Updates from July, 2015 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • 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.


  • hardie karges 8:25 pm on June 23, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Kota Bahru, , Syugai Kolok,   

    #KotaBharu: on the Thai-Malay Border 

    Market in Kota Bahru, Malaysia

    Market in Kota Bahru, Malaysia

    June 2014

    Crossing the border between Sungai Kolok in Thailand and Kota Bahru in Malaysia is no big deal, just walk across like they should all be, only problem is you’re still miles from the real city on the Malay side no problem just hop on the city bus, only real problem is that there are no forex facilities, so you’re sh*t out of luck, nothing in your hand but your rubber d*ck, if you don’t have a piece of magic plastic that burps out bucks at the punch of a bar code, numerical equivalent to happiness…

    Once again a line in the sand makes all the difference in the world, like TJ or TG, shops closing here while opening in Thailand, sun down means desires up, that’s Thailand for you, but this is the conservative part of Malaysia, the Muslim-est part, that is traditional, hot curries without all the messy juices between the bed sheets; it’s a dry heat, I guess. (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 10:38 pm on June 23, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I just don’t know how you do it, but I really do enjoy reading about it.

  • hardie karges 2:54 pm on March 31, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Oliver Mtukudzi   

    Fear & Loathing In Addis Ababa 


    Scenes From an Ethiopian Wedding

    …flight to Ethiopia is on Turkish Air, so I change planes at Istanbul, finally getting in at midnight… friend’s there to meet me; first time for everything… night air is cool; that suits me fine.  I drink a beer and we shoot the sh*t for a while.  It’s midnight and I’m wired, jet-lagged as Hell.  Welcome to Ethiopia.

    …Oliver ‘Tuku’ Mtukudzi is playing on Sunday; I’m in… first thing’s come first, though, so I go get my visa to Somaliland, even though it’s not really even a country…

    The “ambassador” calls me into his office.

    “Who told you to go to Somaliland?”

    “No one.  I decided to do it on my own.  I plan to go to every country in the world.”

    “Have you ever been in Ethiopia before?”

    “First time.”

    “Where else have you been in Africa?”

    “Mali and Senegal.  But I’ve been in eighty other countries also.”


    Cultural Dinner in Addis Ababa

    He nods.  He didn’t have to know that Mali was an unmitigated disaster and Senegal only somewhat mitigated.  He knows that Africa is a continent unlike any other, where your very conception of what it is to be human will be put to the test, where you’ll see things you might rather forget… like humans eating off the ground in flocks like pigeons… collecting discarded mango skins to process one more time nutritionally.

    …seems as if a whole nation is hungry and willing to do just about anything to satisfy it.  When I suggest to two amputees, one male and one female, that they look cute together, they suggest that I should snap up the thirteen-year-old girl with her hand outstretched.

    …girl immediately comes over closer and strokes my…arm-hairs.  They ask where I’m from, wondering if I’m Chinese.  I guess it’s not obvious with my baseball cap and sunglasses on.  I respond that I’m American, lifting my glasses and showing my eyes.  That seems to quell any further interest.  Apparently the Chinese are getting all the press as the nouveau riche from heaven.  Apparently the new Mandarins are the old Mandarins; they just haven’t come to collect the rent yet.

    Oliver 'Tuku' Mtukudzi

    Oliver ‘Tuku’ Mtukudzi

    Ethiopian women are quite fetching… comparisons to Thailand occur to me…  word for “foreigner” is even almost the same, “faranji” instead of “farang”…  people equally subdued in character, with delicate lines and fine features, both men and women.  Stuff’s cheap, too.  A Plan “C” gradually emerges in my fantasies; if all else fails, then one could do worse than here.  It gets worse…

    Blogs are illegal apparently, and so is Skype… Addis no paradise either, though some modern conveniences and a bustling night-club scene… sprawling and chaotic and hard to walk around… probably “shambolic” too, as the quote goes, but I’m not sure what that word means.

    …go to a “cultural dinner” complete with song and dance… traditional Ethiopian dancing has to be seen to be believed… like pec exercises… while hopping around the floor, kicking and screaming and gesticulating wildly to music that is best described as a cross between Mungo Jerry and Khmer-style gantreum


    A Decent Restaurant in Addis Ababa

    …coffee is excellent, apparently an Italian legacy… cheap too, except in the foreigner haunts… it originates here, but the Italians took it to a high art… antique espresso machines prove it… old fashion machines with four-barrel carburetors… words “macchiato” and “cappuccino” are in the local vocabulary.  Ethiopians drink it with popcorn traditionally, and incense too, a more distant legacy I guess.

    …don’t like to have to watch my back every day in the city, so I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve seen the countryside.  Cities should be reserved for great art and beauty and culture, not shanty-towns.  Poverty still has dignity in the countryside.  Leave it there.  ‘Tuku’s show is great, but I’m getting antsy…

    • Esther Fabbricante 3:30 pm on March 31, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Very informative indeed. You can fit in “anywhere” – and it is unbelievable.

  • hardie karges 3:14 pm on February 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Paramaribo, Sranan Tongo, Suriname   

    Satori In Suriname: Naked Lunch & A/C Nightmares As I Lay Dying 

    Old Paramaribo, Suriname

    Old Paramaribo, Suriname

    New Year 2009

    Paramaribo a traveler’s dream… Suriname one of those great unknowns, I long put off by the presence of a local dialect called “Taki-taki,” figure some sort of pidgin (i.e. bad) English, follow me around like some fart that just won’t go away.  Mea culpa mea culpa mea culpa mea culpa hail Mary hail Mary hail Mary hail Mary.  Taki-taki, aka Sranan Tongo… goes back to the earliest days of colonialism… a complete mystery to me even when written…

    …line between Dutch and Sranan Tongo is a horizontal one separating at least educational, if not social levels… Taki-taki the language of no single one, but of all… Dutch the language of government, education and commerce, and some educated native-born Surinamese who speak it amongst themselves… touts and hawkers bark at me in Dutch not English…  testament to the very low level of tourism here and the high percentage of those who are Dutch… (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 4:29 pm on February 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Fantastic. A good read on a cold February morning in Mississippi..

  • hardie karges 1:59 pm on January 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Corriverton, Georgtetown, Guyana   

    Welcome To Guyana & A Wet Wet Christmas In The Caribbean 

    Hey, Rastaman

    Hey, Rastaman

    December 2008

    Guyana the last link in a circum-Caribbean semi-circle of British intrigue that starts in Jamaica and the Cayman islands… largest of the lot… probably the poorest also… perfect picture of a colonial capital going down on itself… anything but Jonestown: thirty years ago some nine hundred US citizens committed mass suicide in Guyana under the influence of a bad Elvis impersonator.

    Imagine a bus terminal and a market sharing the same space, accompanied by the sounds of barkers barking and horns honking… accents pretty thick here too.  You could almost imagine you’re speaking Creole.  You almost are.  (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 3:33 pm on January 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      How you make a common statement into something outstanding. As fpr me, I was in Jamaica once – in Montego Bay For hours yesterday, I got carried away with listing all my trips – and forgot a couple of important ones – a cruise in Hawaii and a cruise in Alaska. How could I forget?

    • hardie karges 3:43 pm on January 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Actually a cruise is something I’ve never done. It’s too late for the /Caribbean, I guess, but fjords somewhere sound nice… thx for your comment

    • kc 1:01 am on January 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      gotta love the colors, even in the grey.

  • hardie karges 3:22 pm on January 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Dreams Of Congo Square & The Taco That Ate Trinidad 

    Bring on the night..

    Bring on the night..

    …to Barbados from Jamaica by Air Jamaica, spend the night, then continue on to Trinidad by Liat Airlines… Guyana by Christmas… no air connections amongst the Guyanas… I’ve schemed on Suriname for years, even if their language IS called “Taki Taki.”  I’m battle-hardened linguistically now…

    Welcome to Trinidad.  Super Burritos Gigantes, look out!  You have competition: roti dhal puree: lentils, spinach, chickpeas, mango chutney, two kinds of chicken complete with bone, and of course “pepper” (salsa)… ladled over bread instead of rice.  (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 4:01 pm on January 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Early food for thought this morning, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
      Quiet here.

  • hardie karges 2:49 pm on January 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Jamaica, Montego Bay   

    Montego Bay: Friendly Natives, Soul Food, & The Quest For Wi-Fi 

    Surfin' to Jamaica

    Surfin’ to Jamaica

    December 2008

    Caribbean ain’t cheap… picture-postcard-perfect swimming-pool-to-the-gods only half a day from approximately one-billion North Americans and Europeans… $50 “budget” hotels… means different things in different countries…. qualities peculiarly Jamaican: reggae, Rastafarians, and rum, the “3R’s” of Jamaican experience…

    …reality on the ground in Montego Bay a bit different… MoBay a veritable cold bed of activity, which is good… Negril the hipper tourist alternative, Ocho Rios the slick uptown cousin… MoBay still manages to rock on weekends and cruise-ship days… functions as an airport terminus far more user-friendly than funky Trenchtown; I mean Kingston. (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 3:39 pm on January 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Been there – no problem. No “Jamaica Natural,”. No Kingston. Just the Western Caribbean cruise (twice.) Interesting to say the least.

    • Esther Fabbricante 3:49 pm on January 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I liked Montego Bay best of all about our Western Caribbean cruise – and remember that everything was ‘no problem.’ Fun. Second cruise in 2004, my Christmas gift to 14 of my family members. Also cruised in Hawaii, Alaska and Nova Scotia.

      Nothing compared to your travels all over the world!


    • hardie karges 3:52 pm on January 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I ended up spending all my Jamaican time in Mo’ Bay, so what can I say? Oops, think I gave away the ending… Caribbean is one place where cruise is very cost-effective…

  • hardie karges 3:19 pm on January 9, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Filipino, Iran, Kish Island   

    Warm Cheesy Kish: Iran Lite 

    Iran Light: Smoke 'em if you got 'em

    Iran Light: Smoke ’em if you got ’em

    December 2009

    So when I’m going through security check in Dubai, bound for Kish Island, Iran, they call me over for further scrutiny.

    “You have Caesar’s…” the nice lady says.

    I have Caesar’s what…face…bearing…sex appeal? “Excuse me?”

    “You have Caesar’s…” she repeats. The security lady starts making a cutting motion with her fingers.

    Hey, now, don’t start cutting anything. We just met, and I haven’t said anything the slightest bit inappropriate. You want to have a baby by Caesarian section, is that it? Ohhh…  “Scissors? Yes, I have scissors, but they’re blunt ones, not sharp.”

    “Let me see.”

    So I show them to her and she takes them over to her supe. He shakes his head, “Not allowed.”

    “But I pass security with these all the time; they’ve been approved,” I whine, but to no avail. They confiscate my Caesars… scissors. (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 3:24 pm on January 9, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I always wonder if this is current – like, happening now?
      Enjoyed. We have an Iranian who built a mansion on Trickhambridge Rd., Brandon.

    • Esther Fabbricante 3:25 pm on January 9, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I read this post on Facebook – and made a comment. Very interesting.

  • hardie karges 2:37 pm on January 5, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Muscat, Oman,   

    O, man: not-so-Jitterbug in Muscat Land… 

    Muscat, Oman, by the sea...

    Muscat, Oman, by the sea…

    December 2009

    Muscat is like many other white-washed Mediterranean cities; only one difference—it’s not in the Mediterranean. These Arabians sailed the Seven Seas, and once ruled East Africa, and not so long ago either.

    Muscat is one sprawled-out city, a hemmed-in port eternally looking for leibenschraum, and able to leap tall mountains at a single bound: ancient city tucked away in a little corner; the slightly newer Mutrah right around the rocks down the beach, sliding up the hill and over the ridge until it finds a valley and becomes Ruwi, right before it spreads out to infinity.

    Muscat past perfect

    Muscat past perfect

    There are distinct parts to Arabia. If Yemen is the poor but pure descendant of ancient Arabia, and UAE the Arabia of a sci-fi future, then Oman is somewhere in between, and something totally distinct. Africans, Pakistanis, and Baluchis here go way back with Oman; also ancient connections with other parts of the peninsula, including Yemen, with which it shares a border.

    The Muscat souq is certainly atmospheric, frankincense and all that rap, but other than that there is little on offer, and what there is, is expensive: hundred-dollar city tour, etc… Muscat may be a bit cheaper than the oil-rich Gulf States, but not by much, and nobody’s giving away Wi-Fi with the rooms, available for purchase only. Much of Oman is simply generic Arab and international Muslim, interesting enough if you don’t need any anti-freeze in your system.

    Muscat souq

    Muscat souq

    …the big travel news is a bit beyond my control, the British Airways pending strike that got suddenly called off… guess I’ll spend New Year’s Day with my wife after all…catch the ONTC bus from Muscat back to Dubai, walking the mile or so to the bus station as the sun also rises…. get into Dubai after a seven-hour drive and border-crossing, go straight to the four-buck Indian buffet close by and proceed to pig out…

    …walk over to the Kish Airline office and get the ticket for the flight I’ve booked to Iran… seems like that’s a visa run for Emirati ex-pats, particularly Russians, one of whom shows me how to cheat the local telecom there for sending SMS’s free. She also cautions me not to trust any local Iranians there. The fact that a Russian is saying this to me is a fact not lost on me…

    Men make up the rooms in the Dubai hotel where I stay, for reasons that I can easily surmise. I’m starting to get slightly antsy about the trip to Kish Island, not that I suspect anything weird about it, mostly that I just don’t know anything about it. I don’t have much to lose, though, since the flight and my shared accommodation is no more than what I would pay anywhere in Dubai. If you don’t go, then you don’t know…ไม่ลอง ไม่รู้

    • Esther Fabbricante 3:20 pm on January 5, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Is this current? Sounds quite mysterious. But always interesting.

      • hardie karges 3:38 pm on January 5, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        2009 still, distant past, as will everything be for the foreseeable future… 🙂

  • hardie karges 1:41 pm on December 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Luxor, Thebes   

    Luxor, Egypt: Down South Up River 

    Ruins at Luxor, Egypt

    Ruins at Luxor, Egypt

    Cairo has largely missed the boat to modernity that its sister oil-rich states are riding into the sunset… faded glory, historical standard bearer for Arab and Muslim worlds… glorious past, but future very sketchy… so I kill time peacefully until time to board train, disgustingly filthy and hardly worth the cost… but I persevere, next stop Luxor.

    …hustle hassle starts before the train even gets into the station… nice Australian lady touting for her hotel on the train, claiming discrimination on the home front, (not Australia), claims locals diss her as a whore… she’s dissing them, of course… when train gets in, touts right at the door, following hot on my heels… hard to be polite in situations like these. (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 3:24 pm on December 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      You never cease to amaze me with your descriptive power.

      • hardie karges 3:38 pm on December 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Thx, I think a visual style is what makes the re-mix interesting, like reverse applique’ textiles, cutting through layers and only leaving certain patterns…

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