I’ve been in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia again. My timing is best described as interesting as there was much strife in Iran and Iraq around the time I traveled here. The news reported on volcanos and wild fires. It all got me thinking about how I am traveling and contingencies.

Minimal is sexy

My trip was rather last minute due to some travel agency nonsense. As a result I had to travel with more stuff than I wanted, both left in the States in the trunk of my long term parked car and in what I carried. I’m still doing all carry-on with two bags. With some time and a place to safely stow my stuff I could drop 6-7 lbs.
While weight is a factor, the bigger part is being portable and quick. I don’t want to lug 46KG (about 100lbs) of luggage (the typical checked baggage allowance) when trying to evacuate on foot.
Also, I find the more stuff I bring the higher the percentage of stuff I never touch on the trip. Anyway, if there’s something I don’t have but need most places I visit will have a means for me to acquire it.

Make packing cubes work when at rest

There’s one school of thought about packing cubes: that one should keep their clothes in the cubes when in the hotel. I do not think that is a good idea. I empty my cubes (and compression sack) and put things away properly. This is particulrly important for nicer clothes. They should be hung or folded with air around them.
One thing I started doing several years ago was using my Patagonia day bag as a large packing cube, turning it into a multitasker. It works really well for my clothes bundle – a specific method of folding button down shirts and trousers and suits and skirts and blouses and … The bundle can get big, bigger than a typical packing cube. The day bag, however, can take it with room to spare.
I’m taking that idea further soon. Tom Bihn sells two packing cube bags. One is a backpack and the other a shoulder bag. They also sell a backpack called the DayLight, which one can also turn into a packing cube. These aren’t crazy expensive but are not cheap. The fact that I can get dual purpose out of them while providing me with a lot of bag flexibility on trips is attractive.

Tidy is as tidy does

Once a number of years ago I had to evacuate my hotel room in the middle of the night due to a water problem. My room was something of a mess. The chaos and sleepiness lead to me leaving several items behind and damaging some others. It took me way too long to get packed and out of the room.
I keep my room picked up at all times. No dirty clothes on the floor. Shirts, trousers, and jackets are on hangers. Most of my toiletries stay in my Dopp kit. Papers and cables are kept as neat as possible and returned to their home in my bag when not in use.
On this trip, even with my extra kit, I was able to pack in 30 minutes. That was a lazy pack. I could do it in under 20 minutes. That is key.

Registration has its privileges

Any time I head to a foreign country I register with the U.S. State Department’s STEP system. I also look up the embassy and consulate contact information and put them in my contact list. The hotel’s information goes in there, too.
I keep up on the local news. iOS and Android make it easy with their respective news apps. And I keep my weather app aware of my location to notify me of weather events. For example, last trip to Riyadh it rained most of the time I was there. It never occurred to me there might be a flood risk, but my app pinged be about flash flood warnings.
If I’m somewhere with active volcanos and earthquakes I will fire up the local government agency’s app for notifications as well.

Cash is King

I always carry local currency as well as American dollars. ATMs and credit card processors might not work in an emergency. Plus, it’s hard to tip with plastic.

I’m a cool frood who knows where his towel, and passport, is.

Yes, I travel with a towel. More importantly I travel with a passport. I’ve gotten in the habit of carrying the passport with me at all times.
A colleague of mine traveled to China last year and left his passport in his room when he went to work out in the hotel gym. When he returned he was unable to get back in his room for a few hours without explanation. It ended up being nothing, but had it been something he would have had a time getting help without it.

And so it goes …

There are other things that I can’t think of as I am sleepy. What things do you do when traveling to keep yourself safe?

A historic ruling with implications far and wide:

The United Kingdom’s Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to shut down parliament in the run-up to Brexit was unlawful, a humiliating rebuke that thrusts Britain’s exit from the European Union into deeper turmoil. 

The unanimous and stinging judgment by the court’s 11 judges undermines Johnson’s already fragile grip on power and gives legislators more scope to oppose his promise to take Britain out of the EU on Oct. 31. 

Parliament, where Johnson has lost his majority and he suffered repeated defeats since taking office in July, is now set to be reconvened three weeks early, giving opponents more time to challenge, amend, or block his Brexit plans or even bring down his government. 

“The decision to advise Her Majesty to prorogue parliament was unlawful because it had the effect of frustrating or preventing the ability of parliament to carry out its constitutional functions without reasonable justification,” Supreme Court President Brenda Hale said. 

In its historic ruling, the court said Johnson had not given any reason – “let alone a good reason” – for suspending the legislature for five weeks.

(Via (Reuters)[feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/topNews/~3/N7eU9gCl3XY/brexit-crisis-deepens-as-court-rules-johnson-unlawfully-suspended-uk-parliament-idUSKBN1W9124])
I have no horse in this race but I think Brexit is a mistake. I also think the UK should have either gone all-in on Europe or stayed out completely, but a wishy-washy middle ground is what they chose.
I do not care for BoJo. He brings nothing new to the table, one could argue that he brings less, and he failed repeatedly. Were I British and especially if I were a Tory, I would be demanding his resignation. I’m surprised there aren’t more pictures of Theresa May sitting in Parliament smiling.

Yep.

Holy shit.
I don’t watch a lot of videos; I prefer transcripts. When I absolutely have to get through a video, I usually put it in a background window and listen.
Don’t do that with Thunberg’s four-minute address to the UN.
Instead, watch it. I understand and agree with her that we should be listening to scientists, not her, but if anyone can get us to listen to scientists, it’s her. Now I know why the people followed Joan of Arc.

(Via boing boing)
Can’t agree more. Greta Thunburg is remarkable, and she’s not wrong. Even if her message doesn’t resonate with you, she speaks multiple languages, has a grasp of science and statistics, and is a sailor. Her evil eye at the UN was pure, unadulterated disgust.


I have a cool video of Mr. (or Ms., women can be lizards too) Lizard. My site won’t let me upload it right now though. The Chinese couple next to me noticed it first with a shrill cry of surprise that I’m almost positive came from the man.

As typical, the Doubletree was outstanding.
Ride to the airport was good, but I was ill prepared for the mess that was Taipei airport. Long lines, security staff apparently trained in the TSA school of incompetence and rudeness, and moving walkways moving … oddly.
I got into one of the Priority Pass lounges that was rated poorly. I found it very good. The only complaint I had was that the bathroom is outside of the lounge, but if that was the worst that would happen it would be a good day.
It wasn’t.
The EVA Air staff was again poor. Again, we arrived late. The immigration folks at Narita were uncharacteristically inefficient – I was given bad information twice. Then the Narita Express ticket agent was rude. She directed me to the lower level desk (I think because she was on social media) and they pointed me to the self service machines where I proceeded to buy the wrong ticket in roughly the right direction.
I got home about an hour later than expected.
I’m glad I took the trip but I should have done half in Bali and half in Taipei.

… in which I end up back in Taipei three hours late …

Another great breakfast and another swim in the ocean. Check out was noon so I got my full before taking the ride to the airport.
I learned EVA Air is going though a labor dispute, so service was middling at best. We took off late and arrived at the gate even later. By the time I cleared immigration and customs and got a cab it was already after 22:00.
Another nice brief stay at the Doubletree. When I go back for a proper visit I will definitely stay there again. Of all the hotels on this trip, I liked this one the best.

This is my last full day in Bali. Tomorrow midday I head to the airport where I hope there’s not a repeat of inbound immigration (UPDATE: there wasn’t).
I started my day at the breakfast buffet.
It. Is. Huge. And delicious! I’m glad I didn’t take the Hilton points in lieu.
Then I swam in the ocean again. One of the things I forgot to mention is how steep the slope is around high tide. One’s ankles are likely to be pummeled by stones caught in the surf while ones arms are tangled in biomass on the surface.
Low tide shows a very different landscape. The slope is shallow and rock. Not rocky. Rock, pasted with sea foliage. I destroyed a set of hotel flip-flops trying to walk out on it.
Dinner that night was another ride into the village.
Yes. More pork. Again, delicious. Again, the restaurant offered a free shuttle back.

One thing that really irritated me at the Hilton was that no one asked me how my stay was but I was solicited to buy spa treatments 6 times and encouraged to eat at the restaurant twice. Somehow I will overcome.

Today I moved from one resort to another.
Having settled my bill the night before I took an early ride to the Hilton Resort. Check in isn’t until 15:00, but my early arrival allowed me to camp out on the beech. I swam in the ocean, dipped in the pool, and again read a lot.

After getting my room I took the hotel shuttle into … a shopping mall. I thought it was taking me to the village, but it few past to a site that at best is a Disney-esque retail version of Bali.
I left and got a taxi into the village. I found a beer garden full of Australians watching their football. I talked with a guy named Travis who was there in holiday.
I walked across the street to eat (everyone said the food at the beer garden was terrible). The seafood at this place was great.

And my night was capped off by a free shuttle back to the hotel, courtesy of the restaurant!

… in which I relaxed and read some more …
One of the advantages of the Karma Mayura resort where I stayed was the quality of the food. Almost everything was delicious. They obviously cater to westerners as a lot of their menu is oriented that way. Their local cuisine, while few, were tasty.
Anyway, I used my fourth and final massage session this afternoon. A different masseuse went to town on me. The change was nice.
My stomach was feeling better so I journeyed into Ubud for a pork rib dinner. It was wonderful.

Tomorrow is check out and check in day.

… in which I was laid low by some “Bali belly” …
I was supposed to do a tour this day but my sleep was punctuated by frequent visits to the loo. I was not keen on the amount of car time I would have, nor the options of the restrooms available.
I canceled my tour three hours before it was supposed to start. I payed a 100% penalty for it, but it was worth it based on how the rest of my day went.
What I did not expect was the tour guide to show up and hunt me down at the resort not once, but twice. In retrospect, he was hunting for a tip. I am not inclined to tip for a canceled service anyway, so I don’t feel too bad for the fellow.
My day was spent reading more books in the shade, hydrating, and then applying alcohol internally.