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Saturday, June 2, 2012

BACK TO BANGKOK

THE AIR CONDITIONER MAN

During my brief stay in Goa, there was a small problem with the air conditioner. It dripped. No big deal. Since I try to be a good guest, I notified the owner of the place I was staying.

He called out the air conditioner repair man and his assistant. They eventually came toward evening. His assistant was friendly but spoke no English. He also didn't know how to turn off the AC with the remote. For those in suspense about how such a thing may be done, it's the big button. It's almost always the big button.

Within the air conditioner was some sort of computer chip that had the temperature displayed on it. It was working fine. I looked up to see the repairman hitting it with the point of his screwdriver. "I wouldn't do that if I was you." He looked a bit guilty (and inept) and stopped.

The air conditioner had an amazing amount of water in it. The repairman stopped the leaking by putting some gunk in it to block the leak point. Later, it leaked from a new point. I'm just glad that water plus electricity didn't equal more trouble.



A WANDERING RANT ON THE SOUTH OF INDIA

Southern India was far more expensive than northern India. In northern India, you could get a crappy place for about 200 INR and a decent place with wifi for 400-500 INR. In southern India, you could get a crappy place for 600-1000 INR and a decent place with wifi for 1500-2000 INR. Was it worth the added expense? Not to me. The food and such is cheap throughout the country. They can't really crank up the prices on that - nobody would eat there. But they can screw the tourists on lodging as there aren't a lot of other choices.

There isn't really an 'out of season' according to the people who run the hotels and such. When the foreign tourists aren't there, the Indian tourists are. Hence, any delusions I'd had about being there 'out of season'.

For anyone wanting to visit India, here is my recommendation. Start in the south. As you travel north, the trashiness will increase but the costs will dramatically decrease. If you go the other way it's going to be some bad shock. Or maybe all of this crap was just within the fine state of Goa. That's where I hit the 'get me the hell out of here' button.

I'd spent considerable time and money taking hellishly long transportation to Goa. When I got there, it was not as I'd hoped. I went around to some of the beach towns and such to check them out. Trashy and amazingly overpriced.

I figured 'I can go further south. I've heard good things about the far south. It's only a fifteen to twenty hour bus ride away." Then, I had to go up against the Indian rail system. After being sent upstairs and downstairs numerous times by people who looked liked they'd worked there forever and appeared to still not know their jobs, I discovered that if I wanted to I could get put on a waiting list. If I waited for fourteen hours, I could find out if I could take the train. I was only number eight on the waiting list. I just fucking snapped. I'd had enough. It was time to pull the plug on my Indian adventure and good riddance.

The overcrowding combined with severe incompetence and rudeness were highlighted starkly with European prices. It was time to leave the country. Being taught to assume everyone was always lying to you, the crowding, noise, begging - it all became too much after three months. A month or two would be enough for most people I think.



A RANT ON THE WIFI IN INDIA

Some people have said "It's India, you can't expect wifi. This is wrong for a couple different reasons. You should be able to expect it. The trick is that one hotel has to have it and get successful. At that point, everyone else in town will get it. The Asian business model has nothing to do with creativity and everything else to do with ruthlessly copying the crap out of what someone else has done that worked.

When I'm able to find wifi in a room costing 400 INR in northern India and can't find it at a room costing four times as much in southern India it is just because nobody has yet come up with the idea in that town.

In conclusion, you will find that either nearly all of the town (anywhere in Asia) is wifi or not wifi. Very odd.



INDIAN CUSTOMS

On local buses, they have things written like 'ladies only', 'senior citizens' and 'twelve people standing'. These are all lies and should be ignored.


Indians love their mobile phones. On the plane to Bangkok, we'd been given announcements to turn off and put away all electronic devices. Signs were lit up asking us to keep them off.

While the plane was actually lifting off from the runway, a cell phone rung and was answered. Another was dropped and skittered along the floor toward the back of the plane.



BAG WATCH

I tossed my lovely Egyptian pants due to getting the zip on zip off legs. Tossed a couple other minor things as well. The bag weight is down to 18.9 KG according to the airport scales.



FLIGHT TO BANGKOK

Although the rest of the world now allows one cigarette lighter per person, they haven't gotten that memo in India and seized it. How the people in the smokers areas within the airport got hold of lighters I don't have any idea.

Anyway, the flight from Goa to Mumbai was about $40. From Mumbai to Bangkok was about $200. I almost missed the second flight due to incorrectly reading the gate number and falling asleep briefly in front of the wrong gate. I was just that tired by the time I got there. It was hard travel and a lot of buying tickets for 'right the hell now'. In the USA, they gouge the crap out of you to buy tickets for 'right now'. Here, they seemed to cost the same price as if you'd bought them days in advance. Thank god.



LIVING IN THE AIRPORT

During my half day layover in Mumbai airport, I met two people that were living there. Both of these people had made some sort of mistakes that caused this. One guy claimed he had his benefits cut off and became stranded in the airport. He lived there, begging off of other tourists, promising to pay them back. He told me that one French girl gave him 10,000 INR. "I could not eat or smoke (drugs) enough!" he said with pride. Why people give him money is a mystery to me. He was as wacked out of it as I imagine Hunter S. Thompson would be.

The other guy was a German I met. He was drinking rum when I first encountered him and offered me some. I took a pass on it because I wanted to keep as clear of head as I could since I had to fly out. He got drunk, missed his plane and drunkenly explained to me he'd now be stranded in the airport for a couple days.



BACK IN BANGKOK

When I was in the airport, I espied a currency exchange. Being their only customer I passed over some American money and asked for bhat - the local currency in Thailand. While the lady was getting out change a bunch of Indians from the plane bellied up to the desk and began asking questions. "I'm sorry - this gentleman was here first. You'll have to wait until I am done helping him." she said. I resisted slapping the desk and yelling "HA!" to the Indian people. Christ, I was glad to get out of India. That sort of behavior (as opposed to queuing) isn't even seen as rude. I think it is, but they do it habitually.

The first night here, I was just tired. I seem to have gotten some sort of new sir-shits-a-lot stomach virus on my first night. For the last two days, I've been mostly sitting around the guest house. Tethered to the toilet on what I have begun to think of as the 'Asian diet plan'.

So now I am staying at 'Soy 1 Guesthouse' in the business district. It's not a great hostel as far as hostels go but it has a strange interesting energy about it. It's a nice break from the usual tourist area of "Kosan Road". Oddly, I ran into two people I knew from the Republic of Georgia - Beka (Georgian) and Phillip (German). I may end up traveling a bit with Phillip down the road. We'll see what happens.



HOTELS IN CALANGUTE BEACH

Not much in the way of internet here either.

Beachway Resort, AC 1200 INR, non-AC 800
Calangute Guesthouse AC 1910 INR, non-AC 1650
The Grand, 6000 INR though they dropped the price quickly to 2700 INR.
Jerry's Place, AC 1000 INR, non-AC 800
Sunflower, AC 1600 INR, non-AC 1400
Village Nook Beach Resort, AC 1500 INR, non-AC 800 INR



HOTELS IN PANAJI

The hotels there haven't really figured out that travelers like wifi. Finding it in that town is very difficult unless you're spending big money. Some notes on hotels that have no wifi:

Alfonsos, 1200 INR
Hotel Embassy Suites, AC 1500 INR
Mi-Palace, AC 1200 INR
Oravs Guest House - avoided due to early morning construction
Popeye's Guest House, 600 INR for non-AC



FUN WITH AIRPORT SECURITY

To fascinate the man with the metal detector, why not wear a metal cock ring? [No, I don't know where these thoughts in my head come from either.]



PHILOSOPHY

I was chatting to a nice lady named Shawna. She was interested in becoming a cop in England. (Note, I think it was England - I'm writing this while suffering yet another bout of 'traveler's tummy'.) One of the things I brought up was the idea of finding mentors and making connections even before beginning college. It has always baffled me that so few people bother with this. Were I interested in training in a profession, I'd try to meet and chat with people who are senior in that profession. Eventually, you may discover someone who is happy to pass along their advice. When you've reached the top of your chosen field, having keen young people seek you out for your wisdom is a boon.

And it never hurts to get a bunch of contacts and the 'good ol boy' network working for you years before your job hunt begins. When they have a stack of applications sitting on their desk from college people who have just graduated (no experience) and the application of someone that (for example) the chief of police has been mentoring for the last four years sitting on the desk whose application do you think will be taken first? Even if you don't end up working for that particular chief, the cops are notorious gossips. Word will travel on the grapevine. In fact, your mentor may just pick up the phone and have a quiet word with someone else which gets you hired - and you'll never know they had anything to do with it.

Plus too if you are on a case in years to come it could be quite handy to have friends in the forensic labs who are happy to give an 'unofficial rush' to your evidence you need to close the big case.

Or you can wait until you graduate from college and join everyone else who is rushing to do stuff they should have been doing years ago.

The main two hurdles to this seem to be work and shyness. It does take a lot of work to remember all of the names and such, but this sort of thing is for people who are wanting an actual career as opposed to a plug in hours and get money sort of job. If someone is shy, they can choose to overcome that or stay in the lower ranks. Shyness is not a disease. "Fear is just a feeling. You feel hot. You feel hungry. You feel angry. You feel afraid. Fear can never kill you." - Remo Williams.



BURMA NEWS

A few travelers have told me that Burma has a new president who has opened up the country. I'm not sure what all is currently going on there now but I've been told big changes in regards to tourism. Apparently, now you can travel throughout and across the country. More news as it comes to me.



QUOTE OF THE DAY

"Life without internet is life in prison." - Beka.



PRICES

Using the waiting room at the Mumbai airport, 60 INR. Not joking. 300 ml fanta in airport, 1 USD.



VIDEOS

Crappy Dharan Nepal room
Rickshaw travel
Shaky Travel
Shut the hell up
Tease the monkeys Darjeeling town square
Long Island Hotel
Darjeeling railway station
Happy Valley Tea Estate
Tea Tour
Tea Obsession 1
Tea Obsession 2
Toy Train in Darjeeling
Welcome to Calcutta Bitches
Cricket in India 1
Cricket in India 2
Follow up to Cricket in India
A Pousada Guest House in Panaji

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{{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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