Archive for April, 2012

While I enjoyed this book, I felt like there was something off about it. I felt like it had a religious undertone about it, which annoyed the hell out of me. It was about two couples who go on an adventure in the Australia Outback. Each of the dudes want to propose to their girls and I have never read about dudes making such a big deal about this, after a while, it was like, who cares. They each get a rental car and one couple gets majorly lost and the majority of this book is about their attempt to get rescued. Eventually, the dude has to blow up the car to get the attention of a plane flying far away. Because they have destroyed the car, for some reason, they owe the place were they rented it a huge amount of money. But for some reason, they didn’t have to put down a deposit or credit card when they originally rented it and the rental company lets them leave the country, with only a promise that they will pay them back. I mean, what the hell kind of business practice is that? It’s crazy talk if you ask me. Also, it seems like the main couple had never been together, *in that way*, before they got married. And the guy seemed like obsessed with getting married and not being away from his women. It was a bit weird. I liked the Australian aspect of it all and that story, but the characters seemed a bit off.

Used: 2011

I am a bit carefree with my money when I travel, especially now. When I travel for vacation, it’s like a major once a year thing and for the most part I don’t care how much it costs. I mean, of course I like a deal, but I am not going to go out of my way to save like $20 in the grand scheme of things. My ATM card charges a fee. My credit card charges a fee. I don’t travel enough anymore to make switching these things cheaper at this time. Maybe I will in the future. But for now, I am fine with where I am at.

Since I had never been to South America before and I had heard horror stories about cards getting eaten by machines, for the first time in my travels, I bought money before I left. Unlike the banks in New Zealand where I could order money online and then pick it up a few days later (just one of the millions of reasons why American banks SUCK!!!) I had to go in person to order money. And then they called me when my money was available to pick up. I hate waiting in line at the bank and I had to do it TWICE!!! Agh. I requested approximately US$100 in mixed bills and got a call 2 days later that my money was ready. I was prepared and requested it about a month ahead of time, just in case as Peruvian soles aren’t the most popular of currencies. The teller at the bank told me that some people request like 100’s of pounds or euros and need them like in an hour. Man, I am such a planner. Anyway, the exchange rate I got was pretty bad (about s/2.60=US$1, when it was about s/2.70=US$1 in country) but for the most part I don’t regret it. I had money on arrival and I learned my lesson!

The biggest thing I probably would have changed is requesting all small bills. Things are dirt cheap in Peru and while I always used my bigger bills in more popular locations, I worried about using big bills in places that change might not have been available. Thankfully, I never got into that situation, but I was always aware of what bills I had and what I was using at each location.

I wanted to pay cash in as much as possible so I ended up hitting the ATM a lot. In most places you have a choice between taking out soles or USD. My biggest recommendation to anyone anywhere when traveling is always take out the max amount. In Peru it was US$100 or s/300. I used Chase in the US and my charges were s/10.00 (less than US$3.00) and US$5.00 for each transaction as well as a 1% fee when taking out soles. I noticed when I got home when I took out USD that I didn’t get charged the 1%! I actually took out USD’s most of the time as I had to pay for my Lake Titicaca trip in cash on arrival, so there was a bit of savings there. The reason I didn’t bring the cash into the country with me on arrival was for safety. I didn’t want to be carrying around like US$500 with me everywhere so while I probably ended up spending close to US$40 on fees, I just take that as a life lesson and factor it into my vacation budget.

Change places are everywhere. I had a pile of US cash on hand near the end of my trip and I didn’t want to waste more money at the ATM, so I would go into random store fronts and change a US$20. Of course, I was always a bit worried about counterfeit money, which is why I always changed a very small amount at a time (plus, US$20 will get you pretty far in Peru) but I never had an issue. Plus I got a decent exchange rate.

I had read about money changers on the streets of Lima in my guide-book and while I told myself I would never use them because they look shady, I ended up using one on my last day. They stand on major tourist street corners with piles of money in their hands and wear these bright yellow jackets (sort of like construction workers) and wear huge official medallions. They made eye contact with me all the time because I screamed “tourist” from my look (whatevs) but for the most part I waved them off. But when I did need one, I just gave them US$20 and then handed back a decent exchange of money. I never counted it but it seemed fine and the money was not counterfeit. Hell, it was only a US$20 and it was my last day. Plus, I get to write about my positive experience! I would never use one at night (I don’t think they even legally change money at night) but during the day, they are super helpful.

Moral: This was the first time in a while I traveled without having a bank account in the country I was travelling in. Yes, I know I could save money here and there and whatever, but this works for me right now with my lifestyle. I am really anal about my purse and keeping an eye and hand on my stuff and never traveled with a lot of money and didn’t worry too much about pickpocketing. I was just always alert and aware of my surroundings. I don’t know what I would do differently. This works for me. Everyone is different when it comes to money so I try not to give too much advice but just tell you what I do in certain situations.

**I read and wrote this review while I was living in New Zealand sometime in 2007 or 2008**
Adventures about a husband and wife riding around New Zealand on a motorcycle. Simple, but quite enjoyable. A bit too much detail about motorcycle and repairs and stuff which I didn’t care about, but this book is highly recommended for those that are. The writing about the landscape was typical and nice as well. Nothing new, but always a nice read, especially since I am here.

For some reason, I read this book in a day. There is no excuse for that. I don’t know how I got through this book so quickly as it was just okay and it was nearly 400 pages! I was in Kaikoura and I didn’t have a TV, but that is all! Anyway, this book was about a Dude right before one of his novels was published and he took a bunch of money and traveled the world in hopes of meeting someone to invite back to the US and that it would change their life for the better and mean a lot to them. He traveled to a lot of 3rd world places and it was all an interesting read about them. Usually I am not really all that much into reading about that, but this book wasn’t too bad. Probably the only thing I didn’t really like was the timing. I always read the masthead before I read the book so I get an idea of the timing that this book takes place and I think this book was originally published in 2000 and then in paperback in 2002 or something. So it’s not the newest book. He talked about S. Africa a lot and apartheid, which to me, seem to have been around for most of my life. But it was a huge issue in that chapter and when I finally got to the epilogue, it mentioned something along the lines of it taking nearly 10 years for the person that the author chose to come to America, to finally make it and he arrive in 1999 or something. So all the contents of this book took place nearly my lifetime ago. I wish I had known that going into at least the S. Africa chapter, as that one talked about ongoing political issues within that country. Another epilogue, which was written for the paperback edition, mentioned September 11th, which I always find interesting. Like if it took so long for the person to get to America before September 11th, imagine how long it would have taken them after! All in all, a very interesting read.

This book I was totally looking forward to when I picked it up from the library! And the payoff was total crap. One thing the travel writing class taught me that I brought to when I read this book is what kind of book it was. There are books that “show” you what people see when they travel and there are books that “tell” you what they see when they travel. “Show” books are usually more interesting and people like them more and I know I do. This book fell into the “tell” category and because of this, it was sooooo boring! Another thing that made this book boring is the scope that it covered. It covered nearly the whole world! The writer went to every continent except Africa, well, he did the north a little, but he included that in Europe. I have read books before were the write covers the whole world, but oddly enough those are families that do that and for some reason, makes it slight more interesting. The only angle this guy had was riding around on a motorcycle, but he started in Portugal and only got as far as like eastern Europe before shipping the bike to India (not riding it around the mid-east) and then couldn’t get it out of customs there, so pretty much just got rid of that idea and it turned into a regular boring ass trip. Also, he complained about everything! If the hotel wasn’t a freakin’ Hilton, it was a shithole. It was interesting to read his take on India, as I have no interest in ever going there, but everything I read are usually rave reviews about it and this guy had nothing to say but crap about it. So different, but a bit of a downer.