Go Broncos!

BBBBbbbOOOiiiiiSSSseeeee!!!!……….. STATE!!  Growing up in Boise, Idaho never goes away.  It follows you.  Even around the world.
It’s the call of the Broncos as they rally to victory or the next hoop or TD. Some guy with a booming voice starts from one side of the stadium “BBBBBbbbOOOiiiiiSSSSeeeeee!!!”.   And the other side answers…

(in my head I’m hearing “And Rohan will answer!” from The Lord Of the Rings.  Yeah, I’m that messed up.  Stay focused Kelvin). 

“STATE!!!” as a crowd.  ONE guy starts a chain reaction that brings the crowd to their feet until the next point is scored.

Some time in the late 80’s, I remember going to basketball games, as a youngling, with my father.

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Oakley getting ripped in Da Nang

Running laps around the Pavilion and having a great time.  Dad was sometimes taking photos with a floor pass while I was let free to roam.   I eventually paid attention to the game and watched as the broncos came together to win quite a few games.
I knew the names and positions of all the players.  Doug Usitalo., and uh.. hold on… it will come back….Got it! Arnell Jones, and Chris Childs to name a few.  I can also still hear the anouncer calling out their names at the start of the gamea and every time they scored.
Boise State is my alma mater.  I graduated from the culinary school that sat in shadow of an huge football stadium.  Seriously, I think we lost the sun with one of the expansions.
I considered myself a Bronco and still do although I have lost some interest. I live in Portland, Oregon now and married a Vandal, actually a whole Vandal family.
I’ve traveled back over the years and witnessed an uprising in what is called Bronco Nation.  Fred Meyer, the local grocery store, was a sea of blue and orange on one visit. Every place of business is showing support.
I couldn’t believe the size of the fan base.  I guess it has always been there. Someone just found a great catchphrase for it.  Other colleges and universities have it and call it their own, but they don’t know what they are up against.
The thing I bet you didn’t know about is… in my mind there is a huge following in Vietnam.  I’m not talking about t-shirts, hats, and little flags stuck to your car.  I’m talking about the biggest overall use of blue and orange tarps.
I found myself pointing them out to my boys and saying “Go Broncos!” without even thinking about where it came from.  It was a phrase I had heard by countless fans in passing around Boise.  A greeting used by a city of my past taken by storm during a successful season.  Used as both a hello and a goodbye, it popped into my head.
Strange as it may seem, my family caught on and even the Vandal was saying it while pointing to another Vietnamese BSU fan.  A fan, unbeknownst to him or her, showing pride and support for a completely different nation (literally) and it’s much smaller town in Idaho.
From Ho Chi Minh City to Da Nang and up to Hanoi the only tarps being sold are those with orange on one side and blue on the other making for an accidental and unexpected showing of Bronco pride by a nation of over 95 million people and 47 million scooters.  Sounds pretty unstoppable to me.
Go Broncos.

Time & Space

Writing from the confines of a four bunk cabin rumbling along the tracks of the Vietnam Railway I have decided to expand minds by explaining SPACE.  You may be thinking “What does Gurr know about space?” or ” When has he had time to learn such a vast subject enough to explain it as if he’s Carl Segan?”.  Well to tell the truth, I don’t really know shit about space.

DSC04552My brother, Casey, knows a lot more that I do so maybe you want to ask him to explain that kind of space.  Man, I haven’t even seen stars for the past three weeks.  We have been in big cities giving off light pollution.

I’m talking about space in the sense of your whereabouts and places you find yourself in around the world.

Ok, all aboard! Like I said we are on the train.  A journey that is expected to be about eighteen hours.

We are seven hours into it.  The space is just as you would expect from on of the James Bond movie chase sceans.  A sliding door that won’t stay open and might stay closed,  a tiny table and four beds thirty inches wide, exactly (trust me, I have worked in metro shelving and kitchen countertops for years.).  After our $1.50 per person hot meal we started to enjoy the company of small cockroaches and a little mouse. And don’t forget the neighboring young boy that keeps peering through the window at us.  All these guests have my wife and two boys sleeping up in the top bunks leaving me to patrol the ground level.

We are fascinating to the locals. The boys because they are young and white,  with me getting a lot of looks due to my beard.  It’s all about location though. If you hang out in the area of Ho Chi Minh City where the westerners are then you just get pressured to buy sunglasses, lighters, cigarettes, fans and such. You don’t get the flat out stare in the face, the look to the boys from the women, old and young, who just smile and maybe reach out for a touch of such a rare creature. Oakley was having none of that.  Canyon on the other hand just gave them a smile back and went on with his business.

As I report on various spaces I have been in I want you to think of where you are. What is your space?

Australia is huge. You can’t go for a visit thinking you’ll be able to see all the sights unless you have about a year.

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This is the poster the car rental company had up in the office.  A subtle way of saying “Have fun exploring Bulgaria.”

We would bring up a map planning the nine days we have between housesits in Gold Coast and Brisbane.  We started pointing out places of interest and dreaming of a grand tour of the coast around Fraser Island and up into The Great Barrier Reef.

Caravan here we come!  We thought we would be able to zip here and there. The fact is the map isn’t to scale.  It couldn’t be.  Maybe it’s the Kilometer that throws you off? Anyway we quickly changed to a smaller area of interest after traveling for a few days with three and six hour dives only to be able to explore the destination before sleeping and zipping (we were right about that part) to the next location the following morning.

My recommendation is to plan on staying somewhere for two nights at the least.  The night you arrive after the drive and another night so you’re able to enjoy the area.

Our caravan tested our patience a few times being a bit tight and having to transform it from drive mode to sleep mode to eat mode.

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The Boys up top doing a bit of reading.

We got pretty fast at it and I’m pretty sure I broke a Queenslander record on the last two days as I set it up for drive mode.

Bali is small.  With so many tourist pics of empty white sand beaches and vast rice terraces there is an expectation of room to move.  I think it’s a toss up.

Arriving at the airport and walking through what seemed to be the largest banquet hall I’ve seen.  The ceiling was at least 3 stories up.  It was as if we were in a football stadium all alone.  Stepping outside you are swarmed by taxi drivers making sure you have a ride somewhere.  If you make it by the cabbies then the next challenge is the roads full of scooters driving fast and close on narrow roads.  I mean really close.  I could have trimmed riders fingernails while waiting for a green light.

“I’ll just walk over to the market.” you say, because you’re not crazy enough to rent a car or bike.  This thought is met by the lack of sidewalks and or giant unmarked holes in the sidewalks.

Bali ended with an amazing stay in an Airbnb near Gianyar that was what I imagine staying on a plantation in the south is like.  Each room was basically it’s own house.

The space had a ping pong table room, pool with a cabana, stand alone kitchen, upstairs balcony, and more.  It was huge.  So big that Oakley was nervous about sleeping such a distance away from us and we had to yell to let each other know where we were.  I made a quick outing to the jimbaran fish market.  It had a low ceiling and was quite the stimuli to the senses.  I’ll cover that in more detail in another post.

Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) is tight, not small, but just close quarters.  From where we were it took a few days to find a patch of grass.

Houses seem to have a storefront included.  lots of narrow houses combined with narrow roads and then add in twice or three times as many scooters as Bali and you get really tight.

Around eleven million people live in HCMC according to the guide on our Cu Chi tunnel excursion.  He also mentioned there were seven million motorbikes in the city and forty-seven million in all of Vietnam.  Over half of the population of a country has a scooter.  That’s almost twice as many scooters in Ho Chi Minh City  than people in Oregon!  Tight might not be the word for it, Jammed is better.  Don’t forget it’s not stopped as in a traffic jam, it’s ALL moving.

Friends in Low Places

Now that I have you singing Garth Brooks I’m going list the various bugs (friends) we have encountered.  Here is a list and a few photos of the who and where along with a bit of their behavior.

  1. Glow in the dark spider in Australia.  Seriously, chartreuse green in the dark and hanging out at our camp chairs.  Only as big as a dime though.  Pretty sure it was one of the ones that bites you and you gain super powers a day later.  We lost track of it and no body can do any wall climbing yet so I think we are in the clear.

    KG Bali spider

    Bali spider with a spread as big as your hand

  2. Bali also has a rather daunting spider.  We ran in to a few on the terrace walk with our friend Drew.  I think they might catch motorbike riders because they hang out about head level on trails.  No Thank YOU!
  3. Praying Mantis.  Two, one in each bathroom in Hoi An, Vietnam.  Friendly and seem to creepily track you as you move from side to side.  They are great at hiding under the back of the toilet. Check your surroundings!
  4. Geckos are not bugs but they eat a lot of them and they are in southeast Asia as well as Australia.

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    This fella watched me do dishes. He never blinked.

  5. They come out at night and hang out on walls near lights. Waiting for a moth to snack on. Some folks call them lizards and the big ones geckos. They actually make a call that is “Gek-o” repeated multiple times.
  6. Frogs.  Again, not a bug but a bug eater and are pretty exciting.  Big ones in Bali are about the size of your fistDSC02021.  I met a few by the pool and one in the bathroom.  He was hiding under my swim trunks and as I reached to get them from the ledge he jumped and stuck to the far wall of the shower.  Quite the leap, a good distance of about 4 feet.  I jumped about twice that and then he jumped again to the wall to his left.  I had returned to stationary panic position and thought it was cool until his final move.  He landed on my lower leg and grabbed on.  I swear I could feel each individual finger gripping my calf as he took a rodeo ride on my now flailing leg.   Disapearing behind the bathroom sink I recovered with my voice dropping back from seprano to baratone in good ten minutes.  You win frog, well played.
  7. Birds.  Alive and less so.
  8.  Worms.  Aussie and Vietnam
  9. Ants. Small sugar ants, big black, red fire.. so many.  The biggest problem is the first.  Rain and then shine equals lines of sugar ants crisscrossing along the floor.  And if you forgot to put anything edible away either on top of the fridge or in it you get a special treat of having them cover your hand when you pick it up later.  All food gets put away asap.  Some locations had an ongoing battle in bathroom showers. Some of the ants so small you can’t see them.  You start feeling them and they bite just a bit and you start looking like your trying to brush flour off black pants.  In Bali we had a big black ant issue.  I sprayed into a hole in the wall and out they came as if I had just hit the hive with a stick.  A waterfall of ants.
  10. Spiders.  Yeah, I just need to revisit this one because I just survived an epic battle with a giant!  Seriously, I’m writing the section on “ants” and I see the wall move.  Oakley is sleeping next to me with my wife and Canyon in the other room.  He just fell asleep so I have to do a silent battle.  Holy crap that’s a big spider…. Does it jump?  I have to get it before it’s out of reach.  I should get a picture of this guy first.

    Cut me some slack on the photo quality.  It’s pretty good for low light full panic mode.

  11. Evidence and if I lose then the Dr. will want to know what bit me.  If my wife sees this thing we are packing and leaving.  Check that, I’m packing and they are heading to the cleanest hotel in the land.  Maybe I should wake up Oak and move him?  No, he will ask questions leading to full panic mode.  Lets just keep that panic mode to myself.  I don’t want to get too close, I don’t think a shoe or sandal gives me a good distance.  Is it poisonous?  Don’t even go there.  It’s got to go.  I need a book.  Damn, that’s a big spider.  Focus!  Scanning the room for a weapon, making sure it’s not running off.  Ah! the boys’ hard cover cursive writing practice book.  Here I come!  That sneaker just went into the bathroom.  Good, I’m happy to bring the battle to the small confined space of a bathroom with toilet/shower set up.  Wait, is it poisonous?  Sweet, this book will slide under the door you are hiding behind.  Slide to crush.  No luck, and he’s on to me.  Great move genius you just gave up your weapon.  Off to the other room for more ammo! Remember all this is silent like a muted action film. Light on my feet as I spring to the kitchen.  Maybe get a jar to trap it? More like a bucket!  Then what, show everyone?  Focus man it’s a battle to the death or we are out of here. (in real time I’m still scanning the room for a possible partner, wondering where it came from and if it brought friends) Grab that can of bug spray.  Ok. bug spray in one hand and a size 7 sandal in the other. I try the sandal drop move first but it catches it and tosses it to the side.  Oh Crap! Grab the other sandal.  He’s moving!  I have the other sandal on my foot but it is my last resort to get that close to the beast and to top it off the sandal is the kind with holes in the sole for drainage.  Not good.  He’s making a break for it.  Across the dirty clothes pile looking like a soft-shell crab.  Spray, Spray, Spray! That slows him but it won’t kill him.  I use the bottom of the can (he is bigger than the base of the can) no luck missed now he is hiding behind the iPad leaning against the wall.  I must block his escape.  Eureka!  Found two big ziplock bags with the boys’ school workbooks. About five workbooks in each.  I remember in the movie “Bee Movie” that some bugs are measured by the size of magazine it takes to kill it.  I believe the bees were impressed with a spring Vogue issue.  I think I might have a chance.  Cornered it and dropped the workbooks.  Two full loads and then a frantic bashing.  Remember it’s a silent battle but I bet the neighbors can hear my heart beating like Will Smith’s “Miami” playing at 2000 beats per minute.  What to do with the carcass?  Oakley has slept through the whole thing.  Hide the dead for a minute while I think.  Wife text from the other room “What’s going on?”. She knows something is going on and is smart not to come in.  “Nothing honey. Just a little spider that was particularly feisty.”.   Ok. I need a huge paper towel or a broom to get rid of it.  This TP will have to do.  Sure it’s dead?  More TP just in case.  Flush.  Done.
  • Of course I had to look it up after and I feel badly for taking out a spider that eats cockroaches.  Who knew at the time?  Huntsman Spider “known by this name because of their speed and mode of hunting.  They also are called giant crab spiders because of their size and appearance.” – https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huntsman_spider.  I was spot on with my assessment of this guy.  Fast and crab like movement.

That’s it, I’m not adding anymore to this list.  I may have jinxed myself by deciding to write on this topic (my wife suggested it) and I don’t have the energy for another battle.

I know I will write more in this area.  I’ve already had a few more encounters since writing this post.

Notable Aussie Flashback

Time to download the last of my Australian notes of interest.  These are random so don’t look for any rhyme or reason to them.  We are countries away form Australia now but I needed to get this out of my head. DSC01585

  1.    Chicken cone: A large plastic cone that attaches to the butcher table.  A chicken (Chook) is placed on it by inserting the cone up the butt of the bird (bird is dead, plucked and gutted. Sorry if you thought otherwise there for a second).  The cone spins so the bird spins too!  James, the butcher I staged with, said some folks use them and can cut up a chicken pretty fast.  I can’t help but think of beer can chicken.
  2. Camp-trailers: and off-road trailers for the overland folks.  The Aussies sure have a lot to choose from. pioneercampers.com, ultimate off-road campers, all with kitchens, awnings (big in AU due to the sun beating you down), and a hell of a lot of staking down.  These people are masters of the tie-down.
  3. I met a man named Max: at Rainbow Beach.  He is retired and fishing a lot.  He must have had seven rods all set up.  It reminds me of my Dad.  Max was using his “tinny” small tin boat to chase tannies and flatheads.  He let me have a look at a fishing magazine to explain what the hell those were.  He said the fishing was off due to a large seaweed mass that had moved into the area.  Said it hasn’t happened in about 150 years.  He jokingly blamed our current president letting me know that he knew my funny talk was American.
  4. Australian English: #homeofthebundy almost all the names for things here are shortened and have a “y” attached to the end.  Bari is Barumundi (I know that isn’t a “y” but that is what I remembered just know.)
  5. 1770: Where Captain Cook landed.   The only place in the world to have a number as a name Coocoo Buros with mud nests in the crouch of a tree, Scrub turkeys (aka Bush turkeys), empty beach for miles
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    Oakley 1770

    and sea turtles seen from cliffs above. Oh and glow in the dark spiders.

  6. The hand break is on the wrong side!  In both the car and on the bikes.  When riding here you must remember the rear brake is on the left and the front on the right.  Just another trick you need to pay attention to unless you plan on doing some indos.
  7. The Australian Magpie: DSC01041has a call (one of many) that is the same as the alien communication in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kindhttp://www.imdb.com/title/tt0075860/. Pretty sure that is where they got it from. Steven Spielberg not the birds. I need to watch that movie again. Some have said my Dad looks like Richard Dreyfus and I would agree.
  8. The 1912Queenslander: we stayed in is a style of house built on stilts to allow airflow to cool it.  We thought Brisbane was set up on a flood plane.  Nope.
  9. Birds: The Bush Stone-curlew, the Watercock, and the Australian White Ibis.  Ibis is a nuisance seen below, upper right.  Watercock looks like a chicken and an duck cross.

    Bush Turkey always seemed to be around.

    I don’t have a photo of the Bush Stone as he was quite elusive.  There are so many more.

HCMCity (Saigon)

View from our AirBnB on the 9th floor.

Saigon wakes up purple and goes to sleep orange.

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It has its beauty but, unfortunately, I think it’s the smog that makes it happen.  Loads of people wearing masks as they ride on scooters, walk around or work on the road side from a small cart.  The irony and the addiction (I’ve been there) is that some will pull the mask down to smoke a cigarette.

So it’s hazzy like a winter inversion in Boise but warmer, much warmer.

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I guess sometimes it goes to bed orange and purple.

 

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Oakley taking in a sunset away from all the on-lookers.

Goodnight Siagon.

Scooters 

“Okay, no problem, I can carry that on my scooter.”

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Nothing prepares you for the amount of talented scooter riders when you travel to Bali.  Coming from The States where a few areas might have what seemed like a lot of motorbikes.  Or it may be summer when more riders are out and sometimes even grouped up together on a tour. The numbers here are unreal. They just keep coming and from all directions.

Oakley, my youngest son of eight years age was saying the word “there” as in, “there is one” from the moment we left the airport until I told him he needed to stop (keeping Dad’s sanity is priority).

“There, there, there, there, there, there……There, there, there, there, there,…”

The thing is, I don’t think those riders in the USA stand a chance in what I believe to be some bizarre competition held on the narrow streets of Bali.  The rules are pretty straight forward with the only goal being…get to where you’re going without dropping something.

The players compete in two categories.

  1. Largest amount of items carried either by weight or bulk.
  2. Top level of unexpected weirdness or level of danger of items carried.

Note: A player may enter both categories in one ride

Here are the contestants.  Help me judge by choosing your top 3 and replying in the comment section below.

Sorry for the lack of photos, the riders come up fast and I spent most of my time staring in astonishment while mentally placing them into the appropriate category.  

  1. Two car tires (not scooter tires…car tires on 14 inch rims.)
  2. Family of four (it’s okay, the kids are in a Baby Byorn type thing or standing between your legs up front)
  3. You, me and my dog (pets are pretty popular to take on a ride. Just have a good grip on them and have them lay across the seat between you and me.)
  4. Surfboards (This increases the danger factor by adding a wing, or shark fin depending on placement.)
  5. Birdcage (with bird. Covered. Usually a cockfighting rooster)
  6. Air compressor (Good size one that needs a handle and wheels to move around the shop)
  7. Juice bottles (6 or 7 cases of glass bottles. Stack them high for additional danger)
  8. Umbrella (open, because it started raining and you are still going to get where you were headed.  This takes a high level of skill due to wind generated by movement and the use of one hand to hold the umbrella leaving only one to control the bike.)
  9. Four, 5gallon water jugs (full)
  10. 6ft. Stack of welcome mats (see pic)img_7365
  11. Bowsaws (4 of them)
  12. Mailbox (big)
  13. Fifteen flats of eggs (not in a box, not wrapped in plastic, not tied. “hold these.”)
  14. Three, 5gallon plastic jugs of gasoline (Obviously more danger than the water guy but what if they crashed into each other, sparking the petrol and then adding the water? I see bonus points here.)
  15. Breadfruit 30+ (These are as big as watermelons at times.)
  16. All manner of plants (including a 40lb Tarrow root or 1/3rd of a tree.)
  17. Three foot pane of glass held by the passenger upright (I thought he was raising his fists in victory during the ride because I couldn’t see the glass.)
  18. Six foot Ladder (Attached at the back or on the rider’s back, positioned straight up)
  19. 40 balloons (inflated)
  20. Scissors
  21. Eight cases of soda and beer (danger factor is increased due to the value placed on the beer.)
  22. Sharp bamboo sticks (placement was key here. The driver had the sharp ends pointed up between his legs.)
  23. A cooler or “esky”as the Aussie call them. (one that holds around 70 cans, filled heaping with ice, no lid)
  24. Four to-go container sleeves (not the small ones, the big ones, no box.)
  25. 2 or 3 giant pillows full of packing beads. (see pic below)img_7777-2

There you have it. Now you just have to imagine these competitors riding in tight traffic, on narrow streets with dogs, cars, trucks, and other folks on scooters filling any open space.

I realize Bali may only have a fraction of the scooter traffic that Vietnam has.  At least that is what I’ve heard.  I can’t wait to see for myself.

Thanks for reading. I look forward to your responses.

Staples

DSC02066I wonder if there is an office supply store on Bali dedicated to staples. Hell, maybe the Staples that shut near our house in Portland was just in the wrong market.

Here is what I know and trust me I have done extensive research into this… The Balinese use ten times the amount of staples we do. I’m not talking about binding papers together to hand in to the professor. These folks use them for absolutely anything they need attached or stuck together.  Decorations are everywhere.  Trees are given sashes of fabric. Temples are dressed up as well. DSC02299

 

 

 

 

Bali is constantly praying or maybe it’s called placing an offering. Every house does this and in multiple locations.

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A multitude of celebration baskets made of staples and dried palm leaves.

Store owners will place an offering in order to have good sales (I’m totally trying this in the next troubled restaurant I consult for).

Ok back to explaining the amount of staples. Where were we…. Ah yes, each house or building will place multiple offerings and each offering is usually placed in a basket made of palm leaves stapled together.

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7 staples in this small clam shell for chilies. 7!

Each spice packet in the supermarket is stapled shut.  Every clam shell (restaurant to-go box) is stuck will staples. Intricate ceremony gifts and decorations are stapled together.

The actual numbers are incalculable.

Here is an offering placed on top of a generator for a big winch system as a crew builds a wall.  I’ll be trying this instead of preventive maintainance on all my future vehicles. DSC01975