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

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

JAMAS, THIS IS WHY JODHPUR IS BLUE

JAMAS, THIS IS WHY JODHPUR IS BLUE

Video answer

How is that for responsive to my viewers? BOOYEAH!




LOGAN GIVES MORE INFORMATION AND ANOTHER TIRADE

Well, once again my plans have changed. I know some people out there think 'Why do you bother to try to plan? You know you're just going to change them!'

It's a cosmic mystery.

I was sitting around in Jodhpur. I was enjoying the guesthouse I was at and that kept me an extra couple days over what I'd have normally stayed in the city. That and finding the cheap food. Being able to live cheaply is always important for Logan's Evil Plans.

While I was hanging out in Jodhpur, I kept hearing about Jalsemer. Most of the people working at the guesthouse were from there. A lot of tourists had been there. Everyone said they loved it. So I figured, what the hell, perhaps it is a cosmic sign I should go.

Plus the bus fare was only 182 RS so why not.

If I can keep the bus fares within my daily allowance it essentially means I can wander about at will while still saving money. It means I don't have to be trapped in a town or area I am bored with. I like it.

For me, there is always a impetus to move and travel. It is countered by my laziness. Packing, unpacking and the extreme discomfort of cheap transportation in India makes me want to stay at a place a bit longer. So, those two things either keep me still or get me moving. I still haven't found what I'm looking for. Nor, do I know what it is. Nor do I particularly care if I find it any time soon. 'Der weg ist das ziel.' (German, the way is the goal).

So, I found out that I needed to go to the Goman Bus Station. I was told this would cost 50 RS. (The guy started at 100, tried for 80 and settled for 50 RS when I kept repeating it.)

At the Goman bus station, I found out something interesting about the Indian bus system. I have been puzzled in the past about why you cannot purchase a bus ticket more than a half hour (or less) before the bus is set to leave. According to the man at the ticket window, this is because they have no idea which bus will actually show up. So, they wait for a bus to show up and then sell you a ticket for that particular bus. Weird. There are no assigned seats and it really makes no sense. I suspect it is just part of the Indian Bureaucracy.

Another interesting thing is that for trains, you need ID. For buses, you don't. So, if you wish to remain incognito - buses. Or if you are just sick of the hassle - buses.

Unfortunately, you will constantly have to provide a lot of ID and form filling in at every fucking place you stay. In order to 'combat terrorism', the Indian government requires forms to be filled out everywhere. And every place must have a photocopy of your passport. I'm guessing if you have enough money, you could bypass this if you talk to the owner but for those of us living cheap it's a huge headache. They ask for things like your permanent address, where you came from and where you are going. According to the guest house owners I've spoken to about this, they don't feel that anyone actually reads these forms - they are just accumulated. Like the Cold War Stasi, they just collect the documents in a big game of CYOA

So, I made yet another painful journey to another town. Hate traveling in those buses, but they are damned cheap. Sure, it's standing room only and often with no breaks longer than a quick smoke - if at all... But cheap.

So I got to Hotel Prathvi Palace. I actually felt a bit sorry (in retrospect) for the owner. Dealing with a grumpy, tired Logan is not a lot of fun. After negotiating room and laundry rates down we decided to test out the hot water to see if it really was.

It took half an hour of Herculean efforts and bringing in other people before it got up to 'not cold'. Not hot, but not cold. Good enough.

The room itself is very nice. It has all of the things I like - aside from hot water on demand. It has a balcony, writing desk (of a sort) and good wifi for no extra charge in the room. Great.

The restaurant itself seems to be where they are trying to make the money. The beer is 150 RS which I've been told is standard. But I can buy a bottle of beer for $3 or less in the states - and the beer of India isn't very good. The food itself is what I'd term 'scary priced' with a meal going between 200-400. Since I like to eat for under 100 RS, I tried that at the restaurant. Plate of fried daal and some bread. Man cannot live on daal alone, I reasoned and went into town to find a real meal. Found thali for 45 RS. Tipped them 5 RS. Everyone happy.

The thali is actually served out of some guys home and the four kids in there acted as though they'd never seen a foreigner before.

Tomorrow, I will go about the town and take a look around as well as try to find more reasonably priced food.

Unfortunately now (11:10 PM) I'm stuck listening to a guy caterwauling and some other guy playing a drum. The 'oh, isn't it a lovely culture' shit ends when you want to go to sleep. Apparently, the dogs don't like it either as it has sent them all to barking incessantly. Going to be an interesting night!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

GOOF OFF WHILE YOU ARE AT WORK!

I hope this blog will help some people out there to waste time while they are at work! Please enjoy your day!

THE NEW PALACE

I caught a lift with the owner of the hostel, Mohammed. He was going to the airport to pick up some guests which were arriving and he said the palace was on the way. I had seen the palace from a distance and it looked impressive.

When I got there I discovered that although the outside was indeed impressive, the inside was pretty dull. It was one of those 'lets put up pictures of people you don't know or care about' places. I'm sure that many of the tourists studied this stuff but I also know those facts leave their minds after a day or two. No net gain.

They had set up the inside like a maze but had forgotten to put up 'this way, stupid' signs to help direct the tourists. I either completed the limited tourist area of the palace more quickly than I thought or skipped off of the tour path sooner than expected. Either way, I was happy to get out of there.

Once I left, I decided that a walk would do me some good. Although it was only a few kilometers back to the hostel, Indians acted with astonishment when I repeatedly announced I was walking. Walking over a kilometer or two must be very odd here!

While I was on my way back, I espied a different building in the distance and resolved thenceforth to investigate it. (Sorry, I've been reading Piers Anthony again). I wandered over to it and found it to be some sort of tomb. Again, it was much more interesting on the outside than on the inside.

I feel that I am starting to run out of things nearby in Jodhpur to go investigate. The city is becoming rather mundane to me.

According to locals I've spoken to here the temperature should be shooting up in another ten days or so. They say the temperatures can double from what they are now. I'm not sure if this is true but it sounds like it's going to get really hot and unlike the natives I have the ability to flee to more pleasant climes.



PLANNING THE FUTURE

Unless plans with Matt change my plans, here is what I'm thinking. I've done some research into India and discovered that from here I can go east to Jaipur then Agra then Varanasi. From Varanasi I've read it is a common journey to go up north to Nepal.

Now, for those who don't know about Indian towns and 'so what the hell does that mean', let me put it into Logan speak.

Jaipur: Right now, I am in the blue city but this is called the 'pink city'. It's like I'm in some sort of demented baby color palate. It's another big city which I'm not thrilled about (in one now) but I don't anticipate being there all that long.

Agra: This is the Taj Mahal. They charge 750 RS to get in and I'm not sure if I can take my video camera within. Aside from being a tourist attraction, it's also a holy spot. Hell, you can't even get bags into some places. I'm not sure if I'll actually even bother to go in. My bet is that it is one of those places much cooler on the outside than the inside. But I will hang out in the town and see what's up.

Varanasi: Since I've arrived in India, all of the tourists that I've encountered keep asking me if I've been to Varanasi. The name actually stuck in my head because it's been mentioned so many times.

Each 'jump' should be under seven hours of travel time. This means I should be able to minimize discomfort and arrive during the daytime. It's about 1200 miles of rough, inhospitable travel between me and my goal.

Note, this may all change. I might skip the pink city entirely if there is an over night train cheaply to Agra or something like that. I won't know until I start traveling.

That will then take me out of India and into Nepal. Due to a strange penalizing mindset of the Indian government, once you leave India you can't return for two months - even if you have a visa. I have no clue why this is.



NEPAL

According to the internet, the reason that carrying 500 or 1000 denomination rupee notes is illegal (with three years jail time) is because of counterfeiting. A strange crime.



STRATEGY CHANGE

When I first started traveling, I had thought about just hitting whatever city presented itself. Unfortunately, the cities not on 'tourist trails' are woefully equipped to handle guests. They have no good places to stay, little but piles of garbage to look at and so on. Hence, I now remain mainly on the traveled trails. This may change in the future.



A COUPLE OF DIFFERENT INDIAN DISHES

Jal Wati - two bread balls which are crumbled. Unfortunately, this is sometimes done with the unwashed bare hands of the waiter. There is a sauce which is then put on top. Chili sauce (use sparingly) is also provided. Pretty good.

Chola Bhatura - 60 RS. Two, huge puffy pieces of bread, two different dips. Pretty decent.



ALCOHOL IN INDIA

Testing two different rums, I'd suggest McDowells Rum over Old Monk. The latter tastes as though it may indeed be made from old monks.



WRITING IN INDIA

This has been a problem for me. The parts of India I have been to thus far are a bit too...demanding and noisy to write in. If you find a nice, quiet restaurant someone will immediately decide it is too quiet and turn on blaring music. You really can't object as everyone else starts singing along to it. But it doesn't help with your concentration. The invention of the headphones only seems to have reached a few Indians. Overall, there are just too many things around yammering for my attention to actually relax. When you step outside into the din you must constantly be on your guard. Don't step in that! Dodge that vehicle! Beggar! Cow! Look at that amazing thing! Go deaf from the horns! Someone is trying to grab you! Kids wanting you to yell 'hello' back to them! Someone is staring at you - are they a friendly local? Someone trying to sell you shit you don't need/can't use/don't want! Dead animal carcass! Another vehicle! This is the way I've been seeing India thus far. I'm not complaining - I know eventually I'll be somewhere I can concentrate on writing more. But here be the maelstrom. From the time you wake up until you go to sleep, India comes at you 100%. In my mind, this is why so many people end up either hating it or loving it - or often both. Places where the famous author (name?) wrote near areas like Ummaid Bagh Resorts (I'd written about a couple blogs ago) are complete abnormalities in the whirl of India.

So, more writing when I calm back down...



INDIAN FOLKWAYS

Change. Indians are almost compulsive about wanting exact change and not wanting to give up any more change than they have to. It is quite a struggle to get the bigger shops to give up change so you have small bills for the 'street' cafes and such. It's like prying out fucking teeth to get it sometimes. The general formula - if the item costs more than the amount of change you're getting back, they won't whine about it as much. For example, if you give someone a 500 RS note for something costing 400 RS, not much whining. If the item had cost say 50 RS, much whining. They will even lie to you and tell you they don't have change, change can't be found and so on. Rather than argue with them, I just prep my 'day wallet'. [For those who haven't read the early blogs, a 'day wallet' is something you keep only the cash you will be spending on this particular day in. Handy for pickpockets and such.] I prep my day wallet by taking out all of the cash other than the large note I want to spend and hiding it away. I then approach the store, make a bit of a show pulling out the bill and discovering alas! I have no more money. They will still ask if you have change. They will still whine. Sometimes, you have to put back the item and ask for the return of the bill - but they'd rather give you the change than lose a sale. Even at big stores, they may have to send out for change. I'm not sure why. I know in the USA, every cash drawer usually has $100 or more in it for the purposes of making change. [Yes, a lot of signs say that they have less than $50 in cash but this is to discourage stupid hold up men and do you really believe everything you read?]

It is important to horde as many of the 10 RS notes as possible. 20's and 50's are (for this) basically big 10's. Horde them. They are really inconvenient and not worth all that much. But you can go through 100-200 RS in 10's quick during a single day...

Sometimes, when I find someone who has a bundle of 10's I will ask for them to make change if I can separate out a 100 RS note without attracting too much attention to what in India is considered a 'wad'.

Banks often will give you the same problems about making change or pull that 'are you a customer' crap. Unfortunately, society wouldn't think responding "No, but I am a violent ax murderer" as a viable answer to such a query - despite the person asking clearly deserving such a retort.

I've said it before but it bears repeating - ripped or 'distressed' bills are more difficult to offload. Don't accept them from people - demand new ones. You have to act as you would if they tried to give you a piece of paper with 'this is money' written upon it instead of a bill. In America, simply taking 51% of any bill into a bank will cause them to give you a shiny new one. Not so in these countries. I have no clue why. Having to inspect each bill of your change is just one of those fun 'pain in the ass' things about life in India. I'd like it (as they would) if they all got the plastic money of countries like Australia or Romania.



VIDEOS

Scary Kid
Trip to the Palace 1
Trip to the Palace 2
Jodhpur New Palace



NOTES ON LOOKING FOR A NEW PHOTO STORAGE PLACE

Photobucket has served me for many years but I have decided to look for another. I'm not sure if it is a problem with the internet in India or Photobucket. It starts uploading fine but then slows and stops. I don't have this same problem with youtube.

In the past, some folks have suggested various places to store photos but these didn't meet my needs. While 100mb might be OK for the average person who simply doesn't take many pictures, I can take that in a single day. Hence, I'm looking around and thought I would keep track of my findings here in case it helps someone else.

Something I have found baffling is that these places seem to make their money from selling prints to people. Who the fuck still wants prints?

Disclaimer: I am also uploading stuff to Facebook which doesn't seem to be experiencing the problems that photobucket is. Unfortunately, I can't have people who aren't friends able to access the Facebook content.

Flickr, 300mb/month max.
Shutterfly No max mb but uploader also stalls.

So, I'm still looking... I suspect my current difficulties could be due to shitty internet.



WHAT I'M LISTENING TO NOW

Reading books is rough in India. You have to compete across the constant din of too many people packed into too small of area with those people never having heard the term 'noise pollution'. To be fair, they have too many other forms of pollution to really be bothered about some noise. Hence, for my wanderings around and such, I use MP3s of recorded books both to keep amused as well as to help ignore the armies of touts and beggars. Here are a list of current ones I'm listening to for those who might be interested:

MC Beaton - Hamish McBeth series. I'm up to book 15 in the series. This is one prolific author! Her stories are about a Scottish constable who solves crimes. Although some people define the 'cozy' as a type of story with a strictly female protagonist, I do not. This definition seems a bit more general. Hence, I would describe these as 'cozy mysteries'.

Piers Anthony - Apprentice Adept series. Holy crap, can this guy talk. People who want lots of extra definition would like PA. These are fantasy books dealing with a very interesting mix of science and fantasy. Although I don't like that the books feel extra 'padded', the world and plots are intricate and interesting. I had reread the first three books. I didn't know there were more written later in the same series so I will check them out after a break.

Andy McNab - Nick Stone series. With a protagonist name like 'Nick Stone' you have only three choices. Porn, stoner humor or action. These are totally action. I like them because the author has good tradecraft and knows of what he writes. My interest waned by the time I got done with book ten. I'll be getting back to those later.

Derek Landy - Skulduggery Pleasant series. I was quite surprised to find out these books are suppose to be for kids. They seem quite good to me. The protagonists are a little girl (pre-teen) and a living skeleton. Say what you want but I enjoy the books as well as the narrator.

Bruce Sterling - I've only got one of his books on my MP3 player currently, Zeitgeist. Bruce Sterling is famous for writing 'cyberpunk' genre stuff. Unfortunately, that genre aged worse than a hard living hooker after the 1980's and much of it is barely readable today. When you are reading about the 'near future' as it was envisioned in the 1980's and actually living in the time they supposed, you see just how silly many of the premises are. For some reason they still expected floppy discs, form sheet papers and colored Mohawks to be 'in'. Hell, I don't know why. I don't expect much of this crap to be around in another couple decades and I'd just make up new terms. I guess they didn't think of that. Anyway, I've got several of his works but usually have to delete them after a short time as I can't maintain the suspension of disbelief.

So, tat's what I've currently got on my MP3 player. This baffles Indians as they can't figure out why I'm not listening to music. Telling them I don't like music is baffling as well.



SOME GENERALITIES OF INDIA COSTS

Street food $1 (50 RS) or less.
Basic restaurant, $2-3 (100-150 RS)
Outrageously expensive, $8-10 400-500 RS)

Tea from street shop, 5 RS (.10 USD)
Tea from a guesthouse, 20 RS (.40 USD)
Soda from a store, 20 RS (.40 USD)
Soda from a guesthouse, 30-40 RS (.60-.80 USD)

Cigarettes, generally 120 RS (2.40 USD)

Beer - may or may not be 'illegal', 150 RS ($3 USD)
Very small bottle of rum or whiskey, 70 RS (1.40 USD)

Rooms (cheap end), 200-500 RS. If you pay more than that, you don't generally seem to get a lot more room value until you pay a LOT more than that.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

INSTEAD OF YOUR MORNING NEWSPAPER

Traveling around India - investigating the local sites, discovering the culture and annoying the natives.



MISCELLANEOUS INFORMATION FOR UDAIPUR

Hotel Hill Lake - 16 rooms. For two people, the deluxe is 1200 RS, the super delux is 2000 and the standard is 1000. They have wifi in the rooms but unkindly charge 200 RS for 24 hours, 300 RS for 48 hours. Past the breakfast the menu gets very pricey - you'll be spending 200 RS per meal. I got a look inside one of the rooms. Honestly, they didn't look like anything special - certainly not different enough to warrant the heavy charges. That just reinforces the opinion some people have more money than sense. The main thing you are paying for there is the view - and you don't get to see it all that often. Ironically, this place had difficulty making change for a 500 RS note!

Janta Medical Store - 37 Ashwini Marg. Excellent spoken English. Good place to pick up any medicines you'll need.

Liquor store near 7 Karmantri Sadan, I/S Chand Pole, Opposite Nagar Parished Office.

Lonely Planet correction: According to their information, Bawachi Restaurant had 55 RS Thali. This is untrue - they have no Thyali.

'Cool Restaurant' review:
Ordered - mineral water (15RS), Chicken Curry (95RS), Chapati Butter x2 (10RSx2), Plain Rice (40RS) - total, 170 RS and it wasn't very good. Upper class meal prices, moderately trashy restaurant.



UDAIPUR THOUGHTS

The 'city coolness' was about the same as Jodhpur ended up being but Udaipur costs more. There aren't any cheap restaurants and the accommodations aren't anything special. The guy at the guest house I was staying at was super nice and helpful - but they didn't have wifi which I like for so many reasons. Hence, it wasn't a place I wanted to stay indefinably. I don't recommending budgeting much time for this city. If you are into having continuous internet, this city will piss you off. The only places that have real wifi (in your rooms, no extra charge) are mid-range (ie seriously over priced) hotels. If just one savvy business owner set up wifi in his guest house, he'd be the king.

Since my bus ticket to Jodhpur was only 200 RS, I was happy to have the guy at the Nukkad guest house book it. I caught the tuk tuk (50 RS) over to a 'bus station' (two offices that sold bus tickets) I'd never seen before. The one I hadn't had my ticket booked through was open. Despite speaking excellent English the guy working it was of the 'pain in the ass' variety to the point where I asked him if he was going out of his way to be unhelpful. I ended up sitting with a group of super cool other tourists waiting as the street cleaners set piles of paper and plastic on fire. Dawn eventually came. With a lot of tourists I've not seen of since I boarded the bus and off we went to Jodhpur.



JODHPUR

When I got to Jodhpur, I had several hours of daylight left. I'd written down three different places culled from the out of date and sadly misleading Lonely Planet. The first one that was closest to the but station not appearing on the Lonely Planet maps was the mispelled 'Cosy Guest House'. It was a nightmare of hills and stairs to get to it. When I got there, it was sadly overpriced. The tuk tuk driver wanted to take me to the Sarvar guest house. I'd gotten worn down enough to accept. Damned stairs. It turned out that the Sarvar guest house was just what I wanted. I've been living here for the last few (3? 4?) days. They've generously given me a 600 RS huge room and charged 500 RS then the next day 400 RS - since 400 RS was my budget. It has wifi in the room and more space than I know what to do with.

Getting a few gigs of videos uploaded in India certainly isn't easy but you'll get to see the fruits of that labor in the video section of this blog - for better or worse.

Fortunately, Jodhpur isn't a 'holy city'. Although a lot of Indian shopkeepers deny even having plastic bags until I stress I want it also for reuse if it is of clear material. More of the 'lying' thing from them. I meanwhile slowly build my clear plastic bag collection. Soon, I will be able to start replacing old ones. Not having to open up a bunch of bags to see what is inside is a good thing. There are also stores at which one may purchase alcohol.



MV SPICES

The sharp eyed owner of MV Spices saw I was writing stuff down and invited me into his spice shop for tea. Normally, it is a really bad idea to take anything to eat or drink from someone you don't know. However, I had divined his motive - he wanted advertising. So, I went to his shop. Since I was in India, I may as well see one spice shop. They have over 70 different types of spices and have been written about in various guidebooks and newspapers. He sold spices in pre-measured bags. As an interesting touch, on the back of each bag was a recipe for the spice in question. It may not be what you had bought the spice for but lo, here was yet another use for it. For example, on the back of the cinnamon bag was how to make pudding with cinnamon. [Yes, I did just use 'lo' in a sentence. How about 'dat shit'?] According to the owner, a lot of spice vendors put oils or perfumes into their spices to make them smell more strongly. Here, not. In general, 200g of spices seemed to go for about 250 RS. The cleanliness of the store impressed me. The owner also had me taste the tea but I explained that I was a smoker thus immune to the subtle tastes.

So, go there if you'd like to get hold of some spices!



THE FORTRESS

Judging by the locals facial expressions, it had been a long long time since a foreigner had worked their way up to the back door. I'd done it by generally being lost and just making my way in the most direct fashion to the fortress. By the time I got to this huge thing built into the cliff side, the urge to purchase the expensive ticket had completely left me. The daily allowance is a scant 1000 RS - giving up nearly a third to see a fortress when I was already physically drained did not appeal. After you've seen a couple fortresses, they all start to look the same. Generally, the external grandeur is more interesting than the cramped head threatening rooms within.



ORIENTATION WITHIN THE CITY OF JODHPUR

Within the old quarter is the clock tower. This is the single most important landmark. Around the clock tower are the old city walls as well as the gates. Note that early in the morning, some more recently erected fences and such are closed and full access isn't possible into this area. I don't know why.

West of the clock tower and out of the gate is roughly where I am staying. There are several guest houses in this area.

South of the clock tower is the main street. It is here that you can find shops like MV Spices, the 'hole in the wall' restaurant I eat at and a deep fry place I attempt to avoid.

The other directions don't contain a lot that is special yet - just more of what I term the 'mad street life of India'.

Jodhpur is big enough that a good map is important if you show up to look around. Or, just find tuk tuk drivers who can speak better English and get them to drive you to where you need to go. Generally, they'll try to get 100-150 RS off of gullible tourists. You can get by with half if you know how to bargain.



INTERESTING INDIAN CUSTOMS AND FOLKWAYS

INDIA HOURS

Although this country isn't 'officially' on the clock, it has hours. The roar of traffic and people generally subsides around midnight. Somewhere between 5AM to 7AM, people will begin to yell and honk at each other. By about 10AM the store are mostly open though some don't open until the afternoon.


ROOM CLEANLINESS

If the room has been swept however badly with a straw broom and clean sheets may (or may not) be on the beds, the room is considered 'clean'. You may still find trash left over from previous occupants and such. The rooms here wouldn't approach 'clean' standards in Europe or even in parts of SE Asia. I asked a guest house owner why that was and he told me 'good help is hard to find'. Apparently, even in a country with billions of people. I'm not sure how the cleanliness is at the more expensive places - this is just for the 'low end' stuff. The general cost of the 'low end' stuff is about 3-15 USD per night. The mid range is approximately 20-100 USD per night but I'm always baffled when people drop that kind of money for India. You can stay anywhere in the world for that kind of money.


LYING IN INDIA

Remember in an earlier blog entry where I had the conversation with the shop keeper about honesty? It is sporadic at best here - and even on easily check-able stuff. For example, I've had many guest house owners/managers tell me that wifi is indeed available in the rooms. This often turned out to be complete bullshit. If you want to make sure you often have to ask questions like 'is it free' and 'what is the wifi password'. When you ask those questions, suddenly it is revealed that it is not indeed in the rooms, only hooked to an ancient computer. I believe the reason for this might be that many people have the 'get the money now' philosophy rather than the 'if you give good customer service you get money'. Kind of sad and it keeps you on your guard constantly.


BEGGING

When I first got here and saw a woman with a baby begging, my first thought was 'isn't that tragic'. I know that some women like to borrow babies from other women to increase their take but it still touches a cord of wishing they weren't in a bad way. After being subjected to weeks of beggars including the grabby ones, my opinion has gone from that to 'So, you like to fuck - why do I have to be bothered with your upkeep?' It is a definite hardening of attitudes on my part. I'm not totally happy with it. Perhaps it is some sort of internal shifting to defend myself against the little guilt I might have had for being able to afford to eat. In my case, it is obvious I could afford to eat well. Very obvious. Some of the beggars are very insistent and present yet another obstacle to traveling - like the cow shit.


ALCOHOL STORES

These are kind of strange places. In most countries, you merely purchase the alcohol and carry it off to drink. Here, you can stand around and drink it. The drinkers seem to be a fairly depressed lot, standing around and just getting hammered. It's also a pretty small minority of people here that actually drink - or at least let themselves get spotted drinking by the strange foreigner.


CHILD LABOR

I constantly see kids of all ages - from age five on up - working in various businesses. Not a clue if they go to school or if it is even compulsory here. Most kids work in their family business. If your parents own a restaurant, you will be waiting on the table of the fat white guy - or giving it what passes for a cleaning here. It would suck if you didn't like what your parents did for a living.


MCDONALDS AND SCHOOLING

Much to my surprise, I discovered a McDonalds out in the city of Jodhpur. I was further surprised to find that several classes worth of school children (grade schoolers) seemed to be parked here for a few hours. Why, I do not know. They were all watching the TV at McDonalds. I suppose it is good to see the young easily programmed minds of India's youth being programmed with Americanism.


METAL DETECTORS

While in India, I've gone through two metal detectors at the urging of the security guards. I beeped. It could be due to the metal within my bag in the form of a knife. Both times after beeping, I was waved through without a bag or body search. What is the purpose of a metal detector? Does it have some mystical way of knowing if I have a gun? Do I need to be carrying an assault rifle to actually get searched? It's a bit confusing as to why they insist on using them then ignore the results.



TRAVELERS LORE

Indonesia is dirt cheap. Cheaper than India.

Philippines are about the same prices as India. Like Mexico in Asia. They also have the biggest garbage mound in the world. Palawi - last stretch of the Philippines not to be deforested. Get out of Manila (the capital city).

To get to and into the Taj Mahal, 750 RS. Other travelers have reported feelings of disappointment when seeing it so it's not high on my list right now. It's a "I'll see it when I see it" thing.



BOOK REVIEW

American Gods - Neil Gaimon. An interesting book. At times, I felt a bit frustrated with the protagonist as I knew thins he didn't. Like where the days of the week came from and so on. Yes, it is hard to believe that a lot of people are completely clueless about such things but here we are. The book was a decent read.



BUNDI VIDEOS

Open Sewers
250 rupee room
Maya Hospital 1
Maya Hospital 2
Fortress 1
Fortress 2
Fortress 3
Fortress 4
Fortress 5
Fortress 6
Fortress 7
Fun with electricity
Yet more fun with electricity
Bundi outskirts
Eighty Four Pillars
More Pillars
Queens Private Bath
Summer Palace of the King
Lake Path
Ummaid Bagh Resorts 1
Ummaid Bagh Resorts 2
Childs 1st birthday



UDAIPUR VIDEOS

Udaipur First Glance
The Palace
Udaipur Traffic Jam
Hotel Hill Lake Restaurant view
My Room



JODHPUR VIDEOS

TJ Mode
Jaswant Thada 1
Jaswant Thada 2
Jaswant Thada 3
Smoking View
Logan Makes Strange Noises



KEYWORDS FOR THIS BLOG

What are the top 'Search Keywords' used to find this blog? In order, from most used to least with my comments in parenthesis:
dogs playing poker (what the hell? Really?), logan's voyage, logans voyage, dead hooker (thank you Matt L), lawrence of arabia (weird), dead hookers, top secret cover sheet (very strange), samuel solow (not sure who this is), dead prostitutes, impatient (and also strange).



PRICES

Cheap Thali at my new 'cheap spot', 50 RS.

Very small cake, 10 RS.

Random candy off of the candy store to see 'what the hell is this', tourist price is from 10-30 RS.

Gypsy - fancy all you can eat Thali place, 175 RS. Note, this is one of those places that squeezes a few rupees more out of you for 'service tax'.

Alcohol, hip flask size (whiskey or rum) 70 RS, small bottle around 350 RS, brand name (Captain Morgans) 700 RS. The alcohol isn't that expensive but there is nothing clearly cheaper than other stuff - whiskey and rum are fairly reasonable.

McChicken meal (pre selected drink, shitty fries, not good sandwich), 141 RS. Made me feel lethargic and a little sick for the rest of the day. So much for nostalgia.

Raj Kachori (food). Several different textures - milk - very spicy. Weird. When I ate it, I classified it as 'tasty, wild shit I hope doesn't make my ass explode later'; 42 RS.

Hotel Priya and Restaurant - good place to eat. Rooms listed on menu at 400 - 800 RS (single) though I've never seen them.

Jodhpur fortress admission, 300 RS.

Jal wati - two different sauces, one is chili. You get two round bread balls. These are crumbled and the sauces added along with onions. 40 RS.

BOPPING AROUND INDIA

Note - the nice thing about India is that if you don't mind an amazingly bumpy dirty bus to ride in for six to twelve hours, you can completely change your environment for $4.



RESTAURANT REVIEW

Aroma Royal - excellent Thali but it's one of those places that tack on an unlisted 20% 'service tax'. Personally, I hate that kind of shit. In my case it was only 20 RS - which is really nothing - but is enough to make me say 'and that's the last time I eat there!' Maybe most of their business is once ever tourists.

I'd like to say that kind of stuff should be illegal - but I've not seen many cops and they certainly don't have a 'tourist police' like in Thailand. That is an organization which helps keep tourists from being ripped off by the locals. Not in India my friend.

Where the hell was this restaurant? Who knows - it's an opportunity to rant against the 'service tax'. If you eat at a nice restaurant and don't want to get stung with that, you could try asking if they have it in advance and hope they don't lie to you. Which thye might.



ARRIVAL IN BUNDI

After a 5-6 hour bus ride, I finally got into Bundi. Finding a place to stay was a pain in the ass. The Lonely Planet stuff as usual was either outdated or overly enthusiastic. I eventually got frustrated and checked into a kind of scary place called 'Havelirin Paying Guesthouse'. I guess they have to specify 'paying' in the title for some reason. It was seriously delapitated. After checking in and ditching the heavy bag, I found another place called the Havel Prince which was 50 RS more (300 RS/night) and claimed to have wifi. This is what we call 'a lie'.

In India, they don't seem to distinguish the difference between having a computer hooked up to the internet which guests can use, having wifi that only reaches to an area you won't be spending a lot of time in - like the restaurant - and having wifi in your room. It is frustrating.

At the Havelirin Paying Guesthouse, I was checked in by (and had my room cleaned by) a fifteen year old girl who was working hard and dilligently at her families business. Such a change from the stories I've heard from American parents about their fifteen year olds.

Guest houses like HPG could seriously benefit from minor repairs, upkeep or even a bit of paint which I've been told isn't expensive here. Why they don't is a complete mystery to me. All of India seems to be suffering from a serious 'lack of maintance'. Probably due to poverty.

After getting settled in, I took a look around the part of town I found myself in. Brochures (and the lying Lonely Planet) often describe 'quaint mideval streets' and such. That is one way to put it. Another way would be 'badly designed death traps with people riding scooters with reckless abandon while you dodge cowshit and touts'.

The fortress (which also had a palace that looked like a fortress) which loomed over the town made for a nice backdrop, however.

Aside from the maps, I've begun to despise the Lonely Planet India guide. I'm really happy that a) I've never bought one before and b) I got this one used and heavily discounted. After reading the LP review of Bundi, it sounded like a good place to chill out for a week or two.

The reality was completely different for me. Aside from a couple nice spots the Guptas showed me (see below) and the fortress which made a nice backdrop, the tourist area is a place best avoided. I'd advise a day max or avoid for this destination. The places to visit should you choose to go to Bundi, the fortress (and fortress like palace), 84 pillars (see video), the queens bathroom (see video), the lake where Kippling hung out (see video). Actually, if you watch my videos you can either decide 'no, that's cool I'll go' or say 'well, thank God, I don't have to go there now!' Either way is fine with me.

Pretty much the only thing that made it special were the kind and generous Guptas. That's it.

In case you are wondering if this was 'just a Logan thing', no, I've asked other tourists "So - what do you think of Bundi?" I have gotten back less than complimentary words and nothing really positive from the tourists I've spoken to thus far. If someone was to Bundi and enjoyed themselves, feel free to talk about it in the 'comments' section below. Remember - your vote counts. Well, not really. But if it makes you feel better, by all means, post.









MEET THE GUPTAS

How I met the Guptas. When I was staying in Blacksburg, Virginia I met a guy named Ankit. I knew that some day, I'd be going to India. We spoke about Indian culture and such. We kept in touch on Facebook. When he discovered I was going to India, he put me into contact with his parents.

What I was thinking would happen and what happened - different. I was thinking we'd have tea or maybe a meal. Instead, they put me into their guest bedroom.

Dr. Gupta is a surgeon. His wife is the principal of a school. Both are highly educated, intelligent and graceous people.

They have a lovely home above a government hospital. This hospital is one of the ones that the poor people are able to use for a very minimal charge. With the exception of the small Hindi shrine off of the dining room, their home looks like and has all of the stuff in it you'd find in the average American home.

They had pictures of their son Ankit who I had met in Virginia hanging on the wall. Some of the pictures just didn't look right. I thought about it and determined it was because he wasn't wearing glasses in some of them. I should have volunteered to draw them onto the pictures in order to make him look right.

I saw it as a sign of tremendous sophistication that they didn't have a television in the living room, dining room or kitchen. They may have had one in their bedroom, don't know.

I found it very interesting that they own - and use - a Lonely Planet guide book.

Eventually, after a busy day I made my faux pas.

I had mentioned alcohol. The doctor mentioned that he had a bottle of whiskey. While he wasn't interested in drinking any, I could have some if I wanted. He broke the seal on it and opened it up. Below is the conversation:

Dr: "You'll want to try a little first to see if you like it."

Logan: (Pours a shot, tosses it back, nods) "Yes. It's fine... Um. Why are you staring at me like my head will explode?"

Dr: "You just drank a whole shot of whiskey 'neat'."

Logan: (Pause) "Is that bad?" (Longer pause).

I wisely refrained from mentioning that yes, I have and can drink half a bottle in a night. Probably a wise ommision. Ah well. You live, fuck up and learn.

So I had another shot but it was after that when a little voice in my brain said 'Time to go - now.' Whether my intuition of it being time to go was correct or not, I've learned to depend on it. It's probably better to leave too early than too late anyway.

But I was happy that they took their time to show me some of the nicer and more interesting parts of Bundi. It was very generous of them.







THE FORT

I was sitting around sharing cigarettes with the employees on the fort (probably in a non-smoking zone) and found out some interesting stuff. Most of the fort (and palace which I group with the fort as it looks 'fort-like') is privately owned. A little bit is owned by the government. The government stuff gets the standard substandard maintance. The private stuff gets none. It's kind of sad as it is pretty much the only or at least the main tourist attraction of Bundi. Should it crumble too badly, I can't see anyone wanting to go to Bundi.

As far as the interior of the fort like palace goes, honestly the outside looming above the town is cooler. I made a video in which I nearly cracked open my head on a low stone doorway. Not all that nifty on the inside.






UMMAID BAGH RESORTS

Another review of another place Logan couldn't afford to stay - even if it was half off normal price.

For 2500 RS (that's about $50 USD at the time of this writing) you can stay here in air conditioned tents. Not kidding. Actual tents with air conditioners. Weird but I'm sure it keeps them cool.

The lure of this place is complete peace. It is very close to the same lake Kippling liked so much. So did some of the royalty of old as well. They build lake watching structures I've got in one of my videos.

This place is amazingly peaceful. Personally, I'd suggest it if either a) you are in Bundi and want to see something completely unexpected after the trashy town or b) India has gotten to you and you'll just start screaming if you don't get some peace and quiet.

Their staff is the kind that if they see people standing around talking, they'll bring over chairs in case you feel like sitting.

The owner of the place is an actual descendent of the kings. His name is Maharaja Rajendra Lingh Dugari. He has some of the most impressive side-burns I've ever seen. (See picture).

If you're into peace, quiet, bird watching and organic farming - go there. Tell them Logan sent you so that you have the pleasure of watching him look at you, pause then politely ask "Who?"





ONWARD TO UDAIPUR

I had heard Udaipur was a cool city. The Lonely Planet guide even called it 'romantic'. [I wouldn't call it 'romantic', but its not a shithole.]

The bus was leaving at 10 AM or so. It was scheduled to arrive at 8 PM. For those unfamiliar with the Indian bus system, this means 9:30 PM. Without a stop longer than a literal two minutes. No bathroom breaks, no bathroom on the bus. No food or drink other than what you brought with you or think you can get and get back before someone takes your seat.

I pretty much didn't leave my seat. I got one, the backpack got the other. The bag is too big to put on the floor or stuff into the over head bin. People looked at it like 'why does it get a seat when I have to stand?' Fortunately, they weren't able to communicate with me or I'd have had to tell them I had a midget stuffed in there. I was contemplating doing so some time then pulling him out at unexpected times to scare the other bus passengers. Things like this are why the gods choose to limit my wealth.

When I said I didn't leave my seat, I'd like to say 'I didn't intentionally leave my seat'. The roads in India are bad enough that there were countless times I was literally catapulted into the air. They have an 'oh shit' bar on the back of every seat to clutch on to while you are being subjected to near death experiences. It gets used. There are a few missing. It makes the imagination run wild. Like the buses.

When I got to Udapur, I decided to have the tuk tuk driver take me to a place listed in the hated Lonely Planet guide called Nukkad Guesthouse. It wasn't that I was especially keen to get to that guest house but if I got there, I'd be in the tourist section where all of the guest houses were located.

I got dropped off there and they had one room left. It was smaller than a U.S. jail cell but only cost 200 RS. Since all I wanted to do after being shaken violently for ten hours was sleep, I was happy to take it. They promised me they would get me a better room in the morning and they had wifi. [The wifi part is what we call 'a lie'. But I did get a better 450 RS room.]

The next morning, I got up early. It wasn't because I couldn't have slept for another few hours - it was because someone was caterwalling on the loudspeakers. I figure it is probably something religious. Though, come to think of it, in India they might not mind either way. In the states, the first time would generate tons of noise complaints or - in the right neighborhood - a homicide.

So, I got up early and went out looking for a place that had wifi (real - in my muther fucking room wifi) and for breakfast. I found a place labeled '24 hour cafe'. It wasn't. That was just something to paint on the wall. So, I made a video of the town from their abandoned restaurant rooftop then wandered off to find somewhere open. I found an overpriced bakery that promised 'real' coffee. Cafe Namaste had 'real weak' coffee and a soggy piece of pie for 90 RS. They had a placed named 'Hotel Gangaur' nearby which showed nightly reruns of the old (rather lame) Bond film 'Octopussy'. They show it every night because it was set in a Hollywood version of India. Hotel Gangaur costs 500-2500 RS per night and no wifi.

I went to several places and have not discovered one in this town that has wifi. One owner even asked me why guests would want wifi. I told him we lived in the 21st century and wifi is a part of that. He didn't get it. Hell, later I saw typing classes given on actual typewriters. Yes, real 1950's typewriters. Remmingtons. I was told this is how they learn. I said "Even India has computers - I've seen them."

So, after spending the morning playing the game "What does wifi mean to YOU?" I ended back up at Nukkad Guesthouse. Sad face.

After a frustrating morning, it got better. I met up with a nice couple, Irina and Thomas - both living in France. We went to the palace and had a nice time wandering around the city.

Udapur - way too much traffic on the curvy mideval streets. It's a bit of a pain to navigate around. Once you get out of the 'tourist zone' it's authentic India.

We were wandering around and Thomas spotted the disappointed look on the face of a couple tourists. We compared our thoughts on it and decided they were disappointed because they wanted to be the only westerners in their 'authentic Indian experience'. It always amuses me when you come across idiots like that. Of course there will be other tourists around. Oh, good for you! You've wandered ever so slightly off of the tourist path - but you're still in a touristic town! If you want to see nothing but Indians it is very simple. Go to a small town with nothing to see. Wish granted.

What's my opinion of this town thus far? Well, honestly it would be much better to stay if they had what I consider 'real wifi'. They don't. Worse, they think it is just silly that anyone should want it. One idiot makes a bad decision and everyone copies him. That's what they call a 'business model'. In towns where someone has 'real wifi', most everyone copies that person. Interesting. So, I'm going to probably stay for a day or two. I'll stomp around the town, make more inquiries and then probably move on. I'm going to try to access the computer to see if there is any word from Matt but other than that, move on. I've had towns that have had wifi before and I'll find them again. Hell, I'd like to have a wifi detector to discretely walk around with. I'm not going to use my laptop because the temptation might be just too much for some people. Side note, they also have a very unfriendly checkout time of 10 AM common in this town because (again) some bright spark figured out he could squeeze tourists a bit more by doing that than the usual noon. Be warned.

Since I don't have easy access to wifi, yes, more of the misleading Lonely Planet. Fortunately, you don't have to take Logan's word about a lot of the stuff I see. Hell, I think I make enough videos that you can form your own opinion. If I can ever find real wifi and upload those...

In Udaipur, near 7 Karmantri Sadan, opposite the Nagar Parished Office, I found a liquour store. I purchased three small bottles of whiskey to try them out. Of those 'Bagpiper' - it's the smoothest. The worst is the brand 'Bonnie'. The middling one is 'Green Label'. Something I found interesting is the place is fortified. They keep the gate locked while you are in there - as though they are suspecting people will rush the place and smash it. They have no business cards though I found the address elsewhere. Only by word of mouth they told me. Interesting. I suspect religious views against alcohol are a problem here.








NUKKAD GUESTHOUSE REVIEW

Costs of rooms vary. You can get something smaller than a prison cell with a rock hard bed for 250 RS. I'm currently in the 450 RS windowless room. Good points: Plenty of shelving for your stuff. Pretty good illumination which is a bit rare in the penny pinching Indian places I've stayed that are usually somewhat dark. Downsides: The shower is an on or off thing. Sometimes it gives water, other times the tap doesn't seem to function. I'm not sure what's up with it but I'm guessing the hot water boiler is nowhere near the capacity it should be. I wish these Indian places would get the mechanism for making water hot as it is pumped through the pipes (so you get a somewhat hot shower) like in SE Asia but that tech doesn't seem to have hit India yet. A lot of people here seem to believe cold showers are healthy rather than annoying. My room is also right next to the families quarters so I get that noise in addition to lots of noise from the street. If I had wanted to hear a family, I'd have had one. Like all Indian hotels I've been to thus far, if you don't have earplugs or headphones you can sleep with like I do, you had better be a deep sleeper. India is noisy as hell. Another annoying feature of the place is that they lock the doors at 11 PM. This isn't horribly crippling though. Since India doesn't have much in the way of alcohol, they don't have much in the way of nightlife either. Things seem to close at 9 PM or 10 PM. I personally just don't like being locked in. Would I recommend staying here? If you can find a room within your price range and don't need wifi or mind the added noise of an extended family - sure. It seems clean enough and the plumbing in the room I have doesn't leak. Getting a room here could be tricky, however. They do a brisk amount of business, probably due to Lonely Planet. Note - on my first night, I saw a good sized rat scuttle across the floor. I don't recommend this place any more... The previous day they had promised me a mouse trap to get rid of the mouse. A mere 20 hours later, one was brought. It is an interesting trap as it's a little box that has a metal door slam down over the extrence when the bait is messed with. This causes the mouse to be trapped unharmed. As a bonus, he still gets to eat the bait. I was told in India, they don't kill. I explained it was very different in America. The mousetraps are made to kill. I didn't go into detail so as not to horrify the owner of the guesthouse.





JODHPUR

In the morning, early at 7:30 AM the bus should be moving out to whisk me away. The bus schedule thinks I will arrive at 2:30 PM, I suspect 3:30 PM to 4 PM. I am a bit concerned that I have an assigned seat. I'm wondering what we will do with my big bag. Every other bus in India I just stuck it on the seat next to me. They don't have buses I've seen with the baggage storage under the bus and I'd be worried that it would be stolen out of there anyway. If necessary, I'll just stick it in the aisle and hope not too many people fall over it.

It is the way of India.




MAT MAT MAT...MAT MAT!

Only a week or two left in the 'Matt countdown' to see if he will actually be able to secure the time off of work to go to Nepal. It should be a lot of fun if he is able to go so I remain hopeful.





INDIAN CUSTOMS

By the color of someone's turban and the way they tie it and wear it, you can tell their caste and such. Well, that's what's in the Lonely Planet guide. According to Indians I've spoken with that is true sometimes. Other times, it is rubbish. People dress in whatever they want in some places. Logan's guess is that in the cities it probably doensn't mean a lot. When you get rural it does.


First born parties. When your first kid hits one year old - big party. There may be smaller parties for other children and such if you are rich but people usually shell out for the first party. It is also the custom for the guests to bring money for the kid (not the parents - it goes to the kid) in the amount of 50-100 RS. At the party I was at the parents weren't having it. That tells me they were wealthy enough that the kid will have enough money. Now these first born year old parties have a lot of people attend. Like 500 or 1000. They may or may not all be there at once. Apparently people will show up, eat, socialize and leave. At the party I attended there was quite a lot of food. These parties only serve vegitarian food so that all of the guests can eat. There is never any alcohol. The party I was at had amazingly loud music and a couple of people dressed like weird animals cavorting around. I have no idea why.


Walmart - the spreading evil. Dr. Gupta told me that Walmart was looking at India and thinking 'a few billion more customers would be cool'. Word is that they made the right bribes to the right government officals and everything was going to go forward. A brave, new world. However, the Indian people freaked out and protested. There are tons of Indians that have shops that only generate a few dollars income per day. This is enough for the people to eek out a living on. Given Walmart's less than sterling track record with their employees as well as the utter annilhation of the 'mom and pop' stores, this would be a really bad thing for lots of Indians. This has 'temporarily halted' Walmarts encursion into India. However. Big money, big bribes and powerful people disconnected from the guy living on the three dollars a day his store makes will eventually allow Walmart access into the country with or without people wanting it. This is what the Indian folks I chatted with believe. I believe it too.







TRAVELER'S TIPS

If you decide to do over a 4-5 hour bus journey in India you are either desperate or a massochist. The buses have little in the way of shock absorbers and the roads are epically bad. After a bus ride, you will be able to look at someone and say "This ass has taken quite a pounding today!"


Sleeper buses are what we call 'a lie', unless you can sleep while being catapulted into the air at irregular intervals and shaken inbetween. They will, however, cost you more money.








TRAVELER'S LORE

All of the travelers I've spoken to thus far have recommended the dirty hippy hangout of Goa. I am concerned they may have made a drum circle.


JULY-AUGUST-SEPTEMBER

The rainy season.




COSTS

Remember the silk sleeping bags I mentioned earlier? Finally found them here - 500 RS. Debating whether I should get one or if it would be unused stuff.

Entry to the palace in Udaipur, 75 RS. Camera fee - 200 RS. Yes, they'll search your fucking bag for cameras. Really.

Fancy Thali restaurant, 150 RS.

Classic car museum entry fee in which you get to see less than ten cars, 150 RS. No, I didn't want to bother.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

LOGAN VS THE CAMEL

PUSHKIN POWER

From what I've been told, there is not enough electricity to power Pushkin. The solution is to have regularly scheduled power outages. These last from 8 AM till 10 or 11 AM. Another is from 3 PM until 5 PM. Many places have battery backup. Mine doesn't.



RESTAURANT REVIEWS MINE VS LONELY PLANET

After experiencing some of the restaurants Lonely Planet India recommends, I have to say 'My findings were different'.

Lets take an example:

Rainbow Restaurant. Their review reads as follows:

"Set on a small rooftop with a view over the lake, the Rainbow hums with satisfied customers. The pasta is excellent, and the ice-cream sundaes overflow with sugary goodness. The hummus with fresh pita is pretty darn authentic."

My review:

"After about fifteen minutes of nobody bothering to take my order, I said "Fuck this" and went to a different restaurant. Note that the place wasn't hopping with customers - the people who were working there were lounging around.

I wish that I could comment on the food but with that kind of service, why would I want to order anything and sit around indefinitely? I leave it to you, the reader, to decide which sort of review is more useful.


I went to a place called 'Out of the Blue'. The food taste great and the order was taken very quickly. The food arrived very quickly as well. I can't really recommend it though because I got 'traveler's tummy' from it.


I'm still looking for a 30 RS 'thali' street food vendor. Sure, food is not really 'expensive' for $1-4 per meal but if it is sixty cents for a full meal it is like you are eating for free. [Note that later I did find an inconveniently located one which was only 40 RS. Good food, cheap.]


Although the rooms and wifi (slow but it's in the room!) are fine here at the Hotel Paramount Palace, I can't recommend the restaurant. They are slow and fairly apathetic at times. I placed an order for a 'black coffee'. The guy who got the order then wandered off to the market. Irritating to discover after you've been waiting twenty minutes for it. The food here is edible but not tasty.



LOGAN AND THE CAMEL

When I first got to this state (Rajasthan), I was thinking that a 10-12 day camel ride might be an interesting and unusual thing to do.

Instead of being the kind of dumbass that goes and immediately books one (they are out there - believe me) I decided to go get a short ride. After two or three hours in the saddle I figure I'd have an opinion.

Due to the natural motion of the camel, you get repeatedly rammed in the ass and nuts. I was really worried that I would be singing like Frankie Valli by the time I got done with my brief ride. Yes, the camel driver said I was riding the beast correctly.

To add to the misery, there was also a short iron bar affixed firmly to the saddle to assist with mounting and dismounting. It wasn't at all necessary but it did manage to remind me that I was fat with every step the camel took. It pokes into the gut pretty effectively.

After riding a camel, I understand why the people that did historically had a reputation for extreme violence.

In the movie "Lawrence of Arabia", I heard somewhere the actors and such found that foam padding helped quite a bit. It was a success with the natives who kept the stuff after the film crew had buggered off. I would suggest bringing a large thick piece if you are wanting to try out camels. You can thank me later. Try to get a saddle without the iron bar should you get a choice.

The only other thing to note is to not try to go fast up or down hills as this causes the camel to jump which can throw the rider. If you want to go fast on the flat bits, you get the exact same jarring as going slow but faster. This is unlike a horse which is a real pleasure to ride when it goes fast because it smooths out the gate. Camel riding compared to horse riding - it's like being at a permanent 'canter' on a camel.

Needless to say, a long journey is not something I'm going to be even contemplating on camel back.

An interesting fact I found for gamers out there: The camel can jog (trot) for about half an hour. They are pretty much just the plodders across the desert - not good for prolonged fast movement. Also, any shooting off the back of a camel should be wildly reduced in accuracy. It's much worse than going over a pot holed road in a crappy car. If the camel is moving faster than a walk, forget it. You are firing pretty much so people can hear bullets. Note, this is for an untrained rider. I have yet to see anyone who is a skilled rider do any nifty tricks for me.



INDIAN CULTURE

I have become convinced that Indians love noise. If the town is too quiet, some sort of celebration will commence. Horns honk constantly in traffic. One wedding is several days of racket. Given what I'm hearing of the wedding (the same simple beat over and over for three fucking days), yes 'racket' is the correct word - not music there. It is often the same tune over and over and over... Upon further reflection, I have several ex-neighbors I would like to have deported to India. They liked making plenty of noise and would fit right in!



PHILOSOPHY

Is religion a form of mass hysteria?



STONE WORKERS

While wandering around outside of town (lost), I came across some store workers. They told me a bunch of interesting stuff. To make a piece of stone (nifty design) by hand that is about a meter by a meter takes a month and costs ten thousand rupees. I have no earthly idea who can afford that stuff but it was interesting. In the video section you can see the video of the meeting.

Overall, it looked like a rough life to me. They lived in tents on the building site. The progress is slow and tedious. I have no idea if they are paid well but I doubt it. Everyone in this particular business was related. Whether that is from the cast system or just nepotism going horribly awry, no clue.



JAGAT PALACE

I was wandering around outside of town lost (again) and I came across a huge palatial structure which turned out to be a hotel. Three hotels actually but the name I got out of it was Jagat Palace. This place costs 6000 RS per night to stay in. All of their customers come from tour package groups. If you're wanting to see India in the most 'sterile' way possible a tour package seems to be your best bet. I have no idea how much they are paying for it but if a hotel room is $125 per night I'm guessing it's a large amount.

When I showed up, the manager came out to meet me and give me a tour of the hotel. Although only guests are normally allowed to wander around the hotel there is apparently something about Logan that screams 'reporter' and so I get treated like one and with lots of courtesy. Given how I dress and act I honestly can't say why.

So, the manager showed me around and told me some facts about the three building hotel. They have two different restaurants. All of the rooms are 'super deluxe'. I'm thinking they had better be for $125 per night. He showed me one of the rooms. It includes a double bed, mini fridge, desk, table to put your suitcase, etc. It's a nice room.

According to the manager, the hotel is usually about 60% full year round, almost exclusively from tour groups. When I was there I saw not a living person anywhere outside of the staff. According to the manager the guests don't actually spend a lot of time in the room itself. They arrive late in the day and due to tight schedules leave early in the morning. This baffles me. You pay a lot of bank for a very nice room and aren't around to enjoy it outside of a couple hours a day. Baffling.

I guess that's the kind of thing people do when they are trying to cram all of India into two or three weeks.

In order to help me celebrate my last night in Pushkar, the manager kindly offered me a room at a 'discounted rate'. I laughed and said I didn't think I'd be able to afford even the discounted rate. He asked me how much I paid for a room. In Rickesh (sp?) I told him that I was paying 200 RS per night but here I had decided to splurge and treat myself to a 450 RS per night room. He agreed I would not be staying at his hotel.

I appreciate the time the manager took to give me the tour of his palace. If people would like to see pictures of this amazing and amazingly expensive place, check my photobucket link for Pushkar.



PRIEST SHAKEDOWN

Yeah, I fucked up and forgot some of the data I had read. To be fair, I've read a lot of stuff. Anyway, while I was out wandering around lost, some guy gave me the pedals of the flower and told me to go put it in the holy lake. Something in my brain urged me to break line of sight and ditch the flower but I thought 'why not'. So, I went to the holy lake. The priest tried to tell me that three different Hindi deities each needed their own 100 RS. I gave him 100 RS total and told him they could split it. Later, he asked for his tip and looked none too pleased when he got ten rupees. I just wanted to toss the flower in the lake, not spend five minutes repeating phrases that were nonsensical to me. But I walked out with a piece of colored string around my wrist and a red smudge on my head I washed off with Mountain Dew as soon as I got clear of the place. Toss not the flower pedals in the lake unless you want the ritual! They are very pushy about it.



GYPSIES

After leaving the holy lake area, I had two young (20's) women approach me in a friendly fashion. I was instantly on high alert. This is India. Young women do not approach men and talk to them. Even being the innocent bystander in this got me some dirty looks from people standing around. When I inquired as to why Indian women would approach a man, they told me they were gypsies. I became extremely suspicious at this point. My bag hands normally on my left side. They wanted to shake hands. Being polite, I did so. They then wanted to shake left hands. I stared at them until they withdrew the hand. I know how to pick pockets. I'm not dexterous enough to pull it off, but the mechanics of it are fairly simple. Giving up control of your hands is not really a clever idea. Eventually, I gave them the 'fuck off' look and they went away to find someone more gullible.

Locals told me that an Indian couple kissing in public nearly started a riot of disapproving people. Beware of women in India! Well - if you're a man. Women, your mileage may vary...

To quote one of the Harry Potter films, "Constant vigilance!"



LONELY PLANET SAYS WHAT?

A lot of businesses claim to be recommended (or in some cases 'recomanded') by Lonely Planet. This is what we call a 'lie'. Even if it is true, I don't consider most of what is in the book to really be indicative of any reality I get to experience. ("Stay here - it is the best value at only $100 a night! Weee!")

When I see signs like that, two thoughts always spring to mind.

a) Need any other guide books bother? Life is much the same as if there was only Lonely Planet to choose from.

b) That business is full of shit.



TRAVELER'S TIPS

Small containers for pills are useful. Many of the medicines (anti diarrhea and such) come in blister packs. Blister packs don't survive very well. Have one or two very small containers to transfer the horse pills into so you don't have to eat them out of the bottom of your bag.


Remember that the only people who probably don't have an agenda are those outside of the normal tourist zones.


The nicer the restaurant is, the more chance they will tack on hidden charges like 'service tax'. These charges may not appear on the menu such as at the 'Aroma Restaurant' in Pushkar.


Some people will tell you that torn money is worth only a fraction of its value. They are full of shit. It's just another scam.


If you tire easily of haggling and avoiding scams, you will quickly tire of India. Lying to get money right now is pretty usual. Either travel with someone who doesn't quickly tire of these things or bring extra money.



VIDEOS

Coffin Train to Ajmer
Religious Ceremony
Wander through the streets of Pushkar
Pushkar life on the street
Cafe Enigma
Pushkar hotel 1
Funeral
Camel 1
Camel 2
Camel 3
Camel 4
Camel 5
Camel 6
Camel 7
Wedding
Jagat Palace balcony
Stone Workers



COSTS

Three hour camel ride, 500 RS + 100 RS tip.

Round of tea (at 5 RS per small cup), 60 RS.

Thali - several different dishes - usually three - served with japati (round flat bread) and rice. In a restaurant 100 RS, on the streets 30-40 RS.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR

Note, I haven't had time yet to go do some interesting things since the last blog. Last night, however, I was able to upload a lot of videos at last. Here they are.



VIDEOS

River
Tourist Guest House
Rishikesh
River Again
Tuk Tuk Ride
Tourist Guesthouse
Weird Spiritual Place
A Bridge Too Far
Wander Around the Town
Fifty Rupee Ride
Three Hundred Rupee Room
Lucky Something
Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous
Crippled Cow
Nuclear Monkeys
We Got Monkeys
Shiva Cottage
Health and Safety Be Damned!
Fill Your House with Trash

MOVING AROUND IN INDIA!

MOVING AROUND IN INDIA!


CONVERSATION

I was chatting to a couple Indian guys. One said "Money isn't everything." I responded "It is if you don't have any." His buddy said "You are the master!" I wanted to respond "Only a master of evil." Unfortunately, that sort of thing would miss out on the movie reference and be taken literally. So I just went with 'smile and nod'.



TRAIN TICKETS IN INDIA

You've got two choices. You can struggle like a salmon swimming upstream against a line of people who don't know what queueing is or you can have a travel agent book for you. The travel agent charges about 70 RS more and if it is anything like mine, they will fuck it up and give you the berth/bunk you definately do not want.




TRAIN STATION PHILOSOPHY

Whenever I have to use transport, I show up early. Hours early. Earlier, if I have to switch countries. Shit happens. I understand that and would rather be cooling my heels for three hours in a train station than be one of those whiny asshole tourists who wants to show up fifteen minutes before their train is set to leave and bitches because they got screwed somehow.

So that gives me plenty of time to look around the train station and philosophize.

Back in the 'age of the railroad' (1800's), the railway station was often kept very pretty. As I understand it, the thinking was 'this is the first place visitors to our fair city will see so we want it to have a good initial impression'. I believe this was because rich and well to do visitors used the rail. These days, the wealthy use the airlines. Hence, airports are nice looking. The railway stations by contrast are 'disgracefully filthy'. They are often stocked with the homeless, beggars and the insane who would otherwise be wandering the streets. These people are not found in airports - even beyond the security areas. It's all a question, I believe, of wealth & influence.

At the Hardiwar rail station (yes, back to where I was earlier) they employ men with sticks to drive off the urchins by hitting them hard with the sticks. This makes the urchins cry. This is not confusing to me. The confusing part is that the urchin I saw being beat with the stick did not run when he saw the man with the stick coming. I figure he was either really desperate or very stupid.

To answer your other questions, yes, beggars circulated the train. Total amount given by Logan to beggars, 0 RS. I have made a couple modest donations to temples which actually feed beggars regardless of caste, religion, etc. I do also deal with the poorer merchants if they have anything I want or need. Thereby, I put money into the hands of the people rather than the beggar king etc. Don't support beggars, regardless of their pleading eyes.



TRAIN RIDE TO AJMER

Hare Kristna Travels stuck me in the top bunk despite my insistance on a bottom bunk. The bunk was about the same size as a coffin but less comfortable. That was about fifteen painful hours. Is 'dreadful' a class?

If you are a child, monkey or some weird monkey-child who doesn't mind a drafty coffin, it is not a bad ride. For fur-less humans, I recommend bringing a couple of blankets.

Because it might be April (or never) before Matt is ready to go, I have decided to head south and check things out. I may even try to get on the back of a camel. If it is not too painful, doing part of my trip by camel migh be cool. If being on the back of a camel sucks, I will scrap that idea and come up with something else.



INTERESTING TRAIN FACTS

Officially, smoking on the train is totally illegal. In reality, it is by general consensus.

There are also no 'rubbish bins' aka waste baskets. I suspect the reason is if they had them, they would have to empty them. By not having them, the rail employees avoid a messy job. So where does all of the rubbish from the meals served by the railway go? All of the wrappers and soda bottles sold by the guys who walk up and down the train most of the trip? Why, out the window of course. I couldn't believe it either.

India - country and garbage can.

In some of the countries I've been to, locals will often crowd into one car leaving you with a car of your very own. I call this the 'avoid the strange traveler' syndrome. In India, the trains (I've been informed) are always filled to capacity.

Under the bottom seat are a couple of metal squares. These are for chaining your luggage to while you are in the train.



WHAT TRAIN CLASSES ACTUALLY MEAN

AC. This is really 'first class'. You will get a train that is in slightly better repair. For sleeper cars, you get a blanket (has it been cleaned? Who knows) and a pillow. The bunks are 'two up' - in other words, one lower and an upper bunk. Whether it has AC or not is not important during the winter.

Non-AC. Actually, 'second class'. The cold air will come in to haunt you through cracks and holes in the train. You bunk may be right next to a window that broke years ago and no longer closes all the way. Or at all. Bring stuff to keep warm in high arctic winds. Bunks are 'three up' (upper, middle, lower). Not really comfortable for long journeys.

Third class. I don't know what they call it in India, but I've seen it. If you've ever wanted to play out the fantasy that you were a refugee trying to get into a different country, this is a way to do it. I think of this as the 'huddled masses' class. The lucky ones have a seat. Others sit on the floor or stand.



ARRIVAL IN AJMER

I got in at about six forty in the morning. Twenty minutes early. Weird. Fortunately, I had asked some of my fellow passangers where we were. The stations don't seem to be labeled. I suppose that the people figure if you want to go there, you should know what the train station looks like.

When I got there, I had a few touts swarm me and try to get me into various transport. They all seemed to be pushing the town of Pushkar pretty hard. I started answering only in Arabic which turned them off from any more conversation. That worked well. I knew the bus station was only 1 KM from the train station and I really needed to stretch my legs after the coffin ride so I went for a walk with the heavy bag.

It became obvious to me why nobody stays in Ajmer. What a dump. Even by Indian standards, the parts I passed through were ruinous. This helped me to decide to move the hell on and go to Pushkar. Rather than taking the over priced shit at the train station that snares many other tourists (300+ RS) I took the 12 RS bus. It is only a half hour ride away.



LONELY PLANET VS LOGAN'S VOYAGE

I get that for many tourists, India is where they are coming. Their final destination. The big trip they've been saving up their money for. I get that. I also understand that since I am hunting for the great bargain basement prices, my view is skewed toward that.

However.

In the Lonely Planet book, inevitably their 'pick' is some $100 per night place.

To this I respond "Well, duh!"

I am having difficulty imagining the kind of place you are slapping down $100 per night to stay that sucks over here. Really. I agree that some places at $100 per night would be better than others but I don't think finding one that is decent at $100 per night is really a challenge. Finding a great place at $4 per night? That my friends IS a challenge.



PROVERBS VS FORTUNES

Back in the old days (pre internet) you use to get 'fortune cookies'. You don't any more. You get 'proverb cookies'. They use to tell your fortune - really. Now you don't get that. They use to have scales that would tell you your weight and give you your fortune. I'm not sure where all of the stuff that gave fortunes went. Perhaps religious zealots considered it evil. Maybe there were too many weak minded fools who would try to run their lives by what the fortune cookie or weight machine said. Who knows.

In India, they have 'weight and proverb' machines. The proverb it gave me was in English. It said "Work excels all kinds of prayer."

An excellent proverb.



BRING OUT YER DEAD

Today I learned that taking photographs of the dead is considered 'unlucky' and inappropriate. I was thinking about it and I don't remember a lot of cameras in evidence at the few funerals I've been to. Strange superstitions regarding death have we.



INDIAN PHRASES

Note, I have gotten this phrase from people who speak English very fluently - it is not a 'well, they don't know English very well' thing.

"Five minutes"

This phrase never means five minutes. It can mean any time between ten minutes and 'never'.

When will this store open? "Five minutes."

Be warned.



PRICES

Used Lonely Planet India, 595 RS (better than $40 for a new one!)

Motorcycle ride from guesthouse to bus station in Rishikesh, 200 RS (down from 300 RS)
Near death experiences, free.

Railway food at station (thali), 22 RS (decent)
Railway food on the train (who knows what it was), 65 RS (not great but edible and I didn't get sick from it)

Single serving packs of chewing tobacco, 5 RS (No, I didn't try any, but they are available everywhere).

High end hotel room with unfilled swimming pool, 2000 RS/night - didn't look all that groovy to me, honestly.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

INDIA - LAND OF SUCKY INTERNET

RISHGIKESH

Yeah, it may not be spelled correctly but I've seen numerous spellings for towns that vary guide to guide - even within the town itself! Considering English is the offical second language of India (with many people here not speaking Hindi) I do find that a bit odd.

Anyway, this area I now find myself in is the self proclaimed 'Yoga Capital of the World'. This is also where the Beatles (a musical group) wrote their 'White' album.

Other travelers I run into frequently ask me what I am here to study. They are suprised that I am just here for the quite. I leave out that the cheap living is doing a lot to keep me here as well while I wait to see what Matt is going to do.

You can easily live on $10 per day (no extras, no fun) here but the town does have a couple disadvantages. Electricity and internet. The infrastructure here is shitty. If there is any incliment weather, it knocks out the electricity. Nothing serious though. It's generally on again within a few minutes. The internet is a bigger problem. Not a lot of people have it to offer. Those that do like to charge by the hour for it. The sad thing is that places to stay haven't figured out yet that offering free wireless to their customers is a way to get more customers. The only places that have wifi at all cost about double the low end. Here, the low end is extremely common. If you can't find a room for 200 RS, you haven't looked at all. Disclaimer - this is in February. I've heard that the 'season' starts closer to the end of February.

February in Rishgikesh is surprisingly chilly. I recommend a light coat unless you are a very thin blooded person then wear something heavier. During midday it gets nice and warm but in the morning and evenings it gets frosty. Almost enough to see your breath.

I got absolutely sick of staying in the 'Lucky' place. The staff were absolutely great and such but the bathroom floor was always wet due to shitty plumbing. Nothing better than walking through cold water in the middle of the night to go to the toilet. So, I moved out of there and into a place that would be very nice if only it had a heater.

Right now, my plan is to hang out here until I can drag a definitive answer out of Matt as to whether he is coming or not at the end of this month (20 days away). If he is, I will either stay in this town or one nearby and hang out for awhile. If he is unable to come, I am going to immediately flee into southern India in search of warmer climes and internet in my room so I can upload a shitload of pictures and videos.



FOOD HERE

The 'street food' in India is the best I've had in the world. They have something called 'Thali'. As far as I can tell, 'Thali' is Hindi for 'you get some variety in your meal'. I can get a big metal plate of the stuff including bread and as many refills as I want for 30 RS. That's USD .60. A little over half a dollar to eat as much food as I want. I limit myself to one plate of the stuff but you really can't beat the price. The taste is excellent as well. I wouldn't say it's the cleanest place but if you like 'clean living', I really can't recommend India.



MEDICINE

Contrary to previously received information, I don't believe India has the cheapest medicine of the places I've been to thus far. I think Cambodia is a bit cheaper. India has very reasonable prices, however. I am stocking up as much as I can. Sadly, that is only a couple months ahead. More than that would take too much space in the pack. As it is, my medicine is already the size of a persons head. Too much room but I like not being ill. Or dying.



BOOZE AND MIND ALTERING SHIT

Although I have overheard hippies talking about drinking, I haven't yet discovered where they did it. Or got the booze. I'm in one of the 'holy' towns. No booze, no meat. Hell, some shop keepers don't even have plastic bags though that may be more out of being cheap than any desire not to pollute the environment. Getting ahold of drugs, easy. Go get it from the hippies. I've been offered drugs (hash, pot) a few times but after my experience in Amsterdam - and the fact that it is technically illegal in India - I politely decline. Amsterdam was OK to get stoned in. Here, I'd be worried about getting splatted by a car. Hell, I've been 'clipped' by various vehicles here and in SE Asia so many times I stopped counting. Big target.



LOGAN IN BOLLYWOOD

Several Indians have told me that I look and sound exactly like Bollywood star 'Bobem Irani'. I have no idea if this is true. If I met him and it was, I would probably start the conversation with something like "My, you're a handsome man!"



INTERROGATION OF INDIA

The fact that many of the people here can speak English fairly well opens them up to all sorts of ridiculous questions being asked by Logan. Sure, I could go on line and read all kinds of stuff but I like to stick with my policy of 'harrass the locals'. Poor devils.



CLEANLINESS

I don't think they wash the blankets - or possibly even the sheets in the hotels unless they look dirty. Sometimes not even then. I asked for an extra blanket and they had to pull one out from one of the rooms rather than from the big store of extras that would be necessary if they actually rotated them in and out with a cleaner. This is the big disadvantage of a 200 RS per night room.



SPIRITUALISM

Other tourists doing various 'spiritual' stuff always seems to me they are playing 'dress up'. They dress in the clothing the locals do, wear the jewelry, spout psychobabble, even use the facepaint of the Hindu religion. This stuff is discarded when they leave the country. I'm note sure if it is actually helping them but overhearing some of the things they are talking about I really wonder. It is usually trite, self evident or silly. Who knows - maybe someone will hit 'enlightenment'.



TRAVELER'S TIPS

One of the ten dollar bills I picked up somewhere was from the 1980's. American money didn't have all of the wild security stuff it does today. As a result, the national Indian bank didn't accept it when I was exchanging money. Make sure all of your bills initially - and when you change later - are new and in good condition or don't accept them. I was later able to offload the bill onto a private money changer. When you give them just the one without a bunch of the new money, it is less of a problem.

Finding an actual bank which will exchange money for foreigners and non-account holders in India isn't easy. There is a lot of paperwork and such associated with exchanging money. I've read that if you want to change your money back, you have to have kept the paper work that shows you got it exchanged in the first place. I don't yet know if this holds true with the private and more costly money exchangers - nor even if they can or will give you dollars or euros for your rupees.

Of all of the countries I've been to thus far, India is by far the most hassle for changing money at an actual bank.


Another notes on money - some vendors have problems breaking a 100 rupee bill. Most have some difficulty breaking a 500 rupee bill. I haven't tried to use anything larger than that. Banks and such will try to stick you with 1000 rupee bills. I recommend refusing them and getting change. Also, horde 10 rupee notes - useful for taxis and street food. You won't have much use for the coins.

According to information on the internet, having 500 and 1000 rupee notes on you is a punishable offence in Nepal. I'm not sure if this is true or why it is true. It is damned inconvienent for me though since I may be traveling to Nepal then back to India. I really don't want to try to get my money exchanged a couple times to lose a large percentage of it. If necessary, I will get any large bills broken down to 100 rupee notes then take the big wad of money with me. I'm not sure if 100 rupee notes are thick or what but they do make a 'wad' rather quickly. They are $2 bills (USD).


What's cheap? India (thus far) seems to be following the 'Asian way' in that things outside of the big cities are cheaper. In Europe, the opposite as a lot of hostels and such spring up and drive down prices.



NEPAL NOTES

I've heard from Indians that in Nepal you can rent horses to ride. I am sure that Matt had riding lessons and such - he is British. I am not a good rider but a lot better than other beginning riders I've seen. I wouldn't mind a day or two of the trip to be by horseback. After a day or two, killing the horse and bandaging my ass might become overriding fantasies.



COSTS

Where I am to Nepal by government bus, 400 RS
...by 2nd class sleeper train, 408 RS
...by first class (4 bed in compartment) sleeper, 1193 RS

Bungee jump, $50 (2500 RS)

Rafting on rapids, 300-500 RS (depending on length of trip)

Internet cards (via a 'dongle') which don't work worth a shit on my computer are charged by the gig. 5 gig is 750 RS, 10 gig is 1250 RS. For 400 RS, I've been told he can unlock my dongle and make it so it can work in all countries. I'm hoping it works better than the POS dongle he lent me. Or my computer sucks. Who knows. If you come to India and need the internet, however, a dongle may be the way to go for normal stuff. Mine seems to drop every few seconds up to two minutes of on line time.

300 ml bottle of soda, 15 RS. This comes in a glass bottle. If you try to take the glass bottle away, they get pretty snippy with you and want to charge an additional 15 RS for the deposit.



FINAL NOTE - I HAVE A LOT OF VIDEOS I AM STILL WORKING ON UPLOADING BUT GETTING WIFI IN MY ROOM TO DO SO HASN'T BEEN POSSIBLE YET. WISH ME LUCK, I'M WORKING ON IT.

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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