Twisted Sister?

“Oh we’re not gonna to take it. NO, we’re ain’t gonna take it!….sorry,  echos in the ear of a younger me and my Twisted Sister cassette tapes.

Now back to the prompt.

In the picture it’s not the cow in a chef’s uniform that seems twisted.  It’s the watermelon cow with a bite out of its back.  Take a look and tell me what else you see.

Thanks Amsterdam for keeping things interesting around every corner.

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge- Twisted

Waypoints

Rusty, a 3-year-old male Irish Terrier marking his Denmark territory.  Waypoints on our walking routes, it you will.  I keep telling him he’s been there and that it’s his pee but he has so much energy he doesn’t mind being thorough.

Yup, I took a picture of his ‘waypoint’.

I can’t blame him though, I like going back to a favorite spot too.  I only ran him out of pee once.  He has what seems to be a 5 gallon tank.  He will mark 75 waypoints on a 30 minute walk.

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Now I haven’t been marking territory quite like Rusty but I have placed a few waypoints of my own.  Mostly because I don’t have the memory I used to.  In fact, I can’t remember ever having a good memory.  My wife, as some of you know, can remember what the weather was like on a certain day 17 years ago.

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Denmark was a black and white landscape that occasionally showed purple and violet.  I am grateful for the hospitality of the new friends we met there.  (Thanks Ib, Anne, and all the Denmark family)

Anyway, where was I?  Oh crap… Yes, I’ve marked major waypoints on this map link Gurr World Map Waypoints showing where we have been.  More stops to come!  The map is interactive so you can zoom in and around.  We started our trip going west from Portland.

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I’ll keep blogging.   Be sure to follow along.

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.

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

Changing Pace

Dear internet,

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An Aussie Magpie (They about as big as a fryer chicken and not to be messed with)

It has come to my attention that my dream of being able to write at a pace that would keep up with amount of data I am taking in is both overwhelming and impossible.

My brain works on stories and tries to tie things together.  I tend to sit on a story for a long time.  Remember when I told you I once spent two years working on a chuck box and most of that was planning?  Well, I caught myself trying to write stories in my head with out actually writing anything.  This way of thinking has turned my thoughts into a jumbled mess.

In the past 60 days of traveling I have not written nearly enough.  I need to be getting more out of my head.  Thus, I have decided to change the way my blog works for me.

This blog is for the folks interested in following our journey through my eyes and folks wanting to know what it may be like to travel the world with wife and kids.  I have discovered it needs to be for me first and foremost because my memory is crap.

I have notebooks of what I see, hear, and experience on our travels.  These notes are not pretty.  They don’t say more than a few words about a topic or subject.  I wouldn’t want anyone to try to decipher what I had jotted down in the back of a bouncing car.  Future blog posts will contain some of these ramblings.

Please think of this as more of a journal from now on or until I change my mind again.  The information I’m trying to hold on to is too great.  If I don’t log it, it will escape me.

This is still my photos and all that.  I’m just looking to increase the posted information.  I may, from time to time, surprise you with longer stories with more depth.

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The Australian Magpie is known for “swooping” during the spring breeding season.  so mush so that the cyclist wear helmets with zip ties sticking out all over.  This technique makes you look like a porcupine head.

I first thought the young cyclist had forgotten to remove the decorations from her helmet since a recent parade.  Not so.  Apparently, the Magpies will swoop so mush so that there are signs up in parks warning folks that this is a thing and that the damage can be pretty horrible.  Loss of eye and or cuts on head and ears happen quite frequently.  In other words they are total ***holes.

But wait, there’s more.  The Magpies have friends called Butcher Birds.  Smaller and slightly different in coloring.  Both are black and white but the Butcher has a full white apron.  Butchers also like to swoop.  (Well there’s another sentence that I didn’t know I would write.)

We lucked out and didn’t have any issues and survived the spring.  Back home I think this would be called a “hunting season” but the Magpie is a protected bird in Australia.  In that case there should be free helmet or umbrella (they work to protect you as well)  stands all around.

Happenstance

The magnetic calendar on the fridge is still showing April.  It’s September now and I’m with my family at a housesitting gig on the Gold Coast of Australia. 

We are caring for three cats that couldn’t be more different from each other.  One is nervous, one is yelling at us to do what we are there to do, and the third is in hiding until nighttime. 

Marley is the nervous as hell.  So much so that he rubs the fur and flesh off the top of his head and paw due to a reflex he has when scared, nervous, threatened, ect…

Patrick is hard of hearing due to old age (16).  He yells for what he needs and you can never be fully ready for that meow.  Waking to it the first morning groggy and jet lagged I couldn’t figure out what was going on. An unfamiliar house, Aussie Magpies songs and the beast downstairs.   

Gracie is jet black and was spotted the first night but then hid deep in the closet for three days.   I met her on the stairs sometime in the night.  She looked like a rug and I almost stepped on her as I made my way down to Patrick who was yelling at me for something.  

A day later she warmed up to me after the boys went to sleep.  skittish at first but after a few smells of my hand she was zig-zagging through my legs and using those big yellow eyes to get more petting.   Gracie is only seen three times a day, late a night looking like a man-hole cover,  early in the morning for food, and as a shadow in the late evening moving from room to room. 


Ok, back to what I was going to tell you about.  On the calendar I notice an ad for a meat shop called Arundel Meats “30 years of service”.  That sounds interesting, I’ll look it up. 

The search reveals the shop is an 8 minute walk from here.  I make note of it and put it in the hopper.  Going to need a bit of meat for the family meals and maybe I can offer to assist at the same time.  It’s worth an ask. 

I will the car to make the left turn, from the left lane, to the left lane again as I turn into the lot.  All this while steering from the wrong side of the car.  Driving on the left is a game all played in your head. 

A quick stop to check out Arundel Meats and we will be back on the route to home.  My wife and two boys stay in the car, tired from all the first day management work of getting sorted in a new country. 

The shop is small with a long display case full of goodies.  I decide on carrot and onion rissoles and two chicken breasts (filets).  As Evan, the owner of this shop for 18 years (info on the their website), sets me up quickly I ask if I can stop in and assist or observe his operation over the next three weeks.  He looks at me a bit confused and I say I’m American, from the states, or if he prefers, I’m Canadian.  I’m a Chef. 

Back out to the car I hop in and my wife asks me “Well, did you get a job?”. I say no, that they were full up and wouldn’t have the hours for me.  I then tell her that I was asked to come back tomorrow to assist and or observe.  She response with surprise and the boys ask If I got a job.

I explain that it is not for money but I might be given something for helping out.  I can’t help but think what a huge lesson is being taught to them.  That being present and asking for something sometimes pays off huge.  And if it doesn’t, then you are back where you were but at least you asked.

img_6538img_6537In the days that follow I staged for a few hours at Arundel Meats with Evan.  He fabricates about 6 lamb and 2 beef bodies a week.  Now there is something you wouldn’t really want to say to loudly in the states, “bodies” as in, “I will be in the coolers cutting up a few bodies for the case.”. 

He generously tells me to breakdown a lamb.  He assumes that I am familiar with the bandsaw but I tell him I’m not and would prefer a hand saw if he has one.  Also, I need to keep my digits attached. 

We show each other a few things.  I set up a tray of lamb rib chops and a five-rib rack all Frenched and pretty for the display case.   He shows me how he break down a beef body in the cooler and then hangs the meat to age.  

Now here is the kickers. Later that week I’m picking up some lamb stew meat.  I told him I would cook up Lamb Navarin for him if he supplied the lamb.  “No worries.” he says.

During the exchange of lamb he says he saw me walking up Greenacre Drive and asks where I’m staying.  I tell him I’m in 111 and he gives me a look of disbelieve and confusion and says “No, no I’m in 111. Where are you?”.   I’m in 111 #9. He smiles and says he is in #6 and clarifies that we are talking about the same fenced in area with the duplexes. Sure thing, We are living across the street from each other.

He invites the family for a Barbie and we have an incredible night.  Singing, Conversation and the whole lot.  Lots of meat too.  Funny how that works out.  There was a salad or two as well.