IndyJunior © Bryan Boyer

Friday, December 29, 2006

My Experience with Tanzania's Medical System

You don't really realize how good the social system actually is in Canada until you travel outside and experience the local system.

I've always been worried about what would happen if we got sick. So far, aside from J's ear problem and the odd stomach bug, we've been pretty good, until today.

I can't say I had a real big problem. But it bugged me enough to warrant a trip to the local clinic.

I've blogged in the past about ear wax. And for whatever reason, my right ear has been blocked up for about 3 months (just before we got to Malaysia the first time). So on and off for 3 months I've put up with not being able to hear once in a while.

When we got to Zanzibar, it was actually getting a dull pain and we were worried it might get infected. So off to see the doctor.

I don't know about the education or what not but the equipment definitely leaves much to be desired. When I explained the problem to the doctor, he pulled out a flashlight, and a conical metal cone (which I hope was sterile) to see inside the ear canal.

I got some drops and spent 2 days trying to clear out the stuff out but it didn't work (I don't think snorkelling helped it). So pretty much it was back to the doctor to get the ear syringed.

I've had this done once before and it was a simple procedure. Took no time at all and was painless (Painless being the key here). the beginning it was ok. Water, a big syringe, a pan to catch the water. Then all hell breaks loose.

The guy (nurse?) puts the tip of the syringe in, and because it's a metal syringe, the plunger for some reason gets stuck. I guess he's trying to push harder but only really manages to push the metal tip deeper into my ear. Holy Sh!t it was painfull as heck. I pulled away and the guy just grabs my head back and continues to jab this thing into my ear. Somehow finally the water starts coming out, clears up my ear a bit but we still ended up doing about 3 more shots. Each time, the syringe got stuck, and each time, he jabs my ear until it starts shooting water. Man, WD-40 would go a long way here.

Anyways, in the end we were walking back to the hotel and I found some blood on the end of the tissue I put in my ear. Looks like there's a scrap the size of a peppercorn in there now. Nice. At least the drops I got disinfect as well so I guess I'll keep using it for a few days.

Seriously, I don't think I'll complain about our system in Canada anymore. Even about wait times in the emergency....

It's well worth it.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


We did our first ever snorkelling trip yesterday and man was it amazing!

We're both not the strongest swimmers so when we signed up we asked for some floatation devices (ie: Life Jackets!) and yes, we were the only ones with them on! :)

It's a bit unnerving to be out in the ocean but once you're in there and looking down at the sea life, it's amazing. We ended up going to 2 different coral reefs, the second one being much better than the first.

Saw a couple stingrays, a massive conch shell with it's owner, a puffer fish, tons of sea urchins and so much more....amazing. One small drawback was all the jellyfish out there. They were small so the stings didn't hurt more than a horsefly bite, but we ended up with a few welts on our arms and legs. Good thing the dive shop gave us wet suits otherwise there'd be a lot more.

We're both glad we decided to go out. It's definitely recommended anywhere there's snorkelling available. We'll be on the look out for it more now.

No pictures though. I'm regretting not buying the waterproof case for our T10. We had a waterproof film camera and that just wasn't enough for all we saw.....sigh.

Paje and our Dalla Dalla ride

We spent Christmas on the East coast of Zanzibar in a town called Paje.

What is it about beaches that makes prices double??? Ha ha....I know, I know, it was all worth it though. The beach was beautiful! White sand, blue green water....unfortunately, the tide goes out like a kilometer, and it was out during the day so if you wanted to swim, you're in for a long hike.

Once the tide came in though, man it was nice.

We ended up going back to Stone town a day early. And since we had such a fiasco going out there with the taxi drivers, we thought we'd take the local Dalla Dalla back. It's basically a truck with 2 benches and you throw your stuff on the roof.

After haggling with 2 trucks we finally got a guy to agree to our 1900 shillings for both of us, so up our bags went and into the truck we go. It was packed, it was smokey from the exhaust, but man was it fun!!! These ways of travelling are so much more fun than boring old buses.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Just wanted to wish everyone back home a very Merry Christmas!

Hope everyone enjoys the holiday season with their families and friends.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Lost AGAIN in Stone Town...

That's the point apparently. To wander aimlessly in a maze of colonial buildings with no clue where you are going.

It's tons of fun, unless there's a tout following you everywhere while you are looking for a place to stay! We checked out a place that he brought us to, but then wanted to go to a place in our book. Our "friend" takes us to this closed up building and said something like "they had problems with the government". Whatever buddy...

Someone else showed us the way to the hotel and by gosh, it was still there!

Once you lose the touts, it is a really cool place to wander. There's tons of shops selling crafts and antiques and everyone greets you with "Jambo".

Apparently if you reply "Jambo" it means, hello to you too, now speak to me in english! :)

My Africa First Impressions...

A friend of mine always had a saying.... "It's Hot, AFRICA Hot!"

Yes...yes it is.

It's a good thing we've been in the tropics for a while now. Otherwise, I would have melted in our fan only bedroom in Dar Es Salaam. Even then we had the fan cranked on high! Seriously no need for hot water here.

Dar Es Salaam was nice. I had my usual new place jitters but it wasn't too bad. We had a nice dinner and chatted with the manager of Chefs Pride (Mr. Ali Baba) for a bit and he was telling us all about Zanzibar and the barely covered Italian women (Zanzibar is mostly Islamic) there and how in a few years, Zanzibar will probably break away from Tanzania. He was quite funny, especially when his eyes were bulging when talking about those Italians ("There's nothing left to the's all out there for you to see...").

We were pooped so not much else went on that day. Back to the hotel and prepared to head into Zanzibar the next morning!

It's an amazing land, with amazingly friendly people, and a culture as different and exotic as I've ever seen before. I can't wait to see more.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

What to do with 3 hours in Dubai?

We've all seen the palm tree style community that Dubai has built (at least we thought it was done) where everything is built on reclaimed land right out on the ocean. If viewed from above, it looks like a big palm tree. Well, we wanted to go see that, as well as the world's first 7 star hotel (The Burj).

Imagine our disappointment when the information guy tells us all those communities are under construction and so, no, we can't go see them. As for the Burj, it's a long way from the airport and we wouldn't have enough time to go see it.

Ok, then where do we go? He sent us on our way into the downtown (Diera). Armed with our map and in search of bus 401 we went in.

I didn't mention yet that it's like 5:30 am right now and nothing is open and it's still pitch black outside.

So we get off the bus and enter into something that to describe it....wasn't so pleasant and comfortable? Yeah....sounds good.

We strolled for about 5 minutes and decided, let's catch a cab and try to go see the Burj.....

20 minutes later, we're standing in front of this crazy hotel...and when I say in front I mean in front of the gate since they wouldn't let us in to see it up close without eating there. Yeah, like we can afford that...

A few pictures and we were off back on a bus towards the airport. A funny thing about the buses there....they have a section for Ladies only at the front. Like we knew that right? So guess where we sit? Yup, right at the front. I clued in after noticing it was nothing but women up front and I'm pretty sure I got some weird looks. Sigh...

Well, we managed to get back to the airport, through customs and onto our gate in time for our trip out. What a morning!

I must say that everyone one we talked to was very very nice. Helped us out, AND could speak perfect english! Sweet!

Customs people with a sense of humor...

Our flight from KL to Dubai was uneventful except for the fact that we took an earlier flight because the one we booked was full. Unfortunately I was not able to convince the ticket counter to upgrade us to first class for this trouble! Too bad.

But it turned out to be good for us anyways since we got into Dubai an hour earlier we had some time to go into the city to see what it was like. This is our first time in the Middle East.

We got up to the customs counter and I asked if they could put the stamp on a used page (see blog about my passport) and the guy kind of sighed and said, nope. Can't do it.

We're like, can't do what? And he said we couldn't go through I was a bit confused and so was J. But to confuse us even more he continues to scan our passports and then stamps mine....I'm like, ummm...dude, what are you doing?

Then he kind of laughs and asks "Why didn't you ask why you couldn't come in?".

I'm thinking, man, you're customs, I do whatever you say, I don't know your laws....

He then tells me that they're really laid back and easy going (and from what we saw it's true), but then asks us what our background is (Chinese) and then says, yeah, for Chinese nationals, we wouldn't let them in without a Visa ( :0 ).

Anyways, everything was cool and we ended up going through and into the city.

I've never met a customs person outside of Canadian customs ( :) ) who were so friendly! Turned out the lady checking when we were leaving was friendly too....

Be sure to read about our 3 hour adventure in Dubai!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Africa here we come...

Well it's almost time to move again.

It's been a while and we hope we haven't lost our travelling legs.

We've stocked up on supplies, especially mosquito repellent, but unfortunately DEET is not very available here (weird) and the highest we got was an OFF brand with 7%. Hopefully it'll be enough. We'll see...we've also got a nice Citronella type stick that you put on like deodorant. Yes, people will love us on this tour! :D

Our bellies are also full from super tasty Malaysian cuisine. Mine is also very round but I'm anticipating the same kind of weight loss I had while travelling around in the first 8 months.

Not sure what the internet access is going to be like but hopefully the next time we update, we'll have some cool pics of a new land with some crazy big animals and such! Can't wait.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Sunway Mall Karaoke-in-a-Box

This is awesome! We were doing our final shopping in preparation for Africa and we saw these boxes, which I thought were photo booths at first but turns out they are Karaoke booths! There are 2 stools, 2 mics, a computer and TV in each one!

What an idea. It was packed. They were all full and some people showed up to wait after this shot. I wonder if this idea would catch on in Canada? The boxes were pretty sound proof too. Couldn't hear anything outside them.

It used to be a Lizard...

It seemed our attempts to clean the A/C unit in the living room weren't too successful as water was still dripping out of the unit.

So, up I went again with the snake to try to clear whatever was blocking the bugger. It was getting hot and we need our A/C!

I managed to remove the clip and the hose from the fitting when I saw something inside the cover. It moved when I moved the hose. I saw this long thin dark thing so I picked it up with the pliers and slowly worked it out...

I told J, "there's something up here" and with that I pulled out this petrified lizard carcass!!!! It was sooooo cool!

I have no idea how it got there or how long it was there for but this thing was neat! Poor little guy. These guys are everywhere here. Because the homes aren't completely sealed from the outside, they wander inside through the holes and take up refuge anywhere they can I guess. Bad choice for this guy huh?

We've found one half stuck (head sticking out) from the shower drain before too!

The ribs are fricking cool! We've got him in a tuppeware container now as J's Dad wants to show his friends!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Fe2O3 Key

What happens when you buy a lock from Canadian Tire and bring it half way around the world to a beach where you have to keep it on you as you go swimming in the warm waters of the Gulf of Thailand?

Haven't used the lock for some time and the key seems to have gotten even worse just sitting there. Maybe it has something to do with the humidity here.

Next time I splurge for the stainless option!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Is This Thing Real? Part Deux...

You all thought I was joking right? About the sticker, and logging in to to see if you got a legit product?


Here's the proof....

We bought an extra battery the other day and lo and behold, it came with a sticker to check....of course I logged on, and YES it's real! Woohoo! :D

That's so funny one! (Ian's best Malaysian slang impersonation...)

(J will say it's not even close....)

Another funny thing is that we found a coupon for saving 20 RM and thought great, let's use it. When we showed the clerk, he's like, hold on and disappears for a bit. We had no idea what he was doing but I think he went to check with the manager. I guess people here don't use coupons all that much...we're probably the first.

But like I said before....we're cheap!

Brand Spanking New...

This Rapid KL bus we took was so new, they didn't have time to take the plastic off...

What you don't see is the plastic covering the drivers seat still! I'm serious!

Curry in a Can...

With all of J's pics of good coffee shop food, what do you think happens when we get tired of eating the same old stuff day in and day out?

We eat at home!

What do we(I) eat? Check this out!

The best damned curry in a can I've ever tasted! It's probably totally artery clogging and full of preservatives, but man, that combo sure tastes good! It's so spicy I actually had to take a Zantac!

Heat it up, use some bread to dip in the sauce and BAM, instant full!

I do hope T&T will import this into Canada soon!

Oh, and there's also a Mutton and Chicken variety! The Beef is the best in my opinion.


Thursday, December 07, 2006

We Saved 7 ringgit!

We're cheap. Yes...very cheap. I never knew how cheap we could be until we went on this trip. Actually, I started to realize how cheap we could be when we started saving for this trip.

Anyways, we needed a case for our point and shoot and we had scouted some out at the local mall recently but kept forgetting to bring our camera along to make sure it'll fit.

Well, the other day J was getting ready to throw a pair of pants away and I thought, why not use one of the back pockets to make our case? It's got a button, and it was about the right length. We just needed to sew the sides up.

Here's the result....a bit shabby but it'll do. Works pretty good.

The things you can do with old clothes....I've even turned a pair of tearaway pants into tearaway shorts for the hot weather.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Who is Right?

This article came out here in Malaysia a few days ago and immediately when I saw the title my thought was "Are you kidding me? How can you tell people how to dress?"

But now that I've thought about it for a few days it's not so clear cut. Now before you all brand me as sexist, hear me out.

There's no place for religion in politics. That's what we hear and (most of the time) that's what happens. Well, what happens when religion is a part of politics? Malaysia is an Islamic country. Now I won't pretend I know the first thing about Islam but why wouldn't the government be influenced by the teachings?

Although I think that perhaps they shouldn't force non-muslims to do this as well. But I don't know what's in their Constitution.

In Canada when we learn about our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, our Constitution etc in school, you just take it for granted that these are a given. Equal rights, free speech, freedom of assembly, it's all normal and we think that it should be the same everywhere in the world.

Obviously it's not, and a lot of the problems today seem to come from all these different thoughts of what is right and what is wrong.

I can leave Canada, but it's hard to take the Canadian out of me. I've had to tell myself so many times on this trip that we're not at home. It's how they are. You can't do anything about it. Many MANY times...

I don't know what the outcome is going to be on this issue. There are groups calling it sexist and outrageous. It's definitely not something that would have even happened in Canada, but it's interesting to see what happens in other parts of the world.


Monday, December 04, 2006

Why oh why did we watch Hostel?

When the movie first came out I think we were in China still and we both said we shouldn't watch this movie just in case.

Well, guess what we just did?

Yup, and now we are totally regretting watching it. I personally didn't think the movie could be that gruesome but I guess horror movies have come a long way since the Jason and Freddy days. Body parts, loads of blood, drills, bolt cutters, psycho maniacs all packed into an hour and a half. Nice....

Wow, what a messed up movie. We can't understand who would think of something like that.

All I can say is that if you are about to travel, don't watch this movie!

We've still got about a weeks worth of hostel living to do and now I can't wait!!!!