Updates from July, 2015 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • hardie karges 7:07 pm on July 31, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Sarajevo, ,   

    The Fat Lady Sings: Goodbye Asia, Hello Istanbul–and Sarajevo… 

    The Great Mosque of Istanbul across the water...

    The Great Mosque of Istanbul across the water…

    June 2014

    Going round trip from LA to Bangkok, via the Atlantic and Europe, using frequent-flyer miles, I pretty much got a free stopover in Istanbul, so sounded good, thought I might take a quick trip down to the border with Iraq and cross over into the Kurdish quarter; word is you could go in without ever really checking out of Turkey, just come back to the same border crossing and officially you were never really gone. Just stay in north Iraq where the Kurds are friendly reasonable people.

    There’s only one problem: a new militant group called ISIL or ISIS or something like that that’s making sudden inroads into the region and causing problems where control is scarce or non-existent. It seems that they spun out of the Syrian war and have spilled across the border. Only time will tell if they’re ultimately successful. But I don’t want to hang around Istanbul for a week, and there’s nowhere else in Turkey I really want to go for that length of time. (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 7:25 pm on July 31, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      wow – this was most interesting – and I enjoyed your account of each stop – and now I know that you live in Phoenix, and you are another year older – that’s good!

  • hardie karges 1:48 am on July 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Kurd,   

    The Last Crusade: Who’s on Top? 

    So now Turkey is attacking neighboring Kurds, under the guise of cooperation with the USA in its fight against ISIL. Kurds are the only effective fighting force against ISIL, of course, and mostly Muslim, if far more tolerant and secular than ISIL. I guess that tells you where the Turkish Government’s sympathies lie, ironic for an essentially European people with a Middle Eastern religion and a Mongolian-related language…

    • Esther Fabbricante 2:02 am on July 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Sending to Giles and Lisa who have just returned from Turkey on a 10-day tour.

  • hardie karges 11:42 pm on July 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , River Kwai,   

    #Bangkok #Kanchanaburi #Thailand: Bi-Polar Syndrome of a Country… 

    Meals on Wheels

    Meals on Wheels in Bangkok

    It’s amazing how diverse Bangkok can be, depending on your chosen neighborhood. If you only stay in the backpacker enclave at Khaosarn Road or near the red-light district of Patpong, or Sukhumvit Road between Nana Plaza and Soi Cowboy, then you’ve only seen the most obvious charms—or horrors—of the city. That was especially evident a month ago, when I happened to step out on Sukhumvit Road AFTER midnight for the first time in a while—YEOW! Unbelievable! There are prostitutes from all over the world, right here—brown ones, black ones, white ones, blue!

    Still I doubt it’s ‘traffficking’, just free market flea market, choice cuts of meat in the international section. That’s all chilled down now since the military coup, I reckon, but I don’t really want to know—too disgusting. So I stay far north of town this time, saving myself a chunk of change in the process. You know what they say about rental rates—it’s all about location location location.

    Portuguese Past in Kanchanaburi

    Portuguese Past in Kanchanaburi

    So this time I stay in an entirely different section of the city, one I’ve never really stayed in, and close to the Victory Monument passenger van pick-up points. This is where I’ll catch a van to Kanchanaburi, on the River Kwai, or something like that. There are no bars around here, but that’s just fine; there’s plenty of good coffee. Ten years ago it would’ve been Nescafe only. Vive la difference! Unfortunately bars dominate the tourist scene in Kanchanaburi, a real disappointment.

    These last two stops, Bangkok and Kanchanaburi, are the undoing of my little purist fantasy, full of tourists and ex-pats, too, back with a vengeance on their part and no small measure of repressed revenge on my own, the spreading colonization of the Kingdom beyond all reason, writing on the wall for years now, but I forgot to wear my glasses, so I know now that my time here is drawing short…

    Kanchanaburi, Thailand: City on Water

    Kanchanaburi, Thailand: City on Water

    In Bangkok it’s to be expected, of course, major world city with people from all over, but… Kanchanaburi? Sleepy little Kanchanaburi? Sure, there’s the River Kwai, of course, but does that necessarily imply a cliched ‘entertainment’ strip with all that entails? It looks to be about half-and-half old fart expats and young backpackers, so plenty of blame to go around IMHO…

    I mean: I’m glad the local economy is good enough to support a Carabao concert at one of the local clubs, but there won’t be any Farangs there, just locals. And there’s a historic district in town, with appropriate documentation for antique houses, all with Sino-Portuguese origins, then a house-boat city and floating entertainment district on pontoon ferries, but most foreigners will never see it from the bar stools in their own private little GI bar enclave…

    Bridge over the River Kwai

    Bridge over the River Kwai

    This bi-polarization of a city—and country—into locals and foreigners is not at all what I look for and no longer what I need from this Kingdom or any other. I need inclusion, not separation; information, not ignorance. What worked for me twenty years ago no longer works for me now. I’ve changed, and Thailand hasn’t, or only for the worse, I’m afraid. It’s time to move on, boo hoo. I’ll miss the coconut ice cream. I decide to forego the Carabao concert…

    Now for my last train ride on the last train line in Thailand, the only one I’ve never been on, from Kanchanaburi back to Bangkok, or Thonburi, that is, across the river. Going the other direction will take you to Burma, a real temptation if I had the time, especially if I had a visa and they’d let me in. things are changing there fast. As it is, the ride back is pretty predictable, the only real excitement finding the ferry once there.

    My friend and I accomplish, that, though, and we even get a little river ride in the process. The SE Asia part of this trip is drawing to a close, but I’ve still got a scheduled stop in Istanbul, so I’m jazzed about that. That’s still Asia, right? Stay tuned.

    June 2014

    • Esther Fabbricante 12:06 am on July 28, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      My daughter, Lisa, and her husband have just returned from a 10-day our of Turkey, including Istanbul. Did you get the picture I sent of Wilson and me taken at Camea Dobbs’ wedding reception last Saturday night?


    • Sven 1:10 am on July 28, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Hardie, You see what you want to see and what you are looking for. Nana is Nana and Yet Yod is Yet Yod. I were in Kanchanaburi 15 years ago and I did not see any bars because I was not looking, I was there with a good lady staying in one of these floating resorts north of town. Then I was there with good friends playing golf 10 years ago, yes, they have some very good golf courses there, and there were enough with bars for us.
      I live 15 clicks outside Chiang Rai, 19 houses in the village, and the ice cream man comes every second day plinging his bell. My wife now and then gets a big bowl of coconut ice cream with sticky rice for 30 baht (1 US$).
      The old Thailand is still here IF you are looking for it!


      • hardie karges 1:13 am on July 28, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        Yep, that’s been my theme of the last month… nice experiences in places like Korat, Roi Et, Pichit, P-lok… Cheers, Sven, C U some day 🙂

  • hardie karges 6:58 pm on July 21, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Ayutthaya, Lopburi, ruins,   

    #Lopburi #Ayuthaya #Thailand: Monkeys in the Windows, Ruins Down the Street… 

    Not-so-still life with Ruins and Oncoming Train in Lopburi, Thailand

    Not-so-still life with Ruins and Oncoming Train in Lopburi, Thailand

    Lopburi sits only a stone’s throw from Bangkok, but hardly any tourists go there, even though the ruins are everywhere, and require no more than a walk down the street to get there. It took me over twenty years to get here. All the trains from Bangkok to Chiang Mai stop here, but no one gets off, even though the railroad station is right in the center of town. Ayutthaya is the big tourist destination for ‘ruins-porn’ in the neighborhood, that and Sukothai up the road to the north. (More …)

  • hardie karges 10:50 pm on July 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bike rentals, , Phitsanulok, Pichit, Thai Food,   

    #Phitsanulok & #Phichit #Thailand: Rental Bikes, River-walks, Thai Food and Coffeeee… 

    And on the Seventh Day God Created Thai food

    And on the Seventh Day God Created Thai food

    Going over the imaginary line from Khon Kaen, in the Isaan region of Thailand, to Phitsanulok in the north is like visiting another country. The dialect is different, the food is different and the way of life is different—a little bit in every case. But those little bits add up. Isaan is closely related to Communist Laos, somber and serious by Thai standards while northern Thailand is quintessentially happy-go-lucky. P-loke (for short) sits at the confluence of those two AND central Thailand, something like halfway between Bangkok and Chiangmai. (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 12:06 am on July 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Outstanding – I should forward this to my family – especially Sherri and Tom in Nashville – who love latte from Starbucks – daily! They may even know how to make it at home, now. Your descriptions are so “descriptive.” Love it.

  • hardie karges 12:19 am on July 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Econo-Politico-Kouzino Fiasco: Splattering Rancid Greece all over the Good China 

    Fairly lost in all the hubbub over Western democratic standard-bearer Greece’s trials and tribs over budgetary peccadilloes and illegal immigration pequeninos washing up on its shores, is the problem in behemoth China’s own economy, whose stock market has lost some $3Trillion bucks over the last month, more than the entire annual GDP of all but the world’s four largest economies, and equal to those of the UK or France. Ouch! I hate when that happens.

    Chinese Renminbi (yuan)

    Chinese Renminbi (yuan)

    Fortunately it’s a Communist country, so the government is in control, right? Yeah, right… welcome to the real world, China, may we all survive. Hey, how about that awesome display of δημοκρατία in the special Greek referendum, no? Demos really socked it to the Big Bad Bankers, didn’t they? Ho hum, politics… Exchange rate EUR:USD is strongest the dollar’s been since Year One in my memory… good time to travel Europe… The word for the Greek pre-Euro currency, ‘drachma’ δραχμή, means to ‘grasp’; good idea…

  • hardie karges 5:58 pm on July 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Khon Kaen, ,   

    #RoiEt #Thailand: A Lake Sits in it; #KhonKaen to boot… 

    Lake in the Middle of Roi Et, Thailand

    Lake in the Middle of Roi Et, Thailand

    Not so many cities have a lake sitting smack in the center of them, literally, so to find one, in my one-time sometime adopted ‘home’ of Thailand is something special. The odd thing is that I knew none of that when I landed in Roi Et, itself somewhere smack in the center of Thailand’s vast little-traveled northeast ‘Isaan’ region. I’m here simply because it’s here, and I’m on a quest to see everything. I’ve seen the name on the map many times, but never stopped, maybe never even been through it, not sure. As for the surprise lake, well… you don’t expect me to read guide-books now, do you? Yeah, right… (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 6:23 pm on July 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      A pleasant surprise – Charla gave me a 100% pure silk outfit made in Thailand – she took pictures of me in it yesterday, and may post one on Facebook. Your articles are always the highlight of my day.

    • hardie karges 6:30 pm on July 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Thx, I love silk, used to wear it a lot when I could get it used and cheap…

  • hardie karges 6:55 pm on July 7, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Korat, Nakorn Ratchasima, , Ubon Ratchatanee   

    #Korat, Buriram, Surin, Sisaket—and #UbonRatchatani, #Thailand 

    Cave temple Wat Payap in Korat/N.Ratchasima, Thailand

    Cave temple Wat Payap in Korat/N.Ratchasima, Thailand

    Isaan is Thailand’s ‘other’ region: poor, Lao cousins with old Communist sympathies and a rural past that’s too close for comfort, a reminder of Thailand’s own poor tribal roots complete with mistakes and misgivings long before the Chinese came in the first time looking for deep-water ports and much much longer before the second wave of Chinese, then the third then the fourth, round about the time that the Khmers dropped what they were doing out here in the region and went back home to dig in for the long haul, leaving the Thais and Laos to pick and plunder and fend for themselves…

    This is life as lived in the once-vast southeast Asian outback watching rice grow and babies grow and trying to get right with Buddha and King and the latest pop stars and enough alcohol to wash it all down without thinking too hard about it and getting all frustrated with the lack of progress when really progress is almost impossible without leaving it all behind and striking out for the big city and all those uncertainties… (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 10:40 pm on July 7, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I appreciate the way you take it all in stride – with such aplomb and understanding.

  • hardie karges 6:23 pm on July 6, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Donald Sterling, football, soccer, V. Stiviano   

    Soccer on the Brain, Sterling in Mind… 


    Lady footballers

    Congrats to USA lady footballers! What’s with ‘soccer’, anyway? Sounds like violence against females. We should do what Thailand does, and call it ‘world football’, as opposed to American football, good idea, then maybe we’d find more to cheer about…  then there’s baseball, ball with bases, or basketball: ball with baskets.  How creative! Sports need new blood, fresh blood, someone like Steve Jobs or Richard Branson or Elon Musk.  I guess Mark Cuban will have to do, anything but Donald Sterling.  It was hard to find anything likable in Donald Sterling, why such a racist pig is allowed to run wild and own teams is beyond me but I guess he lowers his standards, and his drawers, when it comes to the late-night need for something stranger away in some manger no crib for a bed so do it all sitting at ringside.

    Donld's silly rabbit

    Donald’s silly rabbit

    BUT: all Botox lips aside I’ll have to admit I find his crib-rib quite fetching, she the whore mistress lady-in-waiting whatchamacallher, not just her looks but her response to inquiries and her self-identity as his precious ‘silly rabbit’.  “I beg your pardon?” asks the not-quite-news-lady in not-quite-white-nor-waiting, journalistic integrity in hand with TV crews for Sunday-night news, ‘I’m his silly rabbit’, the crib-rib reiterates, and I heartily concur, we all need a silly rabbit, or maybe a cartoon dog like Mugsy or Biscuit or Koko or whoever, or any cat will do… a ‘kept’ woman is pretty much the same in any language… ‘mia gep’, เมียเก็บ

    • Esther Fabbricante 3:23 am on July 7, 2015 Permalink | Reply



      • hardie karges 3:33 am on July 7, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        I actually intended this post for the other blog, oops! Have to decide now whether to leave or switch…

  • hardie karges 11:17 pm on July 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Kamouchea,   

    #Aranyaprathet #Thailand: Swimming to Kampuchea–by Train 

    Train to Cambodia

    Train to Cambodia

    The train from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet on the Cambodian border seems unusually crowded. My British friend Tom and I are lucky to get a seat, and we’re both trying to figure out why—maybe because it’s Friday? Or maybe it’s a holiday. Whatever, by the time we’ve reached the BKK airport on the skirts of town, the train has long been full to capacity, and nobody’s getting off, with still more trying to get on. Nobody seems angry, though, as if this were to be expected.

    I assume it’s because the ride is free for locals. That means people can ride whether they have any business or not, just joy-riding, so to speak. Still, no one’s getting off—anywhere. They can’t all be going to the border, can they? Aranyaprathet is not that large of a town. Unless they’re Cambodian (what is the sound of one light-bulb lighting?). Our seatmates are silent the whole trip, pretty strange for Thais, not known for their pensive moments. They’ve got tickets, though; locals wouldn’t need them. (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 12:15 am on July 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I don’t know how in the world you describe where you are and what is going on.


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