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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.

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PICTURES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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