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  • 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…

  • hardie karges 8:39 am on September 4, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    BHUTAN: No Problem in Little Tibet… 

    IMG_0591…once you pony up, that is, and then you’ll be handled and kept, with your own driver and guide, even if there’s only one in your group. You gotta’ hand it to Bhutan, for successfully marketing its brand. After all, how many countries can charge every tourist $250 a day, with the only airline charging overpriced flights, declaring Gross National Happiness the goal of life, and fill those same flights from full to overflowing, even if only turbo-prop baby Fokkers from Nepal? Druk Air flies you back in time…

    In the latter half of the last century the previously self-sufficient Himalayan kingdoms saw the writing on the wall: the world is changing, and they need to change with it. Tibet was lost to China forever for no greater crime than simply being there and being itself. Sikkim gave herself over to India, for lack of a better plan. And Nepal opened the door to every Harry, Dick and Tom with a stiffie and a spare dollar for a bottle of Boone’s Farm… (More …)

  • hardie karges 8:58 pm on September 1, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Bhaktapur,   

    Bhaktapur: Nepal’s Other Half, and That’s a Rap… 

    IMG_0705Bhaktapur is like remembering that first time twenty years ago when you landed in the middle of chaotic Kathmandu and the Bible, taking days to find your way around, exploring streets and alleys with no names only landmarks, and populated by peoples in little street-side cubby-holes doing things unmentionable, unsure of whether it’s a sacrificial altar or low-budget boucherie, blood splashed helter-skelter just like in the Bible or the Beatles…

    And finally learning ropes and making mental maps and expanding radii to include other ‘hoods and larger circles, people congregating wherever two roads cross, chowks and bazaars and people riding in little pedaled cars, but mostly on foot forging a way through life and the city, somehow making it all work, where logic would dictate otherwise, where geometry should have long surrendered to gravity… (More …)

  • hardie karges 10:17 pm on August 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Pokhara,   

    Pokhara: Nepal's Better Half… 

    IMG_0569Pokhara is Nepal’s second city, and such a change from the first, that it’s almost hard to believe they’re in the same country. Where Kathmandu is noisy and chaotic, Pokhara (pronounced like a distinctly southern-drawled and gooey ‘okra’, y’all) is chilled and peaceful—almost TOO tranquil. I start to miss all the chaos and manic maniac drivers with foot on the gas and hand on the horn (I even had one flashing lights at me, so I stopped in the middle of the road to force him to do the same, just because I could)…

    Of course, I’m talking about Lakeside, where all the tourists and local groovers hang, and full of spa-like accoutrements, boutiques and yoga, trekking centers and restos, caffeine and alcohol. But there’s another Pokhara, too, the original one, just up the road a piece, as high up as you can get in that particular valley, and filled with goldsmiths and silver, as opposed to the lakeside scene that tourism built. So I had to go check it out, just to get some traffic to avoid, if nothing else… (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 11:27 pm on August 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Your adaptation and use of words are so remarkable! Where did you learn to be such a writer?

      • hardie karges 3:42 am on August 29, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        After the first million words, I think, I decided to call myself a writer…🙂

  • hardie karges 12:35 am on August 27, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Linguistics 101 

    In Nepali language the word for ‘forest’ is ‘jungle’, got it—who knew? The word for ‘cannibis’ is ‘ganja’, got it—no surprise. And the word for ‘reservation’ is ‘reservation’, got it. What gives here? So why do I have reservations about learning it? Now that’s another issue…

  • hardie karges 4:21 pm on August 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Life in a Buddhist Monastery, part 2: Karma Krushes Dogma… 


    Continued from previous…

    You can’t beat the price: less than one hundred clams USD for a week of classes, room and board, $125 if you want a private room with shared bath—yeow! Don’t spend all that extra thirty bucks in one place! Boutique Buddhism in Phuket, Thailand, this same week will set you back almost $2K, with a 5-star hotel and waves crashing in on the beach, sex optional. For that price in India you can get a day or two with the Dalai Lama himself (no sex, sorry)!

    The only problem is that they’re a little disorganized here, and a little unclear on certain points of dogma: like whether Internet use is or is not consistent with the Dharma. And at some point they decided that the course I’m taking would be a silent retreat, cue thunder for unsympathetic magic, which is not so bad on the surface, as long as it’s merely suggested and not strictly policed… (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 4:33 pm on August 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply


    • Simon 3:55 pm on September 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      “Without free will there can be no morality”

      this is so Philosophy teacher😀

      • hardie karges 12:01 am on September 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        and so true, otherwise we blame all our transgressions on our birth signs, or our past lives…🙂

  • hardie karges 1:50 pm on August 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhist, , , , ,   

    Life in a Buddhist Monastery in Nepal, Part 1… 

    IMG_0530The malls on the Miracle Mile in Kathmandu are lined up like forgotten cemeteries outside a former battle field, most of them empty, dead or dying, lucky to have a coffee bar to anchor the whole place, while pedestrians walk past with eyes on their digital devices oblivious. I wonder if there’s any connection? I hope so. Auto traffic backs up on the back streets like blocked intestines wherever two cars pass and veggie vendors congregate if there is any more room than that. Nepal time is fifteen minutes behind India, no further explanation necessary…

    So I left. Think of Kathmandu and you don’t usually think of hot sweaty sticky atmospherics, just the opposite, but that’s what you get in the rainy season, an inch a day, and plenty of reasons to leave, with visions of equanimity, though still much better than the rainy season in Thailand, BTW, and climbing up a few hundred meters helps, plus it puts some perspective on it all, with all the little people down there f*cking and fighting, no slight of hands, and growth the only mantra… (More …)

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