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
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
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.”
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.
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.
This is the lodging breakdown for my “cheap sleeps” in the cities I visited. The costs are in total U.S. dollars. The average per night is found by dividing the $$ by the nights. Continue reading
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
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.
At first I wondered where the cloak was.
Okay, so maybe I didn’t. But I like the concept.
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.
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.
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.
This is the bus that I took to Rotorua. It was about a 6 hour trip through the countryside with stops in several towns. I took the bus to move on out of Auckland. Rotorua was the next stop on my itinerary. The bus was comfy but the driver was kind of a jerk. He got onto some guy for bringing a sandwich on the bus and when I asked him a question he said “Can’t you see that I’m busy?” I wanted to retort that I could but wondered why he thought that anything he was doing was more important than providing customer service. Luckily, I only paid $1 AUD (about 70 cents) for the trip.
This is the McDonald’s I stopped at to work on some Wi-Fi issues I was having. I’ve found that food is more expensive in New Zealand than in the U.S. That applies to Micky D as well. While I didn’t get my Wi-Fi issues solved I did find that I could get a Senior Coffee in New Zealand just like I did in the U.S. and, what’s even better, it was free at this McDonald’s. I like free. I don’t know if a Senior Coffee is free at all McDonald’s in New Zealand but I’m going to try and find out.This is the PAK’nSAVE I found across the street from the McDonald’s. I took the opportunity to get some instant coffee, some instant noodles, some chocolate and a cheap bottle of soda pop for dinner. Actually, the noodles and chocolate will last several days and the coffee will last me a couple of weeks. Little expenditures like this dramatically help me to control my costs even though they aren’t as satisfying nutritionally or psychologically as a meal at a nice restaurant.
Strategy: It’s a new country and a chance to see a newer, more “western” (?) China. I arrive in Taipei, Taiwan on a Wednesday at 2:30 in the afternoon. I depart on Saturday at 6:00 PM. I’ll have 4+ days in the city. I’m staying near the Peace Park, the Railway Station and the North Gate. I will have phone service in Taiwan. 100 TWD = $3.17078 USD. Lonely Planet Taiwan is available in Kindle Unlimited.
Weather: Temperature averages for lows/highs is 63/74 with less than 1 inch of rain in March. Oklahoma City gets about 3 inches of rain in March.
Airfare: Onetravel can get me out of Bangkok to Taipei for $107 on Tigerair. Tigerair (and Peach) also flies from Taipei to Okinawa for around $65 USD. I wound up taking Vietjet from Saigon for $70.
Transfers: Bus looks to cost $5 USD or less. Bus 1819 costs 125 TWD to the Taipei West Bus Station which is less than a kilometer from the hostel. The bus takes about an hour. There is a High Speed Rail that looks to take about 20 minutes to get to the city and costs 160 TWD plus a small transfer fee to the HSR..
Local Transportation: The metro pass page is located here. They have metro information. Think 3 day TaipeiPass for 440 TWD. Get one that allows a Gondola Ride.
Hostels: HostelWorld. Hostelbookers. Lonely Planet. Over 100 hostels listed. Wound up booking the Fun Inn where, interestingly, there is no alcohol allowed on the premises. I wound up paying $44 for 3 nights.
Attractions: TripAdvisor. RoughGuides. Google. Lonely Planet. LP Attractions. Frommer’s Favorites. Frommer’s. Fodor’s. VirtualTourist. There are 5 Hillman Wonders on Taiwan, all red: Kenting National Park, National Palace Museum (Taipei – #7 on art museums by visitors), Lungsham Temple (Taipei), Taipei 101 Building and Taroko Gorge. Also think Shilin Night Market (far away) & Taiwan HSR. Night markets are, IMHO, the best places in the world for great food. There are no UNESCO WHL properties on Taiwan. More sights: Ximending (shopping district two blocks from hostel), Railway Station, Formosa Boulevard Station (Dome of Light), Snake Alley (delicacies such as snake penis and turtle testicles as well as being very close to Lungsham Temple), Red House Theater (Images), Taipei Zoo ( largest zoo in Asia), Chiang Kai Shek – CKS Memorial (Images), Maokong Gondola (Images), Jiufen (day trip),