Thursday, 31 March 2011

Monday, 28 March 2011

Why I became a nomad

Photo thanks to kekexili
I'm convinced that all people, what ever they are after in the short term, and even how wrong that sometimes may seem to be, want to achieve happiness in the long term one way or another. Which makes everybody basically good, even despite wrong motives. I also believe everybody has unique talents, but unfortunately many of us are not in a position to find out what that is.
There's no formula for happiness. One day your body and soul feel oh so good, but before you know it that feeling is somehow suddenly gone, and for many of us this change of feeling goes on and on without even noticing or delibrately ignoring it. Or at least I used to live this way for many years.
Unless you're meditating under a tree all day, highs and lows will always exist. You have to really listen to your heart, but no matter who you are and what you do, no one is happy 100% of the time and that is how it will be throughout your life. This brought us perhaps good things like discoveries and inventions purely made out of frustation, leading to latest technologies which changed the world. No religion needed or to say the opposite; In history religion often formed an incentive to think out of the box.
Besides living a healthy and honest live, helping other people and being creative, I believe the only thing that you are able to influence in your own life is to change the offset conditions for feeling more happy. Wanting to achieve any goals in life is futile, but you have to try before finding out that at the end of the day only the direction you choose seems to matter.

Basic happiness is usually considered to be acquired by eating the right food, remaining healthy, having a shelter and start a family. Since the beginning of human being this has always been our common safe ground I guess. For more pondering things going beyond the scope of our mammal heritage, we invented religion and superstition, but I will skip that part for now.
In modern times other side conditions for happiness are considered to have money, good friends, a social life and in many cases family and pets nearby.
Then the list is filled up with many material things. For some the lake never seems to be full, although many billionaires after finding out that having money is not enough, want more power.
Others have redefined happiness as to be addicted to one or more things and feel happy only when exercising one or more of them.

For me Happiness = Freedom.

My life-style is an attempt to come more close to feeling free and I couldn't agree with Mark Twain more than when he wrote: 
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Many expats, escape artists and wanderlusts I met and who have or had the same quest as I do, seem to be unwilling and/or are not able give up many of the things mentioned above.
Only those who became (Buddhist) monks gave up everything except a new home, since nowadays not a lot are traveling arround that much anymore. Nothing for me, because I don't like to be taught what's wrong or right, even if they are rigth. And although Buddhism will let you find out things for yourself, I could do that anywhere, not nescesarrily in a temple.
Besides original nomads, I wouldn't know of many people who actually chose for a nomad kind of life-style;
Nicolas Berggruen? Seems he still owns an art collection and a jet.

What I gave up to become a nomad (in random order):
My company: I used to co-own a security equipment manufacturing company, where I was 'the inventor'. I also used to co-own an internet software company and I remember when on holidays in Koh Samui, I got the Bangkok Post delivered to my bungalow and read at breakfast about a possible copyright issue mentioning my company, so I called and gave some advise. Later I realised; that it must have beeen a bit like the feeling of having power like real tycoons do. The year after I sold my shares and started business on internet alone, but a late heritage was that I had to spent a lot of my savings to get even with the tax office because of some earlier accountancy tricks which seemed to be common sense in the situation at the time. I had the choise: continue business and stay in Holland or transfer it to my private name and literally buy my way out, which finally I did.
A house: My former home came together with all luxury you can imagine, including a jacuzy, a large orchard, the largest swimming pool and the best (karaoke) bar and sauna in town. Wow! But not really. In the end I would spend three evenings a week alone in my bar, watching movies of my choise, take sauna breaks, jump in the pool to cool off and make myself another Mojito, once in a while smoke a joint, sometimes ending up singing karaoke alone, often naked. Actually it wasn't that bad for a while..
At the the time I was strongly advised to have a living together contract with my girlfriend and have the house registered on both names, but somehow I decided to opt out and have everything registered on her name.
Owning other material things: I gave up owning any belongings except clothes, toilet items, a netbook, a pocket camera and a suitcase.
Kids: I took care for my ex-partner's kids for 10 years until they were old enough to be safe to manage without my advice and I'm glad they are happy with their new step-dad, who looks like a nice guy and seems to suit the kids and my ex in suburbia much better than I do.
Pets: I do like cats and I miss them, but it would be cruel to take them with me.
Some addictions: To be a workaholic, drinking coffee and strong alcoholic beverages, all of which I quit.

What I didn't give up:
A wonderful partner: I'm still on a friendly basis with my ex, but in the mean time I found a new partner, who's a ladyboy, should you want to know. We get along fine for over one and a half year now and we enjoy this life-style, but who knows, perhaps one day our objectives may drift us apart.
I hope it will not happen, but nothing in life is permanent.

Old friends and family: Through phone and internet I still have fun with them and occasionally I am able to meet up when returning to my country of birth for short periods.
Savings and an income: I am priviliged to earn a living via internet, I was lucky at the right time I guess and it is now vital for me to survive.
But for others not as lucky, digibetic or lacking the skills of being a successful author: If you have a pension, or if not, own a house and property starting at a worth of say: $400,000, investing this money safely at 5%-6% a year, you would be able to survive over here, without defaulting to become an English teacher. But depending on your demands a pension or alike would in that case be welcome I guess, as prices do tend to increase here. I have a friend in Patong, Phuket who continued his job as programmer remotely. But because of intensive use of  a large screen PC and internet, he cannot be a nomad, neither does he aspire to become one.
Feeling at home: I feel easily at home anywhere, but occasionally I have the urge to revisit a number of hotels which I consider to be my new homes and the list is still expanding.
One drawback I find to be is breakfast, because who wants to wake up between a lot of strangers day in - day out? A lot of times we eat outside or sometimes order food up to the room.
Some addictions: I still regularly drink beer, but I tend to feel pity about drunk people and do not wish to be like that and yes I smoke, which limits not only my health but also my freedom, but despite the additional benefits I could enjoy, I haven't found enough self-motivation yet to give it up. It's no excuse to tell that all of my family who's alive still smoke and drink of course.
Humour: Yes my life is a joke, but still a pretty good one if I may say so.


What I gained:
A happier and healthier life: There is always be room for improvement and I keep on learning.
Appreciate various cultures even more: Everyone is unique, but I find there's actually very little difference between people of various nations, except that they are 'programmed' differently by their environment. I am 'programmed' as well, but I keep on trying to rewrite the software to discover the true beauty of my environment.
Reality is better: Occasionally I notice when waking up that I just had a nice dream, but often I am glad to realise it was just a dream because my actual live tends to be better than the actual dream was.
Some people like my ex accused me several times of living outside reality, but then she tells me; sorry, talk to you later, my favourite sitcom is on. Anyway to me reality is just a landscape everyone is able to design rather than have it designed for you by others, and yes indeed a lot of people are suffering right now and don't have the luxury to contemplate on ideas even close to this for just one minute, but then again I didn't get a call like mother Theresa did in order to try to help all.
Friends: During our travels we met many nice people, some of whom we may now call friends.
I seem to have inherited an almost failureless sixth sense not to trust specific people.
And my partner seems to posses an almost failureless sixth sense to embrace nice and trustworthy people.
What a match!

What I lost:
Some discipline: I noticed that a practically worry-free life with little to fear goes hand in hand with lack of discipline, if it doesn't come today, it will come tomorrow. So perhaps I do blend in very well in Isan/Thailand like some expats complain about.

What's more left to be wished for?
Enhance my latent capacity to fantasise: I don't want to contradict the above, but just a few times a year I have such beautiful dreams that it would make a great story or movie hit or wathever or at least I think so. If only I would be able to remember it and write it down or paint it, but the tradegy is: I always forget the complete story within one minute after waking up. So I guess I probably lost a big part creativity and fantasy when growing up or possibly when developing language skills for that matter. I still do wonder how to get it back. Perhaps lucid dreaming is a thing for me.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Coin-operated PC

Seen at an internet café at Indra Food court, Pratunam, Bangkok:
Probably nothing new for insiders, but it was the first time I saw it.
Just insert coins and you are granted 20 minutes of PC time for ฿10 (€ 0.23/$ 0.33).
For private use it would make a great coin bank for internet junkies and game addicts too.

Funny drinks

Seen at Indra Square Food Court, Pratunam, Bangkok: The drinks stall of a Chinese market style restaurant has some funny juices on offer. What to think of Pregnant Love, Anti-Cancer (Just carrots, oranges and strawberries will do the trick?), Smooth Bowel and last but not least Yellow Fantacy..

Garbage in Bangkok

Seen in Pratunam, Bangkok: The signs states that you will be fined ฿2000 for depositing any litter.
So to see not everybody cares

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Little birdy high in the sky

Seen in Rajtavi, Bangkok:


At least up there he's safe for the cats

Saturday, 19 March 2011

World map of average penis size per country and other interesting maps

Does size matter? I don't know, but some people are actually researching this. On the serious side part of research could have been financed by condom manufacturers and authorities dealing with HIV prevention.
The size on the index below is in cm's, measured in erect state.
For all those interested in how well endowed men of various nations across the globe are, the map can be further explored here.
Data seems to come from this website, for which they used various sources. Also they even calculated the difference between self-reported and officially measured lengths, which depending on the country seemed to lack an inch or two.
Another map shows national IQ vs penis size, but what's the use? Once in the act, who's interested that mass equals energy and what do you need to know more about black holes if you already got one?

The above reminds me of a joke:
On a flight to Hawaii a man is taking place next to a beautiful woman.
He starts a conversation and asks wether she's on holiday or business, upon which she answers that she will attend a congress about sexology in Honolulu.
The man gets very curious and asks: "Tell me, do you know which people actually have the biggest penis?"
"Well", she answers;  "research showed that the Native Americans have the longest ones, but the Scottish have the largest girth (thickness).."
Later during the conversation she asks the man for his name, when he reaches out his hand and smilingly replies: "Hiawatha MacLeod, nice to meet you!"

If we have to take the above map for true; Congolese men have the longest ones, averaging 17.93cm/7" whereas South Korean men (and women) have to settle with a mere 9.66cm/3.8".
By the way Kim Jong-il refrained from participating.
Other maps like a global hapiness map and a worldwide map of nuclear power plants can be found at the website of targetmap.

How to send official documents like contracts and forms directly from your PC

Last year August when I stayed on the small island of Koh Hae, near Phuket I had to urgently send an official document with proof of identity to the US. This included a form which had been sent to me in Adobe PDF format and had to be filled out.
If you're not in a situation to be physically present, you will normally; (print and) fill out the form or document and sign it, together with a copy of your passport and send it by post or by fax.
Although some companies will accept (PDF) documents sent by email, most companies will consider a document or contract legitimate if it is send by post or by fax only, which is technically spoken a bit outdated.

When inquiring at the reception of the only hotel on the island, it seemed that their scanner/printer/copier was broken. Their fax machine was kind of working but in bad shape. So I first though I had no other option than to wait for the next day and go to the mainland to find an internet café and copy/fax service, taking the risk that something went wrong or was not filled out properly and had to resend it the day after.
After taking a little rest I came to the following paperless solution, which will intitially take more effort, but is quite easy to reproduce in other similar situations as well.

1. Make photo's of your passport/ID and your signature written on a blank piece of paper and upload it to your PC.
2. Edit the signature by clipping the photo (unless you have a macro camera).
3. If you're able, mark the white background as transparent and save the file as a transparent gif image, since this will show your signature on top of any background details on the original form instead of residing in a white box.
4. Download the PDF form.
5. Convert the PDF form to text editor format, in my case .DOCX (Word 7), this can be done online using pdftoword.
6. Fill in all details with your text editor and import the signature gif-file at the proper place in the document. If necesarry adjust the scale, because usually it will be too large.
7. Import your own documents and/or fax header page into new pages of the document.
8. Import the copy of your passport/ID image on a new page in oder to make the whole one document.
9. Save the file in a popular format like .DOC, .DOCX or .PDF.
10. Upload the document to a fax service like Faxzero which provides their services online, or for non-US destinations, use one of these four alernatives.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Call to 37 countries for free, 4 of which with mobile coverage

A German company Betamax offers a solution to make calls from your PC or cell phone via wifi to landlines in 37 countries for free.
For some countries like the US, Canada, Hong Kong and Puerto Rico, it is also possible to make free calls to cell phones.
Currently Betamax offers two services namely: WebCallDirect and Voipbuster.
The services are almost identical:
- Both are using fast servers all over the world which are inter-connected and are locally hooked up to the phone network.
- Before use you need to deposit €10 / $14.
- Depending on your choise you will be able to call to landlines of 30 or 33 countries for free, however after 60 days you have to re-deposit, otherwise the normal rate, which is overall cheaper than eg. Skype will be charged. Your old deposit will be still available for use.
- The rates for calling inside or to Thailand are not free and will cost €0.01/min. - $0.014/min. calling to landlines and €0.012/min.- $0.017/min. to cellphones.
- A call back service is being offered, so that during the call, you will have hardly any problem with possible dips in the internet connection which will change your voice into a robot. I think this is a very important option when making more official calls and when calling to 'free' countries from Thailand or vice versa, just the Thai rate will apply.
- When calling to paid services, like helpdesks etc in your own country, a thing which is otherwise impossible to do from abroad, the extra charges wil apply. When calling to a free service and then are being transfered to a paid service, I noticed the sofware will not detect this. Although this could have been 'improved' by now.
- Besides PC software, apps for iPhone and Android are being offered.

On the website of Voipbuster you are allowed to make a test call to before spending any money. Apart from being allowed to call to 'free' countries only, I currently don't know what other restrictions apply to these test calls.

When it comes down to free calls to countries abroad, both services have different offers.
All other rates seem to be identical.

In the past another service called Gizmo5 allowed people call to 60 countries for free. End of 2009 it was bought by Google and as of april 2011, free calls became restricted to the US and Canada only and for non-US users services were suspended.

Below is a list of countries which can be called for free with the services from Betamax:
Country
WebCallDirect
Voipbuster
Andorra
Argentina
X
Australia
X
Austria
Belgium
Canada
Canada mobile
X
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
X
Guam
X
Hong Kong
Hong Kong mobile
X
Hungary
Iceland
Ireland
Italy
Japan
Luxembourg
Malaysia
X
Monaco
Netherlands
New Zealand
X
Norway
Poland
X
Portugal
X
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico mobile
Russian Federation [moscow]
X
Singapore
X
South Korea
Spain
Sweden
X
Switzerland
Taiwan
X
United Kingdom
X
United States
United States mobile

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Internet too slow in Thailand? An Aircard may help you.. Part II

Due to great interest here's an updated version of my post last year.
In areas in Thailand where there's very little or no wifi reception or like in my case where the hotel is trying to rip you off for ฿500/day, the use of an Aircard is so far the best alternative solution.
An aircard is basically just a upgraded GPRS modem similar like connecting your cell phone to your PC. In Thailand Aircards sold are using EDGE technology (sometimes referred to as 2.5G).
Altough EDGE release 7 has a theoretical peak bit-rate of up to 1Mbit/s and typical bit-rates of 400kbit/s, my experience here however depending on signal reception gives me average speeds of 10k-20k download and 3k-8k upload, sometimes with peaks of up up to 200k download/150k upload, which allows you to just do basic stuff. Never expect to watch livestreams or flawless Youtube video's.
The Aircard I bought on the photo, of some unknown 'birdsnest brand' :) costed me ฿1500,- (€26.50/$46.50). 
When purchasing an Aircard make sure to bring your laptop or netbook along. The salesperson will usually go into a lot of trouble to get it working, which will save you from potential headaches, because in case of problems you have to find out if the USB plug-in aircard hardware and/or driver software is not working and/or your SIM card is alright.

After first trying a One-2-Call SIM phone card, my 300 Baht credit was gone in one evening. Later I heard several other people complaining about AIS (One-2-Call is a brand name of AIS). The best offer so far regarding price/speed/coverage seems to be DTAC, although the coverage of One-2-call is perhaps better in some less dense areas.
DTAC offers a special SIM card for internet called a Happy internet SIM card, which costed me ฿250 (€6.-/$7.75). 
With a Happy internet SIM you can be online for 50 hours, which comes down to just ฿0.083/min or 8.3 Satang/min. (Satang=Baht cents) which is € 0.002/min. - $ 0.003/min.
After the 50 hours have elapsed it would be best to buy a new one, since after expiry, the topping up rates will be 3.5 times higher namely ฿0.28/min. incl. VAT or € 0.007/min.. - $ 0.009/min.

Not many foreigners or Thai shop personell will know the exact difference between a DTAC Happy phone SIM card and a DTAC Happy internet SIM card, since physically they are identical.
Please note that the only difference is that they will come with different promotional systems behind them.


After purchasing a SIM card, make note of the phone number, which saves you from swapping SIM's later on, also checking available credit (if you have any left) is relatively easy: On the DTAC website you are able to create an account which will show your details.

Once logged in, you able able to switch the promotional system as well, but it's not possible to 'upgrade' your normal DTAC calling card to Happy Internet, but vice versa you will be able to 'downgrade' your Happy internet card to the different promotions of a normal calling card. So make sure you purchase the right SIM card advisebly from a local DTAC shop.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Begging dog

Seen at Petchaburi Road, Bangkok: A dog is sleeping with a sign to donate money. The owner was not in sight, maybe he has several dogs employed around this area.

You like beef burger stuff?

Seen at a Family Mart in Bangkok:

Help! An anti-Thai-monarchist is podcasting one of my posts

King Chulalongkorn,
Rama V.
Up to this date I have nothing against the Thai royal house.
In my country of birth we have a monarchy too and I think it adds an extra dimension to my small nation.
Sometimes I feel pitty for countries where royalty had to flee and/or are living in exile because it became a republic. In a previous post titled: Legacy of "The King and I" lives on I don't think I mentioned anything bad about the Thai royal house and in fact I wanted to emphasize the Western demeaning opinion about the far East at that time.
Now however, someone using the name Podcast112 transliterated my post into a youtube video podcast, nothing bad about that, but when looking to his other contributions, this person is clearly out to tarnish the Thai royal house.
After finding out, I had an argument with my Thai fiancé tonight, because I published something about the Thai royal house; good or bad didn't seem to matter much. I would be better off not publishing anything about this topic at all.
I could ask what's your opinion, but staying here over one year, I learned that very few bloggers in Thailand are daring to tell anything more concerning the Thai royal house except for: Long live the King (with a capital) at his birthday..

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Groovy map of Bangkok


Clever marketing I guess:
In the hotel room a groovy map of Bangkok is
being offered in combination with condoms.

Hotel fire safety sign FAIL


Pratunam, Bangkok: Under the sentence "In case of fire", some joker has written "Like last time" and indeed when googling for it I found that in 1988, 13 people died in a severe fire accident here. Not a comforting thought staying at the 7th floor. Specially when I noticed that my room hadn't changed since then and still didn't have any sprinklers.

Disturbing chart of the increasing frequency of earthquakes

Chart by the U.S. Geological Survey of earthquakes magnitude 6-8 from 1900 till 2007
Following the tragic events before the East coast of Japan today and it's aftermath, the above chart shows an excessive increase in deadly and destructive earthquakes since the year 2000.
I don't know exactly what I will be doing on December 21th, 2012, probably have a big party.
"Se non morimo se divertimo" or "If we will not die, we had fun"
Where will you be and what are you planning to do at this date?

Update:
In earlier comments I have investigated the death tolls since 1901, which I put in the graph below:

Modern record-keeping began in 1900.
The estimated death tolls per 10 years since 1901 in numbers:
1901-1910: 124,748 people
1911-1920: 266,584 people
1921-1930: 187,452 people
1931-1940:  95,042 people
1941-1950:  42,355 people
1951-1960:  16,723 people
1961-1970:  95,521 people
1971-1980: 319,180 people
1981-1990:  83,446 people
1991-2000:  62,821 people
2001-2010: 697,513 people

The average deaths per 10 years from 1901 till 2000 was 119,893 people.
So from 2001 till 2010 the earthquake death toll has been almost six times higher than the average in the last century.

One factor which explains the increase is surely the growth of the world's population:
 World Population Data Chart (1900-2050)
Data source from UN.org
If we take the average of the population in the last century, this is 3.2 billion versus an avarage of 6.5 billion in 2001 till 2010, the population in that period compared to that of the last century has doubled.
If we incorporate this into the earlier figure the death toll due to earthquakes in the last decade it still triples the anticipated figure.

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_20th-century_earthquakes
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Sendai_earthquake_and_tsunami

Friday, 11 March 2011

Useless Thai phrasebook

Edited photo, thanks to Point2
If you have ever used a phrasebook, you might have noticed that it usually will contain a lot of useless sentences which you will never need because they are either too difficult and/or will often lead to more confusion.
Below are some example phrasebook sentences which you also will never need in Thailand.
Transport
I worked on this railway, how much discount will I get?
Help! My tuk-tuk just broke into two pieces!

Conversation
What is your opinion about Schopenhauer and Kant's 'Ding ansich' theory?
At home I was considered to be a nerd, but now I understand they were wrong..

Police
My false teeth were stolen yesterday.
No you misunderstood, all I wanted to say was: I didn't like the King of Sweden..
Can I get a subscription for driving without helmet?

Romance
Do you need more money?
Why do you wear a T-shirt with "No money, no honey" on it?

Night life
I didn't know ping-pong was so popular in your country.
I don't need much sex, just a good conversation will do..

Shopping
Oh just 500 Baht, that has to be be your final price..
No, you have to think about your expenses too..

Pharmacy
Do you have any condoms with papaya pok pok flavour?
Do you have any medicines to keep smiling all day?

Eating
Can I get more chili with that?
One beer and your pretty colleague please!

Education
Where can I take lessons to become a qualified tuk-tuk driver?
Where can I learn Polka dancing?

Money
What is the current rate for the Zimbabwian Dollar?
Why I need more Baht? I already took a bath this morning..

My music video top 10

The music does not necassarily represent my taste but it has to be judged in combination with the video

10. Sabrina - Boys (Summertime love) (1987)
According to wikipedia this this seems to be one of the most downloaded music videos on the internet, not for the music I guess but more likely because of the nipple slips. Please note that back in 1987 this was something nobody had dared to do before.


9. UNKLE - Eye for an Eye (2003)
A bit creepy later on, but very well made.


8. Daft Punk - Technologic (2005)
Highly original MV from the French duo


7. Pink Floyd - Another brick in the Wall (1979)
For Pink Floyd fanatics a music video of the whole album the Wall lasting 1:35:10 is available on Youtube as well.


6. M|A|R|R|S - Pump Up The Volume (1987)
Wonderful video with footage and animations from old American and Russian space programs


5. Lady Gaga - Paparazzi (2009)
Very well made.


4. Micheal Jackson - Thriller (1984)
Honour to where honour belongs.


3. Herbie Hancock - Rockit (1983)
One of my favourites


2. Roger Glover and guests - Love is all (1974)
Wondurful animation and besides the Beatles one of first commercial fully animated music video's.


1. 10cc - Dreadlock Holiday (1978)
Although they are still perfomring on stage, this was their last hit with a well known video, which changed the way music video's were made


Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Accomodation reviews I never made

Photo thanks to cyber-tec
When booking accomodations through agencies like Agoda.com or booking.com etc. they usually have an excellent customer satisfaction response system.
If I have the chance I will comment and usually I don't complain much because I'm easily satisfied and if not it is mostly my fault because I didn't check it out carefully enough.
Also through experience I can distill a general picture from the photo's and the comments, taking in account the price and location.
Below are some reviews which I never made because I didn't have the opportunity or because I bargained money off from the (Agoda) price at last minute:
Reviews which I didn't make because I didn't book through an online agency..

2011, Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand:
- The cold water was hotter than the hot water.

2010, Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand:
- The shower tap had only two positions; too hot or too cold.

Reviews which I didn't make because it could not be booked through the internet..

2010, Hotel, Savanakhet, Laos:
- I checked in at the hotel because it was the only one in town advertising with (high speed ADSL) internet on it's window, after which the reception told me internet was out of order. Later I found out it had been out of order since at least half a year.
- On the wall in the room was a large old frame still wrapped in the original plastic it came in with a standard kitsch sample picture in it.
- The disco below was crowded with businessmen and prostitutes only. The main occupation of the latter group was even for the untrained eye easy to notice.
- The door of the room was so crooked you had pull the knob with force to close it, the last day just before checking out, I closed the door but kept the knob in my hand which I left with the astonished receptionist.

2004, Hotel, Alanya, Turkey:
- I locked the bathroom door, which was a big mistake since there was no way to open the lock from the inside. Also my girlfriend was not able to get the crooked door open from the outside, finally I was rescued by some cleaner women who used brute force.
- The only snow ever fallen there was on every channel of the TV.
- Some guests had their luggage stolen while negotiating with the taxi driver.
- The receptionist snarled at me to hand over my spare key immediately because he was affraid we left the airconditioner on.
- Every evening in the empty bar the hotel manager was fighting with his wife, at a certain point from her gestures it was obvious to notice that she treathened to kill him, which didn't happen, so I wouldn't recommend to book hotel to anyone in the near future.

1997, Homestay, Tiblisi, Georgia:
- When taking a shower I got electric shocks from the water, since apperently the electric boiler was not grounded.
(Pls. note that for Tiblisi at the time the cheapest hotel was about $300/night , since only aid workers and foreign officials came there. We also met up with one of the few Dutch residents there, a very kind woman called Sandra Roelofs and we told of our plans to visit to the autonomous republic of Adjara, where she never had been, so she insisted on meeting again after our excursion, which we later did. In order to save-guard us from possible trouble, she gave us a business card of her husband who seemed to be some kind of politician there. In 2004 he became president of Georgia and he's still in charge today.)

Reviews which I didn't make because the internet was not available (there ) at the time..

1997, Homestay, Batumi, Adjara:
-When we arrived the family moved out to a small shed. I asked the husband what he his job was and he told me he was electrician.
- He must have been a lunatic beacuse the wiring was made out of short strands of very thin copper wires which were twisted together without insulation forming daisy chains hanging low over the kitchen table one of which ended twisted around the tap of the kitchen sink, fortunately the whole block was deprived of electricity.
- The room still had the distinct smell of gasoline on which they cooked and a burning smell from the floor upstairs which had fully been burned out. During that incident our room must have gotten that hot that it melted the plastic casing of the TV which was more or less draped around the tube.
- The matrass seemed to have formed its own biotope, since later I was diagnosed to have scabies.
- The outside view was basically a war zone, with broken and deserted buildings, bullet holes everywhere, a desolated park with a rusted old ferris wheel some cabins of which had fallen off.
- We stayed one night and fled.

1997, Hotel, Batumi, Adjara:
- Outdoors on the boulevard the police was holding racing contests in stolen Audi's.
- At night we couldn't sleep because of the booming sound from the disco upstairs, so finally at 1 am we deceided to take a look. Apart from a few local maffia members, a prostitute and one beggar child dancing on the disco-floor, it was empty.

1993, Hotel, Singkiang, China:
- When asking for the toilet a man pointed out to go and sit behind a hill in the desert.

1983, Guesthouse, Istanbul, Turkey:
- When entering the lobby a woman who looked like a gypsy was sitting on the floor breastfeeding her baby. Other children, some of them naked were playing tag around her.
- I asked to stay for two nights, and she wrote on her hand an amount which came down to about $1. I tried to explain to the lady that we wanted to stay there for two nights instead of one, but I finally found out that $1 was the price for two nights.
- The room had a sink and a lightbulb which looked good, but in the evening when we got back in the room it turned out there was no water and no electricity.
- In the night I woke up because I had to pee, so I hoped to find a toilet somewhere outside the room soon. I noticed that we seemed to have gotten the 'executive room', because in the hall they had put up matrasses where other guests were sleeping, I sneaked past them because I was affraid they would attack me to steal our money should one of them wake up and I was relieved to reach the last matrass which I thought to be empty, but suddenly I was schocked by a big snoring sound from a man hidden under the sheets turning sides.
- I never got to see the toilet in the narrow corridor. In the dark I could easily find it by smell. There seemed to be no door. I did not dare to go in and step into something soft in the dark, so I just peed in that direction from where I stood, I would have been much better off just peeing in the sink in the room, but I heard the sound of water, so that must have been a good guess I assume.
- We stayed there one night and fled.

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