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  • hardie karges 2:32 pm on July 11, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , hypertravel,   

    It’s Official: Hypertravel Hostel Says Goodbye—for now… 


    Socializing at Hypertravel Hostel

    Well, score one for divine intervention. The last thing I expected a short two months ago, when the sale of my historic house/hostel/dream-crib in Tucson, AZ fell through after six months of ‘due diligence’ on the part of a certain buyer, who was dedicated to the proposition that homeless people need lunch…

    …was that an entirely new sale would be complete by now. The first sale was cancelled not due to city rules and regs, BTW, rather due to the actions of disgruntled neighbors who’d rather shut down the neighborhood than help the hapless homeless—did I mention that the affected group was specifically homeless women? Tucson has a mean streak; it’s true…

    So it’s been a long hard road (actually not so long and not so hard, either), the better part of two years, but all good things must come to an end, and if there’s a happy ending, then the story must be a good one. Even though I thought I wanted a flagship hostel as the template for many others, what I really needed was a ‘starter hostel’ to test the feasibility of an essentially European institution in Mainstream Amerika, and the results are… (More …)

  • hardie karges 11:46 pm on January 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Gem Show, , hypertravel,   

    The Chinese Are Coming! It’s Hypertravel, Baby; Hostel, that is… 

    IMG_0416But they’re not manning warships and they’re not carrying guns. They’re doing business, of course, and cooking up a storm. You can do that at most hostels, at no extra charge, eat food just like Mama makes and maybe bring Mama along, too. All the ‘Air BnB’s in the world are no substitute for a good hostel, and VRBO’s don’t even count. Those aren’t ‘sharing economies’. Those are vanity economies, in which a group of uber-rich teenagers decide to rent a house for a rave, when most have never even signed a lease in their life, and many of us sellers are looking for a new lease on life. Caveat venditor…

    Hostels are the true sharing economy par excellence ab origine. You hang out with others, eat with others, and even sleep in the same room with others, if so inclined. And when those people come from all over the world, then you’ve got something pretty special. Unfortunately the USA has no hostel culture, of course, and little experience with them, not provided for in building codes and left to dangle and die for no certain reason. Some people seem to think they just aren’t American, I guess… (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 12:14 am on January 29, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I have reserved an AirBnB in Franklin, TN for May 4-9, for my family to help celebrate my 91st birthday. They are taking me to the Grand Ole Opry on May 6. There will be 11 of us.


    • hardie karges 12:43 am on January 29, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Sounds like fun, Esther; Happy 91!

    • Norbert 7:20 pm on January 29, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Good luck for the future, Hardie! I had visited a number of Buddhist temples in Kyoto, about 10 years ago. Some of the rituals there strangely reminded me of what I remember from Catholic churches, like how the monks ceremoniously entered the place (of course, without the presence of a Christian-style altar).
      Besides, I have had some good to very good experiences with AirBnB, even a few interesting interactions with hosts. I think although cooperation with others and group consensus are very good ideas, putting individuals together in one place is not enough to get there. They also need to have the right mind-set and mentality. Alas, many of today’s (mostly Western) individuals are too much self-centered and focused on self-promotion, even in situations when they have nothing to gain from appearing “competitive” or “see how unique, interesting and important I am?” (like when in a hostel). This “market-conform” behavior has become a “second nature” to them, difficult or impossible to chase away. I guess the underlying problem is that the spreading of capitalism, especially in Europe and North America, was particularly easy under conditions of simultaneous conquest, colonialism and post-colonialism, which facilitated the development and incrustation of an “individual robber baron” mentality first among the big and small robbers themselves, then among those who objectively and/or subjectively benefited from their robbing activities, as the conquered and colonized were being marginalized or exterminated. Nowadays the world has become so small and crowded that unrestrained “help yourself and grab what you can” behavior is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain unless more and more violence (= “all against all”) is applied, again; and even “at home”, which exposes the uncivilized character of this approach more clearly than ever. An approach that may not even be close to functional, as evidenced by the Russian crash landing of the 1990ies. To some extent, China, where a party officially called “Communist” is still in power, seems to have skipped this ultimately illusory, individualistic phase of development, or, at least, dampened its excesses. On a much smaller scale, also Cuba is trying to get a soft landing, which was at least my impression during my 2000 visit there. We’ll see if this is the last word of history…. (well, of course there is no last word in history).
      How about opening a hostel in La Habana, in a “collectivist” country? C U there…. (Just kidding)

      • hardie karges 7:22 pm on January 29, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Thx, Norbert, things getting crazy here now, full house in a couple days… (I agree with most of what you say, BTW)… 🙂

  • hardie karges 7:18 pm on January 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , hypertravel,   


    IMG_0138Borders are where creativity happens, the edge of turbulence where one reality attempts to mingle with another in a dance of denial. To win is not the point. To create a viable form in a previously unknown dimension is the fruit of forgiveness. Mutually exclusive equations hold hands in a symbolic logic and agree to disagree for the sake of the children, taking solace in the beauty of combination, lying fast asleep in a bed of leaves.

    Limbs intertwined avoid unclipped nails and other rough edges folded under for safety, weapons washed waiting for demons of the night yet unslain. The morning comes right on schedule, like cosmic clockwork, the law of large numbers happening on such a vast scale that we don’t see the changes, the uncertainties, and minute indecisions within the scale of our own puny lifetimes, much less the passage of our sun across the sky. Motion is the normal state of nature, a fact so obvious yet so illogical to common sense that it’s scarcely acknowledged even now.


  • hardie karges 7:13 pm on December 11, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , hypertravel, Third World   

    The Human Dimension 


    The green line in Cyprus

    The third world is addictive, the very lack of superficial development something attractive in itself, the sights and sounds and noises and smells and total lack of order. I get an erection just thinking about it.

    I also get a stinging sensation in my mouth. I get the same sensation the next day in my anal orifice if I go too far with the hot chili peppers. I prefer other feelings.

    If I’m lucky, then my stomach gets the same empty feeling you get from free-fall–vacuum, the natural feeling of weightlessness. I live for that feeling, and it certainly beats any other feeling that stomachs are capable of.

    But the best part of the so-called Third World is not its food, its landscapes, nor its women. The best part is its unpredictability, the very fact that you don’t know what to expect from one day to the next. In that respect, it’s a lot like love, and like love, it gets boring if that’s the only basis to it.

    You have to keep trying new places to get that original feeling. But there’s no reason to feel guilty, because that’s what we are, the trip monkeys. We like to get around, and we like to get off. That’s what it is to be human, and that’s what makes us so successful. Other animals wander around; we’re driven. And that’s kandy-kolored tangerine-flake streamline, baby…

  • hardie karges 9:26 pm on December 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , hypertravel, , , ,   

    Tale of 3 Cities—High-Tech San Fran, Skid-Row LA, Tucson not-so-Hostel 

    700 N. 7th

    Hypertravel Hostel

    “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…so far like the present period…”–Dickens, Tale of 2 Cities  I think my house, aka ‘Hypertravel Hostel’, is mad at me—seriously. Since the day we signed the sales contract—poof! Something just went away at that moment, and may not come back. And since the closing date is still months away, this is no laughing matter. We still have to live together.

    Now I think the house is jinxing me—good time to travel.  When the sale of this house in Tucson is final, if I try to operate another hostel, I figure it’ll be in the Bay Area, the closest thing the US has to a true ‘gold rush’, what with dot-com companies finally coming of age and looking for permanent digs, having now outgrown the freshman dorm on the Silicon Valley campus and taking firm root in downtown San Francisco… (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 12:25 am on December 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I have visited San Fran twice and loved it – was only in LA briefly a couple of times. I do agree that I liked San Fran better – and then on to El Cerito, Palo Alto, Mission Viejo, Capistrano, San Diego, Escondido, Ontario, Lake Tahoe – all great!

      Phoenix was exciting, too – and a brief visit to Scottsdale, and Sedona, etc. Good ole Brandon. A lazy town, laid back.


  • hardie karges 9:29 pm on September 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Celsius, Fahrenheit, , hypertravel, ,   

    Hypertravel Hostel News: Good-bye Summer! High Time for Travelers in Tucson… 

    Hypertravel Hostel, Tucson

    Hypertravel Hostel, Tucson

    Right now it’s 99f/37c degrees in Tucson, Arizona, USA, and counting: 99.1, 99.2, 99.3, etc. Bottom line: it’ll probably hit 100f before the day is over, which is significant for a couple reasons, 1) It’s the first 100f day of September, and 2) It’ll probably be the last 100f day of the year, إن شاء الله

    To say the least: Tucson is one hot mother, and that 100f threshold is one convenient standard, maybe TOO convenient. I mean: this is a city that gets almost 100 of them per year, and that is the stuff of fame, or rather infamy, so I use 40 Celsius as a kinder and more sympathetic standard, ONLY 104f. That way the number of days go WAY down way fast, (Brit: rather a lot, and rather quickly)…

    Hypertravel Hostel: back view

    Hypertravel Hostel: back view, in January

    It’s a nice skill to have, too, to be able to convert temps from one to the other scale, far more useful as a hostel owner (Hypertravel Hostel) than any of the small handful of languages that I’m conversant in. After all, most foreigners don’t come to the US, at least not alone, unless they’re at least conversant in English, and once they do that, they sure don’t want to condescend to speak the native lingo with a gringo (call me ‘rhyme-a-dime’)…

    But temperature conversions are another thing. Almost no foreigners know Fahrenheit, except for a few older Canadians and Brits. The ablility to do rough sums in one’s head comes in handy then. The ability to withstand Tucson heat is another thing. You can have June and July. If I’m here next year, it won’t be in those months; that’s for sure… C U soon, I hope…



    • Esther Fabbricante 9:53 pm on September 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Do you own this hostel? Looks nice. Hot in Brandon, too, but only 81f at 4:50 p.m. and forecast is 54f tonight. Will watch the MSU/LSU football game tonight on TV. Ole Miss is winning this afternoon over Fresno State – 49-14 so far.

  • hardie karges 2:37 pm on June 29, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , hypertravel, , , , ,   

    #RoiEt #Thailand: A Lake Sits in it, Collecting Tears… and Rainwater 

    Roi Et's Lake: Like a Rohrschach Test

    Roi Et’s Lake Phlan Chai: Like a Rohrschach Test

    Not so many cities have a lake sitting smack dab in the center of them, literally, so to find one, in my one-time sometime adopted ‘home’ is something special. The odd thing is that I knew none of that when I landed in Roi Et, itself somewhere smack in the center of Thailand’s vast little-traveled northeast ‘Isaan’ region. I’m here simply because it’s here, and I’m on a quest to see everything. I’ve seen the name on the map many times, but never stopped, maybe never even been through it, not sure. As for the surprise lake, well… you don’t expect me to read guide-books now, do you? Yeah, right…

    The place is a revelation. Not only is this a pleasant, attractive mid-sized Thai city in the heart of Thailand’s poorest most desolate region, but there are other surprises in store, too, like vegetarian restaurants—Thai food, of course—but more than I usually see, all without even trying. There’s even one in the produce market, which also doubles as a ‘night bazaar’, common in Thailand by now, thanks to Chiang Mai, but this is a new twist. Okay, so there’s always some joker wants to be Johnny Friggin’ English to come along and spoil my fantasy, but that comes with the turf. Welcome to Thailand…

    (More …)

  • hardie karges 8:17 pm on June 28, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , espresso, , hypertravel, Phichit, ,   

    #Phichit #Thailand: Caffeination of a Nation 

    Good Coffee in Phichit, Thailand

    Good Coffee in Phichit, Thailand

    Can it be true? That sleepy somnabulant boozy bamboozulant Thailand has gotten hip to high-test, coffee, that is? It’s hard to believe, I know. This is the country that has almost single-handedly kept Nescafe solvent over the years, first with the ‘classic’ blend, then the more recent 3-in-1 (blecch) offerings. I mean, the good stuff was always there, but you’d have to look hard or know certain people. Back in the old days, mid-90’s Chiang Mai, there was JJ’s at the Montri Hotel, and that was about it. And it wasn’t cheap at a buck or so (more than a street meal), but they’d top you up for no extra.


    Nescafe at the time wasn’t much more than a quarter US. When JJ’s folded, you could find some Shell gas stations with some half-way decent push-button espresso for twenty-five baht, less then a dollar. Anything hand-pulled would be at least twice that. When Starbucks finally entered the market, rack rates were something like $3-4-5 for the 12-16-20 ounce standard brews, half again American prices, and about the same as Europe. A modern standard espresso was three bucks anywhere, if you could find it.

    (More …)

  • hardie karges 12:58 pm on June 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Farang, , hypertravel, , , ,   

    #Kanchanaburi #Thailand: Reflections, Wrap-ups, End Games and Swan Songs 

    Author Hardie Karges reflected in mirrors

    Author Hardie Karges reflected in mirrors

    For the last month, after abruptly cutting a tour of Laos short, I’ve been “looking for Thailand,” so to speak, just as others before me have gone “looking for America,” making my (probably) last tour (maybe, that is), seeing if there’s anything I forgot, seeing if there’s anything I missed, seeing if there’s anything I should come back for, and eventually writing it all up—my ‘swan song’ so to speak, for a country I spent about a decade of my life in, depending on how you count.

    This is after more than six months of continuous travel, mostly elsewhere, no more than a week in any one place—a sort of ‘personal best’ for me in forty years of travel—and including seven countries (five of them new to me), but more time in India than any other one, and including such popular destinations as Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    If the past month started slowly with a (literal) whistle-stop tour on the train down to south Thailand, then it has certainly picked up steam in the last 12 days, with 12 cities, 12 hotels (none over $20/nt, all with WiFi, none with reservations), all five regions of Thailand, and some 3000km/1800mi (all by land, most by 3rd class train).

    Bridge over the River 'Kwai'

    Bridge over the River ‘Kwai’

    And in case you’re wondering, none of those places was Phuket, or Koh Samui, or Krabi, or any other tourist destination, just the opposite, in fact, places like Nakorn Sri Thammarat, Aranyaprathet, Roi Et, Khon Kaen, Phitsanulok, Phichit, and Lopburi. I look for places where I can be a person, not a Farang (Western foreigner). In fact (drum roll here, please): I saw only maybe a dozen other tourists the whole time, not bad, and no beaches, bitches, or booze, the things most people come to Thailand for, UNTIL…

    The last two stops, Bangkok and Kanchanaburi were the undoing of my little purist fantasy, full of tourists and ex-pats, too, back with a vengeance on their part and no small measure of repressed revenge on my own, the spreading colonization of the Kingdom beyond all reason, writing on the wall for years now, but I forgot to wear my glasses, so I know now that my time here is drawing short…

    In Bangkok it’s to be expected, of course, major world city with people from all over, but… Kanchanaburi? Sleepy little Kanchanaburi? Sure, there’s the River Kwai (sp), of course, but does that necessarily imply a cliched ‘entertainment’ strip with all that entails? It looks to be about half-and-half old fart expats and young backpackers, so plenty of blame to go around IMHO…

    Mixed messages at a Farang Bar

    Mixed messages at a Farang Bar

    I mean: I’m glad the local economy is good enough to support a Carabao concert at one of the local clubs, but there won’t be any Farangs there, just locals. And there’s a historic district in town, with appropriate documentation for antique houses, and a floating local entertainment district on pontoon ferries, but most foreigners will never see it from the bar stools in their own private little enclave.

    This bi-polarization of a city—and country—into locals and foreigners is not at all what I look for and no longer what I need from this Kingdom or any other. I need inclusion, not separation; information, not ignorance. What worked for me twenty years ago no longer works for me now. I’ve changed, and Thailand hasn’t, or only for the worse, I’m afraid. It’s time to move on, boo hoo. I’ll miss the coconut ice cream.

    I didn’t plan this final tour to coincide with my 60th birthday, but that’s the way it worked out, a time for new beginnings and end games. I think I’ve just graduated Thai school; that is: my graduate studies in Thai school. The new gap year is 60. I’ll expound on these themes later, my little swan song. This trip is almost over, just a quick stop over in Istanbul and a little side trip to Sarajevo. Huh? What? This is hypertravel, baby.

    • Esther Fabbricante 6:16 pm on June 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Wow! Brandon will never be the same when you get home. Horns and whistles!

    • Traveling Ted 8:07 pm on June 25, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Only 7 countries in 6 months? You are slipping. Going to have to rebrand as semi-spasmic travel if you keep this loafing pace up 🙂

    • hardie karges 2:05 am on June 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      hahaha= 555

  • hardie karges 11:53 pm on June 8, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , hypertravel, 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.

    (More …)

    • 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!

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