We are on indefinite hiatus! Please stay tuned for further developments! Thank you for your support and patronage!
It hit 100f/38c today May 13, 2016, for the first time this year, and two weeks ahead of schedule, so it’s definitely summer time in Tucson and there are other places I’d rather be, frankly. We had a deal to sell this incredible house, actually, but the neighbors are apparently Hell-bent on gentrification, and a ‘soup kitchen for the homeless (their words, not mine), just doesn’t fit their expectations.
That’s too bad, since this house has transformative capabilities, I swear. Good architecture can do that. And it doesn’t take some hot-shot architect, either. This historic house was built by what was most likely some itinerant Mexican mason with little or no formal architectural training, except that which accrues from a centuries-old tradition of trade secrets and esoteric knowledge handed down from master to apprentice—masonic, get it? That’s the way it was done back in the old days…
…but the verdict is still out on whether Americans are ripe for hostels. The concept rather depends on the presence of independent travelers in the hinterlands, and that’s a concept many Americans are slow to embrace, for whatever reason, whether the travel itself, or the independence, or the hinterlands. The concept does better on the US east and west coasts, where foreigners tend to congregate around well-known cities and attractions. No amount of ‘Air BnB’s can take the place of a good network of hostels…
…but all is certainly not lost. I've certainly learned a lot. Hypertravel Hostel may yet re-surface in another place in another guise—or not! That’s the beauty of life on this blue-green planet: it’s unpredictable! The things you think you know may be the biggest lie of all and the next corner you turn may be the yellow-brick road to ultimate fulfillment. I persevere.
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March 2016 update: We're Still Here!
Well, it was a wild and woolly Gem Show, Tucson's premier annual event, in case you're a newcomer to these parts. But I survived, and am still here to tell the story: still here, indeed. The back-story, of course, is that the house is up for sale, and I have a tentative buyer, BUT... they're taking their sweet time. So we're open at least until 10 April, at which point the deal will go through, or not. So If you've been wanting to visit Tucson, or our lovely BnB-ish hostel, then there is no better time. The weather is beautiful and prices are low. C-Ya'...
Winter Comes to Tucson—and Hypertravel Hostel at the Old Boarding House
What a difference a month makes. The high temperature here on September 30 was 100f/38c—sssizzzle. The high on October 30 was 66f/19c—aaahhh. That's a normal winter's day. Now it's November, with the nights crispy and the days still warm. This is time for the change of seasons, in the low Arizona desert and Hypertravel Hostel at the Old Boarding House. This house took its first guests more than one hundred years ago, and his served many different purposes in between. This is a still-life painting of the life in between. This is the changing of seasons. Winter is nice.
This is the sweet spot, nature in transition, revolving around a central set of warm days and cool nights, naked perfection, no blasting furnaces or icy frozen buns. A month ago I opened the windows first thing in the morning to let some cool air in for a few hours, then close it up tight at nine or ten in the a.m. to seal in whatever freshness I can with whatever jiffy-wrap is at or near my disposal, mostly windows and doors. Now I open them later in the day to let in some warm air, to warm things up before the long cool nights.
To bend and stretch with the seasons is one of life's finer pleasures, really, bundling up when it's cold or stripping down to skivvies when it's hot hot hot. If you can't do or don't do that, then you're missing something nice. That's the nice thing about living in moderate-temperature lands of four seasons—lots of variety. I think it could be argued that that is what set us cooler European-descended cultures on a path of unrelenting development, so as to somehow conquer nature. And that's what we've done—sorta'...
Thus the search for the coolest room in my house continued throughout the summer. I figure the ideal method of climate control is the simple opening and closing of windows, but the architecture has its own dynamics, also. The main problem was that once I thought I'd found the coolest room, soon it wasn't so cool anymore. Oops! That's my body heat, I guess. So now I look for the warmest room and hope my body heat will make up the difference for any lack of warmth. Warmth is necessary; refrigeration is not. That's the difference.
Then there's the age-old practice of migration, frowned on these days as archaic and anachronistic. I disagree. Nothing is more normal than migration, but few peoples do it any more. Even the famous nomadic Bedouins of Arabia and the Sahara have been largely bought off and settled down. It's a shame. But that's back there and then. This is here and now, and we're looking for a few good people to share the winter with us down here in southern Arizona. It's not expensive—and it's nice. C U soon...
"600 Hostels in Asia" Now Available
Los Angeles, CA, September 1, 2014—“600 Hostels in Asia: Travel Guide and Directory for Backpackers and Flashpackers),” (ISBN 978-1940866048, Hypertravel Books) by Hardie Karges, is available now at www.amazon.com and elsewhere online. “600 Hostels in Asia” is the first hostel guide ever compiled to date on the Asian region, illustrating and reconfirming the modern phenomenal spread of backpackers’ hostels around the globe. As with previous editions in the “Backpackers & Flashpackers: Guide to World Hostels” series, it’s aimed at any and all independent travelers, not just backpackers, since many backpackers have now upgraded to “flashpackers,” a more modern and tech-savvy version of the original concept. It contains plenty of geographical and historical information for advanced travelers, ‘how-to’ information intended for novices, and plenty of directory listings for both, with complete specs and contact info.
Author Karges has traveled to approximately one hundred fifty countries over the course of forty years, much of it described in intimate detail and vivid prose in his narrative travel book, “Hypertravel: 100 Countries in 2 Years.” This is the seventh book of the ‘Backpackers and Flashpackers’ series, after multiple versions for Europe, plus Australia and North America. “A happy accident of these books is that it suggests a new paradigm for travel guides, one that I would use—just the facts, and just the best places,” adds Karges. After all, these books are at their best when used in advance, to facilitate a hostel-based trip. If there aren’t any hostels there, then a place just may not be worth visiting.
Preface: Old Asia, New Asia, Red Asia, Blue Asia
I said at the outset that my inspiration for this series of books was the rapid proliferation of hostels around the world, and that my goal was two-fold: to document the ‘movement’ and provide a thorough guide to it and all its cumulative hostels. With this issue I move a big step toward fulfilling that promise. The four regions covered so far were no-brainers conceptually: North Europe, South Europe, America, and Australia. That’s us, Europe and its descendants: major creators, suppliers and users of the service.
With Asia, we’re moving beyond that narrow predictable spectrum into something a bit different. And yes, they use the service themselves as well as supplying it to Europeans. The real surprise here comes with the subject matter itself—Asia, with roots in the most ancient migrations out of Africa, and a gleaming high-tech future that is gradually setting a new standard for the world. The result is something as exotic as it is unfathomable, and the history is truly mind-blowing.
The mix, mingle and muddle of cultures goes on to this day: the communism, the colonialism, and the democracy; the Tao Te Ching, the Bible and the Qur’an; the feudalism, the tribalism, and the struggle… for survival. If I can give even a glimpse into that vast compendium of knowledge and history, then I’ll have succeeded at one major goal here. Your goals upon picking up this book were probably much simpler. You’re just looking for a good hostel or two, right?
China is a revelation. Its status as factory to the world and crown prince to the throne of world power is well-known, but the fact that it would be right in the swing of the hostel movement comes as something of a surprise. Yet here’s the proof, more than a hundred of them thoroughly researched and well-documented, not just fly-by-nights with a spare bedroom, like much of the Phillippines, or physical entities too lazy to hang up a sign, shingle, or even a website like many of its cousins in Taiwan.
Some countries in Asia won’t even allow locals to stay in hostels, though I won’t name names. I guess it’s just not Muslim; maybe something to do with mixed dorms. Even places like Vietnam and Kampuchea are totally hip to hostels, while Mongolia and Laos are not far behind. Thailand is right in the swing, though not as much as I’d expect, given its rep as a foremost follower of fashions. I guess the old established tourist places are hesitant to make a change they don’t have to make, while newcomers see hostels as the new wave—and new business.
Few of Bangkok’s hostels are in the ever-popular Khaosarn area. And super-expensive Tokyo has relatively few hostels to ease the burden, while Seoul, South Korea, is second only to Singapore in number of hostels for cities in the region. Then there are vast areas of the continent where the hostel ‘movement’ has yet to take root, and that mostly falls along the line where old Asia is divided from the new, and East Asia makes the transition to Central Asia, which has very few. But that’s changing.
In the South Asian sub-continent Buddhist Burma still has only a few hostels, and in Muslim Bangladesh and Pakistan it’s even worse. Even long-time backpacker and tourist fave India—mostly Hindu and with a population almost equal to China—has only one-third the amount of hostels. Sri Lanka is a little bit better, proportionately, but Nepal has nothing to match up to its rep as the birthplace of international backpacking, or at least its trekking falange, when that backpack was actually optimized for trail use.
And therein lies the kernel of truth that explains the modern hostel trend, because ‘flashpacking’ is largely an urban movement, not just the ‘digital nomad’ who prefers his apps optimized and his Apples capitalized, but the typical city-bred third-millennial Western guy or gal who simply is more at home in a coffee-shop or a dance-club than a rural village or a mountain trail, things foreign to many people these days. Me, I can go both ways…and do. I love nature.
importantly for our purposes here, the emergence of hostels in non-Western and Third
World countries gives hostels a chance to show another side of their appeal: safe
haven and familiar face, or tongue, at least. That means if you need some help with
the local language, then you can probably find it here, since the lingua franca
of hostels is English. Or if a particular country has security issues, then
a hostel is more likely to be of help to you than an impersonal hotel. Please enjoy the read.