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  • hardie karges 12:03 am on October 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Araanyawiwek, , ,   

    Thailand’s Real Full Moon Party (My Brilliant Career as Designated Driver) 

    img_0953No, my friends are not all drunkards and reprobates, though a few certainly are. But the group I drive for now is quite different. They only like the orange stuff—and yellow. No, not Lucy in the Sky with Diamond sunshine, or even ‘mellow yellow’–and certainly not Donald Trump. No, these guys are hooked on Buddha, and the Dharma, and the Sangha, the Buddhist brotherhood…

    Every traveler knows about Koh Pha Ngan’s legendary full moon bacchanalian orgies of drugs, sex, and alcohol, right? But how many know about the Thai Buddhist ‘rains retreat’ ‘Pansaa’ season that lasts for three months, and during which every monk returns to his original home temple of ordination for the duration of this Buddhist ‘Lent’ season, with the implication that this is not a frivolous matter to take or leave. It is an obligation… (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 3:11 am on October 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Have I missed something – like, where is our better half?


      • hardie karges 3:23 am on October 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Tang? She’s at home, going back to LA soon, then I’ll come back here…

    • davekingsbury 7:07 pm on October 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I suppose the only way to displace the addiction of consumption is to replace it with a compelling angle on the world that opens up its free, simple and natural wonders … oh yeah, Buddhism, and thanks for the front line reports!

  • hardie karges 1:39 pm on October 17, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , meditation, , , , ,   

    Buddhist Boot Camps, Kopan vs. Suan Mokh, Part 2: the Cost of Karmic Retribution)… 

    img_0545Continued from previous…

    Setting: Kopan is classic Tibetan temple and monastery style, with dragons and other adornments, set on top of a hill at the edge of the sprawling metropolis of Kathmandu, and gated, so semi-urban while it lasts. Suan Mokh, on the other hand, is green and pastoral, with an ambiance that reminds me of Boy Scout camp. Noises are few and far between, and far away, as are the gilded and glitzy temples of the city.

    Eco-Friendliness is a specialty of Suan Mokh, where absolutely NOTHING is wasted, and flashlights are used at night rather than bathing the premises in artificial light. Recyclables are treated accordingly, and no drop of water is wasted if it can be saved for later use or recycled. This is part of the ethos and also just a reality of living in the countryside. Kopan is quasi-urban and subject to different conditions, so not as strictly obedient to environmental issues, apparently. (More …)

    • lwcaveman 1:57 pm on October 17, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      This is great information. I have been meditating for years but I have not found the right path for religious development. For now I just meditate. I look forward to more information on the buddhist practices. Thanks.

    • Esther Fabbricante 4:06 pm on October 17, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Expressed so well.


  • hardie karges 11:14 pm on October 9, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , ,   

    Buddhist Boot Camps: Kopan vs. Suan Mokh, part 1–Price of Rice… 

    IMG_0526“…(in) sitting meditation…we free our mind from past experiences and…any anticipation of the future. Instead we abide in the nowness of the present…”–HH the Dalai Lama

    Sounds a whole lot like Eckhart Tolle, doesn’t it? But no, this is from His Holiness the DL’s book ‘The Four Noble Truths’, compiled from talks he gave in 1996, some years before the publishing of ET’s break-thru book-thru drive-thru one-stop soul shop, in which a lump of basic Buddhism is twirled up into fluffy cotton-candy comfort-food for the disenchanted…

    …just lose all that pesky suffering, add some New Age flavorings, and let’s call it ‘The Power of Now’ instead of ‘Enlightenment for Dummies’. There you go, perfect, ready to market, and the rest is history—good work. But I’m not here to talk about ET, just HHDL, who largely inspired me, along with certain Beat Poets at Naropa last century hooting and howling next door, to further investigate Tibetan Buddhism, to supplement my current efforts in the forest temples of Thailand. Here’s the deal: (More …)

  • hardie karges 1:01 pm on October 9, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ikat, , , okra, ,   

    Sarawak Redux: Rusty Reds, Ikat and Okra… 

    img_0857No, I just wanted one ikat of okra, really, not 5142 intricately knotted and naturally dyed wraps and ties resisting dyes resisting leakage resisting spread of the fast-food consumer class, suggesting what Joseph Campbell might call the primordial need for symbol and myth, the designs themselves suggesting the wooden masks they wear, only begging the question of what those wooden mask motifs represent. So can I return this and just get the okra? I’ve got this gumbo recipe…img_0830

  • hardie karges 11:55 pm on October 3, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Chaiya, , ,   

    Wat Suan Mokh: Southern Thailand’s Other (not so) Full Moon (not so) Party… 

    img_0881“The goal of Buddhism is Nirvana; meditation is temporary Nirvana”–Buddhadhasa

    Chaiya in southern Thailand is a place where Gomer and Goober would feel right at home, the one sitting on a bench at the railway station with a mostly-spent inhalant sticking out of his nose to catch the last gasp, while the other tries to manage the business end of an industrial-size pipe wrench without hurting himself. So it’s hard to believe that just down the road ten minutes is a place whose name translates as ‘Temple of the Garden of Liberation’ and attracts people from all over the world…

    And it’s just a long stone’s throw as flies the crow, in another direction, across the bay, about a hundred klicks, to another place that again could not be more different: it consisting of the three preeminent islands for backpack tourism in Thailand: Koh Tao infamous for recent tourist murders, Koh Pha Ngan infamous for its monthly full moon drunken orgies, and last but not least, Koh Samui, the one made famous by Leonardo Di Caprio in ‘The Beach’ as the starting point for the perennial search for authenticity… (More …)

  • hardie karges 12:15 am on October 3, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , shoes, ,   

    Shoes East vs. West: Speaking of Brown Loafers… 

    img_0682As we all know, the world is divided into shoe cultures and flip-flop cultures, most of the latter cultures where shoes must be removed before entering a house, and especially a temple, for religious and cultural reasons. This includes Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam, and countries from northern Africa to the Far East.

    img_0891Of course, sometimes this happens so many times in the course of a day, that it really is efficient time-wise to ditch the frills and laces, and just go shoe-less, hence flip-flops. There is another option, of course. Remember those penny loafers from the days of ‘Penny Lane’? They’ll pass for manly footwear as well as for Buddhism. That’s what they use in Bhutan. I think I’ll invest in some stock. I can see a bright future in loafing…

  • hardie karges 3:18 pm on September 27, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ,   

    3-in-1, part 2: Malaise in Sarawak (pun)… 


    continued from previous…

    Only problem now is that I’m sick as a dog, far upriver in Kapit, need vitamins, need caffeine, and there seem to be none of my usual avenues for fulfillment. The caffeine part I can rig (pun), boil down Coca-Cola if I have to, with a needle and a spoon, and inject intravenously (joking). But then I find some old-fashion Nescafe, not that 3-in-1 coffee-milk that works for lady drinks. Just mix the two together, and it doesn’t taste so bad, and kicks like a mule in heat (yes, I know)…

    Still I need vitamins. I’m sniffling and sneezing, whiffing and wheezing like a sludge pump that needs a grease job and a few new gaskets. This could get worse before it gets better, and is nasty, regardless. Where is a drugstore when you need one? Finally I find one, albeit with super-expensive vitamins, and I find a Red Bull knock-off, too, so God does provide, eventually… (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 4:01 pm on September 27, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Very, very interesting to say the least – but so sorry you are under the weather – Buddhist and all.

    • hardie karges 11:47 pm on September 27, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      WAS under the weather, fine now, thx….

  • hardie karges 1:45 pm on September 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Borneo, , , , , ,   

    3-in-1, part 1: Sarawak,Borneo, Malaysia… 

    img_0746…is something of a revelation, really, and I can’t help but think some backpackers are missing the boat here, literally. Malaysia was always cleaner and neater than its neighboring Third World countries, and now it’s as cheap as Thai and Nepal, probably cheaper than Burma or Laos. So where are they all? They’re not here, that’s for sure. Outside of the resto-pub centers of Kuching, and probably Kota Kinabulu, too, there just aren’t any. I haven’t seen a white face in a week!!

    Maybe it’s because Malaysia is a Muslim country, but these people in Borneo are mostly Christians, and you know what that means: party! Yes, you’ll have no problem finding a brew here, though coffee may be a different story. I’m accustomed to the local ‘kopi’ tasting great, but having no kick, so tend to compensate with the local Red Bull rip-offs, which have some vitamins, too, so a couple birds in the hen-house with only one buck (I do so hate to kill the local birds)… (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 6:43 pm on September 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply


  • hardie karges 10:21 pm on September 12, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bandar Seri Begawan, Bangladesh, Brunei   

    Bangladesh and Brunei: Two for the Books… 

    img_0819On the face of it, the two countries wouldn’t seem to have much in common except that they both start with a ‘B’. And they’re both Muslim. And they’re both on my check-list of countries I need to visit before I die, just because they exist. Now some people deride this as ‘gimmick travel’ but there are many countries on that list, only because of it, and I have no regrets…

    Other nay-sayers and yay-sayers want to define the concept of a stay to require a minimum number of days, but do you really expect anyone to spend as much time in the Caribbean as all of South America? There are more countries, ditto the Persian Gulf. Are Qatar and Bahrain really so different? First Bangladesh: (More …)

  • hardie karges 11:02 pm on September 6, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Bhutan, part 2: Hermit Kingdom, Magic Mountain, Betel Juice… 


    continued from previous…

    I didn’t know if I would make it, frankly, up to the Tiger’s Nest, then we beat them all in record time. Local Boy Scouts and fuster-clucking Indians only crowd the path and slow us down. Now I like temples and such, but I was already disappointed that the proposed first day’s itinerary of ‘looking around the city’ had been changed. Maybe there was no real city. Welcome to America…

    So I finally had to pointedly hint that IT’D BE REALLY NICE TO GET A LOOK AT THE CITY—the capital, Thimpu—after we’d spent a full day of avoiding it and driving circles around it, such that I’d almost decided that it didn’t really exist. But there it is, and it’s a cute one, with no traffic lights, but at least one traffic cop doing the honors at the city’s main intersection. And there’s a market, and a bus terminal, all the things of real life. I got the distinct feeling that they don’t usually show such things, for whatever reason, likely the filth and grime of a Third World city… (More …)

    • davekingsbury 2:20 pm on September 8, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting piece. One question – isn’t your status in the present life the retribution for past life sins, or have I misread it?

    • hardie karges 8:48 pm on September 8, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      That would seem to be a correct reading of the Tibetan Buddhist position, but I have numerous problems with that conclusion. To pose the question in the same way that shocked me: If a young girl is raped, is it her fault, from past lives, or the rapist’s?

    • Bhutan Travel Tour 7:40 pm on September 11, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Hi, Hardie.

      I happened upon your post quite by accident and it was an interesting read though I do have a few comments.

      The only thing we have similar to North Korea is the absence of traffic lights, or so I heard. No short Asian guy with a narcissist attitude who believes himself God and loves intimidating his neighbours with nuclear weapons here.🙂

      Regarding guides, hey, you can go on your own. You wouldn’t really know where to go, what to see, where or what to eat, and at the high tariff that the government imposes you wouldn’t want to waste any time now, would you?

      Regarding religion, yes, most Bhutanese would be very Buddhist but on blind faith without pondering on the various ‘deep’ philosophies that the religion does have. Most Bhutanese do know what denomination they belong to- Nyingma or Drukpa Kargyug- but do not know what the difference is, for example, let alone know about what Gelug, Karmapa etc. or Vajrayana, Hinayana are about.

      Rituals may have had a reason once, now they are just done blindly. There are some who go deep into the philosophies, such as karma. On my part, I have heard lamas saying this when someone dies early young “He/she was just completing the years that in his previous life he/she could not complete.”

      One thing accepted here but would not be accepted in the western world is “a woman is 7 lifetimes inferior to a man”. “Someone born a woman must have done something not good for the karma.”

      If you do come again, we could meet and discuss these things first hand. it’d be interesting🙂

      Best regards and Trashi Delek,
      Keshav of

      • hardie karges 10:21 pm on September 11, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        If I could travel on my own, then that would be a different story, no problem figuring out where to go, haha…

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