.  Sounds simple for other people but for me to get some that actually fit is not easy.

My role model.

The shorts themselves can be seen above in the picture which I'm surrounded by other travelers.  These were the least messed up looking shorts I was able to find.  Asian fashions...woohoo...



WHILE SHOPPING

Be sure to try out these massage chairs.


Here is how much they cost.


Totally...worth...it...

At some point, I'm going to go there to just spend an hour in one.   Five and a half dollar per hour entertainment I can do for an hour.



VIDEO

The Malaysian reincarnation of Elvis belts out one of his numbers.  (Note, I apologize how dark it is.  My cheap camera doesn't like the night.)



COSTS

Aside from drinking, I've gotten my costs down to about $25 per day.  Drinking could add another $6.  Not bad for several hours of entertainment talking to interesting people but still a significant addition.

Excellent Indian meal, 12 MYR

Scooter rental, 30 MYR or 60 MYR, depending on the horse power.

Camera Museum, 20 MYR.  (No, I didn't go.  Cared more about having 20 MYR than seeing cameras.)

Three mimosas and a paper packet of rice, 3.50 MYR.

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:
Krabi Town
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