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Sunday, March 15, 2015

BLING, BUTTERCUPS AND BOUNCY BOUNCY!

BORED AND RESEARCHING

This is what happens when Logan hasn't found a computer game to distract him adequately.

So we're back,  "Putting the T in Travel and Travesty", as Murlka K rightly pointed out.

I don't know where this came from or what it means but when I searched for 'putting the T in travesty', up it came.



WHY DOES LOGAN SHOW HIS WORK?

Some readers may wonder why a great deal of time, effort and blog space goes in to thinking up plans (which may fall apart) and sharing them with you the reader.

Three reasons:

1.  Unless you have tons of money sitting around, you have to plan a bit.  If you get stuck in an expensive place, it sucks your funds out quickly.

2.  For my own planning and clarity.  Don't like to plan, don't want to plan but don't have the funds to wander at random.

3.  Other travel professionals don't show you this.  They either just keep it in the background or have a staff of people who take care of all this shit for them.  Being able to plan is a necessary travel skill.  In other travel blogs, it all seems to work 'by magic'.  You don't get to see the thought process.  You don't get to see the 'well, I fucked up there!' moments.  You don't get to see the hours of research.  I bring you that.  While I'm sure most people just skim it (it can be tedious) those who actually want to get traveling skills may get some ideas from it.

In the end, researching a place in advance is a lot like wiping your ass in the dark.  You hope you got it right but you don't find out till later.



YOU MUST BE RICH!

People from poor foreign countries always assume you, the foreigner, are rich.

Compared to them, this is true.

Would this guy be dead in countries I've traveled in?  Of course - but let me ask you.  As you look at him, don't YOU want to kill him?  Imagine how great it would be if he was wearing a year of your current pay to boot?  Score!

However, wealth is relative.  By that, I don't mean you have to have wealthy relatives, but it doesn't hurt.

The poor foreigner thinks if you are making $20,000 per year, you are rich.  That's less than double the 'poverty line' in the USA.  If you were living in their country making this, you would be rich.

In the USA, every year every person gets handed this or more just because.

It doesn't compute to someone that you are paying $800 in rent, another couple hundred a month (or more) in bills, have a car payment, student loans and so on.

They just figure you dropped in from the sky and every year you get $20,000 dropped into your pocket.

Since I make well under $20,000 per year (yeah - go hit that donate button at the top of the blog.  Do it.  You know you want to) I really am poor.  I just spend money on things that are more in line with my goals.  Drinking, eating, travelling, getting drunk.

Thank you so much ghost hand!

Not a lot of other money gets spent in my life.

Anyone who has seen pictures of me (scroll down to the bottom of the entire page - all of the cities are listed there, click on them to see pictures) knows I dress like a homeless guy who has escaped a mental ward.

There are three reasons I do this:

1.  I can't afford nice clothing.  My clothing quickly gets destroyed through hard use, evil laundry people or stolen by evil laundry people or other travelers who want to dress like me.

2.  I am a big fat man in a world of small people.  Seriously, I can't even find shoes that fit in some countries and I only wear a size 45 (in metric, about 11-12 inches in the outdated US system).  Getting clothing is a constant challenge and often I am stuck taking whatever is available.

3.  Camouflage.

So many people want to have the same conversation with me that goes something like this:

Hey - you're rich.
I'm poor.
You should buy stuff for me or give me money.
Why won't you buy me stuff or give me money?
I am angry with you for not buying me stuff or giving me money.

Because that's what people who have want to do with their money.  Give it to some dude they don't know or care about.

I head off the conversation quickly.

Foreigner:  "Hey - you're rich."
Logan:  "Have you seen how I am dressed?  Your pants are MUCH nicer than mine.  Oh - look at your shoes!  Nice!"
Foreigner:  "Oh.  Yes, that is true."  Usually, they are too nice to accuse me of stealing hobo clothing.

This completely derails them.  They compare our clothing and yes - theirs is much nicer.  Guess we can't go on to the 'why won't you give me money' phase...



THE CONVERSATION YOU WILL HAVE EVERY DAY WHILE TRAVELING


Some travelers bitch about this:  "Oh, gawd, I hate having that same conversation!"

Suck it up, buttercup.  It's useful.

For those who have never traveled before, here is part of the conversation.  In parenthesis, I put what these questions sometimes mean.

Hi!  (Standard greeting, unless you are Japanese.)
Where are you from?  (Have I been there?  Do we have something in common?)
How long have you been travelling?  (Sometimes, a dick measuring device.)
Where have you been?  (Sometimes, a dick measuring device.)
How long have you been here?  (Do you know anything useful about this area?)
Where will you go next?  (Are we traveling in the same direction?)
Do you have a favorite place?  (Is there somewhere cool I should consider going?)

I understand that the questions may seem tedious to some people.  After all, I've been doing these conversations for the last four years.  However, they also classify as pre-prepared small talk.

That is great.

No awkward questions.  Nothing that gets too personal too quick.

The look when you find out the person you are talking to is a missionary.

Also, you both have a shared hobby - travel.

And you were both either smart enough - or dumb enough - to come to this place!

Relish the ritualistic questions.  They can tell you a lot about the person.  Also, if the conversation ends after the ritual questions are done, it isn't awkward.  You can get on with your life if you suspect the person is boring (though most travelers don't seem to be) or psycho as most psychos are out stalking their exes and don't have time to travel.

I said "time to travel", not "time travel".

Just like you can't jump into deeper conversation without the lube of small talk, after the ritual questions you can branch into other things such as:

How do you fund your travel?
What motivates you to travel?
Do you have any crack for sale?

I mean, whatever!



THE CURRENT PLAN

According to this website (yes, I had to use a website) I am still in Hat Yai.  After the weekend passes (and before another week passes) I will get up at the stupid early time of 5:30AM to catch a 7AM train to Panang (Georgetown), Malaysia.  This should be interesting because it will be the first time in Asia taking the train across the border.  I am curious as to how it will go.  Hopefully, they do it the right way and have people board the train to stamp the passports instead of offloading everyone.  We'll see - and yes I will write about it.  Couldn't find anyone on the internet who gave details.  According to some Malaysian guys I was hanging out with (see 'Chance Encounters' below) they said that the train stops, everyone takes off all their crap.  The train is then searched for smuggled contraband and may even go away for a bit while they hook up more cars then it comes back.  It won't be a six hundred or eight hundred meter slog like at some border crossings.

Not sure how I will enjoy Georgetown, Malaysia.  You get a 90 day visa for Malaysia which is nice but last time I was there I didn't stay all that long.  I need to travel to Butterworth then get either a very cheap or free ferry over to Georgetown.  I'll see what life is like there.

When that shit gets old it (as everything does to Logan), I'll need to buy a plane ticket from Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia - AKA "KL") to Banda Aceh (Indonesia) round trip.  While I detest being locked in to a plane fare, it is $80 to $100 round trip.  This means that if I want to, I can ditch the return voyage and travel around the giant island of Sumatra instead if I decide I don't like Banda Aceh or the island of Pulau Wu.

Is there a big volcano?

They do have Firefly Airline from Penang straight to Banda Aceh for about $150 there and back again.  Since I'm going to need to return a couple of times to KL, I will probably just get a bus to KL.

The bus from Penang to KL is $11 for the nice bus and it's only about 4 hours.  Plus who knows how much to go to various places within the city.  Since I will have to go back there repeatedly it might be worth it to get to know the city.

Between Georgetown (aka Penang) is a town called Ipoh.

To Ipoh or not to Ipoh...  Not sure if I will stop to hit it or not.  This is part of the reason I dislike buying plane tickets ahead of time.  If the price doesn't dramatically go up for buying it only a couple days in advance I will just get them when I'm in KL.

This picture?  Painting?   Rendition!  Of Ipoh does make it look pretty cool.  But I will have to check with other travelers to find out if it is cool or not.

Then I'll head down to KL.  It will be imperative to find a place to stay that makes the airport convenient.  Initially, I will head in to Chinatown.  Though the cheap places are usually used by hookers, they are the cheap places to stay.  Hey, I'm a budget traveler.

Found this on the internet.  Refreshing for it's forthrightness.  I'm not sure where it was taken.

Whore boot camp.  Eye of the tiger!  Mouth of a teamster!

Anyway...

Whether I use the return ticket to Malaysia or trek through the hazardous overland route through Indonesia, I will eventually find myself back at KL, one way or the other.

From there, I'm going to have a couple different choices depending what month it is.  April or later, I can get a cheap flight to Korea and back - maybe for as little as $150.  And that means eating Korean food for a month.  Which is good.


In conclusion:

Georgetown (island)
Maybe Ipoh (historical town)
KL (big city)
Banda Aceh (small city)
Pulau Wu (island)
Either tour Sumatra (big island in Indonesia) or fly back to KL.
From KL possibly fly to Korea.

No idea why the hell I've got so many islands on my trip.  I don't really like islands.  They cost more and generally have less.  Oh, look at the water!  For me, this is often a case of 'who the fuck cares'.

So why am I going to be near the water so much?  I have obviously gone insane.  That's the only reason I can come up with.



WHAT'S UP WITH THE US DOLLAR?

First time since I've been on the road!

Honestly, I'm not really sure why it is nearly 1-1 with the Euro as of the time of this writing.  Honestly, if I was thinking about traveling at some point and had the means, getting a couple thousand euros would probably be a good investment.  Chances of the dollar getting weaker are really good - they do that on purpose for the trade balance and such.



CHANCE MEETINGS

Had a great lunch and conversation with half a dozen men from (mostly) Malaysia.  Very nice guys - they even insisted on buying my noodles.  We covered a huge range of topics and chatted for an hour or two.  Very good time.

When I talk to someone, part of how educated I consider that person is 'how many languages do they speak'.  At that table the average was 'over four' until one of the guys brought up dialects.   That multiplied up how many people they could speak with considerably.

Way cool.

Yes, the line 'way cool' was used in the movie Hackers.  Yes, it was a 'way lame' line.

Most people take pride in only speaking English and 'bad English'.  Or English and sarcasm.  They are also quick to bring up the fact that there are no other countries nearby.  Like Mexico.  Nor any people who speak other languages around.  Like Spanish.  "Speak English or Die" - was that a song or a band?  Or a national saying?  I forget.

You know, I just wanted a picture of a Mexican person flipping off the camera but all I could find was Mr. T in a sombrero.  I have no idea why or how.

Having said that, I am happy that English has become not a British or American language but a world language.  Anyone who doesn't speak it is often seen to have more limited opportunities than those who do.

I think the world needs a common language.


And for all those lazy fuckers in the states I'm sure they are glad it is English.  I know I am.  Plus, it is easier on keyboards than say Chinese.

Probably wouldn't fit so well on a cell phone.


IN CONCLUSION

That's all for yet another exciting issue of Logan's Voyage!  If you have any questions or comments, be sure to put them in the comments section below.

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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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