Katmandu, Nepal Asia
February 11, 2007
The Lonely Planet Guidebook, one I use regularly, however I am going to use Roughguide for Africa this time in an attempt to find cheaper rooms has a Forum.
Lonely Planet Thorntree Forum
This is one of my choices, the FORUM, not the Lonely Planet general site, for Top Travel Sites of 2006 in the English Language, a year in review, for travelers, not tourist.
A Forum is an Internet toy, where by a person can post a question, and get an answer. The Lonely Planet forum takes some work, you need to sign up, get a password, learn how it works, etc.
Something best done at home with a free connection…
The keep bumping me out of this, as I do not get online, I do not know why I have to keep registering.
Oh, well, the bottom line for a TRAVELER, and I would almost say a tourist should not use this Forum. The problem is there are many Hotels, Travel Agents, and people hanging around in this site trying indirectly soliciting clients. They pretend they are a person posting and recommend themselves.
However, IF you wished to go to the Congo, or Iraq, or some place where the Lonely Planet paper version of the guidebook is not much value. With a lot of time, with a lot of patience and planning way ahead, you can get some answers. Not normally good answers, but a GUIDE, not an answer. Some ideas that can steer you towards the correct answers, it is your choice; I do not recommend you just trust people on this Forum, it is just help.
I have many bad answers, they told me the border or Silopi, Turkey was absolutely closed when I entered Iraq, it was not, and I did not believe and found the correct answer.
I posted here on December 26, of 2006 and it is now February 11 of 2007. I think these posts disappear over time, I am not positive.
Congo River Post
Nonetheless, this is a great way to find some ideas.
YOU NEED TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE POST!
Unless, like some people, and they get addicted, and they sit around monitoring and posting you need to subscribe to the post you wish to monitor. Then in a very good way, Lonely Planet sends you the new ideas by email, this works great.
Therefore, this is how I use this Forum, I will post and idea or find the same question.
Subscribe to the post, and then wait and hope.
Sometimes I go and clarify, or ask again in different ways, I am extremely careful, this is just somebody on the Internet that thinks they know the answer, which does not even mean they have been to the place. It is similar to the Wiki people; they go out collect answers, and then go post from other websites. Look and read, are they extremely specific, a good person will say they did this on this date, at this city, went to this hotel. The person that is honest will say both good and bad, if the whole answer is good, beware.
I want to say - Caveat Emptor, but this is NOT a purchase thing, however, if you are on the main Lonely Planet part, then this applies.
I want to say,
- Reader Beware -
Post a comment.. please?
The Internet is full of person without a life, who spends too much time floating around trying to appear as experts. I write ideas, I post them, and I make tons of errors. I would love to know a way to tell a person and they believe me, this is just my opinions, take it or leave it.
I am writing in my online, I am not trying to be an answer to all questions; I am just giving some ideas and guides. I am sure there are better answers.
However, there is something about the written word, people believe Newspapers, and the TV, they are in my opinion becoming on par with Car Salesmen, Taxi Drivers etc.
The internet is not to be trusted, it is to be used as a guide, the world if full of unscrupulous people who will tell you anything for a buck or in a ridiculous vain to appear intelligent.
Nevertheless, if you are going to Iraq, going to the Congo, or way off the beaten path, then I recommend you get on the Lonely Planet Thorntree and post some questions. Then make your own choices, engage brain.
HoboTraveler.com has my version of a lopsided Forum, it is a way for me to keep ideas organized. We are now calling it the Help Center. The idea is you ask me a question and someday, not today, maybe tomorrow, maybe never I will answer or say, I do not know, or give you a link.
What I want is a place where very specific questions a Q and A exist on many subject, then I can go and see if my answers are there. This is Hobo attempt to stay better organized, therefore, a real traveler can find the information quicker without having to hang around and check the site. I do not want a traveler to have to get on my site daily to find answers. We have a three click policy, we want you to get to your idea in three clicks and leave. This is our hope, not what is reality now, but we hope.
Hired A Fixer in Togo
Kpalime, Togo West Africa
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
I had a very long conversation in Kpalime, Togo today with my Ghana friend Michael.
I learned about traveling jewelry sales people in Mexico, then I purchased silver in Taxco, Mexico and tried to sell the silver in the streets of Panajachel, Guatemala myself to earn money. I did not do well at selling silver, however I learned about these nomadic sales people, how they survive, and how they earn money and where they sleep.
Talked with a man riding a Motorcycle from the USA to Argentina and he spoke of about how to learn where the cheap hotels are from the street vendors, and in Cusco, Peru I confirmed this by accident by following a exceptionally attractive girl Vendor back to her room. She lived in a cheap hotel room, and at the bottom of the price ranges.
I do not need a translator, I think the best name for what I would like is a fixer, on occasions to help. I do use them, but with great care, and they can be very dangerous.
I am not clear in my mind, where I derived this name, however maybe because they are fixer uppers.
Normally and generally, this type of person should be kept at two car lengths away and never invited into your home.
As you exit hotels on the planet, you may have a taxi driver, or a man who speaks your language or multiple languages trying to hook you into a conversation. They have an agenda, they wish to sell you something, or something or maybe fix you up with something. The want to help you…NOT.
According to the country, however, here in Africa the ones hanging around will often try to fix me or you up with women. I guess and I think this is why I say fixers. However, there is also a more beneficial level, and I normally try to find a fixer that is a taxi driver, almost NEVER the one standing in front of the hotel, they are normally the worst type of people on the planet.
I need a Visa to Togo, I walked out in front of the Galion, talked with the Bodyguard of the Frenchie owner, and he got me to the Visa office by paying too much for a taxi and paying him a Cadeau.
He fixed my problems.
About anything you want these fixers will find.
Ok, I met Michael by accident, however he can be also a fixer and feels that his job with the White People is to help them, and in return, he is given the right to be our friends. He does this for friendship and has this acute desire to learn about the world outside of Africa. Very different.
I first started paying attention to him when he said,
- I listen to BBC. -
I think, did I say, I watch BBC?
No, where did that lead in come from, I do not find many African people that either read the newspapers or watch the News. I also almost never talk to a traveling salesperson who is from ONE country and traveling in an ANOTHER country who reads, learns, or is interested in expansion of their brains. Money they are interested in, brains is not.
I want a fixer, I do not want a translator, and I do not want anybody in between me and the Africa or Togo people. I see there is an advantage to having my friend Michael comes along for a week to a month. I am going to give him 6000 CFA per day, and this will pay for his room and board and transportation.
6000 CFA is 12 U.S. Dollars per day.
The goal or idea is this; I think a backpacker should be able to travel in Togo, West Africa and most of Africa for less than 12 dollars US per day, providing they do not drink their lunches and dinners.
I asked Michael,
- How much do you spend per day on living expenses? -
- About 2000 CFA. -
Ok, then I said,
- If you had 2000 for food and drink, and 3000 for a room and 1000 for transportation would this be good. -
He said, with a big smile.
- Very -
6000 CFA and he travels along and we find rooms for 3000 or less, and live for about 12 dollars or what I would say is a reasonable amount of Hobo money per day in West Africa and about the same or a little more than in Asia or South America.
The cities that need fixed are between the big cities, I think in any big city in Africa I now can find some cheaper rooms, but to get from 5000 down to 3000 is going to need fixed.
Between the bigger cities, Kpalime and Atakpame there is a stretch of good cultural fun for me, but I am not sure how to find small hotels. I need to fix this; the guidebooks sort of skip over the smaller cities and stay in the loop. I want to get out of the box, and go see the countryside. A bike would work, but still the lodging is needed, and the searches on the internet are perplexingly bleak.
I can get in a Peugeot Station Wagon with Mike, and we can find a Hotel quicker. I have to talk and ask, and talk and ask, and think and suddenly just jump out of a car with no clue whether there is even an Auberge in the city. Mike can fix this and speed it up, the conversations are not complicated, but the Mina, French, English is a mess.
I can also do some research and get the inside story on SIDA or AIDS and whatever these ONG-NGO are up to.
Research, research and getting 20 percent closer to understanding the real answers and not the answers they give me is also a goal.
What is the real reason?
Most people who fix problems really do not fix problems, they tend to complicate my life and make life expensive. I do not see as having a girl to travel with me as a solution, as seems to be common here, although a big temptation. I do not like to share my room, I want to have my room, and Michael will have his room. In the Philippines I talk about the girls in tow, this is also a fixer; the girl’s runs around and makes the guy happy.
Anytime you are traveling and there is a hanger around, this to me is the solution to a person who feels they need a fixer. I do not want a fixer, but, two goals, the cheap rooms, and the delving into a potentially dangerous set of questions, and Michael can help. I am not clear why yet…but my instincts say he can.
Asking around in a Hospital how many people has AIDS or SIDA is dangerous, trying to find the real truth is dangerous. I believe some NGO-ONG are sucking big cash, I believe the government, leaders, and anyone of power is sucking the good will of the worlds cash and putting in their pocket. For me to ask questions will make them afraid and too many questions is not a good idea in any place. The are stashing and using the world cash, and they will protect their cash flows from the outside world understanding.
A roundabout way to learn the truth, is to go the Mina path, talking in Mina and not French, we can talk to non-interested persons and find the better realities. Anyone that only talks Mina is probably a better source of truth.
We are going to leave on Friday for the north, I expect to go about 30 Kilometers in each jump and is not much, but this is a very small country.
Note, if you want to find the cheapest room, talk to a person that is a SELF-employed traveling sales person. Michael came from Ghana, and is selling clothes to girls here in Kpalime, I guess he was also selling Diamonds to Lebanese people before one took them and disappeared.
12 U.S. Dollars seems like nothing and easy, however the average person wound here is making about 2-4 US Dollars per day, and this is very good money, for getting paid to go on vacation.
Hired A Fixer in Togo
Bobo Dioulasso or Bobo, Burkina Faso, West Africa
Monday, September 17, 2007
I have listened to enough people traveling in West Africa to know there is guidebook confusion, 99 percent of the people came to volunteer in a country, then decided to go visit neighboring country. Semi, saying, I will never come back, so I am going next door to look, just to see if I should come back, before I make the final decision.
I have listened to people explain why they did not buy the West African version of Lonely Planet or Rough Guides or whatever else is on the market. I have listened to a few explain why they purchased one of the Bradt Guides to one country, then NEED to borrow my Rough Guide to West Africa.
Most say the book the West African versions are too big to carry, so they refuse to be informed to go to some of the most dangerous countries on the planet, which does not make sense.
There is some mysterious guidebook vacuum here, I have now used the Lonely Planet and the Rough Guides, the Rough Guides is making a serious attempt, and I feel Lonely Planet is putting books on the shelf to capture their loyal readers like me, who started with Lonely Planet and are too lazy to learn another guidebook. A good way to make money, not the best person to write a guidebook.
I think about writing a guidebook, however, my reasons are wrong, I do not love any country enough to devote the time needed to one country. I would write a guidebook to make money; this is not a good reason. However, being I continually read guidebooks, and continually muse on this annoying thought in my head, I keep searching for a reason to write a guidebook, I think I am bored, maybe feel a project is needed. It much easier to criticize guidebooks than to write one.
Africa takes last place for places Backpacker want to go and this is probably the last place anyone should go, not the first.
I am slowly convincing myself that Africa is easy to travel, the people in spurts can be more annoying than India, after I think about it, most of Africa is flat, this makes Bus travel easy, it is too expensive, and that makes the average backpacker want to not stay long. French is the big obstacle, however 50/50 on French and Spanish, there has to be just as many people who want to learn French as Spanish in Schools, people go to South America in swarms.
I know people are afraid of Africa, and like I said, this should be the last place on your list to come, not the first. However, most people who come here have never traveled farther than the Church or their University.
I think I am thinking about Craig of Travelvice.com.
I talk, write, ask push and shove, and this person just doe not want to come to West Africa. I have offered free places to stay, even more or less said I would give him some money if he helps make some pages.
I have tried with Mark of the site
Hmmm Wade? He is presently in Morocco I think.
I do not know Wade, I have met Craig and Mark, Wade as I wade around in my thoughts is more of a long-term traveler. Mark is back at home in the USA, and does not seem to have an exit strategy. Craig just got some girl pregnant from Peru and is going to Peru; I need to keep my mouth closed on this, as it is his choice of lives, not mine.
Wade, what is he up too?
I guess I think I need partners in Crime, I think writing a guide needs balance and one person just is too skewed, it is very easy to not like a country, and there is no clear reason, just something about the country is annoying.
Money, money, and more money, how to buy time, this is the problem with a guidebook.
There is this guidebook by Lonely Planet I saw one time, a book more or less how to travel from England I think to Katmandu, Nepal I think by land. I have some ideas about this type of book and more or less think some people who are counting countries would buy a guidebook about Africa that would explain the cheapest way to go from Morocco to somewhere by land, I am not sure where, Nigeria is a problem.
I have not met anyone who wants to travel across Africa, however, I think the people who are counting countries or the ones bored with the easy stuff like Southeast Asia or South America would want to do a cross Africa trip. I have not met anybody who wanted to go and stay a couple of months in one country as a tourist, the Volunteers are a Romanized, sanitized, idealist never never land then need spanked and sent home, the NGO need shot, or tortured and shot, not people I will associate with in this life or the next.
What is that British saying, something about giving it a lick? There are people who would like to do a taste test of Africa, before they gave it a serious time investment. I am trying to calculate the time needed to go on an India style trip of Africa, just the main spots and out the door, and the jumps people make in India are amazingly long distances.
There is so little to see in Africa it is also annoying, I love ethnic cultures, therefore I love to see the cultural distinctions, the sudden change in languages and how they look. This is not normal, to make a list of why to come to Burkina Faso is a problem. What should you go and see in Togo, I do not know, nothing pops out as a good reason to go to Togo. Ghana has some great Castles, and Cape Coast is for sure a good place to visit, I think the Village of Yeji is special.
This is the reason why a taste of each Africa country, the persons counting countries can add a lot to their list, I think a person could travel the majority of West Africa easily in two months and strangely see the majority of tourist attractions.
I do not know, there is nobody I know wanting to come to Africa, I do not get reader saying, I am coming to Africa, ok, one couple, but this is not normal. If I go to Thailand, I get many, and if I go to Europe, the numbers of people who KNOW… hehehe are bothersome, however to blog about Africa is annoying to most readers. The ones that think Africa needs help are abundant, but this is also crazy, I think Africa is doing very well, they just need a kick in the butt and the world need stop helping or giving them money, making welfare babies does not help them.
A Taste of Africa…
I am thinking of turning the speed up, and taking some just the cream off the top taste of Mali, Guinea, etc up to Morocco in a quick sprint. Morocco is not my favorite country, so more or less in the way, and obstacle.
I always want a guidebook to be fatter, more, now I am saying less, smaller, strange how I must never hold to one consistent way of thinking or it causes problems. I must continually adapt, and change, to say something, and then do it the say as I say is foolish.
How far am I from Morocco? The Kilometers is not important, it is the bus time that counts, the on the seat time. I am going to the one long-distance bus station today, see what my options are.