Updates from February, 2017 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • hardie karges 2:41 am on February 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Phnom Penh, Wat Langka   

    Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Time Travel… 


    Shades of Angkor Wat–Temple City–in modern Phnom Penh

    I was first in this town in 1997 and it was pretty bad, little more than a decade after the killing fields, and then Vietnam installed strongman Hun Sen, and you could still see it on people’s faces—fear, abject fear, as if they weren’t really sure if the nightmare was yet really over. With all the current hubbub over Islamic fundamentalists ISIL, Boko Haram, and al-Shabab, we sometimes forget that Maoists and Stalinists were guilty of many similar crimes in the decades immediately preceding, whether China, Peru, Nepal, or Cambodia…

    But Phnom Penh was down at the heels and had been down for more than twenty years by this time. The only tourists were here for sex, cheap and/or kinky and/or under-age Khmer and/or Vietnamese, out at the notorious KM 11 on Hwy. 5, or more civilized pub and disco fare at the famous Martini’s Bar on the outskirts of town, taxis at the waiting, and willing to help avoid cops, who always seemed to need cigarettes and spare change… (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 3:51 am on February 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Very well written, Hardie! I want to share this with my granddaughter and her husband who are planning a trip to Cambodia and Viet Nam soon. Any advice?

      • hardie karges 4:12 am on February 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks! Just advise to get accustomed to local food gradually, especially in Cambodia…

    • davekingsbury 9:26 pm on February 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      You bring the spirit of adventure to my sofa-bound existence! Good luck on the hill leg …

  • hardie karges 12:18 pm on February 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Kampot, , Otres Beach, Sihanoukville   

    Sihanoukville and Kampot, Kampuchea: Foreign Arrogance, French Elegance, Khmer Endurance… 


    Serendipity Beach Road barely existed ten years ago…

    First the bad news: Cambodia is the trashiest place on Earth, bar none, so you won’t have to wait for my end-of-year Worst List. And this is not cool for what once was SE Asia’s premier culture, mother to all others and father to a few, too. At first I thought maybe it was just Koh Kong, since that’s where I entered, but no—it’s everywhere. I haven’t seen trash on the street like this since Paracas, Peru, and Africa is infamous, of course…

    Other than that, it’s a pretty nice place, and a far cry from what you would’ve found twenty, ten, even five years ago, when cops would stop you on the street to get paid, and 16-year-old hookers from Vietnam would do pretty much the same. But that was before the big tourism boom, what with casinos, easy visas and ancient ruins the big draws, unless you go for the Dark Side. I’m sure some of that still exists. All that glitters is not Gary… (More …)

    • tom 1:17 pm on February 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Hey travel brother! Its tom here. In 2008 when last at siem riep it seemed to have grown to at least twice its size! And did ya see the mini version of kao san rd bangkok style. By the riverside in town with bars on every corner and pricey pizzarias and loud music and drunkeness? Ill tell ya though those ruins are s.e. asias egypt for jaw dropping sights! Wish i had another few weeks to see mtns and sihanoukeville. To also compare to what i saw in 2008? Still i believe they have the best english pronunciation in all s.e. asia right down to the tuktuk drivers! Keep on truckin

      • hardie karges 2:53 am on February 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        I haven’t been to Siem Reap since 1997, and have no plans to, pinning all my hopes on Saen Monorom in Mondulkiri to beat the heat. Koh Kong my favorite place so far, simply because there are few travelers there, so still ‘authentic’ FWIW. Where are you now?

  • hardie karges 11:55 pm on February 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Koh Kong, ,   

    Welcome to Kampuchea: Koh Kong, Life on the Border… 


    Sunset at Koh Kong, Kampuchea

    …any border, is weird, by definition, sample TJ (Tijuana), TG (Tangier), TK (Tachilek) and TU (Tecun Uman) for starters, and a few thousand others, where cultures clash and vehicles collide and the simple act of of ‘crossing over’ takes on new meaning, not to mention the modern airline-hub Big Meta-Border cities, e.g. Istanbul, Moscow, Dubai, Bangkok, Singapore, Cairo, Jo-burg, Lima, Delhi and others…

    And Koh Kong on the border of Thailand and Kampuchea is no different, Kampuchea (Cambodia) the bastard big brother of Thailand, long ago fallen on hard times and left to fend for itself against the predations of its offspring, only rescued by the noblesse oblige of the Foreign Legion francais…
    (More …)

  • hardie karges 2:44 pm on February 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Buddhist Boot Camp Comparison, part II: Suan Mokh vs. Mahasi… 

    streaming consciousness...

    img_1935 Foreign meditators at Mahasi

    Author’s note: For those of you who read my blogs regularly, then you might remember that I did this once before, with Wat Suan Mokh near Surat Thani, Thailand, and Kopan Monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal, here. But those are two different types of Buddhism, so as different as apples and oranges, really. Mahasi Monastery in Yangon (Rangoon), Myanmar (Burma), is the same Theravada branch of Buddhism as Suan Mokh, so closer in orientation. And for my traveler’s perspective of Mahasi, here

    img_1936 Meditation at Mahasi

    Of course, not everything fits conveniently into a quick little list, so I’ll explain, expand and expound. WSM has fixed sessions on the first ten days of every month, so just show up the day before and sign up, no pre-registration. MM is even less formal. Just show up any morning and sign up. I suppose either could be full, so…

    View original post 709 more words

  • hardie karges 2:42 pm on February 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Mahasi Monastery, , , Rangoon,   

    Ten Days in Mahasi Monastery, Yangon: None flew over the cuckoo’s nest… 


    Mahasi Monastery in Yangon, Myanmar

    Somewhere nearby a gong sounds–loudly. Then someone beats a drum. Then again. And again. Then every dog in the surrounding neighborhood howls in anything but unison, as I smile thinking about Allen Ginsberg, howling, growling, smiling somewhere out there but not Heaven, crazy wisdom incarnate, poet’s blood unrepentant…

    The air is still fresh and cool at night at this time of year in Yangon (Rangoon) and the scene at 0600 at Mahasi Monastery is a bit surreal: monks and nuns float through the monastery grounds in the moonlight, marching weeping shadows creeping. Ruby-robed monks line up in the streets with beggars’ bowls in hand, primed for the pump, while nuns float through on gossamer wings, all dressed in pink, with nothing to think… (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 9:15 pm on February 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Deep stuff – explained well.

  • hardie karges 1:43 pm on February 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Mawlamyine, Mon, , , Thanlwin   

    Mawlamyine, Myanmar: Saving the Best for Last… 


    The bus pulls into Mawlamyine after an all-day truck from the capital Yangon and I’m immediately flashing back to Saigon, Hanoi, Viangchan, or Phnom Penh, take your pick, c. 1995 or thereabouts, just coming out of the self-imposed shadows, them not me, but wait a minute, let me think, dirty broke-down funky and authentic, before all the development, all the tourists and the humans from the West, all wanting a piece of the action, all wanting a bit of loose change, hopefully for the better not worse…

    But there are no money changers here, not yet anyway, just banks and ATM’s, and ‘no beer no alcohol’, say all the signs, in the restaurants at least, unlike Inle Lake, there advertising ‘mojitos caiparinhas gin and tonic’ you name it, but here lotsa Chinese and Muslims, and most hotels close at 10 p.m. or 10:30, three red lights and a rush hour inversely proportional to Yangon’s. But the real action is down on the Thanlwin River, with markets both black and white, Mawlamyine’s lifeline and raison d’etre (More …)

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