Rooftop

Looking up (and sometimes down).

Surfers Paradise, Australia tops:

Not many people seem to pay attention to what is above them.  I can be on a balcony and watch folks stroll by not knowing that I am up.

My family grew up bird watching.   If I catch a glimpse of a wing flap then I look for a nest or a perch.  Doing this and being in several storied buildings I’m able to catch a different perspective and learn a bit about rooftops around the world.

Look for the decoration and the occasional critter.  Pay attention to the materials, angles, lines, and construction.  I find it interesting.  I’ll note locations.

Bali tops:

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Lego Land & Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia tops:

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Singapore tops:

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Vietnam top:

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Thailand tops:

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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.

 

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.

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.