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.
My 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.
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.
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.
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.