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Friday, August 19, 2011

TIBILISI TRIP

DEDICATION

I'd like to dedicate this wall of text to Adam who was concerned that text was going to be replaced with my slick videos.



GEORGIAN CUSTOMS

Kelecki: This is a short supra, only 2-3 hours, given for a funeral. The drinking is faster. The food is different than what is norally served and includes fish and sometimes beans. When the rice (plau'ed) is served, it means the supra is ending, time to go home. As a side note, Georgians believe that bodes should return to the earth from whence they came hence cremation is very bad here.



COUCH SURFING WEIRDNESS

I had chaged my couch surfing location to Batumi, Georgia. Since I've done so, I've received four messages. Two were of the normal 'lets meet up for drinks sometime' variety. One was fro a lady who lived in the kind of country that the wages of Georgia looked like a big step up. She wanted me to find her family jobs and a place to live. The fourth was from some guy who claimed to be an 'experienced traveler'. He wanted me to figure out his countries visa policy with Georgia and find him a cheap place to stay in Tbilisi for five days. Apparently this 'experienced traveler' had never heard of embassies, consulates or the internet. I told the first two messages to look me up at the Batumi Hostel and told the last two (in as classy way as possible) to fuck off. I never heard from any of them again. I'm really not sure if the difference between getting no messages when I was in Virginia vs strange/going nowhere messages in Batumi is better but at least I know their message system is working.



GEORGIAN CUSTOMS

I was talking to Irakli who didn't feel I understood Georgian customs. Au Contraire, Mon Frère. Because I choose not to live under a certain custom does not mean I do not understand it. For example: If a Georgian man wants to drink a lot, he will buy a bunch of alcohol and invite lots of people over to help him drink it. Drinking by yourself is unheard of in Georgia - aside from clinically troubled people. For me, I don't really have enough money to buy a lot of people alcohol. I also prefer to often drink alone. If I make an ass out of myself, it is in private. Unless I get drunk an write a blog or something. I really have no opinion on which way of living is better or worse. I don't think it's for me to decide. I do have a very strong opinion on how I will live though. By my own code and my own customs. If I find a custom in a different country I like, I can strive to adopt it. Otherwise, when I leave the country unwanted customs will fall off me. Some won't even affect me when I am in the country.



LEAVING BATUMI

David had taken off with his girlfriend so it was just Irakli and I. I didn't really have any goodbyes for him that losing something like fifty straight matches in Backgammon couldn't say so I kept it brief. I didn't really feel like I got to
'click' with any of the last batch of guests. I did feel I was pretty burned out on hostel work. The whole concept of working at a hostel now would cost a lot more money to whoever had me there than it did going in. Adam knew that when he advised me not to work at a hostel but just own one, but I still think it was a valuable work experience. I met a lot of great people through the hostel and my Facebook friends page grew considerably. Who knows - some day, maybe I'll get a chance to visit some of them in their own countries. Maybe even run into some on the road. But I'm Really not interested in owning a hostel at this time. In the future, who knows.

In short, I had Irakli call me a cab and I hopped into it and took off when it arrived - just as I've seen lots of travelers to the hostel do.



TRAIN TO TBILISI

The Ukranian rail system is better than the Georgian one. The lower seats still have the nifty secure 'roll my fat ass off of this bunk if you want my shit' storage I loved from the Ukrainian train. I was disappointed that the bottom bunk was seats - not really a bunk. It was pretty hard and about one step up from sleeping on a shaking park bench. Also, be aware that you have to get your plastic bundle of sheets and such from the conductor - they aren't laid out on the beds prior to your arrival.

There were the usual mix of people on the train - the noisy young people, the old people who lug huge bags that don't fit down the isles of trains and expect others to help them, the strange, the creepy and the harried.

In my compartment, I was careful to book a bottom bunk as I don't think my fat ass could climb to the top. Two rather heavy ladies joined me in the compartment. I was very curious as to which would make the climb. Honestly, I wanted to catch that on video but I figured it would be indiscreet. But damned funny. So, I just went to bed and slept. Chivalry died with equal rights, despite claims to the contrary. In the morning, I discovered that the ladder to get up to the top bunks is well camouflaged.

Surprisingly, just after departure, the TV's in all of the cabins switched themselves on simultaneously and began to blare loud, annoying music. The conductor was going around with a remote lowering the volume. He turned ours off. Thank God. I have no idea why that is there on a sleeper train.

The doors of the rooms also lock from the inside. This did give me a nasty shock because the ladies decided to lock the door while they 'freshened up'. I had bad visions of them slashing up my pack with knives yelling "Don't give us the top bunk? Die bastard!"



IN TBILISI

As we were headed into Tbilisi, we went through a lot of really run down area - the footprint left behind of the USSR. I wouldn't mind going back there on foot sometime to take a bunch of pictures to send to the folks making Fallout 4 of new 'post apocalyptic' stuff they can use for the game. Hell, I'm surprised Hollywood hasn't used that stuff for some scenes. My guess is that it is too dangerous to work in and around.

I was told to get to Friends Hostel, it would be 7-10 GEL. Accurate. It wasn't easy to get the cab driver to find/acknowledge this street. Cost me 10 GEL and I even was out of it enough to toss in a 2 GEL tip. Dumb it was, especially since the 'foreigner tax' had already doubled the price.



FRIENDS HOSTEL FIRST IMPRESSIONS

They have a good sized common room downstairs. Upstairs is a large dormitory room with perhaps fifteen beds in one room. They have a couple private rooms that seem to be very booked. They have the kind of gear lockers I like - the ones that fit the entire backpack in. Unfortunately, the first one I tried only appeared to lock but didn't really. Fortunately, I'm the kind of person that checks. I think the worst thing I've found in the hostel thus far is they have their computer hooked to big speakers. Instead of headphones. This is a horrible move in my opinion, but I just got here. But that sort of thing won't keep me staying as long as I'd thought I was going to. A day or three before I move on. But I appreciate the complimentary bed they graciously are giving me while I'm in town. [This hostel is owned by the same guys who own the Batumi Hostel.]



BREAKFAST IN TBILISI

I went to a restaurant, determined to have eggs. I was trying for something simple like a cheese omelet. They told me that would be half a GEL. Per egg. That's still pretty good but any mention of 'cheese' caused them to try to default to the 'cheese plate' at 10 GEL. Not a chance of that. So, I eventually managed to get scrambled eggs and some sort of potatoes which sucked. The scrambled eggs were fine - they were so greasy that the plate could have been used for a demonstration of 'friction-less surfaces'. Apparently, this country hasn't heard about the war against cholesterol. Since that was the first egg meal I'd gotten in a couple months, I ate it and liked it. God knows it slid down my throat easily enough.



EYE DOCTOR EXAMINATION

My eyes had bothered me a bit so George took me to the biggest hospital in Tbilisi. It looked like a pretty run down 'County' hospital in the states. The doctor wanted me to do a lot of stuff like pinch my eye lids as part of the treatment because he saw some inflammation in the lid. Since this directly contradicts what I've been told by American eye doctors, I'm not going to be doing that shit. I've got a prescription for some fairly expensive (40 GEL) crap to put on my eye. The pain pretty much went away a couple of days ago. I had just wanted to see if my iritis was acting up. Since it isn't, I'll try a bit of 'wait and see'.



PLANS

I have no idea how long I'm planning on staying in Tbilisi [food is expensive here!], where next I will go in Georgia or anything. I'm keeping it loose but attempting to stay here at least 11 more days till the end of Ramadan. I'd like to avoid running into a lot of alcohol, nicotine, sex, food and water deprived Turks if I can. Better to see them happy and satisfied.

My buddy and local guide, George (one of the six approved names for men in Georgia) will steer me toward some interesting stuff so I put myself in his hands.

I have also been contemplating Adam's words when he said that 'traveling doesn't do you any good if you miss all of the good stuff'.



GIVE ME THAT OLDE TIME RELIGION

According to one woman I was talking to on a marshutka (like a short bus) she said that prior to Christianity, Georgians worshiped either wine, or a god of wine. Hard to understand her. If this is true however, it gives a lot more weight to the whole Supra thing and would help explain why it is as it is. I'll have to check into this more later.



COSTS

Second class to Tbilisi, 23 GEL
Eye doctor consult, 34 GEL



VIDEO TIME

Rather than having the videos embedded into the blog, I'm just going to have links so that it loads faster. I tried to look at my own blog and on the shitty internet they have in Batumi, it took forever to load. Videos are just an extra thing I'm doing when I am out and about but the typing is still the main thing. Extra warning! All of these videos are extremely low quality. If you want to bitch about the quality, you can save yourself the hassle (and my 'I told you so') by not watching them. I'm just putting them up for completeness.

Tbilisi shot

First steps into Friends Hostel

Introducing George!

Some strange buildings in the distance - what could they be? (Warning - found out my camera doesn't do well in low light - at all).

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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 | 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:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | 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

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