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  • hardie karges 5:33 pm on August 27, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Tasdhkent,   

    Escape from LA…..Back in the USSR 

    Sometimes my life feels like a B-movie, made for TV, straight to DVD,  Maybe I’ll have a future on YouTube re-runs.  I hope so.

    The madrassah in Tashkent

    The madrassah in Tashkent

    This trip was doomed from the start.  Part of that is my fault.  It’s been put off and postponed and changed until I almost forgot what the original inspiration for it was—a major excursion into the heart of Central Asia—and now only this tiny bit of the original project remained as a possibility for this year.  So when the timing seemed to fall into place, I went for it.  That could have been a bad mistake, of course, because Uzbekistan is part of the old USSR, you know, so still has much of that old mentality of endless and mindless bureaucracy, in this case (expensive) visas, letters of introduction, and all that.

    Outside the Market in Tashkent

    Outside the Market in Tashkent

    So I sent in the application and money order.  Then all of a sudden I found out that I would have to move from the apartment I’d been living in for almost a year, and to which I’d addressed a self-stamped envelope for the return of my passport.  So the first thing I did was send a letter to the Uzbek consul asking to change my return address.  I never got a response.  So I waited, growing a little bit more-than-antsy with stress as the weeks passed.  Still I received no response from the Uzbek consul.

    By that time my only real concern was my passport, out there in the ether, no direction home.   I don’t like being without my passport.  I can’t even go to Mexico without my passport.  The month of July passed slowly.  I didn’t even care about the trip anymore.  I just wanted my passport back.  As the month came to a close, I started making contingency plans to report it stolen, get a new one and just continue on with the European part of my trip—I was connecting in Frankfurt—and forget Uzbekistan. (More …)

    • Kc 5:48 pm on August 27, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      you must feel like i feel if i go walking in this town w/o i.d. yes, they check i.d.s here in the Deep South.

  • hardie karges 6:49 pm on August 26, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    The best thing about being half-way around the world is that you don’t have to reset your clock; just substitute AM for PM and vice-versa.

  • hardie karges 7:28 pm on August 18, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: evolution, ,   

    Somewhere in a Parallel Universe, Far Far Inside: In the Beginning Was the Word… 

    The existence of a planet with atmosphere, and all that entails—mostly nitrogen, but more especially oxygen, evolving from a cold almost-empty universe, consisting of little or nothing, mostly just simple hydrogen, tending towards helium, picking up electrons like a reluctant suitor at a dance marathon that never really ends, mixing multi-flavored quarks for courage, and forming alliances and partnerships and condominiums and time-shares with protons and neutrons spawning helium and nitrogen and gold and silver, a dance marathon of basic attraction, the attraction of opposites, positives and negatives, proclaiming neutrality and clinging to each other for dear life, the hope and the promise if only hydrogen and oxygen and carbon can get along well enough to finally look in the mirror and see that it is good, good enough to keep, good enough to reproduce, good enough to plant seeds and watch them grow in a symphony of organic life that has barely scratched the surface of a planet that only recently got solid, only recently got liquid, only recently got UV protection from an ever-blazing sun, finally forming cyanobacteria, blue-green algae, just to test the waters, nothing more, nothing less, soaking up a little sun and giving off a little oxygen day after day after year after year after century after millennia after era after epoch for a billion years or more, restless atoms forming molecules forming compounds forming single-cell organisms with the urge to merge, the urge to replicate, the urge to go forth and divide, divide and conquer, ultimately conquering nature, the same nature from which it derives, conquering itself while conquering the Other, the conquering Hero of a thousand races, alpha male in a world of females, ready willing and able to re-create in their own image and likenesses, but not exactly, not precisely, always changing always drifting, just enough to give some sense of direction, give some sense of purpose, give some sense of evolution painting upon a blank silver screen, creating stars in the void, creating order out of chaos, creating stars in the ‘hood, creating Aristotles and Alexanders and Buddhas and Muhammads and Lincolns and Fords and Lady Gagas and Justin Biebers—just might be the greatest story ever told, one of the most incredible things that has ever happened in a universe that might not even exist if we homo sapiens sapiens were not here to imagine it so.  But we can change all that…

  • hardie karges 7:42 pm on August 14, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Fortuna Hostel, , , Lithuania, Vilnius   

    Featured City: Vilnius, Lithuania–Castles and Cathedrals and Zappa, too… 

    View from a Window in Vilnius

    VILNIUS is Lithuania’s main city and capital, and a picturesque one at that.  Its origins are murky but by the time of the commonwealth with Poland city walls were being built, a university opened, and migrants were coming from all over.  That all changed with the Russian occupation a few centuries later.  Its Jews were massacred in WWII, and its intelligentsia deported afterward.  Then ordinary citizens were deported and Russians moved in, until 1991.  Today it is a modern European city.

    Bigger than Tallinn, Vilnius is still easily walkable.  The entire center is a UNESCO world heritage site.  There are castles, cathedrals, genocide museums, the ruins of the Castle of Gediminas on Castle Hill, a 16th C. Gothic Church of St. Anne, a dozen 17th C. Baroque churches, notably the Church of SS. Peter and Paul, a cathedral that dates from 1387, and… a monument to Frank Zappa.  It has not yet been colonized for Western parties.  Give it another year or two.

    I was there in June of 2009, part of a loop through Scandinavia and back down through the Baltics to Warsaw.  If you wanted, you could easily cross through five countries in one day… but not me.  I liked Vilnius so much that I hung around for days.  Yahoo still thinks I’m from Vilnius.  Yes, the WiFi was good.  And so are the hostels.  One of our partner hostels there is Fortuna Hostel, with beds starting at only ten bucks. Yeow!  it’s all written up with with complete specs and contact info in our book “Backpackers & Flashpackers in Eastern Europe.”  They’ll be featured in the upcoming edition of our new book, “1000 Hostels in North Europe,” too, due out in September.  Check it out


  • hardie karges 5:04 pm on August 2, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Australia, , , , , , New Zealand, Oceania   

    NOW AVAILABLE: 500 Hostels in Australia, New Zealand, & Pacific Islands 

    If you like hostels, then you’re going to love Australia and New Zealand, for here is the greatest concentration of backpackers’ hostels in the world, on both coasts and everywhere in between.  These are some of the nicest people and the nicest landscapes in the world, too, something of a cross between America and Europe, and maybe the best of both, loads of spectacular nature and some of the most refined cities, ranging in latitudes and altitudes from tropical to Antarctic, from beaches and nightclubs to glaciers and fireplaces.  The attitudes are almost universally warm.  (More …)

    • thetravelingyoyo 6:33 pm on August 5, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Reblogged this on thetravelingyoyo and commented:
      I feel like Australia is on all of our bucket lists. If you’ve had the chance to visit/live there, I envy you!

      • hardie karges 7:14 pm on August 5, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Well, the exchange rate is not so favorable right now for Oz, but there are hostels literally everywhere, and cheapo airlines, too, so not so difficult to make it part of a SE Asia trip now. It’s harder to get to New Zealand, which is truly one of my favorite places in the world. I’ve only visited the region, so it’s on my bucket list to return, also. I’ll have to if I want to visit Nauru and Tuvalu (before they’re submerged), the only two countries I lack in the region…

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