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  • hardie karges 1:56 pm on August 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , insurance, , kidney stones, , Obamacare, , Thailand,   

    Hooray for Travel Insurance! Just keep traveling, fellow Americans… 

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    Author’s Note: Medical issues of a sensitive nature discussed here…

    Well, I never thought I’d see the day when I’d write a post lauding the insurance industry, but since I once wrote a ‘sh*t-list’ post on the bad ethics of bad bizniz, here, then I guess it’s only fair that I write a special post for one of the good guys, in this case Aon Travel Insurance, who just wrote me a check for almost $2222 (I’m too lazy to look up the actual number), for what was hopefully the last of a series of ‘pee gravel’ episodes in my ‘Year of the Kidney Stones’. I almost didn’t even file the claim, I was so skeptical…

    Back story: I’ve traveled to some 155 countries, but almost NEVER got the suggested shots, much less purchased travel insurance. After all, some of the shots seemed worse than the disease itself, and travel insurance was only as good as the doctor, and the hospital, and the country, and the policy, AND… (More …)

     
    • Esther S. Fabbricante 4:22 pm on August 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Oh, my! What a life – and Godspeed.

    • jgf 12:50 am on August 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Keep on truckin’, old man. Love and Bliss from Joketown!

    • davekingsbury 11:34 pm on August 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Studying is a sort of travelling … what’s that line from TS Eliot? I read much of the night and go south for the winter. Or something. Anyhow, best wishes for the next phase …

  • hardie karges 12:12 pm on June 3, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Som Tam, street, , Thailand, Tom Yam   

    #Bangkok After the #Food Ban: Don’t think twice, it’s all right… 

    IMG_2427Okay, so I’m being a bit snarky and ragging on a couple of friends who took extreme exception to the ruling Thai military junta’s recent decision to crack down on sidewalk vending, including food vending, to which some of them responded by threatening to cancel their biennial bivouacs in the Land of Smiles. Well, that crackdown got written up as something like: “Ban on Thai Street Food!” which of course is total BS, as no food in Thailand is banned, to my knowledge, certainly nothing like the status of pork in Islamistan or the status of bovine burgers in India…

    No, this is a crackdown on sidewalk vending…

    Not to mention the fact that of all the pictures of this supposedly ‘banned’ street food, none—absolutely zero—of them was indeed street food, i.e. sidewalk food. Now I doubt that the average farang—Westerner—even knows what som tam is, much less ever eaten it, and that is probably THE most popular ‘street’ food in Thailand, whether Bangkok or the countryside. I mean, the first time I ordered that ‘papaya salad’ on a restaurant menu, I almost died when I saw what they brought me, and NO, cream is not an optional topping. Marinated emulsified fish is… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 2:07 pm on May 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Homer, , Thailand, ,   

    Homer and Me, and My Big Fat Buddhist Odyssey… 

    IMG_0599Some things you will think of yourself; some things God will put into your mind.”–Homer

    Well, I think I finally know what I want to be when I grow up—a Buddhist; a professional Buddhist, that is, and that can only be one of two things: a monk or a scholar. So after dillying and dallying with it for almost a year now, mostly as temple boy in the Thai (Theravada) ‘forest tradition’, but also with stints in Nepal and Burma, I’ve applied and been accepted into a Chinese-style Buddhist College, here in Thailand—cool…

    It’s not that I felt no calling until now; it’s that I felt so many callings, all at one and the same time, or in rapid succession, with no clear direction shown, no clear preference known, just a morass of tangled wires and spliced-together leads, all leading into 1000 different directions from the source, an interminable present that becomes past almost effortlessly, future only a mathematical probability, so that focusing exclusively on any one thing has always been a challenge—and borrrinnngggg (More …)

     
    • Esther Fabbricante 3:43 pm on May 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      You have revealed a lot in this blog!

    • hardie karges 6:36 am on May 18, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Reblogged this on streaming consciousness… and commented:

      Live from the other side of my brain…

    • tom 9:22 am on May 18, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      So you settled for had rai?
      Nothins forever. Just enjoy it till ya dont anymore. Ask questions then wait for answers.
      Worked for me. Best of luck my friend. May be swingin by late this year. Ill let ya know!

      • hardie karges 10:35 am on May 18, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Had Yai unless the Taiwan uni comes thru unexpectedly, then more soul-searching. Masters should be no biggie, PhD is another issue. Where you?

  • hardie karges 1:52 pm on May 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Doi Mae Salong, Kuomintang, , Santikhiri, , Thailand   

    Doi Mae Salong (Santikhiri): Thailand’s Best-Kept Secret… 

    IMG_2407For most people, travel is a special activity that you do maybe once or twice a year, with elaborate preparations and financial considerations, nail-biting calculations and apprehensions of misappropriations. But most of all: it’s exciting! It’s fun! You’re enthusiastic! But for some others of us, who travel so much that it’s more ‘normal’ than ‘ab’, sometimes we just can’t get it up for the journey, especially if we’ve already ‘been there done that’ and there are no screaming kids to disappoint…

    So I did something a week or two ago that I’ve never done before in forty some-odd (all together now: “some very odd”) years of travel—just canceled; called it off; yanked it; scrubbed; pulled the plug; I feel so liberated now that I don’t have to do all that travel—aaahhh!!! I can relax now. And that’s about the size of it. When you’re tired like the end of a trip, before the trip’s even started, then: do the math, take a bath, put the baby to sleep… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 1:59 pm on May 2, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Energy drinks, , , , , Thailand   

    ADDICT! Confessions of an American Coffee Drinker… 

    IMG_0099.JPGHi. My name is Hardie, and I’m an addict.”

    “Give Hardie a nice welcome, group.”

    (Multiple voices in unison) “HI, HARDIE!”

    “Why don’t you tell us your story, Hardie…”

    005

    Same in any language…

    Well, I knew I had a problem when I started carrying around a pack of Nescafe, for travel, and totally unselfconsciously, mind you, the hard stuff, too, not the 3-in-1 lady coffee, and I would mix it straight with bottled water and maybe a little sugar, if I was lucky, and happened to have some…

    At that point my habit was probably 200mg a day, though I’m sure I did 400mg many days, espresso cappucino latte’ macchiato, I’ve tried them all, including the Italian ‘ristretto‘, hard to find, like mainlining a little bit of Heaven straight to the carotid artery, pure caffeine, milk and sugar optional, add water to taste, it keeps you awake during prayers, yeah right…

    (snickers and subdued laughter, smiles on a head or two nodding)

    I got my start in the Millsaps College grill, lousiest coffee in the world but cheapest, too, ten cents a cup, and honor system, so you could just thump the cup if you were short on change, for good luck and good measure. That lasted a couple years, there and assorted mini-marts and lousy greasy spoons, Maxwell House, Folger’s, Yuban, Taster’s Choice, mother’s little helpers with a Good Housekeeping seal of approval…

    …but I saw the Promised Land in North Beach, San Francisco, 1974, espresso for a dollar or so a shot, way outta’ my budget, though, me hanging shopper ads on door knobs for less than minimum wage in nameless suburbs where the others lived, enough for a $25 a week studio pad on Washington Square, but I knew then what I wanted to be when I grew up. So it came three years later in Mexico City…

    While Lupita was doling out Burroughs his little pile of junk on anonymous street corners in DF, I was in the downtown cafeterias, real cafeterias, coffee-houses, European-style, with the good stuff, black meat, cafe’ espres’ and cafe’ cortado, just like the Beatniks in North Beach, but only a quarter dollar USD, so I could imbibe, in post-devaluation Mexico, and you get a waiter dressed-like-a-penguin to boot…

    Like Water for Nescafe…

    007 (2)…only problem was that you could get nothing of the sort outside DF, so I’m hooked by then, and stuck in Oaxaca, looking to score at 6am, and nothing open till eight, and then only Nescafe, “agua para Nescafe” infinitely preferable to whatever else might be on tap, at least they’d let you mix it yourself from a large jar with crusty rim, keeps me off the streets and out of the gutters, and somewhat normal for another twenty-four hours at least…

    But Portland, OR, sealed the deal for me, where coffee was already king in the early 80’s, and you could score for the good stuff all over town. But my favorite was macchiato, aka ‘meth’, because it had a dollop of creamy froth to neutralize the acids, but no one would mistake it for a lady drink. That’s the problem with cappucino: unless you know your local dealer, they might put cinnamon or something on it, and by then it’s too late…

    If they don’t have macchiato, then I’ll usually just order the espresso to avoid that possibility, same with latte’. But when Starbuck’s finally hit the big time, it was hard to pass on that two-dollar twenty-ounce bad boy called ‘Veinti‘, so nobody ordered it but me, because they didn’t know how to pronounce it, much less actually know what it means. I figure that monster cup had about 400 mg. of pure caffeine, maybe more if you filled it to the brim, no room for milk—ha! I know that trick…

    Then the energy drinks came along and upped the ante post-Y2K, though I’d known them for years in Thailand, where the Red Bull and many others originated. They made caffeine a party drink, speed-balling caffeine and alcohol, so that you can drink all night, because in effect, you never really get drunk. You just go out of your mind! And the American manufacturers actually improved on the taste of that medicinal-flavored retch—though it does grow on you…

    But most of all there’s now a clear equation of what one milligram of caffeine should cost, and what your choice of flavors are to go with it. Between that twenty-ounce Starbuck’s bad boy and those Monster energy drinks with 160 or 240mg frequently found for less than a buck, I refuse to pay more than five cents USD for a milligram of the drug, and I expect to have my choice of delightful flavors, coffee in the morning, lively limey citrus in the afternoon…

    IMG_0959But my conscience still nags me: isn’t there something wrong with this? I know the Islamic mullahs long ago ruled that it’s okay, but still… Then my Buddhist priest not only okayed it—he started fixing me up every morning before first light, then again in the afternoon, too. He says it helps with meditation. You got that right…

    Fast-forward to the present, and I finally decided to quit. Junk is junk. Maybe it was the betel-nut chewers in Burma or the heroin junkies in Amsterdam—I don’t know. How can I live with myself if I’m disgusted at the same time? If you want to move forward, then you’ve got to leave some things behind, that’s what I figure. Freedom starts in your own mind. If you need help getting up in the morning, then you need to make some changes in your life.” I shrug. “That’s my story.”

    Wow, Hardie! That’s some story! And I’m sure that all the others and I are glad to see you clean, straight and sober. It must feel good knowing that you’ll never have to go back to drinking that nasty stuff…”

    (space intentionally left blank)

    Wait a minute. I didn’t say that. Did I say that? No, I definitely did not say that.”

     

     

     

     
    • davekingsbury 2:20 pm on May 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      My nerves are shot to pieces after reading this graphic account … only one thing for it … brew myself a cafetiere of full-strength Kenyan Fair Trade!

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

    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…

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    Morning market haul

     

    And the narrative that this is where poor people eat is absolute BS. This is where tourists eat, and tuk-tuk drivers, and working women, many occupying seats for hours at the time. People on a tight budget eat in the market, with much better food, cheaper prices and reasonable hours. According to a local hack:

    “It’s what’s for breakfast, lunch and supper: market food, not to be confused with ‘street food’, to which it is superior and more varied IMHO, including famous Thai curries, which are almost NEVER found on the street (read: sidewalk). Here is a typical morning market haul: spicy southern coconut-based curry (30B), northern tomato-based hot sauce ‘nam prik aung’ (20B), stir-fried chicken w/ ginger (20B), and sticky (glutinous) rice (20B). If I’d bought 25B worth of rice, instead of 20B, it would’ve lasted me all day, 95B = less than $3. Try that with ‘street food.’ เต็มอิ่มแซบ (More …)

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

    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, , Thailand   

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

    Bangkok on a Budget: Time Travel and Second Thoughts… 

    IMG_2186

    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.

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