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

    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 6:42 am on August 19, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: travel, visas   

    Got Visa? 

    More and more visas are available only by applying online now, including extensions and other adjustments, which is fine, as it allows you to keep your passport in your pocket for a much longer time, rather than floating around some office in some weird country for many days, during which you might really need it, that and/or the freedom of movement that it allows. The problem is that many of these online applications still require paper submissions, which requires a printer in that same weird country, this is an age when cyber cafes are increasingly rare, and smart-phones can’t even interface with them, not directly.

    Or even if you’ve got a cyber-cafe, you still can’t save the document to the hard disk, and they may or may not let you attach a flash drive. In short: digitized systems are great; hybrid ones are not. Make up your mind, one way or the other. If it’s digital, then it’s digital—no paper. If it’s paper, then provide the forms. Travel should be becoming easier, not harder. And don’t even get me started on ‘reciprocal visa charges’…

    • Esther Fabbricante 2:56 pm on August 19, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I’ll never have that problem.


  • hardie karges 1:22 am on August 9, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: alcohol, beer, , , , , travel   

    Kicking Caffeine's Butt: Living on Red Bull, Vitamin C and… 

    Caffeine could all be a thing of the past soon, and it’s kinda’ sad, I guess, even if my poor beleaguered prostate gland will love me for it. And this my last vice, too, 200 ml (or is it 200 mg?) of coursing through the veins every day, turning on switches at every turn, leaving the lights on in case of late arrival. Not that the Third World helps with the withdrawal any more, whether it be Nepal, where I am currently, or Thailand, where I was last week, or any place else, where you could barely find a cup of Nescafe twenty years ago, and now is brimming to overloaded with fresh roasted Arabian and a cute barista to boot. This is the new social medium: roasted and ground for a night on the town. Alcohol is for losers, I guess, though at $2 a pop for a can of 7% ‘extra strong’ brew, that might be worth re-considering. You gotta’ be flexible… Author’s note: If you gotta do the Red Bull thing, then go for the gold ‘Krathing Daeng’ cans for local Asian consumption, not the blue ‘Red Bull’ for tourists: same stuff, half the price (you heard it here first)…

    • Esther Fabbricante 6:10 pm on August 9, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I think all bad habits are for losers – I guess.

  • hardie karges 4:41 pm on August 4, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: travel   

    Happiness is a Warm Gun… 

    Misery is a 4.5 hour flight with a 6-y.o. kid in the seat behind with legs just long enough to reach the seat in front–all night long, up and down my spine. I’d like to pretend I’m getting an Ayurvedic massage, but no luck. This is a real test of Buddhist compassion, to say the least. His daddy apparently thinks he’s just the cutest thing…

    • Esther Fabbricante 4:48 pm on August 4, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Frustrating to say the least.


  • hardie karges 2:39 pm on August 2, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , layovers, travel   

    The Air China Syndrome vs. Murphy’s Law: even odds… 

    I thought I’d seen it all, from airlines and booking sites: enter Air China. Unless you’re going to China, we now know, the only reason you book Air China is for the low price or the Star Alliance FF points, and maybe not even then. After all, changing planes in Beijing is no fun, when the shuttle bus to your plane catches fire, and the inspection line there runs you back through with those from the outside–no special line for those in transit.

    So I was a little apprehensive about the return flight from BKK-LAX with only 1.5 hours of transit time, since it took us all of that coming through the first time. Life has a way of working things out, of course, since Air China just changed the time of our originating return flight, but not the connection, so we’d miss our connection by 1.5 hours, at least–no notice of the change by them or the booking site Justfly.com! Fortunately I’m very thorough, so just happened to notice the change three months ahead of time. After 70 minutes on Skype with Justfly, I got it all fixed–with an 11 hour layover! That should be enough–probably…

  • hardie karges 2:27 am on July 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CheapoAir, Expedia, , hotels, travel   

    Caveat Emptor: Shopping for Flights and Hotels… 

    It’s a cliche’, of course, to compare prices before buying, but it’s tempting to think that in certain industries, that might simply be a waste of time, such as travel. Think again. Especially once you get into the nooks and backwoods crannies of the globe, which some booking sites don’t even bother with, they certainly are not all the same. For instance while trying to book a flight from Bangkok to Kathmandu, one way, once the $175 flight is gone, they quickly go up $100 or more, on Expedia. So I checked CheapoAir and the cheapest on that same airline is $25 more, but readily available–bingo. So I continue to look for a room there and that $10 room goes up to $20 with taxes and all, so check it on Expedia and they only go up $2! What’s up with that? Oh, right, those are ‘fees’…

  • hardie karges 1:47 am on July 2, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Brexit, , EU, , travel, UK   

    It's a Good Time to Travel to England… 

    …if you like weather that’s cool and clammy up north, always nice down south. How does 20c/68f for a high, 10c/50f for a low temperature sound? It sounds pretty good to my American fried a$$. It’s not that much different in winter, either, among Europe’s warmest at that time of year. But the big news is the post-Brexit exchange rate, hovering at around 1.34USD:1GBP right now, an overnight drop of 10%, and much less than the more typical weak dollar exchange rates when oil prices are high.

    Given the low prices for flights right now, it all sounds like a bargain, and if your schedule is flexible, you could even book now for travel in the fall, when crowds are light and the weather is still nice, even on the continent. The rates there are low, too, in fact the lowest since shortly after its inception. Word to the wise…

  • hardie karges 2:27 pm on June 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , travel   

    Thailand Redux: Medical (not Medicinal) Tourism, Caveat Emptor… 

    IMG_0507No, this is not an article about ayahuasca tourism, all the rage for spirit-seekers and jungle-trippers of all shapes and stripes, centered mostly in the Peruvian Amazon around Iquitos, but also in nearby Brazil and Colombia, in which a self-styled ayahuasquero named Carlos or Fabio or Bill or Shakti will offer you a muddy brew that will likely make you puke then blow your little mind…

    No, this is not about that. That will be another post, once I’ve had sufficient time to do proper research. This is about getting old and bald and moving parts wearing out and things that you once bragged about no longer working and the duct tape and super glue pressed to the limit, and not even talking about late-night twerking, just survival of the fattest and wearing adult diapers for the occasional wetting…

    The US health care system is a joke.  It was so painful watching ex-Speaker of the House John Boehner declare that, “America has the best health-care system in the world,” that I wonder if he really meant it, or whether he was crossing his fingers in his front pants’ pocket.  In fact the US health-care system is nowhere near the top—except in cost—and tends to languish down in the 30-to-40th rankings, if lucky a notch or two above Cuba. (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 5:11 pm on June 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Oh, my! Sorry about that – if it’s not one thing, it’s another here with me.

    • davekingsbury 9:26 pm on June 24, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Ouch … get well soon, my friend … good healthcare is a human right!

      • hardie karges 10:46 pm on June 24, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, Dave. Actually I think there will be a happy ending here in Thailand…:-)

  • hardie karges 3:19 pm on April 27, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Antigua, , , , Quezaltenango, travel   

    Time Travel Guatemala 1977: Xela and Antigua, all too Chichi … 

    Continued from previous…   

    February 1977


    If you gotta’ get away from la dolce vita at Panajachel, then Chichicastenango is where you start.  It’s accessible by an easy day-trip from Panajachel, sardine express, or you can stay here—alone.  When there’s no market, the place is empty—of tourists and locals!  This was a revelation to me, that indigenous people would pour into a semi-urban area for markets and festivities, then disappear back into the countryside from where they came, just like they always have, confirming the role of ruins as occasional ceremonial centers.  They still are!

    But a good fiesta is the deal if you can swing it with the timing.  Every town and village in Guatemala has one, the eponymous fiesta for the town’s patron saint, in this case Santo Tomas.  Every town and village has two names, a local indigenous one and that of its patron saint.  Fiestas can go on for days, though one day is usually the biggest.  Every person has two names, also, a Catholic first name and an indigenous surname, unless they identify exclusively with ladinos. (More …)

  • hardie karges 6:44 pm on December 22, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , history, travel   


    010Taiwan clings to the Chinese coast like a slingshot cocked and loaded, waiting to be flung out into the open Pacific by any earthquake with balls and bats and a love of the game.  India’s sliding into second base, Camp Himalaya, with cleats high and dust flying.  Turkey is a fragile coccyx attaching Asia to Africa and allowing Europe to get erect and stay there.  Iran is a rusty scimitar slicing into the underbelly of Asia.  Africa is breaking up and going separate ways.  We ride on the crust of a custard, on the crest of a wave, a ball of fire cooled down to magma.

    It’s almost like the bloody thing is still alive in there.  In another billion years, things might be more settled, continents satisfied with their figures and waistlines and their place in society.  There will probably still be life.  I wonder if there will still be humans.  I wonder what they’ll be like.  I wonder if anyone will still remember me, us, or any of this that seems such a normal, commonplace, everyday reality.  I wonder how many times we’ll have to start over before we get it right.  The earth will survive our most vicious transgressions, but we may not.

    The hard thing to realize is that we may still be in a very early phase of our lives as part of the universe.  The recent discovery that galaxies are receding at an ever-increasing rate seems to indicate that we might still be in the early stages of the Big Bang.  Our earth is barely cool enough to inhabit.  We don’t yet know our limits.  We think maybe we’re smarter than we really are.  We still maintain our youthful suicidal tendencies.  This is one of the disadvantages of neoteny, cultural or biological.  Some retained traits may not be desirable.  We’re killing ourselves. And it doesn’t have to be that way…

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