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Sunday, December 25, 2011

SO WHAT'S UP WITH BURMA?

WORKING UP TRAVEL PLANS

Right now I'm upset with the Chinese government. Apparently, they're still feeling a bit touchy from having taken over Tibet. This means you have to get 'special travel permits' to go through Tibet. The only way you can get these special travel permits is to go through a travel agency. You can't buy just the travel permit. Oh no. You must book a vehicle AND a driver AND a guide! I can't afford all that shit. So, I'm working on figuring out a way to get from SE Asia over to Tibet, preferably without flying.

It might be possible to do a very wide swing all the way around the Tibetan 'issue' and then come in from the north into India and circle back to get to Nepal. But it looks like a serious amount of ground to cover and having traveled a lot, I know what that means. Also, China and India don't seem to get along well - I'm not sure if there would be a place to legally cross the border there.

I decided to do some research by actually going to the Chinese consulate and asking questions. They had a couple clerks who may have been hired more for looks than any sort of critical thinking skills. They were certainly not hired for their English speaking ability though they did have some. After talking to them (and making notes, and pictures, and hand signs) for awhile the story I pieced together was not good. Despite Vietnam and China actually sharing a border which does allow traffic, tourists cannot get in that way. They are required to fly in. The way you get your ticket is to go buy an airplane ticket then bring it to the Chinese consulate. The visa is issued only for the duration of the stay in China with 30 days being the absolute maximum. What a gyp.

So, fuck that. I may in the future figure out some clever way into China or meet up with a diplomat who is happy to help me out getting in. Don't laugh - I've met the brother of a Nigerian diplomat already who offered to help me get into the country but that's a ways off.

I'm thinking about going back to Cambodia. Hopefully the 'squirting' sensation I experienced most of the time I was in Phnom Phen won't be affecting me in the town of Kampot. I've read they have $5 guest houses I can 'lie low' in and may do so for a month or two while the winter wears off.

Apologies for my Russian friends who are currently freezing their asses off, especially the ones that live in Siberia. I'll say the same thing to you that I did in person. "Move." Negative fifty Celsius? Who puts up with that?

Anyway, while I'm having a long sit in Kampot I will think about what to do next. It is possible that I will get bored and go to other places in Cambodia. It is also possible I will try to escape to India and Nepal. To be honest, I still need to do some research into those to make sure that the places I can stay are massively cheap. I need to save a ton of money. Who knows - if I find a place that 'doesn't suck' I may stay there for a year to save money.

We'll have to see what I find and find through research.

I've noticed that the type of research I've started doing has changed substantially from when I had started the trip. Here is what I'm doing now. In the under developed countries, only the really expensive places use things like hostelworld.com and such. The places I'm wanting to use never would find their way into that. Hell, even the Burma embassy can't keep a working e-mail address. Yeah, I did try to e-mail them. Anyway, I've been checking wiki travel to find out what kind of price range I find under the budget 'sleeping'. After that comes the part that will make my travel mentor Adam yell 'What the fuck is the point then' and possibly vomit in rage. I look under the budget eating places listed to find out what kind of foreign (to them) food they have. I've discovered that I'm not a big fan of (for example) Vietnamese food. Sure, I could eat it once a week or so. Same with Cambodia or Lao food. Thailand food, say three times a week. A significant amount of eating. But I do like variety. The major type of food I've been eating in Vietnam I would classify as 'shitty Mexican'. Not great by any stretch, but I like it better than Vietnamese food and it's not too much more expensive. When I started my trip, I would always try to eat the food of the country that I'm in but my attitude on this has softened substantially. After eight months I'm to the 'fuck it, eat what I feel like eating' rather than trying to keep the moral high ground of eat like a native. I don't like a lot of what they eat - why punish myself? So if a town I'm thinking about going to doesn't have a lot of food I'm wanting to eat, I'm not going to be going to visit for a prolonged period of time. If at all. Yes, I realize that wiki travel has only a sliver of what is actually there but it does give at least a hint of things to come.

I'm not sure about Indonesia and the Philippines. I had been thinking about going that way but island hopping isn't going to help me save money and they do have some really expensive resorts down there so I'm not sure if that's the way to go. Right now, all I'm interested in is saving some money while being reasonably comfortable so I can work on my book.



SO WHAT'S UP WITH BURMA?

After some fairly exhaustive web research I've done on line, this is what I've come up with. "It's a shithole, avoid it." Apparently, land entry is verbotten (forbidden) unless you are just visiting the town itself for a visa run. Since a lot of the countries in SE Asia make you go out to extend the visa. Why? Because of bureaucratic shenanigans. Some of Burma's borders are closed. If you are able to get in there, you need to hire a mandatory 'guide'. They have terrorists blowing stuff up. This is because the military was in charge, some elections happened that people say were rigged and at the end to everyone's huge surprise the military was still in charge. Quite surprising. It would be quite impossible for me to enter the country through one border and exit through a different one, hence making it useless to me. Despite these obvious 'what the hell is wrong with this picture' and a hefty amount of bureaucratic bullshit to get into the country, the government is claiming on their webpage they want a lot of tourists this year. Want in one hand...

So, it's looking like Burma has taken itself off of the table. I'm not sure about their neighbor Bangladesh. More research required for there.



WHERE I'M AT NOW

Right now, I am staying in a building that would qualify as a 'guesthouse'. It's $12 per night. I have hot water showers and air conditioning. The room is of decent size. They provided me with two chairs (my fat ass broke the first, just like Adam's toilet seat) and the second probably isn't far behind. It's decent. I went looking for a new place though because I'm not real comfortable here. The reason isn't because I have to walk down a couple floors any time I want to go outside to smoke - I can live with that. I walk a ton anyway - it's just more exercise sorely needed. I don't like it because a very extended family lives here. It's literally their home. So, I get to hear them argue loudly with each other. Wander by them when they are in partial states of undress in the main room which is the only exit to the street. For those who think that sounds good, let me just say that seeing an eighty year old pair of breasts trumps any cold shower. I get to hear babies cry. Other places have yappy dogs. Before I did some fairly serious traveling, I had sort of a romantic view of 'home stays'. Now, I think "Christ save me from this." Most places I've stayed in it is not the guests which are loud and obnoxious. It is the people who work there - or worse yet live there. They are the ones with the loud pets or who like talking loudly on skype or playing music. Just give me silence where I am staying and I'm happy. Yes, the party hostel is an exception but if you know what you're getting into when you go there, you can live with it. But the majority of the time when I'm not hanging out with others give me silence.



VIETNAM ATMS AND BANKS

Although their currency is nearly worthless, they don't let you take much out of an ATM. 2M VND seems average with a few machines peeking at 4M. That's not much - $200. With my ill planned bank hitting me up for a huge amount of money ($30 or so) every time I make a transaction, I try not to make small ones. Yes, I think the people who pay $1.50 per withdraw and get $20-$40 at a time are amazingly stupid. I went to a bank looking for a bigger withdraw and got hit for 4% fees. Not good - bring the money you will need for your trip to Vietnam.



WHAT'S NEXT

I've researched the area I am going to be going to in Cambodia. It's actually not that far from me. I then decided to research areas around where I am (HCMC) to see if there was somewhere else I could go hang out for a couple weeks here. Nothing looked decent. At all. So, I could stay in HCMC where I am feeling swarmed by people and touts or head across the border into Cambodia. I'm thinking I'll be going back to Cambodia. Not planning on coming back to Vietnam. The people were OK but nothing I really want here. I just want to find the kind of place that has $5 per night rooms. Maybe upgrade to a $7 per night room and get some extras. Ooooo! We'll see. I'm going to sit and ponder stuff in Cambodia unless I decide I can't stand it then I'm going to either head back to Thailand or just pop over to India. I'm not sure. If anyone has any ideas or words of wisdom, I'm interested.

Note that I'll be here at least through Thursday, possibly till Friday as my eye doctor appointment (the thing I've been waiting in HCMC for) happens on Thursday afternoon.



AMAZINGLY STUPID, BUT ENTERTAINING

Heck, that could be the name for the blog.

This bizarre video spliced from a freaky movie. Thanks to Chris C. for sending it to me.

5 comments:

  1. Fuck me...just call this blog
    LOGAN HATES TRAVELLING
    ..and be done with it.

    So lets have a little recap.
    You don't seem to like:

    Local food
    Local attractions
    Local customs
    Local people selling shit to tourists
    Local people operating guesthouses
    The families of people operating guesthouses
    The pets of people operating guesthouses
    Local people driving buses
    Local people driving taxis
    Local people riding motorbikes
    Local people who don't speak English
    Local people who try and speak English
    Local people who aren't helpful
    Local people who try to be helpful
    (lets just write LOCAL ANYTHING & leave it there),,but then there is....

    Yappy dogs
    Third world bureaucracy
    Third world internet speeds
    Third world banking
    Third world currency restrictions
    Third world traffic
    Third world driving skills
    International Visa regimes
    Travel restrictions in areas of civil unrest
    Flying
    Waiting
    Delays
    Queuing
    Stupid rules
    Dumb rules
    Pointless rules

    So lets make a list of what you DO seem to like:

    Broadband internet
    DVDs
    Crap books
    Gaming
    Blogging
    Fluent English speakers
    Staid and boring foods
    Well stocked pharmacies with western medicines
    Complaining.

    I think your next port of call should be the United States....You'll be happy there.

    P.S
    The average wage in Vietnam is $150 per month which explains why an ATM only pays out $200.
    The average wage in the US is $2600 per month unless you have ATM's in the US which give $3000 a pop I'd say you have a pretty good deal in Vietnam.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Third world bureaucracy
    Third world internet speeds
    Third world banking
    Third world currency restrictions
    Third world traffic
    Third world driving skills
    International Visa regimes
    Travel restrictions in areas of civil unrest
    Flying
    Waiting
    Delays
    Queuing
    Stupid rules
    Dumb rules
    Pointless rules

    Find me someone who likes those things and I will show you a moron. Note, I left 'yappy dogs' off the list because a lot of people seem to like them. I don't.

    Bluntly put, yes, I think I like complaining. No, I can't afford the US so I won't go there. Also, it is stale so it would give me less to write about.

    Interesting info on the Vietnam wages and ATM's. That makes sense.

    As to these, let me break them down.

    Local food

    Sometimes I like it but not for an every day thing.
    Local attractions

    I don't mind them at all if I can walk to them and don't have to pay for them. That's some of the stuff I do indeed like to see when I'm walking around. I just don't have enough money right now to do some of the things (like Ankor Wat) that I'd like to do.

    Local customs

    Some are fine, some are 'WTF'.

    Local people selling shit to tourists

    I don't mind it unless they keep coming after me relentlessly trying to sell me shit I don't need and can't use. It becomes quite a drag having a couple hundred people a day try to sell you shit hard.

    Local people operating guesthouses

    If they are quiet, I don't mind. If they are loud, I do.

    The families of people operating guesthouses

    I feel awkward marching in and out of someone's family room to grab a smoke, yeah. If they are not living in the main entry/exit area I don't care so much but coming across people dressing, undressing, bathing is awkward for me.

    The pets of people operating guesthouses

    I'll give you that one. Pets should be a food source.

    Local people driving buses
    Local people driving taxis
    Local people riding motorbikes

    It depends on whether they are trying to run me over or not. If they aren't, I don't care but I am constantly amazed more don't die in traffic accidents.

    Local people who don't speak English
    Local people who try and speak English
    Local people who aren't helpful
    Local people who try to be helpful

    I don't care if they don't speak English but want to be helpful - if they are. If I get 'fuzzy directions' or incorrect directions it is a bit of a drag. Hell, I can look at a map with roads of an area I have lived in in any language and at least tell you where you are. A lot of them can't. That's irritating not when they don't know but when they don't want to at least tell you that.

    (lets just write LOCAL ANYTHING & leave it there),,but then there is....

    I disagree. I didn't enjoy Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh city) a lot because of the massive bustling of the town but I was able to leave it after a bit over a week. I just haven't found what I'm looking for. I think everywhere has a plus and a minus. I think you may perceive my writings as focusing on the minus. That may be fair - I don't report a lot of stuff like "Hey I met a friendly local guy today and we chatted briefly" because there is nothing else to the story. That kind of stuff goes on all the time. I like to give people stories about what happens and sadly, negative stuff is often a better story.

    ReplyDelete
  3. As to what I do like:

    Broadband internet

    Working internet is a big, big plus. I am addicted to the internet and have made no secret of it. It is how I am staying connected to friends and something familiar.

    DVDs

    I would agree if you said 'movies' but being that I own zero DVD's I would have to disagree on this.

    Crap books

    I disagree. I put those in because I was reviewing them. I prefer good audio books. I've started listening to a 10 book series by Andy McNab that I am quite enjoying. I like listening to audio books as I wander around wherever I am. Plus, if I have headphones in, I can't hear the relentless tuk tuk drivers trying to sell me on giving them money.

    Gaming

    True, though I haven't gotten to do any since I've left due to various stuff.

    Blogging

    True. As you seem to enjoy reading it. And telling me how much I hate most stuff.

    Fluent English speakers

    Who doesn't enjoy getting to communicate with someone they can easily understand? My German is decent but not fluent, otherwise we could add that to the list.

    Staid and boring foods

    Staid - good word sir. I would say that I enjoy foods that don't make me unexpectedly shit myself if that's what you mean. I admit that I am not so adventurous that I enjoy dropping a load into my pants every now and then. In the spirit of adventure.

    Well stocked pharmacies with western medicines

    Western as opposed to what? A herbal Chinese concoction? Sorry, but if I don't take my meds, bad shit happens to me like more iritis, hospitalization and possible death. Yeah, I like medicine.

    Complaining.

    No complaints with that one.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Look ya big numpty

    Its got nothing to do with liking it

    Third world bureaucracy
    Third world internet speeds
    Third world banking
    Third world currency restrictions
    Third world traffic
    Third world driving skills
    International Visa regimes
    Travel restrictions in areas of civil unrest
    Flying
    Waiting
    Delays
    Queuing
    Stupid rules
    Dumb rules
    Pointless rules

    These are sine qua non apropos backpacking, budget traveling, or mooching around the world on a shoestring budget

    GET OVER IT

    You feel awkward in domestic situations?
    You get the trots occasionally?
    You prefer English communication?
    You are amazed at the traffic?

    MIGHT AS WELL GET OVER ALL THOSE AS WELL

    How long you been doing this and you still just gonna bitch about it?

    I'll try a food analogy for you....

    If someone liked
    two all beef patties
    lettuce
    cheese
    pickles
    onions
    on a sesame seed bun
    .....but DIDN"T like 'special sauce'

    One would expect that they would NOT keep purchasing and eating Big Macs and then continue to complain about the experience.

    ReplyDelete
  5. How long you been doing this and you still just gonna bitch about it?

    Until I feel like stopping? Apparently, this is 'not yet'.

    ReplyDelete

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 | Portugal: Faro

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