Wired

Coffee, Powerlines and other Stimuli:

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Up for a cup?  Always.  I’m ALWAYS up for a cup of joe.  I’ll have it in all forms.  Hot, cold, was hot, mocha, latte, just a shot, whatever it is… yes please, I’m a junkie.

Traveling and on a lean budget leads to a lot of instant coffee.  At times you only have a kettle and a 7-11.  I’ve dug old espresso makers out of the back of cupboards and brought them back to life.  I need my fix…

I have searched for a good instant blend and maybe I have just gotten used to them rather than think they are good.  “Acceptable” is common.

But when the price is right I find the local joe.

Bali and other places seem to put what I call weasel coffee (Luwak in Bali) on a high pedestal.  Like lobster of the seafood category,  This coffee is harvested after passing through a mongoose, roasted and priced accordingly.   dsc02068

Yes, you can taste the difference between male and female brew.  Enough of that crap.  Let’s talk about Vietnam.

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Vietnam offered, and I couldn’t turn down, cà phê sữa nong.  Slow pour over espresso with condensed milk.  Small but powerful.

Just yesterday I had a beautiful Coffee Coa in Denmark.  A shot of espresso and a piece of chocolate melted into it.  Hygge in a cup.   There is no photographic evidence of the actual cup but this one came close.  It’s a cappuccino in a red cafe with candles on every table.  Lovely and 25 Krone.

Ok enough coffee. What is up with the electricians in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand?  Is there a contest I’m missing?

There are lines laying on the ground and hanging low across sidewalks in Da Nang begging the question, “It that hot?”.  I didn’t stick around to find out.

Code? What Code?  I’m not an electrician but I do know this wouldn’t fly in my neighborhood.

 

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Other stimuli: Pull tab Beers.

 

Bricks

img_7633-1Bricks: The building blocks of Southeast Asia.

Behind every layer of cement lies a layer of red-orange (aka brick-red).  It doesn’t matter if the building is purple or fluorescent green or both (Thailand), it’s still brick on the inside.DSC04423

Each new Air b-n-b includes a near by construction site allowing you to play such games as “Guess what time the crew will start tomorrow.”, “What tool makes that much noise?”, “I don’t think THAT is OSHA approved.”, and “Do you see any safety harnesses?”.

Down every street and in most driveways is a stack of bricks.  I watched a woman move an entire pallet sized pile from one side of the alley to the other.  It was a 1.5 meter move and I wondered if it actually needed to be done.  Maybe she was rearranging?DSC03536

Vietnam was where I really started to notice.  Da Nang was the clear winner in the brick pile competition.  I think it’s because of their drive to become the Singapore of Vietnam.  Every patch of land along what used to be called China Beach is being built up into high-rise condos or a hotel.

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Go Broncos!

Hue and Hanoi were doing well also.

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I guess not much attention to detail here.  some of the letters are up some down.  It really set me off.

We even passed the brick factory on our way to Halong Bay.  Passing by a small town on the left side I marveled at the field full of neatly stacked piles and pillars that looked like a miniature city scape.  A brick Hobbiton.

Some may say that SE Asia is built on bamboo and palm fronds and they certainly use a lot of each for almost everything.  I also know I get fixated on a subject and soon I’m seeing bricks everywhere.

I rest my case with My Son.

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The like new looking bricks are the originals.  The black and deteriorating are the modern rebuild.

Built of brick and tree sap between 400 AD and 1400 AD the building are still standing.  Located in the jungle of central Vietnam.  Worn by moisture, weather and war,  My Son is truly a marvel in construction to this day.  Bricks layered without cement.  Stacked and set to dry, the ancient construction is not holding the moisture.  This baking of the bricks is what makes them better than the ones used for reconstruction.

 

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.

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.

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.