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  • hardie karges 11:53 pm on June 8, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , flashpackers, , Laos PDR, , , taxis, tuktuks,   

    #PhonSavan #Takhek #Laos: Taxis, Tuktuks, & Transport—the Plot Sickens 

    Bus Station in Rural Laos

    Bus Station in Rural Laos

    I’m pissed off, furious in fact. I just got charged $10 for a two-minute tuk-tuk ride so I’m pissed. New York is cheaper than that! Laotian people may be the nicest in the world, but tuk-tuk drivers here are a lying thieving treacherous lot, smiling all the while, and tour operators aren’t much better. Of course the government is in on the fix, so that seals the deal right there. They’ve got their bus stations so far-flung and scattered that making sense of it all is beyond the capability of any casual tourist, even one who happens to speak and read the language…

    I didn’t knowingly pay ten bucks for a two-minute ride, of course, but that’s the upshot. This happened in Phonsavan, Laos, the capital of Xieng Khoang province, a city of maybe 40K and proud owner of no less than five (and maybe more) bus stations. Sounds like somebody’s got more government money than they’ve got good sense to me. I’ve dealt with the same situation elsewhere in the country, also, but can hold my tongue no longer.

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    • Esther Fabbricante 12:24 am on June 9, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I don’t blame you. You are such a seasoned backpacker, you know how to count the money, speak the language – it is amazing.

    • Esther Fabbricante 11:22 pm on April 7, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I sometimes wonder how you persevere!

  • hardie karges 1:41 am on June 8, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , flashpackers, , , , , ,   

    #ThaiCoup #Thailand: It’s About Survival 

    Latest news out of Thailand is that the military curfew has been lifted in many of Thailand’s holiday locations, though the etymology of ‘holiday’ as a ‘holy day’ takes a severe beating here, as elsewhere, more like feast day, feasts of the flesh and other assorted entertainments, not the least of which is food, Thailand’s second most famous export…

    On a more practical level, that means the Full Moon Party at Koh Pha Ngan is back on for June 12, which means I have no interest in going any longer. A Full Moon Party under curfew sounded truly intriguing. I guess the military doesn’t want to disappoint thousands of gap-year backpackers under the influence of alcohol and psilocybin mushrooms. Hey, you gotta’ have priorities…

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    • Esther Fabbricante 2:49 am on June 8, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      A different world. I have just returned from Jackson where I attended the commissioning of my granddaughter’s husband, Chandler Ragland, as a full-fledged Methodist minister and member of the United Methodist Conference.

  • hardie karges 1:19 pm on June 7, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: coconut milk, flashpackers, , , , sticky rice,   

    ข้าวเหนียวมะม่วง: Sticky Rice and Everything Nice… 

    Sticky Rice and Mango

    ข้าวเหนียวมะม่วง

    Getting diarrhea while traveling is no fun anywhere, but at least in Thailand the cure for Ramathibodi’s Revenge can be more fun than most other places. I’m talking about sticky rice, not just the plain kind you eat with fried chicken or ‘som tam’, that spicy raw papaya salad with which it goes especially well, since the belly-blasting propensities of the salad itself are somewhat balanced by the calming effect of the glutinous rice.

    But what calms your intestines one day can plug them up the next, though, so caution is advised. Mix that sticky stuff with some mango and sweetened coconut milk and you’ve something pretty heavenly, and a sho’ nuff’ internal butt plug, triple constipation if you aren’t careful. I went on a jag of eating it in my early days in Thailand, until I couldn’t remember the last time that I’d had my usual morning routine.

    Don’t let that stop you, though. An occasional splurge should cause you no ill effect. It’s maybe even better than sex, a whole lot like it, in fact… oh baby…

     
    • Esther Fabbricante 1:52 pm on June 7, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Gluten intolerance is even worse, so I can relate with sympathy.

  • hardie karges 9:46 am on June 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , flashpackers, , , Pattaya, Phuket, Samui, , ,   

    #ThaiCoup d’etat/coup de grace Military junta says curfew lifted in resort areas Phuket, Pattaya & Samui, more like ‘last resort’ areas for men who can’t get laid any other way. In Sungai Kolok last night, railroad now reopened after last month’s bombing, looks like Belfast or Belgrade, roadblocks and checkpoints, army in full control of Chinese brothel district, protecting the peace…

     
  • hardie karges 2:54 am on June 1, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , flashpackers, , , , , ,   

    #Songkhla #Thailand Don’t know which was worse last night, listening to a Thai cover band (is there any other kind?) butchering lyrics to ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ or ‘Oye Como Va’, fact that 2 were back2back speaks volumes, at high volume, guess English lyrics were better, though a bit breathy and beachy that ‘ch’, no need to rhyme I guess, who knows the words to ‘Oye Como Va’ anyway? More than 10 of them: Oye como va mi ritmo bueno pa’ gozar, mulata (repeat ad infinitum), nice triple entendre, one can even rhyme in English, too: Hey, how’s it goin? my rhythm’s sure good for enjoyin’… (sexy milk chocolate babe, you, love the way you shake that thang…)

     
  • hardie karges 12:40 pm on May 30, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , flashpackers, , , , , ,   

    #Takhaek #Laos: Lazy River, Sleepy City 

    Takhek, Laos PDR: Sleepy City

    Takhek, Laos PDR: Sleepy City

     

    It’s a long way—and a tough road—from Xam Neua, near the Vietnamese border, to Phonsavan, Xieng Khoang, on the Plain of Jars, to Takhek on the Mekong River rim, even with an overnight break, down down down through bush and brush, savannah and chaparral, zigs and zags, at times the road degenerating into nothingness, but still much better than previous, with reports of deplorability, like that road back in Bokeo, back there back then, 1997 or so I believe, in the back of a truck, sending me airborne at the slightest drop of an overloaded wheel into mire and muck, at times having to drag the whole darn thing through football fields of impossibility… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 11:22 pm on May 22, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , flashpackers, , , , Sam Neua   

    #XamNeua #Laos: Houses without Windows, Homes with Looms 

    Sam Neua sunrise

    Sam Neua sunrise

    The road winds mountainous and cliff-hanging, serpentine and riverine, casuarina and date palms, causality and circumstance, borderline tropical crossing the twentieth parallel on the road to Hanoi, multiple shades of green featuring an insect symphony soundtrack, measuring the kilometrage in butt bumps, every other house with a loom warped and ready, part of every woman’s day as surely as the family motorcycle’s maintenance is a part of every man’s, wood-axe at the ready to secure firewood, timber and lumber, preempting the Chinese invasion of the forests as a source of fiber in the diet for consumption…

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    • Esther Fabbricante 2:03 am on May 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I am still having computer problems and was unable to read your complete post. I hope I can catch up soon.
      Exciting happenings here with family – graduations, luncheons, visits, parties, you name it.

  • hardie karges 1:33 pm on May 14, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , flashpackers, , , , , Xieng Khoang   

    #XiengKhoang #Laos: Plain of Jars… and Bomb Craters 

    Temple at old Xieng Khoang (Meuang Khoun), Laos

    Temple at old Xieng Khoang (Meuang Khoun), Laos

    Phonsavan is something like the Laotian wild west, born from the ashes of the Vietnam (American) War, the Indochinese (French) War and (Chinese and Japanese) WWII, long before the wars of WWW (dot.com). This town is brand new, replacing the ‘real’ (old) Xieng Khoang, down the road a bit, forty klicks and forty years away, bombed to Hell and back by Americans with more bombs than brains, sons of guns and possessed of riches, dogs of war and sons of… capitalists… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 12:40 pm on May 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , flashpackers, , , , Luang Prabang   

    #LuangPrabang #Laos: Land of a Thousand Temples 

    Xieng Thong Temple in Luang Prabang, Laos

    Xieng Thong Temple in Luang Prabang, Laos

     

    No, really, Luang Prabang has something like thirty-two temples, down from a number over twice that much at its high point in the 1800’s, plenty I reckon considering the city only has some 20-50,000 residents in the first place, on a good day, in the busy season, depending on how you count, but not counting the many tourists who swell numbers significantly, many of them neighboring Thais and Vietnamese, and more than a few backpackers who call the place home for a few days or a few weeks, or even a few months, subject to a sliding scale of definitions, returns and allowances… (More …)

     
    • EstherFabbricante 1:46 pm on May 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Your latest post is so interesting and well written – when do you sleep? I tried to send you a post at the end of this, but it wouldn’t go through, so I sent it to myself and will forward it to you later.   Esther

  • hardie karges 10:28 am on May 6, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , flashpackers, , , , Vientiane   

    #Vientiane #Laos PDR (Please Don’t Rush) 

    Sllepy Sunday in Vientiane

    Sleepy Sunday in Vientiane

    If Laos is a ramshackle village, then Viangchan (Vientiane) is its ramshackle capital. Only problem is that it ain’t so ramshackle any more. First the backpackers discovered it, then the developers moved in. There goes the neighborhood. Too bad backpackers don’t get stipends from their development initiatives and their ballsy forays into the mystic, to make up for the general derision with which they are treated in the countries they’ve helped bring into the golden age of mass tourism, like Thailand across the river, awash in tourism and prostitution and consumerist friendsy…

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    • Traveling Ted 3:20 pm on May 7, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting to see how travel destinations change over a period of time. I hope to make it to Laos for the first time like Elizabeth.

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