Updates from March, 2017 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • hardie karges 12:59 pm on March 22, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Air Asia, , , Bank of America, budget, cell phones, E-Kit, , Hostelworld, Telestial   

    W*sh Lists and Sh*t Lists: E-kit, Hostel World, Air Asia, B of A… 

    IMG_0549Every once in a while, when travel and inspiration are slow, I feel like I should update my publicly accessed info just once for the record, and one for the road. For one thing, companies and businesses that I once supported and promoted, for free, no longer provide the service that I once endorsed. For another thing, I myself may no longer provide the service(s) that I once worked so hard for. Things change. Get over it. Life goes on. It’s a big world. Good luck out there…

    First, the bad news—my sh*t list. It gives me no pleasure, I assure you, to diss companies that once provided a valuable service at a reasonable price, and there’s no reason why they can’t do so again. But sometimes they’re slow to get the message and change their business plan, so there needs to be a public airing of grievances…

    Now if this just seems like a way to get back at companies that I feel may have done me wrong, I should mention that sometimes I patronize companies just for the purpose of testing their waters, whether I truly need them or not, and many times far beyond the bounds of necessity, just for the sake of loyalty, curiosity and convenience… (More …)

     
    • Esther Fabbricante 2:06 pm on March 22, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Trouble, trouble. I’m staying home – as you already knew.

  • hardie karges 3:14 pm on March 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Buddhism and the Art of Pickup Maintenance: Tale of the drunken hitch-hiker… 

    streaming consciousness...

    img_1401 Reflections in the rear-view mirror

    Back Story: In a previous life I used to sell folk art at a trade show in Dallas, TX, while living in Flagstaff, AZ, a distance of approximately 1000 miles, so within the purview of my limits for driving the distance, and supposedly saving money, rather than flying and renting cars and all that rap, running around town when I’d rather just load up the truck, put in a tape and fire up some Doobie (Brothers), find my cozy little hundred-buck-a-week crib out by Love Field, and take it from there…

    Of course it doesn’t always work out so smoothly, so when it’s time to beat a hasty retreat, I once got the brilliant idea of trying a new route, bored as Hell from Hwy. 287 diagonalizing NW up through Wichita Falls (“as falls Wichita…”), former home of my father, and lots of empty space.

    View original post 882 more words

     
  • hardie karges 1:59 pm on March 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Khaosarn road, Patpong, Soi Ngam Duphli, ,   

    Bangkok on a Budget: Time Travel and Second Thoughts… 

    IMG_2186

    Soi Ngam Duphli today

    Every budget traveler in SE Asia has heard of Khaosarn Road, in Bangkok, that warren of creepy-crawlers, that rookery of high-fliers, that underbelly of bottom-feeders that all identify as backpackers, or maybe even ‘flashpackers’, travelers—generally young, at heart if not calendar—who’ve made a date with fate and a pact with no backtrack to see it all…

    …or die trying, including beaches, mountains, cities and villages, but especially beaches, as famously immortalized by Leonardo, DiCaprio not Da Vinci, wherever the beer is cold, the bud has flowers, the prices are low, the English language has taken root and at least one enterprising local has mastered the recipe for banana pancakes, sweeten to taste and allow to settle… (More …)

     
    • Esther Fabbricante 2:11 pm on March 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Sharing with my granddaughter and her husband who are planning a trip to Cambodia and Vietnam.

  • hardie karges 2:42 pm on March 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Bumrungrad, , , kidney stone, ,   

    Medical Tourism in SE Asia: This is Spinal Tap… 

    IMG_2193Continued from previous…

    Fast forward to Bangkok and I arrive on schedule, 10:00 hours, no wait at immigration on these early regional flights, too early to check in at my hotel, and feeling better after a half-stream piss at the airport, so walk the back road from the ‘Airport Rail Link’ station at Makkasan to my hotel near Bumrungrad hospital, waving—but not flipping—off the tuk-tuk drivers who only love me for my fare…

    I decide to wait another day for the medical care, though, since I’ve been granted a minor reprieve, and since it won’t be cheap. I bite the bullet the next day, though, since this could gone on forever, and is the silliest of servitudes, impairment is. That means sonograms, again, telling me what I already know, that I have kidney stones—duh. They haven’t dealt with the obstruction, since that is not viewable by ultrasound…

    IMG_1302Doc says I’d need a camera shot up my little thingie for that, and that’ll cost $4-6K, and to grab it, too, or nuke it, adding in the same breath that it could be a fraction of the cost elsewhere, ‘after hours’, specifically the police hospital, then I notice he’s a police colonel himself, so got it, hint hint, just call this number and talk to Nurse Ratchet, and don’t let her ratchet up the price, I tell myself accordingly. Bumrungrad is the all-English ex-pat hospital of choice BTW…

    Sounds weird to me, though, so I decide to make the rounds of other hospitals before making any decisions. Chulalongkorn is well-known, so I visit, but not really to my taste or liking, too busy, must be a government hospital. I don’t much like crowds, especially in hospitals. Ever heard the word “Bedlam?” That was a mental hospital, though, I believe, or ‘lunatic asylum’ as they say in Mississippi. Still, I don’t like people screaming down the hall, for any reason, including pain…

    So I make an appointment to meet with a urologist, two days away, then continue on my way, next stop Sukhumvit Hospital–bingo. They make a quick estimate of the ‘cystoscopy’ at a favorable price, then tell me to come back the next day to meet with a urologist. So I do. He has a better idea: do a CT scan, which would show a stone in the urinary tract, no matter where (since he can’t just take my word for it). So why didn’t they suggest that at Bumrungrad? Good question…

    IMG_2196And Bam! There it is, bigger than sh*t, and not that large, either. So we schedule the ‘surgery’ (sort of) for the next day, with one night in the hospital, all for a couple thou USD—I sign. You can’t do this in the US, by the way, or do I have to mention that? I should mention, though, that I had a stone twice that size stuck in the same place last year, did the CAT, still nobody told me I had a stone the size of a bread truck lodged there…

    To quote my LA urologist, as he talked on the phone to ER (he never viewed a scan, X-ray, or even sonogram): “If there’s one there, it can’t be very big,” quote unquote. ER must have seen it, though, and again I quote: “You’ll have to piss them out.” Only one problem: a 10mm stone won’t necessarily pass, though mine finally did, after six weeks. I’m still considering a lawsuit. I won’t even get into the Primary Care-ER-Insurance-Specialist runaround, in which referrals are sent by MAIL, as in SNAIL!!

    And next day at Sukhumvit Hospital goes like clockwork, nothing weird except the spinal tap—ouch! No anesthesia, just a curtain so I don’t freak, and it’s all over in less than an hour. Doc’s even got a plan for a permanent fix, maybe, fingers crossed. And it all comes in at a cost of two grand and change, for which I get my life back, after a week with Cathy—my catheter. I think I love her…

    IMG_2194Did I mention previously that I hate the US healthcare system—no matter the price, whether it’s Obama’s or whoever? Okay, so I did. Let me re-count the ways: 1) It’s overpriced, 2) It’s mediocre quality, 3) It’s Byzantine, 4) They can’t estimate costs accurately, and worst of all: 5) They don’t communicate with you. That’s one reason I’m here. Most ‘medical tourists’ fly over for the surgery, then fly back. Some of us just stay. I guess I’ve backed myself into a little corner of the universe, but I think I can live with it…

    …and on the surface it might seem that my travel career is over, too, since who knows when or how many times this might happen again. I can’t travel much if I have to stay close enough to a hospital to make sure that I can empty my bladder twice a day, minimum. Curses! I hate old age! I hate the accumulation of repeated mistakes all packaged together and presented to me as evidence of my failure as a human being. I hate karma…

    There is another way, of course: just carry a catheter and learn to use it. They’ll love that at Customs. They’ll see that rubber tube and naturally think I’m tying up in the bathroom, and I just might be! It seems so sinister, so unattractive, so self-consumed and dangerous. And still, that would only buy me a few days, at most, not all that much better than just making a run for the border if and when disaster strikes, like I just did. I’ll figure something out…

    I’ll have to. Living life cloistered and cashiered is hardly thinkable, though not inconsistent with my recurring desire for the Buddhist monk-hood. Now I won’t pretend that the Universe planned it this way, and for a reason, because that would be silly and superstitious. But it’s good narrative, and it might as well be that way, because that’s ultimately the package that I’ll buy. Welcome to the future. It’s been a rough week…

     
    • Esther Fabbricante 4:00 pm on March 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Decisions, decisions. Making changes is not easy.

    • davekingsbury 11:08 pm on March 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Blimey … hey, is that why you call us Limeys? … what a roller-coaster ride! Glad you had a good outcome but as you say, the future’s unclear. Devil and deep blue sea come to mind. I have to admire the sang froid of your writing, though, do you find meditation helps?

      • hardie karges 1:32 am on March 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Meditation helps with everything. Sang froid is part of the culture, called ‘jai yen’ = ‘cool heart’ in Thai. I think ‘limeys’ refers to the practice of sailors carrying limes to prevent scurvy, or so I once heard… 🙂

    • davekingsbury 3:44 pm on March 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      ‘Cool heart’ is, well, cool … best wishes, anyway!

  • hardie karges 2:03 am on March 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Sen Monorom   

    Mondulkiri, Cambodia, part II: Self-Evacuation—in a Void, Asteroid… 

    IMG_2168

    Continued from previous…

    Now here I am in the remotest outback of Cambodia, but not THAT remote, and so entranced by the landscape, and my linguistic tribulations, that I’d forgotten that simple requirement of quality medical care. Now my kidney-stone drama of the previous year is back, first in Mandalay, Burma, a month and a half ago, then at the border in Mae Sot, Thailand, about a month ago—and now…

    Part of my undefined gut problems of the past week, I finally realized there was a kidney-stone, ANOTHER one, large enough to cause some pain exiting the kidney, and block some urine flow, before finally passing. But that’s not all. There must have been two. And the second one won’t pass, stuck at the taps, just like the one that caused me so much anguish last year in Tucson and LA. But this ain’t LA… (More …)

     
    • Esther Fabbricante 2:41 am on March 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      OOh Myyyy.

    • kc 4:02 am on March 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      good luck getting rid of that barbed rock, or few.

  • hardie karges 1:21 pm on March 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Saen Monorom   

    Mondulkiri, Cambodia, part I: And the wind cries, “… (three ominous tones rising)…” 

    img_2177

    Saen Monorom in Mondulkiri sometimes gets called the “Switzerland of Cambodia”, but in reality it’s more Andean than Alpine, high and dry, at least in this season, more central highland than Himalaya, more Boli­via t­han Burma, more high-plains-drifter than lost-kingdom-of-Shambhala…

    In fact the platitudes of public relations hardly do it justice, simply because it’s sui generis, especially after the sui-genericide self-perpetrated by the misguided Marxists of the Vietnam war era, nowhere safe from its bomb-intensive percussions and repercussions… (More …)

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

    Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Time Travel… 

    img_2140

    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… 

    img_2023

    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… 

    img_2016

    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

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel