Archive for the ‘North America’ Category

NSAA quick note to let people know the Sri Lankan telephone number I will be contactable on for the next couple of weeks. It is +94 7661 53359

I am sure that while I have been away this year I will have collected more telephone numbers than Edward Snowden and the NSA!

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Bruce LeeBruce Lee was a Hong Kong American who is fairly credited with helping to change the way Asians were presented in American films, because his films and TV characters were one of the first to bridge the gap between the east and the west.

Although his training was in the Wing Chun style of Kung Fu he felt it was too restrictive and went on to develop his own martial art called Jeet Kune Do, which can be seen as a forerunner of the various types of Mixed Martial Arts that have exploded all over the world in recent years. 

WP_20131017_057He was undoubtedly one of my heroes when I was growing up as a result of watching all his martial arts films, so I had to go on a grail quest to explore the areas of Hong Kong where he had grown up and gone to school.

This building across the other side of Victoria Harbour in Kowloon is his former house. Try to imagine me in a pair of shaolin pajamas practicing Bruce’s famous one-inch punch outside paying homage to the great man. (Optional sound effects can be added)

Bruce-Lee-Bronze-StatueThere is also this fantastic statue of him on the harbour side in Kowloon.

A few random Bruce Lee facts for you:

Bruce kicked the backside of Chuck Norris, Jackie Chan and Batman on screen.

Steve McQueen and James Coburn were pall bearers at his funeral.

Most martial art films of the era were sped up to make fighting scenes appear fast, but Bruce’s moves were actually too fast to be captured on the regular 24 frames per second film. As a consequence they had to film him at 32 fps, and run the film slower so you could actually see more than just a blur.

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poplarI have one more thing to report on from the DMZ which happened in 1976. It was caused because a United Nations Command outpost close to the Bridge Of No Return had its line of sight to the next watch tower obscured by leaves which had grown from a poplar tree.

A five man american detail was dispatched to perform some trimming of the offending tree, but these military gardeners were met by forces of the DPRK. Things descended into violence quite quickly with the US captain being killed by a single karate chop to the neck, and the rest of the detail then being attacked with the very axes they had taken into the DMZ to prune the tree killing a young lieutenant also on the detail.

axe-murder-incidentThe US military was filming the whole incident from the outpost, although it is still unclear in the footage on how things got started, with both sides claiming self defence.

What is clear is that three days later a show of force that must go down as the largest topiary exercise in history was launched. Operation Paul Bunyan involved two dozen truck loads of men approaching the poplar tree, carrying more than eight hundred men all of whom were armed to the teeth and trained in Taekwondo. This force was backed up by attack helicopters, fighter planes, B-52 bombers and a US aircraft carrier, which meant that the tree was successfully cut down without response from the DPRK.

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North-and-South-KoreaThe Korean War was primarily the result of an agreement of the victorious Allies at the end of World War II. The Korean Peninsula had been ruled by the Empire of Japan from 1910, and following it’s surrender in 1945 the peninsula was divided the along the 38th parallel, with USA forces occupying the southern half and Soviet military forces occupying the northern half.

The North established a communist government, while the South established a right-wing government and the 38th parallel increasingly became a political border between the two Korean states. Tension in the area intensified as cross-border skirmishes and raids persisted until North Korean forces invaded South Korea in 1950.

The-United-NationsThe USA and other countries passed a Security Council resolution in the United Nations authorizing military intervention in Korea, which was able to be passed because the Soviet Union was boycotting the council at the time.

The USA provided most of the soldiers which aided South Korean forces, with mixed results until the People’s Republic of China, keen to assert itself on the world stage, entered the war on the side of North Korea forcing the Southern-allied forces to retreat behind the 38th Parallel. The Soviet Union had no boots on the ground, but provided material aid to both the North Korean and Chinese armies.

Korean_dmz_mapThe fighting ended in 1953 when the armistice agreement was signed by all involved, apart from the South Koreans, which means the two countries are still technically at war today. However the agreement restored the border between the nations near the 38th Parallel and created the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). None of the countries involved are entirely fond of the others some sixty years later.

The DMZ is a 4km wide fortified buffer zone between the two Korean countries, which is a powder keg that always seems ready to go off, so it sounds like just the sort of place you should go to on holiday! I’ll send you a postcard.

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Love SurfingI love it!

As you can tell from this shot taken at Turners Beach in Yamba

On a separate vein I have been reading about this bloke who surfs while playing his ukulele. I’m not sure I am personally ready to combine the two just yet!

 

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Bridge of Light 1

It is my last night in town and I take a stroll into town from my campervan camp ground on the other side of the estuary.

This entails crossing this illuminated bridge, which is like something out of a Flash Gordon movie.

I think it is great but the fisherman trying to catch something out of the water below are less impressed by the racket I am making as I stride across.

My hearty “Good evenings” only merit more comments that I am scaring the fish off so I keep moving. 

Three Wise Monkeys 2We have decided to go for a few drinks with pizza, and I meet up with Anna and another surfer called Sam who we saw in the water earlier in the day.

It is a lovely evening and we have some great food but everybody is tired and I’m the only one for whom it isn’t a school night so we turn in early.

In the morning there is just enough time for Anna and I to enjoy a coffee together before big hugs all round and saying farewell once more.

Time to hit the road again. I’m heading south.

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Endless Summer 2The first place I am heading to in New Zealand is a small town called Raglan, which has been famous in surfing circles since it’s waves appeared in Bruce Brown’s classic surf film ‘The Endless Summer’.

The weather is awful and I get completely lost leaving Auckland so it is well after dark and I am tired by the time I pull up at the supermarket there upon arrival because I need to buy supplies.

Anna 1I walk through the door of the supermarket and immediately bump into Anna at the vegetable section, who was one of two gorgeous Canadian surfers I met all the way back in Oahu and joined me for the first surf of my travels as well as touring most of the North Shore with me back in December.

Neither of us knew the other would even be in this part of the world let alone in town or going shopping, and two minutes either way and we would have missed each other entirely. Nobody else in the supermarket has a clue what is going on and is probably wondering why two people are jumping around hugging one and other only having seen the price of potatoes, but we are super stoked. Such an excellent surprise.

Hot TubWe spend a few minutes catching up on the waves we have been scoring on our different journeys, and I’m disappointed to discover that I only missed also seeing Alexa again by a week because she has just gone home.

“Do you want to come and hang out with me and my friends in our hot tub?” is not a question I have been asked often enough by pretty young surfer girls, and is certainly not an offer I need to consider for long. We complete our shopping and I give Anna a lift back up the hill to her place to enjoy a few beers. Whilst there I am treated to some wholesome home cooked food too. What a welcome. I think I will be liking New Zealand.

However it was a good job I was in a great mood, because when it is time to turn in I discover that  the numpties at the campervan hire company haven’t equipped me with the center-board necessary to make up the king size bed in the van. Denied!!

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The AmericasI have travelled the length and bredth of the Americas since I started this trip back in December, but the time has come for me to move on.

It also means that I will no longer need to keep butchering the Spanish language that I have learned to some degree as I have moved south from the USA.

There have certainly been plenty of highs as well as a few lows to keep me grounded on the road, but as ever it is time to move on because the planet has so many more waves on offer for me to enjoy along the rest of this trip.

Las OlasRather fittingly I saw this road sign next to the pizza place on my last night in Chile.

It translates to The Waves, which is an odd name for a road if you ask me, but the sign was pointing westward towards the east and that is exactly where I am going.

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Gavin Jag

It would appear that great minds think alike. I have been contacted by a Canadian surfer called Gavin whose home break is near Vancouver and who is up to similar adventures to my own.

He stumbled upon the details of my trip whilst trying to shortcut to the details of his own journey.

For those of you on Facebook, you can check out what he has been up to using the following link:

www.facebook.com/aroundDaWorldIn80Waves

There is a chance our paths may cross later in the year when will both be in Asia.

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William WalkerSince being in Central America I have been reading quite a lot about William Walker who seems to have lived quite an extraordinary life. Marlon Brando portrayed him in the 1969 film ‘Burn!’ which I have not seen

The rest I have lifted from Wikipedia because I have too much writing to do, but I would recommend you take the time to read about him.

(May 8, 1824 – September 12, 1860) who was an American doctor, lawyer, journalist and adventurer, who organized several private military expeditions into Latin America, with the intention of establishing English-speaking colonies under his personal control, an enterprise then known as “filibustering.”

Walker became president of the Republic of Nicaragua in 1856 and ruled until 1857, when he was defeated by a coalition of Central American armies, principally Costa Rica’s army. He was executed by the government of Honduras in 1860.

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