Traveler Rules

Travel by Jumping from GPRS to GPRS

Travel by Jumping from GPRS to GPRS
Kathmandu, Nepal Asia
Sunday January 21, 2007

I made a GPRS travel jump from Thailand to Katmandu, it was not planned, however, I was able to access the Internet with my cell phone in Thailand, now I can in Nepal.

I will not pay more than about one dollar USA per day for Internet access, as I am cheap, I be Hobo. The GPRS in these two countries gives me unlimited access for about one dollar per day.

This is with the idea that I stay about one month in each country.

I want to go to Africa now, I am trying to find GPRS connections in the various countries of Africa. An annoying process as nobody states the price.

There are many reasons for me to have an Internet connection by GPRS on an unlimited basis in my room. The biggest goal is to be able to blog daily.

I am fighting with small rules of travelers. There is this unwritten rule of the traveler culture.

I need to travel by land, I want to travel by land. I do not need to travel by land, yet I feel like I am letting down the traveler culture if I fly from one country to the next. The cost of planes has often, with a good plan made flying cheaper than the bus, and for sure trains in Europe.

Africa is not the same as Europe, or Southeast Asia and the flights are more expensive, however to achieve my goal of blogging daily. I either need to buy a satellite connection or fly from GPRS enabled country to GPRS country. JUMP

Flying is cheaper than buying a satellite connection, so jumping from GPRS to GPRS country would be cheaper. Yet, still remains the - Go by Land - rule of being a traveler. I suppose I can skip....

I think in terms of Jump, Hops and Skips.
Jumps are big
Hops are small
Skips are longer, yet fast

I can do two day by land trips across countries, sort of skip across them, but not avoiding the country. Then another traveler rule comes into affect...

How long do you have to be in a country to count it as country you visited?

I personally like to say I need 10 days to say I visited, if you want me to start to have an opinion I need a minimum of one month. The size of the country also is important. To have an opinion of any value for India you need to probably have at least three months, but really to even learn a little about India you need a year.

Brazil must be about one year.

IF you really counted the time, you would see I have spent about one month in any country I have visited. Therefore to go to three countries, I need three months of planned time in country. Many visas make the decision for me, I would think about 30 days is an average time allotted by visas to enter a country.

Nigeria is causing a big Africa Visa problem, as they want me to apply for a Visa in the USA only, it is possible that I dollar-my-way-through. Hope if I pay or stay the course longer in Benin, I can talk the Nigerian embassy into giving me a visa to travel in or across Nigeria. I cannot just go to Niger and into Chad to avoid. I can fly around Nigeria.

Africa does not have good backpacker paths established. They just do not make it easy to go overland without tons of research. I am American, the rules change for each country, a German, a Brit, and get even more complicated. If you was Israeli, then life has little land mines.

GPRS for me should cost less than 2 dollars per day.
SATELLITE needs to cost less than 30 dollars per day.

Paying 30 dollars per day to blog, that is paying a lot to blog. On the other hand, Africa is not the same as South America or Southeast Asia where every Tom, Dick and Harry goes and blogs. It does get closer to being an adventure. Plus someone has to forge a path.

I call it an adventure when I could get killed. I do not see Africa as a big adventure, but a lot closer than South America, Southeast Asia is tourist grade all the way, hard to find an adventure.

Rambling and rambling, the cathartic value of blogging, trying to find clarity where none exist.

Travel by Jumping from GPRS to GPRS

Three Month Rule

Three Month Rule
Lome, Togo West Africa
Saturday, March 3, 2007

I am stating, there is a Three Month Rule for travelers, I have nobody else to debate with, I have thought about it for years. I know of only a couple people on the planet that have openly, overtly discussed the rule with me, however, someone has to say,
- There is a rule. -
- There needs to be a rule. -

There are unspoken traveler rules, normally that non-travelers think they qualify to use or apply.

This is about the Three Month Rule.

If I stay more than three months in one location, then I have stopped traveling and have become an expat, I am living in a different country, I am not traveling or a traveler.

1. The counting of days or months is frowned on, no true traveler is clear about what day of the week it is or the date.
2. Doing a Visa run to another country, and returning does not stop or terminate the counting of time.
3. A person must have traveled for over one year, not violated the three month rules, to be considered eligible to think about the rule, talk abut the rule, all others person shall politely admit, they are not travelers.
4. The counting of days, the counting of months is to be very loosely enforce, nobody is allowed to say to a person, show me your passport. This is bad form.
5. The passport is the proof, yet in a accordance with rule 4, no person I allowed to check your passport.
6. This is an honor system, you need to feel guilty proof of purchase system, the only person who enforces the system can be yourself, you are allowed to cheat, lie, get quirky, make up sub-rules, however in the end, you will know if you obeyed the rule. Guilt and shame is your little goblin on your shoulder, telling you what to do.
7. Persons who say the rule do not apply instantly have defined themselves as non-travelers.
8. Travelers are not expatriated or expats.
9. After violating this rule, have lived in one location for six months, a person is required to stop the time count, they must start again, they cannot say, I have traveled for X amount of years as if it was continuous travel.
10. A person is not to discuss these rules with non-travelers.

All the rules above, violate the Prime Directive of Travel which is to do what you enjoy, and not care what anybody else thinks or says, therefore the Three Month Rule is moot.

I have thought two months should be the count for years, decided, this is too short, a Visa is often is for two months to three months. A good visa is offered for 90 days or the three months, a bad visa is for 30 days or less, a great visa is six months or more. There has been many considerations about this rule, however, the biggest one is I start to feel guilty after about two months in one location and say to myself,
- I need to leave. -

This rule and conditions are automatically activated and when I hear the words, I am traveling… or,
- I am traveler. -

If you are talking with me, Andy, and I say,
- Remember to travel. -
You can take it as an insult, because it was. This means you have explained how you are traveler too long and I know, you are not.

Three Month Rule

I Follow My Travel Rules

I Follow My Travel Rules
Kpalime, Togo West Africa
Sunday, April 1, 2007

I have a cell phone, it is a Quad Band V555 Motorola, it has Bluetooth that allows me to create a wireless connection between the phone and the computer.

I make very few phone calls with the phone, in fact, I almost never make a phone call, I find making phone call in most countries annoying and a waste of time. The phone call will cost X and the taxi will cost the same X, why call when I can go visit. Impossible to talk French or Mina over a phone, guaranteed to cause confusion.

I follow the rules.

I have a rule in my head about electrical wires, extension cords, power source of any cables that have to do with electronic equipment.

The rule is something fuzzy like this:
- I shall not be able to accidentally trip, pull, move or hook on the wire and pull the electronic device. -

Part two of rule:
- The computer, cell phone, fan, battery charger, shall not sit high and in a location where it can be pull off and fall on the concrete floor. -

A computer is hard for me to fix or replace.
A cell phone would be confusing to replace, but easy to do.
Battery chargers are very difficult to replace here in Africa, and a good one I think is hard to find that uses both 220-110 currents. (I use the Sony ones that come with he cameras)

One good jerk on the cord and these devices can be trash.

If I trip over the cord to my computer and it is sitting on the table, I can pull the computer off, it falls on the concrete floor and it is trashed.

If I am charging the cell phone and it fall off the table, ledge or anything and land on the floor it is trash.

With this is mind, I often sit my computer on the floor or in the middle of the bed. The floor is dangerous also, I could step on it, or I can spill liquid into the computer.

Coming out of the shower is a problem, drinking any type of sodas, liquid, juices are a problem. I would venture to think, that maybe beer is the number one reason for destruction of laptop computers, then maybe dropping them.

It would be an interesting statistic to discover and hard to know what is the truth. There are truths that people refuse to admit easy.

How did you break you computer?
- It just broke, I did not do anything? -

Do you know there is sticky fluid in the computer?
Did you drink soda or beer around your computer?

- I am very careful, I never drank anything near my computer. -

The spilling of drinks or the dropping of a computer on the floor are accidents, however for some reason a person associates dropping something with being stupid.

If a person bumps me and I drop the computer, maybe I can say they are clumsy and stupid. But for me to just slip, drop my computer, somehow a person says to themselves,
- I should not have slipped, I am stupid. -

Ridiculous and silly logic, and guaranteed this person will drop their computer.

I plan on getting bumped.
I plan on the fact that I will trip over wires in my room.
I know I will spill coffee.
I know I will accidentally give a hard jerk on the cell phone charging wire.

OK, the bottom line is this, for me to connect to the internet, I need to place my cell phone in the window of the room. I put in an the ledge of the window. I also need to keep it plugged into the electricity because when on the internet, the cell phone uses more electricity than the charger is charging, it consumes more energy than I can push or cause enter into the phone.

There are variables, and the best place for my cell phone to sit is in the middle of the bed. It will not fall out. However, the best connection is when the cell phone is just outside the window of the room.

I almost pulled the cell phone down from the ledge, it almost fell on the floor. I almost broke my cell phone a couple of minutes ago, this is the problem. Rules are not meant to be broken, they are meant to be respected. I have a cord open that I can jerk and pull the cell phone to the floor. This violates both the No Trip Rule and the No Fall Rule.

I suppose I now have a third rule,

When a potentially costly problem almost happens, or whenever I do something that cost a lot of money, for example rent a room that is 20 dollars per night. Or in this situation, almost pull the cell phone onto the floor. I take a timeout.

I do a focus session, focusing on possible ways of solving the problem, I do not ignore, or hope this solves itself, I start to have a severe case of cognitive dissonance. I pose the question to myself, and then start to drive myself crazy until I solve the problem.

The answer here lies somehow in typing the wires higher and in somehow putting the cell phone in a bag that can be tired to the window. Window just are not good places for cell phones, nothing is good to grip onto and the additional problem, people walking by can see the phone and try to steal.

I know of four people who have had their cell phone stolen here in Africa, all Togo people, but it happens daily here. I do not like to have my cell phone sitting in the window.

Really the solution here is not as important as a well-define problem, I know me, I will solve the problem. Or my curious little brain will do just what it is doing, it will obsess, drive me crazy, sit around and say, how, how can I, what can I do, what is the solution. I will think, dwell and come up with ways to solve this problem.

I have this problem with the cost of Hotel rooms in West Africa. I have told myself, I am not paying more than 10 dollars per night rooms in some of the poorest countries on the planet. It just does not make sense, that the poorest countries on the planet have the most expensive rooms, something is dreadfully wrong. I believe there are always cheap rooms, the people of Togo, and West Africa do move from place to place, they need to sleep also, and I know the average person making 1-2 dollar per day cannot pay 20 dollars per night to stay in an Auberge or Hotel.

There must be a ration, but I think a person in the USA who earns 100 dollars per day should look for rooms that cost about 25 dollars in the USA, and on vacation for 2 weeks maybe around 100-125 per night is a good budget. A person should not go bankrupt in the name of a room.

I believe a person traveling the planet for years should have a budget of less than 10 dollars per night for rooms. If I pay more than this, I feel like I am being ripped off. There is almost no correlation between the quality of the hotel experience and the cost of the room.

I Follow My Travel Rules

West Africa by Land Air or Sea

West Africa by Land Air or Sea
Lome Togo West Africa
Saturday, June 2, 2007

I am haunted by words told be by Mark in Bangkok, Thailand, of:

Something like,
- You take planes all the time; therefore, it must be acceptable for a traveler to fly and not do a land trip. -

I am now thinking about flying from Lome, Togo to Abidjan, Ivory Coast to avoid using my Ghana visa now, save for the future, and also to avoid a road I already know, I have this funny feeling, like I am disobeying a rule, and maybe I helped make them.

There are some weird rules in my head, I do not know how they got there, and one is,
- Never return the same way you went.

This more or less means , if I took highway 66 there, I would take highway 70 back , if for some reason I need to return to the same location. Somehow, this has involved to the traveler term,
- Loops -

What is your loop?

My brain, it is not as young as before, all the thoughts are starting to mash together, this is ok, but annoying to me.

Well, if I go directly by road from Lome to Abidjan, then I am on the same path, it is not a loop. If I fly, I can jump to a good starting point and travel from Abidjan, Ivory coast to Liberia and onward to Senegal.

Mark, I now I am thinking about violating some non-defined, non-existent groups of rules on how to travel, how to say, I am a traveler. I am avoiding the pain of the hard road, I want to jump and start the hard road on a new path, one I have not crossed.

I do believe land trips are somehow what a real traveler does, I would hate to say, I flew into Lagos, Nigeria, therefore I understand Nigeria. I guess, I would know, think, I did not get dirty, I did not touch the people, I just glared at them out the window of a taxi. It is also a dilemma with driving a car, I can look out the window from inside my aquarium and maybe I say, I know Togo or West Africa, or maybe I know what a 4-wheel drive is like.

To buy a motorcycle or drive a car, seem of very little value if you go from big city to big city, I want a car or bike to go off-road where the public transportation slows from three hours for 100 kilometers to 10 hours for 100 kilometers, and again, I guess to save the pain.

Does a traveler need to feel pain to say he did it?

Somebody moved into my brain, set up housekeeping, and now they are playing Ping Pong.

West Africa by Land Air or Sea

20-80 Rule of Travel

20-80 Rule of Travel
Lome, Togo West Africa
Saturday, July 28, 2007

20-80 Rule of Travel

20 percent of the planet thinks they are the 80 percent majority.

20 percent of the planet make the rules, which do NOT apply to 80 percent of the planet.

If you remember this first, this will help your common sense to function properly.

Ask yourself am I the 20 percent or the 80 percent area of the planet?

This is a map of the Human Development Index, and trust me, Mexico, Argentina and Chile are part of the 80 percent.

What I can buy in on 20 percent of the planet, I cannot buy in the other 80 percent of the planet. What I can buy on 80 percent of the planet, I cannot buy on the other 20 percent.

What is needed on 20 percent of the planet is not needed on 80 percent of the planet. Moreover, what the 80 percent need is not necessary for the 20 percent. What you can do on 80 percent of the planet you cannot do in the 80 percent.

Drive a car on 80 percent of the planet, you will learn, the rules are not the same.

I receive all sorts of silly well-intended advice from 20 percent of the planet; some of the best is to go to Home Depot and buy something, or to order a book from

The Europeans like to think 80 percent of the planet agrees with their opinions of the USA, and this is crazy.

If you can buy it easy in Asia or South America, you probably cannot buy it in Europe or the USA and the converse.

In some ways, you can apply the 20-80 percent rules to any country, what I can buy in the biggest city in the country, the 20 percent; I cannot buy in the other 80 percent.

I listen to the Expats here in Lome, Togo and think to myself,
- Have you ever left the compound, have you left Lome? -

Map with the a better color perspective, please also try to count the number of people, not just land mass, Canada and Australia are big countries with very few people.

20-80 Rule of Travel

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