Stupid Tourists

About 99% of tourists piss me off. A while back we went to a non-all-inclusive and although those places usually attract somewhat different crowd, there are clearly not enough rooms in the all-inclusives to hold all the annoying ones. While reading the reviews of the place we were going to, one of the reviews was ok until the end until I read this:

Snorkel past Xcaret ... AWESOME REEF ... find someone on the beach in Playa to take you, there are people at booths along the way that will take you. Count your change, people try to rip you off. Bargain for everything including food, cab fare, snorkeling.

Obviously it was the "count your change, people try to rip you off" comment that pissed me off. I have never experienced someone trying to rip me off in Mexico, Cuba, or Peru. The last time someone short-changed me was at the hot dog stand at Granville and Broadway in Vancouver. I find these types of comments racist especially when stated in the form "people try to rip you off" rather than just stating "I was ripped off by $X at location Y." I've also had someone tell me, before travelling to Mexico, that "all Mexicans lie." Where do people come up with these ridiculous stereotypes?

The final part of the review, "bargain for everything including food, cab fare, snorkeling" is also one of my pet peeves. For the most part, I pay what I am told the price is and I always try to find out the price beforehand when paying for a service. If I am buying goods, the prices always seem reasonable in the first place and seem to reflect the value of the item. If I am not willing to pay the stated price for an item, I either a) don't buy it or b) will offer what I am willing to pay for it (but which still reflects what I think the item is actually worth, at least to me). But I never bargain just for the sake of bargaining, like so many tourists like to do.


Kayak and weirdness

I just noticed something very strange with Kayak and CheapTickets. I noticed that sometimes when I was doing the same search as I had done a day previously the cost of the fare changed drastically. I figured out that it wasn't just the prices that were changing but the flights were different. This kept happening over and over again. I finally realized last night what was going on. It turns out that I wasn't doing the same search day after day. I was sometimes selecting 1 passenger and sometimes selecting 2. It turns out that this can have drastic effects of the results. For example, I was planning a multi-city trip (city A->city B->city C->city A) and when I select one passenger I am able to find a flight with no stops whatsoever. When I select two passengers that flight disappears and some entirely different flights show up with stops in them. I thought maybe the flights I got using one passenger had only one seat remaining. That's not the case as I proceeded through to the seat selection (even using 2 browser windows, 1 for each passenger) and there are tons of spaces on the flights.

It's really strange, and I'm not sure if the problem is isolated to multi-city flights but I'm going to make sure to try selecting 1 passenger instead of 2 from now on.


My Cuba Photos at JPG Magazine

I submitted some of my Cuba photos to JPG Magazine. It is a neat print publication publishes photos based on online voting of user-submitted photos. Here's one I submitted to the "street" issue:

Actually, I've just noticed that you cannot just vote on any picture you want for some reason. It randomly selects certain photos you can vote on. I guess this is to prevent friends from voting for their friends' photos and in turn having their friends vote for theirs.

I just noticed one further gotcha. It looks like one can only submit one photo to each theme. These guys at JPG are really trying hard to prevent people from gaming the system and I admire that.

My Maui Photos Accepted to Schmap

I mentioned before that some photos I had posted to my Flickr account had been short-listed for inclusion in a Schmap travel guide. As I said before, "I did not enter a contest or anything. I just took the pictures and posted them to Flickr and I guess they found them and I liked them." Well it turns out all six photos that were short-listed got officially accepted into the guide. Unfortunately I cannot see the guide because Schmap requires users to download a client to view the travel guides and that client only runs on Windows. If anyone wants to try it out, go to the Maui and Molokai travel guide and let me know what the guide is like and if it is any good.

Cuban Nuclear Power Plant

While on vacation in Cuba in June and July 2006, we rented a moped for the day and went for a drive from Cienfuegos to Rancho Luna, crossed on the ferry to Castillo de Jagua, and then took the long road back to Cienfugoes. Along the way we spotted something very interesting in the middle of nowhere, located near the coast somewhere not too far west of Castillo de Jagua near Cienfuegos.


We snapped this photo as we were going by on a little scooter/moped. Actually I think we stopped to take this picture because it looked so interesting. There was literally nothing for miles in either direction of this thing. I had assumed it was a nuclear power plant, but the idea seemed far-fetched to me and I then assumed it was some of chemical plant or perhaps a water desalination plant or something. There are some chemical factories in Cienfuegos so that seemed most plausible.

I finally did a little research and managed to find some information about it here:

The construction of an atomic power plant, started with Soviet aid in 1982, has been abandoned for ecological reasons, amongst others. The project - 75% of the construction and 20% of the equipment being finished - can be seen across the bay in the southwest.

(Once again nuclear gets a bad rap for being un-"ecological" even though it is one of the cleanest sources of power around.)

This could very well be the structure they are talking about as it is located south-west of the city, although I doubt that it is visible across the bay, but I could be wrong. I found further evidence here that actually has some pictures and what I photographed is definitely the same thing as what is shown there. Another link here is heavy on US propaganda. It's too bad if it wasn't for Chernobyl (and the United States' meddling), the Cubans might actually have a nuclear power plant.

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