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  • hardie karges 1:59 pm on March 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Khaosarn road, Patpong, Soi Ngam Duphli, , Thailand   

    Bangkok on a Budget: Time Travel and Second Thoughts… 

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    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.

  • hardie karges 11:55 pm on February 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Koh Kong, , Thailand   

    Welcome to Kampuchea: Koh Kong, Life on the Border… 

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    Sunset at Koh Kong, Kampuchea

    …any border, is weird, by definition, sample TJ (Tijuana), TG (Tangier), TK (Tachilek) and TU (Tecun Uman) for starters, and a few thousand others, where cultures clash and vehicles collide and the simple act of of ‘crossing over’ takes on new meaning, not to mention the modern airline-hub Big Meta-Border cities, e.g. Istanbul, Moscow, Dubai, Bangkok, Singapore, Cairo, Jo-burg, Lima, Delhi and others…

    And Koh Kong on the border of Thailand and Kampuchea is no different, Kampuchea (Cambodia) the bastard big brother of Thailand, long ago fallen on hard times and left to fend for itself against the predations of its offspring, only rescued by the noblesse oblige of the Foreign Legion francais…
    (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 1:43 pm on February 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Mawlamyine, Mon, , Thailand, Thanlwin   

    Mawlamyine, Myanmar: Saving the Best for Last… 

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    The bus pulls into Mawlamyine after an all-day truck from the capital Yangon and I’m immediately flashing back to Saigon, Hanoi, Viangchan, or Phnom Penh, take your pick, c. 1995 or thereabouts, just coming out of the self-imposed shadows, them not me, but wait a minute, let me think, dirty broke-down funky and authentic, before all the development, all the tourists and the humans from the West, all wanting a piece of the action, all wanting a bit of loose change, hopefully for the better not worse…

    But there are no money changers here, not yet anyway, just banks and ATM’s, and ‘no beer no alcohol’, say all the signs, in the restaurants at least, unlike Inle Lake, there advertising ‘mojitos caiparinhas gin and tonic’ you name it, but here lotsa Chinese and Muslims, and most hotels close at 10 p.m. or 10:30, three red lights and a rush hour inversely proportional to Yangon’s. But the real action is down on the Thanlwin River, with markets both black and white, Mawlamyine’s lifeline and raison d’etre (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 12:25 am on December 27, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Chiang Dao, Chiang Mai, hill-tribes, Kwan Yin, Lahu, Thailand   

    Thai Holidays Outback Up North, part 3: Six Temples, Two Borders, a Maharishi and a Funeral… 

    Continued from previous…

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    Kwan Yin (Kuan Im) festival near Chiang Dao, with many hill-tribe participants…

    So after the funeral in Uttaradit Province, Thailand, I’d like to explore that new border crossing into Laos, but my priest has other ideas, and he’s the boss. I’m the driver. So that means another late night drive from near the Lao border all the way back to the small town of Sarapee near Chiang Mai, finally pulling in to the temple about ten p.m. dead tired and more than a little wired, from twisty windy back-country roads…

    This is all so that we can buy a new truck, to take to the Tai Yai ‘Shan’ people out on the Burmese border where we were last week. Seems they’ve graduated from blankets and dried noodles to new 4 x 4’s. Bizniz is good, I guess. So we do: drive, that is, out again past Pai, into the remote fastnesses of Mae Hong Son province, where foreigners are not usually even allowed to enter, much less drive, but membership has its privileges, I guess… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 1:44 pm on December 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Thailand   

    Thailand Outback Up North, part 2: Drive He Said (Buddhism for Sale)… 

    Continued from previous…

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    Feast fit for priests at Jaw Jalern Forest Temple

    One thousand baht!”

    Amen!” the crowd roars in response to the emcee’s declaration, hooting and hollering to beat the band, whatever that means, here in Thailand, as elsewhere, taking delight in small pleasures…

    The emcee continues. “And now we have a contribution to Forest Temple Udom Tham, from Chiang Rai Prakan Chiwit, the life insurance that is there for you just when you need them most, for the sum of… Ten Thousand Baht! Ooohhh, that’s nice!”

    Amen!” the crowd answers in agreement, one group from faraway Isaan obviously cutting up and loving it, trying to outdo all the others in their silliness and sober raucousness… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 12:35 am on December 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Mae Hong Son, Shan, Tai Yai, Thailand   

    Thailand Outback Up North: Covering Bodies and Bases, Filling Bellies and Logic… 

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    They say that life doesn’t always work out like you plan—duh. ‘They’ say lots of sh*t, of course, but ‘they’ seem to have nailed this one. So when I came back to Thailand a couple weeks ago for the many-hundredth time, I assumed that I would likely be an ordained Buddhist monk by now, albeit only seasonally, Thai-style, IF I felt ready enough with my meditation practice, and IF I felt confident enough with my ability to memorize the Pali-transcribed-to-Thai initiation ritual, necessary to seal the deal, and not be a failure nor a joke…

    ‘Nor be a joke’, that’s the crucial concept here, in this fantasy Disney-inspired Thai-land heavily colonized by long-term tourists, short-term customers and random retirees in the late innings of life, all of whom as ‘Farangs’ (western foreigners) constitute the punch-line of many a back-handed compliment or verbal slight, whether they know it or not, usually not. So that’s the reason I learned to dance the lingo, damned torpedoes, for better or worse, usually better, till death do us part… (More …)

     
    • davekingsbury 9:58 pm on December 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      As always, enlightening … in the sense of … oh, you know what I mean! May I ask if these pieces are destined for your travel book, in some form?

      • hardie karges 11:39 pm on December 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        I guess I was sorta’ joking about another travel book, doubt that will happen, at 62 y.o. my travel days are probably limited, except as metaphor and analogy… Zen and the Art of Travel, maybe? 🙂

        • davekingsbury 3:46 pm on December 21, 2016 Permalink

          I’d buy it! Never was interested in motorcycles …

        • hardie karges 1:56 am on December 22, 2016 Permalink

          Ha! I wish I had the numbers to even consider it; more likely a book on Buddhism, in some way, at some point. But I appreciate your support for my humble efforts. Remind me to bring you a copy of ‘Hypertravel, 100 Countries’, etc, next time I’m traveling direct US-UK…

  • hardie karges 2:22 pm on November 2, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Kathina, Thailand, Vassa   

    Final Stop on the Forest Temple Pow-wow Circuit: Kathin(a)… 

    img_1034Kao Pansaa and Awk Pansaa are the big deal for the Forest Temples in Thailand, and Buddhist Temples in general, but the entire ‘rains retreat’ season—Pansaa or Vassa—lends itself to priestly gatherings, a time when monks are expected and obligated to stay put at their home temple the entire three months, so it’s a good time to meet up with the Sangha (Buddhist priestly brotherhood), since you know where they are…

    At other times, most of the year, a priest can go anywhere he wants, and many even go ‘tudong‘, walking in the woods wherever they can, on streets where they can’t, sleeping wherever and living off contributions. But many more are more civilized, staying at any temple anywhere, whatever they can accomplish without the usual hotel bookings, rental car reservations, group tours and—money… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 12:03 am on October 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Araanyawiwek, , , Thailand   

    Thailand’s Real Full Moon Party (My Brilliant Career as Designated Driver) 

    img_0953No, my friends are not all drunkards and reprobates, though a few certainly are. But the group I drive for now is quite different. They only like the orange stuff—and yellow. No, not Lucy in the Sky with Diamond sunshine, or even ‘mellow yellow’–and certainly not Donald Trump. No, these guys are hooked on Buddha, and the Dharma, and the Sangha, the Buddhist brotherhood…

    Every traveler knows about Koh Pha Ngan’s legendary full moon bacchanalian orgies of drugs, sex, and alcohol, right? But how many know about the Thai Buddhist ‘rains retreat’ ‘Pansaa’ season that lasts for three months, and during which every monk returns to his original home temple of ordination for the duration of this Buddhist ‘Lent’ season, with the implication that this is not a frivolous matter to take or leave. It is an obligation… (More …)

     
    • Esther Fabbricante 3:11 am on October 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Have I missed something – like, where is our better half?

      esf

      • hardie karges 3:23 am on October 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Tang? She’s at home, going back to LA soon, then I’ll come back here…

    • davekingsbury 7:07 pm on October 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I suppose the only way to displace the addiction of consumption is to replace it with a compelling angle on the world that opens up its free, simple and natural wonders … oh yeah, Buddhism, and thanks for the front line reports!

    • davekingsbury 6:36 am on October 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Actually, you know, that would make a good idea for a post. … might be a worthwhile contribution. As a Nobel Literature Award winner once sang, ‘You gotta serve somebody …’

  • hardie karges 1:39 pm on October 17, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , Thailand   

    Buddhist Boot Camps, Kopan vs. Suan Mokh, Part 2: the Cost of Karmic Retribution)… 

    img_0545Continued from previous…

    Setting: Kopan is classic Tibetan temple and monastery style, with dragons and other adornments, set on top of a hill at the edge of the sprawling metropolis of Kathmandu, and gated, so semi-urban while it lasts. Suan Mokh, on the other hand, is green and pastoral, with an ambiance that reminds me of Boy Scout camp. Noises are few and far between, and far away, as are the gilded and glitzy temples of the city.

    Eco-Friendliness is a specialty of Suan Mokh, where absolutely NOTHING is wasted, and flashlights are used at night rather than bathing the premises in artificial light. Recyclables are treated accordingly, and no drop of water is wasted if it can be saved for later use or recycled. This is part of the ethos and also just a reality of living in the countryside. Kopan is quasi-urban and subject to different conditions, so not as strictly obedient to environmental issues, apparently. (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 11:14 pm on October 9, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Thailand,   

    Buddhist Boot Camps: Kopan vs. Suan Mokh, part 1–Price of Rice… 

    IMG_0526“…(in) sitting meditation…we free our mind from past experiences and…any anticipation of the future. Instead we abide in the nowness of the present…”–HH the Dalai Lama

    Sounds a whole lot like Eckhart Tolle, doesn’t it? But no, this is from His Holiness the DL’s book ‘The Four Noble Truths’, compiled from talks he gave in 1996, some years before the publishing of ET’s break-thru book-thru drive-thru one-stop soul shop, in which a lump of basic Buddhism is twirled up into fluffy cotton-candy comfort-food for the disenchanted…

    …just lose all that pesky suffering, add some New Age flavorings, and let’s call it ‘The Power of Now’ instead of ‘Enlightenment for Dummies’. There you go, perfect, ready to market, and the rest is history—good work. But I’m not here to talk about ET, just HHDL, who largely inspired me, along with certain Beat Poets at Naropa last century hooting and howling next door, to further investigate Tibetan Buddhism, to supplement my current efforts in the forest temples of Thailand. Here’s the deal: (More …)

     
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