Someone must have been mighty disappointed

In an ongoing effort to be serve you, my reader(s), I on occasion look at my stat counter to try and discern the kind of posts folks are looking for when their Google searches lead them to LTG.

So, I see some guy in India put together this lovely string of words: “upskirt showing sanitary pad with bleeding”.  I couldn’t imagine what I had ever written that would have generated a hit for anything even remotely like that on my humble blog.  So I did some sleuthing and that pervert’s search was rewarded with this post about my recent medical checkup.

Ha ha, so sorry to disappoint but thems the breaks.

 

You can’t get there from here

Up bright and early this morning (no easy feat after dart league night) and made our way to the immigration office (also no easy feat during morning rush hour).  Despite arriving a few minutes after the 9:00 a.m. opening, we drew ticket number 35 in the waiting to be served queue.

Our purpose and mission was to change my immigration status to that of being the spouse of a Korean rather than my current inconvenient designation of tourist*.  Jee Yeun came armed with reams of paperwork from the gu-office verifying that my name has been rendered in Hangul on the marriage register, financial statements, and other documents she imagined would be required.  Turns out we didn’t need any of them.

Our number was called after a 45 minute wait that seemed longer than it was.  Jee Yeun did the talking in the language of the locals and explained our reason for being there.  The immigration agent looked at my passport, shook his head, and according to Jee Yeun said that I can’t get a marriage visa when I’m in the country on a tourist visa.  He told her I would have to apply for the visa at the Korean embassy in the USA. He did seem pretty adamant about this and we were dismissed from his window within two minutes of our arrival.

I of course had nothing to say in the matter.  But there were things I wanted to say.  Like the fact that I had called the Korean consulate in Atlanta last summer and inquired about applying for a marriage visa.  They told me it would be better to apply in Korea.  How do you say “stop giving me the fucking run around” in Korean anyway?**

* I honestly don’t care so much about my visa status.  The F-6 marriage visa would certainly be more convenient, but it’s not like I’m looking to get a job or live in Korea full time anyway.  It’s just an expensive pain in the ass to be limited to 90 stays when I travel to Korea.  Sometime around June 11 I’ll need to take a quick trip out of the country (probably to Japan again).  I’ll also have to change my return flight to the USA with Delta who will ream me to the tune of $250 for that privilege.

** I actually fully expected to be rejected for the F-6 visa precisely because I can’t say “stop giving me the fucking round around” in Korean.  Apparently the ability to speak in Korean is now a requirement for the marriage visa (although Jee Yeun speaks decent English, so that might be an exception). Anyway, I guess I’ll have to wait for the Korean embassy in the states to tell me “anio” for that reason.  Or I could make an effort to actually learn the language between now and then.  One of those.

 

 

Steppin’ out in Itaewon

When I’m not out climbing mountains I’m climbing the stairs.  In a nod to better physical fitness I’ve eschewed the escalators in subway stations.  Which may not seem like much, but it is more than I’ve done in the past and damn, by the time I get to the top at Itaewon Station the heart is definitely pumping.  Up and down twice or more a day (plus the walk to and from my destination) adds up I reckon.

196 steps from the platform to the street at Itaewon.  The photo is the downward view.  I started to take a pic from the bottom but thought folks might think I was a pervert looking for an upskirt.  But this gives you a good idea of what a steep climb it truly is...

196 steps from the platform to the street at Itaewon. The photo is the downward view. I started to take a pic from the bottom but thought folks might think I was a pervert looking for an upskirt. But this gives you a good idea of what a steep climb it truly is…

Anyway, my destination last night was Dolce Vita Pub for the dart tourney.  Before things got started I was talking to a guy I hadn’t met before.  Turns out he’s a half-Korean, retired U.S. Army Sergeant Major, who lives in Huntsville, AL.  He’s back in Korea for a few weeks to visit with his Korean family.  Interesting guy for sure and we made some plans to hook up for darts when we are both back in the states.  In an odd quirk of fate we drew up as partners for the tourney and played our way through some tough matches to take the first place money.  And had a lot of fun doing it.

That's my new friend J.R. on the left...

That’s my new friend J.R. on the left…

It was a Good Friday indeed!

What becomes of the broken-hearted?

How long until they will have to change the name I wonder...

How long until they will have to change the name I wonder…

Well, in my case at least it is pretty much what I predicated yesterday.  A prescription for an atorvastatin, daily aspirin, low carb/low fat diet, more exercise, yada yada.  I’m actually down with everything except the low fat part.  If I’m not doing carbs I’m doing the meat by god!

Other than the cardiovascular disease the news was pretty good.  My borderline diabetes blood marker is now back in the normal range.  Blood pressure is also good.  Those benefits derive from the LCHF diet with some daily exercise lifestyle I adopted last year.  I was happy that the doctor skipped right on past the chest x-ray and made no mention of any other indicators of cancer.  Guess I’ve managed to dodge that bullet so far.  Can’t do a damn thing about getting older though, so I reckon I’ll just keep on aging and see what happens next.

 

 

Requiem for a dream

I had a dream last night.  And as is the nature of dreams, this one was bizarre and inexplicable.  Details fade with wakefulness, but in this dream it was somehow important that I post 7 images of Los Angeles here on the blog.  As ridiculous as it might seem, I’m doing as my dream instructed.

The dream as far as I recall did not dictate any particular image to post.  But me in LA go way back so it wasn't hard to pick some that were meaningful to me.  The first time I visited Los Angeles was here at the Kaiser Foundation hospital on the day that I was born...

The dream as far as I recall did not dictate any particular image to post. But me and LA go way back so it wasn’t hard to pick some that were meaningful to me. The first time I visited Los Angeles was here at the Kaiser Foundation hospital on the day that I was born…

Olvera Street is the oldest street in LA.  I have memories of visiting here with the parents as a child and years later taking a gal who attended USC  I was dating here for authentic Mexican food...

Olvera Street is the oldest street in LA. I have memories of visiting here with the parents as a child and years later taking a gal who attended USC I was dating here for authentic Mexican food…

I was a big baseball fan growing up in southern Cal and of course my favorite team was the Dodgers.  My dad took me to my first game for my 10th birthday in 1965.  Lots more great times were had over the years in Chavez Ravine...

I was a big baseball fan growing up in southern Cal and of course my favorite team was the Dodgers. My dad took me to my first game for my 10th birthday in 1965. Lots more great times were had over the years in Chavez Ravine…

The LA skyline only looks like this approximately one day a year.  Seriously.  We the Santa Ana winds blow in from the desert it blows the smog out to sea and you can see the mountains that are otherwise invisible throughout the year.

The LA skyline only looks like this approximately one day a year. Seriously. When the Santa Ana winds blow in from the desert they push the smog out to sea and you can see the mountains that are otherwise invisible throughout the year.

I love old train stations.  I've been to Union Station in DC and Denver, 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, and Grand Central in NYC, but none are as fantastic as Union Station in LA.  Oddly enough, I never took a train to or from there.  But sometimes when I was in the neighborhood I'd just drop in to be amazed.

I love old train stations. I’ve been to Union Station in DC and Denver, 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, and Grand Central in NYC, but none are as fantastic as Union Station in LA. Oddly enough, I never took a train to or from there. But sometimes when I was in the neighborhood I’d just drop in to be amazed.

The Port of Los Angeles.  My father was a Merchant Marine and when his ship came in so to speak we'd drive over the Vincent Thomas Bridge and pick him up...

The Port of Los Angeles. My father was a Merchant Marine and when his ship came in so to speak we’d drive over the Vincent Thomas Bridge and pick him up…

What would LA be without Koreatown?  Funny thing is when I lived in SoCal I knew nothing of it and cared less.  I rectified that a few years ago when I visited and lucked into an outstanding galbi house...

What would LA be without Koreatown? Funny thing is when I lived in SoCal I knew nothing of it and cared less. I rectified that a few years ago when I visited and lucked into an outstanding galbi house…

I started with the first time I was in LA and I'll finish with my last time--LAX.  I was making a connection to Seoul after a business trip to Phoenix.  The airport sucks.

I started with the first time I was in LA and I’ll finish with my last time–LAX. I was making a connection to Seoul after a business trip to Phoenix. The airport sucks.

So here’s hoping this post has satisfied the whims of Morpheus and that tonight I will enjoy a restful and peaceful sleep.

The heart of the matter

Life can be a real pain in the neck sometimes.  Like these past 3 days for instance.  I mean, over the years I’ve had my share of what my father used to call “a crick in the neck” but I don’t recall anything quite like this.  The pain is excruciating but what is really weird is that while I have some side-to-side restricted motion, it’s the up-and-down that hurts the most.  I’ve been putting heat on the neck which seems to help and I slept without a pillow last night as well.  And of course I’m refraining from nodding my head in agreement.  Yep, I’m just one big old disagreeable bastard lately.

Anyway, we did our hike up to the Doseon temple yesterday and while Jee Yeun was enjoying her lunch her phone rings.  She talks awhile in her native tongue, hangs up, and matter-of-factly advises me that the hospital where we did our physical exams last week had been reviewing the results and discovered that the 3-D image of my heart reveals a 50% blockage in one of my arteries.  They wanted to know if I could make it in to visit a doctor prior to my scheduled appointment with the hilarious Dr. Yu on the 24th.  Well.

Honestly, I’ve been sweating out the results of my physical a bit given that I experience a fair amount of discomfort surrounding my internal organs.  I don’t think a heart blockage would be the cause of that.  So, if this is my worst result I’ll consider myself lucky.  I don’t know if that’s the case though–have they checked the chest x-ray yet?  What about the biopsy they did on the sample from my stomach?  Or the ultrasound of those painful organs?  I’ll admit I was a little disconcerted that the hospital apparently thought I shouldn’t wait another week to see Dr. Yu.  So, I’m going back to Soonchunhwang tomorrow morning to see what’s up.  I’m supposedly going to be meeting with an English-speaking doctor as well, so there’s that.

Of course, I’ve scoured the internets to bone up on coronary artery disease.  Kills more people in the USA than any other malady and 13 million folks suffer its affects in varying degrees.  The good news is that a 50% blockage doesn’t normally require surgery–it’s treated with medication, diet and exercise.  I’m actually disappointed though because my previous exam two years ago showed a 30% blockage and I’ve been working the diet and exercise routine for over a year now–apparently without positive results.  But if the normal treatment is to put me on Lipitor or some other atorvastatin drug I don’t get the urgency to see me prior to my scheduled appointment one week later.  Perhaps it’s just an overabundance of caution on their part.  Which is the same reason I’m going in the morning.  Plus I don’t want to worry about this for another week.

Looks like I picked a bad time to restart watching episodes of House…

I dong, you dong…

…Ui dong.  Ahem.

Today we went to the other side of the mountain and visited the lovely Doseon Buddhist Temple.  I even took some pictures, although I didn’t realize just how thick the yellow dust was until I viewed them at home later.  And to think I gave up smoking for the good of my lungs.  Ah well.

The stairway to...Doseon.  Not as strenuous as our normal Bukhansan hike, but I had worked up a pretty good sweat by the time we made it to the top...

The stairway to…Doseon. Not as strenuous as our normal Bukhansan hike, but I had worked up a pretty good sweat by the time we made it to the top…

Lots of people worshiping at the various alters around the temple grounds...

Lots of people worshiping at the various alters around the temple grounds…

But the first thing Jee Yeun wanted to do was to partake in the free lunch.  I had brought along some cheese and apples and ate simply as seemed befitting to the surroundings.  Plus the offering didn't appear all that appetizing...or sanitary.

But the first thing Jee Yeun wanted to do was to partake in the free lunch. I had brought along some cheese and apples and ate simply as seemed befitting to the surroundings. Plus the offering didn’t appear all that appetizing…or sanitary.

With a full belly (although not by any means Buddha-esque) Jee Yeun offered up her thanks for the blessings of life...

With a full belly (although not by any means Buddha-esque) Jee Yeun offered up her thanks for the blessings of life…

...numerous times in numerous places...

…numerous times in numerous places…

...even said a prayer for me she says...

…even said a prayer for me she says…

 

"What the hell? I learn the Korean alphabet and now they are writing shit in Chinese!  It was good hike and a nice change of pace.  I reckon I'll be back...

“What the hell? I learn the Korean alphabet and now they are writing shit in Chinese!
It was good hike and a nice change of pace. I reckon I’ll be back…

 

 

 

 

 

A tale of two cultures

It was the best of lunches, it was the worst of lunches…

We were walking to E-mart yesterday and Jee Yeun declared her hunger in words even I could understand "baego payo!"  She said this as we approached the Hyundae Dept Store so I reckoned the food court was in my immediate future.  I was feeling particularly hungry, Jee Yeun enjoyed some naeng-myon I settled for a Whopper (no fries, diet Coke).  In my defense, it was the first American fast food I've consumed since my return one month ago...

We were walking to E-mart yesterday and Jee Yeun declared her hunger in words even I could understand “baego payo!” She said this as we approached the Hyundae Dept Store so I reckoned the food court was in my immediate future. I was not feeling particularly hungry, but Jee Yeun enjoyed some naeng-myon and I settled for a Whopper (no fries, diet Coke). In my defense, it was the first American fast food I’ve consumed since my return one month ago…

I’m quite the dickens, am I not?

 

Just play me some mountain music

Jee Yeun hasn’t been feeling well since undergoing all those medical tests Wednesday.  She’s been complaining about back pain and seems more tired than usual.  Not saying there is any relationship to the physical exam, just stating the facts.  I gave her a back massage this morning which helped as long as it lasted.  Later she announced she needed to exercise which is her parlance for “let’s go to Bukhansan”.  And so we did.

The cherry blossoms are already mostly gone at our apartment building but they are still going strong on the mountain...

The cherry blossoms are already mostly gone at our apartment building but they are still going strong on the mountain…

and the gaenalee was also still in full flower...

and the gaenalee was also still in full flower…

...as was the magnolia tree.

…as was the magnolia tree.

We took our usual path...

We took our usual path…

...that led us up to...

…that led us up to…

...our mountaintop oasis where Jee Yeun did her hula hoop routine...

…our mountaintop oasis where Jee Yeun did her hula hoop routine…

...and filled up the water bottles with fresh spring water (at least I hope it's fresh!)

…and filled up the water bottles with fresh spring water (at least I hope it’s fresh!)

Back down at the bottom we end our hike in the traditional manner--with a blow job!

Back down at the bottom we end our hike in the traditional manner–with a blow job!

 

 

Captured by aliens…

soonchanhwang

…and subjected to all sorts of bizarre tests and invasions of various bodily orifices while they carried on in a native tongue I could only pretend to understand.  At least that is how it felt.

Yes, today was the day that Jee Yeun and I did our bi-annual comprehensive physical examinations.  Eyes, ears, blood, EKG, BMI, bone density, chest x-ray, sonogram, prostrate probe, MRI of the vital organs, endoscopy and colonoscopy.  Fortunately, I slept through the last two.  The prostrate check was done with a device that looked like a giant dildo and it felt bigger than it appeared.  Ah well, she didn’t even give me flowers afterwards.

I’ll get the results directly from my hilarious Korean doctor on April 24.  Apparently they took something from my stomach to biopsy.  And I’m hoping to learn if this almost constant chest pain is something to be concerned about.  It’s not heart pain, it’s just a generalized soreness.  I can feel it when I take a deep breath, roll over in bed, and sneezing is excruciating.  I’m assuming it just goes with being old (because my whole body seems to ache most of the time).  We’ll see.

They gave me this really cool bracelet as a parting gift!  And that's not all!

They gave me this really cool bracelet as a parting gift! And that’s not all!

Anyway, I’m a pretty big fan the Korean health care system, unlike some folks I know.  Especially their preventative programs like this one.  We got a “his and her” discount, so both of our physicals wound up costing a total or just over W2,000,000 ($2000.00).  My brother who worked in the industry stateside says most of those tests would cost more individually than my entire total back home.  I expect Blue Cross will reimburse about 75% of that which is *ahem* pretty healthy.

In another nice touch Soonchunhwang Hospital gives you coupons for a free lunchee at the nearby porridge house!  This was especially welcome for me as I was approaching 24 hours on my mandated fast.

soonchanhwang2

porridge 003

A nice hot bowl of juk!  Truth be told, I find it rather bland.  But when I'm starving...

A nice hot bowl of juk! Truth be told, I find it rather bland. But when I’m starving…

...I find it extraordinarily delicious!

…I find it extraordinarily delicious!

So, that was our day.  Here’s to good health!

Go tell it on the mountain!

A busy time here notwithstanding the morning calm.

Saturday marked the one year anniversary of my marriage to the lovely Jee Yeun Lee.  We celebrated with a dinner in Myeong-dong and then a dart tourney at B&B in Itaewon.  I guess that's our tradition.  After the wedding ceremony in Las Vegas last year I had to hurry down for the New World Dart Series pro tourney coincidentally also bein held in LV that day....

Saturday marked the one year anniversary of my marriage to the lovely Jee Yeun Lee. We celebrated with a dinner in Myeong-dong and then a dart tourney at B&B in Itaewon. I guess that’s our tradition. After the wedding ceremony in Las Vegas last year I had to hurry down for the New World Dart Series pro tourney coincidentally also being held in LV that day….

I've also founded a dart league--The Seoul Sunday Singles League--which began play this past Sunday...

I’ve also founded a dart league–The Seoul Sunday Singles League–which began play this past Sunday.  24 players competing in 3 divisions.  Gonna be a lot of work but I also expect it will be lots of fun.

My nephew Justin took us out for a belated anniversary supper.  He's a special young man who has made great strides in mastering the Korean language.  I do admit I was envious as he engaged my Korean friends in what appeared to be fascinating conversation.  He's a little confused politically however.  Here I am explaining the "facts of life" about our corrupt political class.  The poor lad has been indoctrinated into the liberal mindset.  But he is smart enough to concede some points regarding gov't excesses and failures so I don't consider him a lost cause--yet.

My nephew Justin took us out for a belated anniversary supper. He’s a special young man who has made great strides in mastering the Korean language. I do admit I was envious as he engaged my Korean friends in what appeared to be fascinating conversation. He’s a little confused politically however. Here I am explaining the “facts of life” about our corrupt political class. The poor lad has been indoctrinated into the liberal mindset. But he is smart enough to concede some points regarding gov’t excesses and failures so I don’t consider him a lost cause–yet.

And of course Jee Yeun dragged me up on the mountain yet again.  This time I let her go her familiar way and thereby avoided getting lost again...

And of course Jee Yeun dragged me up on the mountain yet again. This time I let her go her familiar way and thereby avoided getting lost again…

 

Bright and early in the morning Jee Yeun and I will be doing full physicals at Soonchunhwang hospital.  Mine includes a colonoscopy so tonight I'm "enjoying" large quantities of picolight and water.  I'll be flushing out my innards all night long and be clean as a whistle come morning.  At least that is the plan.

Bright and early in the morning Jee Yeun and I will be doing full physicals at Soonchunhwang hospital. Mine includes a colonoscopy so tonight I’m “enjoying” large quantities of picolight and water. I’ll be flushing out my innards all night long and be clean as a whistle come morning. At least that is the plan.

Oh, and I’ve got my Netflix account working here in Korea.  I’ve been re-enjoying Mad Men and House, M.D. of late.  And that’s about it for this update.

 

 

The Gu stuff

Friday we ventured out to the Jongro-gu office to register our marriage, a necessary prerequisite to my applying for an F-6 permanent residency visa here in Korea.

I guess no matter where you are you gotta admire the government bureaucracy and the nifty little traps they devise to ensnare you.  In this case it was the matter of our having failed to register our marriage within six months as is apparently required by some ministerial fiat or another.  Jee Yeun complained that we had been out of the country since the date of our marriage in the USA.  The bureaucrat was unmoved stating we should have registered at the Korean Embassy or consular office.  The nearest of those two is in Atlanta, a goodly 4+ hours from where we reside.  Oh well, I suppose the W50,000 fine was cheaper than the gas it would have cost us to be compliant with ROK law.

So I reckon in a week I should be registered with the Korean government as the spouse of one of their fair citizens.  And then we can begin the adventure of dealing with the Korean Immigration Service.  I’m sure that will supply more fodder for blogging.  Stay tuned!

 

 

 

Hey kid, how’d you like a nice Hertz donut?

*smack* Hurts, don’t it?

As painful as that joke might be it is nothing compared to what has been going on in my mouth these past few days.  I had a tooth start bothering me a couple of weeks ago so I went to visit the dentist.  S/He advised that the tooth I was complaining about had previously been subjected to a root canal so I shouldn’t be experiencing any problems there.  S/He speculated it was probably just a bit of an infection and prescribed antibiotics.  And also filled three cavities.

So this Tuesday the tooth with no nerve began hurting like a motherfucker.  I could knock the pain down for a couple of hours at a time by taking heavy doses of Advil and/or Tylenol.  I even used some of Jee Yeun’s prescription pain pills left over from her shoulder surgery but they didn’t help much either.  After a mostly sleepless night, I went back in to see Dr. Sohn.  S/He once again diagnosed an abscess below the tooth, did a little leveling off of said tooth to even my bite, and prescribed more antibiotics.

Wednesday night was also mostly sleepless and pain-wracked and Jee Yeun, bless her heart, got sick of hearing my whinging hated to see me suffer so she insisted I visit the dental clinic down the street.  When we hit the street at 10:00 a.m. it looked like a scene from a disaster movie.  Throngs of people pushing and shoving to get into a massive line of jam packed buses.  Never seen anything like that so I immediately figured something must be up with the subway.  It was.  Fortunately, we were walking to the dentist so we were able to observe the madhouse without actually participating in it.

Jee Yeun told me this dentist is very famous and related to the family in some distant way and that people come for all over the country for his services.  She stressed we had to get there early to get on the list of walk-ins.  When we arrived there were 3 folks ahead of us, which didn’t seem too bad.  And then the receptionist came out and apologetically announced that the doctor would not be in until 3:00 p.m.  Apparently he was doing some charity work that morning which is admirable, although it did not reduce the ache in my tooth in the slightest.

Back to the apartment for more aspirin and the brief interludes of comfort it provided.  I had also been applying heat in the form of a damp towel microwaved to a level of warmth right below that used for skin removal.  I don’t know if it helped, but it didn’t hurt.  Jee Yeun insisted I should be applying cold to the tooth.  I explained that Dr. Sohn had specifically advised me to apply heat and s/he said that people who used cold were doing it wrong.  Armed with info she found on the internet Jee Yeun called the dentist’s office to say that heat wasn’t working.  Shortly thereafter Dr. Sohn called my phone and asked how I was doing.  “I’ve been better” I truthfully responded.  S/He suggested I return to her office the following afternoon and she would remove my crown to try and relieve “pressure”.  By this point I was ready to tell her to just yank the damn thing out altogether and be done with it.

Meanwhile I’d gotten a text asking me to sub on a team in the Thursday night dart league.  I was inclined at first to decline given my condition but then I figured if I was going to suffer regardless I may as well suffer doing something I enjoy.  The pain was in an aspirin induced remission when I got on the subway, but by the team we reached Samgakji station the tooth was screaming again.  So I ate some Advil dry and continued on to the Bull and Barrel.  The dentist had advised me not not drink while taking the antibiotics and I had pushed back a little asking “why?”  S/he gave me some bullshit about making the body weaker so as not to be able to fight the infection.  So, I hadn’t been drinking and I ordered up a diet Coke at the bar but for the record it was only because I didn’t feel like drinking not some whacky doctor’s orders.

By the time I had finished my second Coke the pain had again subsided and the dart match was ready to begin.  I prefer to play darts while maintaining a finely tuned chemical balance that provides a maximum level of confidence and relaxation. Achieving this state of mind normally requires the consumption of beer, so I ordered up a Cass.  It tasted good and went down smooth so I had another.  And another.

Now, it could be that the antibiotics finally kicked in and killed that nasty infection.  Or it could be Cass beer contains some unadvertised healing powers.  All I know is that I slept through the night for the first time in days.  I awoke pain free and have been pain free ever since.

Which leads me to the point I wanted to make when I sat down to write this overly-long post.  Pain sucks.  I have zero tolerance for pain. That pain can even be allowed to exist in the 21st century strikes me as being particularly inhumane.  Pain I think is very subjective and very personal.  No one else can feel your pain nor can you feel theirs.  So, how does one truly measure pain.  When someone says “I have a high tolerance for pain” I don’t think they are in any way stronger than me, I just figure their pain is not as severe.

See, as I wrote about this experience with pain I knew some reader somewhere would be thinking “what a fuckin’ pussy.  He ‘gets a damn toothache and makes a big deal about it.  Why doesn’t he just man up and handle it in silence?”

Fuck that.  That tooth hurt so bad I literally could not sit still.  Moving around didn’t help either, but Jesus, I couldn’t just sit there and take it.  So maybe that does make me a wuss.  I’ll tell you this though, I certainly appreciated that scene in Castaway where Tom Hanks removes his tooth with an ice skate.  You reach a point where you just can’t stand it anymore.  I guess my pain intolerance does not bode well for my future.  I will not be one of those brave souls who withstand immense pain while battling cancer.  Just put a pillow over my face and let me be done with it.  Please.

 

 

 

Getting high in Korea

Yesterday I got high and then I got lost.  Sort of.

It all started innocently enough.  I was enjoying my morning coffee when Jee Yeun exclaimed “let’s go to the mountain!”  By mountain she was of course referring to her favorite place to hike–Bukhansan National Park.  I wasn’t exactly feeling it, but Jee Yeun had indulged me several hours of darts on Sunday so I figured it was wise to pretend to be enthusiastic.  So off we went.

It was about 10:00 a.m. when we reached our bus stop and the place was crawling with college-age kids.  The first bus to arrive was packed tighter than a can of sardines and I said “bullshit on this, you wanted to exercise, let’s walk!”  Which we did, at least as far as the next bus stop.  Jee Yeun had reminded me just how long the walk would be so I agreed to wait and see whether the next bus was filled beyond reasonable capacity.  It was.  But after consulting the bus schedule Jee said all of these are going to the university (she didn’t say which one).  She assured me that the bus we needed (the 110B) would not be crowded.  And she was 100% correct!  Just a few old folks dressed for a morning mountain hike.  I sadly noted to myself just how much I fit in with these elderly types.

Anyway, we arrived at our destination and began our climb.  This time I insisted we take a new path, as I was tired of the same one Jee Yeun preferred on each of our previous several visits.  I soon regretted not bringing along my camera.  The trees were in early flowering mode and there were several new and interesting vistas along the way.  And this trail took us straight to the top!  It’s the highest I’ve been in Korea (not counting my driving over Seroksan).

It was a tough climb and actually a little scary in places.  The footing was often difficult and in one place they had even secured ropes as a hand hold to assist in the prevention of plunging to serious injury or death at the bottom of the cliff.  It wasn’t the fall I was worried about, it was the sudden stop!  I was glad for my walking stick and the thought occurred that I ought to invest in some actual hiking boots.

After traversing the crest line trail for the better part of an hour, we began looking for a way back down to the place where we had started from.  Which as it turns out was on the other side of the mountain.  Not being one to back track (and not wanting to rely on ropes again to stay on the path) I decreed we’d take the first likely trail to down to wherever it led and taxi home from there if necessary.  That didn’t really go exactly as planned.

After a good long generally downward hike we did find an exit from the national park.  Which put us smack dab in the middle of an upscale residential area.  Well, upscale doesn’t do it justice.  These houses, or more aptly, mansions, were pert near the largest most opulent homes I’ve seen anywhere–including Beverly Hills.  Pyungchang-dong I guess neighborhood is called.  Again, I wish I’d had my camera!  We followed a meandering street for a good bit seeing nothing that looked like the Korea I know.  We eventually encountered some folk out for a walk and Jee Yeun asked where we might catch a bus.  Now, I’m language challenged, but I can read expressions.  And these were saying they’d never considered such a question.  They vaguely pointed down the road and off we walked.  And walked.  And walked.  Damn, who knew there were so many incredibly rich people in one place.

I finally spied some high rise apartments in the distance so we made for them.  It took awhile though because the road was neither straight nor narrow.  Eventually a cab stopped for us (I guess we were a bit of spectacle with our shabby attire and  walking sticks).  And so we finally made it back to the familiar environs of Gireum-dong in time for me to rest up for dart league.

And I was high again after turning in an 11-1 performance (regular readers may recall I went 1-8 the week before).  And I drank a lot of beer as well.

An adventure filled day to be sure!

 

Thousands of comedians out of work…

…and she’s trying to be funny!

The daughter-in-law has graciously agreed to periodically bring in the mail (and mow the lawn!*) while I’m on this side of the world.  So today I get a message from her saying an important piece of mail has arrived and asking whether I want her to send it to me via overnight mail.  She helpfully included this photograph:

conservatives

Haha!  I’ve been getting spam mail from the RNC (and everyone they subsequently sold my address to) ever since I sent that $100 check to Mitt Romney.   Bastards.

In other news, I had the good fortune to bring home 1st place money in last night’s dart tournament at Bull Barrel.

B&B 001

Drawing the top ranked player in Itaewon as my partner certainly improved my chances!  I also managed a second place finish at Dolce Vita Friday night so it’s been a profitable weekend.  Well, by profitable I mean I made almost enough to cover my bar tabs.

After darts it was time for some Korean-style dining.  I define Korean-style as eating lots of tasty food and washing it down with copious amounts of beer and soju.

Friends and family gathered around the table in anticipation of...

Friends and family gathered around the table in anticipation of…

...the best dang samgyapsal I've found in Korea

…the best dang samgyapsal I’ve found in Korea

B&B 009

It was a good night!

*She claims to want to mow my lawn.  Says she likes using a mower but my son won’t let her mow HIS lawn.  I’m glad to provide her the opportunity!

Save the date!

Heh, is there any greater honor for a dart player than to have a tournament held in his name?  Especially when he’s still alive!  Well, actually a greater honor would be to win a national championship on the big stage televised live on ESPN.  But I know this event is gonna happen on Saturday night in Itaewon and I’m pleased to be a part of it.

Truth be told, I was severely disappointed that Bull and Barrel had stopped doing Saturday tourneys.  I met with the owner Wednesday and asked him to schedule one and I'd help promote it.  This isn't exactly what I had in mind, but...

Truth be told, I was severely disappointed that Bull and Barrel had stopped doing Saturday tourneys. I met with the owner Wednesday and asked him to schedule one and I’d help promote it. This isn’t exactly what I had in mind, but…