Actually Tuesday is newsletter day, but I am always late or not so late with the letter, as I just keep adding and do not get the complete thought until I am late. I suppose the Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland was right. “I’m late.”
But here is Mongolia and Nomadic Nights with a guest writer, my friend Jeff Westin in the Newsletter. Plus the Travel Tip tells you how to connect your computer in an Internet Café.
Photos of Russia, Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia, Beijing, Trains and a few girls in I be Hobo shirts.
HOBOGUIDE.COM THANKS TO ANDREW FROM INDIA
Hoboguide.com an online guide that I am working on is making progress. I want to thank Andrew S, a techie from Margao, India. He is happy, vigorous, and systematically attacking and helping me to make an online guidebook for the world.
He has done or made the choices with only a little guidance from me on the architecture of the site. He has a good tone and feel.
Thank You Andrew S from Margao, India.
UP WITH PRETTY GIRLS, DOWN WITH FRIENDLY TRAVELERS
I suppose the quality of looks and belly buttons has improved in Thailand, but the quality of smiles and friendly dispositions has taken a drop among the travelers. Mongolia has a culture traveler as doe countries like Laos or South America and this is a different channel of travelers. But looks do sell, and packaging is good, I am not complaining and I am going to the beach to see what happens with no packaging.
RAN INTO GIRL FROM HAMPI, INDIA
I spent Christmas Eve with a nice American girl with from New York City and the same New York methodology of looking at or taking from the world. She was looking at some books to buy here in Bangkok and I spied the black, curly, JAP - Jewish American Princess from the back, and then waited for here to turn around to see if I was dreaming, or it is other dreams of mine.
She was funny and telling me all of her exploits and how she wishes to go to MBA School in Thailand. That does seem a Darwinian regression, especially for the East Coast person that has some good schools out there. I do not know what to say about studying in other countries. The best foundations are in the first level countries, and more maybe of the practical or applied in another country.
I do not want to live in Thailand. I love to visit, but I am looking for life more in huggable countries with more touch and feel. I suppose I want to be more sensitive to people like my girl friend in college Judy always wanted from me, and I was clueless. Some countries I am a visitor and other countries I could be integrated into the fabric of their society. But Thailand is definitely fun in a more basic way, and this is good.
I made a complaint about the culture of India and she commented that if I really wanted to learn about culture I would go visit or go see people.
I told her,
“I took local buses from city to city for 90 percent of India.”
In a country where all the travelers take the train, I took the bus to see what is maybe closer to real India whatever that means. To learn about a culture it takes time and isolation from travelers. You cannot buy a culture lesson or go visit a family for a culture lesson. I suppose you can learn about rich well to do families in other countries if you live with them and they for sure will put on their best Sunday go to meeting attitude and represent their country as great Ambassadors and such, but to really find the country. I think you need to spend at minimum 10 days in each city; find places where there are ZERO tourist and learn the language a little. Home stays and living with families is a good thing, but not really getting into the trenches with people.
What I find is that other cultures are uncomfortable, and when I am experiencing a culture I am on foreign ground, and nothing feel right, because I am not in my culture. If it feels good, and seems good, you are probably in a try-to-be-western-culture world of make believe.
People that do not want to talk to you, and have no reason to talk to you, and really cannot be bothered, are the happenstance world of culture. But do not think that living with a wannabe western like family in another culture is NOT culture. It is culture it is a wannabe western like family in another country culture.
Sort of like the guy or girl that does not want to be fashion, or trendy and cops out and flakes out to be a hippie, and has dreads, tattoos, and makes a statement.
“Rage against the machine.”
“They are so trendy they are globalization of fashion, music, and dread, with tinges of Bob Marley, and Che Guererro for kicks.”
There is nothing unique about them, and nothing is freethinking about a person that looks and acts like the group.
I will admit. I do think there is real rage though. That smelly undercurrent inside a person that is wishing to push or hurt someone, even if only by being so obnoxious and intolerant as to try to push their lifestyle on anyone that does not want it.
BANGKOK MEMORIES - WEDNESDAY 17, MARCH
It is Wednesday morning and I have been shaking and burning around in Bangkok, restocking, buying, and organizing to go to the beach and also for Cambodia, Vietnam, and possible Manila, Philippines, I suppose it would be better to fly to the Philippines and then to Vietnam, and come by land across Cambodia back to Thailand to fly to either Europe or who knows where.
I am talking to Mr. Joe my friend in Southeast Travels and tours trying to find the best options. The Vietnam and Cambodia Visa takes a few days so I can apply and then come back to Bangkok to pick them up.
I am sure I want to go to the beach, and Bangkok is quickly becoming the big, noisy, and full of traveler city it is for me. I can feel it surrounding me, and making me feel like a small town boy in the big city. This is often my stress and disarranged feeling because I am out of sort in a city and feel better in the small places of life.
The smell of Bangkok is funny. There is a methane gas smell along the streets because the storm sewers are mixed with the wrong sanitary sewer stuff and is ripe. I am not sure if most travelers smell this, but there is a definite ripe smell in the background of smells when you get close enough. There are these square cement blocks with ventilation holes that block up the storm sewers, but also allow them to evaporate and smell.
I am staying in the Sawasdee INN. It cost me 180 Baht per night and is not the cheapest, but very safe and has a color TV down in the common area. It is just at the end of Khao San road and behind the temple hidden. There are about 12 Sawasdee Hotel in Thailand and they have purple signs, but they are confusing. This is the INN one.
I would probably stay in the Peachy if the noise in the television area were quieter. The Peachy is where I book bus tickets for places in Thailand.
I met with a man from Farangs.com or a Thailand Booking site last night. He makes money with his webpage and is one of the few. I am working with him on a project and maybe he will help with a Web cam I am trying to put up on Khao San Road. We are going to Panthip or a the cheapie Computer Mall store here in Bangkok today, it is full of everything cheap and the stuff we are not suppose to buy.
He knows lots of ways for me to make money to travel. So life is very good. I think I learned more in one night of discussions then I have in the last year on how to make money on my page. He has a very good booking or reservation page for Thailand Hotels.
THAILAND HOTELS - FARANGS.COM
ARRIVED IN THAILAND - MONDAY MARCH 14, 15 2004
I arrived in Thailand. I suppose it is debatable a little what is the date, because I am getting to pay for the 14th because I arrived at 1:00 AM in the morning on the 15, but they did not want to let me enter without paying for the 14th.
I paid 12000 Mongolian Turig or 11 Dollars U.S. Airport tax to leave Ulan Batar, Mongolia. The person at the desk said I needed to pay for a transit visa to enter China for the layover. They fortunately allowed me to get on the plane and when I arrive in China there was no problem or I would have had to pay another 30-40 U.S. Dollars just to fly through China. I am very happy to get out of this ridiculous fee pay zone of Russia, and China.
My large bag weighed in at about 23 kilos again for the trip from Ulan Batar, Mongolia to Bangkok, Thailand. My small bag is probably around 13 kilos.
It took from 8:05 am to 8:40 am to be completely packed and read to leave or 35 minutes. The problems I always have is that I do not put away things and I also still have a lot of little things that do not really have a place.
Problem areas are the shower and books.
I am going to make a bigger shower bag when I got to Thailand and a cotton book holder. I am almost to the point where if I was a person that put away things I could pack in less than 10 minutes with zero hurry and able to unpack my bag completely in 2 minutes.
I am wanting the goal of being able to hang up all my stuff in a Hostel in 2 minutes and have all the gear available easily. One of the greatest reasons I do not move more is that I hate to pack, if the packing was extremely quick than I would move from location to location quicker.
SUNDAY MORNING - LEAVING BY PLANE TODAY TO THAILAND
It is about 7:00 am and I have been playing, working, or typing on my computer and arranging pages for the last few hours already this morning. I am leaving by plane for Thailand this morning or really at 12:30 pm and this is going to occupy my whole day and night. I will get into Thailand just after midnight and this is going to kill the day.
But I am very happy to think of beaches.
It takes about ½ hour for me to pack, but I always seem to allot about two hours and than when I have extra time there is no problems. I am always amazed at the people that have no room for error system of packing. This to me right now would be a 370 Dollars U.S. gamble. People will miss their planes and go look at tourist attractions right up to the minute the leave or hang around in places and then suddenly realize they have to leave.
I will start packing now at 7:00 am and get ready. Then I will be packed for the 5000 Mongolian money or Turig trip I will take to the Airport. I think I can get it for 3000, but the owner of the Nassan is much more dependable than me trying to explain “Airport” to a Mongolian person.
So the day is a wash, and better to work on reading that is easily fit in to extra time then to believe that I would miss something in Mongolia if I did not go and look at it. I have realized that it is not important if I miss something and the day is more important, and 370 Dollars is one months worth of living and I do not want to miss the plane.
Life is good, and then you have confusion. The confusion is the stress caused by making a choice that is not needed to make. The more I say no, the less the confusion.
I am in Bangkok, Thailand. Nice to be walking in sandals down the road and remembering the smell of a Bangkok. Each city has a smell and a feel, and this one is familiar. I am restocking and realizing that the cost of good in Thailand seem lower and more selection than in India, Nepal, Tibet, China, or Mongoliaa so a great place to restock on things like coffee, and other miscellaneous stuff.
Life is good, and I cannot complain.
Mongolia has been great in an aggressive and girl type of way. The country is modern medieval all in one. Great place to park your hat in the summer...!
But the people are nice, and the world is good here. They are coming out of the a Soviet depression, but the people seem to be working and prosperous in a way.
Hostels are cheap at 4.00 U.S. and life is simpler here. Good place for a Hobo to stay for a couple of weeks to recharge.
Now to Thailand for a different type of recharging.
Beach and Babes.
Leave tommorrow morning for Thailand by Air China. 370 Dollars U.S.
Big money for Hobo... ! Send money.. hehehe
About one-half the 2.5 million population of Mongolia live in these Gur tents. Hard to say they are Nomadic, but that is the romantic view. They are 1/2 the time permanant if not all the time in the same location.
I have lot of photos of Gurs, or the tents that they Mongolian people use for homes here so I am prepared for one more story on Mongolia and off to Thailand for the beach.
I will go visit Cambodia and Vietnam, and maybe got to Singapore and Indonesia. I am not sure. I am still trying to get to Eastern Europe in the spring.
LOTS OF CRIME OR VIOLENCE IN ULAN BATOR MONGOLIA
Saturday March 13, 2004
There was a couple that came back from the Gur or Tents of the Mongolians yesterday. People go and live in the tents with the Mongolians to experience the life and ride the ponies or horses. Well this couple, one Brit boy with an Iceland girl went with a girl that was from Mongolia that was a friend to visit the Gurs.
I the end they paid double for the price of the ponies and the one guy got caught with their money, or traveler checks in his possession.
I am living in the Nassan Guesthouse. It is good, but the UB is probably better because they have movies and lockers, and even thought the Nassan says they have movies, they do not.
But there was this guy hanging around from Mongolia in the guesthouse while Nassan’s husband went to the Gurs for a few days. I did not think about it, because I thought he was working for the lady the owner called Nassan.
He is a good guy, but hang around, and wants people to buy him drinks. He went to the market with us, and helped a lot to translate and buy things. He was an ok guy.
Well, he comes in the other afternoon while I am lying in my dorm bed trying to take a nap. He sits down and smelling of alcohol tells me that he love Nassan, and that the problems with Nassan is because her husband. I could care less about the local drunks drinking and having affairs.
But then in comes Nassan with her husband, and he actually hits this guy and more or less they get in a fight. They finally leave, and Nassan hollers at me,
“There are rules against having guest inside.”
I have no idea how he got in, but I am 90 percent sure that Nassan the owner let him in, and when he husband came back she changed her story and blame us.
There is a real physical or violent nature to the Mongolian society and this makes life interesting. I do think that people traveling alone or going to the Gurs should take great care.
Will do an end around to visit Russia and come in from the other side in the next year and save a lot of money.
I am going to Thailand on Sunday.
Lay on the beach, go check out Cambodia and Vietnam then off to ... Maybe, Maybe Greece.
The Olympics is there this year. I believe.
Life is good.
Andy in Ulan Bator, Mongolia going for the sun.