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Re: MJ Resurfaces
Old 04-30-2007, 01:30 AM   #21
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Re: MJ Resurfaces

Quote:
Originally Posted by dex
Kramer,
How is that Nokia 800 Internet Tablet for internet banking and secured sites?
It is a great idea; instead of taking a laptop.
thanks
dex, It is 800x480 resolution and runs Linux. There are a nice number of applications (media playback, text editing, GPS mapping, games, electronic book reader, etc.) for it but the main thing it was made for was internet browsing over WiFi. The browser is Opera (and it runs Flash 7, I think). Apparently, it is very nice for browsing and handles the vast majority of sites, but it is not perfect. I have never used it myself, but I might get one. I am seeing if something better comes out in the next couple of months. I am guessing it would have some problems on at least some of the financial sites, which tend to do some weird things (and it can't handle things like Google online spreadsheets that are intensive AJAX). Skype and Nokia have announced that Skype application will be coming out for it this quarter (and I think it will be video-enabled, too, the device has a video camerar).

I previously posted some details here:

http://www.raddr-pages.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=3118

Also see: http://www.nseries.com/products/n800/#l=products,n800

You can buy a tiny bluetooth GPS (now around $70) that weighs just ounces and run a mapping application on the device. Also, it can use google maps, either street or satellite maps and it automates the download process and pins the map locations. Most developing countries' cities do not have street maps on Google, but the satellite maps are available for virtually all of them so this makes the GPS very useful in the developing world.

The device Flash memory is expandable to 16 Gigabytes. The battery life is about 3 hours while using WiFi and 8 hours offline. You can get a bluetooth keyboard for typing if you don't want to use the on-screen keyboard.

The big advantages of this device over a laptop are weight and size and price. You can carry it in your pocket. In most of the developing country cities I have traveled in, I would not want to be carrying around a laptop in a backpack (in most, I don't even want my camera to be visible). If I was traveling to a specific location overseas, and staying there for a time, then I wouldn't mind bringing a laptop, but not when I am traveling around. But my trip will possibly span 10 countries. I may also go without it. My main want is personal reading, which I will cover in my next post.

Here is the forum to learn more about Nokia's N800:
http://www.internettablettalk.com/

Kramer
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Re: MJ Resurfaces
Old 04-30-2007, 01:46 AM   #22
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Re: MJ Resurfaces

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Can you tell me more about an electronic reader? I have brought Books on CD and my girlfriend simply 'IPods' her stuff. that is lighter than bringing a 'regular' book -- but those guidebooks. Man are they heavy!! We usually sell ours overseas when we are done with them.
Akaisha, in the Fall of last year Sony came out with their electronic reader product (~$350). It uses no battery when displaying a page, only for page turns.

Sony Reader official page:
http://www.learningcenter.sony.us/assets/itpd/reader/

Sony Reader bookstore (over 10000 books):
http://ebooks.connect.com/

The best web site to learn about reading on mobile devices is:

http://www.mobileread.com/

if you click on Forums you will see a forum dedicated to the Sony Reader. And more info here:

http://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/Main_Page

As for guidebooks, this is a problem. There are no real good full country guidebooks out in an ebook format (only encrypted PDF) that I have seen. I contacted Lonely Planet last year and they seemed to be only very early experimentation stages.

If you are going on a long trip to many countries with too many guidebooks required, the way to solve this problem is to scan in the books yourself. Once you set up a workflow (non-trivial) from scan to OCR, a regular guidebook might take one half day to get into final ebook form and a large one a whole day. The final product is the book in text AND a version of the book as an HTML document of scanned pages (for maps, etc.). Both of these formats can be read by a reading program (like FBReader http://www.fbreader.org).

It turns out that you could then read the pages on the Nokia N800 device and since it is handheld size (the Sony Reader is not really handheld although it is quite portable), it would be practical for reading scanned guidebook pages since you could easily carry the device around with you. The N800 does run FBReader, too.

By the way, if you reproduce a guidebook in this fashion, you may be violating some copyrights depending on what the copyright says.

On my trip, it looks like I will only need two guidebooks (one for China, one for Southeast Asia) along with some pretty light language guides, so guidebook weight won't really be an issue for me. However, I may get the Sony Reader for personal reading material or maybe adapt the N800 for this (and bring an extra battery for around 16 hours total read time). One thing I would like to do is to go to an internet cafe, and basically download my online reading material (current WSJ articles, RSS feeds, etc.) onto my reading device and then read them later when I am on a long bus trip or whatever, but this is non-trivial. This would be in addition to novels and other reading material that I have stored.

Kramer
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Re: MJ Resurfaces
Old 04-30-2007, 01:49 AM   #23
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Re: MJ Resurfaces

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The number of used bookshops here in Chiang Mai has simply exploded.
I have been meaning to ask some folks over there this question -- how possible is it to buy good English language travel guidebooks over there (and other countries if you have experience)? I have heard that it is at least possible in Thailand but not many other non-English speaking countries.

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Re: MJ Resurfaces
Old 04-30-2007, 07:12 AM   #24
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Re: MJ Resurfaces

Quote:
Originally Posted by Billy

In Thailand the locals use a water spray. They think toilet paper is unsanitary. Can't figure out why we would ... uh... do what we do with it...

So, if you are a traveler out in the middle of nowhere where do you find a spray? And what do you dry yourself with?
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Re: MJ Resurfaces
Old 04-30-2007, 09:58 PM   #25
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Re: MJ Resurfaces

Kramer

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Akaisha, in the Fall of last year Sony came out with their electronic reader product (~$350). It uses no battery when displaying a page, only for page turns.
Kramer I thank you for the effort you put into answering my question. Very thorough, I'm impressed! I will check that out. Again, sincere thanks.

Quote:
Quote
The number of used bookshops here in Chiang Mai has simply exploded.

I have been meaning to ask some folks over there this question -- how possible is it to buy good English language travel guidebooks over there (and other countries if you have experience)? I have heard that it is at least possible in Thailand but not many other non-English speaking countries.
Since we pretty much base out of Thailand, our experience is buying guide books from book stores in Chiang Mai. We have gotten used Lonely Planets here for Vietnam, China, and Laos. Sometimes they may be an edition or two in the past, but in some of these developing nations, things don't change that quickly, and we simply want a place to get started: Hotel rooms, sights to see, and general information on costs, food, transport and so on. We do our visas usually through embassies or travel agents here in Thailand.

Where we were in China and Burma there weren't any English bookstores... Laos had a couple but they were very expensive and upscale coffee table type books () no guidebooks. But our experience has been somewhat limited in these countries since we have really not lived there for more than a couple of months.

Vietnam was suited for the traveler, but I don't recall any used bookstores.... perhaps as it opens up more -- they are quite interested in tourism as an income now.

Donheff

Quote:
Quote from: Billy on Today at 12:01:58 AM

In Thailand the locals use a water spray. They think toilet paper is unsanitary. Can't figure out why we would ... uh... do what we do with it...


So, if you are a traveler out in the middle of nowhere where do you find a spray? And what do you dry yourself with?
Out in the middle of no where (which can be a good deal of Thailand... 8) ) the 'sprays' are all located inside the 'restroom' which they simply call 'toilet'. Normally it is a squat style toilet and a bit funky but they will have these sprays hooked to a water source, and a bucket of water with a ladle. The bucket of water is for you to do your own flushing, please. The spray is to wash yourself off for pete's sake (!!) and the drying.... uh.... they don't. Afterall, they are completely cleaned now... and um... it's a humid country after all... (god I can't believe I'm posting this... )

No matter how primitive the restrooms appear, they all have this sanitary device especially made for personal hygiene.

In Jinghong, China they had these... Well, I won't go there... kind of a foul subject discussing this stuff, and I'm sort of embarrassed to discuss this publicly.... but it's something to consider. Take my word for it. Bring toilet paper and some kind of handi wipes! whew.

Be well,
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Re: MJ Resurfaces
Old 05-01-2007, 08:49 AM   #26
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Re: MJ Resurfaces

Thank you for bringing back the glorious memories of the truck stop bathroom we stopped at outside Shanghai.
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Re: MJ Resurfaces
Old 05-01-2007, 08:54 AM   #27
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Re: MJ Resurfaces

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Originally Posted by Billy
Kramer
In Jinghong, China they had these... Well, I won't go there... kind of a foul subject discussing this stuff, and I'm sort of embarrassed to discuss this publicly.... but it's something to consider. Take my word for it. Bring toilet paper and some kind of handi wipes! whew.
Be well,
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Author, The Adventurer's Guide to Early Retirement
Maybe a last word here on this subject.
First during my travels through China I found the toilet facilities gross in all places except for first class hotels. The worst was a boat that I could swear was not cleaned since the Boxer Rebellion. Also, now that China has industrialized I would really fear the toxic materials that find their way into the food. PS - The last time I was in China was in 85 and 95.

FYI when I was in Outward Bound they said that grass and pine cones could be used in place of toilet paper. But I think Wet Ones might be softer than pine cones.
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Re: MJ Resurfaces
Old 05-01-2007, 10:59 AM   #28
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Re: MJ Resurfaces

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Originally Posted by donheff
So, if you are a traveler out in the middle of nowhere where do you find a spray? And what do you dry yourself with?
Hehe bring a squirt gun...
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Re: MJ Resurfaces
Old 05-01-2007, 11:46 AM   #29
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Re: MJ Resurfaces

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Originally Posted by Mwsinron
Hehe bring a squirt gun...
I have one built in but I wouldn't use it for this.
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Re: MJ Resurfaces
Old 05-01-2007, 11:58 AM   #30
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Re: MJ Resurfaces

Ah....the encrusted toilet......this brings fond memories, back in our younger days, of a hotel in Patzcuaro, Mexico, ($2 a night, and the proprietor was amazed that we were renting for the whole night), where we went instead of continuing to camp because I had food poisoning and was really sick and couldn't stand the idea of another night lying on the ground with no bathroom......

We should have been warned when the guy offered us a bucket of water to flush the toilet since, "our plumbing is not working today". But our cheapskate ears only heard $2 for the whole night.

That toilet had never been hooked up to water, and when you flushed it with the bucket, you could hear the water cascading down the outside wall. The toilet had no seat, and I am sure it had not ever been cleaned in the history of the world, just encrusted, totally encrusted with filth. I just hung over it trying not to touch anything, barfing into an old coffee can and going at the other end as well. (sorry for the indelicacy, but it's part of the story).

I wouldn't lay on the bed until my sweetie spread out my sleeping bag. All I wanted to do was sleep, but the headboard of the bed was on a wall that the headboard of the bed on the other side was touching as well.

All night, the ladies of the evening, who were the usual tenants of this magnificent establishment, plied their trade, and the wall shook rhythmically, and we were serenaded with operatic quality sounds of faked pleasure.

This experience became the gold standard for our new rule #1. When either of us is really sick, we pull out the credit card if necessary, d*mn the budget, and get a good hotel......

And that toilet, despite travels to many countries, has remained the champion "worst one in the world" to us so far.

LooseChickens

P.S. Of course, I had the food poisoning because of the danged German hitchhiker, which is another story completely.......how we narrowly escaped a fate like in Midnight Express.......to be told another time.
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Re: MJ Resurfaces
Old 05-01-2007, 05:03 PM   #31
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Re: MJ Resurfaces

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This experience became the gold standard for our new rule #1. When either of us is really sick, we pull out the credit card if necessary, d*mn the budget, and get a good hotel......
This is great advice, and I will follow it in my travels. In fact, I was in Patzcuaro just a few months ago and the church restroom I used was not that greatest, for sure I have never been sick while traveling yet, knock on wood. Being a thorough guy, I have just ordered a good travel medical book that I intend to peruse before leaving for help in preparation, avoiding getting sick in the first place, and self-diagnosis (although I will only have a passport sized medical book with me during my actual travels).

Quote:
In Jinghong, China they had these... Well, I won't go there...
I may be in Jinghong in just a few months. Oh man, I better get ready!

Re: Electronic Readers and e-books
I think this is a huge blessing for ex-pats everywhere. It makes many English books available instantly and worldwide. The market is not even close to mature yet but things are rapidly getting better.

Re: Lack of guidebooks on the road
This is a major issue for many PTs out there. At least you can get a lot of info on the internet. I was exchanging mail with one PT, and he was actually paying a IT guy in India to purchase and scan English language guidebooks for him. But neither he nor the Indian IT guy had the experience to convert the scans into proper e-books.

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Re: MJ Resurfaces
Old 05-01-2007, 10:47 PM   #32
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Re: MJ Resurfaces

OKLibrarian
Quote:
Thank you for bringing back the glorious memories of the truck stop bathroom we stopped at outside Shanghai.
I know... Billy and I have been a LOT of places, and the bathrooms in China made ... um... an impression. We did stay in a decent hotel in Jinghong and those bathrooms were at least Western style and relatively clean. But what you find outside of the hotel room....

Dex
Quote:
FYI when I was in Outward Bound they said that grass and pine cones could be used in place of toilet paper. But I think Wet Ones might be softer than pine cones.
I have a hard time with carrying so many pine cones in my purse and grass kind of slips through my fingers... if ya know what I mean..

LooseChickens
Quote:
And that toilet, despite travels to many countries, has remained the champion "worst one in the world" to us so far.
Point made! It's good to have one of those benchmarks of travel... makes gratitude grow larger in my heart!

Quote:
P.S. Of course, I had the food poisoning because of the danged German hitchhiker, which is another story completely.......how we narrowly escaped a fate like in Midnight Express.......to be told another time.
Would love to hear sometime. Traveling... expands the mind, don't it?

Kramer
Quote:
I have never been sick while traveling yet, knock on wood. Being a thorough guy, I have just ordered a good travel medical book that I intend to peruse before leaving for help in preparation, avoiding getting sick in the first place, and self-diagnosis (although I will only have a passport sized medical book with me during my actual travels).
Kramer, I have probably been sick for one reason or another in every country I have visited. sigh... :P Some of it of course, is the change in drinking water (even though we use bottled water) and what blows around in the air. Hence our experience in foreign health care... 8)

Quote:
I may be in Jinghong in just a few months. Oh man, I better get ready!
Jinghong was a great little town. Definitely go see Aktuin and Orchid at the Mei Mei Cafe http://www.retireearlylifestyle.com/ganlanba.htm

They speak English, the food is decent and they can make some travel arrangements to suit you, if you are so inclined.

We were there during the Songkran festival a couple of years ago.
http://www.retireearlylifestyle.com/china.htm

Hey, I wonder where MJ is? I bet he's still with that poolside beauty... haven't seen him around here much lately...

Be well,
Akaisha
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Re: MJ Resurfaces
Old 05-02-2007, 03:35 AM   #33
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Re: MJ Resurfaces

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Jinghong was a great little town. Definitely go see Aktuin and Orchid at the Mei Mei Cafe http://www.retireearlylifestyle.com/ganlanba.htm

They speak English, the food is decent and they can make some travel arrangements to suit you, if you are so inclined.
Akaisha, Great overview articles. Also, I didn't know that one could fly to Chiang Mai directly from Jinghong. Thanks!

Of all the places I hope to visit in the next year, China is probably the scariest because of the dearth of spoken English or even Roman script and I have always been more than a little scared of some of that far out Chinese food . . . if it moves, they seem to eat it.

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Re: MJ Resurfaces
Old 05-02-2007, 04:33 AM   #34
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Re: MJ Resurfaces

Travel to places like China always brings surprises. From Lonely Planet's China page:

Quote:
Travellers entering China by road or rail across the southeastern border, particularly the Vietnamese frontier, report that Lonely Planet China guidebooks have been confiscated by border officials. This is due to sensitivity regarding maps of China that do not include Taiwan. Travellers should consider putting a cover on the book to make it less recognisable and just to be safe, copy down any crucial details you might need while in the country.
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Re: MJ Resurfaces
Old 05-02-2007, 08:12 AM   #35
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Re: MJ Resurfaces

Quote:
Originally Posted by Billy

I know... Billy and I have been a LOT of places, and the bathrooms in China made ... um... an impression. We did stay in a decent hotel in Jinghong and those bathrooms were at least Western style and relatively clean. But what you find outside of the hotel room....
Oh yeah--the hotels were easily on a par with anything I'd seen in the states (assuming you don't mind firm matresses, which I actually liked). They also seem to be busily cleaning up the place (in all senses of the word) for the Olympics. While I hope that means cleaner and more available western toilets, I do wonder what long-term changes are going to be wrought on the country. I was also pretty much stuck on the tourist track (Beijing, Hangzhou, and Shanghai), so I don't know if my experiences would be typical to the rest of the country. hopefully I can go again in another year or two and find out. :-)
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Re: MJ Resurfaces
Old 05-02-2007, 12:22 PM   #36
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Re: MJ Resurfaces

Ahh - the memories of travel - I had an interesting experience while hiking the Via Ferrate in Italy - basically you have a harness and walk along a small path that has been worn/carved into the edge of the 'mountain' (they are actually petrified coral aggregations) in which the 'cable guy' has also placed a cable for you to hold onto as you hike- the Europeans are nice and have beautiful huts you can stay in and the food is awesome, too, but I caught/ate something that had me going out both ends - and it was a squatter toilet - my husband said when he saw me walk into our shared room with no pants on, he knew things had gotten bad......and that was at the beginning of the hike - almost every single one of us got something on that trip. Although the hike and views were *awesome* - bottom line - even first world countries can cause intestinal distress and interesting biological exhaust mechanisms :-) Yes, that trip will be a measurement in terms of awesomeness and horribleness - Deserat
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Re: MJ Resurfaces
Old 05-02-2007, 08:03 PM   #37
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Re: MJ Resurfaces

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Originally Posted by OKLibrarian
They also seem to be busily cleaning up the place (in all senses of the word) for the Olympics. While I hope that means cleaner and more available western toilets, I do wonder what long-term changes are going to be wrought on the country.
The Olympics changed Seoul a lot. There were more signs in English (good for me), but much of the very cheaply available goods went away and didn't come back in the former abundance (grey market tennis shoes, etc). I'm not sure how it will change Beijing.
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Re: MJ Resurfaces
Old 05-02-2007, 09:48 PM   #38
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Re: MJ Resurfaces

kramer

Quote:
Akaisha, Great overview articles. Also, I didn't know that one could fly to Chiang Mai directly from Jinghong. Thanks!
Hi Kramer. You are welcome! We were on Thai Airways' "Virgin flight". It was a big deal at the time:

Purchasing our Chinese "date sensitive" visas through the Chinese Embassy in Chiang Mai, these visas had no extensions offered, and travel dates were fixed. The price: $55 USD each. Thai Airway flight tickets, directly from Chiang Mai, Thailand to Jinghong, China, round trip were $104 USD each.

Jinghong China: http://www.retireearlylifestyle.com/china_story.htm


Quote:
Of all the places I hope to visit in the next year, China is probably the scariest because of the dearth of spoken English or even Roman script and I have always been more than a little scared of some of that far out Chinese food . . . if it moves, they seem to eat it.
You are right. They do! Jinghong is a bit out of the way of tourists. Almost no one spoke English and we resorted to sign language, pointing to things in restaurants to order them and making noises to simulate 'stir fry, soup, etc.' -- you can imagine.

Quote:
Travellers entering China by road or rail across the southeastern border, particularly the Vietnamese frontier, report that Lonely Planet China guidebooks have been confiscated by border officials. This is due to sensitivity regarding maps of China that do not include Taiwan.
Ths doesn't surprise me. Do not take these warnings lightly. CYA. On the plane ride over there I read in the newspaper how the 'internet police' caught this 40-ish y.o. woman surfing the internet unsupervised and went to her home and arrested her. They broke both her legs and threw her in prison. Her legs were never reset, and she languished in prison 'as an example' to others who wanted more intellectual freedom in their lives. This shook us up a bit...

When we utilized the internet cafes, many of our 'usual sites' were blocked and we could not get to them.

When we used the ATM to obtain local yuan, the machine churned, but no cash came out. We entered the bank to straighten our situation out from the sunny street so the policeman instantly blocked our way and told us to remove our sunglasses. "uh,... yes sir!"

And of course, if you have a fever going into China they don't let you in, if you have a fever when leaving China they don't let you out. How do they know? They utilize a laser gun which they point between your eyes onto your forehead which takes your temperature instantly. I would suggest you bring a few aspirin in case you get intestinal discomfort and your body wants to fight it off. Better to take a few aspirin than stay in quarantine for 2 weeks (or who knows what else...)

OKLibrarian
Quote:
Oh yeah--the hotels were easily on a par with anything I'd seen in the states (assuming you don't mind firm matresses, which I actually liked). They also seem to be busily cleaning up the place (in all senses of the word) for the Olympics.
We stayed at the Xishuanbanna Hotel (190 yuan per night, about $24) for 2 weeks. The first few days people were pretty remote and service was 'early communist'. (read: I don't give a s#*&t) I think our building was named 'Number 5" . There was no attempt to add beauty in real physical items or in concept. (i.e., the building could have been called Chyrsanthemum, for instance...)

Song Kran was coming in a few days and the word on the street from some ex-pats was that the Chinese would kick us out in order to house the Chinese tourists who come into the city to celebrate - regardless of whether we had paid for the room or not... it was not unheard of..

A few days later, all of a sudden the people at the main desks had on bright colored uniforms, Huge boquets of flowers were at the main desk and in the hallways, people were smiling, and maid service quality increased. ( we got a role of toilet paper with the room and clean towels) We asked the man at the desk what had happened.

In his broken English he explained that previously, the hotel had been owned by the government. "Today it is owned by a private person. " We said "Oh Good!" He replied "Not sure."

We did wonder how that could happen... under the rules of Communist China... but didn't pursue the discussion much further..

Deserat
Quote:
bottom line - even first world countries can cause intestinal distress and interesting biological exhaust mechanisms :-) Yes, that trip will be a measurement in terms of awesomeness and horribleness
You poor girl! Been there! One trick I learned from a local Malaysian who learned from her Granny -- Granny says to take a bottle of your own 'local drinking water' with you when you travel. (I know the rules about bringing drinking water on board airlines has changed...) but you use that local drinking water as 'medicine water.' Every day you add a little bit of that local water to the water you are drinking in the 'new' place, even if that water is from a bottled water source.

Your stomach and intestines are used to the bacteria (etc.) in the water you have been drinking and it will adjust little by little to the changes if you add the water it is used to -- to the new water you are now drinking. I have done this ever since I learned of Granny's trick and have had a lot more comfort in changing from country to country.

I don't know what we will do now that we are only allowed to bring about 3 oz of water on the planes.... Granny would say it makes no sense!

Where's MJ?

Be well,
Akaisha
Author, The Adventurer's Guide to Early Retirement
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Re: MJ Resurfaces
Old 05-03-2007, 12:11 AM   #39
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Re: MJ Resurfaces

Quote:
Originally Posted by lazygood4nothinbum
stories like billy & akaisha's & yours have really got me thinking about a vagabond life for myself. it sounds like a wonderful way to live. i'm starting to like the idea of vagabonding abroad even better than living aboard in the states. definitely would love to read more about your adventures.
I know B & A love their PT lifestyle. For me, this is my 1st time doing it. Remember, the grass is always greener ..... I am still working out the what, where, how, and why's of this travelling lifestyle. It is great fun figuring it all out bit by bit. If I was 20 years younger, doing it alone might have bit more exciting. Having a soulmate to travel with would enhance the adventure. I am working on my next best friend although the last girlfriend just re-established communications. Time will tell. Man, do I like playing with fire.

MJ
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Re: MJ Resurfaces
Old 05-03-2007, 12:20 AM   #40
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Re: MJ Resurfaces

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martha
We are just jealous.

Glad to hear from you. If you have pictures, post some.

Hi Martha,

No reason to be jealous. If you wanted this type of lifestyle you and Greg could certainly give it a try but I suspect, you are a homebody and enjoy your house, garden and familiar suroundings. I don't think this is for everone.

I have begun loading my pics.

MJ
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