Well, I said I was going to do it, and I did it. I'm not one to talk through his hat. A dream without a plan only remains a dream. I set a goal to head to Asia early this summer and I planned accordingly. Beginning on Monday, August 10th what was once a dream has become a reality.
Everyone goes through different phases in their lives. I'm opening myself up to new challenge and experiences. My twos sons are grown, educated, successful and have families of their own. I dote on my grandchildren and business is good.
The last 20 years have been dedicated to basketball and helping young people realize their dreams, assisting them in obtaining scholarships and in many cases to have successful professional careers both on and off the court.
Nothing will change there as the D1 Nation is as strong as it's ever been with teams and players in multiple states. I'm happy that my son, Chip Ivany is taking a more active role in the organization. He has been the camp director of the highly acclaimed Adidas D1 Nation Top 100 Camp the last two years. From my point of view my leadership and guidance is never further than away than a phone call, text message, video clip or evaluation. The internet is a wonderful thing.
Mow that my daughter in law, Judy Jones has begun her professional career the bricks are being laid to have a successful girls program giving young ladies the same opportunities that our over 250 male Division One athletes have been afforded over the past 20 years.
So, with the above in mind, I've set off like David Carradine in Kung Fu (a character in a 70's tv show) to wander the earth, look for basketball players overseas and to develop relationships and have experiences outside my comfort zone.
Who knows, I may come back in a few days with my tail between my legs, at the end of 100 days, or who knows, I may decide to make a transition and base my personal life and business overseas. Either way, I am blessed to have this opportunity and I thank God that I am in good health and ready to commence on this journey.
I din't want to be too precocious and assume everyone would give a hoot, but I've had many say "Coach, please send updates and pictures". The easiest way to do this is through the D1 Nation web site and it's over 3.5 million views.
I will do my best update this on a daily basis. You can expect a dose of basketball insight, mild political & social commentary, my general observations and my own quirky brand of humor. I'm well aware that many things will be different and although I will point out differences in the people and places I visit, my goal is to embrace these differences and not to whine about them or "wish that I was back home". That in itself would defeat the purpose of going
I've got the resources to live the high life there as local earning power is modest by comparison but it's my intention to live modestly and try and experience these places like the locals do. (Sorry, air conditioning is non negotiable). I hope you enjoy my findings and I will do my best to give you an idea of the local flavor.
At noon on Monday, August 10th I left the friendly embrace of my brother Don and Niece, Tejal leaving Calgary, Alberta Canada and kicking off my experience with a 16 hour flight to Beijing, China.
I've done my share of international travel over to Europe and it never gets easier when your body crosses 14 time zones and has to attempt to adjust to the sleep deprivation. The first leg was a quick hop to Vancouver, Canada on a domestic airline and of course a complimentary one hour delay in getting on my connecting flight via Air China to Beijing.
The first thing that immediately sticks out is the friendly, professional nature of the flight crew. Most of you know that I prefer to drive a 1000 miles instead of fly any day of the week for a variety of reasons, not the least is the surly attitude of the flight attendants on domestic airlines. Time was when it was a glamorous job to be a flight attendant. (I know as I married a beautiful Pan Am stewardess, as they were called back then). Today, not so much.
I'm not sure of the model of my plane but it sat 9 across and I was in the 40th row, which I'm guessing was maybe 2/3 of the way back. It was chock full with what I am guessing was about 600 passengers. Everyone of the flight attendants was a beautiful, well groomed Asian lady that oozed femininity and grace while doing her job. We received two meals along the way without a hitch.
I did think it was interesting that out of a menu of in flight movies that Air China had Rambo: First Blood as one of it's "vintage" productions. I caught that flick and a then a bio-documentary on Adidas star Lionel Messi of Barcelona and Argentina fame. In between it was a series of mini naps as an annoying lady behind me kept putting her legs in the back of my seat.
16-17 hours later after having run up the coast of Alaska and then across the Bering Strait. flying over Russian air space, over Japan and Korea we touched down in China's capital city, Beijing.
The first thing I realized I will have to get used to is that Asian people (who are very polite culturally) turn into a crew of stampeding elephants with no regard to others when either driving an automobile or standing in line. It was Katy bar the door as everyone got up, grabbed luggage from the overhead bins and then started elbowing their way out as if the plane was on fire and their asses were catchin'. Really folks, ya'll have that much energy after a 16 hour flight? lol
I headed to the information counter, patiently waited my turn and watched as 5-6 people just pretended I was nonexistent and elbowed their way head of me with their questions. I'm no shrinking violet under normal circumstances, but I kept quiet and absorbed the moment. I did decide however that if that's how it all goes down then this wasn't happening to me again. :-)
I received my directions to where to get my currency exchanged into Chinese Yuan (which is approximately 6 to every US dollar). I headed to the foreigner's immigration line, where I was then sent for secondary screening. I thought. "Oh Boy", but was pleasantly surprised that the Chinese Immigration Officer who was a lady, was brief but courteous and then stamped my visa and boom, it was "Welcome to China"
The first thing you notice as you step out of the modern terminal is the heat and humidity hits you square in the face. 95 degrees, with 95% humidity. I felt like I was home in Houston. The main difference though is rarely will you see folks walking the streets of Houston, TX as everyone is in their car bustling somewhere. Not so here as many folks walk or use rudimentary transportation.
I was aware that Asian taxi drivers are renowned for screwing foreigners. I knew this in advance. However I was so tired I took the first guy's bait when he grabbed at me my bags and ended up getting charged double for my ride to the hotel. Lesson learned. Don't step into a cab until you negotiate the price in advance.
On the other side of the coin, I've paid a lot more money to do a few laps at the Bondurant school of racing which provided similar thrills and excitement. Man, it was like the Indy 500 as cars, trucks, motorcycles, ricksha's etc all were honking, swerving and racing in and out of traffic. Pedestrians have no value. In fact, the motorist laws basically seem to be that if my vehicle is bigger than yours then I have the right of way.
I checked into my hotel which turned out to be in a rough industrial area near the airport. I won't call it seedy, but I'd say the American version of 3 star hotel and the Asian version are a little different. Another lesson learned.
I checked in to the hotel and after a few hours nap, went over to a local restaurant and chowed down on spicy batter friend shrimp with their beady little eyes still intact. I ate it though and why not? Back in the day I ate the worm out of bottle of Mescal tequila. lol What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
After my dinner I headed to bed with Day 1 in the books. A note though that I left North America at noon on Monday, but actually arrived in Beijing on Tuesday at 5 pm after gaining 14 hours crossing time zones and the international date line.