Wednesday, June 22, 2011



For someone my size, the bathroom at Hostel Batumi presents a series of daily challenges. There simply isn't a lot of room to maneuver. Additionally, there is very little shelf space to put my toiletries clothing when I prepare to shower. Although the plumber was out and suppose to fix the toilet two days ago, this hasn't happened yet. It is my belief that the tank of the toilet leaks which adds to the bathroom the 'wet floor challenge'. Nothing must touch the floor - not my feet, old clothes, new clothing, nothing. The floor is slick with water at all times despite the drain in the floor. But, I am a fairly tough, resilient world traveler. I can handle it. It takes just a few extra minutes every day. So, I go through all of the careful maneuvering and handling of things to ensure they don't fall on the floor and that I do not accidentally tear apart the bathroom. I then approach the shower clad in nothing but flip flops. In that small, windowless room the power then goes out plunging me into darkness. Neato. Slower, more careful maneuvering then takes place to get my glasses and towel. I am a fairly tough, resilient world traveler - I have a flashlight in my bag I carry everywhere. Aside from into the bathroom on this particular day. Towel in place, I dart (lumber) out and grab it. All of this is no big deal. I am either as far east as you can get in Europe or as far west as you can get in Asia depending on who you talk to. Shit happens. Flashlight in hand, I return. More careful maneuvering and placing things not to fall upon the dread floor. The flashlight is hung up to provide feeble light to the bathroom. I turn on the water. I suppose this is a good time to tell you how the water heater works. In America (as well as many other countries) the water heater is a huge tank that contains heated water. The heat is applied when the water is either used up and refilled or cools beyond a certain range. The water heater here doesn't seem to work that way. For one thing, it is tiny. I suspect that it heats the water as it is used. Not nearly as good for a couple reasons but I'm guessing it is more cost efficient. So, I now have a choice between 'cold' and 'icy'. On top of that, my carefully hung up flashlight begins to flicker showing the end is neigh for the batteries within. I am a fairly tough, resilient world traveler - I can wait until tomorrow for a shower.


Gary from Ireland, free range pharmacist. Unlike myself, he is a much more adventurous explorer. He entertained us with some of his tales of dealing with corrupt police and nearly being killed by them in Nigeria. He has had enough adventures that he (and I) thinks he should be writing a blog but a blog is a lot of work.

Gary has a very irregular work schedule as he works by substituting for other pharmacists. This allows him to have long periods of free time in his work. Gary is also responsible for the 'traveler's lore' tips below.


I was told it is permitted to bring your own wine to some restaurants, such as the White Room. This tells me that if you wanted a FEAST (with two bottles of wine) for four people it would cost about 32 GEL ($20 total or $5 per person). That so rocks.


The 'Georgian salad' is made from about 45% cucumbers and 45% tomatoes. The remaining 10% seems to be comprised of very small pieces of onion, some green herb I can't identify and perhaps some light oil I can't really taste.


I hear that the government is encouraging larger families because 'Georgia is a small country'.

From what I've seen Georgian's are extremely indulgent with their children.


Adjarian Autonomous Republic: I've been told this is almost like a separate country but not quite. In 2004, a politician wanted it to be a completely separate republic. He even tried to blow up bridges that connect it to the rest of Georgia but the people rioted at this and he fled office. Now, it is kind of like being a state within the United States. The two completely separate republics that joined Russia make Georgians angry and nervous. But, there is nothing they can do about it as Russia has stationed troops there.


This is hanging out in your neighborhood or no your street. Just hanging out. You might hang out alone or other people may show up. Could be called 'chillin' in American English. Due to the more interesting uses of computers (games) this custom seems to be disappearing.


'Flagging' is a fun game many people play. I hadn't heard of this since I was in the military and a few guys were playing it. At that point, I knew the game as 'Fuck the Planet'. 'Flagging' is a much nicer name. If you know a 'flagger' that has a home, you might consider getting them these wonderful bed sheets. Thanks to Travis G. on Facebook for that pic.

Northern Iraq likes Americans. They are Kurdish and apparently America liberated them from Saddam and such.

The Yellow Book aka vaccination book. This book has nothing at all to do with the King in Yellow but it is a record of your inoculations. Suggested inoculations for Africa (and possibly Asia) include Hep A & B (a drug called Twinrix may do both), typhoid, diphtheria, tetanus, cholera, yellow fever, rabies and meningitis. Thanks to Gary for this information. Some of these inoculations seem to take up to six months to administer but the shortest one lasts for three years. I'm thinking it may be a good idea for me to begin searching for a doctor to get this stuff from. Part of it may involve a trip to the big city (Tbilisi) but I'm going to try to get it done here.


Bottle of excellent Georgian wine, 8 GEL

Small cup of Turkish coffee, 1 GEL

Cheap, plastic flip flops from bazaar, 8 GEL

Cheap underwear from bazaar, 4 GEL

Basic corkscrew from bazaar, 1.5 GEL

Lunch at a restaurant in the bazaar (salad, main, bread, beer) 13 GEL

Swiss style army knife, bigger and heavier than I'd like but it's a knife, 10 GEL


Sylvia (TIU Frontpage Hostel in Odessa) had traded me for a book on Russian literature I had picked up for a book called "The River of Doubt" by Millard. I was wary of it because it is a) a biography b) dealing with Roosevelt c) historical. I figured that it would be another of these 'get a bunch of incompetent people together and go on a voyage we're totally unprepared for with our own ideals and not take local stuff into account at all' voyages. I was right, though I am still (for some reason) reading it. Usually, if a book doesn't interest me in a page or two I toss it. Anyone that reads through a book and tells me they didn't like it I see as having wasted a lot of time. There are literally millions of books out there you can try instead. But something about this keeps me reading. I blame Sylvia for getting me interested in it. This is also my last hard copy book, after this I am switching to the Kindle.

Every day, I am the first person who rises at the hostel. I usually get up, shower and am on the internet by say 9AM. Others may get up anywhere from noon to 14:00. This gives me plenty of time to type, reflect, whatever I need to do.


  1. At least you didn't lean up against the wall and suddenly fall into a moldy dusty wonderland as tiles rained down on your feet that were in semi dirty water because the drain was partly clogged.... Not that this has ever happened to me or anything... *coughs*

  2. Thank God for that! (yes, I remember various bathroom shenanigans)

  3. "I then approach the shower clad in nothing but flip flops.".....Errrgh! (shudder) uuurrrrrk!

    I might never get that image outta my mind now.

    River of Doubt is an amazing book telling the story of the 1913 scientific expedition by Teddy Roosevelt and his party to navigate (for the first time) and chart a river previously thought to be unnavigable in the Amazon basin. Its a story of unbelievable courage and fortitude as they hack their way through the jungle to traverse rapids and waterfalls all while lugging their dugout canoes. They make their way against murderous natives, expedition deserters, hunger, malaria, heat, and tropical downpours to finally succeed.
    While the trip nearly claimed his life on 2 occasions, Ex-President Teddy Roosevelt succeeded in charting the Rio Duvida, and was 54 at the time.

    Yeah maybe you shouldn't read the book, it'll put you to shame....You don't want to get your things to get wet on the bathroom floor! Ya big fuckin pink marshmallow.


    Don't worry about vaccinations or the Carte Jaune, they're only for pussies.

    From SE Asia to Central America, from Russia, to West Africa and I've never had one.

    Sure I get the old recurring bouts of Malaria and Amoebic Dysentery, the liver and kidneys are kinda shot..... but exposure to everything else leaves you with natural immunity.

  4. I like the symbolism of the pink marshmallow. Firm, but yielding.

    Good to hear on the shots- my plan is to see if they can do them here and if so how much they cost. If I can't afford it, fuck it and go anyway (eventually).

  5. No.
    A pink marshmallow is soft, sickly sweet, fattening, only slightly less gay than pink candyfloss, and basically only good to be thrown in a roaring campfire

    We can call them loganmallows

  6. re: Travelling without vaccinations

    You've had Death Fuck
    we can call this one

    Death Tourism.

    Every new country you visit without contracting something you could have been vaccinated against means you win that round.



{{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

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

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
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{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan

{{2017}} Portugal: Faro | USA: Virginia - Michigan - Illinois - Colorado | England: Slough - Lancaster | Thailand: Bangkok | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2018}} Ukraine: Kiev - Chernihiv - Uzhhorod

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