Southeast Asia Travel

Apps

I was in Laos.  I wanted to know what the current exchange rate was.   I wanted to know how many kip (8,000?) I could get with my US dollars.  A guy comes up to me in a cafe and says, “Hey man there’s an app for that.”  And then he shows me.

What he meant by “app” (for those of you who just appeared from under a rock), is “application.” An application is a device that one downloads off the internet and then uploads to one’s “smart phone.”

In any case, if you wish to try and make sense of an ever changing world (with the possibility of becoming even MORE confused), then download, or develop, an app. There is no shortage of apps on the market today (about 50,000, but that is just an uneducated guess), and room for a lot more.

After all, in spite of the number of apps currently out there, surely there is room for one more.

 

 

 

 

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Categories: computer applications, technology, smart phones, laos, Southeast Asia Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Daniel Weber

With a name like Dan Weber, one would think that this guy is just another of the thousands of Dan Webers out there.  But this guy is pretty hard to pigeonhole.

Dan has traveled extensively all over Southeast Asia by bicycle.  “I went all the way to Singapore,” he says, “and never had an accident.  Then I am cycling in New Mexico, USA, and I have an accident.  A car pulls out of a side street and nails me.

“Anyway, it wasn’t entirely their fault.  They had the sun in their eyes, and so they had trouble seeing me.  In any case, there was a collision, and I was taken to the hospital. Then things got REAL interesting.

“This guy with this clipboard runs up to me and asks me these questions about my insurance–or health care–provider.  I tell him its Medicare, and he writes that down. A couple of weeks later I get these letters in the mail, telling me that I ‘have been denied’ coverage.  Can you believe that?  Our tax dollars hard at work.

“In any case, I helped out with the payment for the collision.  I chipped in.  It wasn’t entirely their fault.  They had the sun in their eyes.  That’s the way things go.”

Dan is currently riding his bicycle somewhere in Laos, near a river with blue green waters that swirl and glint in the sun.

The actual reason that I looked up Dan was because after Mahasarakham University terminated me, I didn’t know what to do, and I needed someplace to escape the torrential heat that is Thailand.  So I called this guy named John Davies, who is a lecturer at the Mahasarakham Business School (MSU).  A former English language professor at MSU gave me his number.  John Davies, wanting to help, or get me a job and at least get me out of his hair, gave me the number of Dan Weber.  He told me that “he runs a language school somewhere in Laos.”  Well Dan did run a language school, but not anymore.  In any case, I was not looking for a job teaching.  I was looking for a cool place to lie down.

But back to John for a moment.  I had met this man briefly a couple of times before. He had some great stories to tell, like the time his paycheck was withheld for about 4 months.  Finally, he said to himself “enough is enough” and he started asking questions of different people as to the location of his paycheck.  His query was met by a litany of “I dunnos” and “beats me” and various other responses, but what he found most revealing is that nobody had a clue–and if they did they were not willing to share–as to the location of his money.   Finally, he got a great idea.

I located the most gossipy woman in the department,” he relates. “I approached her and asked her if she would write me a letter of recommendation.  The money, including 4 months back pay, was in my bank account in about 3 hours time.  I have since made the transfer, and now work in the Mahasarakham University Business School.  The English department is a thing of the past.”

Back in Luang Prabang, the tourist town where Dan lives in Northern Laos, the man says to me, “Laotian English teachers can’t speak English.”  Then he looked at me as if to say don’t believe anything to the contrary.  I don’t.

Dan Weber was instrumental in helping me get a room at a flophouse in Luang Prabang.   “There are about 500 guest houses in or near this town,” says Mr. Weber.

It was the Chinese New Year, and so most of the accommodation was gone, and certainly all of the good accommodation was taken up (there are only 1.3 BILLION Chinese).  I was lucky to get this room.  The bedbugs were happy when I came along.

We did not have a chance to venture into politics too deeply, but I am sure that he is “Feeling the Bern,”  and I am sure that his sensibilities would lead him to support a certain senator from Vermont.

But back to the infamous English department at MSU.   When Dan Weber found out that I had been teaching there, the first thing he said was, “You mean the place where they DO NOT offer you a computer or desk for the first couple of months?” Then he said, “Don’t worry.  It wasn’t your fault.  Well, not 100%.”

MSU has some problems, is what he seemed to be saying.  That Dan–about the most non-aggressive and reasonable human being on the face of the Earth–had any problems at all there is proof positive that the department doesn’t give a shit about its teachers.

Dan showed me his bike seat.  The seat is made up of two different convex leather-covered scoops that are used to support the arse, entire back, and body, of the rider.   It looked a lot more comfortable than a conventional bicycle seat.  That’s because it probably is.

Here is a picture of Dan.  As we can all see, the man is in great health.  He is currently braving the pre-monsoon Southeast Asia weather, which is pretty steamy, if you ask me.  It is, in essence, the hottest time of the year.

 

20160208_163912

Well, the pic will be up in due time, as soon as I figure out all the crap that needs to be figured out in order to do so (it only took me an hour but I got it).  These app companies are all racing into the future at just breakneck speed.  They all want to be the first across the finish line.  They all want to be the first to develop an app that holds our hand while we take a shit.  To us spectators, er consumers, out there, this race is just another blur across the finish line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: bicycling, Southeast Asia Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Latest

I have been too tired to post.  Too drained, too lacking in energy, hardly motivated, depressed, uninspired, you name it.  And, I have absolutely NO ENERGY.

I am, if you will, the complete opposite of the Old Man in the House of The Spirits, forever riding his horse around, forever getting the “help” pregnant, forever terrorizing anyone that gets in his path.

I am currently in Laos, but let me explain how I got here.

I took a plane from South Korea, where I had been manager of the Yellow Submarine Cafe and Bar.  When I say I had been manager, what I mean is it was basically me.  I opened the place, closed the place, ordered the food, prepared the food, served the food, did the serving, took the orders.  At the end, this woman called Kim Min young came and helped me, but she only had a couple of weeks before the earth moving equipment arrived, and the razing began.  By that time I was on a plane to Thailand.

In Thailand, I worked at a university in the hot town of Mahasarakham.  It was so hot that we had palm trees (not coconut trees but palm trees) and I expected to see a camel caravan pass by.  It was so sandy that the sand was everywhere, turning the water in the bathroom toilet a yellowish color, which, when combined with my yellowish urine, made a bright red color that signaled the end of the earth, or a bleeding kidney, whichever comes first.

I hated Thailand, but my students were pretty cool.  They were mostly women, by the way.  There were even a couple of guys posing as girls.  Those are called “ladyboys.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Ladyboys in Thailand, Mahasarakham University Students, Southeast Asia Travel, Teaching in Thailand | Leave a comment

Bali Hai

Bali Hai was the mystical Island featured in the film South Pacific, which was, ironically, not shot in the South Pacific but instead in the South China Sea, on the island of ___________.

I was lucky enough to go there, first in 2003  and later in 2006, and here are some pictures from the first  trip, taken with a pre-digital camera and scanned into the computer.

Looking up at coconut trees from below, somewhere on Palau Tioman

Looking up at coconut trees, secret spot

 

2003-03-23 11.33.32

Fruit bats flirting from tree to sky, first evening on The Island

2003-03-23 11.34.50

underwater scene, secret spot

 

2003-03-24 16.27.20

Tapestry I bought on The Island. No longer have the tapestry, but I have the picture.

 

Norweigian standing in front of a big tree, Palau Tioman, Malaysia

Norwegian standing in front of a big tree,  somewhere in Southeast Asia

 

 

 

 

Categories: Southeast Asia Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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