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Donate today BECAUSE Logan will probably use the money to fund his upcoming RPG. More entertainment for YOU!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

DUELING TUK TUKS

DUELING TUK TUKS

Something that I'd forgotten to relate was the motor taxi incident. The day before, I'd found a driver and headed over to the Vietnamese consulate. It had been closed but there was a note on the gate saying that if you wanted visa stuff, you should go to a different address. I dutifully wrote down the address in my notebook. We then drove to it and it was closed as well. The guards assured us it would be open the next day. I passed that information on to the driver. He said he would be happy to drive me over there. I told him "maybe, if I saw him". Note that it is very important to never say "yes". That makes it a verbal contract. Even if they aren't around and you end up going with someone else, they will regard it as their god given right to collect the money they would have made from you. So I always stick with a lot of maybe's when dealing with them. Note, it doesn't go the other way. If they tell you something and don't deliver, it doesn't matter. So I stressed the 'maybe' a couple times to make sure it sunk in. The next day, I went out on the street and looked around. No sign of my previous driver. Some other guy asked me if I'd like a ride and where I wanted to go. I told him to hang on for a moment. I went into a shop and bought a drink. While drinking it and smoking a cigarette, I explained that I had gone out with another driver yesterday. I would smoke my cigarette and drink my drink. If he didn't show up by the time I got done with these then he could drive me but if he did show up I'd go with my old driver instead. He agreed to this and I had a very leisurely drink and smoke. No sign of the old driver. So, I went with the new driver. After finding out that the rules for traveling in China didn't suit me, we returned. Naturally, the old driver was there and wanting to take me to the consulate. I explained that I had just gotten back. He started yelling at the new driver. I'm not sure what was said but I told him 'I waited, you not around.' I think the new driver backed me up on that saying that indeed I'd waited around. The old driver was no longer angry at me but I thought he'd get into a fist fight with the new driver. These guys are really territorial. Be really careful what you say to them as even a casual word can be interpreted as an iron clad promise. Use a lot of 'maybes' in your dialogue or just say 'not now' with no talk of the future.



DOCTOR IN SAIGON

So I'd gotten done 'refueling the ship' in Saigon. I'd grown rapidly more impatient to leave. The unrelenting traffic, overcrowding, uncomfortable and inexpensive living had made Logan restless. I Wanted to GTFO. I decided to go back to the fancy eye doctor a day early. I knew this would involve various complecations - it always does - but I really wanted to just get my eye looked at then leave. I think that makes me the kind of guy who would be likely to swim most of the way across the English Channel, decide he couldn't make it then turn back. Six days is nearly as good as seven, right? Wrong. The doctor I was suppose to see wasn't in. I figured hey, what the heck. I'd only blown $2-$3 in moped fares, why not. I could come back. Instead, I was assigned to a single sai weilding guard who began taking me around like a tour guide. He made jokes to which I would respond by smiling, nodding and saying things like "I wish I could understand you!" That got some smiles from those seated around. Although they were speaking in Vietnamese, they were listening in English. Anyway, he had me sit on a chair in a waiting room and demanded 200,000 VND. There was no way I could explain to him "Hey, she's not in I can come back later." So I shrugged and forked it over. He went downstairs, paid my admissions fee and brought me back a receipt. I've got to say, 'single sai was a helpful guy'. On his tour, he then took me to the elevador. Believe it or not, there was a guy sitting in there collecting fees to use the elevador. In the hospital. That is, if you are too messed up and sick to use the stairs, you can always pay for the elevador to get better. Single Sai (as I thought of him) told the old guy sitting on the plastic chair I was with him and fees were waved. It was the red carpet treatment. Though in this hospital I got the feeling that if they rolled out the red carpet, that would be an extra fee. But I didn't get shaken down for my small change of the wildly devalued currency. I then sat around the waiting room of the eye doctor. The same waiting room I'd seen the other lady in before. One of the nurses asked me excitedly "What you write?" This is one of the questions that always confuses me. I'm not sure if her English is good enough to understand the answer. It would be like me asking in Korean "Oh mah im knee ka?" Which means "How much is this (polite)?" I don't ask it because I don't know Korean numbers - hence the answer would be meaningless. Unless we started playing with the calculator - which is part of the reason I carry one. I answered the nurse "Notes for the blog." I'm sure I coud have said "I work for your government and am writing a report for the secret police." and could have gotten the same nod and smile. But it's best to resist my natural urges to be a dick.

It ended up that after a phone call to the poor lady who was going to see me the next day, they did indeed have someone already at work who had the same specialty. I'm guessing she told the nurses about him. He even spoke fluent English and helped me out. For the two readers actually interested in his diagnosis, he told me that the inflammation was healing slower than expected and I should keep on my heavy Pred Forte regiment for another week then see a different eye doctor in whatever country I was in. Good enough.



LEAVING SAIGON

I headed out with 130,000 VND in my pocket (about $7) with the rest in dollars. The ticket back to Phnom Phen was the same cost as it was to get to HCMC, $10. Unlike every other bus I've been on, this one took my ticket when I boarded instead of leaving me with part of it or just partially ripping it. I was concerned because I didn't want it to come back and bite me later with the 'you have no ticket, you must pay thing'. Fortunately, it didn't. In fact, it turned out to be the easiest border crossing I've ever had. On the way, they collected up all of the passports along with $25 since I needed a Cambodian visa. Sure, some web pages say it's $20 but I just forked it over. Again, no receipt or anything - he just stuck it into my passport and wandered on. Turns out that they even filled out my 'arrival card' (though not my 'departure card') and did all of the necessary stuff. I didn't have to take my bags off of the bus and have them x-rayed as is usual. Pretty much march through the line at Vietnam then again at the Cambodian side of the border then back on the bus. It was a snap. I would say within SE Asia it was the best border experience I'd ever had. [As this point, Adam is experiencing incredulity at my praising of something, I know.] After a six or seven hour bus ride to Phnom Phen, I got dropped off in a fairly remote part of the city as I did last time.

I knew I needed to go to the Central Market. The bus station is located there on the west side of it. The tuk tuk driver started at $3 and through haggling dropped to $1.50. He dropped me off about a block away from the Central Market Bus Station. I hadn't even gotten out of the tuk tuk when I had three guys approach me asking if I needed a tuk tuk. Unbelievable. Yes, even though I am currently sitting in one and could easily pay the driver to take me somewhere else, I want to get out of his and into yours. Really? So, the driver spoke to some other guy and he approached me with the 'Where going?' I said "Kampot". I knew that whatever next came out of his mouth would probably be more expensive than walking the block to the bus station and buying a ticket. He considered this for a moment then said "No have." I feel bad for the novice tourist who doesn't know any better. They might have taken this guys word that a bus for Kampot doesn't exist around here and panicked. I instead ignored him and trudged my pack over to the bus station. For $4.50, I got a ticket to Kampot. It was a lot further away than I expected it to be and we made a few stops to drop off and pick up other people.

The bus left only fifteen minutes late which meant I had to wait hardly any time at all. I counted it as a good omen and a smooth transition. I suspect that the bus drivers get paid by the number of clients on the bus rather than by the company for doing the route and that is why buses and such often leave late. That did make me remember that it took Mussolini to make the trains run on time in Italy. Maybe he had the same problem with them. I don't know.

At the bus stop, I had some sort of steamed bread with stuff inside and corn on the cob. I have no idea what the bread was called but it was pretty decent. One of the street vendors (70 year old woman) that I didn't buy anything from seemed to go a bit crazy and went around poking people in the crotch with a rolled up newspaper so I got back on the bus. I looked at the stop as a win since it was a $1 meal.

At the bus stop, we had about half a dozen beggars trying to get money off of the people disembarking. I don't remember them last time I was there. Maybe they had a day off?

Like all of the other buses in SE Asia (aside from the border bus earlier - which was lovely) this one played music videos that would have made production crews of the 1970's proud. [Yes Adam, I don't like them in any country - even America.] These are the only videos in which a scooter is considered 'cool'. [No Adam, I don't think a scooter can be 'cool' in any country. In America, I've heard a joke that riding a scooter is like having sex with a fat girl. Sure, it may be fun but you don't want to have your friends see you do it. I'm not sure how the fat girl got involved but that was the joke I'd heard.]



KARS

We passed through a town named Kams. It is smaller than Kampot. According to the tuk tuk drivers, it is supposedly nicer than Kampot. Since I instinctively disbelieve tuk tuk drivers, that would be something I research before acting on. The tuk tuk drivers claim it would be $8 to buzz out there. From my perspective on the bus, it seems like a pretty long journey. Not something I want to do right now, but maybe keep it on the back burner if I need a change of pace.



KAMPOT

After about twelve hours of riding time, I finally made it to Kampot long after dark. I was so exhausted that I decided to see what the jacked up rates of the tuk tuk drivers were who swarmed the bus as soon as it stopped. Only $2. I can live with that. [Note, later I found out this fee is double or possibly triple what it should be but I'm not going to bitch about an extra dollar. I was paying for the 'you know where shit is and can speak English, and happy to do it.] I told the driver that I wanted to go to a guest house that charged $5 to $9. I figured he might take me to a place where he gets some sort of kickbacks and so it might be a $10-$15 spot, so I low balled it a bit. I was wrecked enough that I honestly didn't care.

Instead, he actually took me to a decent place. It's not at the center of anything wonderful but it is only $7 per night. The room has good points and bad points. The best point it has is that it is $7 per night. It is a 'fan room' (meaning no AC) but that's just fine with me. The windows have a full set of bars - and just as importantly screens - on them so I can leave them open all the time. The room is spacious, big bathroom and well lit. The door is able to be double locked from the inside and I can leave the key in the lock after disconnecting it from the card used to allow the room to have power. This means that Mr. Doorstop can stay in the pack. The double locking also makes it harder to pick than a lot of the cheesy locks I've seen. Since you really have to wrench it around for the double lock, you'd have to be good on the tension bar to pick it. I don't think it could be picked with a 'gun' lockpick - too hard to turn the tumblers. I also have doubts that most people around here would know what the hell it is. [Yes, it could be 'bump' picked but so can nearly all locks.] So the room itself has decent security. Note that this doesn't mean the pack isn't locked and chained to something with no goodies (other than the computer which would be inconvenient to carry around) left in there. I have been robbed by professionals once and expect to have it happen in the future as well. The downsides of the room are shitty internet (no surprise there - this isn't Vietnam) and no refrigerator. I can live without a fridge but it is nice to have. If I wanted to double the price of the room, I could have AC and a fridge but it's not worth it to me. Another downside is that they didn't ask for my passport at the desk. That tells me that international thieves could be checked in and living next door - again. I checked out another room the next day that was the same price and did have a fridge but it was much darker and smaller. So, I'll stick with this place for awhile. I think it's pretty damned nice for $7. [Again, I apologize to any shock this may cause Adam.] In addition, they sell cold drinks downstairs at a fairly small markup. I can get them even cheaper if I feel like wandering across the street if the grocery is still open. There is also a cheap restaurant next door that I've eaten at a few times without getting sick. This is huge for me. A meal is $2 to $3. I may end up 'doing the menu' there. That is ordering everything once and finding out what all I like - and don't.

The town itself looks pretty trashed. I wasn't expecting the French Rivera at a place where I can get a $7 per night room, mind you. I suspect this will be a town of 'hidden gems' meaning that once I walk around enough, I will find stuff I consider 'cool' or 'useful' but most of these places are not readily apparent. The town is a lot more spread out than the map seemed to indicate. That means I've got plenty of opportunity to walk my fat ass around looking for stuff. I do like the view of the river itself. When I get to a place with better (or working) internet, I will try to upload some pictures I took of it.

Unfortunately, they have scooters for $5 per day rental. I think that's a really good deal but I'm going to do my best to resist for the usual reasons: I've never driven a scooter before, I can't turn my head to see important stuff, SE Asia driving conditions, road conditions, the fact that if you are a foreigner and get into an accident it is always your fault, no insurance and the need for lots and lots of exercise for my pudgy body.

The only downside I've discovered near where I'm staying is a wedding tent. This is a very large tent they set up so that tons of people can get married in it. The marriage party goes on all day and well into the night. Like after midnight. The music is loud enough that I don't think anyone in the tent is required to talk and you can hear it from blocks away, much like a teenagers car radio. No, I don't consider this an interesting 'cultural phenomena'. Something I would is say a day long parade. As opposed to what I've been told is three months of non-stop daily weddings and loud music. Hell, I'd despise that in the states as well. Best avoided, just like Western weddings.

There are quite a few tourists wandering around here. I've seen blind and deaf tourists as well. I think that being blind and or deaf would make travel a huge challenge and I commend them on their efforts. The tourists seem friendlier here. My guess is that less touts continually hassling you makes you friendlier to other people. It's a theory that I have.

An interesting thing I've noticed in the building across the way is a ton of black birds that are paid to circle the building and apparently have a roost in it. This is unusual. Although pets are not uncommon in SE Asia, most people don't seem to have the disposable income to keep something they're not going to eat later. I don't know if they have the same crazed attachment to something with fur as in the USA. I've noticed that here if a pet gets wounded it either heals or stays wounded. I've never seen a vets office. I'm pretty sure that nobody in SE Asia dishes out money for a pet psychologist though.

In a way, Kampot reminds me of an old west town. Tumbleweeds going down the street have been replaced here with plastic trash bags. It's dry and dusty here. I do like the feel of the town.



THE NOTE

When I went down to the front desk to get some clean towels, I was told I had a note left for my room. Honestly, I was amazed that the existence of the note was passed on. I checked it out. It was addressed to 'Mate -' and asked for the occupant of my room number to keep his bag in my room for him. I figured that the sender had gotten the name wrong. With the exception of Tonto, to the best of my knowledge I have no friends in SE Asia. And I figured that the backpack would probably have a key of coke, a pistol used to commit a multiple homicide and the wrapped head of a dead hooker Matt had killed in it. I told the desk that I didn't know the sender of the note and the bag looked fine where they had it, behind the desk. I am the kind of person who is suspicious that the local police force may be working on getting some more cash and arranges sting operations for stupid people. After making sure they wouldn't take the bag up anyway and claiming to have no knowledge of the person who sent the note I wandered off.

It would have been a better story if they'd delivered the backpack and it did contain all of that stuff - but they didn't. Thank god.



THE RESTAURANT

Next to the Paris Guesthouse is a restaurant. It's nothing special but I ate there and didn't get sick. This made it into my favorite restaurant. The downside is that there is only one waiter. The custom in SE Asia is that they come to you with the menu, find out what you want and such but this guy gets distracted with the TV and likes to gape at it. So, when I go there, I often have to go get my own menu then find him and tell him what I'd like to eat. The food is extremely reasonably priced; I'm probably spending $10 or less there a day on food and that is with extras like shakes made from odd stuff (like 'dragon fruit'), cofffee and beer. A meal is $2 to $3, depending on what I get.



THE SCOOTER RENTAL PLACE

I stopped by there looking for directions. I figured a place that rents scooters wants people to be able to go visit stuff, hence would know where things are. They did one better than that and gave me a photocopy of an A4 sheet of paper with a very nice hand drawn map of the town on it. From my explorations and use of the map, it seems accurate. I'm very happy with it and have even directed other tourists to the shop to get the map. I notice that the scooter rental place is the only scooter rental place on the map. Clever guy. That's about the best marketing thing I've seen. I know that if I ever do go insane and rent a $5 per day scooter it will be there.



ZOO, ZOO, ZOO, GOING TO THE ZOO, ZOO, ZOO

According to the scooter rental place's map, they have a zoo here in Kampot. It's not especially close but I'm guessing $2 will get me out there via scooter. It has been since the mid 1980's since I visited a zoo. I got stuck making a lot of trips to the one in Munich because I kept having various women want me to take them out there. Since I was 19 or so and wanted sex, I took them to the zoo. I don't remember it ever paying off though and eventually I got sick to death with that zoo. I may end up going to visit this one just to have something different to do. If I get to see a monkey urinating into it's own mouth with a look of intense satisfaction like in that youtube video, that would be the height of my visit. I really am a simle creature.



STREET SIGNS ARE FOR PUSSIES

One sucky thing about Kampot is there are no street signs. If they do have them, they are hidden beyond my means to detect. Phnom Phen was dead easy to navigate around in. Street signs everywhere. Here, nada. I'm not sure why that is. I don't think it is because they have no tourists who might want to know where something is - or where they are - there are plenty of tourists. It's probably a monetary issue as are so many things. Saigon (Vietnam) had plenty of street signs. Although they wouldn't always match up with what was on the map, you could figure out where you were. Like Czech, Vietnamese uses the same characters as English. Like Czech, they add extra squiggles and such they believe they need. Cambodia uses it's own alphabet - but even street signs in Cambodian would be a big help in Kampot. You could play the 'match the indecipherable characters' game. Since there are no streetsigns, make sure to carry a few business cards for where you are staying in case you lose the 'find the guest house' game.



HAIRCUT

I think I annnoyed the barber by wearing out not one but two razor blades. He ended up having to use three different razors to trim the brambles I call a beard. I gave him a twenty five cent tip and he seemed very happy with that. My inability to discuss haircuts in both Cambodian and French meant I didn't get exactly the cut I wanted but it was close enough. It's not like I have a complicated haircut. Short. Damned short. Short enough that basic training drill sergeants would think it was fine. I know 'bald' is an even easier haircut but as I discovered from poor Pete, getting sunburned on top of your head does suck.



FOOD REVIEW

I'm doing this for Adam who you can read in the comments section of the last blog doesn't believe that I eat any local food. I do but I don't want to live on it for weeks or months at a time. I also don't want to eat things that will be savagely and messily ejected unexpectedly from my body. I normally don't talk a lot about food because I don't have the vocabulary to give a really wonderful food review, but here's my attempt. For you, Adam.

The English menu calls the dish "Khmer Curry". It has chicken, onion, something that looks a lot like carrots (not much taste, could be anything orange) and some sort of creamy sauce that is an off white. Coconut milk might be an ingredient in the sauce. The dish has kind of a gritty, grainy taste I like. Usually, I'm not a big fan of soups. It's water that I've got to go through looking for the good bits but this one is a win. Especially if I'm still OK in a few hours. [Follow up, I was.]

After reading that food review, I don't think the New York times is going to come out hat in hand begging me to be their next food critic.



BLACK PANTHER BEER

"Racial unrest in every can!" Most of the beers taste like the standard watery crap of American beers. This one is a black bitter beer that has the kind of taste that hits you with a pimping cane in the side of the head and says "Where's my money, ho?" I like it and have purchased several cans to sit in my room and celebrate New Years with. If you drink enough of this beer, you may become someone's 'bottom bitch'.

For my personal new years celebration, I picked up eight cans ($5 from a store). I doubt I'll drink them all but hey - I've now got a fridge!



MAGIC SPONGE GUESTHOUSE

On my quest for a palace at less than $10 per night, I went over to the "Magic Sponge". This place has got a lot of ambiance built into the outside of it. They have hammocs, a few concret holes of a put put golf course and a bower with tables under it. Concrete is apparently easier to maintain than felt. But it is painted green at least. They have an Ozzy and a yank that were working there when I was there. Unfortunately, the same work that went into the outside wasn't really present inside the rooms.

They have an outdoor restaurant I decided to visit. Like most things, it had an upside and a downside. The upside - a couple had ordered coffee and apparently the staff had forgotten about it. The American manager told them it was on the house. A local might have just appologized - or shrugged. A Czech might have shrugged or given them the finger and told them to stop bothering them. Or poisoned them. I do like it when a restaurant (or any business) gives small freebies to smooth the irritation caused by incompetency. The downside, I got sick (see previous entry under medical) eating there, so I'm not planning on going back.

I decided to pay the area of those guest houses a visit at night to see what they were like. Magic Sponge did indeed have music playing outside in their 'bower dining area' but by Cambodian standards it was positively subdued. Probably easily ignorable from within a room. The area Magic Sponge is in has several different guesthouses in it and caters to foreigners. I went and checked them out and made these notes:

Pepper: $12 per night. There is a sign that says 'tourist info' but nobody there speaks any English. So, if you are a tourist who happens to be fluent in Cambodian, I'm sure they can give you some information. The only reason I could communicate with them at all is that, ironically, there was a tourist fluent in Cambodian there.

Orchid, $8 per night wifi, fan, no fridge. Possibly do-able if I can't find better.

Kampot Guesthouse: Wildly over priced compared to their next door neighbors. I'm not sure if their rooms are just that pretty or if they are feeling smug because they are full up right now.



SPEAKING OF INCOMPETENCY

The Paris Hotel where I'd been staying decided to try to fuck me not once, but twice on the same day. It was the third day of wanting to stay at the Paris Hotel and, as is my daily habit, I wanted to pay for my room that night in the morning. They wanted to charge me for the three days I'd been there. I admit I got a bit ruffled at that but I pulled out my receipts and showed them that indeed I had payed. They took my money for one day.

Later, I came back and was told I needed to switch rooms. It turns out that someone had rented the exact room I was staying in. OK, I'll take a look at the new room. It wasn't nearly as good and so I decided to try out somewhere else. Since I'd already paid them for that night, I asked for my money back. Oh, no. They believe the money I'd paid him this morning telling him "This is my money I am paying to sleep here tonight" was from last night. They moved back the day they believed I had checked in. Since I'd read that getting angry is wildly counter productive I just did the 'Thai smile' thing (big fake smile) and kept gently insisting that no, the money I'd paid him two hours earlier was indeed for tonight. He pointed at a calendar and showed me his notes. I looked at it, then him. "Sir, you don't even have any names written on that calendar." I was refunded my $7 and left.

When you ask a yes/no question, you will get the answer which results in them getting your money - often regardless of the truth or falsehood of that answer. For example, the new hotel I had gone to I had asked previously "Do the rooms have wifi in them?" Yes, yes, yes. I was told. This my friends was what we call a lie. This place has no wifi at all. Which, if you think about it puts it only a step down from the Paris Hotel which did have wifi but their wifi did not work. Same same. Rather than just asking a question like 'is there wifi in the rooms' you have to follow it up with another question like 'what is the password for the wifi'. It wasn't till I asked that I was suddenly told, no wifi.

So I took a tour of the room. Not expecially clean, no windows and dimly lit with a 40 watt bulb. The hotel guy saw me staring at the 'make water hot' box in the bathroom. "Hot water!" he said cheerfully. Stupid me, I didn't check. So, I went downstairs and checked in. No documents required. As I do every time I give someone money, I demanded and got a receipt. Sometimes saying 'check' or 'bill' helps if they don't know the word 'receipt'. I then went back to my room for a shower. No hot water. Attempt, gentle reader, to look surprised. I returned to the desk then back to the room with the guy in tow. I demonstrated the lack of hot water. "Hot water, three dollars extra!" he said. I responded with a smile "When you showed me the room, you said hot water and room seven dollars. I said OK." He kept repeating his three dollar shake down. Have you ever seen the 1990's move "The Freshman"? The German cook guy who kept repeating "Carmine said one boy, here are two." I must confess I started doing that. Eventually, he dropped his demands to $1. "Carmine said one boy, here are two!" Eventually, he gave me the hot water. Remember, getting angry here is wildly counter productive. A big smile lets them save face. I also worked on saving him more face. When he was leaving I said "Hey, remember, I don't know how long I'm going to stay here - it could be awhile." And people could stop trying to shake me down for extra dollars. And I can suddenly learn to fly without an aircraft. I'm here only until I find something better. Following Wise Adam's advice though, I shall hold my own council.

I suppose that's the downside of trying to live cheaply. There is always someone trying to rob you of more money.



THE BLIND

In Cambodia, they have a lot of 'massage by blind' places around. Apparently, their lack of vision is suppose to make them better at massage somehow. I've never stopped at any of these places though. The workers sit outside and I don't like the way they eyeball me.



COFFEE

I think Cambodian coffee is instant crap. The upside is that you don't have to wait for it to percolate through the clogged dirty metal things like you do in Vietnam. The downside is that Vietnamese coffee is much better.



DEAF TRAVELERS

At or near the Paris Hotel is a group of deaf travelers. One of the ladies is a real looker. Unfortunately, it's been years since I've used my ASL (American Sign Language). When you don't use it, you lose it. It isn't really hard to pick up though. I think it's interesting that they are out traveling though with traffic as it is, their risk factor is definately up.



WHAT NEXT?

I'm pretty happy to sit in this town for awhile and take advantage of cheap lodgings, cheap food and bitch about the wedding tent. All of these things should give me pleasure for awhile. I have a lot of things I can do here. I can work on my book, explore the town, work on finding other lodging further away from the hated wedding tent that is even better than the place here. The bar is pretty high so it may take awhile to find an even better place. I've got a lot of gound to explore - two different sides of the river.



WHAT BOOK?

I'm working on an urban fantasy book. Since I'm not a wonderful, published author it is not going to win any awards. It's my first effort. I know enough about writing to know that it may take writing several books before I get one worth printing. I'd like to thank Chris Casey as he is the only person to consistantly get back to me with suggestions rather than excuses for my book. It means a lot to me buddy.



SE ASIAN CUSTOMS

I've become convinced that in the SE Asian countries I've been to (Cambodia, Lao, Thailand, Vietnam) the number of people you have working at your place is a status thing. The more, the more status the owner gets. Mind you, I'm not griping - it provides a lot of jobs to people who could use them. It is just very strange to walk into a 'hole in the wall' store and be crowded for too many employees in there. They have a Circle K in Saigon that has four people who work there, usually not doing much. The shop gets crowded at five people in it. The place could be easily manned by one, maybe two people. I've seen as many as six employees in there at once. I've seen the 'employee picture' from a party that they have beneath a glass. I think they have enough employees to make two softball teams and play a game. In the 1920's America, I believe the practice of hiring way too many people for a job was called 'featherbedding'. [Note, the wiki shows a bit different of facts that what have stuck in my brain. The wiki is probably correct.]



TRAVELERS' TIPS

I'm not sure if I mentioned this before and I'm way too lazy to go look back on it but I recommend keeping all of your receipts and stuff. Get them dated, keep track of when you check into a hotel and so on. Otherwise, you will probably get screwed out of some money. When I switch countries, I can dump all of that crap.



COSTS

Nice room in Kampot, Cambodia $7 for fan, double for AC. (Electricity must be hella expensive here).

Shave $1, haircut $2. Shave and a haircut, $2.

Beer from store, 2500, from bar 4000, from hotel 3000. That's about half a dollar up to a dollar.

Meal, $2 to $3.

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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 |

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