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

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

SAIGON HO!

NARRATIVE

I ended up moving place of residence within Vung Tau. The owners of the new place seemed quite interested in having me as a guest. In accordance with Asian business practices, everyone who ever wanted to build a guesthouse did so within the same six blocks. There were literally half a dozen guest houses or so on every block, both sides. Hence, competition was rough. When I first stopped in and asked the price it was 200,000 VND. I pointed out that up the road it was only 150,000. The price immediately became 150,000 for the room which was much nicer than the one just up the road.

Keep in mind that in all of SE Asia (that I've been to thus far) EVERYTHING is negotiable. You can even negotiate for marked prices in grocery stores and such if you are buying more than one of something. Or just happen to have not quite enough money on you.

The room had a refrigerator, balcony and air conditioning. Aside from the staff, it was pretty quiet. This fed into my opinion that when something is fucked up at a guesthouse or hostel, it can usually be traced to the staff. They liked to play loud music in the morning while the guests were still sleeping. I don't understand why people would do that, especially if you own a guesthouse which is in constant stiff competition with other guesthouses. After I got up and went downstairs a bit of sign language ended that. They figured out I was still trying to sleep and the loud music was not helping. The price for laundry started at $3 per kilo until I said that was super and did they know where I could go find it for $1 per kilo or should I just go search? Here! No problem.

After doing some research and buying a map at one of the posh hotels for a buck, I discovered that despite my instructions and having the address written in Vietnamese, the taxi driver had dropped me off at Back Beach instead of Front Beach. It turned out not to be a huge deal other than a three kilometer walk to anywhere useful every day. I figured I could use the exercise and I didn't think I'd be finding $7.50 places to stay on Front Beach so I went with it.

Unfortunately, the biggest problem in Vung Tau is that literally everywhere I ate made me sick. The gross, disgusting kind of sick. (Read 'Medical' below for too many details.) The meals, however, were slightly cheaper - $2 to $4 instead of $3-$6. I'm really not sure if it is worth it though.

Here is something I enjoyed that may interest you - Vietnamese coffee. Here's how it works. They take an empty coffee cup. On top of that they place a metal cup with a metal lid on it. Inside is some sort of double straining device. They put coffee in the metal thing and it drips down. Really slowly. I found out why it is so slow from an expat I spoke with. Apparently, few people in Vietnam other than tourists have access to hot water. Hence, everything is washed in cold water. Because of this, it doesn't get properly clean and the holes the water is suppose to percolate through become more or less permanently clogged. So, you spend awhile fucking with it to get a shot of coffee out of it. The coffee is pretty good. As an American though, when I drink coffee, I'm not happy with a shot of it - I want a full cup. So, I've begun ordering a cup of very hot water along with the coffee. You have to specify hot hot hot water. When the tiny amount of water that is in the silverish cup gets done percolating through, I keep adding more. It really doesn't dilute the coffee much and you get a lot more. Especially since the hot water (thus far) has been free. This tastes different than Greek, Egyptian, etc coffee. The cost of said coffee starts at around 12,000 VND and goes up to about double that, depending on where you buy it but it's generally less than a dollar.

Overall, I've thus far found the Vietnamese people friendly and curious about me. I'm sure they are asking themselves questions like "What the fuck he eat to get so big?" An example of the friendliness, I got invited to sit down and have a (free!) beer with a guy who was throwing a small party at the guesthouse I was staying at to celebrate his guesthouse opening across the street. Business practices and attitudes seem to be very different here than in the States!

The pharmacies here seem even worse stocked than those in Cambodia. The Cambodian ones seem a bit more poorly stocked than Thailand. So, I'm currently at the bottom of the scale for actually finding my medicine. Fortunately, I have enough for my time here. I would have had more but wasn't sure if there would be some sort of bag search for naughty drugs and have them seize my blood pressure medicine thinking it was crack cocaine. There wasn't but I'll need to keep searching for medicine. It gives me yet another reason to walk around.

Vung Tau was a bit odd. From what I've read and seen it is essentially a tourist town. Despite that, few people speak English there. Even the people who normally speak decent English such as pharmacists and such don't have any ability to do so. This is especially odd because before I'd come I'd read and heard that much more English is spoken in Vietnam than Thailand, Lao and Cambodia. Thus far this is what we would call a 'lie'. I speak more French (or Arabic or Spanish) than most of them do English. Sometimes, if you write it down they may understand a little better. I suspect this is because they had sucky non-native English teachers who could spell fine and couldn't pronounce worth a damn. Personally, if I was in charge of the country, I'd start interviewing everyone from a native English speaking country that came in and ask 'If you were given a job and money to teach English, how long could you be here for?' I think that by giving the students a language teacher who isn't a native you do them a great disservice.



LOGAN'S PLANS - DISRUPTED...AGAIN

I don't know why I would get surprised any more. Nothing I plan ever seems to go as intended. My intent had been to stay in the cheap town of Vung Tau for awhile to try to save up a little cash. Lie low. Work on my book. Get some exercise walking back and forth. Avoid the hustle and bustle of the big city for awhile.

It was not to be.

I spent a day looking for an eye doctor. I went to hospitals to get directions from people. Addresses were written down that turned out after an hour or two of walking to be dress shops. People were questioned and gave contrary answers. Streets were explored. Hours of walking. No eye doctors.

Vung Tau would have been a rough town for me to live in. Either spend money (NO!) or walk three kilometers to get anywhere interesting. But I'd be saving money. I had Adam's ghost (even though he's not dead) appear to me swathed in chains which he rattled at me and threatened to choke me with. In a ghostly voice he said "You've got cheap living here. Stop yer bitching you big pussy."

I was happy to do just that.

But I need an eye doctor. Iritis can permanently fuck your vision. Cataracts and other scary stuff. And I do use my eyes often, despite what Pete says.

So it's back to HCMC (Saigon). After I get fixed up there, I may go to one of the other small towns around time allowing. After I explained this to Adam's ghost, he shruugged and said "Do what you got to do. But you're still being a pussy." And then he faded out. I have no idea why I am being haunted by the ghosts of the living. Probably because he is my unwilling mentor.

Following another piece of Adam wisdom (TM) "Keep your own council", the first hint the owners of the hotel had that I was leaving was when I showed up in the morning wearing my backpack. Unfortunately, I couldn't find my receipt for the previous night and so I got to have a five minute discussion with the kid who was manning the desk until his father showed up and verified that indeed I had paid. Note this was in spite of me paying every morning like clockwork with the kid standing there watching. I think that the father wanted to have a discussion with me about something else. It may have been along the lines of 'did you turn off everything' or 'did you leave the remote there' but since he spoke no English and I was already irritated at being unjustly held up, he got a jaunty wave and I was off.

Since I knew where the boat place was, tickets were slightly cheaper this time ($10 or 200,000 VND) to get to HCMC (Saigon). The seat I got was in the front. This caused my theory about people needing to spend more on t seats up front to fall through. Perhaps the first ticket 'oh we need more money' was just a shake down. Well, fuck them.

I suspect it will be closer to $30 a day in Saigon instead of the under $20 a day in Vung Tau but if I'm lucky I can keep the food down. I realize that won't make me as thin but I was getting worried I may have caught some sort of semi-permanent parasite dwelling in my bowels and laughing at me.

So, I got on the hydrofoil again. Yes, I know I could have saved $26 or so by just staying the hell in Saigon but who knew that a city that size wouldn't have an eye doctor who wasn't hiding more effectively from me than Anne Frank did from the Nazis?

Due to having eaten something just before leaving, I had to make a fast trip to the hydrofoil bathroom. It was surprisingly clean. I think it may have been the cleanest bathroom on any public transport I've ever used. While it is true that it didn't have a sink but just a bucket full of water along with a plastic ladle floating in it, it was still pretty decently clean. I was surprised. There was even toilet paper!

After a couple hours I was again in HCMC. I decided not to fuck around but just to get a taxi cab to district 1. It is where all of the tourists live. And, the restaurants they eat at and hopefully don't get sick. I am so tired of (see 'medical for details on what I am tired of)... The cab ride cost nearly as much as the two hour boat ride here. Happy!

Finding a guest house once I entered 'district 1' (where all of the tourists go) was not a problem. A tout found me. He offered a $12 guesthouse so I said I'd look. After discounting the first one (and his commission) I found myself given from one owner to another. They all seem to work together. Eventually, I found one I could live with for a couple nights.

I checked into a $12 per night guest house. I'm really happy they gave me a business card for it because I'm not certain I could find it again. In fact, using the business card, transport people have trouble finding it. The guesthouse is located in a narrow alley with god knows how many other guesthouses. Maybe a dozen, perhaps more. Aside from no refrigerator or balcony, the room is fine. Hot water, air conditioning, wifi that actually works. Yes, the wifi in Vietnam is much better than Cambodia or Laos. Perhaps equal to or a bit better than Thailand. Not sure. Hell, maybe good enough to get a Skype call but it likes to turn itself off and on unexpectedly.

Since I really don't have a great longing to tour the congested and dangerous streets of HCMC/Saigon, I made straight for the eye doctor. The family that owns the place I am staying at collectively knows a bit of English. The mother of the family warned me several times about bag snatching and that I should not keep my passport in the bag. I thanked her (I don't but didn't want to get into a discussion as to where it was kept) and got a bike rickshaw out there.

Momma-San (as I now think of her) kindly wrote down the name of the hospital in Vietnamese. Apparently, they don't have any private eye doctors around. Plus, she told me the hospital would be cheaper. Cha ching, sold.

The price started at 100,000 VND but when I started laughing and preparing to leave it suddenly dropped to a more reasonable 50,000 VND. I could have probably gotten it a little cheaper but honestly, I feel sorry for any small old man who has to pedal my fat ass anywhere.

And people say I have no mercy. HA!

I had thought about getting a scooter (and would have saved a buck on it I discovered later) but I was a bit wary of it. My leg has fully healed from the last time I'd been on a scooter and I wasn't anxious about repeating the performance. I'm fragile. (Stop nodding.)

As we slowly made our way (presumably) to the hospital, I reflected back. I like Phnom Phen better thus far than HCMC. It is less congested and a lot more gritty. Hell, I could have stayed in the States if I wanted to see modern, clean streets glass and steel. Give me a bit fucked up with plenty of character any time. While I may bitch about it (or sound like I am) I enjoy it.

Here is a video of me on the way to the hospital.

Thinking about the doctor, I was making a new plan. Consult and get the fuck out. Get out of the big city and go to somewhere cheaper. A good plan, I thought. Like all of my plans, this one would be shattered really soon as well. Happiness and joy are mine.



THE HOSPITAL

The outer areas of the hospital look as though it was built in the 1950's and haven't been maintained since. You know when they use the cheap glue and stick it over the wall then slap up a movie poster in a hurry? Later someone else tries to take it down. They get a few strips of it then give up in frustration and you've got half the poster left? They did that with medical notices and such. They have the movable poles with the chain going through them. These are used to temporarily close off an area and moved to open it again. Much like the 'velvet rope' concept. This chain was literally covered in rust. I'd never seen that before. Scores of people waited to see a doctor. I got the impression that these were the people too sick to ignore it or ones which had tried home remedies which failed to work. These are the really sick people. In America, often we get people who go to the hospital because they're feeling a bit 'under the weather'. Here that doesn't seem to happen. The outer areas of the hospital were hot, crowded, very dirty and stunk of illness.

I got there a bit after noon. All of the doctors, staff and even admittance people were out to lunch until 13:30. How about that. The only people in evidence were the patients, moving like zombies or sitting listlessly in seats with homemade bandages on. This reminded me of a story about a restaurant in a communist country being closed during lunch time - so the staff could eat.

When you get to the hospital you see lots of signs. Nothing is in English. From the layout of the place it is in no way obvious as to where you should go. There is nothing the location of screams 'start here'. Aside from about four people, nobody seemed to speak much English. This did little to inspire confidence in my first Vietnamese hospital visit.

Hunting down and grilling the staff eventually got me told that lunch would be over at 13:30. This is what we call a 'lie'. Naturally, they were late getting open, but I've come to expect that. After the medical teams had returned to work, we were able to access the 'forbidden hallway' when they pulled aside the bars that had blocked it. The 'forbidden hallway' was a few steps up in cleanliness as were the offices after that. Apparently, more care is put into where the doctors actually work rather than just the waiting room.

One thing I've found in most Asian countries I go to is that I get treated first. Bumped right to the head of the waiting line. I use to stress about this but three things have gotten me away from that into just accepting it:

1) I can't understand the language and usually have no clue as to what is going on. Being singled out and sometimes even walked around is reassuring.

2) If I say 'I'm not next in line' or 'what about them' or protest that it is not my turn, it creates more hassle and I still end up going when they direct. Easier to just do as they say and go with the flow.

3) I've had enough people climb over me in other lines as most of these countries have no clue what 'standing in line' means. I figure it is Karma attempting to balance itself.

I'm not sure whether they bump foreigners to the front of the line for courtesy or if they are wondering what I am writing in my notes and want to get me off of the premises before I devalue the building.

Within the eye doctor's exam room, they did all of the stuff an American (or Cambodian) eye doctor would normally do but combined it with an odd game of musical chairs presumably to keep track of the people. Initially, I was impressed with the speed they went through the patients until it turns out that the doctor had lost my book and had to make me a new one. The book is an elaborate but small paper book they issue you when you pay. It combines a prescription pad, reminder of when you should come again, medical records, etc. They don't hold on to this, the patient does once they are discharged from the facility.

Despite my left eye getting better, the doctor feels it is best to keep me on the really heavy Pred Forte regime. I'm good with that. Sadly though, she wants to see me in a week. She isn't confident that the eye doctors 'in the provinces' will either exist or be competent. Hence, it appears I'm trapped in HCMC. In a week, I get to spend another 200,000 VND ($10) for another visit. I can live with that cost.

She wrote down an additional eye drop I'd need on my book and had someone walk me down to the pharmacy. Since Pred Forte was also on the pad, they sold me another bottle of that as well. I was set to object until I noticed the price was less than half of what I'd paid in Cambodia and thought was a remarkably cheap price. Although I already have two bottles in my kit, I was good with spending another dollar something for another.

I decided to risk a scooter back to the guesthouse as a journey of that length is pretty uncomfortable, either way but faster on the scooter. I managed to get back without dying or getting burned. Huzzah!

So now that I'm stuck in Saigon (for health reasons) for a week, I'm thinking that I might be able to eat at restaurants that won't make me sick. Yes, they'll cost more. Yes, since I am able to eat and perhaps wanting to eat more often my food costs will go up. But I'm pretty sure that just eating one meal a day and (see Medical) isn't really healthy. Believe me when I say I'm not wasting away or anything but I do enjoy good food.

More next time...



VIETNAM SHENANIGANS

I was talking to a group of Australian expats and they were regaling me with stories about monkey business done by Vietnamese construction crews. Like putting up concrete walls without metal supports. Using beach sand laden with salt instead of the slightly more expensive correct sand. From what they told me, when the salt melts out you have much less stable concrete from beach sand. Numerous attempts to steal cable and electricity. Walls falling down onto other people's property due to shitty construction and the attempts by the crew to hide the damage and fallen wall under rubbish piles. This feeds into my opinion that I'd love to get people from SE Asia to decorate stuff for me but I really don't want to get into an elevator they built.


Another expat told me that if there was ever an accident involving a foreigner such as the foreigner being run over by a motorcycle that it is the foreigner who is at fault. It was their own fault they were there instead of in their own country. Interesting.


In Vietnam, you are required to leave your identification (passport) with the hotel so they can supposedly register you with the police. We all remember what happened in Bosnia, yes? Anyway, it is also illegal for foreigners not to have their passport on them at all times. Get around this BS by presenting the hotel/guesthouse with a photocopy of the picture page of your passport along with a photocopy of your Vietnam visa. Have a few of these made in case the hotel/guesthouse loses them. Loses the photocopies instead of your passport.


Here in Vietnam, I've gotten more of the long stares than in any other country I've been to thus far. I really don't mind. I figure that person has absolutely nothing better nor more entertaining to do with their time than stare at the fat foreigner. I actually feel a bit sorry for them. Depending on my mood and what I'm doing (and if I think they'll try to sell me something) I will ignore them, smile at them (until they decide looking elsewhere to be a good idea) or try to strike up a conversation. Normally, the conversation either stalls after 'hello' has been exchanged or they want to inform me they have relatives I've never met living in states I've never been to. Sometimes they want to know things like 'how long have you been here' and 'how long will you be here'. I am wary when answering these questions as I am suspicious by nature and training. Sometimes when you are asked 'how long you been here' it is a way of saying 'how gullible are you'. I normally pad my answer by a couple weeks. Sometimes when they ask 'how long you be here' they are wanting to know for reasons beyond idle curiosity. So I am vague, inexact or lie through my teeth depending on how I feel about it.



LOGAN SHENANIGANS

When you check into a guesthouse in Vietnam, you get the pleasure of filling out a form which asks for 'occupation'. For some reason, I've been putting 'Carnival Freak' in the box. I figure if they ask, I'd tell them I was the 'fat man' at a carnival but I lost too much weight and got fired. I've never had any Vietnamese ask me what the deal is with that but eventually who knows. If the police ever asked me that would be extra humorous. Well, for a little while.



DEEP THOUGHTS

Years ago, I use to ask questions like 'Why don't they have any (insert country name here) restaurants? Surely they must eat there? Why no restaurants?' My friends, I have found the answer. It is twofold.

* The food of (insert country name here) is so close to (insert well known country which does have restaurants name here) as to be indistinguishable to foreign devils. So, you'd have a less known restaurant serving the same food as a different country.

* The food from (insert country name here) sucks ass. Because of this, you will have a visitor once and then never again as they will learn their lesson and tell their friends. A good example for me of his would be a Ukrainian restaurant. I've gotten stuck with those in a couple countries. The reason they are rare (or non-existent) in the USA is that you have all of the countries who make good food in competition with them. The only place they can have a restaurant (in Logan's opinion) is in a country whose food also sucks. That way you can have a choice between two different sucky foods. [Sylvia's cooking was the only good food I ate in the Ukraine - and she is Polish.]






BOOK REVIEW - TWO URBAN FANTASY BOOKS

I'm going to review these together as they seem fairly typical of what I think of the low to medium end in quality of the genre.

Spider's Bite
October Daye novels (the first two)


In Spider's Bite, it talks about an 'assassin'. She is without a doubt the worst assassin I've ever read about. Most assassins which I've heard about (both in fiction and real life) are a 'tool box'. They have different weapons for different purposes and kill pretty much without any feeling at all if they are any good. It is a job to them they have as much emotion about as say a plumber. Plumber's may grumble if the pipes aren't sealing right but they don't get emotional about it. In Spider's Bite, the protagonist is suppose to be a 'dangerous, feared and professional assassin'. This 'assassin' pretty much wants to work out her rage by stabbing the shit out of things with knives. I don't see her so much as a 'professional' as I do someone who would be just as happy having sprinklers of blood showering her as she danced around screaming "I have men (and daddy) issues". Despite the plethora of CSI information available to even the lay person, it is obvious the author hasn't availed herself of it. In addition, if I wanted to have someone who was psychologically addicted to stabbing things (what would Freud make of it?) I'd probably go at least question someone who knows how to fight with a knife. It's amazing how many authors (including both on this review) have people doing things like sticking a sharp knife into their belt. Without a scabbard. Failing to clean the knife after use. My knife fighting training was not all that extensive but even I know that.

With both books, it becomes clear that 'urban fantasy' started as - and with many books continues to be - partially mired in the 'romance' genre. It is amazing just how many times the female protagonists seem to go into heat over every man they meet. I'm not sure why. They sometimes indulge in sex with them but usually not. It appears they go for a lot of 'sexual tension'.

The men are all handsome yet incompetent and weak. If other (actual) men were around they would accuse the men of either being stupid or 'a pussy'. The only strong men are usually either physically or emotionally distant and too involved with something else to try to help out the heroine with whatever project they are working on. I have yet to see a man actually come up with a good idea and implement it. I'm curious if it is only by surrounding the woman with wildly incompetent men that allows her to shine forth as the heroine. Does that mean that if even one competent man was hanging around she couldn't? I've known many competent women over the years and it didn't seem to be the case but perhaps this is the reality within the author's minds.

From the authors bios, a lot of the women (and men for some reason) who write urban fantasy tend to own a lot of cats. That's struck me as a bit suspect. There may be a link.

As to the question, are these books any good - again, they are examples of the middle ranking ones. Say 5/10.


Some other very quick reviews of books I thought sucked. I put these in to save you the pain. If you are thinking 'but what urban fantasy books did you like'? You always tell us about books that sucked! Can you even name one series you liked? Yes. Sandman Slim. There are others but unfortunately the ones I dislike outnumber the ones I like by a good damned margin. Also some of the books I've been listening to are not urban fantasy. For example I have recently listened to (most of) a book on cold war weapons of the CIA. I forgot the title and deleted it when finished but it was interesting to hear because that is the kind of shit we were using when I was in. Now, the game has massively changed and they can print that stuff. So, on with the books that sucked ass!

You Slay Me

This book had some potential. An interesting murder, some interesting characters and a plot that seemed to be going somewhere. After a few chapters, I had to delete it because the bitch (main character) is in heat. Holy shit, every time she got around someone with a penis she was panting and needing it. It was like reading the diary of a nympho. To be fair, it was recorded as a 'romance' but holy shit - you can get more subtle than that.


Laptop of the Gods

If you enjoy a bunch of fist pumping Greek gods (and Roman, whatever) who work for God with a capital G singing lyrics to 1960's songs and shit, this one star out of (pick a number) is for you. I actually listened to nearly a full chapter because I was stunned at just how bad it was. Books like this really give me hope that I can be published. I should probably find out who this guy's agent was. If the agent can sell a piece of shit like that, anything I churn out will probably get sold.


On Stranger Tides and the Anibus Gate

Why the fuck do I keep getting a hold of books by Tim Powers? I clearly don't like his stories. They are a bit dry for me. I suppose that if someone wanted 'historical urban fantasy' this might be the only option. I just find them dull and plodding.


Mistborn

I don't remember specifically but I think I just got bored with it.


The Name of the Wind

I don't remember specifically but I think I just got bored with it.


There you go - some books to avoid if you like the same kind of stuff I do. When I read more books I like, I'll post them up to. Unfortunately, looking for good urban fantasy (or any books I suppose) is a lot like wading through a river of shit looking for diamonds. Stinky, but rewarding. How is that for an analogy? Not all that great. Kind of like pickles on peanut butter. Some people will like it while others will loudly decry, "What the fuck is wrong with you?"







MEDICAL (Warning - contains disgusting content. Don't gripe, you've been warned).

Have you ever used a squeeze-able bottle of Hershey's chocolate syrup? When you come to the last little bit you are trying desperately to get out of the bottle? When you squeeze it, it makes a thrrrup! sound and bits of chocolate fly out in random directions but hopefully mostly in your glass. Now imagine having some sort of air hose linked up to the bottle that starts at random and forces air through there causing the bottle to semi randomly discharge. God, I can't wait until I get to a country that doesn't cause that feeling in me. Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam have all gotten into the 'eat then camp near a bathroom to see if you will need it' category. Thailand was a treat. Their food was much better and you didn't have to run for a toilet and hope you made it. As part of my 'carry everywhere' gear in my slung black bag I now carry a small supply of 'so you got diarrhea fucking again' pills. I recommend these in a container that won't smash.

To experience some of the fun of this here is a simple thing you can do to experience the thrills and chills of this. Have someone who hates you dress up all in brown with a big bucket of liquid shit. After a random meal, they get to draw a card out of a bag. The cards either say 'safe' or have a random number written on them. If they pull one that says 'safe', nothing happens until your next meal. If they pull one that has a number on it (say between 1-20) they wait that long then tell you 'Run mutherfucker!' They then draw cards until they get another random number and start the stopwatch. Once that time has elapsed, you must be or have been inside a restroom or they get to douse you with the bucket of shit. It's a fun game the whole family can play!



FUTURE PLANS

From Saigon, I'd like to get to somewhere quieter with at least one restaurant I can eat at without (see Medical). Somewhere comfortable, cheap and quiet where I can walk and write my book.

After my Vietnam visa ends, I am really torn as to what to do next. My options (that I've figured out - other clever people might come up with others):

Malaysia - Things cost more than the other countries but allegedly more people actually speak English there. Coincidence? I have heard Singapore is definately expensive and I have no reason to go there (oh look, big metal and glass!) so I'd probably avoid that. But other parts of the country could be interesting. Also, this would provide me with a non-backtracking way into Burma. Which would get me eventually to India and Nepal.

Indonesia - Haven't seen it. Worried about how much the sea voyage would cost, however because I don't want to go through the hassle of flying nor spend the $110 to do so. I'm going to have to go to travel agents to try to research this (which will cost more) because travel by sea hasn't caught up to the internet. Or I just haven't found it.

Island hopping - Easier to answer if my finances were in better shape. I need to do more research to see if places like Papua New Guinea are dead cheap to live or if I'd get there and start screaming in pain. It would put me close to Australia which would cause the Highlander quickening feeling in Pete and he'd start looking around and becoming nervious I was getting to close to his native land. While I know I very much cannot afford Australia, some of the smaller islands and such to the north and west of it may provide living quarters for awhile. I am concerned about being there during the summer however. It may turn me to 'melted Logan'. Which is brown and squishy.

Another option could be Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma, Bangladesh, Nepal, India...?

I figure I've got two or three weeks to research it. I'd say about 90% of my motivation is currently price over 'how cool would it be'. Kind of a sad way to travel right now but it is needed. For example, Burma is very rough and the visa is about double or triple Vietnam. And the tourist industry hasn't really been established. But some people I was talking to were saying living there right now would be dead cheap. I know I'll have to pass through it or boat around it though. For those suggesting the findacrew website, yeah, I checked it out. It should be called 'boatslutwanted' instead. It seems to be guys looking for women to fuck while they sail around.

I wouldn't mind going to somewhere like Poland (I know a lot of folks out there and it seems that even more know me and read this blog) but I don't know if I can make it that far out soon.

Anyway, I've got to still research and ponder the next step. Goals for those wanting to help, dirt cheap and cool during the summer. Yeah, I need fucking wifi to keep sanity. And to write this blog!



FOR JANA

I can't send my notebooks off while I'm in Vietnam. I suspect that if they got hold of them they would burn me at the stake for witchcraft. I will mail them eventually and I suspect you will get a lot of them at once and my backpack will suddenly get a lot lighter. I'm not sure what country to mail them from. Thailand, Laos, Cambodia all had 'sucktastic' mail systems. I'm not sure which country I'll be in next or if it would be better. Malaysia might be a winner if I got there. Note: I checked - as of now it is only two notebooks. By the time I get to a 'good mail' country, who knows.

BTW - how many notebooks are we up to now?



TRAVELER'S TIPS

When the hotel makes a receipt for you, be sure it is dated. If you don't get a dated receipt, you may be forced to pay an additional day whether due to their greed or their incompetence.


I was in a restaurant that had no napkins. Instead, they placed a plastic wrapped wet towelette on the table. I was wary of it. My fears turned out to be founded. Had I used it, I would have been charged an extra 2000 VND. Yes, that is ten cents but on principle, I don't like shit getting put on the table that I didn't order yet will cost me money should I use it. I look at it as unnecessarily sneaky.



COSTS

Taxis seem to be about two to three times as much as motorbikes (scooter). You need to negotiate a motorbike in advance but the taxis have a meter. This meter seems to start off nice and slow but goes up quick after the two dollar mark. I'm not sure why that is. Oddly enough, the bicycle rickshaws cost about the same or sometimes slightly more than the scooters. Generally speaking, I seem to spend about $3-$4 on a taxi, roughly half that on a motorbike. If you don't nail down a price in advance on a motorbike you are a rich fool.

Black and white photocopy, 1000 VND

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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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