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My Definition of Well-Traveled

well trav·eled – adjective – a person who has (1) vacationed in over 100 of the Travelers’ Century Club ”countries” and has, (2) on several occasions, been (3) traveling alone and (4) been the only one on the overnight bus (mini-van) who was “reasonably” fluent in English and not able to hold a conversation in any of the local languages.
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Asia 2017 Local Transportation

This is the transportation breakdown for local transportation in the cities I visited. Some cities had no cost because they were small and I didn’t require local transportation. Often, I tried to get day passes when I though they were worth it and they were available. Other times I just paid by the ride. Continue reading

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Asia 2017 Sleeping Evaluations

sleeping

sleeping

At first I wanted to title this post Asia 2017 Hostel Evaluations but I realized that I wasn’t just going to be sleeping in hostels. There were some locations that I would be traveling that did not have the typical hostels that I would have for most of the trip. When I planned the section of the trip using the car to see the Great Ocean Road I realized that hostels for that period of the trip were virtually nonexistent along the way. This is going to be a really long post that will grow as I move around.

So what’s the point of this post. Food for thought. I’m going to comment on some of the amenities, features and what I consider to be drawbacks of properties where I stayed on my 2017 trip. You’ll get my perspectives. Try to put them into perspective as you might see them and judge them under your own values and criteria. Continue reading

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Asia 2017 Airfare

Asia 2017 DestinationsThis is my current transportation breakdown for the Asia 2017 trip. The total comes to $1,698.22, or $19.98, a day for all transportation from one location to another for the 85 days. While that will not be the exact final figure but it will be fairly close as the airfare and bus rides are already purchased and that comprises the vast majority of the major transportation expense. There are 23 flights, 3 bus rides, 3 train trips and a car rental. Actual map is hereContinue reading

Fergburger

fergburger

fergburger

It’s called a Fergburger. According to Wikipedia “Fergburger is a hamburger restaurant located in Queenstown, New Zealand. Fergburger specialises in gourmet hamburgers, and is quite well known internationally despite not being a chain and only having one location.” Their website is located here. I was told that the place had a perpetual line outside the door and that it was open 20 hours a day. When I went to get my first Fergburger it was sometime after midnight. There was a short line. It was only about four people. I guess I was lucky. Lonely Planet states “Queenstown’s famous Fergburger has now become a tourist attraction in itself, forcing many locals to look elsewhere for their big-as-your-head gourmet burger fix. The burgers are as tasty and satisfying as ever, but is any burger worth a 30-minute wait? You decide.”

line at fergburger at 8 AM

line at fergburger at 8 AM

The picture on the left is a picture I took of the line at Fergburger at 8:00 AM. It explains the reason I hadn’t gone earlier in the day. The line was usually at least 20 people. I ordered the basic hamburger . It was $8 USD. The prices went up from there. It seemed like they had a variety of options. They gave me a number for my order. I went outside to sit on a bench and watch the display screen for my number. When it arrived I picked up my burger and took it back to the hostel. The hostel was located about a block away from the restaurant. How was the burger? It was great. It was as good as advertised. Was it better than the burgers back home? Yes, I hate to say it. It was. Was it worth the $8? That becomes very subjective. If you’ve got $8 – no problem. If you haven’t got $8 that’s another story. Was it better than the half-price burgers I get on  on Wednesday night at McNellies or O’Connels pubs? No. Not in terms of value. My home town Wednesday night specials include fries. Would I eat a Fergburger again? Absolutely.

Gold Medal Ale

Gold Medal Ale

Gold Medal Ale

First off, let me put to rest all claims that I’m an alcoholic. I’m not. I just like good beer. And a little wine. And maybe I show a definite weakness for Courvoisier. But, I’m not an alcoholic. I just like certain alcoholic beverages. Periodically…

Tonight was one of those periods. I went out and got a bottle of Speight’s Gold Medal Ale. The cost was about $4.25 USD for a 745 milliliter bottle. I’m not sure if that’s a good deal or a bad deal. I just know that’s what it cost at one store in Queenstown, NZ. I had been interested in a bottle of Speight’s ever since I saw the Ale House located at Corner Of Stanley Street & Ballarat Street in Queenstown. The words “Gold Medal Ale” also caught my attention.

Speight’s was founded by James Speight and others during 1876 in Dunedin, NZ. It is still brewed there. The company has a chain of Ale Houses on the south island of New Zealand. Speight’s goes out of their way to market the beer as a “southern” (island) beer. While it is sold as an ale, it is actually a lager beer. It seems that Speight’s is more in tune with marketing than actually representing their beer in more accurate terms.

But all the technical jargon aside, how was the beer? It was great. Was it overpriced? Yes. But the beer was really good and I’d definitely buy it again, even if it isn’t really an ale and even if I can get as good a beer in the U.S. at a better price. Let’s face it, I’m not in the U.S. I have to take what I can get.

The Cost of Milford Sound

Milford Sound is, at least theoretically, New Zealand’s #1 attraction. It is located towards the southern end of the country’s south island. Getting there isn’t a problem. There are lots of ways to do it. Finding a place to stay isn’t really a big deal either. However, if you think you can just waltz into Queenstown, New Zealand, the jumping off point for Milford Sound, in the summer months and find a cheap place to stay then you don’t really understand how popular the tourist attraction really is. I’m here now and I haven’t seen anything but No Vacancy signs up at all the local accommodations that have signs out front telling the public whether they have vacancies or not. I would say that someone without a reservation who is looking for a place to sleep during the high season should expect to pay a significant sum of money for their accommodations.

jucy

jucy

But that’s not what this post is about. What I’m looking at in this post  is what I would have to pay to get to Milford Sound from Queenstown on a one day trip. I’m going to compare that to what I paid to get there using a rental car. I paid significantly more than someone who was taking a bus trip but there was a reason. I’ll get to that soon. Most of the trips to Milford Sound are tour buses that take you from either Queenstown or Te Anua and put you on a boat where you spend somewhere between 1.5 and 2.5 hours riding around the sound, looking at one of Mother Nature’s better creations. The bare minimum price for the ride is $45 AUD with either Orange or Jucy. Both those cruises are first-thing-in-the-morning cruises. Mid afternoon cruises can cost twice that due to simple supply and demand. The $45 AUD does not include any transportation. If you want to throw in a bus ride from Queenstown the price goes up to $125 for Orange and $115 for Jucy. The trip from Queenstown will take 4+ hours to get there and 4+ hours to get back.

I rented a car at the Queenstown airport when I went to Milford Sound.. The car cost me $123 AUD for a 3 day rental. I didn’t have to pay the $12 AUD to get from the airport to Queenstown and the $12 AUD to get back to the airport. that the vast majority of people pay when they ride the public bus to and from the airport. My cruise wound up costing me $22.50 AUD as I rented a car from Jucy and got a 50% discount. I didn’t have to stay in Queenstown. I stayed in Te Anau, a small town located half way between Queenstown and Milford Sound. That means that my trip to Milford Sound wasn’t a 4+ hour drive there and back. It was a 2+ hour drive each way. While I would have liked to have had someone else drive me there and back, I didn’t want to sit on a bus for almost 10 hours. Plus, I would have had the cost of buying a lunch somewhere and it’s muyunderstanding that those bus lunches don’t come cheap. I went to the store and just grabbed a couple of cheap snacks for my trip. This saved a few AUD for food. Another thing I could do with the car was to go out sightseeing. I did a lot of that. I could stop the car anywhere and get out and take some photos. I couldn’t do that on the bus. One thing I did have to do was to buy fuel and that was what really shot the price up. I spent a total of $xxx AUD on fuel. That was the major cost difference as far as the rental car versus bus trip was concerned.

Was I glad I got the rental car? Absolutely. It was great. I could go wherever I wanted and I put a bunch of miles on the car wandering around places I would have never been able to go without the car. Yes, it wound up costing me some extra money but I feel the cost was worth it. There’s not a lot of public transportation when you get into rural New Zealand. A car is important if you want or need flexibility. Plus, I got to experience what it was like to drive around New Zealand.

Asia 2017 Day 5

Rotorua Dinner

Rotorua Dinner

Okay, it’s not much of a dinner. But it was cheap and really easy to fix. I picked up some noodles, a bottle of soda and a slice of pizza from the local grocery store on my way back to the hostel. It only too a few minutes to fix it. Was it good? What I’ve ldarned over the years is that when a person is hungry, almost anything tastes good. I think the whole meal cost me about $1.50. I can live with that periodically.

Invisibility Cloak

Invisibility Cloak

At first I wondered where the cloak was.
Okay, so maybe I didn’t. But I like the concept.

The World

The World

It’s one of the great cruise ships of today. It’s named The World and it’s not really for hire. Well, i guess maybe it is but it’s pretty pricey. The World is a private cruise ship for some of the wealthiest people in the world. The story of the World is here. I saw the ship on my way into Wellington and I had to make an effort to try and get to check it out. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not interested in living abourd the ship. I’m just interested in the story of those who do live aboard the ship.

Asia 2017 Day 4

Pohutu Geyser

Pohutu Geyser by Carl Lindberg

It was an excellent day. It started off a little slow. I got up early and spent some time trying to figure out why my cell phone would not let me utilize the Wi-Fi connections I tried to log into. Eventually, I figured out that Skype was the culprit. As soon as I removed it my problem was no more. By that time I was ready for a shower and a nap. I had gotten up too early.

Once I got going and got my body moving at a normal pace I went to the Rotorua, New Zealand Tourist Information Center and got some really good advice on what to see and do in Rotorua. Rotorua happens to be one of the world’s most significant areas for geothermal activity. The Waimangu Geyser, which is currently dormant, is generally regarded as the most significant geyser in recorded history. Some of its blasts were recorded to have went as high as 1,500 feet. The Waimangu Geyser is less than 20 miles form Rotorua. Two other currently active geysers,  Lady Knox Geyser and the Pohutu Geyser are rated as world class geysers and are very close to Rotorua. The Lady Knox Geyser is within 20 miles of Rotorua and the Pohutu Geyser is within walking distance of downtown Rotorua. Most people opt for the tour package at Whakarewarewa, the #1 tourist attraction in Rotorua and the location of the the Pohutu Geyser. I opted for a stroll in Kuirau Park, a local public geothermal park located about 100 yards from where I was staying. That made it really easy to get there and get back. The cost was also really good. It was free. I got lots of pictures and some videos. The whole experience perked my interest in geothermal activity.

Rotorua Sat Market

Rotorua Sat Market

The highlight of the day, however, may have been the serendipitous encounter with the local Saturday market at the park. I simply stumbled across it where exploring Kuirau Park. It was obvious that it was one of those events that happened to be a regularly scheduled event. There were hundreds of people there and, after scoping out some of the food vendors, I understood why. It was more of a food fair and an art-and-crafts event than a simple Saturday flea market, although there were vendors selling who-knows-what for professional looking setups to locals spreading out their wares on blankets. I had a good time checking out the activity.

Google Voice

Okay, I did it. I was able to use Google Voice to call a number on my cell phone using Wi-Fi. I love my new phone, the Honor 5X. It’s terrific. But, it does not have built-in support for Wi-Fi calling. That means that I need a third-party app to do the calling for me when I’m outside of the U.S. and don’t want to spend money on each phone call, sometimes to the tune of ridiculousness. I installed the Skype app on my phone and it crashed all my Wi-Fi. Whenever I would try to use a Wi-Fi connection and it told me I connected it wouldn’t actually do any sending or receiving of any data as long as I had Skype installed. I tried connecting at several places and then tried to use several different apps to access the Internet and the results were the same – I got a connection message but no data movement. I kept beating my head against the wall trying to figure out what had happened until I realized that the problem had only begun happening since I installed Skype on my cell phone. Once I uninstalled Skype the problem went away. Thank God.

So, what to do? I wanted to make Wi-Fi calls from my cell phone. Skype worked fine on my laptop but I didn’t want to drag out my laptop every time I wanted to make a Wi-Fi call. I decided to try Google voice. I set up an account. I logged in. Then I had to figure out how to make a call. It worked the first time I tried. Sweet. Now that I know what to do I’m going to keep using it to increase my skill level. Don’t be surprised if I call you.