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.

 

 

I’ve got too much time on my hands…

…and it’s ticking away with my sanity.

Exhibit A:

Last week I exchanged 20 hours of time for 60 miles walked...

Last week I exchanged 20 hours of time for 60 miles walked…

Exhibit B:

Had a good long walk this time...

Had a good long walk this time…

Saturday morning it was time to see the hilarious Dr. Yu.  I walked over to Soonchunhwang University Hospital where he gave me the document I needed to get Blue Cross to pay for last February’s physical.  Dr. Yu checked my blood pressure and it is a much improved 135/90.  Wrote me a prescription and I was on my way to Namsan.

Took time to enjoy the Lilly pond...

Took time to enjoy the Lilly pond…

There's always time to snap a photo of flower blossoms, right?

There’s always time to snap a photo of flower blossoms, right?

Got home after three hours on the mountain, showered up, and headed over to Sin Bin for the dart league end of season tournament.

Next time my truck driving younger brother makes it to Korea he'll have to eat here...

On my way I saw this oddly named restaurant. Next time my truck driving younger brother makes it to Korea he’ll have to eat here…

Anyway, I chose not to play in the tournament, but I stayed for the awards and raffle.

My team took second place this time.

My team took second place this time.

When it was time to pass out achievement pins my bag contained these...

When it was time to pass out achievement pins my bag contained these…

I invested W10,000 in raffle tickets and walked away with an expensive dart set when my number was drawn.

I'm gonna have to find some time to see if they work better for me than my current arrows...

I’m gonna have to find some time to see if they work better for me than my current arrows…

I had four Miller Lite beers at Sin Bin then took a roundabout walk to Shenanigans (needed to up my step count for the day).  Switched over to gin and sodas and was feeling buzzed and hungry.  So I stumbled back home and made a salad loaded with chicken breast on top.  The appetite now satiated and since it was only 7:00 p.m. on a Saturday night, I decided to venture back out to the mean streets of Itaewon.

Wasn’t quite ready to start drinking again so I wandered over to the Thai massage joint.  A talkative Thai lass rubbed me down with aroma oil for a relaxing hour.  And no, she didn’t offer and I didn’t ask.

Feeling refreshed, I walked over to Grand Ol’ Opry where I enjoyed country music and cheap gin and sodas.  Left there and made my second appearance of the day at Shenanigans.  Turned out to be a very nice time there.  Home drunk (again) and in bed by 11:00.  Slept with the fan on all night for the first time this summer.

Up bright and early at 0600.  Popped a pot roast in the slow cooker and then hit the road for the Han river.

I'm missing kissing time.

I’m missing kissing time.

I didn't take time to count, but I'm told there are 63 floors in the 63 building...

I didn’t take time to count, but I’m told there are 63 floors in the 63 building…

On the way back I encountered a large festival in celebration of Philippines Independence Day.  It felt a little awkward since the independence was from American colonialism.  Everyone appeared to be having a good time though.

On the way back I encountered a large festival in celebration of Philippines Independence Day. It felt a little awkward since the independence was from American colonialism. Everyone appeared to be having a good time though.

Who knew there were so many Pinoys in Seoul.  Took some time to make my way through the crowd...

Who knew there were so many Pinoys in Seoul. Took some time to make my way through the crowd…

Got back home after almost four hours on the road and the house was full of the pleasing aroma of pot roast.  It will be ready in four hours time...

Got back home after almost four hours on the road and the house was full of the pleasing aroma of pot roast. It will be ready in four hours time…

 

In the meantime, I had time to prepare a lunchtime salad.  Everything is better with bacon!

In the meantime, I had time to prepare a lunchtime salad. Everything is better with bacon!

Today’s weigh-in finds me at 223.3, down 1.4 pounds from last week and 45.9 overall.  I’ll take it.

And now it is time for a nap.

Fruits and nuts

I was born in California…a.k.a. the land of fruits and nuts.

Anyway, for my lunchtime stroll I walked here:

Why? I had to walk somewhere today? 60 minute round trip from my office.

Why? I had to walk somewhere today, didn’t I? 60 minute round trip from my office.

I do my shopping on Wednesday. This week they were out of the fresh California strawberries to which I've grown accustomed. Plus the bagger on Wednesday crushed one of my bananas so I needed a replacement...

I do my shopping on Wednesday. This week they were out of the fresh California strawberries to which I’ve grown accustomed. Plus the bagger on Wednesday crushed one of my bananas so I needed a replacement…

I so look forward to my Sunday indulgence of a strawberry/banana smoothie.  Fuck you!  I need to look forward to something for gawd’s sake…

I'd also forgot to pick up a can of nuts. My favorite afternoon snack...

I’d also forgot to pick up a can of nuts. My favorite afternoon snack…

In other news, a hearty congratulations to Ms. Choe, Song Won on her recent promotion!  She was my cubicle mate but now she resides in a fine office of her own.  She was the selection to fill the vacancy of the late Mr. Kim, Yong-tae.

Well earned and well deserved!

Well earned and well deserved!

I’ve been knowing Ms. Choe since she was an intern way back in 2005.  Mr. Kim was her mentor and in our last conversation before he passed he told me she was ready to step up.  Without a doubt Mr. Kim is irreplaceable.  And Ms.Choe told me she was reluctant to apply for his vacancy.  I told her that you are the legacy.  Mr. Kim worked hard to get you ready to fill his humongous shoes and you should take the job if for no other reason than to honor him.  Yeah, I know that was guilt tripping to the max.  But she took the job and she is rocking it.  I’m so proud of her!

What else?  Well, there’s always dinner to talk about…

My low carb supper...lettuce, cheese, a ribeye steak, and Italian dressing.  I never go hungry!

My low carb supper…lettuce, cheese, a ribeye steak, and Italian dressing. I never go hungry!

And that about wraps it up for now…

Another drunken Friday night...you gotta laugh, right?

Another drunken Friday night…you gotta laugh, right?

 

 

 

 

Another bad decision

When I was equipping myself for my new bachelor life I bought the red can opener for $5.00. I'd considered the more substantial black one at $8.00 but figured, hell, how many cans do I ever open anyway?

When I was equipping myself for my new bachelor life I bought the red can opener for $5.00. I’d considered the more substantial black one at $8.00 but figured, hell, how many cans do I ever open anyway?

So this morning I had it in my mind to make up a crockpot full of chili.  I browned some ground beef and popped it in the pot.  Diced up an onion and added it to the beef.  Grabbed my can of pinto beans and the red opener…then encountered mission failure.  The gear is stripped or something, all I know is no matter how I turned the handle, the lid was not being opened.  Curses!

My solution was to detour from my river walk and pop into the PX for the opener I should have bought in the first place.  Chili is cooking now, but I had to go four hours on high versus the preferred 8 hours on low.  But enough of my #firstworldproblems.

Yesterday I had the honor to attend the wedding ceremony of Brian and Justina.

That's me getting warmed up for the festivities with a refreshing tall glass of gin and soda...

That’s me getting warmed up for the festivities with a refreshing tall glass of gin and soda…

I was also fortunate to escort Nuri and Sonja to the big event....

I was also fortunate to escort Nuri and Sonja to the big event….

The happy couple...

The happy couple…well, Brian looks like he’s going to the firing squad.  But marriage is not that kind of death…

Friends of the groom. Poor guy...

Friends of the groom. Poor guy…

After the ceremony dinner was served...

After the ceremony dinner was served…

Brian all decked out for Phase II--the traditional Korean wedding rituals...

Brian all decked out for Phase II–the traditional Korean wedding rituals…

Anyway, it was a very nice wedding.  Very formal and Christian.  Which meant no alcohol on the tables and a long ass sermon (all in Korean).  Other than that, no complaints.

There was an after party at Shenanigans in which I marginally participated.  Meaning that I scored free drinks from the patio and drank them from my usual seat at the bar.  Went home early and hit the sheets.

Up early this morning to no avail as the aforementioned chili plans were foiled by a faulty utensil.  So I did laundry then headed for the river.

It was a pretty warm morning and I worked up a good sweat. But the air was clearer than it's been in awhile.

It was a pretty warm morning and I worked up a good sweat. But the air was clearer than it’s been in awhile.

These wildflowers were holding on for dear life...

These wildflowers were holding on for dear life…

And I walked across that oddly familiar bridge...

And I walked across that oddly familiar bridge…

I was dragging ass by the time I got home...

I was dragging ass by the time I got home…

And home I remain.  Waiting on my chili…

UPDATE:  Oh, yeah.  Minus 3.4 pounds this week.  That leaves me at 224.7.  Dropped 44.5 pounds overall.  When will the belly go away?  Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

Only time

Killed three hours this morning on Namsan.

Today's angle of attack...

Today’s angle of attack…

...and yes, I did the motherfuckin' steps today.

…and yes, I did the motherfuckin’ steps today.

As is my wont, I took a snack break half way up.

As is my wont, I took a snack break half way up.

All in all I'm just another brick in the wall...

All in all I’m just another brick in the wall…

Not so many, but they were hard and sweaty steps...

Not so many, but they were hard and sweaty steps…

Next up, Brian’s wedding.  Brian is one of the owners of Shenanigans.  That makes us practically relatives I suppose.

One of the songs that popped up on my playlist as I walked today put me in a melancholy mood.  Your mileage may vary.

Who can say where the road goes
Where the day flows, only time
And who can say if your love grows
As your heart chose, only time

Who can say why your heart sighs
As your love flies, only time
And who can say why your heart cries
When your love lies, only time

Who can say when the roads meet
That love might be in your heart
And who can say when the day sleeps
If the night keeps all your heart
Night keeps all your heart

Who can say if your love grows
As your heart chose
Only time
And who can say where the road goes
Where the day flows, only time

Who knows? Only time

Let it go

Chatting with the daughter tonight about liquidating my American life.  Well, my possessions in America at least.

Her stepfather is a handy guy and is going to come in and change the locks and do any fix up work that is necessary.  The soon to be departing tenant expressed interest in the living room couch and love seat.  High quality leather furniture.  Paid around $2500 new but not sure what I should ask.  Daughter said she will check “Let it Go”, a Craigslist type website, to see what similar stuff is selling for.

I had to laugh at the name.  It’s so perfectly describes exactly what I’m trying to do.

Ha! Look at me, blogging while sober.  It’s been awhile.

Finding a better way to fill the hours…

So, there comes a time when enough is enough.  I’ve more or less been on a six month drunk.  And I’ve noticed that my brain is turning to mush.  So it’s time to scale it back a notch or two I suppose.

Tonight I rested my liver and my body.  Walked a roundabout way home from work and managed to log 11,000+ steps.  Straightened up the house in preparation for the housekeeper’s bi-weekly visit tomorrow (I still have my pride!).  Then I took a nap.

I’ve got access to HBOGo now and season 6 of Game of Thrones is available.  When I left the USA  a year and a half ago now I think I was somewhere in the middle of season 5.  Or was it 4?  Told you my brain was mush.  Anyway, I just decided to re-watch the whole damn thing.  So season 1, episode 1 is now in the books.

Hell, this ought to keep me out of the bars some.

A memorable weekend

It was a long weekend, but a good one.  Good enough anyway.

Friday evening found me at Sin Bin Sports Pub for a darts tourney.  I don’t usually play Sin Bin for a variety of reasons.  Primarily that it starts late and if you are winning, finishes late.  I made an exception because on old dart buddy, mentor, and former Seoul International Dart League President is in town.  He’s big time into darts back in the states, even has earned a pro card.

And Friday night I beat him.  He professes to read the blog, so let me say it again.  I beat Mike “Petro” Petrocelli.  Alright, it was doubles and my partner was probably stronger than his.  But still.  Took home W30,000 for a second place finish.  Stumbled home with my winnings at 0130 feeling no pain.

Except for the pain that comes from sitting on my new Galaxy J7 phone and breaking the screen.

A broke phone to go with a broken heart. Some guys have all the luck...

A broke phone to go with a broken heart. Some guys have all the luck…

So, I got up Saturday morning and set about my chores.  Popped a chicken in the crockpot but added some melted butter to the recipe.  Basting worked much better than rubbing the spices and seasonings on the bird.  At least it came out a lot more moist and juicy this time.

It was literally falling off the bone when I pulled it out of the slow cooker...Tasty!

It was literally falling off the bone when I pulled it out of the slow cooker 8 hours later…. Tasty!

So, I had my old phone as a backup fortunately.  But rather than Namsan, I trekked into the Yongsan Electronics District to score a repair.  I was told I could get it done on the 8th floor of the I-Park mall.  After climbing the escalators all those flights I was advised that none of the booths with every type of phone and accessory imaginable did Galaxy repairs. I was told I’d have to get it done “on the street.”

Alrighty, to the street I went.  I wandered about till I reached an alley that was phone-centric.  Where I was informed in broken English that I’d have to go to the Samsung SVC center.  I asked for directions and got a series of hand gestures, “Family Mart” and “second floor.”  Amazingly enough I somehow managed to find the place.  Above a CU store, but still…

After a short wait I was sent to a technician.  He asked if I spoke Korean to which I could only respond “anio”.  So he advised me the repair would be “very expensive”.  And that it couldn’t be completed until Monday at 2:00 p.m.  I asked how expensive and he said W55,000.  Which was less expensive than I expected.

I left my phone and hoofed it back home along the Han River.  I had to hustle because I had big plans for the afternoon.  Choonae was celebrating her birthday with a cookout on the back deck of Shenanigans.  In her sweetest voice she had asked if I could bring my meat.  How could I refuse?

The birthday girl...

The birthday girl…

Steaks and brats is the meat I brought...Heh, I brought the brats I bought...

Steaks and brats is the meat I brought…Heh, I brought the brats I bought…

...and threw them on the grill just like I knew what I was doing...

…and threw them on the grill just like I knew what I was doing…

I brought along some shrimp as an appetizer as well...

I brought along some shrimp as an appetizer as well…

We served every thing cut up in bite size morsels. Made it easier for all concerned...

We served every thing cut up in bite size morsels. Made it easier for all concerned…

Brian (Shenanigans owner) and I toasting Choonae in honor of her XX birthday. She's older than she looks and that's all I'm saying...

Brian (Shenanigans owner) and I toasting Choonae in honor of her XX birthday. She’s older than she looks and that’s all I’m saying…

Ain't she sweet? She said on Facebook I'm her best male friend...gotta love the friend zone...

Ain’t she sweet? She said on Facebook I’m her best male friend…gotta love the friend zone…

Some of the happy guests...

Some of the happy guests…

Group shot...

Group shot…

I left the party around 7:00 and headed over to Dolce Vita for another darts tourney hosted by Petro.  You know, the guy with the pro card I mentioned above.  He professes to read my blog so I find it only fair that I mention how I beat him. Again.  Now granted, it was doubles and my partner was arguably stronger than his.  But still.  Took home 3rd Place money.

Finished the night with my nephew Justin at the new Debut bar.  It’s an expensive place to visit when you are drunk.  Hopefully I’ve learned that lesson by now.

I woke up Sunday morning feeling a little worse for the wear.  But I needed to get my weekend Namsan hike out of the way.  As I passed through Itaewon, I notice a new restaurant has opened in the former location of a bar called Rock n Roll I used to frequent way back in my early days here…

There's a new BBQ joint in town. We'll have to give it a try Kevin Kim. We are a couple of big boys...

There’s a new BBQ joint in town. We’ll have to give it a try Kevin Kim. We are a couple of big boys…

I took a new approach this time. These stairs lead up and around the Hyatt Hotel...

I took a new approach this time. These stairs lead up and around the Hyatt Hotel…

The view from the top...

The view from the top…

So, I took the path up to the road, and followed the road around to wear it leads to the stairs to the top.  I had good intentions of climbing them, but I wimped up.  I was just feeling rough and not energetic.  Next week for sure!  I settled for 20,000 less difficult steps.

Made it an early night last night and woke up feeling much better today.  Did some more laundry and popped a pork roast in the crockpot.  Left the house a little after 10:00.  First stop was paying my gas bill.  Not going through having it shut off again!  Then I hoofed it to the base and picked up some shorts and t-shirts in the PX.  Nothing seems to fit me these days (in a good way).

So, I was bound and determined to figure out where I went wrong when I got lost on last Sunday’s hike.  I followed the river from the opposite side and discovered where I had made the wrong turn.  I won’t make that mistake again.  Since I still had over an hour until I could pick up my phone I just kept on walking.

It's always nice to see someone has their ducks in a row...

It’s always nice to see someone has their ducks in a row…

I didn't see this creature sneaking up behind me until it was too late. Luckily, one taste and he spit me back out...

I didn’t see this creature sneaking up behind me until it was too late. Luckily, one taste and he spit me back out…

Spigot or faucet? Either way, I've got to hand it to you...

Spigot or faucet? Either way, I’ve got to hand it to you…

I made it to the National Assembly building intentionally this time...

I made it to the National Assembly building intentionally this time…

A better perspective from the bridge on the way back...

A better perspective from the bridge on the way back…

By far the farthest bridge I've ventured too thus far. Far and away.

By far the farthest bridge I’ve ventured to thus far. Far and away.

The river looks about the same from all the bridges though...

The river looks about the same from all the bridges though…

Made it back to the Samsung SVC place at 2:30 and picked up my phone without any hassle.  Made it home four and a half hours after I left.  Around 31,000 steps all told. (had to add the steps from two different phones).

Lost one pound this week, but I’m motivated to reach my goal!

And tonight we have a dart league playoff match.  In fact, I should be in the shower now and getting my ass over to Shenanigans to do some warm-up work.

Hope your weekend was memorable too.

In remembrance

Here dead we lie
Because we did not choose
To live and shame the land
From which we sprung.

Life, to be sure,
Is nothing much to lose,
But young men think it is,
And we were young.

–Alfred Edward Housman

My great uncle Frank is the only family member I'm aware of who gave his life in the service of our nation.  So I honor him today.

My great uncle Frank is the only family member I’m aware of who gave his life in the service of our nation. So I honor him today.

Korean War memorial--Washington, DC.

Korean War memorial–Washington, DC.

Closing a door

Today I gave my departed wife the last installment on the promised six month support after our split.  I sent her a message telling her the money was in her account.  I told her I would never understand why she turned her back on a life we promised to share. I wished her well in her quest for happiness.  She responded thank you and good luck.  And that was that.

I’ve enlisted the support of my kids in South Carolina to assist in liquidating the contents of the house I bought, remodeled, and furnished for Jee Yeun in Columbia.  And then the house itself will go on the market and I’ll take the first reasonable offer I receive for it.  Fact of the matter is I have no desire to return to the USA to live, and even if I did I couldn’t bear to live in a house full of sad memories.

At this stage of my life I do not want to be encumbered with material things nor the baggage of the past.  That’s about as close to freedom as it gets I suppose.

What next?  Well, unless I fuck up massively I expect to work until June 2017.  My goal is to have a year’s worth of my pension salary in the bank by then.  In addition to whatever I recover from my ill-advised decision to pay cash for that fucking house.

And then what will I do?  No idea really.  I’d say the Philippines is a definite possibility.  Old time readers will recall that was where I was going to retire in 2010.  And then I met Jee Yeun and she convinced me that she was a better option.  Now six years later I’m back where I started.  Older but likely not much wiser.  Certainly more cynical, bitter and lonely though.  So there’s that.

Things can change.  I’ve just got to get my mind around how to go about changing them.

Tears for Bridget Werner

I lost a close friend yesterday.  Bridget died during the night, apparently of a heart attack. I’m not sure of her exact age, but I’d reckon it was late 40s.  Far too young to leave us, that’s for sure.  Left behind are her husband Chris, two grown children, her middle school aged son Christopher (or Fooey as she affectionately referred to him) and a grandchild.  As well as many, many friends all over the world.

As a military veteran and a military spouse Bridget had lived and traveled pretty much everywhere.  And everywhere she went she made many friends.  Her last stop on Earth was Columbia, SC.  During my trip there last Thanksgiving we had the chance to get together, throw darts, tell jokes, and catch up  on new events and reminisce about some old ones.  This photo was taken on the last day we'd ever be together.

As a military veteran and a military spouse Bridget had lived and traveled pretty much everywhere. And everywhere she went she made many friends. Her last stop on Earth was Columbia, SC. During my trip there last Thanksgiving we had the chance to get together, throw darts, tell jokes, and catch up on new events and reminisce about some old ones. This photo was taken on the last day we’d ever be together.

I met Bridget and Chris here in Korea around 2008 or so.  Something just clicked for us I guess.  She was such a unique person with a wicked sense of humor.  Real, nothing fake about her.  She was kind and generous and also full of piss and vinegar.  Always fun to be around someone like that–you never knew what was coming next.  I don’t let many people get too close to me, and Bridget was one of them.  Which makes it especially hard to see her go.

She was big time into darts of course, which gave us plenty of opportunity to spend time together.  Hmm, that's the ill-fated Jeremy.  One dead, one in jail, and one wondering what the hell is going on

She was big time into darts of course, which gave us plenty of opportunity to spend time together. Hmm, that’s the ill-fated Jeremy. One dead, one in jail, and one wondering what the hell is going on.

Bridget’s favorite exclamation was “What the balls!” which she freely used in just about any and all situations.

Bridget captained our dart league team, and in her honor we named ourselves "What the Bulls?".  We won the league championship that season.

Bridget captained our dart league team, and in her honor we named ourselves “What the Bulls?”. We won the league championship that season.

And while we were all in Korea we did a bit of traveling.

Here we are at the West Sea.

Here we are at the West Sea.

I retired and moved to South Carolina.  Shortly thereafter, Chris was transferred to Savannah, Georgia which afforded us the opportunity for some weekend get togethers, here or there.  I came back to Korea, and the Werner’s eventually set down in Columbia.  I told her stalking doesn’t work if you wait until I’m gone.

Chris and Bridget.  She surely did love that man...

Chris and Bridget. She surely did love that man…

This joke fit Bridget to a T.  She laughed when I posted it on Facebook and tagged her...

This joke fit Bridget to a T. She laughed when I posted it on Facebook and tagged her…

Well, you had to know her I guess.  And you can be sorry you missed the opportunity.  I will never forget her, I know that much.

Here's hoping there's a well-lit board wherever you may be in infinity...

Here’s hoping there’s a well-lit board wherever you may be in infinity…

What the balls!