Comfortably numb

I never saw such a place! Uncle Cho's entreaty to come inside for a taste of his sausage was ignored however...

I never saw such a place! Uncle Cho’s entreaty to come inside for a taste of his sausage was ignored however…

So here are some random photos from my so-called life this week…

Attended the Change of Command ceremony for the Korean Service Corps commander...

Attended the Change of Command ceremony for the Korean Service Corps commander…

I'd worked closely with the outgoing commander on a couple of cases this year. He was appreciative enough to call out our office as having done a "fine job" during his speech...

I’d worked closely with the outgoing commander on a couple of cases this year. He was appreciative enough to call out our office as having done a “fine job” during his speech…

I'm a sucker for pomp and circumstance...

I’m a sucker for pomp and circumstance…

My fellow office mates who attended the event...

My fellow office mates who attended the event…

My commie friend Choonae. Not surprisingly, there is next to nothing we agree on politically. She is vehemently opposed to THAAD deployment and posted on facebook that she "hates the U.S. Army". I took some offense to that, noting that over 54,000 young Americans had sacrificed their lives to give her the freedom to hat the U.S. Army. She did reassure that it was the Army she hated not the people who work there. When I pressed her as to why she was opposed to a purely defensive anti-ballistic missile deployment, she said it makes China angry and that China is more important to Korea than the USA. I laughed and told her that that makes sense. Korea has been China's bitch throughout history...

My commie friend Choonae. Not surprisingly, there is next to nothing we agree on politically. She is vehemently opposed to THAAD deployment and posted on facebook that she “hates the U.S. Army”. I took some offense to that, noting that over 54,000 young Americans had sacrificed their lives to give her the freedom to hate the U.S. Army. She did reassure that it was the Army she hated not the people who work there. When I pressed her as to why she was opposed to a purely defensive anti-ballistic missile deployment, she said it makes China angry and that China is more important to Korea than the USA. I laughed and told her that that makes sense. Korea has been China’s bitch throughout history…

Not sure why I even bother to stay engaged...

Not sure why I even bother to stay engaged…

I guess I just can't help caring...

I guess I just can’t help caring…

Thank God for chemistry though...

Thank God for chemistry though…

Thursday night we did a farewell event for my Army buddy Steve who will be departing Korea for his next assignment soon. We drank, we ate, and then we drank a little more. Got him back on base before the 0100 curfew so it's all good. I was floored when I got home.

Thursday night we did a farewell event for my Army buddy Steve who will be departing Korea for his next assignment soon. We drank, we ate, and then we drank a little more. Got him back on base before the 0100 curfew so it’s all good. I was floored when I got home.

Fortunately I had the foresight to take Friday off. Despite the stifling heat, I spent some time on Namsan...

Fortunately I had the foresight to take Friday off. Despite the stifling heat, I spent some time on Namsan…

Objects in the photo are more distant than they appear...

Objects in the photo are more distant than they appear…

One step at a time gets the job done...

One step at a time gets the job done…

And I came back for more today...

And I came back for more today…

Tonight I’ll be changing things up by attending a dinner party at the Cassady’s house.  The Randolph’s and Rago’s will also be there.  It’s been quite some time since I’ve received such an invite to a couple’s centric event.  I guess the failure of my marriage makes folks uncomfortable.  Hell, it makes ME uncomfortable!  Anyway, I’m bringing banana pudding.

And now you know everything I do.

There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship smoke on the horizon
You are only coming through in waves
Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying
When I was a child
I caught a fleeting glimpse
Out of the corner of my eye
I turned to look but it was gone
I cannot put my finger on it now
The child is grown
The dream is gone
I have become comfortably numb.

Wow, get a look at that rack!

No, not that rack...

No, not that rack…

...this one!  Baby back ribs for supper tonight baby!  And lunchee tomorrow...

…this one! Baby back ribs for supper tonight baby! And lunchee tomorrow…

In other news, my kids are busy dismantling my American life.  Yard sale scheduled for August 6.  And meanwhile on Craigslist:

sellout1 sellout2 sellout3 sellout4 sellout5

Listed at less than half of what I paid, who knows what the market will bear.

I just need to be done with it.  It’s a sad reminder of what was, what could have been, and what will never be.

And that as they say “is life”.

What’s for dinner?

why, Mississippi roast beef.  Thanks for asking!

So I upped my Sunday crock pot game a tad today.  I got tagged with this recipe on Facebook by a friend who likes my leftovers.  So I thought what the hell, let’s give it a try.

Started off with a four pound chuck roast...

Started off with a four pound chuck roast…

"Dredged" it in flour, salt and pepper...

“Dredged” it in flour, salt and pepper…

Browned in the skillet to form a crust...

Browned in the skillet to form a crust…

Popped it into the crock pot and added butter and pepperoncini...

Popped it into the crock pot and added butter and pepperoncini…

Mixed up some mayonnaise, paprika, dried dill, and cider vinegar...

Mixed up some mayonnaise, paprika, dried dill, and cider vinegar…

...which I poured on top of the roast...

…which I poured on top of the roast…

...and set the timer on low.  Went out and did some drinking and got home to a wonderful smelling house and a crock pot full of this...

…and set the timer on low. Went out and did some drinking and got home to a wonderful smelling house and a crock pot full of this…

Not bad, eh?

Not bad, eh?

Pulled that tenderness apart, soaked it in the juices, then put it on my plate...

Pulled that tenderness apart, soaked it in the juices, then put it on my plate…

Not bad if I do say so myself...

Not bad if I do say so myself…

And of course I rewarded my efforts with a sweet strawberry-banana smoothie.  Life is good.  Or at least dinner was...

And of course I rewarded my efforts with a sweet strawberry-banana smoothie. Life is good. Or at least dinner was…

More effort than I usually invest, but it was a nice change from my usual pot roast….

And so ends another weekend.

 

I’m a thousand miles from nowhere…

Haven’t seen the sun in two damn days but that didn’t stop me.

With my head in the clouds and the rain on my back...

With my head in the clouds and the rain on my back…

...Saturday's objective was achieved.

…Saturday’s objective was achieved.

The city below me.

The city below me.

No rain today at least which made the river walk quite pleasant.

The obligatory shot of the oddly familiar bridge.

The obligatory shot of the oddly familiar bridge.

I actually went the opposite direction this morning. Crossed the Han at the Banpo bridge and walked to this one.

I actually went the opposite direction this morning. Crossed the Han at the Banpo bridge and walked to this one.

Looking back on where I've been. Doing that a lot of late it seems.

Looking back on where I’ve been. Doing that a lot of late it seems.

Walked back through Seoul Forest and exited through "the 6th Gate". Good to know.

Walked back through Seoul Forest and exited through “the 6th Gate”. Good to know.

I did manage to avoid getting into any "real shit" this weekend...

I did manage to avoid getting into any “real shit” this weekend…

Played singles league dart matches Friday night (won 9-7) and last night (winning 10-6). Another match on tap for this afternoon.

After darts last night I walked on over to Grand Ole Opry for my country music fix.  Got home in fair condition, although I was technically floored.  By choice though, so I don’t think you can hold that one against me.

Today’s weigh in has me at 214.2, down 1.3 pounds from last week and an even 55 pounds lost overall.  Well, 55 isn’t an even number, but you know what I mean.

Lost the belly (mostly) and the wife. Only sad about the one though.

Lost the belly (mostly) and the wife. Only sad about the one though.

Speaking of the belly, a friend was telling my about mesotherapy.  Apparently, you get these injections into the fatty parts of your body and it supposedly breaks down the fat cells like magic.  My friend swears by it.  I was thinking that may be the answer for me, but the more I read about it and some of the side effects I’m like “meh, I’ll just keep doing it the old fashioned way.”  We’ll see.

I’m a thousand miles from nowhere
Time don’t matter to me
‘Cause I’m a thousand miles from nowhere
And there’s no place I want to be

I got heartaches in my pocket
I got echoes in my head
And all that I keep hearing
Are the cruel, cruel things that you said

Walkin’ my blues away…

Found myself in a foul mood this afternoon so I left work a couple of hours early and took a longish walk.

I mostly succeeded in sweating out all those negative feelings.

I mostly succeeded in sweating out all those negative feelings.

Of course you can’t ever change who you are.

And still I find myself surprised at being disappointed when people let me down.

And still I find myself surprised at being disappointed when people let me down.

I’m walking down that long lonesome road babe
Where I’m bound, I can’t tell
But goodbye’s too good a word, babe
So I’ll just say fare thee well
I ain’t a-saying you treated me unkind
You could have done better but I don’t mind
You just kinda wasted my precious time
But don’t think twice, it’s all right.

Landslide

And so ends another weekend.

Got floored on Friday night.  And again on Saturday night. What’s up with that?

Still had the energy to climb a mountain though...

Still had the energy to climb a mountain though…

You gotta do what you gotta do...

You gotta do what you gotta do…

By the time I got to the top I was drenched...

By the time I got to the top I was drenched…

A shady trail on a hot summer's day is like the ice in your tea.

Much more pleasant on my way back down. A shady trail on a hot summer’s day is like the ice in your tea.

Drank hard on Saturday night, mostly at the Grand Ole Opry.  But I was up early this morning figuring on beating the heat.  No dice.  I was a sweaty mess long before reaching the riverside.

The return walk brought me to the oddly familiar Donguk bridge...

The return walk brought me to the oddly familiar Dongjak bridge…

And at the top of the stairs leading up from the river walk, I discovered a pretty nice cafe featuring excellent river views...

And at the top of the stairs leading up from the river walk, I discovered a pretty nice cafe featuring excellent river views…

So I took advantage of the opportunity and re-hydrated with a refreshing "citrus tea".

So I took advantage of the opportunity and re-hydrated with a refreshing “citrus tea”.

Got home and did some chores.  Then took a nap.  Then headed out for my season opening Seoul Sunday Singles League dart match.

I'd call that a fair start to the season.

15-1. I’d call that a fair start to the season.

Played at Shenanigans where the friendly staff did their usual fine job at getting me inebriated.

Played at Shenanigans where the friendly staff did their usual fine job at getting me inebriated.

Had a little incident in the bar tonight with some rude drunks with British accents.  They were being dickish all night but we did our best to ignore them.  One of the dickheads was obviously looking for trouble, but us regulars outnumbered them and nipped that shit in the bud.  Well, until the biggest dick among them started harassing the bar staff.  Alex, my dart opponent today, is a big guy.  And when the jerk started running off at the mouth with bartender Sonya, Alex politely asked the punk to leave the bar.  And by politely I mean physically removed him.  Just outside the door (and at the top of the stairs) the drunk guy started mouthing off to Alex.  Not a good move.  Alex picked him up by the throat and held him firmly against the wall.  It was pretty funny in a way, because the guy’s tongue was hanging out of his mouth like a cartoon character.  I told him “dude, you better just walk down those stairs or else you are liable to be flying down them.”  About this time one of the asshole’s comrades tried to join the fray.  Me and another John blocked him from getting through the door.  A little pushing and shoving was as physical as it got for me.  I guess even drunks have a sense of self-preservation, because they all exited the scene without further incident.  And justice prevails in Itaewon!

What else?  Well, I had a pretty good walking week.

Except;t for Tuesday when the rains *ahem* put a damper on things.

Except for Tuesday when the rains *ahem* put a damper on things.

And I walked my ass off today as well. Sure do wish I could walk my belly off...

And I walked my ass off today as well. Sure do wish I could walk my belly off…

Tried a new crockpot recipe today.

Pork chops. Tasty and moist, but a little bland for my liking. Next time I'll have to get creative with some seasonings...

Pork chops. Tasty and moist, but a little bland for my liking. Next time I’ll have to get creative with some seasonings…

My strawberry-banana smoothie for dessert was most excellent however...

My strawberry-banana smoothie for dessert was most excellent however…

Scale was kind to me today.  Weighed in at 215.5.  Down 1.8 pounds from last week and 53.7 overall.

I’m down to a 36″ waist and I have the new wardrobe to prove it.

Who knew dieting could be so expensive?

Who knew dieting could be so expensive?

Why did I call this post “Landslide”?  Well, it was the last song to pop up on my playlist as I finished my walk this morning.  It suits my mood.  Maybe you’ll enjoy it too…

I took my love, I took it down
Climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
Till the landslide brought me down

Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Aborted

Too soon to say much here but I’m considering and being considered for a new job.  It’s a lot more pay and a lot more hassle.  I guess my mindset is that if I get the job, great.  If I don’t get it, well, that’s fine too.

Anyway, we have a casual dress code on Fridays.  For me that means a short sleeve sport shirt and no tie.  Just before lunch I got notified that I’d be meeting the person who has the biggest say in the aforementioned hiring decision.  So instead of enjoying my lunchtime stroll (I actually do look forward to it) I went home and changed clothes.  Upon my return I was advised the meeting had been postponed until Monday morning.  Oh well.

I got home after work with only 1,600 steps under my belt, far short of my 15,000 daily goal.  So I put on some shorts and t-shirt and hit the road.  I opted for a riverside stroll and invested just over 2 hours in the effort.  Finished the night at 18,315 which is satisfactory, but left me a sweaty mess.  It’s gonna be a long hot summer as the Big Hominid reminds us.

Now I’m fixin’ to tackle the mountain.  Wish me luck, it’s pert near as hot already this morning.

Acceptance

Today is Jee Yeun’s birthday.  I sent her a message wishing her a happy one.  She thanked me and told me “good luck”.  So…

It’s been a little over six months now since I was sent packing.  And I’m okay.  The fact of the matter is that I’ve grown accustomed to being alone.  I can take care of myself.  I’ve even gotten to the point where I’m no longer achingly lonely.

One of the things I like about walking is that it gives me time to think.  In a good way.  Not like when I lay awake in bed at night wondering what the fuck happened to my life.  Anyway, I’m not sure I’d call it an epiphany but I’ve come to understand some things.

For one, I’m a selfish bastard.  It is just the way I am.  I’m not willing to compromise or settle.  I’d rather be alone than to accept less than what I want in life. I don’t need anyone to complete me.  I’d be ecstatic to encounter a kindred spirit who accepts me as I am, but I’m guessing those are pretty long odds.

But here’s the thing: I just don’t care.  Perhaps I’m broken beyond repair, but all those sweet words of love mean nothing to me.  I’m dead inside and just don’t feel it.  I’ve been burned one too many times to ever believe it again.

And I understand the ramifications of that portend a solitary future.  So be it.  I’d rather be alone than sucker punched again.  Love me at your peril!

I don’t have the patience or desire to make the sacrifices that are required in a “loving relationship”.  And that is so contrary to to everything I’ve always believed about myself.  I never thought I could make it own my own, and now I’ve come to understand that it is my destiny to live a life of oneness.  And I’m alright with that.

Baby we can talk all night
But that ain’t gettin us nowhere
I told you everything I possibly can
There’s nothing left inside of here
And maybe you can cry all night
But that’ll never change the way I feel

And all I can do is keep on telling you
I want you, I need you
But-there ain’t no way I’m ever gonna love you
Now don’t be sad
‘Cause two out of three ain’t bad

I can’t lie, I can’t tell you that I’m something I’m not
No matter how I try
I’ll never be able to give you something
Something that I just haven’t got

Baby we can talk all night
But that ain’t getting us nowhere

 

Free fallin’

Americans like me celebrate Independence Day with our favorite patriotic songs.

I’ve been working hard and playing hard thus far this weekend. Here’s a recap:

I got reacquainted with Namsan after a two week hiatus. Still an ass kicker.

I got reacquainted with Namsan after a two week hiatus. Still an ass kicker.

All that rain on Friday cleaned up the air some. Was expecting to get rained on at some point in my hike but other than some sprinkles I was golden.

All that rain on Friday cleaned up the air some. Was expecting to get rained on at some point in my hike but other than some sprinkles I was golden.

Back home I set about freeing up some closet space.

It came together easier than most of my projects...

It came together easier than most of my projects…

And it is functional. See those pants? They are all 42" waist size. Which makes them too big for me to wear now. I reckon I'll carry them to the on=post thrift store one of these days. What I need to do this afternoon is purchase some new pants for work. I tried on a 36" pair and they fit. Snug, but they fit!

And it is functional. See those pants? They are all 42″ waist size. Which makes them too big for me to wear now. I reckon I’ll carry them to the on-post thrift store one of these days. What I need to do this afternoon is purchase some new pants for work. I tried on a 36″ pair and they fit. Snug, but they fit!

Saturday night I changed up my routine.  I’m usually in the bar around 6 and stumbling home drunk shortly after 9.  I wanted to see  what the late night crowd was all about so I delayed my arrival at Shenanigans until 8 p.m.  The staff was a little shook-up saying they’d been wondering what happened to me.  Hey, I don’t want to be too predictable!

I left Shenanigans a little after 10 still relatively sober.  Had a soothing Thai massage for an hour then headed over to the Grand Ol’ Opry to resume my hydration.  Ran into a guy from work who told me he’s there every weekend.  I’m like, so am I, but then I realized he’s there after I’m gone.  It was actually interesting seeing the late night faces I’ve been missing.  And an added bonus was being there for the traditional rendition of the Star Spangled Banner at midnight. It seemed especially appropriate on this Independence Day weekend.

Despite my late night I was up bright and early Sunday morning.  Popped a chicken in the crock pot and set about on my riverside walk.

This is the farthest I've gone in the westward direction.

This is the farthest I’ve gone in the westward direction.

And this elevated pathway took me somewhere I've never been before...

And this elevated pathway took me somewhere I’ve never been before…

...Seoul Forest. It was nice to see they had a designated farting area...

…Seoul Forest. It was nice to see they had a designated farting area…

Even after just a brief visit I can say that Seoul Forest will always be deer to me.

Even after just a brief visit I can say that Seoul Forest will always be deer to me.

Heading back on the opposite side of the river...

Heading back on the opposite side of the river…

I crossed back over at the Banpo bridge and made a quick detour to the commissary where I purchased a walnut brownie mix.  Nope, I’m not falling off the carb wagon (well, maybe just a taste), I’m going to treat the Korean staff in my office who are of course working hard this 4th of July.

All told, the morning walk was 3.5 hours. That is about my max. My legs were dead and my knee was aching and as this sign a couple of blocks from home reminded me don't overdo it.

All told, the morning walk was 3.5 hours. That is about my max. My legs were dead and my knee was aching and as this sign a couple of blocks from home reminded me don’t overdo it.

Kevin KIm achieved a “miracle” 40,000 steps on his Saturday morning walk.  This is as close to a miracle that I’ll ever get…

And the only way I managed that was 2000 steps walking home from the bar on Saturday night, plus some steps I got in during the dart tourney. And yes, I took a round about way home after darts so I could break the 30,000 barrier...

And the only way I managed that was 2000 steps walking home from the bar at 0100 on Sunday morning, plus some steps I got in during the dart tourney Sunday afternoon. And yes, I took a round about way home after darts so I could break the 30,000 barrier…

Perhaps not so coincidentally, I had some good news from the scale this week.

Goal achieved and exceeded!

Goal achieved and exceeded!

I initiated my lifestyle change on on February 21, when I weighed in at a robust 269.2.  20 weeks later and I’ve lost 51.9 pounds.  My goal had been to get down to 220.  But I’m still not pleased with my big belly so I’m going to try and get down to 200 pounds.  We’ll see.

It feels good to have put down that big ol' sack of rice though...

It feels good to have put down that big ol’ sack of rice though…

That’s my big news I suppose.  As long as you are here, you might enjoy some random ass crap:

My crockpot chicken came out pretty close to perfect. Today the crock pot is slow cooking a pork roast...

My crock pot chicken came out pretty close to perfect. Today the crock pot is slow cooking a pork roast…

These Filipinos put an ass whooping on me last night...

These Filipinos put an ass whooping on me last night…

Never flown them, but I'd wager it's a pretty shitty airline.

Never flown them, but I’d wager it’s a pretty shitty airline.

Maybe the "e" is silent. Or invisible.

Maybe the “e” is silent. Or invisible.

What a pisser.

What a pisser.

Is it something I said or didn't say?

Is it something I said or didn’t say?

Hopefully, I've learned to avoid future mistakes...

Hopefully, I’ve learned to avoid future mistakes…

Ah well, that’s enough for now don’t you think…

 

The life of PI

Here’s a photo dump from last week’s Philippines adventure.

Let's go!

Let’s go!

My "cottage" at the Camp Holiday resort.

My “cottage” at the Camp Holiday resort.

What passes for a beach at Camp Holiday...

What passes for a beach at Camp Holiday… That’s the port of Davao City across the water…

A street scene in Samal..

A street scene in Samal..

Maria's business...

Maria’s business…

Hard at work..

Hard at work..

Lechon for Maria's birthday

Lechon for Maria’s birthday…

...and a cake of course...

…and a cake of course…

I got a pedicure and the local kids treated me like a zoo exhibit...

I got a pedicure and the local kids treated me like a zoo exhibit…

Hot day, cold beer, lunch on the way...

Hot day, cold beer, lunch on the way…

Letting me know I was not welcome...

Letting me know I was not welcome…

Maria on the beach...

Maria on the beach…

Me on the beach...

Me on the beach…

Low tide...

Low tide…

Palm tree and water...

Palm tree and water…

Climbed these steps to the waterfall. Not as many as Namsam, but a fair hike...

Climbed these steps to the waterfall. Not as many as Namsam, but a fair hike…

Was it it worth the walk?

Was it it worth the walk?

There was this...

There was this…

...and that...

…and that…

A river runs through it...

A river runs through it…

At dinner I gave our waiter a round of applause...

At dinner I gave our waiter a round of applause…

Great minds think alike...

Great minds think alike…

Visited a resort that was much nicer than the one I stayed in...

Visited a resort that was much nicer than the one I stayed in…

lots more expensive though..

lots more expensive though…

The obligatory water lily photo...

The obligatory water lily photo…

A beer with a view...

A beer with a view…

Chillin' at Camp Holiday...

Chillin’ at Camp Holiday…

Here's a little eye candy for you ladies...

Here’s a little eye candy for you ladies…

Next up was the bat cave...

Next up was the bat cave…

No batman though...

No batman though…

or robins either...

or robins either…

 

but there was a carabao..

but there was a carabao..

So, having seen all the sights on Samal, we moved on to Davao where the Philippine Eagle Center is a must see tourist attraction...

So, having seen all the sights on Samal, we moved on to Davao where the Philippine Eagle Center is a must see tourist attraction…

I came...

I came…

...I saw. And then I left.

…I saw. And then I left.

Next up, the infamous Japanese tunnel...built with slave labor by Filipino P.O.W.s in WWII...

Next up, the infamous Japanese tunnel…built with slave labor by Filipino P.O.W.s in WWII…

Apparently it was an underground garrison that went on for some 7 kms...

Apparently it was an underground garrison that went on for some 7 kms…

The commander in his office counting tribute from the locals...

The commander in his office counting tribute from the locals…

Hey guys, MacArthur says will return...

Hey guys, MacArthur says he will return…

Tyranny is nothing to brag about. Just sayin'...

Tyranny is nothing to brag about. Just sayin’…

And then we did the crocodile farm...

And then we did the crocodile farm…

What a crock...

What a crock…

Me having an identity crisis...

Me having an identity crisis…

hungry goldfish...

hungry goldfish…

When we got hungry we ate here...

When we got hungry we ate here…

Hey, give me that! I saw it first!

Hey, give me that! I saw it first!

Nothing left to do now but reminisce...

Nothing left to do now but reminisce…

That’s all folks!

Living the LCHF lifestyle

LCHF=low carbohydrate, high fat

For no particular reason I kept track of my food and beverage intake today:

Lemon juice and water (heated one minute in the microwave)

1 boiled egg (breakfast)

2 hamburger patties w/cheese and ketchup (lunch)

1/2 oz. mixed nuts (afternoon snack)

2 brats w/ketchup (dinner)

5 Diet Cokes

1 bottle of water

It’s my kind of diet because you never have to be hungry.  I don’t count calories.  For me at least, it is not how much I eat (within reason) but what I eat.  Hence, none of the high carb foods I crave and miss but pretty much anything else I’ll put into my mouth.

The walking helps me avoid temptation.  I see chocolate or cake and think is it really worth sacrificing three hours worth of walking?

Dig those crazy 8s!

Dig those crazy 8’s!

I haven’t been on the scales since I returned from the Philippines.  I drank a shit load of San Miguel Light beers and wasn’t as strict on the carb avoidance.  Hey, it was a vacation!  Plus, I didn’t get the opportunity to walk as much as I’m used to doing.  I’ll wait until this Sunday to, ahem, weigh the damage.

Still, folks tell me they can see the difference.

January pre-diet. (that's me on the left).

January pre-diet. (that’s me on the left).

And last week. Both of the elephants have gotten smaller...

And last week. Both of the elephants have gotten smaller…

Since I shaved the ‘stache a couple of folks say I resemble Bruce Willis…

...which I'm not sure is such a compliment...

…which I’m not sure is such a compliment…

...but anyway, I'm just not seeing it.

…but anyway, I’m just not seeing it.

Meanwhile, I got screwed yesterday. And not in the good way. In fact, the whole experience left me feeling a little flat. Luckily I made it to the repair shop before I had to break out the spare tire.

Luckily, the tire was only flat on the bottom...

Fortunately, the tire was only flat on the bottom…

Given my temper tantrums in the Philippines, I had to laugh when I saw this on Facebook today:

Hey, anything worth doing is worth doing well...

Hey, anything worth doing is worth doing well…

But here’s one Filipina I do not want to piss off…

Maria, armed and dangerous...

Maria, armed and dangerous…

But enough about me…

 

Damn it to hell

Or as my father used to say “that just frosts my balls”.

Philippine Air was supposed to send a car to take me to the airport this morning. Apparently they sent it yesterday.  Philippine Air:  Putting the “in” in competence.  In front as it were.

I was perturbed by this turn of events but fortunately I had kept some pesos in my wallet for contingencies such as this.  Caught a cab at the hotel taxi stand, loaded my bag in the trunk, told the driver to take me to the international terminal at NAIA and we were off. Before we were out of the parking lot I noticed the driver had not set the meter (something I have learned to always check).  When I called him on it he said it is 500 pesos to airport. And I snapped, saying (well, yelling technically) “bullshit!  it doesn’t fucking cost anywhere near that much!”  Then instead of turning on the meter like I had asked, he had the audacity to want to negotiate a price for the trip.  I screamed “stop the fucking cab, you’re not taking me anywhere”.  He said okay, okay, I’ll turn on the meter.  I’m like “bull fucking shit, stop the goddamn cab and give me my bag!” I’m yelling at the top of my voice by now, and for those who have not heard it, that’s really scary loud.  My kids never feared spankings as much as they did my “big voice”.  I’m sure all the other drivers in the taxi queue heard every word of it.  Anyway, the driver popped the trunk, I grabbed my bag and stomped back to the hotel doorman.  Who didn’t seem to give a shit, simply asking me if I’d like another cab.  Yes, thank you.

I could see the other taxi drivers gathered around probably discussing who was going to get stuck with driving the insane ‘Kano to the airport.  In short order a cab pulled up (not the first one in the queue I noticed) and when I hopped in he had the meter on and ready to roll.  Clearly he got the memo. After an uneventful ride we pulled into the airport and the meter totaled 126 pesos.   Having given all my small bills to the homeless I handed the driver a 500 peso note and told him just give me 300 change.  He said he didn’t have any change.  Mother Fucker!

Well, I wasn’t going to let him back door me into the 500p fare I had refused the first driver. So I told him to wait while I went for change.  Which was easier said than done.  I couldn’t get into the airport until I had gone through two layers of security (boarding pass check then bag x-ray).  I went through the first and realized that my plan was flawed.  Saw a semi-officious looking dude and asked if he could change a 500.  He could and did.  There was no exit from where I had entered, but the change guy said something to the guard and I was able to go out the in door.  Gave the driver his fare and a too generous trip and was on my way again.

While waiting in line to check my bag I did something somehow that resulted in a feeling like I imagine getting stabbed in the ribs would feel like.  At first I thought, shit I’m having a heart attack, but since it’s the right side I guessing I pulled a muscle.  Still hurts when I move an hour later.  Should make for a pleasant flight.

And now I am stuck in the worst international terminal I have ever visited.  No restaurants or bars and no where to vape.  Free internet though which permitted me to share this rant.

You’re welcome.

Beggars can’t be choosers

Wrapping up my visit in the not-so-lovely capital city of Manila.

Yesterday afternoon I had some time to kill so allowed myself to be enticed into getting a massage at one of the joints in the mall adjacent to my hotel.  The already cheap one hour full body massage was on special for only 180 pesos ($3.83).  The masseuse asked if I preferred hard, medium, or soft.  I went medium and damn when she was cranking on my back and shoulders it was f’n painful.  Of course, male pride wouldn’t allow me to scream in agony so I just lay there gritting my teeth while my torturer said “you have lots of tension”.  Anyway, it was mostly good and I feel no aftereffects this morning.

Last night I cabbed over to Makati, the upscale area of Manila.  There’s a strip of bars on Burgos Street I’d read about over the years so I wanted to give them a try.  Well, I made it to four of them anyway before reaching my self-imposed limit on alcohol consumption. The bars that I saw were all of the “girly” type which I don’t particularly like.  The girls get a commission on overpriced “lady drinks” and some of them will outright harass you until you relent and purchase one for them. At my first stop “Shampoo”, I’d taken like two swigs of my beer and the mamasan started in on me to buy drinks for the girls.  Told her I’d think about it once I’d finished my beer.  She kept on and I finally lost my temper telling her “do you think I’m stupid?  Do you think I don’t know how this works?  I’ll buy a lady drink if and when I’m ready.  So leave me the fuck alone”. .I wasn’t so popular after that and I left.

The next bar was called “Bottoms”.  I was happy they had an actual bar in the bar.  When you sit alone at a table it is like an open invitation to be besieged by thirsty bar girls.  Usually you will be left alone at the bar.  Sometimes anyway.  Not at Bottoms.  Girl stood on my left and another stood on my right (apparently they are not allowed to actually sit at the bar).  They weren’t pushy on the drinks though and we engaged in some friendly banter.  I eventually rewarded their good behavior with a lady drink for each of them.

Moving on, I stopped in “Dimples”.  It also had a bar so I plopped myself down.  A couple of gals approached but I channeled Greta Garbo and told them “I want to drink alone”.  Surprisingly they actually respected my wishes and I wasn’t bothered again for the duration of my stay.  In addition to the drink beggars I also dislike the music played in the girly bars. It’s normally loud techno-pop dance crap which grates on my nerves pretty quickly.  Yeah, I know.  Kids and their music these days said the old codger.  To Dimples’ credit they had a nice mix of tunes played at a reasonable volume.  Even a few country songs!  I had a nice time there but there was still one more place I wanted to see before I ran out of time (and money).

I had read about Crazy Horse on some of the Philippines forums I frequent and I wanted to see if it was as good as everyone was saying.  It is. It had a large stage chock full of very attractive young women who could actually dance.  They did choreographed performances every bit as good as those you see in K-Pop girl band videos.  And best of all I did not get approached or pestered even once for a lady drink.  That’s how it should be, a great selection of girls willing to keep you company if company is what you want, but you have to make the first move.  I really enjoyed just sitting there watching the gals dance and chatting with the other customers a bit.  When I was ready to depart I walked to the stage and gave my favorite dancer a 100 peso tip for her efforts.  Yeah, I’m a cheap Charlie but she seem appreciative of the compliment at least.

Caught a cab back to the hotel with no problem (they’ve got that much on Itaewon at least).  Driver got lost on the way and was asking the drunk man in the back seat (me) for directions.  I just shrugged and said I don’t know, it’s by a mall.  He stopped and asked a trike driver which I guess worked because I did sleep in the right hotel last night.

This morning I enjoyed my last free breakfast and walked to the convenience store for some Coke Zero.  It was locked up tight, not real surprising I guess for a Sunday morning in a Catholic country.  Across the street in front of the also closed mall was a group of homeless folks laying about on the sidewalk. Most of them were young children. A depressing sight that I don’t expect I’ll ever get used to, and frankly, I’d hate myself if I did get used to it.

I learned a long time ago that it is a fool’s errand to give money to a beggar on the street.  As soon as you do you will be besieged by fifty others.  It can also be dangerous as I’ve heard of do-gooders being surrounded and having their pockets emptied by the prying fingers of these hungry waifs.  So, I just don’t do it.  I always feel like a prick when I tell a filthy child “no” when the say “I’m hungry”.  After a few days I actually get depressed.  Which is one of the things I’m going to have to factor into my decision on whether the PI is a viable re-retirement option for me.  One thing I’d consider doing is sponsoring an orphanage with a monthly stipend of some sort.  Maybe that would assuage the guilt I feel when I can’t (or won’t) respond to beggars.

Anyway, I looked in my wallet and I still had some small bills amounting to 160 pesos. I walked across the street and handed them to the oldest woman in the group whom I assumed was the grandma.  I didn’t technically break my “no beggars” rule because they hadn’t asked, I just offered.  Ah well, as I walked away five or six young boys followed me asking me to give them money too.  I told them that’s all I have but they persisted in their efforts.  I kept moving so as not to be surrounded and finally let loose.  “No goddamn it,I told you that’s it.  No more!” I used my big voice which put them back on the heels a bit and I made a beeline to the security of my hotel.

All packed up and waiting for my ride to the airport and the completion of my journey back to the first world.

Living dangerously

Stuck close to the hotel last night.  I checked out the mall and then walked the perimeter of the hotel grounds hoping to find a bar something of interest.  I saw lots of homeless folks sleeping on the sidewalks and the beggars were more annoying than the mosquitoes. Given that I was alone and in unfamiliar surroundings I opted for some canned San Miquel Lights from the local convenience store and drank in my room.

Up early this morning.  Got my internet fix then headed downstairs for my free breakfast. Decided to test my luck on the mean streets of Manila.  I stuck to the main streets, primarily Roxas Blvd.  Which took me past scenic Manila Bay.

I'd been warned to be careful using my phone on the street. Apparently there is an epidemic of snatch and run thefts. Hence this is the only picture I snapped today...

I’d been warned to be careful using my phone on the street. Apparently there is an epidemic of snatch and run thefts. Hence this is the only picture I snapped today…

I walked from the Century Park Hotel in Malate as far as the EDSA complex in Pasay City and back again.  Stopped twice at Jollibee for a large Coke Zero and not so coincidentally two piss breaks.

Not a bad mornings work considering I didn't have the proper footwear and my heel was screaming with every step...

Not a bad mornings work considering I didn’t have the proper footwear and my heel was screaming with every step…

I’ll probably cab back to EDSA tonight to check out some of the bars I saw there.

I surrender. Socks with sandals it is. I feel like such a heel.

I surrender. Socks with sandals it is. I feel like such a heel.

Wish me luck!

That didn’t go as planned

My flight out of the facist republic of Davao (no smoking/vaping area anywhere on airport property!) left 20 minutes late which was worrisome because I only had a one hour layover in Manila.  We arrived 45 minutes before my connection was scheduled to depart. Then waited 10 minutes for the jet occupying our gate to get the hell out of our way.

It seemed to take forever to deplane, but once in the terminal I hightailed it to the transfer desk.  They said I could still make my flight, just exit the terminal, turn right, take the elevator to the 3rd floor, go through security and immigration, then on to my gate.  Alright then.

Well, they had one guy doing immigration and several people ahead of me in line.  Once that was done I was dismayed to discover that gate 11 was at the opposite side of the terminal.  I hoofed it over to the gate as fast as my screaming heel would allow and was relieved to see a line of passengers still boarding.  Until I saw it was a flight for Busan.  WTF?

I asked the gate agent where the Seoul flight was and she said it had already closed.  Apparently I missed last call by one frickin’ minute.  She said don’t worry, we’ll re-book you on another flight.  I asked what about my luggage?  She told me it hadn’t made the flight either.

So, a helpful agent walked me back to where I had started and a couple of other Philippine Air folks went to work on getting me rebooked.  I declined a flight out at 0100 on Sunday morning, so it will be a Sunday afternoon departure for me.  To their credit, Philippine Air is paying for my hotel and meals during this extended layover.

Now, what to do with my weekend in Manila?  I have an empty wallet and a suitcase full of dirty clothes.  There is a mall behind the hotel though so I reckon I’ll wander over and find an ATM and a couple of shirts.  Maybe a bar as well.

I’m a little concerned because immigration stamped me out of the country and no one has stamped me back in.  I’ll guess I’ll worry about those ramifications on Sunday…

In search of Samgyeopsal

I had promised Maria a samgyeopsal dinner for her birthday.  Once upon a time she had lived in Korea for ten years and she was jonesing for a taste of “home”.  I did a quick Google search and found this restaurant which had gotten good reviews:

From Davao, not Heaven. Located outside the SM Mall a couple kms from the hotel...

From Davao, not Heaven. Located outside the SM Mall a couple kms from the hotel…

The restaurant featured this large marquee out front touting the benefits of the Korean diet…

...who you calling fat?

…who you calling fat?

Anyway, we noticed from outside that the tables appeared to have the table-top grills installed.  Alas, after ordering we were told the samgyeopsal is prepared in the kitchen. That’s just not kosher.

Nothing to be done but try and make the best of it. Here's my attempt at creating a little Pinoy-Hanguk fusion.

Nothing to be done but try and make the best of it. Here’s my attempt at creating a little Pinoy-Hanguk fusion.

Ah well, we made the best of it. After dinner we had a traditional Filipino summertime (isn’t it always summertime here?) treat.

Halo Halo. A mixture of fruits and shit. Not exactly a smoothie, but close enough...

Halo Halo. A mixture of fruits and shit. Not exactly a smoothie, but close enough…

So, here in the tropics I wear sandals.  My feet are in open revolt…

...not to mention revolting. Painful it is. Went to the local Watson's drug store and purchased a variety of creams and ointments. Maria says I should wear socks. Fuck that, I'm not wearing socks with sandals. Just ain't gonna happen.

…not to mention revolting. Painful it is. Went to the local Watson’s drug store and purchased a variety of creams and ointments. Maria says I should wear socks. Fuck that, I’m not wearing socks with sandals. Just ain’t gonna happen.

Yesterday we hired a car and driver for the day (3500 pesos, around $70) and hit all the hot tourist spots in the Davao area.  That would be the Philippine Eagle, a WWII Japanese tunnel, and a crocodile farm.  I’ll include photos this weekend when I do my full-fledged trip report.

Anyway, on the way back to the hotel from our excursions, we noticed a Korean restaurant right across the street from our hotel.  Turns out it is the original Manna restaurant.  So we thought we’d try our luck again last night.  When we walked in we saw some diners grilling their meat on the table (shuddup!) so we decided to do samgyeopsal as nature intended.  After ordering I had a bad feeling, so I had Maria ask our server if the meat would be prepared on the table.  He said “no”, so we pointed to the other diners and were then accommodated.  I guess table cooking is by request only.

The samgyeopsal came in nice thick slices and seemed to have all 3 layers from which its name derives...

The samgyeopsal came in nice thick slices and seemed to have all 3 layers from which its name derives…

Cooking it up with some kimchi...

Cooking it up with some kimchi…

About damn time!

About damn time!

Speaking of kimchi, did you know it is the cure for everything?  So says the Manna menu:

..Alas, it doesn't work on cracked heels...

..Alas, it doesn’t work on cracked heels…

My return flight departs Davao at 11:40 and returns me to Seoul via Manila at 7:35.  See you there!

 

 

 

 

Greetings from the Philippines

Davao City to be precise.

Checked into a hotel that offers wifi in the room so I was pretty damned excited.  I have had a technician up to the room twice so far today to get it working.  Thought I’d better post while the posting is good.

The view from the room...

The view from the room…

President-elect Duterte was there to greet me when I checked in this morning...

President-elect Duterte was there to greet me when I checked in this morning…

Speaking of President Duterte, Davao City is his hometown and he’s been the mayor here for quite some time.  Davao is known as the safest city in the PI and that is largely due to Duterte’s being strong on crime.  By strong I mean that it is said he was not above using hit squads extra-judicial methods to rid the city of undesirables.  Some other things he’s done include closing the bars at ungodly early hours and making Davao City smoke-free.  I really dislike nanny-state shit like that but the people in this area are crazy about him.

I got a taste of the police state this morning.  I was minding my own business and enjoying a little vaping time when I was accosted by a law enforcement officer.  He told me sternly that I couldn’t smoke there.  I responded as I always do in such situations “I’m not smoking, I’m vaping.”  He seemed unimpressed and took me away…

;;;here. What a pain in the ass. I've since learned that Davao City's smoking ordinance does in fact specifically include vaping. Bastards!

…here. What a pain in the ass. I’ve since learned that Davao City’s smoking ordinance does in fact specifically include vaping. Bastards!

Anyway, this is clearly a city in which I could never live.  Still, I’ve got a full day to kill here tomorrow so I’ll have to find a discreet way to skirt the law.  I’ve already designated my hotel room a designated vaping zone.

Tonight it is samgyapsol for Maria’s birthday dinner.

Look for a full trip report with tons of photos when I return home to Korea this weekend.

 

 

Have a dream and hope!

At least that’s what this sign told me:

Lately, I just hope my dreams aren't nightmares...

Lately, I just hope my dreams aren’t nightmares…

Best compliment yet on my new look– Bartender at Srooge Pub said ” I used to call you ajussi (uncle) but now I call you oppa (brother).” Should have shaved years ago!

Speaking of being not quite as invisible as I once was, while waiting to cross the street in Itaewon I caught this group of young ladies staring at me.

I'm not a piece of meat girls. I am a human being!

I’m not a piece of meat girls. I am a human being!  Alright, so it was a bus stop advertisement.  I can hope and dream!

With some of that free time I mentioned in my previous post I peruse the reader submissions at a Thai-centric website called Stickman Bangkok.  As is common with this type internet venue, the quality of writing runs the gamut of truly awful to “this guy should be making money as a wordsmith”.

I’ve never been to Thailand (yet) but I do enjoy visiting vicariously through the submissions by those who have experienced the Thai life up close and personal.  And my favorite writer who frequently posts at Stickman is Steve Rosse.

This story is a good example of his work.  It’s a quick read and entertaining.  Go now, I’ll wait here for you.

Good stuff, huh?  I’m not all that interested in girly bars and whoring around these days, and neither is Steve.  Although quite honestly, I’m never quite sure where truth and fiction reside within his work.  That doesn’t lessen the genuine pleasure I get from his stories though.

Anyway, a few months back I read this story by Steve called “Cellies” and it was like being hit upside the head with a brick.  He had artfully expressed in words something I had been doing frequently in the last few months of my ill-fated marriage–escaping to a better life in a world that existed only in my mind.

I was so moved I felt compelled to send him an email and thank him for his effort.  I was a little surprised when Steve wrote me back.  In his email he mentioned that if I enjoyed his writing I might consider purchasing some of his published work on Amazon.  I told him I most certainly would.  But then I went of my six month bender life intruded and I never got around to it.  I did use one of his quotes in a blog post though.

Well fast forward to a week or so ago when I was catching up with StickmanBangkok where I read a submission by Steve called “The List”.  And a couple of days later some anonymous asshole wrote a post that started off by attacking Steve and then went off on a rant delving deep into the sewers of misogyny.  I was pissed and was working on an appropriate response in my head.  I needn’t have bothered, because before I could put words on paper (or pixels in Word if you will) Steve came back with perhaps one of the top ten take downs in internet history.

I sent Steve a congratulatory email and told him his evisceration of “Anus Moony” had finally provided the motivation for me to keep my promise to buy some books.  I guess for a writer that’s about the best thank you of all, right?

14June5

I’m quite certain these will provide excellent beach side reading entertainment next week.

And what beach might that be you ask?  Why, lovely Samal island in the Philippines. Never been to that particular part of the PI, but it looks nice in the pictures.

My friend Maria will be my host and tour guide during my visit...

My friend Maria will be my host and tour guide during my visit…

And that’s about where things stand at this particular moment in time.

Except for this:

I've been studiously avoiding engaging in Facebook banter with my friends on the left who all want to talk gun control while ignoring the hulking elephant in the room--Islamic terrorism.

I’ve been studiously avoiding engaging in Facebook banter with my friends on the left who all want to talk gun control while ignoring the hulking elephant in the room–Islamic terrorism.

Liberal logic.  Now there’s an oxymoron for you.