Sunday, December 24, 2017

Nov / Dec '17

  • Ending 2017 much more tired than expected.  Slept a lot the first 2 days upon arriving out west.  Had I stayed home, there would have been less pressure but when the view is of the mountains, I expected to be able to get outside and moving pronto.  Not curled up inside.
  • Am less fit as revealed by my recent winter hikes.  Thought I had caught up some when my heel improved but not enough.  Caught me off guard too.  Conditioning is an easy thing to lose and punishing to feel.  Temporarily made better by a couple of fresh chewy chocolate ginger cookies with a mug of coffee with Amarula...
  • The travel claim from D's injury finally did get approved.  Cheque has been received and cashed.  Grateful for insurance.  Despite an injury, D's conditioning remains high.  How unfair is that??!!
  • All the follow up appointments for my gum surgery has been completed.  The procedure went really well and I would not be concerned if I were to need anything else in the future.  As strange as this may sound, I really like my periodontist.  He is super calm and zen.  Want to be more like him.
  • Been cheating quite a bit this holiday with treats (sugar, dairy, wheat etc) and over all caloric intake.  Have enjoyed every bite!  Once we return home in a few days, the clamp down will automatically begin as it is so much easier to be good there.
  • Had a weird thing happen with my cell phone once I got up to the ski condo.  Within 3 minutes I got a text warning that I was at 90% of my data usage, then another showing I was over 5 minutes later.  All the while my phone was just on while it was trying to connect to the wifi.  
  • Thought it had to be an error with my phone (getting old?) as my average monthly usage is around 300 megs / 1 gig.  So didn't think anything of it but logged into my account the next day to check just in case.  Found an overuse charge due to those incidents, so called in to report it.  After the agent looked at my history, the charge was taken off but she wasn't sure exactly what had happened. 
  • My cell phone no longer supports an important travel app I use.  Am going to see if I can work around it.  If not, I will have to consider a newer phone.  The way plans are now in Canada, I would have to sign up for a new one, which will be at least $100 a month.  And depending on the phone I want, would be free or $200 and up.  Will see how my next trip goes and decide after.
  • Our internet at the condo isn't working.  One of the providers pulled out this season, so those users would have signed up with ours and somehow our connection get disconnected.  We've been given a number of general accounts to use in the meantime until they sort this out.  
  • Not crucial for me but D needs a strong connection for his work.  And the ones given are OK for general usage but not for what he needs so he has been tethering off his phone.  Supposed to get a credit for the time up until they get it fixed.  Apparently this is happening all over the mountain.  
  • Am in the midst of cram time for my Spanish.  Will be heading down to Guatemala soon for another week of studies and have been a bit too lax with my homework.  Should have spent energy criticizing myself instead of D...
  • I am happy 2017 is coming to an end.  2018 is another opportunity to test out new ideas and placements.  Let's see if the latest rejig is really the best version ever.  All the best to you and yours!  

Taken from The Peak, Hong Kong

Except this one, which was taken from Hong Kong harbour, Central

Thursday, December 21, 2017


The more I travel, the more I see the increasingly negative effects of tourism on places and people.  Especially when the discrepancy between the tourist and destination country is high.

I knew about the gaps in income, freedom, mobility etc.  and have tried my best to stay and eat at locally run places, despite it not always being comfortable or convenient.  My thought has been that I was there to gain some insight to the local culture, rather than insulate myself with relative luxury.

Despite efforts, in some destinations more than others, I've been automatically labeled as the "rich foreigner" and the "hard sell" or 2 tiered pricing immediately occurs, which I do not appreciate.  It doesn't feel good to be on guard each time you leave your hotel.  It can be a deterrent.  And the surprising discovery was that in some cases, the touts aren't poor, but are trying to act like it, praying on emotions and it works for them.

I've also noticed an undercurrent of dissatisfaction, anger and resentment.  Maybe stemming from consistently being around people who seem carefree, well fed, with no worries or troubles, loose with spending.

It would be difficult to be facing all of this day in and day out while putting in up to 17 hour days all the while trying to keep an enthusiastic front in hope of receiving a good tip.  You can feel and see that expectation, while the local community often do not tip.

In some places, the income potential of those in tourism has outstripped those working in education, health care.  So it has created a situation where villages are losing needed professionals to the tourist trade, leaving schools and hospitals short of key people, thus rendering parts of country under serviced.  An unexpected and unintended consequence of "development and success".

I didn't entirely love my recent time spent in Moshi, Tanzania although I met some really smart and kind people.  Ate some incredible food -- never had Swahili food before and everything I had was so flavourful and delicious!  The infrastructure is at a much higher level than Uganda.  Main roads excellent condition.  Government paid education.  HIV infection rate approx. 5.7% vs 94+%.  Still some burning of plastics but not to the same extent, thankfully!

Had the same driver to and from the airport and after we got through the why I didn't join any tours while there and the sell, we got talking about what I did do with my time.  It was only then that his tone changed and he softened, when I described where I walked, what I ate (knew the Swalihi names and prices by then) and how great and what high value I thought the food was compared to some of the "recommended" places I read about, all of them I ended up going in and immediately turning to leave.

It was then he told me that people will pay much higher rates because they felt that at those places they would be "safer".  To which I questioned, from what?  The hard sell, yes, but from what else, I'm not sure.  I felt that my driver felt somewhat insulted by that action, even though those clients are likely to be good tippers.  A conflict there.

The tourist industry is a huge well oiled machine in Tanzania.  With the cache of Kilimanjaro and access to the Serengeti, there is a consistent influx of people from all over the world who arrive single minded to fulfill their dreams and bucket lists.  Travelling around in rows of Land Rover Defenders.  I didn't like the feel of it and am in no hurry to buy into it.  Don't know why it stood out so much for me here as I've experienced pushy people elsewhere.