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

Monday, July 30, 2012

LOGAN GOES TO THE DENTIST

LOGAN GOES TO THE DENTIST

Since I know some of you sadistic people enjoy reading in poignant detail about the pains I go through, I figured I'd write this out in detail.

Last night, I was sitting around drinking at Viva with a nice Icelandic couple I'd met. Viva is my favorite restaurant in Siem Reap. It's a Mexican place. Yeah, Cambodian food sucks. As a side note, I did ask the couple to let me know if they were interested in going to a nearby full auto gun range later. If they do, there will be photos and videos.

Something odd was up in my mouth. It felt like a piece of potato chip had lodged in my teeth. When I eventually got it removed it turned out to be part of a filling I'd had put in a couple years ago. Joy.

When you're in a foreign country, it is always somewhat alarming to need medical insurance. You don't want to go to the doctor. They probably don't speak English. I don't have travel insurance. It may not be all that expensive but with just three people having pushed the 'donate' button I'm still trying to save up enough to escape Asia much less have insurance.

The next morning, I decided to roll the dice and see what I could get for a dentist.

There is an older man who is a hotel manager. He is pretty educated and trilingual. Unfortunately, none of those languages is English. Khmer, French and Chinese. I went with French. I asked him where I could find a large, professional dentist clinic. He was pleased I'd spoken to him in French.

He tapped his teeth with a finger and said "Dentiste?" I nodded vigorously. He took me over to a very young tuk tuk driver and had an animated conversation with him in Khmer. It was obvious from the kids body language he had no clue where there was a dentist. The old manager indicated the ride would cost me a dollar. I nodded and climbed aboard.

We then played the 'drive around and hope to run into a dentist office'. He even tried calling people on his mobile phone but his friends seemed as clueless as he was. Eventually, we happened upon one.

It wasn't really what I had been hoping for. It was built into a rundown house and guarded by a hairy kick dog that seemed to have free run of the place. Dog owners can say what they want about the cleanliness of their mutts, but they aren't the kind of thing you want in a 'sanitary' place.

The dentist was an older lady who didn't speak any English at all. She had her ten year old son - who had two years of English schooling - to try to translate. When that failed, she got her friend onto the phone. As I've noted before, phones are useless unless the person speaks fluent English. Her friend didn't. Pretty much all I could figure out from the conversation was that for $10, she'd give it a go.

I decided I could do better.

I used the two translators to find out the name and simple directions to a large dental clinic. A one dollar ride on the back of a motorbike got me to a much more modern dental office. No small yappy, hairy dogs. Bonus.

After waiting a couple minutes for the doctor to be summoned by his non English speaking staff he showed up. For a Cambodian man, he was impressively tall at about my height of 1.8m. Even more impressive, he spoke decent English.

After giving him some time to investigate my mouth I asked how much a new filling would cost.

"Thirty dollars."

I blinked at him. "Thirty? Three zero?" He confirmed it. I blinked at him again. "How much is a cleaning?"

"Fifteen dollars."

I pondered this briefly, confirmed the total would be forty five dollars. "Hook me up!" I said. Long pause. "Er. Yes, please." Apparently, he didn't speak 'street English'. I'm so ghetto.

The cleaning portion went quickly and painlessly. During both procedures, they used a lot of water. I am curious if I will become sick from it.

After the cleaning was done, the real work began. The dentist thought it would take an hour. What he didn't know is that every dental procedure I've ever had has gotten the word 'epic' assigned to it. Hence, it would be an 'epic filling'. Get your mind out of the gutter.

Three long pain filled hours then started. It felt like he had given me very clunky braces on the entire right side of my head. There was some metal bits which reminded me of a horse bit that kept me from being able to close my mouth. It felt like he was trying to drill through my entire jaw.

Lying down for a long time on my back isn't really easy for me. My neck and back have 'special needs'. That means they are pretty much fused together and this causes my legs to sometimes go into spasm and such. While this may create more fun for a special friend riding reverse cowboy on me, it can alarm a dentist. I tried to keep my legs locked together so he wouldn't think I had gone into seizure or become possessed.

I'm not sure what they do to possessed people in Cambodia. Burning would be my guess.

American dentists like to take x-rays and explain to their patients what is going on so they can be reassured.

I don't think they owned an x-ray machine. Given the upkeep that goes on of machinery in Cambodia, I'm guessing most of the x-ray machines can also cook a hot dog at fifty meters so I was OK in missing out on an x-ray.

The process of explaining what is going on to the patient has always confused me. It's like you're getting a test afterward on it. I am not at all curious as to what they are doing. I know only there is pain, it must be endured. My maxim is "I give you money, you fix teeth." It's a good system. I don't want to be taught what the names of the teeth are and exactly what they're going to do. I don't care. What will happen? Will the dentist say a procedure and then I say "But have you considered this factor?" Will the dentist then say "My god - had you not reminded me of that, I would have completely fucked your mouth up! I am so happy you mentioned that!" I don't think so. If you don't trust a man to stick a drill in your mouth and know what he is doing, don't go there.

When he finished and had massaged my jaw enough for it to shut, I felt pretty decent. Surprisingly good. On the way out he told me that was the longest time he'd ever spent doing that type of procedure. Oddly, he didn't ask for any additional money. Fair enough.

When I was leaving I told him that if I had any problems, I'd be back. "You'd better." was his only reply.

The downside is that you won't know if the dentist did a good job until a few weeks have passed. Assuming he did, here is the contact information in case anyone else needs dental work while in Siem Reap:

CHHUON MENG DENTAL CLINIC
#144 TAPHUL VILLAGE
SVAY DANGKUM
SIEM REAP TOWN, CAMBODIA

The phone number (if you are fluent in Khmer only) is 063 690 1518



COSTS

Teeth cleaning, $15

Filling, $30

Celebration 'wet' burrito, $5.50

Sunday, July 29, 2012

ALL OF THE SMART PEOPLE GOT KILLED

CAMBODIAN RESTAURANTS

I've noticed I've been shushing and tutting at Cambodians more than seems 'politic'.

In Europe, they have a lovely custom.  When you approach a restaurant, they usually have a menu posted outside.  It is my belief this is done so that you can inspect the menu without either needing to bother the staff or be bothered by the staff.  Just take a look and see if you want to eat there.

I like this custom.

Every restaurant in Cambodia has a menu outside of it.  However, if you pause even momentarily to examine it, a person will immediately show up to either hustle you to a seat or sometimes grab the menu and flip the pages.    They want to try to strike up a conversation with you just to get your butt into a seat and your money.

These people are getting my shushing when they approach.  Since some of them even have no concept of personal space I may direct them to move back to a certain point so I can look at the menu without them being too close.

The shushing usually works.  They don't have the skills at English to even operate within the limited conversations of a restaurant, much less question why they are getting shushed.  They simply don't get it.

Where to sit within a restaurant here can be tricky.

The best seats for watching the world move by - or street theater, as I call it - are outside of the restaurant and pretty much on the streets or where the sidewalk would be if they understood the concept of sidewalks.

If you take these seats, you are constantly beset by beggars and people selling junk.

Or you can choose to see less and sit within the restaurant where you are aloof from these beggars.  In Cambodia, the people running the restaurants do not drive them away.



WHY I'M NOT BOTHERING TO LEARN CAMBODIAN

When you are speaking many languages, you have a certain leeway with the pronunciation.   In some, you can be wildly off the mark and a couple of questions can nail down what you are trying to say.

After a mere six weeks in Indonesia, I had accumulated enough words and phrases that I was starting to get asked if I spoke the language.   Learning pieces of the language of the country you are in can be rewarding, make the people happy and pay off in small, unexpected ways.

Not in Cambodia.

Here, if you attempt their language they won't understand you because:

a) you have slightly mispronounced the word
b) you may have pronounced it correctly, but your strange foreign accent prevents them from understanding
c) you have correctly and exactly pronounced the word but because they were not expecting you to be speaking their language, they don't get it

Despite how it may sound to people who have never traveled here or a few whose language skills and patience far exceed my own, I am not going to bother learning this language at all.



BEGGARS

Ignore beggars.  Fortunately, the idiots that get taken in by their scams aren't usually the kind of people interested in reading a blog like this.  They are the 'do gooders' of the world.  Perhaps that entitles them to get scammed.

I was sitting in my favorite restaurant ("Viva", Mexican food) watching a husband and wife tourist get scammed.  A kid had brought the ole empty bottle and real baby and gotten the gullible husband to go 'buy some formula' from the store for her.  That's fifteen minutes of his life - as well as a decent amount of money - he'll never see again.

While the husband was gone with the kid, I asked his wife who was sitting at the table wondering what could be taking so long if they'd been to Asia before.  She responded haughtily they had been there often on vacation.  I figured this meant they either normally traveled on pre-packaged safe group tours, they were stupid or both.

For those not familiar with this particular scam, you need at minimum an empty bottle.  Having a baby certainly makes it more effective but sometimes finding a baby - even in third world hell holes - can be difficult.  With your bottle you then approach the silly tourists and tell them you don't want money, you just want formula to feed your baby.  Some tourists will just give you money but others you get to walk to a nearby store.  In the store, the tourist buys prepackaged powdered baby formula which is very expensive.  They give it to you then you take it back to the store and get back most of the money from the shop keeper and on to the next sucker.

While the husband was off getting hustled, a random tuk tuk driver even tried to brief the wife on this well known scam.  When the husband returned, he got the message passed on from his wife.  For the next hour, he got to sit around looking indignant.  Apparently, their loads of Asiatic travel hadn't prepared them for this simple scam.

I heard about this happening in India but with a twist.  Someone went to buy the formula but they took it out of the original packaging and put it into different packaging.  The beggar freaked out on the 'do gooder'.  A lot of screaming and even throwing the baby formula at them.  Clearly, not really interested in the baby formula.

Keep in mind that most of the money beggars get go to the local 'beggar king' aka 'crime lord'.

Don't be a chump.



BOOK REVIEW - THE DARK TOURIST

I just got done listening to  this book on MP3.  I like his story telling style - it's very personal and conversational.  Hopefully, he'll write more stuff on this topic in the future.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

CAMBODIA, SIEM REAP - REDOUX

ENGLISH EXPECTATIONS

Siem Reap is the jumping off point for the single largest tourist draw within Cambodia - Angkor Wat.  I would guess that more tourists pass through this town than any other town in Cambodia - possibly than all of the other towns combined.

And the level of English spoken by wait staff and workers within the tourist areas can be summed up as 'abysmal'.

If I go off of the 'beaten path' for tourism, I don't expect any English from the natives.  Maybe a little French from a member or two of the older generation but that's about it.

But the amount of English spoken by people who normally work here is painful.  They don't even understand basic sign language.  Note that I try very hard to never get angry with wait staff (eg waiters and waitresses) for their lack of understanding in the travel language of the world.  While food made 'with love' is arguably indistinguishable, food made 'with hate' is not.

This has probably saved me from being beaten up several times by desperate tuk-tuk drivers.  Sarcastic responses are totally not understood.  The only English many of them seem to speak is 'tuk tuk?', 'yes' and anything directly resulting in them getting money.  Even after over a week of eye rolling and tutting at them many still enjoy harassing me daily.  They don't realize (or care) that annoying every tourist in this way actually may decrease business rather than give them money.   They are not businessmen, rather beggars with bikes.

Siem Reap sadly is a 'one trick pony' in that they have only Angkor Wat to show off to tourists.  They haven't done anything else noteworthy in literally the last nine hundred years here.

Once tourists have darted in and spent their one, two or in extreme cases three days viewing Angkor Wat - and only that - they can leave Cambodia knowing they've seen the best it has to offer.   After a few days of being hassled almost continuously by the natives, I'm sure they are happy to escape Cambodia forever.

It was a bit of a shock for me to come straight from Indonesia to Cambodia.  In Indonesia, the 'neutral' facial expression might be described as 'friendly', 'happy' or 'content'.  With the prices of alcohol there I am not sure how this is possible but yet it is so.   In Cambodia, I would liken the 'neutral' facial expression to something I might see in a concentration camp.  Not on the happy guards faces either.  I've seen more liveliness in the eyes of hookers Matt has murdered and hidden in his own interpretation of the English children's game 'Murder in the Dark'.

I'm not sure what brings this on but I wish they would learn the Thai insincere smile at least!



POST OFFICE

I nearly died of shock when the easy to understand and easy to follow directions actually got me to the Siem Reap post office.  There was a bit of 'sticker shock' when it turned out to be $17 to send off two notebooks to the Czech Republic.  I'm sure that part of that price goes into 'time spent to locate the country'.

Normally, I don't like paying more for the postage than the books originally cost.  I'm pretty sure my aimless scribblings decrease - rather than increase - the value of the notebooks.  Since I've gotten tired lugging them around, I spent the money.

I know that mailing these off to Jana will form a part of my legacy which shall be left to future generations upon Ebay as soon as my death is discovered.   Should they not sell, one day it is possible that a future descendant of Jana  will be playing in the attic and discover an old large chest.  Childlike wonder shall  ensue as the chest is pried open.  A dust cloth shall be pulled back to reveal a series of mismatched small notebooks.  The boy or girl will tenderly pick up and open the cracking cover to reveal unfamiliar handwriting.  At this point it will  be slammed back shut and tossed back in the chest as the kid was probably never taught English.

Well, if Mother Russia ever reaches forth her hand and takes back over the Czech Republic at least the notebooks will make good firelighter for those long cold winters.  Or, perhaps they will fill some critical niche in a landfill.

The future is wide with possibilities.



TRAVEL IN CAMBODIA

In addition to wikitravel, I found this map.  Clicking around the other buttons on the site also shows other useful maps.  A nice resource for Cambodia.



HAMBURGER

Quote:  Chiun: "I can see the deadly hamburger has done its evil work."

When I first returned to Cambodia, I found myself strangely drawn to cheap hamburgers.  Because they are  not as tasty as the hamburgers of the USA, I hoped that meant they were killing me a bit slower.

[Note, if you don't know who Chiun is, he is perhaps the best and brightest Korean man ever to grace a movie. Played, unexpectedly, by a white guy.  He was even nominated for an Golden Globe award in the role.  Reference, Remo Williams movie.]



TRAVELER'S TIPS

When is the best time to bribe someone?

Answer:  Long before you need to.

I was feeling a bit guilty about blowing so much money in Cambodia.  I did some thinking about it and determined I'd blown less than $20 USD on myself (booze) and the rest of the money had gone to things that I need - like cheap medicine and cheap eyeglasses.  Not really a 'wastrel' situation.

Since I'm going to be staying at this hotel for awhile (possibly a month, we'll see) I decided to bribe a minor functionary (desk guy) with a small bottle of whiskey.  When I was leaving, I asked him which he thought was better - whiskey or rum.  He had no idea what I was talking about - whiskey seemed to be the only word he knew.  Since that was the case, I picked him up a 200ml bottle (very small, hip flask sized) bottle of whiskey - for $2.20.

He acted as though I gave him The Grail.

Life will be easier by just a bit here.

Remember, bribe before you need to.  It costs less and you can begin laying ground work for later.



PHILOSOPHY

Well, the biggest disadvantage to where I'm currently staying seems to be the musicians that set up next to the night market nearby.  Their music has all of the variety of a Peruvian flute band.  The music sounds all the same.  I'm surprised that none of the locals have beat them to death with their own instruments yet.  That's the disadvantage of being in Cambodia.  Still, I suppose, it could be worse.  I could be in Thailand where they may rename the Thai Bhat into 'Whore Vouchers' so the tourists aren't confused about the money.


I detest in others what I dislike in myself, seen in that living mirror.



BOOK REVIEWS


I read this book and found it amusing and a bit thought provoking.



This book is much more serious and worth the reading time.  I listened to it on MP3.  Sadly, the speaker was more interested in speaking with clear emphasis rather than in a normal voice  tone.  Although I realize the usual three things which stand in the way of any of the self improvement books I recommend will effectively block most people from bothering to check out this book (they being laziness, ignorance and arrogance) for the small percentage of you which have realized interaction with other humans will be a lifelong endeavor, I recommend this book.  It is dry and I found it a bit painful to listen to - however I will listen to it again after I hear a couple other books.  This will allow time for the material to sink in.  For those who have gamed with me or listened to the numerous MP3's of games, this book increases 'empathy' skill.



RESTAURANT REVIEW - ALL RESTAURANTS THUS FAR IN SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA

I've been to approximately twenty or more restaurants within the Siem Reap tourist area.  All of the food is 'decent, yet slightly disappointing'.  The best I've found thus far is a Mexican food place which I would describe as 'slightly less disappointing than normal'.



VIDEOS

At last, the huge bulk of videos has been uploaded.  Let us all rejoice until the next batch.

Temple B 1
Temple B 2
Temple B 3
Temple B 4
Temple B 5
Dani Home Stay different room
Bit o Holiday Music
Diablo Beer
Not For Rent
Weird
Gili T Pan shot
Flying Saucer
Momma Party
French Revenge
Ferry's



COSTS

Siem Reap to Battambang.  By boat, $22.  By AC bus, $3.75.  Looking at the map, taking the boat really doesn't make any sense as most of the journey still works out to be overland.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

FUCK THE PHILIPPINES - FOR NOW


A PLETHORA OF COINCIDENCES

*  I was in Lombok and thinking about just continuing to hang out in the horrible town of Sengiggi because they have a place with very fast wifi closeby (but not in my room) and the tourist vibe was awesome but a voice said to me "GTFO!" and so I did - fast.

*  Dani (in Ubud, Indonesia) had two free rooms.  This doesn't happen often.  This is the kind of place that 'people in the know' find out about - and generally keep to themselves.  He has four rooms total and when he rents them out, they can often be reserved for months  at a time.  But, he had two free rooms.

*  I went to a part of town (still in Ubud here) I'd never been to before.  I decided I wanted to purchase some new shoes as my third or fourth pair of sandals had begun the inevitable self destruction cycle.

*  I got delayed in specifically when I went there.  Had I been there earlier, I'd have completely missed running into -

Sena and Howard!  Sena is the German girl who has been traveling by herself for the last ten months.  Howard is the tourist from Norway.  I had met them both in the Gili Islands.  I was surprised to find them in Ubud because I didn't think either of them had any interest in coming here.  They were with an Indoneisan guy who was taking them to a place he touted for but I said no, come with me instead.

They did.

When they got shown their rooms, told of the price, tasted breakfast and so on, I got to use the line "I know" that I'd seen Dr. Who use in his last Christmas special.  Needless to say, they seemed happy with their rooms.  Dani even agreed to give them the 'Logan Price'.  Formerly the Christopher Priceno relation.

Getting to hang out with them for another couple of days felt like when you're playing a video game, think it's over and you've got an 'extra life'.

All because of a lot of weird coincidences.



LEAVING BALI AIRPORT

In order to actually fly out, you have to pay a shakedown tax of 150,000 IDR.  Be sure to have this on you - they accept only IDR.  The ATM's are outside of the airport.  In addition to getting to play the game of getting through security yet again, not all of the ATM's actually work.  The fact they ask for this at all, much less after one would pass several money exchangers and have to go through security again just to use an ATM is all part of the normal SE Asia silliness.

After seeing Sena (girl from Germany re-met in coincidences noted above) off to her plane, I then preceded to begin screwing up.  Normally, I move my 'Swiss army' style knife to my checked luggage before I turn it in.  Forgot this time.  Tried to smuggle it but they found it.  Just barely - it was a close thing.  They apologetically took it away.  I also try to move my extra cigarette lighters to my checked luggage but had forgotten to do so this time.  Fortunately, they didn't want those.  I think I'm just going to find a bottle opener to replace my knife. It's what got used most of the time.

A lot of people can use a cigarette lighter to open a bottle but I've never mastered that one.

Oddly, my big electronic mosquito zapper is still with me.  It's strange that nobody at the airports is interested in it but I do like zapping bugs with it.



BAG WEIGHT

Somehow, my 18.5 KG backpack got up to 19 KG without me purchasing anything.  I can't imagine being used as a drug mule with half a KG of crap in my backpack.  Anyway, for purchasing a last minute ticket I had to reduce the main packs weight to 15 KG or less.  Oddly, this was done by just unhooking my windbreaker and sweater from the pack.  This is very strange indeed.  I know I haven't worn them much since I left Europe though they have made occasional service as blankets and such.  This makes me reluctant to throw them out.

Plus I don't have money to replace them.



PHILIPPINES OR BUSTED

Well, I was planning on going to the Philippines.  I had my plane ticket and everything.  I'd read up a bit on it, talked to people about it and thought I had a bit of a handle on thing.  Unfortunately, I didn't read the fine print.

They have two main airports into the Philippines.  Manila and Clark.  Air Asia only does Clark so that's what I had my ticket to.

Unfortunately, Clark is 'pussy central'.  People go there just to get rented love.  For this reason they have an unusual rule about going to Clark they don't have elsewhere.  Proof of onward travel is required.

And I didn't have time to forge up something nice that would keep them happy.  Nor was there an internet cafe at the airport nor anyone bent enough (like in Egypt) that I could get them to print me out a 'sample itinerary'.

I looked - and couldn't find it.

So my options were to throw good money after bad and buy a ticket for another $60 - the cheapest I could get which wouldn't be used or I could try to get a 'real' ticket onward.  Real wasn't possible because Air Asia was the only game in town (only counter open, less than an hour to my flight) and they can't alter a ticket within 48 hours of fly time.

I found a nice guy who worked the counter who helped me avoid a psychotic episode in the airport but it was looking like I was pretty well done.

My options were to either spend an extra $60 plus how ever much money it would actually later cost to leave the country (about $150) or just say 'screw it' and spend the $150 now and detour wildly to Cambodia while giving the Philippines the finger.

As a side note, I did go check the wiki travel page for Angeles City (Clark airport).  They had no mention of it so I added in this new, fun information.  Word from other travelers is sometimes they ask for it, sometimes not. Don't look for consistency in SE Asia.

While I was in the grip of 'what to do', I even went outside (frustration smoke) and unloaded my issues  onto some nice Malaysian man.  He reminded me I was on an island so a bus trip would be out.  He  informed  me they had no wifi cafe here also so I knew a quick and dirty forgery was out.



BACK IN CAMBODIA

So now I am back in Siam Reap, Cambodia.

Yes, really.

So  now I am back in the land where if you spend $10 that means you can get a NICE room and they have fifty cent (USD) draft beers during happy hour.   Fuck three dollars a bottle.

And I get to do the ole data exchange.  Download more entertainment, upload more entertainment.



ALCOHOL

It sounds odd to say, but cheap booze does keep me happy.  I don't think I'll become one of those people that drinks whenever they're awake but an occasional drink is nice.  No heavy taxes like many of the countries I've been to lately.



LIVING ARRANGEMENTS

I'm not sure if I can do better than $300 per month.  Especially since I'm in a comfortable hotel with wifi, desk, daily cleaning, free water, free coffee mix, AC, western style toilet, free toilet paper,  and god knows what else.  I don't think I can do better.

So, I'm just going to sit in this town for awhile and work on memorizing it.

As my travel mentor once told me (repeating it till I got it) staying somewhere is cheaper than moving around.

So here I sit, for a bit.

I remember the people at the place I'm staying from last time but I don't think they remember me.  I wasn't as wildly destructive as I am when I stay at some places.  Like Adam's.



CAMBODIAN FOOD

In the traveler's list of iconic SE Asian food, only the Philippines tends to get lower billing than Cambodian food.  This isn't the kind of food you normally eat because you want to taste interesting food.  It is the kind of food you eat because you want the feeling of hunger to go away and it is cheap.

It isn't as cheap as other Asian food where you can eat for a dollar - here it is roughly a $2 to $5 meal depending on what you get.  For example, you can get two meat and veg skewers for either $2 or 2.50 each.  They come with a draft beer.  Do that twice and you are full with a slight buzz.  Salad or fries are sometimes included.  Not a bad meal.

They do have various night market street food you can go out to get, as well as various platters of Indian food for $4 or $5.  Here in the tourist area, it's a well rounded meal selection but nothing really special.

They have a restaurant named 'Haven' I had found out about when I was in Indonesia.  I'd met up with their Swiss accountant named Steff there.  She gave me the business card and I retained it.  She was quite surprised to see me.  Their food is a bit above normal price but eating their hamburger, I did get to do the 'Pulp Fiction' lines of "Now that is a tasty burger!"



CAMBODIAN CUSTOMS

In Cambodia, they use American money.  They just don't have much of it.  If you try to spend a ten on something that costs a couple dollars, invariably you get asked if you have 'small money'.  Pointing out that a ten is small money will always smack up against the language barrier.

The most annoying thing about Siem Reap is the tuk tuk drivers.  They're basically beggars with autos.  Many of them speak very good English - enough to try to pull the 'I've seen you before' scam.  Since I don't remember them and wouldn't care to, this doesn't work well on me.  My attitude is "That's nice, now fuck off." I don't say this as I don't want to make enemies.  I just wander around looking vague and trying to ignore the desperate calls of the tuk tuk drivers.  I'm guessing that since there are way too many if I ever do need a tuk tuk I should be able to get a good deal.



GLASSES IN CAMBODIA

Ever since the old days in Cambodia when wearing eye glasses was a death sentence, they haven't been real popular.  There are a lot of 'frames plus lenses' for under fifteen or twenty dollars signs.

Well, not for the kind of glasses I need.  Naturally.  But regardless I can still get glasses for under $50 - the good stuff.  Anti glare resistant green filmed stylish extra thin lenses stuff.  That's a sixth or so of the prices in Indonesia.

I do feel vaguely guilty that the cheap amount I can get them for is due to a revolutionary who killed off one fourth of the people in the country.

But that won't keep me from getting an extra pair of glasses.  Monetary savings takes a back seat to morality every time and in most governments.



JANA'S NOTEBOOK COLLECTION

I don't remember how much it costs to mail stuff within Cambodia but I'm hoping it is a lot cheaper than "I can't believe you're not on crack when you say that price" Indonesia.  Mailing off a bunch of these to Jana is just one of the things I need to do in Cambodia.

Due to the extremely cheap quality of notebooks more recently purchased, I've even taken to writing on only one side due to bleed through.



VIDEOS TO MAKE YOUR HEART GROW THREE SIZES LARGER

Some of these videos were recorded 'just ages ago'.  I apologize for the delay but it takes a long time to upload videos.  Even as I type this, I still have a lot of videos which are getting uploaded by virtue of leaving the computer running 24/7.

City Driving
Juice Bribe
Rest Stop
This Will Do
Dwarven Stronghold
Orchid Hotel
Poetry Reading
Overly Cute Kids
Yeah That Just Happened
Losman Arthawan
Penis Fountain
Fucking With Fish
Chaug Sighting
Dani Home Stay
Ornate Door
Monkey Temple 1
Monkey Temple 2
Monkey Temple 3
Monkey Temple 4
Monkey Temple 5
Monkey Temple 6
Full Throttle 1
Full Throttle 2
Full Throttle 3
Temple A 1
Temple A 2
Temple A 3
Temple A 4
Temple A 5
Temple A 6
Temple A 7
Temple A 8
Temple A 9
Temple A 10
Cuteness Quota
Derek's Car



PRICES

Black Panther beer, .70/330ml can (though I think I can find it for .60).
Food, around $2-3 per meal unless you want something special.
Happy hour whiskey coke, $1.

Monday, July 16, 2012

IT WAS GODS WILL YOU GOT ROBBED, SO SUCK IT

SENGGIGI, LOMBOK POLICE

While out wandering around thinking "Why did I come to this waste of a town?" I ran into the local police.  They were doing motorcycle checks in front of the police station.  Many, but not all, of the motorcycles were pulled over to check to see if they had their paperwork in order.  Sometimes, someone would hurriedly try to pull on a motorcycle helmet to claim they had had it on all of the time.  Since the people doing this weren't very bright, they ended up doing it about four meters away from the police while they were being watched.  Since I was looking for a hostel I'd read about on wikitravel, I headed over there to see if I could find out directions.

Since I didn't have a motorcycle, the police were very friendly to me.   I got invited to eat with them but since I had just eaten I had to politely refuse.

I inquired if they ever pulled over tourists.  They said they did though I've not seen it.  Some of the tourists I've spoken to said they had been pulled over in the past but a 20,000 IDR note enclosed in the paperwork made the problems go away.  A cheap bribe indeed.  That would be like bribing a cop with a pack of cigarettes.

The police told me they looked for an international drivers license though I got the impression that any license would probably do.



MOMMA THROWS A PARTY

Momma threw some sort party.  I had no clue what it was for.  The thought of free food and alcohol got me there at the specified time.

Unfortunately, during the party it seemed to be some sort of 'Christian thing'.  They had a few songs punctuated with prayers and impassioned sermons - all naturally in Indonesian.  You can only keep an interested look on your face for so long before you lapse into a 'where is my food, goddammit' boredom.   While it was nice they asked us to come, I was only seconds away from plugging in my earplugs and firing up my MP3.  It would have made the songs I couldn't understand perhaps better.  Imagining Momma playing her guitar and singing 'Smack My Bitch Up' during some sort of Christian revival would have revived me!

I settled for taking notes in my book.  I'm not sure what they thought I was writing but it kept me from trying to sing along using my own words.

While people were busy worshiping the Christian god, several of the rooms got burglarized.  

Momma didn't seem too upset - it was probably 'God's Will' and nobody can ever understand what that fickle bastard is up to anyway.

It didn't look like a professional job but the work of kids.  One nice German couple had left their door open and had a bag and wallet removed.  These items were later found on the other side of a wall.  This emphasizes the need for broken glass and barbed wire atop walls.

My room was undisturbed.  In addition to using my own lock to bar the door, I had my pac-safe on and possessions attached to the bars in the windows.  When I first heard about the break in, I was more curious than afraid I'd been robbed yet again.

Eventually, the food got brought out and quickly devoured.  It was good.  Basic and plentiful.  I can live with that.



LOMBOK

Lombok seemed more 'primitive' than Bali.  I would guess that the further east you go, the more primitive it gets.  This may appeal to younger, more hardcore tourists but I find myself demanding wifi too much.

I had an interesting conversation with an expat.  DISCLAIMER:  I am not saying I agree with some or any of his views, I am merely reporting them.  If you don't like it, remember YOU hit the big red button to get into this blog - it didn't just pop up on your computer like a porn advertisement.

The expat I was talking to seemed to be from Australia.  Like many of his countrymen, he'd probably been here to party at one time and taken a fancy to the country.  He and several of his friends had moved here and all set up houses to live.  His friends had all sold their houses in Lombok and moved to other parts of Indonesia.  He was currently working on fixing up his house so he could sell it and move to a different part of Indonesia as well.  I asked him why.

He told me that there is a certain level of iodine needed for brain development that is suppose to be within the soil.  Lombok doesn't have it.  He said this is why the residents of Lombok were unusually stupid.  He and his friends were eventually so frustrated by the stupidity of the locals they decided to move to other parts of Indonesia where the people were more clever.

The reason we were standing there chatting is because we were both waiting to use the ATM.  As he was telling me of the stupidity of the locals, I was watching two ladies attempting to figure out how to get money from the ATM.  They seemed confused and frustrated.  Both of them had cell phones out and had used their 'phone a friend' option to try to figure out how to get money from the big box.  I was told this sort of thing can go on for twenty or thirty minutes and still not result in them getting money.

I thanked him and went off to find a different ATM.


The entire culture of Lombok seems designed to seperate tourists from their money.  For example, in Bali if I asked someone where to make a call to a local number, they would simply hand me their phone.  At the place I was staying, I had to pay 10,000 IDR and had a guard placed to make sure the call was short.  Amazing.

Despite their desire to get money from the tourists, I couldn't find anyone competent to book me tickets from Air Asia.  I knew it was time to return to Bali.



BACK TO BALI

Before I went to check out a bit of Lombok, I knew I'd probably have to return to Bali.  The airport (DPS) is a huge gateway in and out of Indonesia.

Despite what the people tell you, the ferry time is roughly four to six hours.  I include the 'oh, the ferry is full you must wait for the next' times and such.  From Sengiggi to Ubud the time is increased by three hour bus rides on either side.  They say it will be less but the waiting, competence (or lack thereof) and traffic all play big factors in the actual travel time.

The only phone call I made (or have made in a long time, come to think of it) was to Dani who assured me my usual room would be waiting for me.  What a great relief after Lombok.

After a couple days in Bali, I can say that all I've been doing is purchasing tickets for Philippines and trying to research.  That's really about it.



THOUGHTS ON INDONESIA

For SE Asia, it's a bit expensive.  Sure, if you want to live at the very basic level and spend a lot of time in a bug infested room sucking on a bottle of water, you can live cheaply - but no real 'quality of life'.  It's pretty beautiful but you're paying for it.  The people are friendly and I'm glad I came.  But it's not cheap.  For a couple vacationing and doing stuff, you can very quickly get into the normal $50-$100 USD/day range they say to allocate for vacation money.  No, I don't know who 'they' are.  Only 'they' know who they are.  I am not one of 'they' though I could be one of 'them'.  There is just no telling.

How fast can Logan turn a couple thoughts on Indonesia into a mad rant?  PDQ.

I remember before I came to Indonesia, I had people telling me they were able to live here for $10 USD per day.  They either did long term rent on a place, lived in a ditch, had shitty memories or just lied.  Ten bucks might cover your rent.

Will I come back to Indonesia?  Possibly.  I think if I had to do it again, I'd go see Java.  Still don't know if they'd have friggin wifi though.



COSTS

Local call, payment to greedy people, 10,000 IDR

Friday, July 13, 2012

PLANNING FOR THE PHILIPPINES

THE PLAN

After about two weeks in the comfort (aside from WIFI) of Dani's Homestay, I decided to get out.  Ubud (Bali) was pretty nice.  If I could find a place priced and like Dani's with WIFI, I'd have stayed another two weeks.

I didn't expect to find wifi on the Gili Islands (I was correct) but didn't expect to stay there long.  Just a quick pass through.  According to wikitravel.com, it was about $2.50 to island hop.  (They were incorrect, it was 20,000 IDR).

My general plan after checking out the Gili Islands was to head over to the larger island to the east named Lombok and see a town named Senggigi.  Little did I know that this would be yet another mistake.



ON TO THE GILI ISLANDS

I had met up with a couple of Dutch girls on my way to the Gili islands while we were all sitting around waiting for the ferry.  Howard was also there but at that time, I didn't talk to him much.

According to the girls, they had paid about twice as much as I had in order to do the 'fast boat' to the islands.  I had shopped around and found the cheapest ticket I could in Ubud for the slow boat.

We ended up on the same boat.

Buying tickets from a travel agent often can fuck you later.

After we all disembarked from the slow boat, I met up with Howard.  He is from Norway and his actual name isn't Howard.   He has some letters the English alphabet doesn't have and liked the name Howard.  I did see a shadow of pain cross behind his eyes when I mentioned "Howard the Duck".   Yes, he assured me.  He had indeed heard of it.  Howard seemed a bit overwhelmed and lost so I told him he could stick with me and I'd be sure he got sorted out.  He seemed happy so off we went.

Howard spoke of his desire to  learn some 'traveling skills'.  I told him I'd be happy to hang out with him and teach him.  He could buy me a beer if he felt like it.  [Howard ended up buying me a lot of beers, a mixed drink and a few meals.  One of the reasons I eventually left the Gili Islands was because I was feeling guilty about getting so much from him.  Hopefully, he finds the teaching useful.]

On the way to the Gili Islands, we had to stop our bus at a travel agent.  The reason was suppose to be to get tickets for the boat we were to get on next - but it was bullshit.  It was so they could give us a sales job.  The canned speech went on for fifteen minutes and we were not allowed to interrupt nor ask questions.  Fortunately, nobody was stupid enough to fall for their double mark up prices.  Eventually, they had to allow us to continue on.

In talking to Howard, one of the things he had read up about he wanted to do is a 'free diving' course.  It's like scuba diving but without any air tanks.  "One breath, one dive, how deep can you go?"  Not my cup of tea - I enjoy smoking.  The published cost on this two day course is an astonishing $200.  I told him there were a number of factors working against him in haggling this price down:

1.  They are literally the only place in the town that offers this sort of diving.
2.  It is the main reason Howard (not the duck) came to Indonesia.
3.  The owner is a Brit.  I also found out he was totally inflexible on pricing.  (When Howard said it was a lot, he asked "What are you comparing it to?"  Since Howard really wanted the course I resisted saying "We're in Indonesia for gods sake.  How about the buying power?")
4.  Howard isn't good at bargaining and doesn't have a poker face.  At all.

After we'd finished with our non-included in the room breakfast, we headed over there to get him started on the course.  I was told I could pick him up at four in the afternoon.  Felt a bit like a parent dropping their kid off at school.  Weird.   While he was getting his 'learnin on' I did what I usually do - wander around and talk to people.

People who don't know anything much about navigating think you can use the sun for your direction.  This is why many people end up dead in the wilderness.  You need specialized skills - especially if it isn't near dawn or dusk.  Or you're on a different place on the globe than you're use to.   This is why I carry a compass.  Yes, people argue they don't need it even though it is cheap and light enough you never need to think about it.  I just hope not to have to run into their corpses littering my road later.

That being said, a compass doesn't help unless you use it.

I figured "I'm on a small island, I walk at a brisk pace.  I'll just end up where I started."

Unfortunately, I discovered (again) I'm stupid.  I walked about 95% of the way around it.  I didn't recognize where I was, felt tired and got a ride.  All the way back around.

Of course the horse carriage guys  won't mention that - are you kidding me?



NO MOTORIZED VEHICLES ON THE GILI ISLANDS

Reading about the Gili Islands on wikitravel is of course completely different than being there.  When you read things like 'they don't have motorized vehicles, only bicycles and horse carts' you get the impression you won't be run over.

Wrong!

People are either too poor or lazy to get lights for their bikes they drive around in complete darkness.  The horse carts go at reckless speeds throughout the day and into the night.  Dodge or die, but the horns aren't there.  Neither are any sidewalks.  Or street lights.

I'm use to walking on streets in Asia and nearly was hit several times.



HORSE CARTS OF 'RIP YOU OFF'

Because all of the horse cart taxis got together - and they have no competition, they did some price fixing.  They all agreed to make it $15 to go around the island, $7 for half and so on.  It's not that big of island.

These prices are, naturally, only the kind of prices stupid tourists would pay.  Despite their saying you cannot bargain at all, yes I have bargained them down to half for a shorter journey.

People who think "Oh, horse carts would be a neat way to travel"...   Before I got to the Gili Islands, I even had one tourist tell me he liked to get a beer and drink it while riding around in the horse cart.

The roads are alternatively potholes and sand traps.  As it is, when you ride the horse cart, you spend your time hitting your head on the unnecessarily low ceiling while clutching the bar hard.  This tells me that either:

a) the tourist was full of shit
b) he was drunk out of his mind (possibly not knowing what island he was on, or even what country he was in)
c) he enjoyed wearing his beer

I recommend avoiding the horse carts unless you have heavy luggage - which they may charge extra for.



EXTRA TORTURE

Naturally, the natives on the Gili Islands enjoy playing music.  Loud.  And it is over forty years old.  Disco is not dead on the island.  Doyle would have been pleased.

The tourists I saw arrived on the island white and puffy.  They left lobster red...and still puffy.  I'm not sure why 'getting some sun' is done instead of losing some or all of the extra 30+ KG they're carrying.  Losing that weight would have a much more dramatic impact on their appearance.  Unlike me, they clearly care about that.



LOGAN WORKS...WELL, A BIT

Since I was basically working for Howard, I went off to scout the middle island Gili Meno while he was on his second day of his 'free dive' course.  Had I not met Howard, I'd have left after the first day.  The outrageously high prices would have driven me off quick.   Since Howard was delighted to pick up the tab for a lot of meals and beers, I went forth to do his bidding.

Gili Meno is the kind of place you go to with your spouce/partner/fuck buddy when you want to be alone.  I would personally go crazy there after a day.  There is nothing to do but swim, sunbathe, read and eat.

If you don't like the restaurant at the place you are staying, it might be a five to thirty minute walk (unlit roads) to the next.

For two people splitting the costs of a place, it's not too unreasonable.  I did find the cheapest accommodation at a shack called 'Sunset Gecko' for 88,000 IDR.  They told me they didn't have air conditioning nor hot water because they wanted to be environmentally friendly.  I don't put much stock in this because people are still fishing with dynamite (good bye reefs) when they can get away with it.

So, after about three hours, I was bored to death with Gili Meno.  I went back with the prices of all of the places I could actually find the staff of.  I figure if you can't find the staff, don't stay there.  I don't want to have a problem then need to play 'hide & seek' with people to get someone to fix it.



MORE TRAVELER'S TUMMY FUN

Almost my entire time on the island, I suffered yet more 'traveler's tummy'.  While this undoubtedly saved Howard money, it didn't improve my mood.



WAITING FOR GODOT

Howard and I were also waiting for his friend (also Norwegian) named Varga.  Since his last name also started with a 'V', I decided I would call him 'double V'.  I told him it was more 'gangsta' and he was happy with it.



FLYING SAUCERS

During the early mornings on the island, Howard and I heard what we agreed sounded very much like 'flying saucers'.  To my ear, it was like wind going through lengths of tubes erratically.  Kind of eerie and extremely annoying since we were trying to sleep.  Eventually, we found on these noises were made by weird fucking birds who did it as they were flying.  The birds seemed to know we didn't like it and would circle for an hour above where we were staying every morning.  Just one shotgun...  The natives call the birds 'buron dada'.  I have no idea what the proper name would be.



SENGGIGI

According to wikitravel, there is a home stay that is 90,000 IDR and comes with wifi in Senggigi.  This turned out to be a lie.  The home stay itself is not only several kilometers outside of Senggigi but the eight people I interviewed for directions (including the local police and actual concierges from the most fancy hotel in the area) couldn't agree on where they thought it was.  After a few hours, I gave up on finding it as well.

I ended up checking into a place in the actual town itself called Sonya's.  It's a pit (cramped rooms, infested, cold showers, no wifi) but affordable at 100,000 IDR.  The place also has an excellent 'backpacker vibe'.  That means that a bunch of backpackers get together at night to drink and talk without the encumbrance of big screen movies or music playing.   Everyone there agreed it was a very nice time.  Note, we've been drinking the local moonshine (arak).  It's fairly foul tasting but gets the job done.  More bearable when cut with a soft drink.  Also, the lady who owns the place (I call her 'mama'.  She calls me 'papa'.) is a real peach.  [Note for foreign readers, 'a real peach' is a term which can mean 'a wonderful person' or can be used sarcastically 'you're a real peach' to imply the opposite.  In this context, I mean a wonderful person.]  She likes to sit around reading her Bible, we like to sit around and discuss the benefits of snorting cocaine off of hookers.  It works for everyone.



INDONESIAN LANGUAGE

Right now, I've got about thirty or more words and phrases in my vocabulary.  I hadn't planned on it but it happens.  Sometimes, the right word or phrase gets the locals laughing delightedly.  Unfortunately, it's pushed a lot of the old knowledge out so I'll have to relearn some of my other languages when I get back to those countries.



REVIEW - GILI LIFE, GILI T ISLAND, LOMBOK

After some hard bargaining, we got the rooms down to 100,000 IDR and 150,000 IDR.  Honestly, I'm not sure why he bargained with us.  He had customers coming in from everywhere.  High season is pretty busy here.  The room security itself was pretty low.  Clean but spartan.  No hot water.  Decent crash pad but I wouldn't want to live there.  Since we bargained him down, breakfast was not included.  Considering the taste of most included breakfasts within Asia this is actually a boon.



REVIEW - SNAPPER, GILI T ISLAND, LOMBOK

Despite the 10% tax they like to slap onto the bill, the food is the tastiest I had on the island.  They even made a decent hamburger.  Their version of the 'American Burger' has a sunny side up egg on it.  I told them to leave that off as I don't know any Americans who aren't insane who get an egg on their burger.  Hell, even most of the insane ones don't.



WRAP UP ON GILI ISLANDS

After four days, I bid  goodbye to Howard and Double V and headed to Lombok.  As I thought, the islands were expensive.  I didn't realize they would be that expensive but it's a live and learn thing.  I figured Senggigi would be more of a normal town where I could recoup and just sit for awhile.  I was wrong.  It is like the island but without the charm.   It's another over priced coastal place and I need to get somewhere less interesting to tourists.  I did enjoy the Gili Islands.  I even did a bit of snorkeling.  I got wore out pretty quick but saw some neat stuff.  I now understand why SCUBA is so popular.   


Although a lot of people will be disappointed that I am not experiencing 'more of the beauty that is Indonesia', the lack of WIFI has me down.  I want to go and sit and recoup now.  Yes, I've enjoyed what I've done but the need to save money is outweighing 'picturesque'.   


I don't want it to sound like I'm bitching.  I was in an area many people would consider to be 'paradise'.  When you can't afford 'paradise', it's just less fun.  I feel lucky to have been there but I am disappointed my research on Lombok seems to have failed.  Because Indonesia really doesn't seem to get 'room internet' I'll probably be going to find a country that does in a few days.


I'm off to find a 15,000 IDR meal.



PLANNING FOR THE PHILIPPINES

Although I'm probably going to end up hopping slowly toward the Philippines, I've noted that many expats living here have nothing good to say about the place.  I have encountered other travelers who can't sing it's praises highly enough.  I'm curious as to what I'm getting myself into.  The free 21 day visa certainly helps me want to go there.

Because there are so many possible ways to get there, it's more difficult to get the info I need.

Right now, the best I'm able to discover is from DPS (Bali) to (MNL) Manila via Philippine Airline is about $353.  This is a bit more pricey than DPS to BKK (Bangkok) at $232 via AirAsia.  This is strange because it is with stop overs and such.  If I was to go my initial circuitous route (LOP, CGK, BKI, CRK) it would be about a hundred dollars less and I get to see more.  Weird.  I'm still working on it.  I met a fellow traveler who was telling me prices and such of places she stayed at in PH.  Either her memory is going OR the prices have shot up in the last two years OR wikitravel is smoking the crack.  She suggested that I go to Tagbilaran on the island of Buhol.  But I think this may be something that interests her more than it interests me.  I've lowered my requirements for at least a short vacation in Philippines.  I want f*cking wifi in my room with the room at $10 a night or less and that's about it.  I don't think I'm asking for too much here.  If I am, I can get my butt back to Cambodia and get it.  Anyone have any thoughts or suggestions?



LOGAN QUOTES

If my ass were a temple, it would be a windy one.


Nobody who has enthusiastically dry humped an inanimate object into submission can remain depressed for long.



NON-LOGAN QUOTES

"Peace demands forgiveness."  - 'Lost Girl'






PLASTIC BAGS

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before but when traveling, save all of the plastic bags you get hold of.  This is not done to achieve some new level of smugness.  "Oh, look at me, I'm not using plastic bags and saving the planet."  No, you're not.  "But if everyone were to do what I'm doing..."  They won't.  Get over it.

The reason travelers should save plastic bags is they are lightweight and water proof.  'Dry bags' are as well but they are rarely see through.  They also weigh and cost a lot more.

You will need a lot of plastic bags for wrapping all kinds of stuff.  Anything that could leak or be leaked upon can be cheaply protected.   Just imagine ink leaking into your backpack.  Yeah, in Asia it is possible.

My SOP (standard operating procedure) when I get to a new place to settle down for a bit is to just toss all of the plastic bags I acquire in a corner.  When I am ready to move on, I replace any that have developed holes or are too big for what is wrapped in them.  The rest I then stuff into one plastic bag and just leave in the room.  It is my guess that this is burned later though someone may choose to use or sell them.

As the immortal Van Wilder said, "Don't be a fool,  wrap your tool."  Although he may not have been talking about backpacking equipment it still applies.



STUPID LAST WORDS CONTEST

In the comments section, see if you can come up with the stupidest last words ever.  Something you'd be embarrassed if it was stuck on your tombstone as your 'famous last words'.

My entry:

"Ah, snap."





SRI LANKA NOTES

According to other travelers, Sri Lanka is very cheap.  Good to know.



A GENERAL INVITATION

I realize that most of the people who are reading this haven't traveled.  Some may never travel.  Some have no intention to travel.

For those who want to travel and can get both time and money on your side to do so, contact me a month or so out from when you are actually ready to begin your journey.  I'm not looking for people to contact me saying "I wish I could travel."

Someone clever said "Travel is just one decision away."

If you're the kind of person who is going to travel 'someday', please feel free to use the Paypal button on this blog to make a contribution to help me get money together to go visit Africa, central/eastern Europe and central/south America.  You'll be able to read about the weird, wacky, wonderful and often painful shit that happens to me there.



PRICES

(Gili Islands)

Taking a horse  cart all the way around Gili T, 150,000 IDR

Renting snorkeling equipment, 25,000 IDR

Renting a horse at 'Stud Horse Ranch' for one hour, a shocking 350,000 IDR

Mixed drink, 50,000 IDR.  That's about $5-$6 - are the prices in America comparable?? (Don't give me that 'you're in paradise' shit either - I am in Indonesia...)

Lunch - on special - with one beer, 80,000 IDR.  Yes, that eats up my 100,000 IDR food/smokes/etc part of the budget really quickly.  Don't forget - the 'nicer' places will stick you with a 15% tax because they feel like it.

Small beer - almost exactly one half the size of the big beer, 28,000 IDR.  Big beer, 32,000 IDR.  Makes no sense.

Island hopping, 20,000 IDR

Can of Fanta, 10,000 IDR

Three day open water scuba diving course (to become a 'diver'), 3,700,000 IDR

Two day advanced course for diving up to 30m, 2,950,000 IDR

[Note, on diving prices I have heard that Honduras and Thailand (Koh Tao) are cheaper.]

Thursday, July 5, 2012

CHILLAXING IN BALI

TOURISM IN INDONESIA

From wiki, "In 2011, the number of international tourists arriving in Indonesia climbed 9.24 percent to 7.65 million arrivals from about 7 million in 2010. Length of stay set at 7.84 days by an average spend of US$1,118.26 per visit."  Interesting.



VIDEO (AND PROPANE) KILLED THE RADIO STAR

Some things you wish you could catch on video.  The expression on a womans face at a restaurant.  While she was eating, they were changing the propane tank literally right next to her.  She looked as though she just got a facefull of propane.  The man walking right next to her with the lit cigarette didn't 'lighten' her mood.



MISINFORMATION - MY USUAL CUPPA

Since I've lived for a couple weeks in Bali, I have thought about how much misinformation I received prior to arrival.  You can make up your own mind with the prices I've jotted down but here is generally how I see them thus far:

Lodging is in the $10-$15 range for the 'bottom of the barrel' prices.  You can spend as much more as you want but you really don't get much more for that price.

'Native' food is generally $1-$2 per meal.  Breakfasts are generally included with even the cheapest of rooms.  'Foreign food' will set you back $4 on up, usually with an extra 'fuck you' tax thrown in on top.

Don't buy medicine here, it's amazingly expensive for SE Asia.

There are two different kinds of alcohol - taxed and homemade.  The taxed stuff is not very good and the price is about the same as Thailand and Malasyia - in other words, 'WTF expensive'.   Don't come here to drink, go to Cambodia where it costs less (rather than the same or more) than the USA.  Like in all other countries, the homemade alcohol has the advantage of being very cheap ($1 for a couple hundred ml) and the huge disadvantage of being extremely variable in quality.  It can go anywhere from 'tasty' to 'drinking oil tastes better' to 'may cause blindness or death' (literally).

Treats (candy bars, soda and such) are anywhere from $.60 to $2 on up, depending on what you get.  It is strange but a lot of times it seems that the 'treats' cost more than the native meals.  This isn't a bad way to discourage mid meal snacking.

In general, if a couple were to ask me how much they'd be spending per day in Bali, I would say that if you are spending over $50 USD (fully inclusive) you either a) are blowing through money  b) getting ripped off on prices  c) doing interesting stuff like SCUBA diving.  I can't see a couple spending more than $100-$200 per day unless they've just gone insane.



PHILIPPINES PRELIMINARY PLAN

Only brain damaged people (IMO) purchase tickets before they need them.  In my experience these people seem to spend a lot more time on the phone trying to adjust the times of departure for their tickets than the money they've saved.  I will not be pre-purchasing tickets.

I have, however, come up with a general course once I've gotten into the Philippines.  This is based on some research I've done on Wikitravel.  This might be wildly altered once I get into the country if I discover somewhere else I want to go, join up with other travelers or whatever.  These are just cities I've looked at and said 'they seem somewhat interesting and lo, they have cheap places to stay within them'.

Start-> Davao -> Cagayan de Oro -> Cebu -> Vigan -> Out (probably back to Bangkok with a bus ride over to Phnom Phen to go look for my medicines at a couple of pharmacies I may be able to locate there.  Or head over to Siem Reap, which I like better.

Since Philippines looks like a wild place full of islands with resulting ferry rides, this won't be easy.

It is possible to fly from Bali straight to Davao - if I want to give up USD 450.  But I don't.  I'm going to do more research to see if there is anything worth seeing between Bali and Philippines.



BALI - WHAT'S GOING ON NOW

Honest to god, I've gotten sucked into Bali.  I'm just 'chillaxing' (a new word made by hippies, I suspect) here.  It's a really nice spot I've got and I'm getting everything I can out of it before moving on.  In other words, I KNOW I've got it good here so here I sit whilst planning my eventual takover of the world, and so on.  If the place I was in had wifi I'd be even more tempted to just stay longer.  Yes, I go use wifi at internet cafes, restaurants and such but it's just not the same as leaving my computer on 'do massive download of shows while I sleep for the next couple weeks so I have new entertainment'.



QUOTE OF THE DAY

"I wouldn't have known she was Jewish if she had dropped the subject." - Kim



EXPATS

Before I left the states, I'd read up on expats.  These are people who have 'expatriated' from their home country and gone to live in a different country.  Most couples who expat fail.  From the stats I read, it is usually the wife who misses her relatives (whom she rarely sees anyway) or familiar turf and wants to move back.

If memory serves, the 'failure rate' is about half or more.  Sad, but they should have tried it for a year or two before to see if they liked it.  PPPPPP, as they say in the military.  Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

Of the expats I've seen that 'made it' (ie are living happily in their new chosen country) I've noticed quite a change from the people in the US who are just old and marking time till death.  The expats I've seen in foreign countries I would describe as 'lively', 'with it' and even 'spry'.  For these expats, there is a lot of interesting stuff to discover and new people to interact with.  The two expats whose home I visited and video taped fit into this 'happy' category.

I think it's a better option than 'stay home and rot'.

[Disclaimer:  I realize that some people will say they are more happy in their own country.  If those people have spent extensive time outside of their own country - and off of their own continent - good.  Stay home and be happy.  If the people have not spent extensive time outside of their own country and off of their own continent yet say they are more happy there, ignore them.  They are merely expressing their own ignorance and fear.



ENGLISH BLUNDERS

English is a versitle language.  Humor doesn't translate well.  Foreigners often take what is said literally.  When you are talking to another native speaker, you tend to forget that.  An actual conversation:

Speaker:  "In Bali, they believe dusk is a dangerous time to travel.  Demons can more readily enter your body."

Logan:  "Good.  It'll keep all of the other demons already in my body entertained."

Probably not the best response to make within hearing of people whose English was not perfect.  A lot of wary looks and being cautiously treated after that.



PERFECT HOSTEL

"What makes a good hostel?"  Since the answer is different for everyone, I will instead ask "What is Logan's idea of a perfect hostel?"

From time to time, you find one which has some elements and not others.  Hostels themselves are (or are suppose to be) cheap places for backpackers to stay.  Since they are 'cheap', the choice in the building is more limited.  Moreover, the building itself is usually rented so extensive renovations are impossible and impractical.

Hopefully, this won't come across as too sanctamonious.  I've never in fact owned a hostel (or anything, really) but as a guest, I have certain expectations and hopes.  The more of them a hostel can fulfil, the better.


Vibe:

The better hostels I've stayed at have a simple rule of 'foreigners only'.  Because they are cheap places to stay, you can often get some natives of very questionable repute wishing to have lodgings within their own country simply because it is cheap.  Invariably this has changed the 'vibe' (feel) of the hostel for the guests staying there and never for the better.


Staff:

Something which I've come across in a few (but not enough) hostels is the frequent hiring of long term lodgers onto the staff.  One hostel in which I recently stayed at in Bangkok had a sign "If you are going to be here for two weeks or longer and would like to work for a free bed, see the owner."  In this way, you get people who can speak English and understand backpackers.  This is not always superior to hiring natives but would be an inexpensive addition to the staff.

The one thing I (as an owner) would absolutely demand from the staff is they create less noise than the other guests.  Nothing screams 'shoddy' to me faster than a lot of quiet guests trying to concentrate on other things while the staff members sit around watching a blaring TV.


Security:

So many places are using cheap locks that are easily forced with a screwdriver.  Picking or bumping isn't even needed.  I suggest what I am terming 'Indian locks' - the massive bolt you lock with your own lock.  These are good for private rooms and even the under bed lockers (see below).  Note, I would suggest the hostel owner keep a heavy duty bolt cutter for cutting off the locks of chronicaly stupid and careless people.

The best security I have seen for people's gear is either the lockers that are seperate and large enough for the entire backpack or the large ones that are under the bed.  Under the bottom bunk are two large lockers capable of storing an entire backpack as well as other gear.  The ones which go under the bed have struck me as the more space efficient option.  Clearly, if your beds are the cheap planks (which ocassionally fall out) these will not work.  If you have decent beds, these are fairly secure.


Noise:

Any place next door to construction, a disco, chicken farms, dogs or cats - not a good place to stay.  Unfortunately, in most countries berift of zoning laws you might have a perfectly quiet hostel then wam, the neighbor decides to open a disco and there is nothing at all you can do about it.

Since sound proofing is often cost prohibitive, the more doors and such you can have between your sleeping area and the common area, the better.  I recommend self shutting as well - people live like animals and haven't learned to shut doors.  Rather than spending your time yelling at them or hating them, just get self shutting doors.


Pets:

It runs against common sense to allow any pets on the premises for any reason.  You turn away potential customers who may either dislike or be alergic to the type of animals you have allowed to invest your hostel.  It is a business, not a home - despite you spending time there.  In addition to loss of potential revenue, you also will get dirt, hair and smells from the animal(s).  As far as business moves go, I believe it is a poor one, regardless of how many people croon over the beast.  (See also 'noise' section above.)


Hooks:

The more hooks, the more stuff gets hung up.  If the hooks are arranged in the bathrooms and bedrooms, it makes it easier to hang up your stuff while you shower and so on.  If you have no hooks, people will make hooks.


Laundry Service:

Offering a laundry service that is at or below costs of the outside laundry service is important.  Otherwise,  people will wash their clothing at your place then hang it up and make the place look very trashy.  Also, laundry service can generate extra revenue.  If this is not desired, making some sort of deal with a laundry woman who comes by daily is important.  Another way to do it is to have a washer and several drying lines that the guests can use either free or at a minimal charge.


Stuff left in common areas:

Because many people are unbelievably messy, they like to leave their stuff in a common area used by lots of other people.  You have three choices.  Leave it there to inconvience the rest of the guests as well as make your place look trashy.  You could instead spend your efforts bitching at people to clean up after themselves.  Just because they either had parents that didn't teach them this or they failed to learn it even after years of being bitched at doesn't seem to matter to many people.  I learned my favorite option from Adam.  Throw their shit out, instantly.  There is no asking 'who left this stuff here'.  Indeed, signs posted (and often ignored) in the bathroom tell people that anything left in here will be thrown out instantly.  Let them dig through the garbage can to retrieve their crap.  Since they want to live like Oscar the Grouch (Sesame Street) they can dig through garbage cans like him.  While it may cause them stress initially, I have found that remaining calm and merely pointing at the sign while looking at them in a pitying way to be a great stress relief.  [For those that wish to self righteously ask how it would make me feel to have my stuff thrown out, I would respond that indeed I have messed up, left something in a common area within Adam's domain and got to dig it out of the garbage can later.  I felt greatful they didn't throw anything really messy on top of it.  Also, I was greatful that the bathroom is not clogged up with self righteous, sloppy people's shit.]

In short, I think that it is a lot of little things that make the 'perfect' hostel.  I haven't been to one yet.  I have found places that have more right than wrong with them and tend to stick around when I do.  Even the better hostels can have serious drawbacks like weak toilet seats.


Sturdiness:

The hostel owner must assume that any surface which can be sat upon (or have great weight put upon) will.  I was in a hostel which had an exposed radiator.  It didn't look that sturdy to me.  Before I could say anything, a moron had sat upon it.  Naturally, it broke.  I would suggest either reinforcing these surfaces or decorating them with a fetching (permanently attached) barbed wire to discourage asses.  I realize that may end up with the surface broken and someone else's ass bleeding, but there may be some satisfaction therein.



COSTS:

Bitang 330ml cans, 13,700 IDR

Strange, not very good 'Black Forest Cake', 22,200 IDR

Pringles Wild, 110g 15,600 IDR

Pepsodent Plus G toothpaste, 75g, 4950 IDR

Minute Maid pulpy orange juice drink, 6500 IDR

Piece of extremely shitty apple pie, 17,000 IDR.  Note, do not buy pies in SE Asia.  They are always hugely disappointing.  But like a fool, I do try now and then.

Staff, 1 per expat required by law, $3 per day.  Really.  Some say you must include meals - not sure on this but given the price of food when you have them prepare it themselves even that is pretty much nothing.  Maybe an extra dollar per day.

Major house blessing with party, dancers, music, food, priests, flowers and sleep over for sixty people, $200.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

STATUESQUE BESTIALITY IN INDONESIA

INDONESIA "FULL THROTTLE"


At nine in the morning, Christopher invited me for a tour to go see a couple temples.  I readily agreed.  He inquired if I'd like to see the itenary.  "Absolutely not!"  I responded.  His personality type is melancholic and (for those of you who don't know what I'm talking about) this means he had studied the details and knew where we would be going and so on.  Since I am choleric, I didn't care.  We were going and I had to be ready to go at nine.  That is enough information for me.

We went to see two temples.  This took literally eleven plus hours of riding and strolling.  Needless to say, my body was wracked with pain from 'riding bitch' that long.  Ironically, I thought that the scenery we didn't pay for was better than the temples and rice fields they charged us to see.  I don't recommend either temple.

At the first temple, they did have a bunch of animal statues just put up for people to take their pictures with.  Since they were unconnected with any sort of religious things, I got my amusement quota by 'dry humping' them and having my picture taken doing so.  It was juvinile but I feel that it did justify the cost of these things.

The section of videos and such will more adequately show the huge journey we took will be uploaded once I can find decent internet.  The reason it is called 'Full Throttle' is that for some hills, Christopher had to use his feet to urge along the bike because it had insufficient power.  It reminded me of an old car once owned by a certain Derek Jones.

Considering we spent under $10 for the bike rental and various temples, this was a cheap day of entertainment.  Made still cheaper by dry humping.




                                                                           And with savage glee, I did rape the statuary...




MOSQUITOS

As those who have traveled with me before, my flesh isn't considered especially tasty by female mosquots.  Indeed, females of my own species do not tend to find it so.  Since I had come to Indonesia without the benefit of any shots nor anti-malarial tablets, I decided to purchase something which either drives off or kills the few females still troubling me.  I refer to the insects, not the human females as none of these seem to be troubling me in any way.  Nor biting me during the night.  Which would be odd.  Christopher told me of an interesting, electrically powered device.  He had good results from it.  I purchased the "Generasi Baru Hit-Mat".  It is a very small heater powered with 220 volts.  You slide a small card into it and plug it in.  The room slowly fills with a not unpleasant aroma.  After half an hour or so, no mosquitos are present.  I haven't tried this in extremely adverse conditions but thus far I have only good things to say about it.  The new pads are sold seperately, last for eight hours and are cheap.  For  a months supply it was a couple of dollars.  The weight of the unit is neglegable.  It is also far more pleasant and effective than the 'mosquito coils' which are burned.  The smoke keeps away some of the female insects and most of the human females.



TRANSPORT IN INDONESIA

Indonesia is odd in that it seems to be one of the few countries that using a travel agent to book travels is a good idea.  Because the bemo (small, shared van) drivers are such greedy and repellant people, any time you need to use a bemo it is a bad experience.  They will try to charge you many times the going rate.  They even try to rip off their own countrymen.

It costs a small amount more to use a travel agent but having significantly less stress and waiting for the vehicle to get more passengers seems well worth it.


Christopher had booked transport which was suppose to pick him up at Dani's.  I know they use small buses for this so I was curious as to how they would 'pick him up' since the bus would not fit down the alley.  The driver had to get out of the vehicle and walk down the alley to get here.  Sadly, we had already left in search of the vehicle by the time the driver made it here.  They found us enroute to the office and took Christopher on board.  Neither the driver nor other passangers were happy - but Christopher is on his way at last.



UBUD

The main street of Ubud is a nice enough walk, discounting the constant irritant of the cab drivers who call out to you ever few minutes.  Much of this town has sidewalks though they are treacherous.  Large stones cover the sewer beneath.  Several of these stones have fallen or will shift underfoot.  Also, sometimes moped drivers just feel like driving on the sidewalk.  Since there are no real traffic rules about such things, all you can do is get out of the way.  Yes, they will beep at you to move if you are in their way - on the sidewalk.

For normal tourists, Ubud - the 'cultural capital' seems to be more miss than hit.  While I personally enjoy the random architecture and little temples dotted all over, time pressed tourists want to see something more grand during their brief stay.  Other than the Monkey Temple (I enjoyed it very much) there doesn't seem to be much in this town.



DANI'S HOMESTAY

Staying at Danis' is a real treat.  He treats you as an honored guest ("Would you like some coffee?"  It is at no charge!) and I am feeling very spoiled here.  Pretty much the only thing I am concerned with staying here is my slowly dwindling stock of downloaded entertainment.  Since he has no wifi I can't replace it.  Getting an 'internet stick' requires an initial outlay of about $30 and I'll go through their '2 gig' fast.  Real fast.  The only alternative I have found for wifi in this area is to carry my laptop 1-2 KM to an overpriced restaurants in the center of Ubud which offers free wifi.



LOOKING FOR LODGING WITH WIFI IN UBUD

Keeping in mind that Dani's seems to be a step above anything else near it's price range, here are my results for Ubud.

The main street of Ubud is an east-west street.  The places I checked are all near this street.  I didn't go onto terciary streets though there are places there as well.  All prices in IRD.  These prices are prior to negotiating - but keep in mind that Indonesia is mostly a 'take it or leave it' culture as opposed to negotiating.  If I put wifi, it means wifi is in the rooms.  If it is only in the lobby, I specify that as it is (for me) useless.  All of the rooms I checked had hot water unless otherwise specified.  Some places even have an ornamental rice field but it is not very cool looking so I don't see the point.

I also excluded any place that didn't have an obvious sign.  If it isn't easy to find, they obviously don't need the business.

Mawar Homestay and Gallery, wifi, 250,000
Pura Ovanti, wifi, 350,000-400,000
Puri Bayu, locked, possibly abandoned
Pondok Krishna Guest House, wifi, 350,000-400,000
Pondok Indar, wifi, 200,000
Permana Cottages, wifi, 300,000
Iea Inn, wifi in lobby only, 250,000-300,000
Honeymoon Guest House, cooking school and restaurant, wifi, 450,000-700,000.
Sama's Cottages, wifi, 380,000

The following are on Jalen Kajeng street, north of the E-W main street:

Pradha Guest House, small swimming pool, wifi, 400,000
Rojas Homestay, some rooms have hot water, 125,000 w/o, 150,000 with
Agung Homestay, too yuck to ask price
Shanti, no wifi
Arjana Accomodation, no wifi but should be installed in August 2012
Artja Inn, no wifi, warning - they raise chickens
Nyoman Homestay, no wifi, full
Villa Ladybamboo (all one word), warning, construction
Lecuk Inn, no wifi, warning - noisy dogs
Gusti's Home Stay, wifi, 100,000, full
Eka's Homestay, wifi, 120,000, warning - noisy dogs

I didn't look at all of the rooms but it's looking like I'll just have to suck it up and find free wifi where I can and use internet cafes otherwise.  I'm enjoying staying at Dani's too much right now.  Maybe the next place I get to will have some wifi.



KIM AND BARRY

While eating at the Mexican food place I met up with two expats from California named Kim and Barry.  This year they are retiring to Bali.  They're a very nice couple and have invited me to their newly completed home.  You can have quite a bit of home built here for a couple hundred thousand dollars.  If I get to visit them on a day trip, I'll see if I can get permission to make a video of their home and such.  What impressed me most is they were talking about following the local customs of the village they moved into.  "We are not Hindu but have built a Hindu home."  This requires little changes.  If you have a body of water (like a swimming pool) at your home, you need to build a shrine.  They even had the house blessing which involves having all of the villagers over for dinner.  They even go so far as to put out the small offerings at the appropriate times, just like their neighbors.

This extra effort has put them into good stead with their village.  They are quickly on the road to becoming 'locals'.  One villager paid them a huge compliment when he said "You look like an American, drink like an Australian and act Balanese."

This sort of activity is in stark contrast to many people who come here and build a large walled compound.  Rather than going out for such things as shopping, they send their local minions.  It makes little difference which country they are living in because they never really become part of it.

They are fitting into the country more than I choose to - reference picture above...



MEMORABLE QUOTES

Unknown:  "Philippinos are a warm, gentle and caring people.  This is a good thing since so many of them carry concealed weapons."


Darwin Awards:  "You do not need a parachute to skydive.  You only need a parachute to skydive twice."



UNMEMORABLE QUOTES

A poem I came up with while pondering the 'Asian business model'.

Monkey see
Monkey do
Monkeys like to play with poo
I'm not a monkey, how 'bout you?
If you play with poo,
That will do,
It'll make a monkey out of you.

Clearly, poetry isn't my strong suit.




T.E. LAWRENCES' SEVEN PILLARS OF WISDOM (BOOK)

I arranged things at Dani's Homestay to get nice and comfortable and sit down on my large couch with cushions to read.  As soon as I started the book up on my Kindle, loud drums started beating.  Eventually, the drummers gave up and I was able to read.

After getting through the first six chapters of that horrible book, I can say that if I never read another word my life shall be better.  The whole thing seems to be a drawn out apology for doing what was done.  Then, he started in on tedious lectures of the land, people and such.  Dull.  Just watch the movie 'Lawrence of Arabia'.  Much better.  I was very disappointed in his writing.  True that it was written in the 1920's and the writing style was different at that time.  It is true also that he was a soldier, not a professional author but for god's sake...  I think my crappy poetry (above) is better.  It has the strength of brevity behind it.





RESTAURANT REVIEW

Flying Mojo's Burritos:  I didn't love it as much as the people I met there but it was decent Mexican food by people who have never eaten it in the USA.  It is one of those upscale restaurants that tack on the 10% tax.  Two tacos will cost 41,000 and their drinks cost double the going rate from stores.



COSTS

Monkey Temple, Ubud, 20,000 IDR - totally worth it - see long series of videos on it when I can get them uploaded.

Internet, per hour at local place, 4000 IRD
Per page printing, 1000 IRD
Small bottle of soda at internet place, 4000 IRD
Smoking at internet place, free

Motorbike rental for one day, 50,000 IRD
Motorbike rental for longer period, 35,000 IRD (negotiable)

Temple A: 30,000 IRD
Temple B: 15,000 IRD to get into the 'rice fields' area where the temple was and another 10,000 IRD to go into the temple itself.
Temple parking:  2000 IRD.

Shave, 10,000 IRD, haircut 10,000 IRD (negotiated down from 15,000 IRD)

Ubud to any of the three Gili Islands, 160,000 to 175,000 IRD, depending on where you go.  For the fast boat, 300,000 IRD.  The regular transport leaves at 7AM and you arrive by 4-5PM (9 or so hour trip).  With the fast boat, you are there before noon (they say 11AM, I say before noon).  (Yes, I'll take the slow boat for cost savings.)  If you leave at 8:30 or 11 AM instead, you must stay one night in Seggigi.

Internet stick, good for 2gigs and a month.  Starting cost is a total of 365,000 IRD (stick plus 2gig card) and each two gig card thereafter is 90,000 IRD.  Too much for my evil uses.


Car with driver for a day, 4m to 5m IDR
Sim card for phone, 20,000 IDR
Surf board rental, 40,000-50,000 IDR

PICTURES

{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan

{{2017}} Portugal: Faro | USA: Virginia - Michigan - Illinois - Colorado | England: Slough - Lancaster

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