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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

BACKHANDING THE LOCALS

SINGING

I don't remember which episode of South Park had it but they spent the show making fun of some tone deaf bint who did the most awful singing ever.

Worse is going on outside and has been all fucking day.

Asian music is bad enough when professionals do it.  When tone deaf people do karaoke of it, it is indescribable.   When I first heard it, I thought people were being ritualistically tortured to music.  Later, I discovered I was the one being tortured.

All this is going on due to some boat races that went on somewhere earlier in the day.  The town now has license to party and the locals are doing so...badly.

Fortunately, I'd been warned of the unofficial holiday ahead of time and despite wanting to leave the small town I'm in decided to put off travel for a couple days.  Never travel during local holidays.



PARANOIA

You know, there are times when my paranoia just flares up.

Like when a pretty girl sits down next to me and wants to rub up and down against me.

Since I look (and weigh) as I do, the first thing I think it 'prostitute'.

And I've not been let down in that assumption yet.

My charm can take decades to work on a lady.  Decades.

So I'm at a bar with a new friend (hi Christian!) and we're having a quiet drink outside away from the overly loud music when some random scrumpet (from Lao) sits down next to me and wants to get all chatty.

Immediately, my arm goes over and stays over my bag.  Pickpockets are not unheard of.

Fortunately, Christian is a German so we share this language.  I tell him (in German) 'she wants to have sex for money'.  He agrees.

She tells a lot of vague lies (most people are not trained in lying) about how she's been to the country Christian is from.  Her lies were pretty transparent.

She wanted us to go to another club with her where no doubt she would get a kickback from the various drinks we were to buy her.  Or we'd just get mugged.  Switching clubs is never a good idea.

In German, I urge him to finish his drink.  It is late enough that things can go 'pear shaped' very quickly.   We managed to extricate ourselves from the young(ish) lady quickly and depart.

For those who wish to loudly bitch 'can't a young(ish) lady have a drink with other people' and 'women should be allowed to dress as they wish' I can only respond "Have you seen me?"  It would take a woman being really blind drunk to think I am physically attractive.  While women might like my mind or perhaps even charisma, there is simply not enough alcohol in the world for anyone to think of my body as some sort of 'sex object'.   It's not like I'm Robert Downey Junior.

"Wait - how did I get sucked into this asshole's blog?"

For people not accustomed to this type of treatment, I must hasten to point out that the way you extricate yourself from this situation is very important.  Fortunately, my friend had the right angle - "We have to get up early in the morning for a bus."  You want them to think you are too busy and possibly self involved to get together with them.  It is never appropriate to backhand them and yell "Begone ye harlot!"

Note, there may be many countries in which backhanding the locals is appropriate but it doesn't strike me as a good way to 'win friends and influence people'.



COSTS

Two vodka drinks with t-shirt, 50,000 kip.  Only available at one bar 'saguro' or some such.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

LAOS - LAND OF THE CAUTIOUS FART AND WATERFALL ASS

LAOS - LAND OF THE CAUTIOUS FART AND WATERFALL ASS


Lao does have a 'special' place in my memory of the worst food poisoning I'd ever received last time I was here.  Last night, second worst.

Because I'd eaten so little during the day, I know exactly which restaurant gave me the food poisoning.  It was a nice little Korean eatery with excellent food.  On the way in.  Whereas I've eaten street food and been fine.



MEDICAL REPORT

Another country, another hospital.

Fortunately, my foot pain seems to have dissipated.  This is odd as I thought I'd have to get a wooden peg and a crutch.


After the hammer and chisel Thai massage, my shins have also gone back to closer to normal size.  It still surprises me that seems to have worked.

Unfortunately, my conjunctivitis is still with me after about ten days and my explosive diarrhea from food poisoning after three long, long days.

So I went to the hospital.

It is suspiciously close to where I am staying which may lead some to assume that I had chosen this place which was a close walk to the hospital.  They would be wrong.  I am just lucky.

They gave me some new medicine to try out and I am back to drinking salt flavored salt (yes, really) in my water to try to regain stuff lost in the toilet.

There was only one other foreigner who showed up as I was leaving and she looked miserable.  I'm guessing either food poisoning, heat stroke or both.

Foreigner price to see doctor, 70,000 kip.  Less than I am paying per night for my room.  Good value.



HOW TO SELECT A PLACE TO STAY

Let's think about it for a minute - what is your most important sense when choosing a place to stay?

Many people would say sight - if the place looks clean and well kept...

But I say it is hearing.

Get it?

After I've established a 'base camp', I will often wander around the town with headphones on, listening to books.  Not so when I am looking for a place to stay.

Hearing is vital.

That may not sink in, so I will state it again:  Hearing is vital.

If you are wandering around, concentrating on something else - like your cell phone clutched in your hand like a new appendage, you lose.

You have to go around and listen.

Why is this?

Assuming you are not some sort of religious nut who isn't allowed to drink any alcohol - or a past alcoholic who is trying to kick the habit, chances are you will want to sleep in.  Perhaps you are not going to get blasted but you want to have a very active day then sleep in.

That crazy Garfield.

If you forego listening to the surroundings you will be rudely awoken early and not well pleased by the experience.

Here are some of the things to keep an ear out for:

Construction (they start early in the morning)
Chickens (they like to crow often and at all hours)
Children (their voices cut through my soul like broken shards of glass)
Churches, mosques and other god-botherers (they tend to call him loudly)

Seriously - all of these are horrible things to be woken up early by.  If the hostel/hotel/guesthouse is within a couple blocks of them, chances are good you will wake up yelling "What the fuck?!"

You won't be yelling "What the fuck?" as well as he, but that's why he gets paid the big bucks.

Avoid them as you would earthquakes or rattlesnakes.

Note that in some towns, it is simply not possible.  In the town I currently am, many locals seem to make their living through banging pieces of metal together, operating band saws and just hammering on various things.  But do your best.



COSTS

Room, somewhere between 50,000 kip and 100,000 kip.  The lower end gives fan, upper end gives AC.  For luxury rooms the the two finer resorts in the area, about $50 USD per night.

Food, 20,000 to 50,000 kip.  Lower end gives you street food, upper end for foreigner run businesses.

Water, about 5000 kip for the small (half liter) one at a restaurant.  Water is cheap.  Might be 5000 for a liter at a grocery store.

Pringles, 20,000 kip.

Emergency room doctor visit, doctor speaks OK English, 70,000 kip.

Mosquito killer, room spray (seriously the stuff you put on yourself is just not enough), 20,000 kip.

Medicine, various - it's cheap here folks.  Under 50,000 kip for eye drops, salt packets and pills for the butt.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

LOGAN IS A BIG PUSSY

KHON KAEN TO VANG VIENG

The problem with being off of the beaten tourist trail is convenience.  The oh so annoying tuk tuk drivers are sorely missed when you want cheap transport.  Nobody speaks English.  They don't seem to read Thai well either.

It's a little harder and you need a lot more patience.

Through a combination of Google translate, sign language and interpretive dance, I was able to convince them there is indeed a Laos consulate and I wanted to go there.  After getting them to agree it might indeed be possible to get there by taxi, I had them call a taxi.

Showed the printed version "Laos consulate" to the taxi driver who said "OK".  After all the crap I went through with the people at the hotel desk this makes me believe they should be told as little as possible.  Just "I want a taxi" and when they keep asking "Where go?" just respond "Yes, taxi!"


The Lao consulate was a treat.  You walk in, give them your passport, one of the dozen small photos you keep of yourself (if you've been reading the blog any length of time and don't, that's on you - see 'traveler's tips' sections) and the money.  Presto.  About ten minutes later you get a visa.  Another nice thing is that the visa itself is good for two months.  You have that long to get into the country and then that starts your total of one month of time within the country.  In other words, you can get the visa - stay in Thailand for say six weeks then go to Lao and you get one month in Lao.  Handy.

Normally, you are able to get bus tickets a few days in advance.

Not so for the 'international bus'.  You have to buy the ticket about an hour before the bus leaves.   Not earlier - the office isn't open.

Note this is a lot handier than getting transport to 'friendship bridge', getting rolled by unscrupulous taxi, tuk tuk and bus drivers and eventually finding other transport into Laos.  Believe me, those assholes are waiting for you at the border.  To use the international bus, you just need your Lao visa ahead of time.  No visa, no ticket.

Before catching the international bus, I'd read a lot about it on the internet - AC bus, non- AC bus, they are luxurious, etc.

What a load of shit.


There is one bus.  It leaves sometime between eight and nine.  Buy your tickets around seven AM.  There is another later in the afternoon if you screw that up.

There is only one bus.  The only time it may have been grand is in the seventies.  Maybe.

Considering it is a relatively short (under five or six hours) trip, it is bearable but not really comfortable.  I turned off and went into my usual 'traveler's funk' where you are either asleep, dozing, meditating or just switched off.

Sometimes, I am difficult to rouse.

The strange thing is that they made a half hour meal stop on what is actually a fairly short bus trip.  I think it was 'fuck it, the bus driver needs to eat and can't be bothered to do it before his shift'.

The strangest and most annoying thing is at the Lao border you need to purchase a fifty baht 'over time pass card'.  Essentially, it is bribery with gates that only open when you put this card in.  If you get there before four PM, Monday through Friday supposedly you don't have to pay this bribe but other people have reported they had to pay a slightly reduced amount.  Shouldn't the government be paying it's employees?   Ah, corruption.


It's annoying but under two dollars.  Be sure to look for the small kiosk that sells this so you can just pick it up once you first get to the Lao side of the border and don't have to go back for it and try to understand people who should be able to express the need for this in English and can't.

We eventually arrived in Vientiene where the tuk tuk drivers were pushing in so close to the door I had to yell at them to move so I could get out of the bus.  Oh, the smell of money.  I ended up just falling on them because I'm clumsy.  My only worry was getting pick pocketed.

After getting a little hosed by a tuk tuk driver, I got taken to a money changer then the mini bus which goes from Vientiene to Vang Vieng.

I'd read a lot about how you have to be at the northern bus station, and how there were various types of buses and all of that.  Sure, that shit may exist, but you end up 'on the tourist trail' and when the tuk tuk driver hears you want a bus to Vang Vieng, they just take you to where the buses regularly leave.

When I say bus I mean 'uncomfortable small assed seats minivan crammed with other tourists'.  The other tourists are great to talk to.  Especially since when they say the ride is three hours, know that they are completely full of shit.  You're looking at nearly double that.

A little like this but much older and shittier.

After nightfall I arrived in Vang Vieng.  It's what I expected after reading it's entry on Wikitravel.  It's a small party town full of kids drunk on being so far from their parents and six dollar beers.   The beer here is freakishly expensive.  I look forward to getting back to Cambodia.

Getting shots is about half the price of beers.  Weird.

RETRACTION:  I don't know if it was the fatigue, lack of food, noise of the music or the thick Irish accent but I misheard 'fifteen' as 'fifty'.  The actual price is still about forty percent (roughly) more than Cambodia but definitely doable.

They have plenty of stores selling various bottles of alcohol.  I know I'll end up drinking room temperature booze in my room later.

After crawling out of the minivan, I got a couple fliers for food, a free drink at the only Irish bar in town and spent the night at an over priced hotel.

After eating a little bit of meat on a stick - my first food in twenty hours - I immediately had ten shots of various things at the Irish pub.  It helped being a bit buzzed but mainly I was punch drunk from lack of proper sleep, food and water.  Slept fine though.

While at the bar, I did meet a guy who had a 'backpackers hotel'.  Tried it the next day but without AC, I just sat there with sweat running down my body.  Said 'fuck this, I am going to be a big pussy' and went to a place I'd found after checking in to the backpacker place and just checked in there.  Surprisingly, I was given most of my money back at the backpacker place.  I'd not really expected to get anything back.

So now I'm hanging out in an AC place, fighting with their inconsistent internet and writing this blog.



CUSTOMS IN SE ASIA

There are no 'public displays of affection' at all.  Even if the people are married, you will never see them kiss, holding hands or violently mount each other dressed only in warpaint.

Be sure to yell "Surprise, mutherfucker!"

So does that mean you can't?  It's up to you.  I like to annoy the locals less.  You might not.  Who am I to tell you not to work them up into some sort of disgusted rage?

And now, for a picture that is easy on the eyes.

Because bewbs...



PRICES  (Thailand)

Laos visa, with small 'rush' bribe, 1600 baht.
The taxi to get there and back to your hotel including wait time and small bribe, 300 baht.
There and back again - a journey to the very inconveniently located 7 KM out of town because corruption wins bus station, 200 baht.


PRICES (Laos)

Large beer, 50,000 kip.  Yes, this is six dollars.  No, I have no idea why people are drinking beer here.  RETRACTION:  15,000 not 50,000.  See above.
Really cheap place, 50,000 kip.
Nice place with AC, 100,000 kip.
Best places I've found here, around $50 USD.  I've not looked at the rooms but for two people (who are not poor backpackers) this seems a pretty reasonable price for the best in the area.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

IT'S KHON KAEN, NOT 'COCAINE'

MOVING ON

Well, it looks like my eyes are pretty close to well enough to travel.

I staggered over to the train station and bought an early morning train ticket to Khon Kaen.  It's closer to the Lao border.  If my research is correct, I'll be able to get a visa for Lao (or Laos if you are a misspelling French person) and travel up there.

Wouldn't have minded staying here where I'm at a bit longer as the town isn't bad but the visa time is getting closer - and I don't know how long it will take me to get a visa for Lao.  According to various people's stories on the internet it is a quick and easy thing - but I plan for the 'oh no' times.

On the downside, I looked at my funds and it looks like some scrimping and saving will be in my future if I want to have any chance of doing a LHI2 in 2016.  When I looked at my total funds, they were less than half of 'ok'.

After a couple days of lying low at the hostel, I went to the train station early in the morning.  Well, before eight is early for me.

They have a volunteer at the train station who helps tourists get on the right train.  He stated emphatically several times that he doesn't want money.  When I said "That works out for both of us because I don't have any.", he looked a bit crestfallen.

Trains in Thailand don't stop for long.  At all.  You've got about twenty or thirty seconds (presumably unless they see you struggling within the doorway) to get on or off.  I imagine there are many slow tourists every year who get taken to a new, exciting destination because of this.

They have a lot of signs stating that alcohol is prohibited on trains.  It seems odd that they've prohibited it for everyone since it was a railway employee who got drunk - and used drugs - before doing some horrible stuff on the train.  Since many people can't handle their alcohol well anyway - and since I think drinking while you're en-route is stupid - great.  Ban it on trains.

So I showed up within Khon Kaen (think 'cocaine').  At first glance, this town appears identical to the one I just left.  Buildings made from the usual corregated steel, rust, snot and the more sturdy pieces of garbage to be found.  This is especially odd because the train stations of many of these towns could be described as 'smart' (ie dapper).  It's rather confusing.

Within my notes I had the name of a hotel which I'd noted was in the center of town.  Since there were no English speaking tuk tuk drivers, I just had them take me there.  Rather than the 400-500 baht listed on wikitravel, their cheapest room was 600 baht.  They told me that all accommodation within this city was at that price or higher.  I smiled, nodded and left.  After securing accommodation for 380 baht per night, I went looking for a place to get my laundry done.

For some reason, the 'charging by the piece' thing has infected this city.  Essentially, it just means people want more to do laundry.  A stupid amount more.  So, I went and negotiated a deal with two old laundry women who didn't speak anything but Thai.  And didn't really seem to get the stuff I'd typed on my phone.  They did force a young girl to come and translate but you could tell that she was having the living nightmare of her teacher screaming that she should pay more attention, that some day this would be useful information and this was that day.  And she didn't pay attention.  But I think we got it hashed out.

Luckily, I found a restaurant with a bunch of Thais standing in line so I immediately got into line.  Didn't wander around to see what the food looked like, just got in line.  If there is a line of locals, you are pretty safe.

Stocked up on water and repaired to my room to see what the dawn brings.

Tomorrow, I'm going to work on getting a Lao visa and seeing more of this town.  Assuming the clock on the Lao visa doesn't start as soon as I get it (it might) I will take some time to look over this town.



PRAISE

"Fantastic blog. You apparently feel that you're presenting the world with the journal of an "everyman" traveler. In fact, you come off as a highly competent, streetwise, fearless traveler. Normal, untraveled people reading your blog must find themselves saying "holy shit" repeatedly." - From David H.  I would like to say that being called 'streetwise' by a member of the Detroit police I consider high praise indeed.



PAGE VIEWS

Well, it's gone over 100,000!  Thanks for reading, folks.



LOGAN'S VOYAGE

Even more loved than the Black Death.



COSTS

Beer, big (why fuck around with the small ones?) about 80 baht.
Meal, simple, about 30-150 baht.
Place to stay, with AC and some nice stuff, 380-500 baht.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

HEROIC TALE OF SURVIVAL

DISCLAIMER

If you want to find the dullest person in the room, find the one who wants to talk about their medical problems.  If that's you, I'm sorry - you are fucking dreadful for other people to talk to.

So why am I writing about it?

a.  It is easy to escape.  Good manners keep many people tied to the spot as they try to work out some way to escape or hope a meteor will crash into the earth ending their pain.  With this medium, you just click to something else and you're away without fear of hurting Logan's feelings.


b.  This sort of thing helps highlight the 'every man' aspect I seem to personify.   Anyone thinking "Could I actually handle traveling?" has only to note that a 140 KG (over 300 lbs in the outdated system of Imperial) crippled sack of shit who thinks he isn't all that bright is out there doing it so clearly it can't be all that fucking hard.

When you google  'traveling fat man', you can get some weird stuff back.

c.  Medical stuff in foreign countries may be of interest.  It seems there were a lot of people interested when I had part of my body removed in the Republic of Georgia.  That could be because the hospital itself was fascinating or it could be the next reason.

"Why hair-roh there!"

d.  People like watching Logan suffer.  You bastards.


e.  Old people are notorious for this.  To be fair, attempting to survive through modern medicine is quite literally all that many of them have going on.  I'd rather eat a gun than get there but that way isn't for everyone.


So that's the disclaimer.  Because that's pretty much all that is going on right now with me for this week it's what is getting written about.  After my eyes eventually heal, I am planning on going further north and eventually giving Lao (or the French map misspelled 'Laos') another chance.


Tune in then.



A DAY IN THE LIFE

Woke up around eleven after seven hours of sleep not inspired by alcohol.  I've felt bad enough for the last couple weeks I haven't been drinking.  Those who I've stayed with have an idea of what that means.

Arising to the melody of band saw meets concrete, I eventually managed to wander off to get some supplies for the coming evening.  Mostly more water and toilet paper.  I've switched to that instead of my dew rags to try for a more sterile thing for my eyes.  Which are still fucked.


The pharmacist directed me a very short distance down the street to a 'clinic'.  Turns out this is my favorite type of clinic - free though you pay for medicine.  Also, they are unused to having non-Thais in there so I was kicked up to go in immediately.

In the past, trying to say 'no, I am happy to wait' and 'I don't want any special treatment' only tends to frustrate, confuse and delay them.  Just go with it.  Think about it from their end.  If some foreigner has something serious happen while waiting to see the doctor, it is going to be a huge hassle.  Better to just thank them, try to move through speedily and not cause a fuss.

While consulting the doctor about my medicine and such, I began complaining that I couldn't translate into Khmer (that's Cambodian talkie talkie for those in the USA) without the wifi, the doctor patiently explained he was Thai.


It then struck me that I had again forgotten what country I was in.  Had I been in a cheesy sitcom, I'd have looked at the camera and said "I'm not in Cambodia?  That would explain why I've had so much Thai food lately!"  And pause for the laugh track.  Only the laugh track.

Apparently, my brain isn't working well either.


Since my health isn't robust enough with my eyes red and trying to crust over, I decided "Yeah, let's have a go at the foot I've been limping around on."  The seventy year old mother of the owner of the hostel was negotiated down to two hundred baht from three for a foot and leg 'massage'.  She attempted to renegotiate five times during the next hour but I stuck to my guns.  You are seen as a weak, stupid, rich foreigner if you give up those extra three dollars.  Plus, we'd already come to a deal.  As Patton Oswalt​ is so fond of saying "Break a deal, face the wheel."  Or is that the Road Warrior?  I forget.


Rather than just ineffectually rubbing my leg for awhile, she pulled out a hammer and some sort of stone chisel and went to work on them.   She did stop to ask me what the fuck was up with my leg.  I gave her the equivalent of 'it is what it is'.   For foreign readers, this is a phrase people in business within the USA are fond of using.  It means you have a fucked up situation or thing but that is all you have to work with.  Generally, this is caused by the normal shapers of human experience, incompetence, laziness and stupidity.  In my case, poor health.  And incompetence, laziness and stupidity.

Then she walked around on my legs making me wish she was a lot thinner.  It wouldn't have been so bad if she didn't laugh at my pain as often.


When my hour of light torture was concluded, it was time for a walk to follow her recommendation of 'stretching out'.  Only a couple kilometers through much worse pain were endured.


And I ate the worst Thai meal I'd ever had.  Bad food is so rare in Thailand, I thought I'd mention it.

And that, gentle readers, is my heroic tale of survival.



ROUND TWO

This is being written a few days later.

After five days of intense, hourly treatment of my eyes with antibacterial eye drops and taking four horse pills a day of some pill I was vaguely told was good for me, my eyes had not improved.

Back to the clinic.

The nice young doctor was not there.  He had been replaced with an old, mean guy who was very upset I was interrupting his boxing.

He was such a bad doctor that he didn't want to hear anything I said.  He had no interest in what medicine I had been taking or anything.  He kept yelling "I am the doctor - I will talk you not!  I will tell you things!"

I think he had mental health issues - or was a huge boxing fan.


After discovering a better (or any) doctor was not available, I took the wildly dangerous motorcycle taxi to the hospital.

They are decades away from wearing helmets that could do anything but fall off in the event of an accident, wear them correctly (or even fully on the head) and so forth.  But there are rarely enforced helmet laws.

Once at the hospital, I determined that my German was much better than people's English who worked there.  Their English may have been on par with my Spanish which is not a reassuring thing.   Attempting to use the translate to Thai function on my phone (love my phone) resulted in the amusing yet sad recurring phenomena  of them attempting to read the English text.  Rather than the highlighted Thai text.

How I wish I were joking.

As my good friend Jana once said, Google translate does make 'little puzzles' but watching them attempt to even read the Thai characters - sometimes with more difficulty than the English ones - makes me think that language should just be scrapped.  Pretty much, anyone not using Latin characters (like what you are reading now) is being left behind much as anyone using the Imperial measurement system.  Both countries.  Out of over two hundred.

"No, this works better and let me tell you why..."

But I digress.

So, I'm in a hospital where understanding will eventually be reached, but it will be a hard road.

Eventually, I got on to what I always think of as 'the track'.  This is where you are getting sent to different stations where they collect different bits of information and such.  Because they somehow figured out I was a foreigner, they assigned various native guides to me to keep me from getting lost forever.


For those interested, my blood pressure was 160/100.  A bit higher than normal but not terribly so.  For me.  If yours hits that, seek medical help immediately.  I would also like to point out that it was tested twice and the other was much lower.  I have doubts about their equipment.

The scale went up to 140 KG.  According to the scale, I weighed 140 KG.  For the various wits out there, the needle didn't hit a post.  While on the scale, I do wish I was eating a large hamburger.


Experience has taught me to try to find out how much treatment and such costs before you get it to prevent a heart attack - though a hospital is generally a decent place to have one.  Nobody could tell me.  Eventually, I had to talk to an accounting supervisor who sounded a lot like they were guessing when they said 300 baht.  That's approximately $10 USD so I was good with that.  Less than fifty is generally good though when it is given in baht it looks huge.

The general practitioner sent me off to see their eye doctor.  This made me happy though for some reason, they wanted to run me through the eye test.  I can count to ten in Korean about as well as the lady could do in English, meaning she knew some but not all of the characters on the board.  So I would slip in other answers in a confident tone of voice such as 'dinosaur' and 'peach' and she would nod and point at the next one.  The funny thing is that next to the board she could not use - which was inexplicably in English - they had the E board.  This is made for illiterate people where the E points in different directions.  By means of hand signals, you point which way the E does.   This board was not used.  Weird.

With medicine and such, I ended up being charged only 150 baht.  They took away all of my paper work and it looked like everything was done.  "Is that all?  Finish?  More money?"  "No, have good!"  OK.  Good enough and I'm off.

So now I have two different types of eye drops that I have been instructed to use "until".  Until my eyes get better.

Not my eyes.  But they were there...

We'll see how that goes.

Congratulations if you made it this far.  I'd suggest going down to volunteer at the old folks retirement home.  I'm sure they'd love to have someone so patient!



PYRAMIDS (A bit of bad poetry for you)

Three small pyramids sit along the edge of the sea,
Projecting upward eldritch energy.

Who built them or why they are there
Nobody seems to care.

When you gaze upon them with wonder,
These questions from you are torn asunder.

Past the sands of the beach is a jungle
Which hides a cyclopean temple.

Twined with plants and vines without
It fills your mind with doubt

If in ancient days of yore it was of human design
or of darker force as others opine.

How I should like to visit again this strange land
but the key lies in Morpheus' hand.




COSTS

Across town on motorcycle taxi, 20-30 baht.
Tuk tuk, double above.
Medical visit with medicine, 150 baht.



Friday, October 2, 2015

WARNING - CONTAINS SHOCKING CONTENT

LIGHT BULBS

Sitting in a room in Thailand when suddenly, the main light begins to go crazy blinking on and off at random.

It's only 9 PM so I go downstairs to find help.  The only person initially around is a guy with no English.  OK.  By hand signs, I let him know there is a problem and signal him to come up to my room.

No, it's not like that you dirty bastards.

He takes a look at the light and begins playing with the controls for the fan.

Not kidding.

After he has made it abundantly clear that he doesn't know how lights work, I remember the name of the lady whose place it is and who speaks English.  I repeat the name a few times until he gets the idea I want to talk to her.

We go find her.

Like most of the people in Asia, it seems that owning extra supplies is a foreign concept.  There are no extra lights.  Tomorrow, someone will be sent out to purchase one (1) light and stick it in.

Any time there is a problem, the only thing they will offer is to have you move rooms.

I try to explain that it will be several (probably six plus) hours till I go to bed and that I am working on my computer.  She tells me I can go to the other room when I want to sleep.

I explain that I will not need the light when I am asleep but will need it while I am working (ie playing on my computer).  This also seems an alien concept.

After checking with me a couple more times to make sure I wouldn't prefer to sleep in a room with a working light, she announces she needs to give her daughter a shower.

The original non-English speaking night guard guy made a show of looking for another light but apparently none is to be had.

This highlights the importance of a good public education system.

And foresight.

Light bulbs are not expensive - even here.  Not having a few on hand is baffling.

Even when I was working in Georgia, I was the guy who initiated the 'hey, let's keep extra shit we will eventually use on hand' program.

We'll see if tomorrow I can get a new light.  For now, I am using the bed reading light.

Which is still brighter than the 5 watt bulb I had in Indonesia.

Later, on Facebook, one of my brighter friends (Derek) asked why I didn't just request a light bulb be taken from a working room.

Then, I felt stupid and missing those 'critical thinking skills'.

Ah, well.

The next day, it got fixed.  After I asked about it in the 'it had better get fixed because there are plenty of options for hotels in this town' tone of voice.



MISSIONARIES

As I travel the world, I sometimes run into missionaries.

This is a stock photo I found on the internet.  I don't care enough about missionaries to take their picture.  But it does show them in their uniform.  Because people who have never heard of Jesus don't go to hell for not believing in him (how could they?) it is best to slay these people on sight.

Rather than trying to convince them not to believe what they believe ("A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still") I try to convince them to go to Islamic countries to preach.

"But we'll be killed!" they whine.

"Ah!" I retort, "But you'll then be a martyr and god loves those!"

Another happy soul gone to Heaven!  (If this shocks you, please look again at the title of this blog entry and realize you have only yourself to blame.  Also, I just found this on the internet.  No idea if it is real.)

I look at it as a win, win, win scenario.

They get to die and an their opinion go to heaven,
They get to die for something they believe in,
I don't have to look at their stupid faces any more.



PLANNING

Took some time out of my rigid schedule of staring straight ahead and drinking water to do some research on 'what comes after this town'.

So  far, this town has been unfolding slowly for me.  I am slowly finding some of the good things about it.  No problem there, I have time.  At first glance it reminded me a bit of the dread Hat Yai.  With a couple of nice temples.  But I'm still slowly exploring the city.

I think what I like best about this city is that it is not overrun with tourists.  Because they have less sex tourists (and pedophiles) here than some of the other Thai cities, they don't have a shitty attitude toward tourists.

I may just spend most of my month exploring this area.  I've got a decent room which is mostly (fucking construction in the mornings) quiet and it has all of the stuff I like in a room.  Easy access to the outdoors to smoke, a small desk for the computer, even a fridge for storing my water.

I've not yet bought alcohol here though tomorrow it might be time to go find some.  Honestly, I'm waiting to see if the eye dropper medicine of happiness can kill the fuck you conjunctivitis.  It appears to be a stalemate.  I have more eye droppers and feel confident that eventually I will win.  (Note, this was written a couple days before 'Triple Punch' below...)

Two things make me happy that I've done a tad bit of research.  First, while it is possible to get a 'visa on arrival' in Laos, you can't take the 'international bus' and go straight over the border.  They don't wait.  So, if I get a visa in the Thai town of Khon Kaen, it will presumably make things a bit easier.

I'm sure there are some good and worthwhile border towns out there - I've just never seen them.  They are usually dodgy shit holes with multitudes of beggars and dodgy people.  A bit closer to what the 'American' Wild West was probably really like as opposed to the movies.

Or, this extremely old TV show which most of my readers are too young to remember being on TV.  Yes, this was better than the movie poor Will Smith gave up doing the Matrix (yes) to do.  And less giant mechanical spiders.

This is especially weird in Laos because their capital city is the border town - Vientiane.  So, it looks like my research may have simplified.

Not that there's anything wrong with that but I don't like carrying around all of my earthly possessions in them like some sort of freak from the movie Labyrinth.

About how Logan looks after being on a bus for a long damned time then forced to carry all his shit through town looking for a room.

The second reason I wanted to do a bit of research is to figure out what towns I've been to and not go back to them.  They weren't very good for me first time around.  I realize that things may have changed a bit in three to four years but honestly, they probably haven't.

The two towns I went to last time were Luang Probang and Pakse, according to my blog.  Going to try to avoid those.

Reading up on Vientiane, it looks like they (Laos government) may not be thrilled with budget accommodation in the capital so I may just breeze through that.  Also, I have remembered that the new year is coming up.  I'm going to have to try to find somewhere extra quiet for that as people tend to go insane.  Or maybe noisy.  Not sure.

Staying in or next to a 'party place' or one with construction is like...

After doing some more research, it appears I will make a stab into northern Laos.  A possible problem is that Vietnam doesn't have 'visa on arrival' for some damned reason.  After last time there, do I want to go through the hassle of getting a visa beforehand?  Not sure.  Plus, they try to block Facebook.  That's annoying and strange.

After all of the research, I'm not sure if I will be heading into Laos, staying for a month then returning back through Thailand or if I will be attempting to gain entry into Vietnam.



DAY IN THE LIFE

I've been working on pushing myself to walk a little further every day.  From the looks on the faces of the people where I stay, I might have pushed a bit hard today.

When I came in limping (arthritis in my foot) and crying (conjunctivitis) they began poking at my legs and talking in Thai.  Since they speak no English, by signs I tried to assure them I was OK.  They tried to assure me I am not.

Walking around, I feel a bit like a pirate with a peg leg.  But mine hurts.

But, aside from the body breaking down a bit, I feel fine.

But as the late great Hunter S. Thompson said, “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”



A DIFFERENT DAY IN THE LIFE

Getting triple punched today.

My eyes (conjunctivitis) have gotten worse.

Sadly, in my lifetime, cheap cyber eye replacements will not be available.

In Asia (and parts of eastern Europe) your first step is not to the doctor, it is to the pharmacist.   Mine doesn't speak English but she did advise me to start a course of antibiotics and move my dosage of eye drops up to the 'oh fuck' level.  So I'll be on that for a few days.  Since my eyes are moving into the 'sensitive to light' phase, that means I'll be staying closer to my lodgings.

My foot hurts so bad I'm keeping an eye out for a cane.  Since my umbrella which I sometimes used as a cane got stolen.  As pretty much all Asians are shorter than I am, their umbrellas are shorter.  Unless I develop a much more pronounced hunch than I currently have (we're talking Igor here) I'm going to need a longer cane or stick.  Keeping my eyes open for a place that sells canes as that is much less threatening and unusual than carrying a stick around.

And my ass seems to have gotten set to - as the Vietnam era military would put it 'spray and pray'.  Hence, I am taking my A.S.S. (anti shit stuff) pills.

The classy, luxurious travel is mine!  Love it.

The people who run the guesthouse seem confused that I would opt to sit in my room rather than do what other tourists do.  Though I dislike the enforced inactivity, I feel bad enough that I dealt with it today.  Hopefully, tomorrow I can go wander around some.



COSTS

Room with a bed and a fan, about 300 baht.
Room with a bed, fan, writing desk, AC, fridge, about 500 baht.
Street food, about 100 baht.
Cheap restaurant, about 200 baht.
Fancy restaurant, about 400 baht?
Water, 20 baht.
Beer, 50-60 baht.

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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