Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hello strange bugs

These two were on my front porch. If you are wondering about all the insect postings, I just happen to be seeing a lot of them lately.

Speaking of insects, we are going to have our first Japanese lesson now. Here is the word of the week: MUSHI

MUSHI means mosquito. And there is no "Off" brand repellent in this country, they have "Mushi Bye-Bye" brand. I walk around chanting rhythmically "mushi-bye-bye, mushi-bye-bye". I even have a little jig I do for the kids. Bad!

The mosquitoes are smaller than in MI, (not surprising) and their legs have black and white horizontal stripes. Yes, the bugs here have high-fashion legs.

"Ya got cute socks, but I'm gonna smack ya anyway...."

Hello Spider

This guy was the size of my hand.
Ok, maybe not. But he was at least 1/2 that.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Hello Grasshopper.

You better get going before crow-san makes a tasty snack of you

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Hoian Market pix

classic image: mom in love with baby.

The dock at the market in Hoian. You'd never know it, but it was so hot and smelly here, that it kind of burned your eyes. There was a puddle of hot mystery moisture that I stepped in, and my foot was stinky sopping and didn't dry off for about an hour. A feeling and a smell that I can't quite forget!

Beach in Hoian

A lot of little old ladies working hard in sweltering heat. I cannot tell you how many really elderly women I saw carrying lots of heavy things. I wanted to just stop them and say, "Hey, where you going? Stop.. let me carry that!" Some tough gals...

Here's Granny, waiting for customers, in a 7-11 type. We bought a cheap and dusty bottle of red wine that was, um...quite tasty.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Attack of the Motorbike

Ok, which is it, Ho Chi Minh or Saigon?

Ho Chi Minh...


Sorry Ho Chi, I'm sticking with Saigon. Just like it better.

Saigon was definitely thee most intense city that I have ever been in. And yes, Tokyo certainly is nuts, but there is some order to it. Hot, humid, loud, stinky, busy, and stinkybusy. Hey I just made up a new word.

I'll start right in with the traffic. Every single intersection of every single block of every single street were packed with motorbikes. Hundreds, thousands of them. Walking around this place was quite stressful. If you are lucky, there is a stoplight at the intersection you walk up to. If not, you can just wait there, all day, to cross the street, but you will never get the chance to.....unless you do this....

Just start crossing. GO. Walk normal. Don't look anywhere but straight ahead. The motorbikes will all swerve around you. Don't try to dodge them, don't even look at them, you will have heart failure.
It is the hardest thing to do, taking your children to cross the street while there are 74 motor vehicles coming right at you. It goes against all instincts and everything you ever drilled into their heads over and over about learning how to cross the street safely.

My Uncle Frank warned me of this before we left, but I thought ...a bit extreme. He was right.
After doing this a handful of times with the whole family and stroller, I am certain that I shaved off a couple years of my life. I know it. That night at our hotel, I laid down on the bed to rest, and everything went black. I was cemented into that mattress. I never got back up, not even to brush my teeth. And I never go to bed without brushing.

Here is a short traffic clip. Taken on the way to the airport.
And some shots of various, downtown Saigon. Click on the pics to enlarge...

It didn't help, crossing the street with these masked people. I think they just escaped with the loot, and surely wouldn't care if they bumped me off.
I saw a lot of dirty plates on the sidewalk. Just eat, wherever...someone will pick it up later on?
I think there was a motorbike under there somewhere

Hey are those kids buckled?


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The slug makes an entry

Attempting to study my Japanese. Oops, I'm
not doing too well.

Sorry I have not yet talked about our vacation. I am so drained from the heat that I can't think straight. Really, it's been bad and I have fallen into somewhat of a depression because of it. I feel like I am sick, actually. A real break today, it cooled off considerably, and I had a cup of hot tea, something unthinkable lately.

But anyway I am here to post a few shots and say a couple things.

Nick Gaulier, (15) my cousins kid was here for a couple weeks. Had a great time. Nick is funny and easy to get along with . We took a trip out of town into the mountains and saw great stuff. He got quite good with the chopsticks, even though at times he ate his rice grain by grain.
Now off to Cambodia...
Here is Angkor Wat. These temples are nearly 900 years old. There are several of these ancient Buddhist sites around Siem Reap, but this is the largest and most well preserved.I loved Cambodia. I am not sure why, but the people seemed to be crazy about us. Must not get too many foreigners with kids, and a curly blond baby. They would stop in their tracks to come over to see us, like we were long lost family, and gave off such a genuine feeling of happiness with gigantic smiles.
One excited woman approached me asking, "Your family?"
I said "yes."
she gleefully yelled, "You so happy!"

I don't remember if I was really happy quite at that very moment, but, she decided I was, so I got happy right then. They don't have much material stuff there, and family must be everything, so the bigger the family, surely the better and happier your life must be.

It was one of those moments to be thankful for. And there were quite a few of them.
One of the "7-11's" of Siem Reap.

More on Cambodia later. I'm tired and going to bed.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Talk about the weather

Ira here - A word about the weather..

Summer is probably the worst season weather-wise in Tokyo. It starts off in June with tsuyu - rainy season. As you might infer from its name, this is a five-week-or-so period in which it rains a lot. Generally with high temperatures. Very uncomfortable, but nothing compared with what's to come. Around the middle of July it eventually gives way to a brutally hot, humid stretch that lasts into late September. This is when the cicadas emerge from their dormancy and begin a daily serenade that begins around 4am and goes through to the next evening. These large bugs make a very loud buzz saw-like obnoxious noise that can drive you nuts after a while. It combines with the cawing of the huge crows co-inhabiting our neighborhood to make for a not-so-pleasant awakening too early each morning. Got an idea for a business - breed cicadas that taste good to crows that once eaten cause the crow to lose its voice.

Anyway, back to the humidity. It's really bad. Short walks outside result in drenched shirts. Do this a few times and you realize all of a sudden you're on your fourth layer of dried grime that day. And then try sleeping in it. Air conditioning, which I usually don't like while sleeping, is an absolute necessity, global warming notwithstanding. I've been avoiding looking at my electric bills all summer. There goes my cost-of-living adjustment.

So the last few days have been hellish. A typhoon (hurricane) has been making its way up from the tropics and has been pushing warm moist air ahead of it. If it's possible to have more than 100% humidity this is it. It's finally hitting us tonight, with loud, strong winds and horizontal rain. Never mind the umbrellas. Supposed to go on through tomorrow to the point where school might be canceled. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get any Japanese to commit to me with assurance that once this blows through the humidity will come down. Supposedly we've got another two-three weeks. Yuck.

After that the weather will be fine until next June. It'll get dry for the most part, and winter's not too bad. And the cicadas shut up.