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Some places not to visit Dec 03

Okay, these are my opinion. Some people, maybe many, might disagree.

Vietnam. Maybe you’re a vet and would like to go back and check the place out again. Go ahead. Just remember that the prevailing philosophy of the communist countries in that part of the world is to Fleece the Rich American. You’re best off in a group, and it’s not as cheap as, say, Indonesia. Vietnam is working on improving its tourist image and skills, and they’ve come a long way, but they have a long way to go.

Cambodia. Improving, but still too poor to offer much. The cities are, crowded and uncomfortable, and if you get out in the countryside, watch out for land mines. They have done a lot of work on their roads, and I recommend you stay on them. The country was hurt pretty badly in the Vietnam war era, and they are still recovering.

They do have Angkor Wat, which is spectacular enough to justify a trip. Be careful of the surrounding area, though. Mostly slipshod development.

One of the most spectacular human-built structures in the world.

Philippines. Unless you’re going back to visit relatives, you will find lots better places to visit. About every human-occupied place is full of trash—they don’t clean up very well. The government and lack of “peacefulness” in the culture aren’t super good for tourists. Beware of the food and water. Not much gourmet food here. Not much in the line of historical buildings, either.  Here’s the first word in a text box on their official tourism site: “Pursuant…” Friendly, eh?

Underwater adventures are okay, though. The hill country in the northern part of Luzon with all those rice terraces isn’t bad. If you like to sail among islands, you’ll find more than 7000 of them to sail around. Not all the natives are friendly, though. One good thing about the populated areas: the educated folks pretty much all speak good English. I get a lot of customer service agents with Philippine accents. They’re easier for me to understand than the folks from India.

Burma. Oops, Myanmar. Forget the shave. Oppressive, unfriendly government. Poverty. Go someplace else.

Enough gloom and doom. Nice places next time.

Category: Misadventure  | Leave a Comment
Pizza flags Nov 24

Another interruption to the cheap travel thread…

Cute article by someone deeply into travel. Describes making pizzas to match flags of the countries she’s visited.

The flag maker is a Taiwanese lady. Be sure to follow the link.

Category: Adventure  | Leave a Comment
Quickie between cheap travel posts Nov 14

This is a link to a travelog of an auto trip from southern California to the southern tip of South America, taken by two young ladies from Lithuania. It’s long, and it doesn’t have a lot of photos, and its from a couple years ago, but it’s still worth reading. Lots of good advice.

And we Americans wouldn’t have to go overseas to take this trip…

Category: General  | Leave a Comment
Moving right along—to Malaysia Nov 12

Malasia is the south end of the peninsula that includes Thailand. The narrow Strait of Malacca separates it from Indonesia, directly to the south.

Malaysia is the most westernized country in this part of the world. Good if you’re timid about visiting really strange places. Not all of it is fancy hotels and museums, or large metropolitan areas, though you can certainly find all of that. This street is in Melaka, a city that goes back to the early 1400′s.

I've seen a lot of streets that look pretty much like this

Lest I disappoint you with that blue-collar-looking neighborhood, Malaysia has lots of modern, high-tech exotic locales, too. Everybody has seen the Petronas Twin Towers in the capital. Here’s another area, called the sustainable towers. To me, all cities are inherently unsustainable, but there you have it.

Sustainable residential design. See the trees inside?

The toilets are western style and you can drink the water. Transportation is comfortable. Lots of people speak Engrish. Prices are higher.

Get out of town and prices are still a lot cheaper than what you’ll find in the US, but more than elsewhere in this part of the world.

The interior jungle is still pretty good, though it’s disappearing (they’re chopping down the jungle and building sustainable towers. Go figure.), and the beaches and islands are beautiful. Find the right island and you and your spouse can enjoy a nice place with meals and snorkeling gear for maybe $25 a day. If I want a big town, though, I’ll go visit NYC.

All cheap, but price makes a difference Nov 10

Take sleeping, for instance. You can’t get cheaper than free. Even in the US, I have often slept for free next to my motorcycle. I have yet to find anywhere that will pay me to sleep.

But let’s consider actual sleeping accommodations. In Bali, part of Indonesia. For one night. What do you pay, and what do you get?

$1–$4 gets you a basic room with a shared bath (down the hall) out in the country, not in town. This type of place is called a guesthouse. (ahem) Your Serenity agent will fix you up with something higher class, but if you’re out vagabonding, this is where it’s at. These are not part of any chain as far as I know, and you pretty much have to ask around to find one.

$5–$10 gets you a shower of your own, and in the right areas gets you a big room with a private bath, veranda, surrounded by tropical gardens. The upper end of this range includes a king-size bed, maid service and breakfast.

This look worth $10 a night to you?

$15 in some areas gets you air conditioning and a pool.

$20 or less on Samosir Island gets you a two-room suite

Off season, $50–75 in most of the country gets you a place that would rate four stars.

Let’s head into Jakarta. You can spend $250 at a lavish resort. And they go way up from there in the right areas. If you’re determined to spend a grand per night, you can do it.

Now let’s talk about food. Typical Indonesian food is one of a million variations on noodle or rice soup. Spiciness varies a lot, too. You won’t get bored. Indonesia, by the way, is where chickens came from, and you can see them running around, and you can get them in your soup. They’re leaner than the relaxed, plump ladies I keep in my back yard, but they’re better off than the poor creatures in a chicken factory. But I digress.

$0.40 gets you a cheap meal from a street vendor. Eat where you can see the food being prepared, and from places that look clean. Spend a buck in a restaurant. Some places serve family style. The tab will come to a few bucks. Tourist traps cost you maybe $15 unless you go to some world-famous place. Seafood is the best meat to eat, and don’t drink the water! The coffee is okay, though. Actually, the coffee is outstanding.

This guy found an uncrowded spot to pose for his picture

You get the idea. The cheaper the more adventuresome. The more expensive, the more like home. And why would you go to Indonesia to experience what you can get at home?

Category: Adventure, Plug  | Leave a Comment