Category Archives: Travel

85 Days in Asia

Remember when I had to decide how many books I bought and took with me? I used to buy and rip the sections out and then throw the sections away when I left a place because of the weight. I lost pages and I picked up souvenirs. That was before the 7 kilo rule and I carried 30+ pounds..

Makassar – Ambon – Sorong

MakAmbSor

Makkasar Ambon and Sorong

Makassar ,Ambon and Sorong are three cities in Indonesia. Interestingly, the geographic areas where they are located are also three countries in the Travelers’ Century Club’s (TCC) list of “countries” that they publish. This means that, if you go to all three, the TCC allows a member, or anyone else for that matter, to claim that they have been to three countries, not one, even though the three cities are all in Indonesia. Continue reading

Asia 2017 – Tasmania

Yes, I’m headed there. Not to look for Devil’s, of course, but rather to collect a notch, that is country, for my belt. The TCC gives me Tasmania as a country and I’m going to take it. But, since I’ve never been to Tasmania and never plan to go back, I need to talk about some interesting Tasmanian facts.

First, Tasmania has some of the oldest living things on Earth, the Lagarostrobos, a species of conifer tree that can live to be several thousand years old. While we don’t have any trees still alive today that are that old, we do have some that are around 2,000 years old. They are only native to Tasmania.  Continue 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.

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.

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

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.