An idea of local proportions – a local area guide.

So I mentioned in my last post that we are all about creating value. We are about sharing that value with everybody and anybody who will appreciate it. So I’ll tell you a little about our first value creating initiative. The idea actually stems from Berastagi. Berastagi is a small mountain town in Sumatra, Indonesia geographically located in between Lake Toba and the Medan.

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Wisma Sabayak Guesthouse

So I had just returned to my guest house (Wisma Sibayak Guest House) after climbing Gunung Sibayak (Gunung Travel Tip). I followed this up with a soak in one of the many Sibayak hot springs. So as I sat Wisma Guest house I decided that I really wanted a massage, some food, and hopefully some wifi. I mean the volcano wasn’t too hard a hike, but still a good 6 hour day on my feet. A massage and a good feed was really going to top a good day off, and if I got to get a few emails out of the way what a bonus.

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View from Gunung Sabayak

So being a little tired i didn’t really know what a felt like eating, I didn’t know where a massage place was, and the staff on this occasion were not the most helpful advisers. So I set off thinking a small town, no worries I’ll find what I want pretty quick, I wasn’t really in the mood to wonder the streets lost for too long.

As I wondered up and down the main street twice, finally found a massage place out the back of a hair salon, which I immediately regretted paying for when I spotted the massage table. I didn’t want to offend the lovely little lady so gritted my teeth jumped on. Although the massage was not terrible the atmosphere of the shop had already tarnished the massage.

So massage over, now time for food, since i was focused on finding a massage place I didn’t pay too much attention to the menus I passed on my search. Feeling unsure of what I felt like and keen for some wifi I preceded to walk the Main Street once again. After finally finding a place that had a decent wifi connection and the burger and chips I so desired (don’t get me wrong I love nasi goreng but sometimes I need a dirty burger). As I finished eating and emailing, I paid up some cash and then wondered home, only to spot another massage place located just around the corner from Wisma Guesthouse. I checked it out, and it actually looked nice, but what was done was done. I made my return to the guesthouse, 3 and a half hours after I set off.

Now I spent half an hour eating and emailing and 1 hour at the mediocre massage place. Where did my other 2 hours go? Berastagi is a small town, but to filter through all the places I didn’t want and to find the ones I did want it took me 2 hours (that’s the perfect amount of time for a travel nap). Now I love a good wonder, I’m a huge people watcher, but when I feel like it, not when I’m just looking for a quick feed and massage.

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The Blocks Hostel Explorer

So there it was! The Idea! What would I have valued right at the time. A  local guide, someone that knew the town and said get a massage here, eat and email there and done, then head back to the guest house and have a nap. Now I understand there are a lot of guide books and mobile app guides out there. The thing is I don’t like spending hours scouring through all of the places they list. I also want a little more than an address off the internet and an outdated little excerpt from wiki-travel to go by. I want some real advice. Some up to date advice. I want the good places already picked out for me. Importantly I want the places picked out aimed at me, a budget traveller.

I thought about this for a long time, now I am the simple traveller and I like thing to be simple. So I spent the next year throwing ideas back and forth with friends. I settled on a localised mobile app explorer. To be more specific they are based around budget accommodation specifically for budget travellers. Throw in an in-house chat system, accommodation details, local area guide, an interactive map and we have something useful…….. an ‘Explorer’.

I’m super excited we have just finished our first ‘Explorer’ prototype. The mobile app is based around The Blocks Hostel, in Bangkok, Thailand. Great hostel and great staff, some good friends of mine actually. So there it is, the idea now turned into a product, it’s going to give me value, how about you? Keep an eye on the growing network of explorers. We have some exciting innovations in the works so the explorers bring you even more value!

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