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TRAVEL TIPS

  • ATTENTION:

  • BARGAINING:

  • BEWARE OF STRANGERS: See Lock Your Door.

  • BORDER CROSSING:

  • CAMERAS:

  • COMPUTERS:

  • DRIVING: (Fueling)

  • EATING UTENSILS:

  • GRATUITIES: (Tipping):

  • (Hand holding cel phone.) KNOCK OFFS:

  • LOCK YOUR DOOR:

  • MONEY:

  • NOTE BOOK (LAP TOP) BATTERY:

  • PASSPORTS:

  • ROOM PROBLEMS:

  • (Photo of juggler.) SCOOTERS:

  • TAXIS:

  • TOILETS:

  • TIPPING:

  • UPSET STOMACH:

  • VISAS:

  • WATER:

    ATTENTION
    DON'T DRAW ATTENTION TO YOURSELF

    Don't carry, or display, large amounts of money, or large denomination bills.

    Separate your money between pockets so a pick pocket will only get what's in one pocket.

    Use local currency, American currency will attract attention.

    Remember what is in which pocket and try to only bring out enough to cover the charge.

    Be sure that no one is watching which pocket you put it in.

    Avoid ATMs in small stores unless you know it is from a common bank.

    END

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    Dress conservatively, expensive purses, sunglasses, etc. mark you as a target.

    BARGANING or BARTERING

    I read on a website where tourist shouldn't bargain when in poorer countries. Pay the asking price.

    Excuse, me. Which mansion did you just walk out of?

    For one, I am not wealthy. It takes me a long time to save up enough to go on a trip and I have to travel as cheaply as possible.

    Secondly, no vendor is going to sell his product so low as to lose money. Irregardless of how low his prices are, they are above what he expects to sell it for. They work in a tourist industry and they know that tourists want to bargain so their prices are set high.

    In fact most prices aren't set until they see the cut of the potential purchaser.

    Walk into any souvenir store and see how many items are priced. The vendor waits until the person asks “How much? Then sets the price according to how fat he thinks the buyer's wallet is.

    On the other hand if you are getting work done I pay more than the asking price if I feel it is worth it.

    In Cancun, while at the beach I broke the frame of my glasses. In town I found a small jewellery shop who obviously created his own products. At first the man was reluctant to work on my glasses but I showed him that the two sections of framed needed welding and he was familiar with welding pieces of jewellery together.

    Very carefully he removed the plastic lenses and nose pieces and after much adjusting of the stuff scattered about his work bench managed to align the two pieces and weld them together.

    For this he wanted the outrageous sum of 40 Pesos. I gave him 50 and thanked him profusely.

    Another time, the catch on the bottom of my fin bag ripped and I took it took a shoe maker on Isla Mujeres. I showed him how I would like it reinforced and when I went back the next day he wanted 20 Pesos and I gave him 25. Good work deserves a reward and I am sure that he had under priced himself.

    END

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    BORDER CROSSING

    Just a little something I thought I would pass along to travellers crossing the 49th Parallel.

    Particularly to those who leave or arrive Vancouver by cruise ship.

    (Cruisers tend to carry a lot of extra clothing for the various functions and the number of days they will be aboard.)

    When crossing into, or out of, the USA, by bus, all luggage has to be taken off the bus.

    The bus driver will unload, and reload, the luggage but other than that he cannot touch it.

    Once the bus is empty of passengers, and luggage, the bus will be inspected.

    It will then move ahead for embarkation.

    However the luggage must be taken from the bus to the inspection room and back again by the owner of the suitcase(s), no one else is allowed to touch it.

    For those of you who are not big, and/or strong, pack light with as few containers as possible.

    There are no porters, or chivalrous gentlemen, at the border.

    I just received this today from Cooper B. who works at an immigration centre.

    I think American, as well as foreign, tourists, to the U. S. will find it informative, http://www.us-immigration.com/us-border-crossing/

    END

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    CAMERAS

    DO NOT TRY TO USE CAMERAS IN THEATRES:

    Most theatres, cinematic, or stage, have cameras and censors. They will know when you try to use your camera to take pictures of the presentation. They will know which seat you are sitting in. You will be asked to turn over your camera or leave the theatre. Upon leaving the theatre you will be given your camera, minus the images that you took.

    IN CASINOS AVOID: TAKING PICTURES OF WAITRESSES, PEOPLE GAMBLING, & GAMBLING MACHINES, OR GAMES.

    Pictures may be taken, inside casinos, of restaurant and lounge entrances. Try to avoid capturing faces of other patrons or staff.

    END

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    COMPUTERS

    When traveling by plane, have a fully charged battery, a power supply, or put your computer in your check in baggage. They will ask that you turn your computer on and it must pass through the check point separately. Don't leave it in a back pack to send it through the X-ray.

    At one airport the inspection officer wanted me to put my power supply in my check-in baggage. I eventually found a supervisor that assured her a power supply couldn't be used as a weapon. It couldn't be used on the plane, very few planes have power outlets, but I wanted to recharge my battery during plane change in L. A. X. Under the windows of the waiting room are power outlets and I found a quiet corner where people wouldn't be tripping over the cord.

    If you are using Windows XP it takes a long time to start up and to shut down. So allow yourself plenty of time for check in.

    Computers are not allowed, and I don't know why, to be turned on during take off, landing, or taxiing of planes. So if you are on a short flight, between meals, and filling out entry forms, you won't have a lot of time to use them.

    Actually a laptop or even a notebook is not very practical in economy class. There really isn't room to tip back the monitor far enough to see and still keep the keyboard away from your stomach far enough for easy access of the keyboard.

    While on one plane the open notebook fit nicely below the catch, on the back of the seat in front of me, that holds the tray in place. I almost screamed in pain when the little passenger from hell, on the seat in front of me, tossed himself backwards. I thought for sure the catch would break the lid of my notebook. Luckily the plastic that Compaq uses to make their computers is stronger than it looks. Though I moved my computer back, I eventually put it away as the little monster in front of me was continually rocking himself back, against the seat and I didn't think my computer was designed for a bounce test.

    In retrospect, after several trips, I think it is simpler to wrap your computer in your clothes and pack it in your check-in.

    END

    PS: Last year I switched to a Mac Power Book. i got an older one to get a 12" that runs OS 10.4.

    The 12" fits better on those little tables and the 10.4 takes a lot less time to boot up or shut down than Windows.

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    DRIVING (Fueling)

    When traveling by car, in Mexico, I read, somewhere, that one should be wary when buying fuel.

    Usually each fuel pump will have two attendants, one will start the pump while the other comes to your window to talk to you.

    The advice I found on the web, was, don't tell the man at your window how much you want.

    Get out of the car, go over to the pump and look at the different grades and prices.

    Then make you decision, telling the attendant, how much you want, of which grade.

    Othewise you may find that when you get out of the car the second attendant has already begun the pump.

    He may not have set it back to zero and you may pay for fuel you never received.

    I have always followed this advice and I always know the pump is reset before fueling begins.

    To be honest, I don't think that an attendenat has ever tried to cheat me.

    END

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    EATING UTENSILS

    When traveling in China, or other Asian countries, I imagine, if you plan to leave the beaten path of tourist hotels, and in the case of China, I mean major hotels and restaurants, if you don't know how to use chop sticks, carry your own: fork, knife, and spoon. These items will most likely not be available in whichever establishment you choose to eat.

    END

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    KNOCK OFFS

    Everyone has heard of Chinese copies of the latest movies. The latest word that I have is that they are actually made in Russia, then distributed by the Chinese.

    Apparently someone sits through a movie, on the opening night, preferably the preview night, with a camera and records the movie, then it is uploaded, over the internet, to Russia where it is dubbed in any of the Oriental, or European, languages. Meanwhile, back in China, they are busy designing the label and the jacket.

    The people who put the two together read neither of the languages so it is not uncommon to get a DVD with a `German' label for `Heat Stroke' that contains `Dawn of the Dead' in `Korean' and comes in a package printed in `French'.

    Probably more famous than the DVDs are the `Rolex' knock-offs.

    Watches have evolved over the years and so have their copies. You can get any brand imaginable, from a `Timex' to a `Patek Philippe'.

    You can also get different qualities. If the starting price is Y250 and you bargain it down to Y50 it will probably last a week. If the starting price is Y500 and you get it down to Y150 it will probably last you a lifetime.

    These watches look exactly like what you want them to. For instance you can buy the Rolex Sub-Mariner, take it to a Rolex store, lay it side by side, and be unable to tell the difference.

    The difference is inside, there are no real jewels in the movements, there are probably no movements. More than likely it will be a battery and a quartz movement. Vey good in its own right.

    Now there is a third type on the market. You may think you are buying a stolen watch, from the presentation of the salesman, or lady, but in actuality, if you compare the watch to a real one, you can do this on line as most brands carry pictures of all their models, you will find that it looks the same but isn't.

    It may look the same, but wait, ah, the date hand is on the left, in the original the date hand is on the right. Therefore and thusly it isn't an illegal item. It is not a copy, but an original replica.

    The other day I was approached, on the corner, across from a large computer store, by a man with an over shoulder computer bag. It had obviously been used and it had the IBM logo. Inside was what looked like a fairly new IBM ThinkPad. He wanted Y5,000 for what he said was a Y10,000 notebook. By the time we had walked into the computer store, he staying outside, the price had dropped to Y3,000.

    I was kicking myself for not trying to get the price lower but my boy assures me that it is a knock off. I keep asking, `How can you knock off a computer'? I used to build computers. You can't copy all the components without a factory. I know it was real, I saw him boot it up. The screen came alive with `Windows Vista'.

    (Camera and flash on back of a fake N73 cel phone.)
    FAKE
    (Camera and flash on back of a real N73 cel phone.)
    REAL
    (Keypad on front of a fake N73 cel phone.)
    FAKE
    (Keypad on front of a real N73 cel phone.)
    REAL
    (Memory slot on end of a fake N73 cel phone.)
    FAKE
    (Memory slot on end of a real N73 cel phone.)
    REAL
    (Camera on front of a fake N73 cel phone.)
    FAKE
    (Camera on front of a real N73 cel phone.)
    REAL

    A couple of days later I was approached by a man selling, what was obviously, a stolen Cel phone. A Nokia n73. I don't know much about phones and I didn't need another one so when he asked me for Y800 and I didn't get rid of him, by insulting him with a counter offer of Y50, I should have know that something wasn't right.

    We were walking along and I was paying more attention to the traffic, and where I was going, than to what he was showing me on the screen of the phone.

    Y75 later, he took his sim card out and suggested I hide the phone in my pocket until I was out of sight. This I did and didn't try it until later when I was on the bus. Then it would only come on, beep, a dead battery, and go off.

    Jason and his uncle, Jing Di, both assure me it is a fake. I haven't spent the money for a charger, or a new battery, to check it out.

    Yesterday, while walking back from the Old City Temple, I was accosted by a young man who tried to sell me an n73. It was in cleaner shape than the one I had bought, for Y75, and the screen seemed to scroll through different functions but I didn't take a lot of time to check it out more thoroughly. However, when I got home I looked up the n73 on the internet.

    Now, I see that the one I bought does not have an actual camera in it. Nor does the door open on the end to allow a memory card to be installed.

    Pictures, of a real n73, are courtesy of C/net

    Remember the old adage, IF IT LOOKS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE - IT IS.

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    LOCK YOUR DOOR

    When you leave your room, make sure the door, and windows, are locked.

    When in your room, lock the door, and apply the night safety.

    After we had checked in, while looking for the elevator to our room, a man came out of a hallway, between two elevator banks. He was wearing some kind of service uniform and asked me for the phone number to the hotel. I found this strange as we were in the hotel.

    I told him I didn't know and he replied that it would be in the papers I was holding.

    After shuffling through the papers and commenting that I didn't see it he told me which piece of paper it was on. We found an 800 number which he said would do, memorized it, or pretended to, and disappeared in the direction of a bank of telephones.

    This had me curious as I realized that the papers we had been looking at clearly stated my name and my room number.

    As we crawled into bed for a late afternoon siesta, I heard the door open, stop against the night latch, and then close.

    There had been no knock on the door and I wondered if it was the man I had encountered downstairs

    END

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    MONEY

    Normally I only travel with a few dollars to get to and from the airport. Other than that I only carry my bank card and credit card.

    Large purchases in foreign countries are done with credit card and smaller purchases are done with the currency of that country.

    When you withdraw funds at an ATM, or ABM, in a foreign country your bank will withdraw the funds from your account at the prevailing exchange rate.

    ATMs can be found almost anywhere and are far more convenient than trying to find a bank to cash a traveller's cheque. Many stores won't cash traveller's cheques and many banks will only cash them during certain times of the day. Whereas many stores have ATM and the ones in the banks are usually open 24 hours a day.

    I generally withdraw two or three thousand at a time to save withdrawal charges, hide most of it in a hotel safe, and carry only what I am going to need until I get back to the hotel again.

    CUBA: No longer accepts American dollars.

    They have a new Cuban Tourist currency.

    These coins are only for use in Cuba and are worthless anywhere else.

    MEXICO: Jun. `02 The date of this writing is important as money values fluctuate constantly.

    The Mexican peso was worth 5 Canadian dollars or 9.3 American dollars.

    Most merchants were accepting the American dollar in the equivalent of 10 pesos. At that time, therefore, it was worth it to find an ATM that would dispense American dollars, as well as pesos.

    In June `02 you could purchase the American dollar at a rate of $1.65 Canadian. The American dollar would then become ten Mexican pesos but the $1.65 Canadian exchanged directly would only become Mexican 8.25 pesos.

    China used to take Canadian credit cards but the last time I was there they only accepted Chinese based credit cards.

    END

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    NOTE BOOK (LAP TOP) BATTERY

    If you are on house power take out your battery.

    Only put it in if you need it.

    Your battery will live much longer.

    If you leave your battery in all the time, every time you plug in your computer, it starts to charge, if only for 5 seconds.

    A battery is only good for 2000 charges.

    END

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    ROOM PROBLEMS

    Little problems, mechanical failures, leaky taps, loose fixtures, electrical outlets that don't work, etc.

    Guest of hotels should always report such problems as the chamber maids don't notices these things and, if they do, they are not mechanically inclined and don't realize they present a problem that needs to be repaired.

    END

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    PASSPORTS

    The European Union's new regulations affecting entry requirements for Belgium, France, Germany and Spain take effect on July 19 2013.

    Passports must now be valid for at least three months beyond the return date for the above-mentioned destinations.

    Although airport authorities may allow a certain degree of flexibility, travelers are strongly advised to ensure their passport meets the new requirements.

    Similar regulations are already in effect for travel to Greece, the Netherlands and Portugal.

    END

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    SCOOTERS

    Before leaving on my last trip I read a tip about renting scooters. They said that one should stay away from congested areas as most people who rent scooters are first time users, or at best, novices, and there is a great danger of injuring oneself or other users of the street.

    Just the fact that you are not used to the equipment, which is very much different from driving a car or riding a bicycle, can, at the very least, be very annoying to others.

    In particular the tip pointed out the use of such machines on Isla Mujeres in Mexico.

    They pointed out how small the island was and how most places were accessible by foot.

    While on Isla Mujeres I did rent a scooter and I did tour the town. And of course, as it was only my third time using such a vehicle, although an experience driver of all sizes of four wheel vehicles, I did have some problems and caused the odd bit of inconvenience to other users of the street.

    However I never blatantly disturbed people or purposely went where common sense would dictate that one shouldn't.

    A point in case is the downtown core.

    All the streets are one way. Often the arrows are hard to find, as they are mounted on the walls of buildings, not on sign posts.

    If one can't find the arrows, one can simply look at which way the cars are parked. If they are parked on the wrong side then that is obviously the direction the traffic is flowing. Yet consistently I would observe people driving the wrong way, against the flow of the traffic.

    Most of the main street is barricaded at the end of each block. These barricades are removable so that merchants can get supplies to there establishments.

    The barricades, even when in place are spaced enough that a bicycle or a scooter can fit between them.

    To any, but the most ignorant, it is quite obvious that vehicles are not allowed in these areas even if the barricades have been removed.

    One evening, while a street performer was juggling with flaming torches some bone head on a scooter decided he should pass between the barricades and wind his way through the tables and chairs set out in front of the restaurants.

    The juggler was forced into having to back up so as not to burn the two idiots on the scooter.

    This was very hard for her to do as she couldn't take her concentration of the torches to see what was behind her.

    Fortunately the young lady was talented enough to be able to shuffle backwards while maintaining control of her torches. And luckily there was no one or nothing behind her for the few feet she needed.

    Without stopping or waiting, the scooter continued to wind its way past the juggler and through the crowds along the street.

    One thing I have learned in my life is that `Common Sense' is not all that common.

    When riding a scooter or operating any type of vehicle, use some common sense, or walk.

    (Juggler with flaming torches.)

    END

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    TAXIS

    Taxis vary from city to city and country to country.

    CANADA:

    In small towns taxis work on flat rate. In larger towns, and cities, they work on meters. They don't bargain prices and they don't drive around the wrong way to get a higher fare.

    CHINA:

    In Shanghai; taxis work on meters and they are not allowed to accept tips. Some drivers will if they feel no one is watching but if caught they could lose their job. At the airport you will find cab drivers who are off shift and park their cabs in the passenger parking zone. If there are no cabs available in the taxi line they will approach you. If you show them, on a map, where you want to go they will quote you a price. It will be approximately double the regular rate. Bargaining at this point is recommended. Try to get it for half of what is offered.

    MEXICO:

    Some towns post the taxi rates on signs near the main bus and ferry terminals. In some towns the taxis are divided between those who can pick up at the airport and those who can drop off. In other words a taxi that brings a fare from town has to go home empty. If you walk off of the airport property you can catch one of these taxies for a lot less money than one that is sitting at the arrivals gate.

    I travel even cheaper by bypassing all cabs and locating the city bus. Or what in Cancun is referred to as the `Worker's Bus'. A taxi from the airport to town is 280 pesos but the bus is only 40.

    In Zihuatanejo taxis within downtown are 13 peso for locals and 15 pesos for tourist. (Jan. 2001) If they try to charge you more than this, write down the cab number and report him to the nearest police officer.

    END

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    TIPPING

    Tipping is muchly overrated. Originally started by dirty old men who wanted to impress young waitresses.

    In the middle of the last century truck drivers would tip waitresses as much as a dollar for a single cup of coffee. The idea was that sooner or later the trucker would be coming through broke, and hungry, and the waitress would give him a free meal. (Contrary to popular belief, truck drivers do not make much money.)

    I read recently where the suggested tip is 20 to 25 % of the bill. That is alright if you are wealthy but unfortunately it sets a bad example for people who have to work for a living and can't afford such extravagances.

    Tipping should not be based on a system but on the amount of effort a person puts into what they do. If a waitress does a good job, she gets a pay check. If she does a poor job she should get fired, yet many is the time I have seen poor service be rewarded with a tip, just because tipping has become a habit.

    If you don't feel like giving, or can't afford to give, a tip, then don't. In some cases, such as cab drivers in Shanghai, it is illegal.

    The average person, away from home, drops a minimum of a dollar a tip per meal. Average 3 meals a day, 7 days a week, that is $1,000 a year. As I seldom eat in the same restaurant twice that is $1,000 a year that I am giving to people I will never see again.

    Would you walk up to a stranger and give them a $1,000?

    I would rather use it for my child's education, or a plane fare to Mexico.

    END

    TIPPING II

    I asked a valet what the procedure was for tipping.

    The valet told me that he was an employee and didn't need to be tipped but normally customers gave a tip of $1-2 when the valet presents the car keys, when the customer picks up his car. Also, an acceptable tip for the bellhop is $1-2, in the room, when the bellhop delivers the luggage. An equal tip can be paid to the bellhop when leaving. You can pay him, in the room, when he picks up the bag or at the curb when you put the bags in the car. However if things are busy, the bellhop who picks up your bags in the room may not be the one who delivers them to the car.

    END

    TIPPING III

    BE PREPARED, many places, instead of paying their staff a proper wage, automatically add a tip to your bill.

    Please be sure to warn your clients about the Gratuities $11.50 PP per day, this is added to you cruise account.

    We were glad we knew about it as it would have been an awful shock to see the $500+ at the end of the cruise.

    Mairi M. Ladner, B. C.

    END

    TIPPING IV

    Singapore, 13 October, 2014 - Tipping while travelling can be confusing, differs by country and doesn't always depend on service quality. Wego, the leading travel search site in the Asia Pacific and Middle East, revealed where and when you should tip while on the road.

    "Knowing which countries where you should leave a tip is just as important as knowing which countries not to," said Joachim Holte, Chief Marketing Officer for Wego.

    "In Argentina for example, tipping is actually illegal, however, waiters often expect to be tipped by foreigners so if you were to tip, discretion is advised. In the US, low wage earners in the service industry are reliant on tipping to balance out their income, yet in Romania, tips are often declined and in Japan, tipping is considered offensive."

    "It's amazing how many travellers forget to research this all important component of visiting other countries. It's wise to be aware of the tipping customs in each place you visit to avoid uncomfortable situations, ensure a smooth trip and avoid paying too much which is quite often the result," he added.

    As a general rule, tips as a sign of appreciation are expected in restaurants in Austria, Brazil, Chile, Ireland, The Netherlands, Russia, South Africa and Turkey. However in Fiji, Malaysia and South Korea restaurant tips are not required. Checking whether there's a service charge added to your bill is also a good way to tell whether a tip is applicable or not, and then you have the choice to leave a small amount on top if the service was particularly impressive.

    "There are always considerations and dependencies in any country that you should investigate further before travelling," Holte continued. "For instance, in the UK, tipping for food in restaurants is OK, although unexpected as service charges are generally included. Yet, tipping for drinks at a bar is just not cricket!"

    Where restaurants are where you'd most expect to leave a tip as an acknowledgement of good food and service, some countries expect it for other areas of service too. In general, it's not uncommon to give a small tip to your porter as he drops off your luggage in your hotel room in most places. You're fairly safe if you round up your fare for taxi drivers anywhere you go apart from New Zealand and Chile, where it's not expected at all.

    "It seems that tipping traditions are evolving throughout the world as more people travel. Australia and New Zealand don't have a history of tipping yet travellers who are unaware of this fact have heightened some expectations from service staff," he added.

    "If you haven't done your homework before you go, remember you can always ask what the custom is from hotel staff. Most people will appreciate you taking the time to find out, and it's a good way to avoid some very sticky situations," Holte concluded.

    (Tipping Chart)

    END - Courtesy of WEGO.COM (www.wego.com)

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    TOILETS

    Toilets come in various sizes and shapes and quite often without lids or seats. If using a seat is important to you, ask the desk clerk before you check into a hotel. Also learn how to, in the local language, ask if the toilet has a seat. Flapping your hands like a toilet seat going up and down will lead them to think you are wanting to know if it has a flush handle.

    If in doubt, ask to see the room. They never mind climbing all the stairs to show you the room. And you might find something else that will turn you off.

    While inspecting a room to see if the toilet had a seat I noticed the shower only had one tap. Despite the fact that the desk clerk had assured me the room had hot water, there was no hot water tap in the shower.

    I have heard people mention that when using a toilet one should never put toilet paper in it. In my travels I have only seen one sign, in a restaurant in Puerto Morelos, that said put toilet paper in the trash.

    Many is the time that I have see signs that say, `Do not put paper towels in the toilet'.

    One would think that would be obvious but apparently it isn't.

    I learned, at a very early age, while trying to hide an uneaten apple from my father, that toilets cannot take anything. Yet I have witnessed friends scrape their plates, after supper, into the toilet.

    When one looks at a toilet it looks like a large funnel. The upper part is big and round, or oval. And the bottom, beneath the water is small, about 4 inches in diameter. It looks like it can handle most anything.

    However, if one takes a look at the side of the bowl, at the back, close to the floor, you can sometimes see that the 4” hole quickly become 2 inches.

    Not only does it become smaller, it makes a sharp bend and curves back up, reverses direction, and curls back down again.

    All plumbing: sinks; showers; tubs; and toilets, in a house have sharp curves in the drains. It is called a `pee trap' or `gooseneckí.

    The purpose of the gooseneck is to trap water. The water stays there until the next time you use the implement at which time the old water is washed away and the water you use then takes it's turn sitting in the trap and preventing smells from coming up the pipe and entering the room.

    Do you remember the old outhouses where everything just went down into a hole in the ground and the smell came right back up?

    And of course you could just dump anything into an outhouse. It could take it and there was no gooseneck to plug up.

    Of course, now, your waste doesn't go into a hole in the ground, it goes to a treatment plant.

    Neither the goose neck nor the treatment plant are designed to take every, or any, thing. See my article `Shit' about treatment plants.

    Toilet paper has been designed to go into septic systems and treatment plants. It breaks down very easily in water. Ever tried to dry your hands with toilet paper?

    On the other hand facial tissue, commonly called, Kleenex, is designed to stay strong when wet.

    Neither facial tissue, or anything else, other than toilet paper, and human, bodily, waste, should go into a toilet.

    Why then, if toilet paper is designed to break down easily in water, will it plug up a toilet?

    Because people use too much at one time.

    Many people, particularly females, like to rumple up the toilet paper in a big ball. As soon as this hit's the water it becomes a soggy mass of fibre. The inner part of the ball is unable to dissolve in the water and therefore the ball is unable to pass through the tight, tiny, curve in the gooseneck, inside the base of the toilet.

    Two or three squares, of toilet tissue, at a time, laid flat, in your palm, repeated two to four times, as required, will do the job quite nicely, without plugging the toilet

    END

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    UPSET STOMACH

    Montezuma's Revenge. Montezuma's revenge is a wicked upset stomach, complete with cramps, trots, and nausea. But often your stomach will be upset to a lesser extent. Whether traveling across the country or around the world, water, food, and spices, vary from place to place. Consuming products unfamiliar to your digestive system can cause you to get the runs. The most common catalyst is water.

    Simply moving from the wet coast of North America to the dry interior or from the mountains to the prairies can affect your bowel movements.

    As a cross country trucker I always carried several gallons of water from my home. If I was on a short trip I had enough to get me home again. If I was on a long trip I would gradually introduce my stomach to the water wherever I travelled. A bit at a time, gradually increasing the amount until I was drinking more of the local water than what I had brought from home. Consequently I had little stomach problems.

    ZETA-37 (Package of Zeta-37)

    Everyone's stomach contains bacteria that aids digestion. Someone has told me that Montezuma's revenge is a lack of bacteria. What happens is that the local water removes the bacteria that your stomach is used to. As your stomach can no longer digest what you put into it it tries to get rid of it. I'm told a cure for this is Kaopectate. However that is more a cure for diarrhoea, which is not the problem.
    Before I left on my last trip I read that a cure was Acidophilus, which is a bacteria replacement. (Apparently you can also use yoghurt.) In Mexico they have a product called Zeta-37 (140.8 Pesos for 12 vials.) which comes in little glass tubes. Shake vigorously, tap the top so that all the liquid goes into the bottom, then snap off the top.

    Before leaving for Mexico I contracted some type of stomach bug so I was already in need of the bacteria before I got to Cancun. I found the product, after visiting several farmacias, where no one understood what I was talking about, in Farmacias Paris on Ave. Yaxchilan. There I was lucky enough to meet a fellow shopper who was conversant in English and Spanish and was able to convey to the druggist that I wanted a bacterial culture for my stomach.

    The instructions call for; FOR ADULTS, 1 to 3 vials, 3 times a day.

    However I felt that I was already over the worst of the problem and only took two the first day and one the second day. Then throughout my trip, whenever I felt that I was getting loose, I would take one. About once a week.

    END

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    VISAS

    Often overlooked and often misunderstood:

    A passport is a document issued by the country where you live. It says your federal government has given you permission to visit other countries.

    A visa, on the other hand, is a document issued by the country that you wish to vist, giving you permission to visit, or to work there.

    If you wish to vist a second country and then return to the first country, you must have a visa for both countries and the visa for the first country must be a multiple visit visa.

    I say must but that isn't true.

    Not all countries require visas and many, depending on which country issued your passport, may not require one.

    be sure to check with your travel agent before you leave home.

    Visas are often much harder to obtain if you are not at home.

    Visa requirements are changing constantly.

    Some countries issue 72 hour visas, often in country (upon arrival at the airport), so that you can vist a city where you are simply changing planes.

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    WATER

    One of the biggest worries of people who travel is WATER:

    CANADA:

    All water, creeks, lakes, taps, etc are quite safe except for a few alkaline flats and lakes particularly in the Kamloops / Cache Creek area of British Columbia.

    In Vancouver the locals won't drink tap water but they seem to have a lot of money and like to buy designer things like clothes, ice cream, etc. The truth is that Vancouver, other than for an overly large amount of chlorine has the safest water in the world. After a dry season in the summer the first rains of the fall will wash soil into the reservoir. The filtering system isn't capable of handling the rush and the water gets a bit brown with a bit of sediment in it. This is common in any town with untreated water. It is not harmful nor does it affect the taste.

    CHINA:

    I never thought about it until I came to write this article. I never carried bottle water with me like I do in Mexico but I was only there in the winter and one didn't need to worry about dehydration. In restaurants I invariably had tea.

    Most hotel rooms supply thermoses with hot water as tea is the standard beverage. Most people carry thermoses, or jars of tea, with them.

    CUBA:

    Havana: I have received mixed messages .

    Varadero: All the hotels are on a filtered system. Feel free to drink tap water.

    MEXICO:

    Drink lots. If you are not used to a dry climate always consider dehydration and heat stroke. Always carry a small bottle when you leave the hotel. If you are going back to the hotel shortly after you have emptied your bottle, don't toss it, take it back with you and refill it. Most hotels supply water.

    Consider all water and ice cubes NOT safe. Including some bottled water. There is one brand that is suspect, it has a bad odour when you open the bottle. In small stores, before you open the bottle, check the seal. They may have refilled the bottle from the tap. Your major brands are generally safer. Check the label, the small print on the bottom, `A subsidiary of'???' is good. (I won't mention the brand but it is well know.)

    In large resort hotels, SAFE.

    Most budget hotels will supply a large bottle or cooler in the lobby.

    CANCUN: I have received mixed messages. Supposedly the water has gone through 2 filtering systems yet many locals won't drink it. In the Hotel Zone it goes through a third filtering system and is considered safe.

    USA:

    Similar to Canada in that most water is safe to drink. Although one may want to be wary about swimming in the South East as there are things in the water that bight.

    Here again you will probably find alkaline water that is not drinkable in desert or near desert areas.

    END

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