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Sunday, February 22, 2015

DON'T DO WHAT DONNY DON'T DOES

MO' RESEARCH
In case you wanted to do what Donny Don't Does...

If you want to find out exactly what I think of research, take a look at the previous blog.  I spell it out there.  Within this blog, you will find yet more research - as well as some other tidbits.

Fear not though - there is some non research stuff within this blog!



HAT YAI - THAILAND

This name has potential to be funny but I'm not sure how.

Chatting with expat sex tourists, it seems I'm only getting two weeks for land crossing into Thailand.  Probably due to expat sex tourists.  Interestingly, the airport visas are still a month and the price of flying in has reportedly fallen very low.  Since I don't really care all that much about Thailand, two weeks should suffice.  Personally, I think they are cutting their own throats limiting people who aren't trying to live there - but nobody cares what I think.

Well, it's not like I get proved wrong often.

Fortunately, according to this website, the train depot here is 'Thailand's only international train station'.

Dealing with transport schedules

An interesting hidden nugget from wikitravel states:

"The Jungle Railway is the apt description for the eastern line between Tumpat (close to the Thai border) and Gemas, including stops at Gua Musang, Kuala Lipis, Jerantut (for Taman Negara National Park) and Wakaf Bahru (for Kota Bharu and the Perhentian Islands). The original "Jungle Train" is the slow daytime service which stops at every station (every 15-20 min or so). It's 3rd class only, meaning no air-con and no reservations, and some stops may be lengthy as it's a single line and all other trains have priority - hence the "Jungle Train" waits in side loops along the way so that oncoming or overtaking trains can pass. Tourists may use this service to travel to Some find it to be a fascinating and stunningly scenic ride; others feel there's not much to see when you're in the jungle. Eastern line night trains (for which reservations are possible and recommended) also have 2nd class berths and seats, and some have 1st class sleepers too."


Important note:

Kuala Lumpur - unless you're on the direct night train, you'll have to change at Gemas to reach KL.



THROUGH MALAYSIA

The Jungle Line.  I found a video on what to expect.  Looks good to me!

Note that taking a train ride through a jungle appeals to me a lot more than walking or paddling through a jungle.  Been there, done that before.  Old and crippled now, not really up for doing a Bear Grylls.


...and later - because all of the information is NOT in one easy to find place (like it is here, you lucky people) the 'Seat 61' website told me this:

"Engineering work on the Jungle Line: The Gemas to Gua Musang part of the Jungle Line is set to be closed in the middle of the day for repairs from August 2014 for possibly up to 2 years. This means there will be no daytime shuttle trains south of Gua Musang during the day as there would normally be. The timetable below will apply from 15 August 2014 onwards. Flood damage on the Jungle line in 2015: In December 2014 the line was blocked by floods, it may take many months to restore services. Please check the KTM website."

Not sure if any intelligence on this can be gleaned from Hat Yai.  I'm sure it could from Khota Bharu but once in Hat Yai you have to make a choice of which railway to go on - east or west.  If the daytime jungle rail is down for maintenance then there isn't any reason to head that way.


As you can see from the map from 'the Man in Seat 61' (go buy his t-shirts) my choices are either the lightning round (headed for the 'Jungle Line') or the big blue arrow which eventually heads toward Kuala Lumpur aka KL - one of the hubs of the world.

And there is the town of Butterworth.  Of course, this is what I imagine is there.  I might be off a bit but remain cautiously optimistic.



WHERE TO GO IN MALAYSIA

After a little bit of research, I found some places that might be good to check out in Malaysia.

The places with red lines under them and corrected spelling.  Interesting that most of them are on the West Coast.  Not sure what I'd actually be able to hit if I ended up doing the 'Jungle Train', which still seems intriguing.

From the looks of it, I might head down to Georgetown (which I can pronounce) and Ipoh.  Which shall be pronounced as "I poo".  Funny.

Fortunately, I remembered to look at my blog.  Turns out I've been to Malacca and didn't care enough about it to even remember it.  Fortunately, that place is down past Georgetown and into Ipoh.

Or is it 'Pooh'?  This picture is dedicated to Chris C.  One of his nicknames is 'Pooh'.

Note - to get to Georgetown you have to go through Butterworth and get the ferry.  It honestly looks like a pain in the ass but Butterworth has no real tourist infrastructure.



THE BIG ISLAND THINGEE

It's the one in the middle...

After the Jungle Railway, it appears the coastal town you end up in is Johor-Bahru.  How to get from there to the big island thingee.

Note:  Someone else just told me the big island thing was expensive.  Going to do research on that first - if affordable, I can figure out how to get there.

After doing some research on Borneo (aka 'big island thingee') it seems to come in three flavors:

a) expensive
b) trekking through remote mosquito infested jungles
c) fucking nothing to do and towns not worth writing about

So that is three flavors of 'nope'.

And too are these potato chips.  What the fuck has been going on there since I left?

Time to check out the other islands in Indonesia and see what I want to hit.



FERRY MAP OF MALAYSIA AND INDONESIA

Makes me think


One problem I'm running into is that Indonesia is frigging huge, and the visa is only thirty days long.  And they have some complicated crap which might kick in that I won't bore you with.   Not sure if they really check 'proof of onward travel' for land (or train) crossings but we'll see.

See the stars?


Following the stars (see above map) is tempting.  It would give me a neat (though not complete) swath of Indonesia.  However, Sumatra (red island) is some hard travel.  Amazingly rough, hard travel.  And there are also places I'd like to just go hang out at there such as O'ong's place.  Read this review.  Imagine spending a month there learning to SCUBA dive.  Yeah.  That sounds sexy to me too.  Heck, since I couldn't afford to drink there (yeah, Muslim country) theoretically, it would give me more money for diving.

But then how to get over to East Timor?

I don't mind saying Malaysian Airlines does have me a bit nervous - with the planes they've been losing and crashing lately.

Unless...

...it gives me a cheaper fare!


Lets worry about having my body get permanently lost by M.A. later.  To start with, I need to get into the country.  Once in, I can fly around like a freak.  Note that later, I will compare costs by looking up flying in and out again.

The main - and possibly only - ferry goes from Port Klang (port for KL) to an extremely seedy shithole called 'Dumai'.  The place comes with more warnings than lawn darts.

I do really miss Jarts.  And not just for their power to kill and maim children!

Sadly, when I imagine something seedy it always looks like this - start :36 seconds in.

From there, it would be some hard overland travel to the northern part of the island if I wanted to just hang out for a month.  But I'm not sure about that hence I will do some research and see if I can answer the question "Where do I want to actually travel within Indonesia?"  Also, how much will it cost me to get to the next country?



PAPUA NEW GUINEA - BUSTED

Places that aren't well known to tourists can go either way.  Either rude crude but cheap places to stay or due to no 'tourist infrastructure' freakishly expensive.

After a bit of studying on PNG it turns out 'freakishly expensive' is the direction they went.

So, I could either sit in my thirty plus dollar a night hotel room and not eat anything, drink anything or go anywhere or pass.

Giving that a big pass.  I'd have been delighted to go rough it a bit there and find out what's up but I just don't have the funds.



EAST TIMOR

Since the remote Papua New Guinea had gone so poorly, it was time to check out the other remote place, Timor.

According to the valuable Wikitravel, the capital city Dili looks reasonable for food but only one place to stay as far as hostels go.  Could be a bit of a red flag but not as bad as PNG.

Nobody from East Timor has put a hostel on either hostelworld.com or hostelbookers.com.  That tells me a bit.



IN CONCLUSION



WHAT'S THE BOTTOM LINE HERE?

Here is what it seems to have shaped into:

Siem Reap (wake up at 7AM because the border is closed at night - yes, really)
Bangkok (by bus; switch to train)
Hua Hin (stay there a bit unless it sucks or is expensive)
Hat Yai (is the jungle line down?  If so,)
Penang, Butterworth (big city by bus then either ferry or bus across bridge to island)
Georgetown (stay there a bit unless it sucks or is expensive)
Ipoh (stay there a bit unless it sucks or is expensive)
Kuala Lumpur (head over to next door town, take ferry to Sumatra unless figure out better idea)

Sorry if the blog seems a bit jumpy.  It took roughly fifteen hours of research to find all of this stuff.  Much easier with the internet than travelers before had it...



LOCAL CUSTOMS  [ON THE FOURTH DAY OF CHINESE NEW YEAR...   (SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA)]

Within Siem Reap, much less 'adventurous' people are traveling than ever before.  We have (other than Logan) other fat people, old people, parents with kids - hell I've even seen parents lugging around a 'special needs' kid.

Siem Reap has clearly become more 'main stream'.

They had their big parade today - the fourth (?) day of Chinese New Year.  Some notes I recorded follow:

Pre-recorded cheering - if you hear this you are clearly at an awesome event.  Despite people just standing there like statues wondering if it will get better, you get to hear mad cheering!

People collecting for 'good causes'.  I've always wondered about the percentage of money which goes to a 'good cause' as opposed to 'is collected'.  They had white guys and locals out collecting from the parade audience.  If I really wanted to help the locals, I'd feed them for awhile - not just give money.  I know how many people in Asia operate when given money and it is 'spend it all fast'.

They played music which to western ears (or at least mine) can best be described as 'grating'.  Lots of drums going on because people love to hit things with sticks.  Preteen.  Here is a sample.

Pre-recorded music because even the low quality of music produced in this country is 'hard'.

"Y" shaped sticks.  These confused me a bit initially.  Perhaps they are some hold over from an ancient native religion?  No.  They are to push the banners which hang over the streets out of the way so their floats can fit through.

Even the Khmer I spoke with didn't know what they were for...

It amazes me how many foreigners (non-Cambodian) were there trying to direct their Cambodian counterparts on things like 'flap the dragon wings thus'.  Perhaps in this country they feel they'd do best under white leadership.  Sigh.

As in every westernized country, half the people were looking through devices rather than with their eyes.  Because hey, that's how you see things these days.

They had a fire juggler who was doing four brands.  Anyone who says 'they can juggle' and does three - that just means you have decent coordination.  Four or more is the 'money shot'.

One acrobat, half dozen floats, two drummers - you can tell it ended when the regular traffic flowed in and backed up.

Typical float

The Feast of the Flaming Tiger

By tradition, young Cambodian men dress in outlandish garb and play loud drums as they dance throughout the streets to drive off evil spirits.  This so enrages the residents of the street, they would set Bali Tigers on fire and throw them at the young men.

There were many deaths every year until the 1950's when the Bali Tigers finally became extinct.  Unfortunately, the end of World War 2 also saw a lot of military surplus fall into the hands of civilians.  Instead of hurling flaming tigers at the young men, they would use flame throwers.

This had the unfortunate but inevitable consequence of burning down several villages made from corrugated metal, rotten wood held together with seaweed and snot.

Many Cambodians wished to use tigers native to Cambodia but sadly only about thirty exist.  Hence, the festival was updated to using conversationalists lit on fire and thrown at the noisy young men as they paraded loudly through the streets.  Although hundreds of conversationalists die every year, it is estimated that unless the festival is expanded their numbers will eventually displace native Cambodians.

In reality, as the wrap up for Chinese New Year in Cambodia, a group of perhaps a dozen young men with dragon suits, drums and symbols go to affluent businesses to 'bless' them. Presumably, they are finished blessing them when given enough money to move along. I just like my version better.

Yes, I realize that some people reading this may be heart broken that the 'intrigue and mystery' of the Asian culture is ruthlessly stripped away by Logan's version of 'seeing stuff for what it is' - not through a haze of 'well I paid a lot to get here and so I am ruthlessly disposed to enjoying this vacation regardless of what reality says' as I've seen so many tourists and travel writers display.



TRAVELER'S TIP

This is a picture of someone who left their computer 'just for a second' while they went off to the bathroom.

This device is worth several months pay to each of the people pictured in the background - and it is casually left on a table.

If you leave your stuff lying around and it gets stolen, tourists should have to claim "I donated it because I am stupid".  Instead, they will make it sound like they were pick pocketed - for insurance and not to sound as dumb as they are.

Note:  I have no sympathy for the stupid.


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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 |

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