Tag Archives: internet

Curious Cat Travel Maps

As a tourist I don’t usually do a great deal of research in advance. I do like to find out what are some of the most popular tourist destinations. And to look for those things I like a great deal, such as hiking.

I useful find myself with a list of things I want to do and a place to stay. Sometimes I had an idea of where things we located and what might be good to do on the same day. But often, I did not. I would sometimes get a list of good restaurants but I would almost never actually get to them.

I do like walking around in a new city and getting a feel for things. Using a good old fashion map worked for this. But I would often waste a fair amount of time when I got lost. GPS mapping seemed like a perfect solution for my travel needs.

While I have been using the internet a long time, I have never had a smart phone. But I got an iPad mini and decided to test out my idea of using GPS and mapping as I walked around. Looking at the options, I decided I would rather create my own map so I could have the details I cared about.

I tried in out (I bought an iPad mainly for this mapping function but also to use as a book reader) in China (Hong Kong, Guilin, Yangshuo, Yunnan and Shanghai) and it went very well. Here is my map for Shanghai:

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I am now making Curious Cat Tourist Maps available online. I used Open Maps (and umap) which I am very pleased with (Here is a link to the Curious Cat Hong Kong Tourist map as another example). I can include those items that interest me (tourist destination, lodging, eating and transit) and include background info (like what subway stop for a particular designation etc.).

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Multi-city Airline Reservations

I have made multi-city reservations in the past and doing so was significantly or marginally cheaper than individual tickets for each leg of the journey.

For my next trip I plan to stop over in Bangkok for several days and then fly up to Chiang Mai, Thailand. The prices of airplane tickets in South East Asia are pretty good in my opinion. And these were fine too.

But I found a multi-city ticket was double what the same sites quote for buying the tickets separately. That seems pretty bizarre to me. I am not really sure what is driving that. I mean I could imagine they get tied up with what airlines will cooperate on the multi-city venture but I figured if none would they would just create an itinerary piecing together unrelated tickets. But that appears not to be true, or something weird is going on. Is this a common thing with multi-city trips in SE Asia?

It is also a joy to fly in South East Asia compared the horrendous mess the USA has made out of air travel. Flying in the USA just keeps getting more and more atrocious. It isn’t like travel in SE Asia is really so wonderful, but in comparison it is.

I prefer Hipmunk. I’ll also try airlines directly. I have read people suggesting Google travel search so I tried that. It did provide one cheaper (10%) flight that Hipmunk missed, otherwise they seem to find identical flights. It does seem like Google’s one is much faster, but I still really like Hipmunk (I would like it even more if I could just register with them and have all my pay, details etc. stored with them and they deal with the airline but even as it is it is decent).

Do people have suggestions about plane reservations in SE Asia? Now that I am going nomad I’ll travel much more. Are you wise to lock things in a month in advance, or what? Any special need to lock things in for the December period in Thailand this year?

Related: Finding Places to Stay to Stay with Decent wifiKhao Lak, ThailandDigital Nomad Guide to Chiang Mai

Going Nomad in SE Asia

I am planning on trying out the nomad lifestyle for awhile in SE Asia (and maybe a bit further afield – Japan, Australia…).

I need to work while I am traveling and for me that requires a reliable “broadband” connection. Even just 1 Mbps is acceptable as long as it is reliable, though 5 Mbps is better. I need to use a out 1 Gb a day. I work from my condo now and plan to work from my room as I travel (working from a coffee shop or shared location won’t work for me).

I plan to visit places for 1 to 3 months such as: Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand (Chiang Mai maybe elsewhere), Bali (Ubud probably), Japan… I’ll do tourist stuff and travel around in countries while visiting.

Internet options, wifi at hotel or serviced apartment good?
city (Siem Reap?, Phnom Penh?):

Bali (Ubud probably):

(maybe Langkawi, Penang)

Chiang Mai: Curious Cat Digital Nomad Guide to Chiang Mai (as I am planing on going their next I am collecting and sharing what I find here)
maybe elsewhere:

city (Hoi An?):


Questions (if you have any ideas, please leave a comment):
What kind of wifi can I expect in the various countries and cities in a budget hotel or serviced apartment? For good wifi/internet are there specific lodgings suggested?
Would a mobile cell phone plan be best for certain countries cities? Reliable, good bandwidth, not very expensive for 1-2 Gb of data a day? I am assuming tethering from an iPad mini to my laptop won’t be an issue, right?
Will I have trouble traveling to any country with just a plane ticket in, but without purchasing the next plan ticket?
Which countries offer visa on arrival (for USA)? Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand do. Vietnam seems to require something in advance, I am looking into the details.
What will cost of budget (but not super cheap) hotel or service apartment be? $1,000 to $1,500 is fine for a nice place. Tips on looking for options in each location?
How do people deal with the limited amount of physical mail (and things like businesses that require an address and occasionally mail something that might be needed)?
Co-working spaces, hacker spaces, startup meetups etc. for each location (to meet others, I prefer to work in my room)?
Blogs and websites for each location?
Good times of year, or times to avoid for each location?

Finding Places to Stay to Stay with Decent wifi

For many people connection to the internet has ceased to be a desire and has become a requirement while traveling. Getting a sim-card for your smart phone, or tablet, may suffice. Or using that connection to tether your laptop to may work.

But often that isn’t the best solution and you want a hotel with broadband that is really broadband and hopefully they don’t add fees for what seems to me a basic expectation today (or at least not ludicrously expensive as some fancy hotels charge for an internet connection).

Agoda notes what hotels offer free wifi and in general I like Agoda. The comments can sometimes help identify if the hotel has good, mediocre or bad wifi. Trip Advisor has some decent information on good hotels.

But for years I have asked for and looked for someone that will integrate information on what the actual wifi experience is for hotels. And if they had it (I never found any) then I wanted to be able to use it as a filter.

I found a site that is working on providing wifi quality data for hotels and tweeted about it: Hotel wifi test. And Speedspot noted they have what they think is an even better offering. It does seem a bit more complete to me, but both are pretty lacking for details on places I visit most.

So far they seem to have the largest amount of data on the most popular cities in rich countries – which isn’t surprising. Hopefully they will add more data soon on the places I want to go. We need more of this kind of data so we can make informed decisions and chose hotels that provide services modern travel want (decent wifi).

While the travel sites are at it I also wish they would let me filter for what I care about – a good nights sleep which means quiet rooms. They should really let us set our own criteria for agony and then provide results (Hipmunk style). Maybe we have to wait for Hipmunk to do it.

Related: Worse Hotel Service the More You Pay (2010)Travel photos blog