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  • hardie karges 2:00 pm on July 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , forest temple, ,   

    Life in a Thai Forest Temple: part 1, Mae Chan 

    IMG_0712Mention Thai Buddhist temples to someone, and the image they probably get is that of the gaudy gilded red and orange structures that dot the landscape (t)here, with maybe a mention or two of the corruption and sleaze that dogs the state-supported religion, and which could give the Vatican a run for its money as a source of occasional shame to mix in with the more typical reverence that rivals that of the monarchy as a foundation of Thai culture here…

    But there is another side of Thai Buddhism that is much more impressive to many of our Western tastes, and which rivals Tibetan Buddhism, if not yet Zen, in the number and popularity of its Western adherents, and that is the Thai Forest tradition. Barely a hundred years old, it is the exact opposite of the Dhammakaya flying saucer-like temple that has gotten so many Facebook shares lately, with its million-minion meditation sit-ins and its current run-in with the Thai government over allegations of money laundering… (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 4:49 pm on July 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      My reply did not go through. What can I say? Your description is very enlightening – and my great nephew has taken up Buddhism.


  • hardie karges 2:27 am on July 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CheapoAir, Expedia, , hotels,   

    Caveat Emptor: Shopping for Flights and Hotels… 

    It’s a cliche’, of course, to compare prices before buying, but it’s tempting to think that in certain industries, that might simply be a waste of time, such as travel. Think again. Especially once you get into the nooks and backwoods crannies of the globe, which some booking sites don’t even bother with, they certainly are not all the same. For instance while trying to book a flight from Bangkok to Kathmandu, one way, once the $175 flight is gone, they quickly go up $100 or more, on Expedia. So I checked CheapoAir and the cheapest on that same airline is $25 more, but readily available–bingo. So I continue to look for a room there and that $10 room goes up to $20 with taxes and all, so check it on Expedia and they only go up $2! What’s up with that? Oh, right, those are ‘fees’…

  • hardie karges 12:27 am on July 19, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Capitalist, Christian, Communist, , Judaism,   

    Suicide Pax: Afghanistan, too! (a fantasy in four-part disharmony) 


    God & State in Kabul, Afghanistan

    continued from previous…


    There’s that familiar sound, of civilization. I pull out my cell-phone and look at the number, THE number, the same number that I remember oh so well—my wife. Should I answer? I feel the hard asphalt beneath my body, the blood seeping out all around. RRRrrrinnnggg. What the Hell…

    สวัสดีครับ Swasti Krup Hello.” Did I mention that my wife is Thai?

    สวัสดีค่ะ Swasti Ka Hello. How are you?” her voice sounds good. I smile. I can see her there with her phone tucked under her chin, doing something else while talking to me—eating, probably. (More …)

  • hardie karges 12:37 am on July 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Suicide Pax: Afghanistan! (a fantasy in four-part disharmony) 


    Hamid Karzai and me

    I had it all planned out: this would be perfect, for myself and for the world. For myself, of course, the advantages of checking out of this cheap hotel early are obvious: 1) no old age, 2) no more taxes, and 3) I can’t find anything I want to read, anyway. But that’s too easy. I want to make a statement. To go out like a dog under a car’s wheel has no class, no style, no eminence worthwhile, just mort a credit and settle the score with a Visa card that won’t be used any more, do final reckonings later, no insurance anyway, so why not?

    We’ve all heard of suicide bombers, but what about suicide peacemakers? Positively inspired by the Buddhist priests who self-immolated to protest the Vietnam war in the 60’s and those who protest the Chinese takeover of Tibet to this day, and not so positively inspired by Islamic martyrs and wannabes who take others down with them (not cool) in Palestine, Iraq and wherever life’s cheap, I figure it’s time the Western Christ-born throw in their two cents. (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 3:35 am on July 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      My goodness.

    • davekingsbury 8:51 am on July 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Wonderful … a fable for our times! Look forward to the next instalment …

      • hardie karges 10:02 am on July 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Ha! thx, been trying to do something with this little story for two years, finally figured WTF…

  • hardie karges 2:32 pm on July 11, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    It’s Official: Hypertravel Hostel Says Goodbye—for now… 


    Socializing at Hypertravel Hostel

    Well, score one for divine intervention. The last thing I expected a short two months ago, when the sale of my historic house/hostel/dream-crib in Tucson, AZ fell through after six months of ‘due diligence’ on the part of a certain buyer, who was dedicated to the proposition that homeless people need lunch…

    …was that an entirely new sale would be complete by now. The first sale was cancelled not due to city rules and regs, BTW, rather due to the actions of disgruntled neighbors who’d rather shut down the neighborhood than help the hapless homeless—did I mention that the affected group was specifically homeless women? Tucson has a mean streak; it’s true…

    So it’s been a long hard road (actually not so long and not so hard, either), the better part of two years, but all good things must come to an end, and if there’s a happy ending, then the story must be a good one. Even though I thought I wanted a flagship hostel as the template for many others, what I really needed was a ‘starter hostel’ to test the feasibility of an essentially European institution in Mainstream Amerika, and the results are… (More …)

  • hardie karges 12:34 am on July 8, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: safety   

    The Irony of Travel, the Conundrum of Curiosity… 

    001 (2)…is that you’re supposed to be having the time of your life, but at the same time, you’ll likely be exposed to many times more than the usual dangers encountered in normal every-day life. I just read a travel article in the New York Times which poses the question of what to do when you want to take a dip–in the ocean, or anywhere, for that matter. Where do you put your wallet? Where do you put your keys?

    Most importantly: where do you put your passport… (Drum roll here, please) …and smart-phone? The author asked for suggestions and answers to this perennial riddle, albeit to no clear effect. Of course if you travel in a pack, then the answer is simple: have a designated driver, one person to oversee the goodies. But if you’re like me and travel alone, then what’s your best bet? Nothing is ever guaranteed, of course…

    I’ve asked myself this same question many times, and the same dilemma would apply if you’re having sex with a local or tripping on the local psychedelics: how do you enjoy yourself and get value from your experience without worrying about your valuables all the time? If you have to forego experiences to guard your vabs (i.e. valuables, just made that up), then that’s not much fun…  (More …)

  • hardie karges 1:47 am on July 2, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Brexit, , EU, , , UK   

    It's a Good Time to Travel to England… 

    …if you like weather that’s cool and clammy up north, always nice down south. How does 20c/68f for a high, 10c/50f for a low temperature sound? It sounds pretty good to my American fried a$$. It’s not that much different in winter, either, among Europe’s warmest at that time of year. But the big news is the post-Brexit exchange rate, hovering at around 1.34USD:1GBP right now, an overnight drop of 10%, and much less than the more typical weak dollar exchange rates when oil prices are high.

    Given the low prices for flights right now, it all sounds like a bargain, and if your schedule is flexible, you could even book now for travel in the fall, when crowds are light and the weather is still nice, even on the continent. The rates there are low, too, in fact the lowest since shortly after its inception. Word to the wise…

  • hardie karges 1:20 pm on June 29, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ACA, , medical tourism,   

    Thailand on the Installment Plan: Medical Tourism… 

    IMG_0546continued from previous…

    …so after six weeks and much weeping and wailing I finally passed a kidney stone the size of Boulder, Colorado, this after my urologist decided that I must have a swollen prostate gland, since six weeks had passed and I still couldn’t piss a full stream, after he had assured me that there was no stone, or at least “not one very big,” this conclusion without even looking at a screen, where one of the various CAT’s or MRI’s or X-RAY’s or ultrasound scans must surely be available for viewing—not!

    No one told me I had a barely-passable-if-I’m-lucky 10mm stone or I’d probably have nuked the mother in Mexico for $2-3K some 2-3 weeks ago! No, my big city LA urologist talked on the phone to someone somewhere supposedly looking at my scans and ended up concluding something the opposite of what the ER guy had already said, namely: that there were more stones.

    But at least there’s a semi-happy ending, and my situation improved rapidly after the monster stone passed, so I cancelled my appointment with the highly recommended Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok, but kept my flight to Thailand, albeit with some trepidation and plenty of duct tape and plaster. Did I mention that Thailand is my second home? (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 12:14 am on June 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Oh, my goodness. I am speechless. I hope you are on the mend.


  • hardie karges 2:27 pm on June 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , healthcare, hospital, ,   

    Thailand Redux: Medical (not Medicinal) Tourism, Caveat Emptor… 

    IMG_0507No, this is not an article about ayahuasca tourism, all the rage for spirit-seekers and jungle-trippers of all shapes and stripes, centered mostly in the Peruvian Amazon around Iquitos, but also in nearby Brazil and Colombia, in which a self-styled ayahuasquero named Carlos or Fabio or Bill or Shakti will offer you a muddy brew that will likely make you puke then blow your little mind…

    No, this is not about that. That will be another post, once I’ve had sufficient time to do proper research. This is about getting old and bald and moving parts wearing out and things that you once bragged about no longer working and the duct tape and super glue pressed to the limit, and not even talking about late-night twerking, just survival of the fattest and wearing adult diapers for the occasional wetting…

    The US health care system is a joke.  It was so painful watching ex-Speaker of the House John Boehner declare that, “America has the best health-care system in the world,” that I wonder if he really meant it, or whether he was crossing his fingers in his front pants’ pocket.  In fact the US health-care system is nowhere near the top—except in cost—and tends to languish down in the 30-to-40th rankings, if lucky a notch or two above Cuba. (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 5:11 pm on June 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Oh, my! Sorry about that – if it’s not one thing, it’s another here with me.

    • davekingsbury 9:26 pm on June 24, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Ouch … get well soon, my friend … good healthcare is a human right!

      • hardie karges 10:46 pm on June 24, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, Dave. Actually I think there will be a happy ending here in Thailand…:-)

  • hardie karges 2:50 pm on June 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Chiapas, , Monterrey, , , Veracruz   

    Time Travel 1977 Mexico-USA: Brokedown Chiapas, Giggle Bordello, Busted on Burpin’ Street… 

    continued from previous

    March 1977


    The back road from Agua Azul to San Cristobal de las Casas through Ocosingo is nothing spectacular, but a pretty enough drive.  This is the area that will be ground zero for the emergence of EZLN (Zapatista Army of National Liberation) and ‘Sub-Comandante Marcos’ in a few short years, resulting in being ‘liberated’ by them on New Year’s Day 1994. But for now it’s a dusty backwater, as far into the outback as you can get in Mexico, deep in the jungle. Unfortunately our bus breaks down before reaching the city, so we all have to get off, and find alternate transportation.  Fortunately it breaks down not far away, so finding something else isn’t too hard.  (More …)

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