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  • hardie karges 2:02 pm on June 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Asia, , , , Langzhong, , ,   

    Breakfast in China: Life behind the Great Firewall… 

    20180607_092124.jpgSo what’s the attraction with China, anyway? Chinese tourists in other countries don’t have a very good reputation, e.g. in Thailand, where they are often characterized as loud, boorish, rude, crude and obnoxious, so what’s the deal? Oh, I get it; they’re just like us. They’re the new ugly Americans! Just like we were Chomsky’s ‘New Mandarins’ half a century ago, the old mandarins have returned as the new mandarins, and we have returned to our rightful place as the white barbarians…

    The simple fact is that they no longer need us—if they ever did—and they probably like it that way: just like Americans! To Hell with the rest of the world!! And maybe that’s the attraction, if there is one, that this is a place not homogenized for mass consumption, reduced—or elevated—to the world’s common denominators of English language, French kisses and what else? Chinese fast food, of course. But seriously, though, much is lacking in the way of offerings to foreign travelers, especially if they speak no Chinese… (More …)

    • Richard 3:38 pm on June 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Good to see you were able to jump over the wall for a moment. Was missing your regular Sunday sermonettes…

    • Esther Fabbricante 5:51 pm on June 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Wow is all I can say. You are a genius.


    • tom de canada 6:01 am on June 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Nice deetails of china. I wish you well my friend. Im still at home finishingf work on the ole car. Needed a cam shaft. Big job for one hand. May heaad to india in fall?

      • hardie karges 8:36 am on June 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        Just been thinking about you, man, and about what brass cojones you have, to be riding around China on a motorcycle. It’s difficult enuf for me on buses and trains, can’t get up to speed in mandarin fast enuf. But you missed the high-speed trains, wow! Like doing China by subway! I got a 10-year visa for the asking, also available for Americans in India, don’t know about Canadians. Good luck with that, I may have another stint in that area myself…

  • hardie karges 12:59 pm on March 22, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Air Asia, , 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 12:15 am on October 3, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Asia, , shoes, ,   

    Shoes East vs. West: Speaking of Brown Loafers… 

    img_0682As we all know, the world is divided into shoe cultures and flip-flop cultures, most of the latter cultures where shoes must be removed before entering a house, and especially a temple, for religious and cultural reasons. This includes Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam, and countries from northern Africa to the Far East.

    img_0891Of course, sometimes this happens so many times in the course of a day, that it really is efficient time-wise to ditch the frills and laces, and just go shoe-less, hence flip-flops. There is another option, of course. Remember those penny loafers from the days of ‘Penny Lane’? They’ll pass for manly footwear as well as for Buddhism. That’s what they use in Bhutan. I think I’ll invest in some stock. I can see a bright future in loafing…

  • hardie karges 11:02 pm on September 6, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Asia, , , ,   

    Bhutan, part 2: Hermit Kingdom, Magic Mountain, Betel Juice… 


    continued from previous…

    I didn’t know if I would make it, frankly, up to the Tiger’s Nest, then we beat them all in record time. Local Boy Scouts and fuster-clucking Indians only crowd the path and slow us down. Now I like temples and such, but I was already disappointed that the proposed first day’s itinerary of ‘looking around the city’ had been changed. Maybe there was no real city. Welcome to America…

    So I finally had to pointedly hint that IT’D BE REALLY NICE TO GET A LOOK AT THE CITY—the capital, Thimpu—after we’d spent a full day of avoiding it and driving circles around it, such that I’d almost decided that it didn’t really exist. But there it is, and it’s a cute one, with no traffic lights, but at least one traffic cop doing the honors at the city’s main intersection. And there’s a market, and a bus terminal, all the things of real life. I got the distinct feeling that they don’t usually show such things, for whatever reason, likely the filth and grime of a Third World city… (More …)

    • davekingsbury 2:20 pm on September 8, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting piece. One question – isn’t your status in the present life the retribution for past life sins, or have I misread it?

    • hardie karges 8:48 pm on September 8, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      That would seem to be a correct reading of the Tibetan Buddhist position, but I have numerous problems with that conclusion. To pose the question in the same way that shocked me: If a young girl is raped, is it her fault, from past lives, or the rapist’s?

    • Bhutan Travel Tour 7:40 pm on September 11, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Hi, Hardie.

      I happened upon your post quite by accident and it was an interesting read though I do have a few comments.

      The only thing we have similar to North Korea is the absence of traffic lights, or so I heard. No short Asian guy with a narcissist attitude who believes himself God and loves intimidating his neighbours with nuclear weapons here. 🙂

      Regarding guides, hey, you can go on your own. You wouldn’t really know where to go, what to see, where or what to eat, and at the high tariff that the government imposes you wouldn’t want to waste any time now, would you?

      Regarding religion, yes, most Bhutanese would be very Buddhist but on blind faith without pondering on the various ‘deep’ philosophies that the religion does have. Most Bhutanese do know what denomination they belong to- Nyingma or Drukpa Kargyug- but do not know what the difference is, for example, let alone know about what Gelug, Karmapa etc. or Vajrayana, Hinayana are about.

      Rituals may have had a reason once, now they are just done blindly. There are some who go deep into the philosophies, such as karma. On my part, I have heard lamas saying this when someone dies early young “He/she was just completing the years that in his previous life he/she could not complete.”

      One thing accepted here but would not be accepted in the western world is “a woman is 7 lifetimes inferior to a man”. “Someone born a woman must have done something not good for the karma.”

      If you do come again, we could meet and discuss these things first hand. it’d be interesting 🙂

      Best regards and Trashi Delek,
      Keshav of http://www.bhutanrebirth.com

      • hardie karges 10:21 pm on September 11, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        If I could travel on my own, then that would be a different story, no problem figuring out where to go, haha…

  • hardie karges 8:58 pm on September 1, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Asia, Bhaktapur,   

    Bhaktapur: Nepal’s Other Half, and That’s a Rap… 

    IMG_0705Bhaktapur is like remembering that first time twenty years ago when you landed in the middle of chaotic Kathmandu and the Bible, taking days to find your way around, exploring streets and alleys with no names only landmarks, and populated by peoples in little street-side cubby-holes doing things unmentionable, unsure of whether it’s a sacrificial altar or low-budget boucherie, blood splashed helter-skelter just like in the Bible or the Beatles…

    And finally learning ropes and making mental maps and expanding radii to include other ‘hoods and larger circles, people congregating wherever two roads cross, chowks and bazaars and people riding in little pedaled cars, but mostly on foot forging a way through life and the city, somehow making it all work, where logic would dictate otherwise, where geometry should have long surrendered to gravity… (More …)

  • hardie karges 2:27 pm on June 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Asia, , , ,   

    Thailand Redux: Medical (not Medicinal) Tourism, Caveat Emptor… 

    IMG_0507No, this is not an article about ayahuasca tourism, all the rage for spirit-seekers and jungle-trippers of all shapes and stripes, centered mostly in the Peruvian Amazon around Iquitos, but also in nearby Brazil and Colombia, in which a self-styled ayahuasquero named Carlos or Fabio or Bill or Shakti will offer you a muddy brew that will likely make you puke then blow your little mind…

    No, this is not about that. That will be another post, once I’ve had sufficient time to do proper research. This is about getting old and bald and moving parts wearing out and things that you once bragged about no longer working and the duct tape and super glue pressed to the limit, and not even talking about late-night twerking, just survival of the fattest and wearing adult diapers for the occasional wetting…

    The US health care system is a joke.  It was so painful watching ex-Speaker of the House John Boehner declare that, “America has the best health-care system in the world,” that I wonder if he really meant it, or whether he was crossing his fingers in his front pants’ pocket.  In fact the US health-care system is nowhere near the top—except in cost—and tends to languish down in the 30-to-40th rankings, if lucky a notch or two above Cuba. (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 5:11 pm on June 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Oh, my! Sorry about that – if it’s not one thing, it’s another here with me.

    • davekingsbury 9:26 pm on June 24, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Ouch … get well soon, my friend … good healthcare is a human right!

      • hardie karges 10:46 pm on June 24, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, Dave. Actually I think there will be a happy ending here in Thailand…:-)

  • hardie karges 3:58 pm on February 2, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Asia, , ,   

    Motorcycles swarm the roads like flies on… 

    IMG_0197…sand, through the hourglass, they sifting ahead to the front of the queue at every red light.  They occupy no lane of their own, nor could they if they wanted to.  Women ride sidesaddle lady-like on the back to keep their virtue intact, or at least the illusion of such.  Motorcycles go both directions on the road’s shoulder with impunity and full moral authority.  Southeast Asia is a motorcycle culture.

    You should see the old quarter of Hanoi, which has no traffic lights.  Every intersection is a scramble of motorbikes and people that has to be seen to be believed.  Only then will you realize how they won the war.  They simply out-endured us, as they do everything.  In Bali, when the traffic backs up, motorbikes simply take to the sidewalks without a moment’s hesitation.  A motorbike is still a status symbol in Cambodia.  Laos doesn’t have much of anything, but is slowly catching up.

  • hardie karges 5:30 pm on January 26, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Asia, , rivers,   

    Rivers Meander 


    Tibet waters Asia. From its 20,000 foot plateau flow the headwaters of the Indus, the Brahmaputra, the Salween, the Mekong, the Yangtze, and the Huang Ho. The headwaters of the Indus and Brahmaputra almost meet, almost making of India an island reminiscent of its former history as a transient sub-continent looking for a home plate to slide into. The upper waters of the Salween, Mekong, and Yangtze run almost parallel for 250 miles, only fifteen to thirty miles apart as the crow flies. Those three empty into the Andaman, South China, and East China Seas, not far from the cities of Rangoon, Saigon, and Shanghai, a distance of over 2000 miles on that same crow’s odometer. It would be much farther than that by boat, and an immeasurable distance by yardstick. How long is your coastline? That depends; how short is your ruler? Napoleon’s ears prick up and Zeno’s paradox takes over, and you never really get there, because the halfway points are infinite. I’ll take wise old crow; he cuts to the chase.

  • hardie karges 7:23 pm on January 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Asia, , rainy season   

    The Rainy Season 

    IMG_0243The rainy season in Asia gets old, especially when it floods, which happens a lot. It’s not like Oregon, where the clouds are just there all the time, but really not doing all that much, just drip drip drip like excess stomach acid after a plate of spaghetti Bolognese.

    Here it pours down with the force of Holy Hell, sometimes with light and sound, usually not. But nothing can match the thunderstorms of good ol’ Mississippi, best seen from above in small aircraft, a symphony composed and directed by God.

    • Esther Fabbricante 7:45 pm on January 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Floods, tornados, thunderstorms – rain, but no snow yet this winter.

      I enjoy your posts!


  • hardie karges 4:00 pm on January 7, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Asia, ,   

    Jet Rag 


    Hardie Karges and Golden Buddha

    Asian jet lag is the worst, for an American, one day of travel and a week to recover, like the heroine hangover of a lost weekend.  That’s the nice thing about South America, little or no jet lag when it’s all over, at least as long as the continents stay in their current configurations.  You can go north and south all you want with little or no effect, except maybe a little Coriolis effect pulling you a bit to the right, like the brakes pulling to one side in my old pick-up.  Maybe that’s why Asia is so different, because it’s so far away from the seat of rationalism and so close to China.

    Like Mexico, ‘so far from God, so close to the United States’, Southeast Asia is ‘so far from Buddha, so close to China’.  For centuries everyone in Southeast Asia, all of them of near or distant Chinese origin, have been embracing other philosophies and life-ways besides the Chinese central dogma, about equally divided between Theravada Buddhism, Islam, and Communism, deriving from India, Arabia, and Europe.  This is not the crossroads of history, nor the world.  This is the detour, the long way home.  You could get lost here, but that’s maybe okay.  At least the women are beautiful.  If this is a dead end, then you could do worse.


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