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.

    DSC01661

    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.

DSC03468

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.

img_8796

 

 

DSC03579

I guess sometimes it goes to bed orange and purple.

 

DSC03578

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

Goodnight Siagon.

Scooters 

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

DSC01909

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.

DSC01900

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.

img_7754

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,

DSC01041

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.

img_6967-1

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.

Tails Down Under

DSC01172

ITINERARY: Hervey Bay to Platypus Bay, zip by Fraser Island and back to Hervey Bay.

dsc01131.jpg

Hervey Bay plays with your eyes in the morning as the horizon and smooth ocean bay are almost indistinguishable.  A closer look reveals activity in what looks like total serenity.

img_6740

Untracked beach is disturbed by the artwork of what was explained to me as a worm.  In Oregon we can identify  disruption of the wet sand as clams but here it’s worms used as bait.  As the worm digs in deeper perfect balls of sand lay on the beach like little marbles.

 

 

 

DSC01107

img_6769

Canyon (furthest out. Surprise, surprise) and Oakley. 

 

Kids play in the shallow bay were you can be a hundred yards into the ocean and still only be thigh high.

 

 

 

 

As I had mentioned in the itinerary above we did head out on a whale watching tour by the Pacific Whale Foundation.  The show that followed hit all the highlights in the brochure.

We witnessed blowing, head slap, fluke up dive, pec slap, breach, tail slap, peduncle throw, and singing.   Although, all these behaviors could be found in a Gurr Boy wrestling match we saw them preformed by slightly higher weight class. The adults weigh in at about 35 tons!

The pics I’ve placed here are just a handful of the amount I shot.  I’m still patting myself on the back for deciding to upgrade to the Sony A6000 mirrorless camera before leaving the States.

I could here my father telling me about shooting photographs of a moving subject from a boat (moving object) as being extremely difficult.  Add to that not knowing where the subject will appear and you get about a thousand shots to sort through.  Blurry, delete, late, delete, I moved, delete, early not there yet, delete….

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

KGURR PHOTO

DSC01265dsc01298.jpg

That were still playing as the sun when low and we had to head back.

DSC01309

The route back to the dock took us within a few boat lengths of Fraser Island.  An adventure that I felt was priced out of the budget for this go around.  I have seen in before on a whim in 2001.  I swear to return to it someday.

DSC01318

 

 

 

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.