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River Estuary and Village on the Road to Calbayog

A Bit of Chaos in Calbayog

May 21, 2013 – 12:21 pm

The road from Viriato to Calbayog was just as beautiful as that from Allen to Viriato had been. There were some long and hard climbs, but I barely noticed them I was so wrapped up in just taking in the beautiful views – especially of the wide rivers with all …

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Stop thief! That’s my phone!

June 22, 2016 – 5:28 pm

It happened in the blink of an eye. One second I was on my dream trip, happily cycling down a busy street in Sumatra, Indonesia. The next, my precious smartphone was gone – snatched from my waist by a man on a motorcycle.

My first reaction was stunned disbelief. Had that really just happened? Next, came a wave of anger. I yelled at the thief in English.

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Spoiler Discussion – Game of Thrones S06E09 – Battle of the Bastards

June 22, 2016 – 3:49 pm

Game of Thrones can be quite miserly when it comes to action and great visuals. We can go many episodes with just a tantalizing taste here and there of the dragons or a great battle. Instead, we have to sit through endless minutes of Arya talking in a strained …

Hope for the Hopeless – The Story of Lymphatic Filariasis

June 22, 2016 – 12:42 am
LF Graphic (4)

I’ve seen them in countries around the world – men and women with badly swollen legs, the skin often thickened, cracked, and infected. They sit at the side of the road with their treetrunk legs on display, unable to work, reduced to begging for coins to survive. At first, I …

Tourism Secrets of Kuala Lumpur

June 21, 2016 – 11:33 am

Everyone loves secrets, and I know lots of them about Malaysia’s fascinating capital city, Kuala Lumpur.
My first secret is at the famous KL Tower. Every tourist knows this tower. At 421 meters, it is the seventh highest self-supported tower in the world. Ride the elevator to the upper decks for …

I HATE Cliffhangers!

June 21, 2016 – 10:07 am

Here’s my message to the world of TV and movie entertainment: enough with the cliffhangers. I’m sick of them. It’s gotten so bad that not only does every season of a TV show end with an unsatisfying cliffhanger, every episode ends with one. It’s like the writers have forgotten how …

Microsoft Windows Is a Mess

June 20, 2016 – 9:15 am
Windows Mess 02

After all this time, it really surprises me that Microsoft Windows is still such a mess.
I’m not talking about the functional side of things. As an operating system, I suppose it works fine. It lets me store files on my computer and organize them in folders. It lets me run …

Buying a Motorola Moto X Play in Kuala Lumpur

June 18, 2016 – 1:47 pm

I was thinking that it is time for an update on my smartphone adventures. Months and months back, I went through an intense period of research as I prepared to purchase my very first smartphone. I ended up with a mid-range Samsung Galaxy J7. I was very happy with that …

New Passport at the Canadian High Commission in KL

June 17, 2016 – 1:00 pm
Buildings Surrounding the Canadian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur

I’ve always had a strong interest in good customer service and good design, and I was pleased to find on my visit that the Canadian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur had both.
I went there because I needed to renew my passport, and I was a little bit nervous. I’m always …

Passport Photos with Never-Drying Ink

June 13, 2016 – 6:54 pm

I could write a weekly or even daily column entitled, “Things That Happen Only to Me.” Today, that thing involved getting passport photos. I need two of them to present to the Canadian embassy as part of my application to renew my expiring passport. I imagine thousands of people around …

Compromising and Buying a Cheap Phone

March 21, 2016 – 5:17 pm

Monday, March 21, 2016
7:30 a.m. Room 7, Tamariah Losmen
Siantar, Sumatra
The search for a cell phone continues. After doing a lot of research, I had nearly made up my mind to take a chance and buy a Xiaomi Redmi Note 3. This is in spite of the fact that I don’t …

Thief! Part 4 – A Resultant Bad Mood

March 20, 2016 – 4:55 pm
Galaxy J7

Sunday, March 20, 2016
6:30 a.m. Room 7, Tamariah Losmen
Siantar, Sumatra
I didn’t make much progress in my search for a new smart phone yesterday. Once I started my research into the Xiaomi brand, things got very complicated very fast. In a way, it’s connected with my concerns about Xiaomi (and the …

Thief! Part 3 – Follow-Up at the Police Station

March 19, 2016 – 4:34 pm

Saturday, March 19, 2016
8:00 a.m. Room 7, Tamariah Losmen
Siantar, Sumatra
My life continues to be dominated by the theft of my phone. I now see thieves everywhere. I suspect everyone on the street—especially men on motorcycles. And whenever anyone looks at me, I follow them with my eyes to make sure …

Thief! Part 2 – A Police Report

March 16, 2016 – 4:16 pm

Wednesday, March 16, 2016
7:35 a.m. Room 7, Tamariah Losmen
Siantar, Sumatra
My return to the police station went, perhaps, much better than I anticipated. There were some of the expected, though I think avoidable, problems. For one thing, when I first approached the main desk, I was treated as if I had …

Thief! A Stolen Smart Phone in Siantar

March 15, 2016 – 3:54 pm

Tuesday, March 15, 2016
5:40 a.m. Room 7, Tamariah Losmen
Siantar, Sumatra
I’m not in a good mood this morning. I barely slept. Every time I closed my eyes, I relived the moment when a thief grabbed my cell phone on my belt, ripped it off, and took off on his motorcycle. It …

More Illness and a Walk to the Giant Buddha

March 13, 2016 – 3:41 pm
Giant Buddha

Sunday, March 13, 2016
11:00 a.m. Room 7, Tamariah Hostel
Siantar, Sumatra
Well, my life continues to be dominated by illness. I really wish I knew what made me sick. It’s the ultimate mystery. Was it the fish and rice and soup that Al’s wife served me? Was it the bubur ayam that …

Illness and Struggling with ATMs

March 11, 2016 – 3:39 pm

Friday, March 11, 2016
8:10 a.m. Room 7, Tamariah Losmen
It’s a bit later in the morning for my journal session. That is because I have no need to go to immigration this morning. My passport is sitting in some pile somewhere in their offices waiting to be dealt with. Hopefully they …

Visa Extension at the Siantar Immigration Office

March 10, 2016 – 3:13 pm

Thursday, March 10, 2016
7:00 a.m. Room 7, Tamariah Losmen
Siantar, Sumatra
My quest to renew my tourist visa has not gotten off to a good start. I arrived in Siantar too late on Tuesday to make it to the immigration office. That was my fault for not taking the issue seriously. I …

Cycling to Siantar and the Hunt for Water

March 9, 2016 – 2:57 pm

Wednesday, March 9, 2016
5:40 a.m. Room 7 on the second floor of the Tamariah Losmen, Siantar, Sumatra
Getting out of Perdagangan took longer than I expected, and I wasn’t on the road until after 10 o’clock. That really wasn’t the best idea, and I realized that very quickly as I started …

A Night at the Wismah Idola in Perdagangan

March 8, 2016 – 2:02 pm

Tuesday, March 8, 2016
6:50 a.m. Wismah Idola, Perdagangan, Sumatra
I could have and probably should have gotten up earlier this morning. I was awake around 4:30 and probably well-rested (since I went to bed early), but I was enjoying my comfortable air-conditioned room too much, and I stayed in bed until …

Relaxing and Good Food in Kisaran

March 7, 2016 – 12:24 pm

Monday, March 7, 2016
6:30 a.m. Hotel Cahaya Asahan, Kisaran, Sumatra
Just a quick note to start my day. Today, I plan to ride to the town of Lima Puluh. It’s only about forty kilometers away, so I think I have plenty of time. However, I’d like to get on the road …

Leaving Tanjungbalai and a Great Day in Kisaran

March 6, 2016 – 11:31 am

Sunday, March 6, 2016
It was finally time to load up the bike and head into the interior of Sumatra. I’d delayed so long that my tourist visa was about to expire again. It’s a bit of a pain that the extensions are for only 30 days. In a normal world, …