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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.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

GEORGETOWN, ZOMBIES AND THE HOMELESS

LOGAN'S NIGHT OUT

When I first got to this city, it appeared to be pretty dull and uninspired.  Instead of just going away, I wanted to dig in a bit deeper.  There has to be some reason why people come here.  There are little treasures to be had as you explore.

Delving into the back streets of a city is always of interest and sometimes pays off.

While I was poking around some when I got called over by a local.  Much of the time I ignore these calls as they come from people wanting to access the Logan ATM.  This time it didn't feel like that.  There were a few locals just sitting around drinking beer.

"Hey, you want a beer?"

Malaysia is the last place you want to drink.  After their hefty government taxes, a single beer is 7.50 MYR ($2).  This is not the place to drink.

In response to my raised eyebrow (and possibly 'are you high?' look on my face) the guy quickly amended "Beer here is three for 10 MYR ($2.69).  Found out you can buy one for 3.50 MYR (95 cents).

So I had a couple beers with the guys and chatted.   Found out this place pays frequent bribes to the police to stay open.  Instead of money, they just tell the cops "You each get just one item."  The cops usually take a bottle of expensive alcohol and they're happy.  They also hide parts of their stock in various buildings in case it is raided by the police.

Damned if I didn't find the Malaysian equivalent of a 'speakeasy'.

Fortunately, all of the customers were not required to dress in authentic 1920's apparel.

After those, I wandered into "Little India" in search of food.  Found it, ate it.  Damned good and only 12.20 including rice, three different types of food and a lassi drink.

Served on a banana leaf.  Not pictured, the mutton because they were de-boning it for me.  I explained that if I choked on a bone, I would die then haunt their restaurant.  Yes, really.

Afterward, back to the outdoor speakeasy to get down with some serious drinking.

Sign of the speakeasy.

Again lucked out and met up with two Czechs who are bicycling through Asia.  Given the traffic and horrible driving, it seems unbelievably brave.

For 11 MYR you can get (I think) 300ml of cheap whiskey.  Not sure but I think we had three of those.  The lady stuck with beer and her husband and I drained the whiskey.

It went down nicely.

This outdoor speakeasy was very busy.  In addition to the take away business, there were probably over fifty people sitting around on plastic furniture with cheap tables.

Logan got drunk.  It's been awhile - since Cambodia.

So I'm staggering back toward where I suppose my hotel to be.  Stopped to ask a couple of transvestite prostitutes (or ladyboys - not sure) for directions.   You always run into interesting people on side streets at night.

Somehow, found my hotel.

Was drunk enough I'd forgotten how light switches worked.  Complained the lights weren't working and the bemused night worker came and turned on my lights for me.

I've no idea what I did for preparations for bed but I ended up in it.  Slept till 1:30PM.  Would have gone on sleeping but when I am laying down too long, my body starts to ache.  Same when I sit or stand too long.  My body craves change I suppose.

And...  It looks like more of the same tonight.  Not planning on drinking as much but we all know how that shit works.



MOST THOUGHTFUL MEME EVER




ZOMBIES

Zombie stories are usually only told in the USA.  Ever wonder why they don't take place in other parts of the world?

India - gone just that fast.



MY PERSONAL HOMELESS PERSON

As reported earlier, living right outside my window is a completely insane homeless lady.  Usually she spends time bitching that her imaginary friends never talk to her or scraping her clothing on the ground.  I have no idea why on that second one.

I look at it a bit like the people who built the 'follys' and then had an insane hermit installed.   It's to create more ambiance.

Got a bit of extra entertainment value when I heard a conversation between some sort of good Samaritan and the homeless lady.  He wanted to give her a coffee.  Maybe he supports her, I've no idea.  Never seen her leave so I have no idea how she gets food.  Or goes to the bathroom.  Wish I hadn't thought of that second one.

Samaritan:  "You have worms in your hair - let me take them out."
Homeless lady:  "No, no, no."

Homeless lady:  "I don't speak English!"
Samaritan:  "Yes you do!"

Yes.  Trying to make the best of a fucked up situation.  It's not easy to find a room at this price range that doesn't suck.



NOTE TO SELF

Zajeci (which means 'rabbit') is the village in Czech Republic I visited when I started this trip.  I need to go back there at some point.



COSTS

Speakeasy, 3 beers for 10MYR
Indian food, 12MYR


Thursday, March 19, 2015

PUNCHING THE FART BOX OF TRAVEL WITH MY TONGUE

PUNCHING THE FART BOX OF TRAVEL WITH MY TONGUE

As I'd mentioned, it is a wee bit hot here.  I rate the heat in several different stages.

Not:  No bandanna required.  May get a light sweat or develop a sweat if I wander around much.

Bit hot:  Bandanna required simply to keep sweat from splattering onto my glasses.  When you toss your bandanna away and it goes 'plop', that's sweaty hot.  It is outstanding to wander around in this because it isn't long until you are drenched with sweat.  You really feel like you did a hard work out.  Even if you didn't.

Dangerous:  Above something like thirty five degrees it is time to scurry from one shade to another.  Generally, I only encounter this sort of heat when I'm in deserts.  Hopefully, I will be wearing 'Arabic style' clothing.  By this I mean of course a djellaba and keffiyeh.  Best things you can wear in that climate.

In Malaysia, it's a 'bit hot'.

After wandering around the town for thus far three days, I'm not sure what it is people come here for.  There are tons of tourists, European and Asian.  But it's not all that nifty of place.

It's also a bit difficult to walk around given the lack of sidewalks.

To clarify, they do have them but about 30-50% of them are used for other things (restaurants, parking for mopeds, shops, garbage storage and so on) and are pretty much impassable.  It's like they'd heard of them but figured they could re-purpose them for better things.

I'm going to keep wandering around for awhile to try to find the attraction of this city.



THE HOMELESS LADY

Outside of my window lives a homeless lady.

I believe she is completely off her rocker.  She spends all day just sitting there scratching around.  No idea what she is up to, don't much care.

Aside from the occasional noise.

I asked a guy who works in the hotel what was up with her.

"She is homeless.  Very sad."

Obviously not so sad that anyone does anything about it.  More of the 'isn't that fucking tragic' as you step over them or ignore them kind of sad.

It always amuses me in a black humor sort of way when people say "Oh, isn't that tragic!" or "It's so sad."  Almost like they're programmed to.  People generally don't give a fuck about these people beyond saying "So sad!"  No aid comes.  So why pretend to be sad?  Perhaps it is an unconscious effort to show other humans we are good people.  Perhaps it is a way to affirm we/our tribe/our nation has it better than others.  I've no idea.

Shit, we even care a bit more about animals than other humans, by a few years!

For me, I don't waste time pretending to care.  It has as much use as those people who promise to 'pray for you'.  They get to give you some lip service about how they care but honestly, they're doing nothing.  I don't bother to give the lip service.  Does that make me a bad person?  In the eyes of people I probably wouldn't like, perhaps.  Realistically, does it make me just like everyone else?  I've no idea.

One of the great measurements of how good the people of a land and their government are is how well they actually take care of the poor, the sick, the mentally ill and so on.   Which again passes the buck and puts it in the hands of government.  Unless we have to pay taxes to help keep this up, then we bitch.



HUMANS IN SPACE

In this gif (where does this shit come from) the human is played by the monkey.  The goat plays any and all alien races we come across.  If aliens did show up, this would go a long way to explain why they keep anal probing people.

Behold, the real reason the internet was invented.  If you would like to see this very NSFW tragedy in all it's dubious glory, click here.



COSTS

Decent Indian meal (with pretty horrible waiters), 21MYR

New sandals (at last, with absolutely no warranty), 81MYR (that's about $22)



DAILY COST

Just for you guys I did something I normally do not do.  I kept track of everything I've spent money on today.  Unless I go crazy for a soda or something later.  Here is a list of a fairly average day.  All prices in ringgits.

52 Rent
9  Breakfast half dozen very small egg roll things and a big cup of coffee
2  Small soda
23 Dinner spaghetti with meat sauce and a baked potato inexplicably squashed flat with diet soda
9  Small package of six cookies, small packet of Q-tip wannabes, 1.5 liters of cold water

Total:  95 ringgits.  At the time of this writing, that is $25.76.  Before you say 'oh, that's cheap' remember that on top of this cost I will have laundry, replacement stuff (like my new sandals the other day), travel expenses (such as air fare, etc).  Over all, it seems to be in the neighborhood of what I should be spending today though.

I do realize that is what some people spend going to the movies.



VIDEO

My 52MYR room in Georgetown.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

MALAYSIA, THE BOX FACTORY

TRAIN FROM HAT YAI (THAILAND) TO PENANG (MALAYSIA)

I really liked the train station in Hat Yai.  It was almost cozy.

Unfortunately, the train turned out to be as well.

If you are going to Penang, you have to go way down to one end of the train to embark.  Turns out that later, they unhook the rest of the cars for some reason.

This is not a good thing.

When I first got into one of the only two cars going to my destination, it turns out that not only is it crowded but the beds people have recently vacated are still set up.  The train workers aren't very quick about converting those back into seats.

So it was a cluster fuck.

There were also an older couple of rude American tourists on the train.  They didn't want to share their seats because others didn't have to...  The usual entitled bullshit.  Fortunately, they got stung by karma soon after.  [Note, Logan doesn't really believe in karma but it helps illustrate the point.  The hope someone  will get stung by karma is done by people incapable of dishing out retribution on their own.]


Met up with four nice backpackers who I ended up visiting with on the way down.  They had made the mistake of leaving a lot of their stuff on a completely empty abandoned beach while they went and played in the water.  When they came back, everything - including clothing, electronics, etc was gone.  This is always a thought I have before going swimming - where do I leave my shit so it doesn't get stolen?  On the beach - even if it seems abandoned - is not a good idea.  "Haven't you guys ever watched slasher flicks?"  I asked.  "Bunch of sexy teens down on an abandoned beach - I mean - wow."  They agreed it could have been worse plus their travelers insurance covered all of their losses.  But now they are a bit wiser, a bit more wary.

After an hour, the train arrived at the border.  "Take off all of your stuff!" we were told.  Since the tickets had no seat reservations, this meant that no seats were reserved.

Customs was a very fast breeze.  There were various people along the way to guide the crowd along.  Stamp here, stamp there.  I was heading toward the exit when one of the bag searchers - I routinely ignore them unless they stop me - asked me to open up my bag.

Her nose wrinkled as I pulled out the top bag - the dirty laundry.  "Just clothes in there?"  Yes, I replied.  And that was the end of the search.

Dirty laundry always goes on top.

Everyone got back on the train.  At last, the all four of the young tourists had seats and the rude Americans got to wander around and hope someone was nice enough to let them share a seat with them.

After three or four hours and a time zone change, we arrived in Butterworth, Penang.  As I exited the train station (which was designed by a mad man) immediately a sleazy cab driver popped up and asked if he could rob me.


I had to do the Archer "Nooope!" about five times - pretty much to anything he said - until he fucked off and went away.  Then I discovered right outside the door a free van to take us all to the ferry was pulling up.

That'll do.

They managed to wedge me and all my shit into the van and took us the short distance to the ferry.  I would guess from the time I left the train station until the ferry took off was about fifteen minutes.  I was impressed.



BASE CAMP

It appears my luck is holding.

Obviously, my luck comes from the fact that in the USA people are yelling 'Irish' and getting as drunk as possible.  People in Ireland itself don't celebrate that day nearly as hard.

When I got in to town with two hours of sleep and my body threatening to shut down, I went on the tour of different places to sleep.

I questioned various people, tourists and locals, "Where do all the tourists stay" to get directed to the general location.  Holy shit, there are a lot of tourists here.  Why, I am not sure but this is the kind of place people are bringing their babies to.

Once in the tourist district, I  went on a tour of some full places as well as a couple that were so sleazy you'd expect to find several dead hookers already stashed there.  I'm talking over the top shitty with beds nearly in the shape of a 'U', wildly dirty sheets, no screens and partially broken off windows.  Took a look at them and wondered how people could possibly be charging $10 per night to have anyone stay there.  Wouldn't want to stay there if they were paying me $10 per night.

If you push the mattress off the box spring, you get to find something my buddy Matt hid.

Eventually came to a place that seems a bit pricey at $17 and small but seems to be the best.  Turns out there are a few expats staying here and they assured me this is the best for the money they've found.

The only downsides I've found thus far are that they apparently will rent rooms to families with little kids.  This sucks simply because - like most places - there is no soundproofing at all.  Also, after midnight the guy in charge of the desk crashes in the foyer.  It would be much better if I had my own balcony (or a common balcony) to smoke on.  Since I don't, I get to go into that room while he's sleeping.  Part of the disadvantage to my schedule of staying up till three in the morning and sleeping till noon.  Honestly, there is no good reason to get up in the morning.

Current hotel cost is 65 ringgits.  This is still a bit high at $17.55.  Without AC (which I haven't turned on yet) the cost goes down to 55 ($14.85).  I planted seeds of 45 ($12.55) in the guy who is running the places head if I end up staying for a week.  If I can get it down to even $15 a week and figure out where to eat that won't cost 20-30 ($5.40 to $8.10) and keep it at around 10 ($2.70) that would be great.  If I can do that, I'll probably stay in this town for awhile.

Note, none of that shit happened.  His 'ability to negotiate' was adjusting the price by the value of a cheap cup of coffee.  Not worth it to be locked into a town that seems to have all the thrills of a tour of the local box factory in the Simpsons.



But, it's a base of operations from which to explore the town.  Dull, dull town.  Which is amazingly hot right now.

Don't get me wrong - I firmly believe that people who bitch both when it gets too hot and too cold are just whiny pussies.  Pick one temperature you like and stick to it.  Or grow a brain big enough to figure out how to make the money to get multiple homes.


I picked 'fuck the cold'.  Totally OK with hot.  However, you have to respect the heat.  Malaysians don't go out nearly as often during the middle of the day and I'm working on re-tuning my schedule to match theirs.  Everyone goes out at night because the heat is brutal during the day.

When I say brutal, I mean "I think it may be physically dangerous for me to spend too much time in the sun here."  Not "I am too lazy to move and want to bitch about the weather."

It's quite a switch from South Africa where if you go out at night you might die.

Dying from the heat is bad but there are other brutal ways to go.



OTHER NEARBY PLACES

There is some island north of here (I forget the name - probably Langkawi - but you can get a ferry there) which is 'duty free'.   That sounded nice until I talked to expats about it.  Everything else there is more expensive - including the already overpriced hotels.  In addition, the city is very spread out so a taxi is required to go anywhere.

Doesn't sound like you'll save much money to me - probably why all of the Malaysians go to Thailand to drink.



TRAVELER'S TIPS

Always make friends with (or at least be super cordial to) people on the train.  It makes the journey better, they can watch your luggage for you and may even save you a seat as the nice group of young tourists did for me.


If you don't have the nicer giant zipper opens the whole backpack and instead have the 'dig like a badger' model, stinky dirty clothing always goes on top.  Period.

Need help committing suicide?  There is help.  Oh - wait - just read the last line.  Never mind.



PRICES


Well, it's more challenging anyway...


Lodging:  Dorm, 25-35R, room about 25R for 'good to bang a hooker in only if she isn't picky' to 55R for a decent room, 65R with AC.  This is for a tiny room.  It's very easy to spend 100R+ on lodging.

Food:  Prepared who knows when and served to you cold meals, 10R.  Actually cooked (or at least warmed) when you order them, two to five times that amount.

Cigarettes:  13.50R

White coffee:  This famous in Malaysia drink tastes horrible to Logan.  A complex flavor of crap.  6R.

Ferry from Butterworth to Penang: under 2R.  Note that the guy in the booth does not cell you the ticket - he just gives you change which you use to get through the turnstile.



Sunday, March 15, 2015

BLING, BUTTERCUPS AND BOUNCY BOUNCY!

BORED AND RESEARCHING

This is what happens when Logan hasn't found a computer game to distract him adequately.

So we're back,  "Putting the T in Travel and Travesty", as Murlka K rightly pointed out.

I don't know where this came from or what it means but when I searched for 'putting the T in travesty', up it came.



WHY DOES LOGAN SHOW HIS WORK?

Some readers may wonder why a great deal of time, effort and blog space goes in to thinking up plans (which may fall apart) and sharing them with you the reader.

Three reasons:

1.  Unless you have tons of money sitting around, you have to plan a bit.  If you get stuck in an expensive place, it sucks your funds out quickly.

2.  For my own planning and clarity.  Don't like to plan, don't want to plan but don't have the funds to wander at random.

3.  Other travel professionals don't show you this.  They either just keep it in the background or have a staff of people who take care of all this shit for them.  Being able to plan is a necessary travel skill.  In other travel blogs, it all seems to work 'by magic'.  You don't get to see the thought process.  You don't get to see the 'well, I fucked up there!' moments.  You don't get to see the hours of research.  I bring you that.  While I'm sure most people just skim it (it can be tedious) those who actually want to get traveling skills may get some ideas from it.

In the end, researching a place in advance is a lot like wiping your ass in the dark.  You hope you got it right but you don't find out till later.



YOU MUST BE RICH!

People from poor foreign countries always assume you, the foreigner, are rich.

Compared to them, this is true.

Would this guy be dead in countries I've traveled in?  Of course - but let me ask you.  As you look at him, don't YOU want to kill him?  Imagine how great it would be if he was wearing a year of your current pay to boot?  Score!

However, wealth is relative.  By that, I don't mean you have to have wealthy relatives, but it doesn't hurt.

The poor foreigner thinks if you are making $20,000 per year, you are rich.  That's less than double the 'poverty line' in the USA.  If you were living in their country making this, you would be rich.

In the USA, every year every person gets handed this or more just because.

It doesn't compute to someone that you are paying $800 in rent, another couple hundred a month (or more) in bills, have a car payment, student loans and so on.

They just figure you dropped in from the sky and every year you get $20,000 dropped into your pocket.

Since I make well under $20,000 per year (yeah - go hit that donate button at the top of the blog.  Do it.  You know you want to) I really am poor.  I just spend money on things that are more in line with my goals.  Drinking, eating, travelling, getting drunk.

Thank you so much ghost hand!

Not a lot of other money gets spent in my life.

Anyone who has seen pictures of me (scroll down to the bottom of the entire page - all of the cities are listed there, click on them to see pictures) knows I dress like a homeless guy who has escaped a mental ward.

There are three reasons I do this:

1.  I can't afford nice clothing.  My clothing quickly gets destroyed through hard use, evil laundry people or stolen by evil laundry people or other travelers who want to dress like me.

2.  I am a big fat man in a world of small people.  Seriously, I can't even find shoes that fit in some countries and I only wear a size 45 (in metric, about 11-12 inches in the outdated US system).  Getting clothing is a constant challenge and often I am stuck taking whatever is available.

3.  Camouflage.

So many people want to have the same conversation with me that goes something like this:

Hey - you're rich.
I'm poor.
You should buy stuff for me or give me money.
Why won't you buy me stuff or give me money?
I am angry with you for not buying me stuff or giving me money.

Because that's what people who have want to do with their money.  Give it to some dude they don't know or care about.

I head off the conversation quickly.

Foreigner:  "Hey - you're rich."
Logan:  "Have you seen how I am dressed?  Your pants are MUCH nicer than mine.  Oh - look at your shoes!  Nice!"
Foreigner:  "Oh.  Yes, that is true."  Usually, they are too nice to accuse me of stealing hobo clothing.

This completely derails them.  They compare our clothing and yes - theirs is much nicer.  Guess we can't go on to the 'why won't you give me money' phase...



THE CONVERSATION YOU WILL HAVE EVERY DAY WHILE TRAVELING


Some travelers bitch about this:  "Oh, gawd, I hate having that same conversation!"

Suck it up, buttercup.  It's useful.

For those who have never traveled before, here is part of the conversation.  In parenthesis, I put what these questions sometimes mean.

Hi!  (Standard greeting, unless you are Japanese.)
Where are you from?  (Have I been there?  Do we have something in common?)
How long have you been travelling?  (Sometimes, a dick measuring device.)
Where have you been?  (Sometimes, a dick measuring device.)
How long have you been here?  (Do you know anything useful about this area?)
Where will you go next?  (Are we traveling in the same direction?)
Do you have a favorite place?  (Is there somewhere cool I should consider going?)

I understand that the questions may seem tedious to some people.  After all, I've been doing these conversations for the last four years.  However, they also classify as pre-prepared small talk.

That is great.

No awkward questions.  Nothing that gets too personal too quick.

The look when you find out the person you are talking to is a missionary.

Also, you both have a shared hobby - travel.

And you were both either smart enough - or dumb enough - to come to this place!

Relish the ritualistic questions.  They can tell you a lot about the person.  Also, if the conversation ends after the ritual questions are done, it isn't awkward.  You can get on with your life if you suspect the person is boring (though most travelers don't seem to be) or psycho as most psychos are out stalking their exes and don't have time to travel.

I said "time to travel", not "time travel".

Just like you can't jump into deeper conversation without the lube of small talk, after the ritual questions you can branch into other things such as:

How do you fund your travel?
What motivates you to travel?
Do you have any crack for sale?

I mean, whatever!



THE CURRENT PLAN

According to this website (yes, I had to use a website) I am still in Hat Yai.  After the weekend passes (and before another week passes) I will get up at the stupid early time of 5:30AM to catch a 7AM train to Panang (Georgetown), Malaysia.  This should be interesting because it will be the first time in Asia taking the train across the border.  I am curious as to how it will go.  Hopefully, they do it the right way and have people board the train to stamp the passports instead of offloading everyone.  We'll see - and yes I will write about it.  Couldn't find anyone on the internet who gave details.  According to some Malaysian guys I was hanging out with (see 'Chance Encounters' below) they said that the train stops, everyone takes off all their crap.  The train is then searched for smuggled contraband and may even go away for a bit while they hook up more cars then it comes back.  It won't be a six hundred or eight hundred meter slog like at some border crossings.

Not sure how I will enjoy Georgetown, Malaysia.  You get a 90 day visa for Malaysia which is nice but last time I was there I didn't stay all that long.  I need to travel to Butterworth then get either a very cheap or free ferry over to Georgetown.  I'll see what life is like there.

When that shit gets old it (as everything does to Logan), I'll need to buy a plane ticket from Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia - AKA "KL") to Banda Aceh (Indonesia) round trip.  While I detest being locked in to a plane fare, it is $80 to $100 round trip.  This means that if I want to, I can ditch the return voyage and travel around the giant island of Sumatra instead if I decide I don't like Banda Aceh or the island of Pulau Wu.

Is there a big volcano?

They do have Firefly Airline from Penang straight to Banda Aceh for about $150 there and back again.  Since I'm going to need to return a couple of times to KL, I will probably just get a bus to KL.

The bus from Penang to KL is $11 for the nice bus and it's only about 4 hours.  Plus who knows how much to go to various places within the city.  Since I will have to go back there repeatedly it might be worth it to get to know the city.

Between Georgetown (aka Penang) is a town called Ipoh.

To Ipoh or not to Ipoh...  Not sure if I will stop to hit it or not.  This is part of the reason I dislike buying plane tickets ahead of time.  If the price doesn't dramatically go up for buying it only a couple days in advance I will just get them when I'm in KL.

This picture?  Painting?   Rendition!  Of Ipoh does make it look pretty cool.  But I will have to check with other travelers to find out if it is cool or not.

Then I'll head down to KL.  It will be imperative to find a place to stay that makes the airport convenient.  Initially, I will head in to Chinatown.  Though the cheap places are usually used by hookers, they are the cheap places to stay.  Hey, I'm a budget traveler.

Found this on the internet.  Refreshing for it's forthrightness.  I'm not sure where it was taken.

Whore boot camp.  Eye of the tiger!  Mouth of a teamster!

Anyway...

Whether I use the return ticket to Malaysia or trek through the hazardous overland route through Indonesia, I will eventually find myself back at KL, one way or the other.

From there, I'm going to have a couple different choices depending what month it is.  April or later, I can get a cheap flight to Korea and back - maybe for as little as $150.  And that means eating Korean food for a month.  Which is good.


In conclusion:

Georgetown (island)
Maybe Ipoh (historical town)
KL (big city)
Banda Aceh (small city)
Pulau Wu (island)
Either tour Sumatra (big island in Indonesia) or fly back to KL.
From KL possibly fly to Korea.

No idea why the hell I've got so many islands on my trip.  I don't really like islands.  They cost more and generally have less.  Oh, look at the water!  For me, this is often a case of 'who the fuck cares'.

So why am I going to be near the water so much?  I have obviously gone insane.  That's the only reason I can come up with.



WHAT'S UP WITH THE US DOLLAR?

First time since I've been on the road!

Honestly, I'm not really sure why it is nearly 1-1 with the Euro as of the time of this writing.  Honestly, if I was thinking about traveling at some point and had the means, getting a couple thousand euros would probably be a good investment.  Chances of the dollar getting weaker are really good - they do that on purpose for the trade balance and such.



CHANCE MEETINGS

Had a great lunch and conversation with half a dozen men from (mostly) Malaysia.  Very nice guys - they even insisted on buying my noodles.  We covered a huge range of topics and chatted for an hour or two.  Very good time.

When I talk to someone, part of how educated I consider that person is 'how many languages do they speak'.  At that table the average was 'over four' until one of the guys brought up dialects.   That multiplied up how many people they could speak with considerably.

Way cool.

Yes, the line 'way cool' was used in the movie Hackers.  Yes, it was a 'way lame' line.

Most people take pride in only speaking English and 'bad English'.  Or English and sarcasm.  They are also quick to bring up the fact that there are no other countries nearby.  Like Mexico.  Nor any people who speak other languages around.  Like Spanish.  "Speak English or Die" - was that a song or a band?  Or a national saying?  I forget.

You know, I just wanted a picture of a Mexican person flipping off the camera but all I could find was Mr. T in a sombrero.  I have no idea why or how.

Having said that, I am happy that English has become not a British or American language but a world language.  Anyone who doesn't speak it is often seen to have more limited opportunities than those who do.

I think the world needs a common language.


And for all those lazy fuckers in the states I'm sure they are glad it is English.  I know I am.  Plus, it is easier on keyboards than say Chinese.

Probably wouldn't fit so well on a cell phone.


IN CONCLUSION

That's all for yet another exciting issue of Logan's Voyage!  If you have any questions or comments, be sure to put them in the comments section below.

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

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