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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

THE SOIREE

THE SOIREE

One nice thing about wandering the planet is when your paths cross with old friends.

Granted, this doesn't happen as much as sitting in the same town all your life when you may run into other people in similar ruts at the local grocery store you've both shopped for years.

This makes it more special.

My buddy (who I will call Sherlock Holmes out of respect for his privacy and because he fucking is Sherlock Holmes) has a new girlfriend I shall call Irene though she has nothing in common with Miss Adler.

It just fits the Sherlock thing.

Note that I mistakenly - and often - give out their real first names later.  Like in the video I made of the room.  This is because I am often found to be doing stupid stuff.  But the whole Sherlock and Irene thing helps keep me amused so I'm sticking with it.

It was a 'significant birthday' and gathered a whole bunch of her friends to attend.

And then Logan farted and killed the dog...

This gathering is to take place in the Australian haven for drinking, southern Bali.  Since it is only a four or five hour plane ride (drunk it is no time at all) from Australia, folks from there have been flooding in for years and attempting to equalize the prices of third world Indonesia with their homeland.  They've nearly succeeded.

As I am convalescing in Bali from my latest near death experience

"NOBODY SYMPATHIZES WITH ME HAVING SO MANY 'NEAR LOGAN' EXPERIENCES..."

...Sherlock contacted me and kindly invited me to the party.

Fortunately, I was to go out a few hours early and that would give me valuable one on one time to hang out with them.  Because hosts are always swirling about and chatting with different guests I didn't want to attempt to monopolize their time at the party.

Irene also insisted on getting me a fancy - and extremely expensive - hotel room for the night.  She said there was no arguing.  When a woman tells you that, it is best just to graciously accept.  If you want to argue you can but you will still be sleeping in the hotel room but with hard feelings all around.

So I took the room.  Here is a video of it.  I apologize for the sideways view but have no idea how to change it.

After a quick lunch in the Australian town (though we did spot some of the locals) Irene went for her pre-party freshen up leaving Sherlock and I to discuss life over several drinks.

Even while it was taking place I knew this was the 'golden time', the 'jam in the jelly roll' or 'the money you find in your jeans which has not been destroyed by the washer'.

Just getting to sit and catch up with him was great.  [And yes other people reading this, I would like to do that with you all too some day.  Sherlock was even clever enough to bring booze.  While I didn't want to have any alcohol he managed to force some down.]

Mr Sherlock Holmes. Pictured here in woeful under dress and disarray. Lacking items include top hat, frock coat and laser guided chainsaw.

Though we were continually warned by Irene to stay trim (was it?  Not sure - the message was 'don't get drunk before the party) I was slurring my words by the time she got back.  I wasn't drunk by any stretch but messing with people is always fun.

And on to the party.

There were about twenty people in attendance including old and current co-workers and their assorted significant others and families.

It was a nice, quiet crowd.

They stack food to show you it is 'fancy'.

The venue (read as place the event was held) had one good aspect, one bad and one 'wtf'.  This is pretty common in Asia.

The good aspect was (up to a certain point) they were amazing at taking care of people.  If you lit a cigarette, an ash tray appeared next to your hand.  If you ran out of a drink, there would be someone to find out what you wanted next.  They were friendly, quick and remembered your name.  Probably the best service I've ever experienced.

The bad aspect was that a rooftop venue (over a place which liked to play loud music) was for some reason chosen.  This rooftop had - to be blunt - no roof.  Nor did they seem to have any idea that it sometimes rains in Indonesia.  They were short about thirty umbrellas.   Fortunately, it didn't rain all that long.

The WTF aspect happened after the (extraordinary) bill was paid.  All of the great service immediately stopped as though someone had thrown a switch.  The staff pretty much avoided the party goers and ignored them.  It was like "You've paid, we're not getting anything else for being nice to you, get the fuck out."  Very strange indeed.  I'd have made sure they kept being nice until everyone went away.  That's how you get repeat business.  Better than the Aussies saying "Be sure not to pay them until everyone is headed out the door because once they get their money they don't give a fuck about you."


Baffling.

In the morning, got a decent breakfast with my 'breakfast voucher' from the hotel and paid a moderately unhappy (that I knew the correct price) driver to get back to Ubud.  I wouldn't have minded having more chatting time but they had stuff to do.

Where all of that amazing food immediately took the other exit out from my body, claiming it was 'too rich for my colon'.

The important thing was Irene seemed happy with the party.  I was happy to get to go there and visit with an old friend.  Got to meet some other nice and interesting people at the party as well.

And Holmes?  He seemed bemused and happy to see me as well.

In a few days, he will be back in Australia chasing down Moriarty.

The kind of master criminal we all want to be.





LAST WEEK TONIGHT

After watching S2E11, I put this on their Facebook page.

Low prices vs slave labor in other countries.

Adorable.  Partially because I couldn't find grown men whipping kids to make them work like in the second Indiana Jones movie.

We Americans will always choose the slave labor in other countries because a) we're cheap, b) we spend more than we make due to the black magic of credit cards  c) the injustices and horror are not in front of their face.

Having traveled to and lived in those countries for the last four years (continuously) I can also tell you some other things that never seem to be in the news.

Those kids were not abducted in the middle of the night by roving bands of gypsies.  They got those jobs because it is often 'that or don't eat'.  Most places around the world the kids help with the income for the household and get a little schooling when they can.

There is a lot of talk about 'safety standards'.  They don't have them.  Not in the factories, not anywhere.  Because of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia killing everyone who wore glasses, I've witnessed people welding doing so without even the benefit of sunglasses.  Not a welding helmet, sunglasses.  People in other countries sometimes use those because welding helmets cost money hence are not supplied.  Like fire extinguishers.

In conclusion, while it is horrible compared to the USA and other westernized countries the rest of the world uses a much different measuring stick.  It's shorter and has barbs on it.  Due to less than half of the people in the USA owning a passport - much less using it to go anywhere other than Canada, Mexico or some beach resort to get drunk and pass out - their understanding of the rest of the world doesn't seem great nor realistic.



MY IDEA FOR SOUTH PARK (written on their Facebook page)

Announcer 1:  "Sadly, survival shows have been going really downhill in the ratings."

Announcer 2:  "That's true.  They've tried both A and B list celebrities pared up with survival experts!  It's just not boosting the ratings like they'd hoped."

Announcer 1:  "Fortunately, they have a new show they are airing a pilot of where they are trying something radically new!  They are paring a survival expert with someone who would have no chance of surviving!"

"Next week on Dubious Survival - Bear Grylls is pared with...Timmy!"


Bear:  "Normally to drink urine, you place it in a bottle and drink from that but we don't have a bottle.  Timmy is looking pretty dehydrated.  I'm going to have to help him!"

Timmy:  "Timmy?"  (pause)  (very wet)  "Timmy!"



COSTS

'Warung' means small cafe.  A meal there is generally .77 to 3.09 USD.  Eating at restaurants serving foreign food can cost three times (or much, much) more.

Hotel room in southern Bali (where the people from Australia go) can be around $100 USD.

Getting back and forth from the southern part of the island to Ubud, 250,000 IRD.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

FORMAL PARTY - THE PREPARATION

THE BIRTHDAY

I'm writing some of this before it happens and some afterward.  It's more organic that way.  Plus, it would be cheating to tell everyone what happens before it happens.  Damned laws of physics.


My buddy I'll call Mr. Holmes (Sherlock - he's really really really clever) has a new special lady.  It's going to be her birthday in a couple days.  I got invited to her party at a very swank place.  I was given two instructions.  Buy a shirt and don't get drunk before the (open bar!) party.

"Logan?  Are you listening to me?  Are you drunk right now?  When I say bring a shirt, that does NOT mean pants are optional!  Now, what did I say?"

Clearly, I am one of those kind of friends who must be explained beforehand and apologized for afterward.

No clue why I am not invited to more formal events...

Fair enough.  I'm a lot like Duran fruit - only some people like me.

And, if you kill me I smell really horrible.  Sometimes, I don't even need to be killed to smell really horrible.  I'm versatile like that.

So I run out and buy an expensive (for me) button up shirt.  It is now my 'one nice shirt' and promise myself to wait to get drunk.   I do have several bottles of illegal liquor on the way.  Good times.

They also tell me they are getting me a hotel room in the swank area.  Really, I'm torn on this.  I know the people involved are all well to do (well, bloody rich compared to Logan) but it's only an hour and a half drive back to where I'm staying.  The upside is if I stay there, I might get to spend a bit more time with them.

They insist, I let it ride.

Yes, I'm greedy to spend time with friends.

What I imagine.  Not pictured, Logan who has been taken by the staff for the 'hosing off of extra food' ritual.

Bit concerned about this area.  It seems to be the kind of place where you can easily blow $100 on a bottle of wine.  Bit more than my normal $10.

Good deal.  So excited to go I have to get reminded by the owner of the hostel that it is not tomorrow (from time of writing) but the day after.

Crap.

Time is a confidence trick invented by the Swiss to sell watches.

Sitting in a mellow happy place when suddenly I remember...

...It's a birthday.

Oh crap!

My expression.

Present!

OK.  I've got to shop for a woman close to my age.  Who I've not yet met.  Or talked to.  Or been told about.

What the hell do you get?

It would be rough even for a guy but I could get him a shitload of little skull candles.  Men understand these sorts of gift - unless they are really sheltered.

Women, not so much.  Women like gifts that show you put time into it and thought about them.

Yes men - if it shows those two things, generally women like it.  Generally.

OK.  I've got one of those two.

I get a general idea of what to get.  Not going to write it down as I'm going to publish this before the birthday and she might read it.  It could happen.

I am one of 'Sherlock's' strange friends and she may be curious.

Not telling, will tell in the blog after.

As I'm walking around, I get hailed by some guy in a cab.  Normally, I just ignore strange men in the cabs.  They see a fat, white ATM wandering around who could be riding around and paying them.

You want a ride tomorrow too?

Turns out it is my buddy, his lady and another couple.  And their driver.  Weird.  They're going to lunch but they just wanted to say a quick 'hi' as they go by.

Neat.  Foreshadowing.

Back to wandering around eight - yes eight - kilometers while it rains on me through the shopping area.  They're really aggressive here.  Putting stuff in your hand and backing away type aggressive.  Irritatingly aggressive.

Decide on quantity.  Maybe one of the things I got she will like.

Who knows.

Escape the shopping area, discover I've lost my key at some point, buy a new one and drop off the gifts.

Go graze.

Think about alcohol.

Write a blog.

Smoke.


Now let's just review for a second here.

For those who remember the classic movie "The Blue's Brothers".  Remember the apartment Elwood had?  "You bring me my cheese whiz boy?"  Full of old men smoking?  That was a lot like the place I was staying at when I collapsed on the floor.  Twice.  A few days ago.

And in two days, I'm going to be at the kind of swanky resort that has an 'interactive website'.

Nobody can say I don't get variety...



TRAVELER'S TIP

Negotiation percentage - street stuff for Bali.  Go for a bit less than half, get talked up to approximately half of their asking price.  Note that shops either have a much smaller percentage or do not negotiate at all.



VIDEOS

Dani's Home Stay - the other room


Thursday, April 23, 2015

AND...BACK TO INDONESIA...

CONVALESCENCE IN INDONESIA

When I am feeling better, exploration is the name of the game.


While there are about three places I can think of I'd like to go back to (visit with friends in Romania, an apartment I've got in Bulgaria and some friends I need to visit in Macedonia) there is one in Asia that I really enjoyed - Dani's in Bali, Ubud, Indonesia.

After getting sick, and because eastern Europe may still be 'too damned cold' and since I was in Asia anyway, the signs pointed to going there to rest and try to get my strength (as it were) back.

Fuck winter.

After sleeping on a box spring (no mattress) for several days in the dull town of Krabi, Thailand I decided it was time to say goodbye to my new friend Chris.  I'd gotten a rather good interview with Chris that will hopefully make an appearance in this blog soon.

It was then time to do the 5 AM wake up - after the drinking with Chris and some Thai expats until 1 AM, of course.

The alcohol I was drinking was not nearly this pretty.  It was shitty red wine mixed with diet Coke.

Didn't hear my normal alarm but fortunately the new cellphone (and my usual paranoia) saved me.

Managed to get up on time, pack a few remaining things and head downstairs to wait.

Eventually, some privately owned car pulled up across the street.  I greeted him and asked who he was looking for.  "My boss."

Fair enough.  Later, I asked him if he was going to the airport.  "Yes."

Taking his boss to the airport.  Sounds great.  Sure wish the guy I'd already hired through the hotel - and paid for - would show up.  He was fifteen minutes late so far and I didn't have a lot of wiggle room on this one.

I even flashed my ticket at the guy waiting for his boss but he shook his head.

Twenty minutes after the scheduled pick up time I said "Fuck it".  I wasn't going to let $200 of tickets slide down the drain due to the usual incompetence often found in Asia.  I began negotiating with a tuk tuk driver who was cruising around looking for work.

He then asked the guy waiting for his boss something...and it turns out this guy was waiting for me.

I had told him I was from the hotel, asked where he was going, telling him I was also going to the airport and even flashing the ticket at him he had to collect in order to get paid.

So.  He's retarded.

If Dr. House says it, everyone loves Dr. House.  If I say it, I'm an insensitive prick.  Like Dr. House.

At least he knew where the fucking airport was.

Not kidding.  This sort of thing happens all the time in Asia.  As is said by many long term travelers I've run in to "there is a reason their country is poor".

Sorry for sounding like I joined the USA's Republican Party there.  Fear not, I will not be trying to shame the poor.  It's just when people have done something for a long time - even if it is stupid - they often keep doing the same crap over and over.  I know I do.

So I make it to the airport on time.

The flight on the extremely cheap (good value) AirAsia is uneventful going from the grubby airport at Krabi (that town really has nothing to recommend it) to the massive airport at Kuala Lumpur.  The Malaysians also managed to not lose the plane from Kuala Lumpur to Bali.

Logan was thrilled to survive.

According to things read on wikitravel, the fare from DPS (airport code of main airport at Bali, ie 'where you will arrive') it costs 200,000 IRP (Indonesian rupees) to leave that town and head to Ubud.  Oh, the offers I had.  500,000 IRP on up.


I scoffed at them, told them not to talk to me and often walked away.  This is part of the game.


Eventually, found a guy who would not go down to my 200,000 but would go for 250,000.  [Edit:  According to Dani, this was the correct price.]

Remember, the guy who can speak English you find at the airport is often not the person who will actually be driving you - they are just the tout.

After getting passed off to his minion, we leap frogged through traffic for about half the time they claimed the trip would take before making it to Ubud.

Once here, I got to see my new accommodation.  Not nearly as nice as the room I stayed in last time but Dani does work hard to make things work and make you feel welcomed.

After fighting his broke assed internet (he doesn't know much about computers and the internet is a new thing for him) for half an hour I finally got back online.  [Edit:  The government blocks downloading sites and such.  Be sure to stock up before you come to Indonesia if you want to watch movies and such.  They also seem to block proxy stuff.  Unfortunate.]


It looks like a lot of things will be working out here.  Long time readers may recall that when I started to travel I got to travel with Pete and Jana through a couple countries outside England.  Pete, who had never traveled outside of Australia has become a fairly avid traveler.  He will be here.  Barry and Kim, friends I'd met last time in Ubud Bali - also here.

So it should be a nice trip!



FUN PICS

Although I am still currently recovering from Dengue, I would like to assure everyone I am still dry humping statues whenever the opportunity...arises...



Plus, it is always a complete waste of time for both parties unless they are already in agreement.



VIDEO

Chris' bottle collection



AUDIO

Interview with Chris


Thursday, April 16, 2015

GOTCHA, WALDO

JASON P IN THE PHILIPPINES

An introduction on Jason.  I first met him when he was something like fifteen or sixteen years old.  We'd do tabletop roleplaying games together back in the heady days of the 'Swamp House'.  I've no idea why his mother thought it was OK to drop her teenager off with the creepy guy who lived in the swamp (me) but we've been friends for something like two decades.

Life went by as it often does and Jason met and fell in love with a nice girl named Julie.  Julie lives in the USA but her extended family lives in Philippines.  And I do mean 'extended'.  At fairly regular intervals, Jason and his wife - and now his child - go to Philippines to visit them.  Their extended family lives in the southern part of the islands.

The author and his immediate family.

Repeated visits and a huge family to find out information from have given Jason a lot of insight into these islands and he has been kind enough to share it with us and permit it to be published in the blog.

I'm hoping that other people who regularly travel and have insight into other lands will be compelled - nay, forced - into making contributions to the blog.

Let's see what Jason has to say about Philippines:



Manila

Traffic! Manila is a massive sprawl that is bustling at all hours. We arrived at the airport shortly after midnight and I was amazed at how busy the streets and sidewalks were.

 Manila is very commercialized with signage everywhere, more so than the U.S. in some ways. Kind of reminds me of the 'cityscapes' in Bladerunner. Manila is a giant city, as big and crowded as any international city. The sprawl is even larger and more populated than the Chicago metro.

You don't go anywhere quickly. Manila has the good sense to ban tricycles in certain areas so cars and trucks can actually reach top speeds over 25kmh, but there are so many vehicles on the main streets and highways. In the provinces it’s a constant battle with tricycles though. Manila competes for worse traffic world-wide, for sure.



General Santos City

Beautiful, lush, dirty and dusty all at the same time. Mindanao is a drier part of the country so it's a very tropical environment without being as wet as the northern provinces. November to May is the dry season, and probably the best time to visit.


Prices

Cheap labor. Minimum wage is about 450 pesos, $9-10 a day, and probably not enforced in many places, so many services are cheap by western standards. Personal servants, or helpers, are usually paid 200-300 day plus room and board. These are usually people that live deep inland and cant find work beyond plantation labor, so they migrate to the towns and work for middle class and wealthy folks. Which in itself is an interesting contrast to the US, where even middle-class folks are usually living paycheck to paycheck and don't have nearly the budget to afford live-in help.


The exchange rate for Pisos to Dollars is about 44-1 right now.


Food

You can easily eat well for 100-300p($3-7) a meal, half that, if you're having a small breakfast and lunch, or eating at local eateries and street diners vs restaurants in the shinier parts of town and in the big shopping malls. Rice is eaten with everything by the locals, even breakfast. If they're not eating rice 3 times a day, they're probably having a bad day.



You can find plenty of local food diners, native food and really cheap prices, or you can go to a mall and get just about anything you can in the US. McDonalds is there, but everything still tastes different, the beef is different than US Angus beef, sweeter almost, coconut oil permeates most other foods, most breads will have some coconut oil. You can find Indian food, Chinese, Italian and others too if you have a foreign craving, but they all have a local twist.


Alcohol

Can of beer 30-40p. San Miguel is good, as good as any western lager. 5th of tanduay rum for 60p. A liter, for about 200p. Western favorites can still be had at western prices too.


Real estate

Lodging can be had at any price point you desire, from $5 day on up depending on quality. You could rent a room house or apartment monthly fairly easily for $50-$350/mo depending on the build out and neighborhood and security level you're comfortable with.

I can see why the Philippines is attractive to retirees and expats. You can build or buy a home at any price range, from $20k on up. The challenge though is, you can't really own real estate or a business, with any real legal protection, unless you have family or a spouse, and hold titles in their name. You can still sign leases, you can open up utilities, and construct buildings on your lease, but you'll always require a local you trust to partner with for ownership of land or business permits.



Medicine, Services

Medicine for colds and coughs seems reasonable. 5-10p a dose. We typically get a little cough and runny nose the first couple days we’re there, probably just adjusting to local environment. Pharmacies are everywhere and can probably provide most things. I’m not sure how well most prescriptions are filled though.

Hospitals and clinics are available if you're really bad off.  Groceries, and markets are abundant, if you’re preparing some of your own food in a kitchen, you can easily eat for $3-5/day.

Haircuts 35p at the barber shop. Spa treatments and Massage are 200-400p on average. Professional quality places even by US standards, with comfortable lounge area’s and good service, they’ll wash your feet and serve tea.


Transport

Transportation is cheap. Tricycles are dominant mode of transport everywhere, and about 10p, per person around town. Jeepney about 15-20p. Car Taxi about 50p. More expensive rentals to be had as well. If you can afford your own car or truck, you don't go anywhere quickly, only as fast as the tricycle in front of you.

GenSan to Manila is about 1 hour 45 mins by plane. Airports are readily available throughout the big islands in the Philippines. Most are hot and no AC, but otherwise same typical process as in the States. Porters are every where though. 10p per bag plus whatever tip you're comfortable with. I usually tip 50-100p, they'll expect it from westerners but it's not mandatory. With such a favorable exchange rate I don't mind, and I'm typically traveling like a merchant caravan anyway, carrying a couple hundred pounds of pasalubong back and forth, both ways, so porters earn their pay with me.


Expats and Logan-Type Travelers

There are a lot of Western expats in GenSan, most of them are in their 50's or older, it's pretty rare to see a white guy under 60. Some of them are simply retiree's, some have relocated, or fled perhaps, making the most out of their pensions, some have done quite well and own farms and businesses with their families.

Backpackers are far less common in GenSan though, most brave enough to venture into Mindanao stick to Davao City, which is safer with far more tourist locations and resorts. Driving to Davao by air conditioned bus to and from GenSan is about 250-300p, and only takes 3-4 hours, it’s a beautiful ride too.

Davao City is one of the larger cities in the Philippines, and is probably one of the best places to visit as a foreigner, where its safer, yet not as commercialized as Cebu and Manila. Davao would be my recommendation if Logan wanted to try a couple months in the Philippines. Cebu, or Subik Bay in the north, being a close 2nd.


General thoughts on General Santos

As in most 3rd world areas,as a westerner, you're a target as soon as you step off the plane, avoid any flash and dress down. You're a novelty to everyone in the provincial areas so you'll be stared at wherever you go, but it’s not really impolite to stare, just stare back, nod and they'll probably start smiling at you. You’ll probably find that most Filipinos would want to talk to you and will enjoy getting a chance to talk with a westerner.

The average worker here is probably making $5 a day. You're carrying items on you that potentially equate to a years worth of wages to many folks, so don't let your guard down in public and exercise your usual caution. All the security precautions you write about will undoubtedly be put to the test here.

In public, Filipinos are more curious and friendly, in general, compared to the U.S. Its very easy to engage strangers in conversation and polite small talk. Most Filipinos have some skill in English and many are fluent so it's not hard to communicate and find what you need. In fact much of the signage and marketing is done in English, so it's very American friendly when it comes to finding what you need.

I get the feeling I'm in the tropical version of the Wild West of the frontier days due the lack of police presence . In fact, I rarely see any police, they don't patrol like they do in the US, and there are probably far fewer of them. Generally you'll see police, or military guarding checkpoints in and out cities along the main roads.

You see a lot of armed guards everywhere though, private contractors, that are generally protecting malls and larger business interests. Some of these guys are armed with some rather questionable weapons for crowded public spaces. Shotguns and Uzi's, for example, on a 20 year old kid. I'm in position to argue.


The glaring poverty is so casually mixed among wealth and modern tech and exotic landscapes, and makes for a very alien environment for a guy who rarely steps out past the suburbs of Illinois.


Thank you very much to Jason P for this look at Philippines!

Remember if YOU (yes, you) would like to submit something, go for it.  I can't guarantee much editing (not an editor) but I can copy paste it in.  If you submit pics, expect to see many of them in.  Do not submit 'Logan only' pics with the batch you send your article with or you may discover I have no discernment.



GEORGE TOWN TO KRABI TOWN
I decided to go with my buddy Chris to Krabi Town (Thailand).  Figured it would be nice to travel with someone else for a week or two and just hang out for a bit.

It ended up that he wanted to leave George Town about a week earlier than I'd expected.

Since I was still recovering from dengue, this was a bit of a bitch.  He kept turning around asking me if I wanted to sit down and rest.

When we had made our way through the port and over to the train, I wrung out my bandana three times and there was still more sweat within.  The puddle of sweat on the floor of the nice train station was a bit funny though.

The worst thing was having periodic bouts of dizziness.  Especially when walking up stairs.  That was my favorite.

Despite what many people told me about the train (Malaysian trains are better!) this turned out to be a complete lie.  It was exactly the same fucking train.  Indeed, we even had to buy an ongoing ticket for the border to Hat Yai.

Yes, I had to go back to the 'what the fuck are we doing here' town of Hat Yai.

Fortunately, it was just one night.
Early (seven) in the morning, we hopped a baht bus (think pickup truck with a roof in the back) for the bus station.

After waiting around for an hour there, we got into the cramped mini van and drove to Krabi.

My first thought upon arriving was 'why the fuck would anyone come here?'

This seems to be another 'way point'.   Not the kind of place anyone comes willingly but they come here in order to get somewhere better.  Even the places to stay we checked out (about five) really sucked ass.  Who can't put a fucking table in the room, really?  Yes, Chris and I managed to find one with a table eventually.


So now I'm back in fucking Thailand.

The town of Krabi seems completely uninteresting.

So, I'm going to hang out for a bit (have a one month visa) and see what I want to do here.

My guess is that I will be buying a plane ticket soon but I have been proven wrong so many times before.
Still interested in getting over to Indonesia but there are several places within striking distance.


In answer to those who are wondering about my physical condition, this is the slow recovery time.  I'm drinking a lot of water and anything else I can get hold of.



PRICES

Within Hat Yai - train station to the bus station to Krabi via 'baht bus', 100 baht.

Very cramped mini van from Hat Yai to Krabi Town, less than 300 baht.  Takes four hours including a fifteen minute stop over.  It seemed to take a lot longer than four hours.  So much longer.

Friday, April 10, 2015

DENGUE DANCE OF DEATH

Disclaimer:  I'd like to apologize for the lack of pictures and this blog being less coherent than some of the others but it is written while I am actually suffering badly from dengue.  I'm forcing it out now because a lot of people have expressed big concern and want to know how I'm doing.



From the guy who travels who has:

Been in a country having a revolution
Been in a country being invaded
Been in a country through a 6.5 earthquake

We now bring you,



DENGUE DANCE OF DEATH

Originally, this blog would have been called 'Tech Triumph' and I was going to discuss something I've never owned before - a smart phone.

But instead, along came a mosquito...

I was staying at a place called "Star Lodge".  Got bit (probably there) by a dengue infested mosquito.  Of course, you don't know right away.  After three days of pretty much lying around in a fever, I was out in the common room talking to some people when I collapsed.

No fuss, no muss, just straight down to the floor like a puppet with his strings cut.

Chris:  "You alright?"
Logan:  (from the floor)  "I'm fine."
Chris:  "This is not 'fine'."

Best line ever.

After the second time within an hour of this happening, I figured my condition may be severe enough to facilitate going to the hospital.

Because my brain was in such a scambled state, I took some very bad advice from a local working at the desk who told me to go to a 'nearby' private clinic.  This is never good advice, nor was it close by.

The rule:  Clinics are for people whose insurance will pay for it.  Otherwise, stick to the general hospital.


Got to hospital and one of the first things they asked for was a deposit.  I gave them all the ringgits I had on me - 600.  "I don't have insurance.  Please tell me when this is out because then I will have to go."  I told this to everyone.  Nurses, my doctor, the admittance people, financing.

I got the cheapest accommodation they had - 45 MYR for the room and I was told food was included.  I was in a large room with six other people.

Little did I know in my extremely out of touch state that the 'every couple hours unnecessary blood test' they gave me was costing me about 150 MYR.

The next day in the morning I asked how much of the 600 MYR was left.  "You currently owe 950 MYR more."

What.  The.  Fuck.

"What happened to let me know when the 600 MYR was finished?"

Mysteriously, nobody knew.

Get to visit with the head of finance.  Amazing how interested they are in getting their money.  We come to an agreement where I'd pay him less - just another 600 MYR I had to convert some baht (Thailand money) into ringgits.  He was far less than happy to be getting just some of the money instead of all of it.

A nice doctor (the only nice doctor) told me just to stay, they'd write it off.

I had been wanting to leave but nearly passed out en-route.

The head of the hospital somehow got word of this plan and lost his fucking mind.  "If I find him in this hospital tomorrow morning, I'm having the police arrest him!"

So I went home (my hotel) during the third night.  I think.  Remember, I was and still am, pretty out of it.

After a nearly sleepless night of paranoia (are the police coming?) I packed up all of my stuff and managed to drag it to a different hostel.  The effort took everything I had and I experienced insight as to what it would be like trying to do this backpacking at age ninety.

Since here, I've found a very supportive staff, much smaller rooms and been hanging out a bit with my friend Chris (another globe trotter) who has been very kindly looking after my broken ass.

It's been two or three days here.  Thus far I haven't gotten better according to new 23 MYR blood tests but I have been feeling a bit better.



WHAT'S IT LIKE HAVING DENGUE?

First, you are always feeling a bit fuzzy and stupid.  You move like an old person.  Not a healthy chipper one - more like the ones that need walkers.

Sometimes you wildly shift before overheating fever and bone chilling.  Just for a change, both at once as well.

Your gut hurts and your shit explodes out of you.

It is more horrible than having the appendix out by a long shot.



BE A PERSON OF...

refinement  [ri-fahyn-muh nt]
noun

1. fineness or elegance of feeling, taste, manners, language, etc.
2. an instance of refined feeling, manners, etc.
3. the act or process of refining.
4. the quality or state of being refined.
5. a subtle point or distinction.
6. subtle reasoning.
7. an improved, higher, or extreme form of something: a refinement of the old system.

There is a German word 'augenblick' which means moment.  What makes this word more interesting is that 'augen' means 'eye' and 'blick' is glimpse.  [Disclaimer, because it is German, there are actually several different meanings for blick but this one is best for illustrating my current point.]

Hence, 'augenblick' could also be defined as what you see at a glimpse.  Each moment is a brief, transitory glimpse which lasts only for an instant.

If you are 'just checking' your cellphone, you are missing that.


There have been plenty of rants done about the mindless checking of the cellphone turning people into a zombie but for me, it shows a huge lack of refinement.   There is a message sent out - meant or not - "Hey, people who aren't even here are more interesting than hanging out with you."  The worst people are the self delusional ones.  "Just for a second!"  "I just want to check this one thing."  No respect.

Hence, when someone pulls out their cellphone, I know it is time for me to go somewhere else and find someone actually interested in having a conversation with me.



WHY BADMOUTH YOUR HOSTS?

Sitting with a white guy at a table at the bar.

He is a rotten drunk. I know I repeat myself but usually not immediately.

This is going on.

What makes it worse is he is being very insulting to Indian men, saying things like 'after a girl hits 9, she is considered too old' and such.

When I am in a foreign country, I consider myself a guest there. Sometimes a reluctant guest who wants to get out quickly but a guest. As such talking trash about the hosts is incredibly rude.

Did I mention there was a silent Indian guy sitting at the same table?

I left.



TECH TRIUMPH

Wow, does GPS make getting back to where you started a lot easier.

I took a nine kilometer limp today and it led me right back to whence I came.

Amazing technology.

The cellphone has replaced my flashlight, camera and MP3 player.  Note that I am not throwing that shit out but not needing to carry it is nifty.

The battery life is a bit worry some, especially since phone companies don't like you able to just replace the battery on many phones.  Otherwise, you could just charge several batteries and be golden.  I do know of the existence (I've seen them) of batteries you can carry around to charge your battery in your phone.  Not sure of the weight issue yet.

For most people, I'm sure 10 hours is enough but I've done a lot of '20-40 hours of travel time' and would like to have more book time if possible.



THAT WHICH LIVES WITH YOU  (story from the old hotel)

Woke up in a weird sort of way this evening.

It's been 30-32 cel for the last several days.  Even at night, my new phone is showing (weather app) it's 30 cel.

Woke up shivering my ass off.  Like "Oh, I've been somewhere bad for the winter and my fingers are numb."

It must be that I have the fan set almost at the limit, 4/5.  Turn it down to two, pull out my wrap pants to make a blanket and shake for awhile.

Eventually, the shaking goes down.

Checked phone again to see if we were moving on to something like the movie "The Day After Tomorrow" and weird winter weather that likes to chase people came to find me.  In SE Asia.  No.

Crap.  That could have  been an interesting blog post.

Stomach hurts.  Haven't had anything but a bagel since 1 or 2 PM.

Limp my ass over to an Indian restaurant I've been to before.  As I go, the pain is moving more into "you're belly is actually sick, not hungry".

Got the smallest portions they'd ever seen.  I think they actually felt bad for me (I dont' think I looked good) and only charged me 3 MYR.  I ate two or three forkfuls, that's it.

 Obviously, tonight is not drinking time but I saw Santana who had gone to get me a business card from someone who has a house for rent.  If I feel better, can check that out tomorrow.

Unlock the door to my room.  Clearly, I'm just wanting to get settled and maybe listen to a book on MP3.

There is a cockroach the size of my middle finger, maybe a bit bigger in my room.

Try the Godzilla stomp but I'm slow and so he scurries under the pillow I have sitting on the floor and clings to it for dear life as I grab the pillow, toss it outside and manage to execute him.  And leave the corpse out there as an example for the others.

It's always a whole lot of 'what the fuck' everywhere.

Because of the apathy, I manage to spot a cat sized rat about every day here.

These factors are why usually sleeping a floor up or more is desirable.



VIDEOS

Graveyard 1, 2





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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