Updates from April, 2017 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • hardie karges 1:53 pm on April 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , night market, ,   

    Part 2, Street-Food Crisis in Bangkok: Panic, Hoarding and General Pandemonium :-) 

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    Let there be food on the street…

     

    Continued from previous…

    Solution: Ever heard of ‘night markets’? That’s what occurs when a few food vendors gather in the same area, after sundown, and it becomes a kind of makeshift food court, or much much more, and far preferable to sidewalk usurpers who become our—the pedestrian’s—mediator between life and death. Whenever these stalls are organized, everyone benefits, in hygiene, safety, diversity and organization. Apparently that’s what the Bangkok government wants to do…

    But the idea that street food is Bangkok’s best food is ludicrous. That’s like saying that America’s best food is KFC. Of course, part of the problem is definition. What passes for ‘street food’ in CNN’s next ’23 best’ are nothing like Bangkok, including New Orleans, which by Bangkok standards has NO street food, ditto Istanbul, or Paris, or Cairo, Marrakesh or Mexico City, all places that I know personally. Their sidewalks aren’t taken over by sidewalk seating and eating, just Bangkok, and much of Asia… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 1:41 pm on April 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Yaowarat   

    Part 1: Street Food Crisis in Bangkok, City of Angels, L-O-S… 

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    Best northern food in Chiang Mai, but not on the sidewalk…

    Land of Smiles, that is, until you f*ck with the food, just one spoonful short of the prized phrik (hot pepper) or sacred sugar, and you’re in real trouble, Thai food something of a gustatory dialectic wending its way between the extremes of spicy and jeut, sour and sweet, hot and cold flavors, filling or not. And now the military government wants to clean up the sidewalks of street vendors, including food vendors…

    Well, you’d think North Korea had begun launching missiles down south, the way the Twitter-verse and Facebookers are responding to Bangkok’s crackdown on ‘street food’ this week. Now everybody is Anthony Freaking Bourdain, with epicurean DNA, a favorite street chef in Bangkok, a culinary stiffie and a golden thumb for golden drum-sticks, browned and crisped to smoky perfection and ready for prime time… (More …)

     
    • davekingsbury 9:06 pm on April 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      My son has just returned from Thailand and he and his family enjoyed the street food … will show him this when I see him next. Wonder if he had that som tam …

  • hardie karges 1:07 pm on April 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Manila, Philippines, ,   

    Looking for Buddha in Transit: Despite the Spite, There’s Danger in Anger… 

     

    IMG_2338A seven-hour layover is no fun anywhere any time and certainly not Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, where the idea of fun for an extended layover is to put you in a dark dank ‘transit lounge’ holding cell with fellow miscreants where at least the Internet is good, and they brought me some free food, better than I’ve ever gotten elsewhere, TBH, but still no fun…

    So when the flight is further delayed another hour, the news is even less welcome than usual, given the constraints on my time in destination Bangkok, where I already have only ten-and-a-half hours to pass through Immigration and Customs, sleep, cross town and check in at the other airport before my flight to southern Thailand departs, rush rush hurry hurry… (More …)

     
    • Esther Fabbricante 2:56 pm on April 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Your patience is astounding.

  • hardie karges 2:41 pm on April 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , International Buddhist College, Sadao, ,   

    Looking for Buddha in Southern Thailand… 

     

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    Intl. Buddhist College at Sadao

    Thailand may be famous for its Buddhism, but in southern Thailand Islam is king, in exact proportion to the percentage of persons of Malay ethnicity resident there, that being a crucial part of the definition of ‘Malay’, that and the language, usually referred to in Thai as ‘Melayu’ or ‘Yawi’, the latter better known as the name of the ancient Arabic script, but never as ‘Bahasa Malaysia’, the national language of Malaysia, and which, together with the dialects of Brunei and Indonesia, constitute a major international language…

    But such are the vaguenesses and vagaries of politics, and culture, especially in a region largely defined by outside influences, DNA betwixt and between them largely identical, I suspect, from the Philippines through, over and around China, to India, by land and thousands of islands no more than superficial dressing to their primordial differences, almost all of which came after, first from the Indians, then the Arabs, then Portuguese, Spaniards, Dutch, French English American, in no certain order of dishonor…
    (More …)

     
    • Esther Fabbricante 4:04 pm on April 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Wow! Sharing. What a writer!

    • Esther Fabbricante 4:10 pm on April 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Once a Baptist in Brandon. And what a writer!!

      Esther

  • hardie karges 12:29 pm on April 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Hualien, , Yilan   

    Taiwan: Looking for Buddha in Yilan and Hualien, and… 

    IMG_2290…nobody’s eyes, because you won’t find anything there, not somebody else’s, anyway, though maybe your own, if you’re capable of turning the mirror inward. But the outer world is always handy for a clue or two, a clean well-lighted place for books, or adoration, or something similar, like a good place to place a cushion in meditation, or a good place to witness in awe the indescribable majesty and magnitude of creation, the ineluctable modality of this slow cool world…

    Taiwan may have a population slightly larger than Sri Lanka’s twenty-plus million, but it’s only a little over half the size, and much more developed, including high-speed trains that California would drool over, so that means you can zip down the west side of the island in little more than a half-day—but not the east side, not quite, not yet, almost. That’s the more nature-laden indigenous-peopled sparser half of the island, with not too much in between, except along those same coasts… (More …)

     
    • Esther Fabbricante 12:46 pm on April 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      What can I say – except you are a hoot – taking it all in.

  • hardie karges 11:53 am on April 3, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Taipei,   

    Taipei 101, Introduction to Taiwan: Eat Drink Man Woman… 

    IMG_2219Taiwan has a bit of a strange reputation, something like a poor man’s Japan, or a renegade province of China, or an Asian wannabe-Amerika, or none of the above, or all of the above. And the reality itself is a little bit different. In fact it’s some of the above, neither all nor none, but parts of each in selected proportions, and parts entirely unique…

    In fact Taiwan is hardly known outside its own borders and somewhat patchy even there. Most famous as last refuge for Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang in 1948, after their defeat by the Communists of Mao Zedong, it was once almost as famous for the phrase ‘Made in Taiwan’ somewhere around the 1980’s, long after ‘Made in Japan’ was forgotten and shortly before ‘Made in China’ became the norm… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 11:14 am on March 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: American Airlines, , , , ,   

    PayPal, AA, BofA, HW, and: the Sh*t-List Winner Is… 

    img_0982continued from previous…

    Next there’s Bank of America, one of the USA’s largest banks and no stranger to the bottom-line profit margin. So why then do they need to plunder your hard-earned and hard-saved travel miles that you accumulate by using their credit card? Like Telestial (see above), they changed the rules in the middle of the game, like you’ve got nothing better to do, so they slip in the proviso that ALL miles accumulated have an expiration date, REGARDLESS of whether the account is active or not—SUX! Shame on you, BofA…

    Then there’s American Airlines, whose own frequent-flyer program is not so bad—as long as the flights are within the US. If you’re traveling overseas, then the taxes alone will—supposedly—cost you almost as much as a new ticket on a budget airline! I’ve never been able to verify taxes of that magnitude elsewhere…

    But the Big Winner of Hardie’s Sh*t-L*st award would have to be Pay Pal, which, like Uber and Air BnB and other dot-com conglomerates we’d like to think are above the shenanigans of the previous era of rapists and robber barons, BUT—not. In fact, they are probably worse. When someone hacked my account where almost a thousand dollars lay idle, charging until they could charge no more, Pay Pal informed me they found no malfeasance, and if I wasn’t satisfied with the product, then I should contact the seller… (More …)

     
    • davekingsbury 7:31 pm on March 29, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Useful for those who come after, I’m sure! Forewarned is forearmed, as they say, though I’m not about to break my lifetime practise of sticking put after your slightly scary account! The philosophy and travel writing are what I come back for, anyway, so all power to your elbow with those areas.

      • hardie karges 10:31 pm on March 29, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Elbow at the ready, indeed ! I just wrote 300+ words long-hand (neatly and for submission), the first time in years, and all I can say is: “Thank God for keyboards!” Thanx as always, Dave, I persevere…

    • Esther Fabbricante 3:02 pm on March 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Keep on ‘keeping on.’ A marvel, you are.

  • hardie karges 12:59 pm on March 22, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Air Asia, , , , budget, cell phones, , , ,   

    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 1:59 pm on March 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Patpong, Soi Ngam Duphli, ,   

    Bangkok on a Budget: Time Travel and Second Thoughts… 

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    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!

    • situs judi bola resmi 1:53 pm on April 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply

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