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  • hardie karges 9:41 pm on December 28, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: backpacker,   

    A Year Without Borders: Visions of Tibet 

    This is the first year in thirty-five or forty that I haven’t crossed a border. Oh, woe is me. What am I gonna do? I call feel the existential angst setting in, passport getting moldy, and moss growing where wild hairs used to be. I guess I could go sixty miles down to the Mexican border just to satisfy that ethnic Third World urge to merge, but—naah. Maybe it’s time to grow up, get a life, get a career, make some babies, make some grandchildren and—naah. I’ve got a better idea: as soon as this current hostel project is finished two months from now (and counting down)…

    I think I’ll take a trip, somewhere different, somewhere challenging, something exotic, something fragile, something like: Tibet. Yeah, I think that’s the ticket: Tibet, while there still IS a Tibet, occupied by majority Tibetans, not Han Chinese transmigrated in to control the elections, the natural selections and the flow of information, Han Chinese to turn what was once sacred and beautifully scarred into what will soon be self-satisfied and smug, driftwood polished by time tossed into the fire for kindling and kitchen work… (More …)

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  • hardie karges 12:32 pm on June 2, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: #ThaiCoup, backpacker, flashpacker, , , ,   

    #ThaiCoup Thai TV stations seem to be coming back on air one by one, after they’ve been ‘cleared’ by the junta I suppose. It’s nice to have Al-J and BBC back. But the one I just discovered is my favorite, what I call the ‘bullfight channel’, nothing but bulls fighting, no matadors no nothing just bulls no sh*t. Reminds me of a channel in Dublin 2003 nothing but a girl sleeping, real life, and real scenes around the house all live, no ads no sh*t. Now that’s reality TV! BTW the ‘bullfight channel’ also has cock fights and go-go dancers, in keeping with the theme, I suppose…

     
  • hardie karges 12:22 pm on December 26, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: backpacker, , , ,   

    Christmas in Thailand, Part 3: Songkhla 

    Fishing village near Songkhla, Thailand

    Fishing village near Songkhla, Thailand

     I haven’t been in Songkhla in a dozen or so years, so jumped at the chance to put it back in the itinerary. After successively postponing and/or canceling trips to Bhutan and Burma, I was left with a hole in my schedule, so this fits the bill nicely. It’s different. Normally when you think of southern Thailand, you think of tourist mega-resorts like upscale Phuket or backpacker havens Koh Samui, Pha Ngan or Tao. Then there are Koh Lanta, Krabi, Phi Phi, and countless others.

    Or if you’re thinking about the dangerous and rebellious Thai Muslim ‘three southern provinces’, then you’re talking Yala, Narathiwat, Pattani, or some other places that’ve made big bad news in the last decade’s separation struggles. Then there are the boring provincial Thai cities of Nakhorn Sri Thamarat, Surat Thani, or others best known as transit points. Songkhla doesn’t fit any of these easy categories. It has tourist interest, but almost no one goes there, Thais included.

      (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 9:47 pm on October 14, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , backpacker, , , , ,   

    Dynamic Pricing, Dynamic Booking, Dynamic Traveling…. 

    First come first served

    First come first served

    Everybody knows about ‘dynamic pricing’ by now, that internet-era phenomenon of everybody paying a different price for the same flight.  It’s a whole lot like haggling with a rug merchant in… well, just about anywhere.  Actually it’s mostly about tailoring certain prices to certain markets at certain times based on certain criteria, and as long as you know some basic principles, it can work to either party’s advantage.  It only gets creepy when it seems like the robots at Google know more about me than I do, or when they think they do, but really don’t, since how can they tell what activities of mine are for work and which for pleasure, after all?  Once again, this can still work to my advantage, since they know nothing about me if not that I am thrifty.  So if they want to give me the best rates, then that’s cool.

     

    So I’d been pricing my recent trip to Uzbekistan off and on for a while, trying to decide whether it was in my price range or not.  Since it’s about half a world away from LA any direction you go, that gives multiple options, if not cheap prices, so I’d just about decided on Korean Air, which had a RT flight for about $1500.  Then I waited a day or two too long, and it was gone, cheapest available now a hundred or two more.  So I started the process all over.  Well, at this point it was right at two months from the planned departure date, a crucial time in the booking process, AND Turkey had been undergoing social turbulence for a week or so by then, and their tourist season was looking dismal.

     

    So, suddenly, flights that had cost $3000 a month before—via Turkey—were now going for less than the original Korean flight.  Can that be right?  Then I did something I’d never done before: push that button that offers to compare four to six flights simultaneously.  It works.  THAT’S how dynamic pricing works for the consumer.  You’ve just made a quantum leap in the process, wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen it for myself.  Now prices are coming up for $11-1200, mostly on Turkish Air, hubbing out of Istanbul, of course.

    (More …)

     
    • Armel 12:41 am on October 15, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      This made me change the way I think about travel, completely, Thanks Hardie man 🙂

    • Rasto 7:21 am on November 28, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Beyond the cost, its more social. You meet peploe you wouldn’t meet otherwise. So it depends on what kind of experience you want. Also, say a hostel in a city costs €20 and the cheapest hotel costs €25. The hostel might very well be nicer, because that’s on the higher end of what a hostel costs (depending of course on where you are) versus a very cheap price for a hotel. The hostel might be cleaner, have a freindlier staff and be more pleasant than a hotel that costs so little. Also, private rooms in hostels are like having the privacy of a hotel but without the cost, if you don’t want anything incredibly special but just want a place to lay your head at night and spend a little downtime. In hotels, you often pay for lots of services (gym, concierge, pretty lobby, swimming pool) that you may or may not need or want.

      • hardie karges 2:48 pm on November 28, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Exactly; couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s like another form of social media, without the uncertainties of Couch Surfing…

  • hardie karges 1:45 pm on June 19, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: backpacker, , Mexica food, , tortilla   

    Quien Es Mas Mexicano? Tutti-frutti Burritos y Otras Delicias… 

    Once you’ve started buying your whole-wheat tortillas as breakfast pastries, you can probably forget the jalapeno-eating contests with your macho buddies.  You’ll be lucky to be invited to chow down on some fresh-roasted Hatch chiles when those guys roll into town during the season.  (More …)

     
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