And so we meet again

No idea why I can’t get motivated to post more often. But here’s an update on what’s happening:

Work has been intense of late. Had an interesting opportunity to do some advocacy yesterday. A SOFA Special Committee is reviewing the removal action against one of our Korean employees. I presented management’s arguments. The SC is composed of a Colonel and a GS-15 on the US side, and a Director at the ROK Ministry of Labor and a university professor on the Korean side. I was in there three hours and several more on preparation, but I think it went well overall. The MOL represenative was a young female lawyer and she asked some tough questions, which I think I parried reasonably well. During a break she complimentated my “passion” for the case. At least I think it was a compliment. Everything was done through interpreters which I am not really used to doing. I think our interpreter had a hard time with me because I tend to talk fast anyway, and I would give longish responses to questions without pausing to let her catch up. Oh well, it was an experience for sure.

My dart team finished in first place during league play, and playoffs start Monday. Our top player, Petro, is moving back to the states so we won’t have him for the championship game if we progress that far (which I expect we will).

I achieved my goal of a top ten finish (7th). Playing “A” division was a challenge for me and I suffererd through a big mid-season slump. Throwing a little better now, I just need to keep my head in the game and play with a little more confidence.

Had a little go-awaying get together for Petro at Hooters in Apuejeong on Tuesday. Drank lots of beer and had a pretty nice time. Stayed out too late for a work night, but it was worth it.

Sad to say, that’s about all I have to report. Hmm, maybe this is why I haven’t been posting much lately…

Once in a Blue Moon

Heh, this is not a post about how frequently I have been posting lately.

Saturday night I went out to Apeujong and experienced a great Jazz club named, you got it, Once in a Blue Moon. Damn, I was impressed. Talented group of Koreans playing some fine jazz tunes. The singer was really amazing, especially when she did the thing with her voice to make it sound like a trombone. The trumpet player hit all the notes, but you know, it wasn’t from the soul if you get my meaning. But really, that’s the strongest criticism I can muster about the experience.

Had a nice 7 course dinner that was 70,000W, but it was tasty. Drinks were expensive as you might expect, but given the level of entertainment, I deemed it worth it.

So, if you are looking for a nice place to hear some live Jazz, then check out Once in a Blue Moon.

As I was saying….

Geez, where does the time get to anyway? It’s been awhile since I’ve posted I know, but sometimes it’s just a struggle to post when there ain’t nothin’ new to say. But yeah, I’m doing alright. I know when the the long lost Nomad inquires about my whereabouts it’s time to check in.

Since my return from the Philippines, it has been work and darts. Work has been hectic and stressful, and there does not appear to be much relief in sight. In fact, my boss will likely be leaving this summer and she is already lobbying me to take her job. But at this stage in my career, I’m focused on retiring, not climbing the ladder of “success”. Still, I prefer to control my destiny and I may wind up taking the job as a preemptive measure–I don’t want to work for an asshole and the only sure way to avoid that is to be the boss. We’ll see.

I’ve had a rough spell with my dart game as well. Just playing horrible the past few weeks. I’m sure the problem is in my head. I just haven’t been playing with confidence and I have been a little intimidated by the “A” division competition. I’ve been working on it though and this past week I’ve shown signs of breaking out of the slump. I had an 8-1 showing on Monday night, and won a couple of the Dolce tourneys, so I’ve just got to keep it going.

Ok, I promised to post about my trip to the Philippines. I had a great time, mostly. I really did not like Manila at all. What a shithole. The traffic made Seoul seem sane (which it is not). It was dirty and the poverty was right up close and personal. I mean Christ, landing at the airport you fly over a shanty town along the riverbank that is like something out of National Geographic. No way I could live there.

I spent a few days in Angeles City as well. It is one big party town, like Itaewon on speed. Lots of bars with young women dancing in skimpy attire. I was bored with that after the first day. Fortunately I met a couple of Americans staying in my hotel and we hung out together. Days at the pool, and at night we went to this country bar with a great live band. So, while I wound up having fun in Angeles, it is not the kind of town I would call home.

From there I flew to Cebu City. Yes, that was much more likely. Comparatively clean and modern. The poverty is there, but it is not so much in your face. I hired a cab one day to show me around and really got a good feeling about the place. More to see in Philippines before I make any decisions, but Cebu is a definite possibility.

One thing I learned is not to travel to a predominately Catholic country during the Holy Days. I arrive on Maudy Thursday which of course preceded Good Friday. Everything was closed up tight, including the bar I had read about on the internet and wanted to visit. So, it was a little boring since there wasn’t much to do but hang out at the pool bar. Still, a good trip and I hope to return soon.

Didn’t take a lot of pictures, but here are a few:

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Angeles City street scene with the ever present Jeepney’s…

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Fields Avenue, the main drag in Angeles. If this seems a little third world, you should see the back streets.

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This is where I stayed. The room was a bit dated, but clean. Great pool and great breakfast buffet. I’d stay there again.

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Ok, these next pictures are all from my tour of Cebu and the surrounding environs. This one is of Fort San Pedro, built by the Spanish in 1590 (if memory serves). One thing I found somewhat surprising is that despite being a Spanish colony for over 300 years, there was not much Spanish influence in the culture. Certainly not as much as you see in other former colonies.

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Fort San Pedro had some interesting flora and fauna. If you are interested in that kind of thing. I’m basically not.

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But I did enjoy the view.

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This is along the top of whatever you call the walls of a fort.

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Oh yeah, did I mention that the Philippines is quite tropical? It was March and I was wearing shorts and was on the edge of being uncomfortably warm. But I expect it was because I was acclimated to the rather harsh Korean winter I had just left.

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Not sure if this is going to be readable on the blog, but it is the story of Magellan’s Cross. Yes, this is the spot where he planted the seeds of Christianity in the PI. A few days later a local tribal chieftain named Lapu Lapu had had about enough of Magellan and his merry troop and dispatched them to the great hereafter rather violently.

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The above referenced cross of the ill-fated Magellan.

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Next stop on my tour was Beverly Hills. Yes, there is a Beverly Hills in Cebu City. It is a big gated community where the well to do live. I understand there are expats living there as well, but I did not encounter any. Anyway, it was quite pretty.

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Within the Beverly Hills compound is a huge Taoist Temple. My lack of photography skills prevented me from finding an angle that really captured its enormity. So, this will have to do.

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The Temple had lots of cool stuff like this.

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I don’t know if the Taoists call this a pagoda or not. That’s what I’m calling it though.

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I have no concept or understanding of Taoist beliefs. So, no clue what these figurines represent. Other than a photo op for me.

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Apparently fishing is revered amongst those who practice the Tao faith. I guess the Nomad would appreciate that.

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Lots of these dragons hanging about as well.

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I had to climb a gazillion steps to get to the Temple proper. I was rewarded with a nice view of Beverly Hills though…

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If they day comes that I am able to retire, and if the place I retire is the Philippines, and if I choose Cebu City, and if I decide to live in Beverly Hills, then I ‘m thinking this house would be a comfortable abode. No, I didn’t price anything specific, but my internet searches have convinced me I could find something similar for no more than $200,000.

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You know, when you travel people invariably ask about the local cuisine. This place is fairly typical of the dining establishments I saw. To be truthful, I wasn’t that adventurous when it came to eating out. Mostly just what I could get in the hotel or sandwich type places. I guess the only “real” Filipino food I tried was the Jollibees. (A fast food chain that pinoys are crazy about for some reason).

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So, I asked my taxi guy Fredo to show me around Mactan Island next. That is where the resorts are and many expats call it home. I tried to catch a picture of Cebu Bay as we crossed the bridge, but got this San Miguel sign instead. I drank a lot of San Miguel during my visit.

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So this is the best I could do at capturing Cebu Bay. Fredo drives pretty fast.

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I really wasn’t that impressed with Mactan Island. I saw a lot of poverty and it just wasn’t as clean and modern as Cebu City. We did stop for lunch at this resort on the water. Lots of people come to the PI for the scuba diving. I don’t scuba myself of course, as I find my breathing is easier above the water.

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And the water was definitely clear. Not sure this picture captures that, but I hadn’t seen water this nice since the Bahamas. Nice as blue, but crystal clear.

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Hot day + holiday weekend = lots of people enjoying a nice swim.

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This is my driver Fredo. Nice guy. It was kinda funny how we met. My first night in town he was the first cab in line at the hotel taxi stand. I said I wanted to go to Lonestar (the bar I had read about) and he said the bars would be closed. I (being an expert after one hour in town) assured him he was wrong. He wasn’t. He did eventually find a place that was open so I could quench my craving for a San Miguel. Anyway, a couple of days later when I was ready for my tour, Fredo was the first cab in the taxi stand again. We both thought that quite the coincidence. He wound up taking me to the airport as well, but that was by arrangement.

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We both ordered the barbeque chicken. This is what it looked like half way through. Not bad. I mean, I eat chicken on a stick from the street vendors in Itaewon pretty often. This was comparable. Yeah, I’m such a gourmet.

Ok, that’s my report from the Philippines. I’ll try to do better about keeping y’all up to speed on my many “adventures” here in Korea.

Until then, anyong.