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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

SIBU AND THE TRIADS

GENERAL NOTE

This blog is comprised of several entries I've save up over a few days.



KUCHING MALAYSIA

Where the red pointer is a-pointin'!

Figured I'd show it with the map as it's alien enough to most people that they would just nod as though they knew.  Kind of like on the TV show "Last Week Tonight" when they show a map with the Amazon river and say "You think about it so little that you haven't even realized this is not the Amazon" then show you a map with it on it.

Americans especially, are shit at geography.


With two big oceans (do they know which are which?  Maybe - if they live next to them) to help seal off the rest of the world, most don't care.  That only leaves Canada (yawn) or Mexico - which Trump has promised to build a big wall to seal off.  Here is an interesting article you can read about some other guy's opinion on the USA.  And here is an easy link to the video he tried to link to.  I'm not sure where that is from but it is still a classic.

Listening to William Gibson's "The Sprawl" series; Cyberpunk novels.  When Gibson gives the description of whatever dystopian hovel the protagonists find themselves, I look around where I'm staying and think "Lucky bastards."

Where the fuck are my cyber implants?

Malaysia doesn't generally 'blow my skirt up'.  It's a bit more expensive than Thailand, a bit cleaner, a bit more modern.  But not really enough to justify the higher expense.  It is still a wee bit under eastern Europe which would be why I am here, not there.  Save, save, save.

When people think about 'Chinese food' a generally positive picture comes to mind.  Actual Chinese food in SE Asia prepared by actual Chinese workers (as opposed to whatever immigrants the restaurant has smuggled in the back) is disgusting and horrifying.  This works as a great weight loss diet for yours truly.  I'll have to get a lot more hungry before I eat what looks like regurgitated slop cooked on a rusty metal ashtray.

[Note, I tried to google for 'ugly Chinese food' but everything I saw looked pretty good compared to what I see here so just imagine it in your mind.]

But a free three month visa is hard to pass up.

Sometimes, you can find Indian restaurants.  If the menu can be understood, I still don't know what everything is.  Buffets are my friend but I've not run across any in this town.

Comes American fast crappy food to save the day.


They were selling six ringgit pizza by the slice at Pizza Hut outside.  Sure.  Don't know when I'll eat again and all of the good food seems to be a kilometer or two from where I'm staying.

Not the furthest I've had to walk for food.

The hotel hasn't figured out that one weak assed router just isn't enough to supply the hotel.  It can't even reach up to the floor I'm on - one above ground.  I'll leave it to your nationality to work out whether I'm on the first floor or second.  But the only way to get steady wifi seems to be stealing it from a different hotel who have inexplicably failed to password protect theirs.

This city isn't giving me a headache like the desperate KL whose taxi drivers and massage whores would relentlessly badger you.  Here, people seem to figure if you want something you'll ask.

Without two or three reasonably priced restaurants I like I'm not sure how long I'll be here.  Probably going to start researching further destinations along the way.  Might end up getting to Brunei then heading south into Indonesia.

Would like to hit Brunei - be the first kid from my block to set foot onto their sovereign soil.  Hell, I'm probably the only kid from my block to have left the continental United States.  Who knows?  Nobody cares, least of all the person who hasn't traveled.


I had been thinking about going to a small town named Simunjan, but it looks like it might be too small and their main attraction closed coal mines that are too dangerous to actually enter.  Not a huge tourist draw, I'm thinking.

 The next town would be the Triad controlled town of Sibu.  No, messing with the Triads never ends well.  Do not encourage me to do so!  It looks like a really small town with not a lot going on other than dire warnings about gangsters.


[Note - read on to see what I later discovered!]



LOGAN'S COMPUTER RANT


My friends in the states who know about computers believe I am a 'computer dunce'.  I also believe I have no special skills in computers. At all.

By comparison to the people I meet up with here, I am a computer god. Not kidding. They think if you have five bars, you have good internet. They don't know what a wifi booster is. They have friends set up their wifi who surprisingly little.

This is baffling to me. I've had to use a water/well analogy several times to explain boosters to baffled owners.

Now, this isn't scientifically proven or anything (AKA 'a wild rant'), but I've become of the opinion that I was born on the cusp between 'knows nothing about computers' and 'knows something about computers'. In other words, people older than I am generally (80%+) have no clue what makes them go. They think actual Nigerian princes are wanting their help and contacting them in badly misspelt e-mails. People younger than I generally (to various degrees) 'get' the internet. They may not know what TCP/IP or DNS is, but they are pretty well meshed with the internet. At least to the extent of posting their highly narcissistic selfies to various social media.



SIBU AND THE TRIADS

According to my computer, I am in Sibu.  What a wonderful world where I can have electronics tell me where I've wandered.  Unfortunately, the electronics sometimes lie to me as well.

Well, shit.

Within the opening paragraph, Wikivoyage states:  "Unofficially, Sibu has been coined the 'Wild West' of Malaysia and the term has existed for more than 20 years. The nickname came about due to the nature of 'lawlessness' and frequent triad activities in Sibu."

Due to my rather romantic nature, I imagined that within an hour of arrival, I'd have been led through an opium den so that I could drink with new Triad friends while they shook handfuls of money on a no rules barehanded pit fight.

This is not true.

It took a whole day.

I so wish I wasn't lying.


On the surface, this town is pretty darned dull.  It is a 'bit more Chinese' - not only in terms of population but architecture as well.  Not only tons of advertising signs ("buy my shit!") but the whole set up is a bit maze-like.

That's a good and bad thing.  Bad in that it is a bit trickier to find stuff, good in that it is a bit more interesting than neatly laid out streets.

At least in Malaysia I'm seeing that the Chinese didn't seem to be strong on the whole 'civil planning' thing.  Given what was up in the long ago China this is a bit odd.

So, I'm exploring the town.

[Mentally insert pictures here because trying to upload them on this slow assed internet isn't going to happen.]

Internet seems to still be a problem in the dives I've been staying.

The first place (last night at the time of this writing) was a bit nicer than where I'm at now but the internet was a bit shitter.  I moved to a worse place for a tad better internet.  I'm going to keep exploring around but thus far it's been sub-Cambodia with downloads at 30 kb/s or less.  Yeah.  That bad.



WHERE IS SIBU?

I put a red 'x' about where Kuching is.  Between the two is eight hours of long bus ride on mildly crappy roads.  By that I mean 'lumpy' rather than 'destroyed dirt paths or post apocalyptic nightmares'.

It's amazing how big the world is due to needing to go slower due to inadequate roads.  I know Americans especially tend to think in terms of big fast highways but in most of the world you have one lane in each direction.  Everyone wants to go into oncoming traffic to pass slower vehicles.  On top of that, you have the scooters that stick to the far edges of the road hoping not to get smeared but who drive through stopped traffic.  And pedestrians.  And semi domesticated animals that might wander into the road.  Roads here are busy and way too narrow.  Double would be a huge step forward, triple size would be grand.  Never going to happen, but it's a nice thought.



WHAT'S THE PLAN?

Still moving forward to the Kingdom of Brunei.  At the download rate I've got thus far, I might have to wait to get there (they have the big internet hub for the island) before I can get my shows/entertainment.

If memory serves correctly, there is one place I can go within KOB (mmm....corn...) that I can afford.  As in one hostel.  There may be other places but I'm guessing they'll be expensive.  My goal is to pass through to not only see it but renew my Malaysia visa.  I'm going to keep working my way east for a bit.

After Brunei, I'm back in Malaysia.  I can't help but notice that it does put me fairly close to Philippines.  Will I be able to sleaze into them via boat or is it still cheaper to fly from KL?  I don't know and since most boat schedules are still in the 1980's or early 1990's, the best way to find out is still showing up at the docks.  Internet?  What is that and why would anyone want to see a boat schedule on it?  Duh...

So that is my general plan.  I'd have very much liked to head back to the USA but my wallet/bank balance is saying 'Are you high?'  Hence, I might just wander around in a circle within Asia for awhile.  Eventually, I'll head back up to Thailand because it is cheaper than Malaysia and Cambodia because I still like Siem Reap big much lots.  Gosh, I miss Mexican food.

Which leads me to wonder if after my trip through the states I should


Would I visit Mexico just to eat Mexican food?  If my research finds somewhere I can afford oh hell yes I would.



PRICES

Kuching:

Rooms under 50 MYR are probably best avoided unless you want to revel in greasy squalor.
Average rooms are about 60-80 MYR.
A decent room is 100-200 MYR.
Above that price are varying degrees of luxury.

In Sibu, you can get a only moderately 'dive' place for 50-60 MYR.  It's a bit cheaper than Kuching.  Not a huge amount - say ten percent or less - but a bit.

Also, for the entire island of Borneo - I was told prior to coming here that it was a 'duty free' area.  This normally means alcohol is cheaper.  If this is true I have yet to see it.  And believe me, I've been looking.

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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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