About John McCrarey

Born and raised in southern California. My career exodus has taken me to Arizona, Oklahoma, Arkansas, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington, DC. And as of 23 January 2005, Seoul, Korea. Married with 6 grown children (blended family). First grandchild is in the oven! I created this blog to document my adventures as an expat living and working in Korea. I'm also pretty confident that I will on occasion feel the need to express my views on current events and other matters I find of interest.

On the beach (day 5)

Day 5 is in the books and it was a good and productive one.  Let’s go to the photographic evidence.

As is my wont, I started the day with a hearty breakfast and a stroll along the beach. Can’t remember the last time I’ve seen “shit on a shingle” on the menu. Had to explain to the waitress what the SOS stood for…

Hired a car and driver to tour the Subic Bay Freeport Zone (the old U.S. Navy base). Had no idea how huge it truly is. And wild. Saw trees full of huge bats…

…and lots of monkey’s along the roadside. Couldn’t get out for a better picture because the driver warned me they like to steal cameras…

Loraine enjoying one of the bay vistas…

Of course, the main purpose of the SBFZ visit was to scope out housing options there. In the Cubi district of the base, I found this little subdivision…

With houses like this…

….and this…

…and this…

None appeared vacant but these are under construction. Maybe they will be ready when I am.

There are some inconveniences associated with living on the far reaches of the base. For one, I’d need to buy a car. But honestly, if I could wake up every morning to views like this, I’d go for it in a heartbeat. We’ll see.

Yep, this is what I dreamed of…

Anyway, the other two housing areas on the base were not nearly as impressive.  I could settle for one, but it is just typical subdivision living with the only view being the neighbors house.  I’m not ready to settle at this point.

One other benefit about living on base is there are some nice dining options. We visited Texas Joe’s for lunch and enjoyed some real down home honest to goodness American barbecue.

All the waitresses were in cowboy hats, tight jeans, and boots. Yee Ha!

They don’t pull the pork, they chop it. The claim is that retains moistness better. I still prefer mine pulled, but this was quite delicious. Maybe the best damn baked beans I’ve had in quite some time…

After lunch we drove around some more, then headed to the Royal supermarket.  It’s in the old commissary location and features many of the products us Yankees have come to know and love.  Good to know I can find the ingredients I need for my crock pot and grilling adventures.

But this shopping excursion was not for me. We loaded up the cart for the kids at the Fil-Am orphanage. 50 kgs of rice, assorted canned meats, toothpaste and toothbrushes, soap, chocolate and cookies.

Our driver drove up the mountain and we dropped off the bounty.  Still haven’t met any of the kids as there were still in school.  Anyway, it feels good to provide a little help where it is needed.

Back at the Blue Rock resort I was ready to unwind with a few bottles of San Miguel Light beer.  And what better way to enjoy them than at the famous Blue Rock floating bar.

Here we come!

Welcome aboard!

A fine afternoon crowd of patrons and crew…

Bay views…

…and a look back at my lodging…

After a short nap, we hiked back into Barrio Baretto and grabbed some dinner at Sit-n-Bull. Then we headed over to the local dart bar, Alley Cats.

Got in some practice as I will be participating in the Wednesday dart tourney tonight. Haven’t thrown competitively since my “retirement” in December. Hell, the layoff may have actually improved my game. We’ll see.

As days go, it was a good one!

On the beach (Day 4)

Where I are.

Started the morning with a beach side stroll.  The beach runs out at Blue Rock resort, so we popped in for breakfast.

Loraine went Filipino style…

…while I opted for a traditional ham, cheese, and mushroom omelette.

Beach side living does come with its rules though.

Rules? We don’t need your stinkin’ rules. Although as rules go, these ain’t bad.

Checked out of Treasure Island and moved up the road to the Blue Rock.

Featuring a much enhanced view from the room.

Once we were all settled in it was time to hit the road to Olongapo City.

We traveled via Jeepney, low on price, low on comfort. The most common form of mass transit in the PI.

In case you are wondering, this is what a Jeepney looks like…

We didn’t know exactly where to get dropped, so wound up away from the downtown area.

But got to explore the old city market which was interesting in a chaotic kind of way…

So, we hailed a trike and had him take us to SM Mall, the center of action in just about every Filipino city.

A trike ride is even more uncomfortable and dangerous than the Jeepney, but what are you gonna do?

Safely at the mall, my first stop was the bank, BDO (Banco de Oro), where I hoped to open up a foreigner bank account.  No dice without an Alien Certificate of Registration card.  Which I can’t get until I’ve been in country continuously for 59 days.  I can deal with it, it will just be a pain in the ass for those first two months wiring myself money from the USA.  Oh well.

Next stop was an eyeglasses store.  Got a new exam, a new prescription, and a new pair of glasses on the way.  Not really any cheaper than I would have paid in the States and probably more expensive than in Korea.  Live and learn.

Left the mall and grabbed a taxi across town to visit an orphanage I’d found on the internet.

The Kings Fil-Am Home is small, currently serving just 9 children. I asked the Director what they needed and she said “rice”.

Let’s see if I can make their world a little better.

After another Jeepney ride back to Barretto, took a nap and headed out for dinner.

It was steak night at the Arizona resort, they were big and juicy.

And served up with a side or mariachi band music. Actually, these folks were pretty damn entertaining.

Stopped in the Alaska Club for a nightcap on the way home and got reacquainted with the owner, Jerry.  I’d known him back in his Angeles City days.  Hoofed it back to my lodging and decided it was time to split.

Banana that is.

And so ends another day in paradise.

On the beach (day 2 and 3)

One of the objectives of this trip is to scope out some housing options.  Another is to assess my general comfort level with the concept of living here full time.  The weekend provided some progress and insights on both fronts.  Let’s go to the pictures.

Why Olongapo? Why not!

Saturday afternoon we walked through the Alta Vista subdivision…

…saw quite a few houses that were infinitely livable…

;;;this one was my personal favorite. Not available as of now, but then again, neither am I. Not going to buy anything, but I’d go for a long term lease on the right place…

…I have no intention of going anywhere near this big. The cost of electricity in the PI is one of those things that exceeds prices back home. That and beef.

…but a smaller house with this view would make me a happy man indeed.

I noticed quite a few of these organic lawn mowers in the neighborhood.

All that walking worked up an appetite, so we meandered our way to one of my favorite little eateries, Sit-n-Bull.  The quesadillas were good for me…

The highlight of the weekend was meeting up with John B., a vlogger I’ve been following on YouTube.   John retired and moved to Subic going on two years ago now, so it was good to pick his brain and learn from his experiences.  Also, a great guy and someone I’m sure I’ll get along with after I make the move.

John and his lovely girlfriend Anna.

Finished the evening with some dinner at Blue Rock Resort. Actually moving our lodging there today for the rest of the week.

My employee Loraine seems to be enjoying herself as well…

Started the day Sunday with this “American” breakfast at Johan’s Dive Resort….

This view was included at no extra charge.

Then we hiked out to another subdivision for a look see…

The houses in Santa Monica subdivision are older than what we have seen so far, but they are still serviceable.

And sometimes colorful. I seem to recall this neighborhood experiences flooding issues during rainy season. I’ll need to confirm that of course, but it is an important consideration in any housing decision.

No bay view from Santa Monica homes, but I could get used to looking at the mountains too…

Speaking of the bay, we enjoyed watching the water from our lunchtime perch at Lava on the Beach restaurant.

In other news…

More walking around and exploring the area, met up again with John and Anna and another new friend, Joe, for a pleasant afternoon.  Last night I went on a quest for finding a dart bar.

Success! I got invited to join the league and they have never even seen me throw! I’ll come out Wednesday for the Alley Cats bar tourney and see what they think after seeing me in action.

Today we will take a Jeepney into Olongapo proper for a look around the city.  Stay tuned!

 

On the beach (day 1)

Up bright and early and out of the house at 0430.  First cab that came by was vacant and gladly agreed to carry me out to Incheon.  Nice guy, he even asked me to check and make sure I had brought my passport.

Got checked in with plenty of time to spare, so got some steps in by hiking around the terminal.  Boarded up on a packed 777 and then waited for 30 minutes past departure time for some connecting passengers.  Arrived in Manila about 1 hour late.

Driver I hired was there waiting and we made our way through the always horrible Manila traffic.  He took me a back way to avoid the worst of it, and apologized for exposing me to the squatter shacks along side the road.  I’d seen them before, but it is always shocking to see just what real poverty looks like.  Always good to be reminded that whatever my first world problems may be, I’m completely blessed beyond the wildest imaginings of these poor folks.

Arrived at my hotel, the Treasure Island Resort, on Baloy Beach in Olongapo a little after 4:00 p.m.  The room is quite a disappointment, but the pool /bar area almost makes up for it.  Quaffed a few brews and enjoyed a well-prepared club sandwich.  Then retired to the room for a short nap.

My intention had been to attend the S.O.B. dance contest at Rum Jungle bar, but alas, by the time I arrived it was nearly over.  So, I walked around Barrio Baretto and popped into a couple of bars for liquid refreshment.  As always, the go-go joints with scantily clad sad looking females shuffling around on stage left me feeling sorry and depressed.

Headed back to my hotel where I enjoyed a banana split washed down with a cold San Miguel Light beer.  Then to the room for a really good night’s sleep.

Woke up early and Treasure Island was not serving breakfast yet.  Walked down the road to the Blue Rock resort featuring 24 hours service.  Sat at a bay side table and enjoyed some coffee and french toast.

Walked to the end of Balay Beach road, then circled back on the beach with my feet in the water.  I’m such a hippie!

Off to a good start I’d say.  Here’s the photographic evidence.

Quaffing my first brew of the trip…

The best thing coming out of France is the toast!

Breakfast with a view…

On the beach. Let’s walk this bitch!

View to the left…

Looking out….

And the beach walk leading back to the hotel.

Not looking too far into the future, but I guess I know what I will be eating come April.

I actually hate black noodles, so I’m doubly fucked…

Anyway, I’m feeling good and looking forward to the rest of this adventure.  Stay tuned.

Roll on!

Time to move on to a new venue.

All packed out for a 10 day journey….

Three guesses as to where.

Not going back, going forward. I really, REALLY, mean it this time!

The view on my walk to the Army hospital. Kinda got a Stonehenge vibe going, don’t you think?

Lungs are clear and I’m feeling the best I have in three months.  Really liked the doctor who saw me.  He actually sat down with me and we spent 30 minutes talking about where I go from here (health wise).  Now, Dr. Yoo may be hilarious, but damn, he wasted a lot of my time.  This Army Captain treating me did more in one visit than I’ve  accomplished in multiple trips to Soonchunhwang.

Bottom line.  Lungs are clear now and I intend to keep them that way.  There is no reversing COPD, but you can slow the progress.  That is what I intend to do.

Off to bed now.  0755 flight tomorrow which means waking up at 0400.  I’m primed.  Optimistic.  Confident.

See you on the other side!

The way we were

Now I wind up staring at an empty glass                                                                                  Because it’s so easy to say that you’ll forget your past...

Another Valentine’s Day being spent on my own.  And truthfully, that’s pretty much the way I choose to be.  But it weren’t always so.  And it seems there is always something there to remind me when I wasn’t alone.

Delving through my old posts on the Philippines information board I frequent, I came across something I wrote back in August 2009 called “My Dilemma”:

So next month marks an anniversary. One year since my last visit to the PI. You guys with PPD (post Philippines Depression) can imagine how much worse it is when you don’t know when, or if, you will return to paradise.

See, next August I am eligible to retire and can draw a generous (and well earned I might add) government pension. I could live comfortably almost anywhere, but in the PI I could live like a rich man. And that has a certain appeal to me.

What’s the problem then? Well, as the old Elvin Bishop song says “I fooled around and fell in love”. With a Korean woman.

Now, this woman is 93% perfect. She takes care of all my needs in a way that is beyond anything I ever imagined. And I’m a man who likes to be taken care of. She does everything for me down to the smallest detail without complaint. In fact, she tells me it is “her pleasure”. She is an amazing lover and an old fashioned good hearted woman. I go to the bars about three nights a week for darts, and she never complains. She comes along and has actually become a pretty big fan of the game. All my friends think she is great and her family seems to have taken a liking to me as well. When I got sick last year, she was at my side in the hospital 24/7. Hell, to reference another old song, she’s like the gal The Band sang about: “up on cripple creek she sends me/if I spring a leak/she mends me/I don’t have to speak/she defends me/a drunkards dream if I ever did see one…”

Yep, I’d have a hard time finding anyone better for me in this world than her.

So, you may be thinking, “what’s the dilemma?”. The 7% of the GF that is not perfect is that she is extraordinarily jealous. Almost to the point of being insane about it.

And she found my collection of photos from previous trips to the Philippines. She says seeing me with those “young girls” just makes her sick to her stomach. She deleted them all.

Now, even hearing the word Philippines enrages her. And whenever there’s a Filipina in a bar she accuses me of staring at her and tells me “I love Filipino women too much!”.

She accessed my email and found communications with a platonic friend in the PI and went nuts.

If I go to a filipino bar I like here in Seoul she gets pissed.

She checks the messages/call history on my cell phone.

She checks the stamps in my passport when I travel.

She counts the frickin’ money in my wallet to make sure I’m not spending money on others.

In other words, that 7% is getting to be a real pain in the ass.

But damn, she does love me, and you know, there is something to be said for being loved.

But any future I might have with her, means there is no Philippines in my future.

And she is right about one thing–I truly do love the Pinays.

Hence my dilemma. One year out from retirement and I need to be firming up plans. If I stay in Korea with her, it means getting married (will need a visa). If I’m going to the PI to retire, well, I need to be going there and making some decisions.

I’m stuck at 50-50 on the pros and cons. I mean, I could pay someone  in the PI to take care of all those nice things my GF gives me free. But as the Beatles so astutely noted, “Money can’t buy me love”.

I guess it’s a good thing to have choices in life. But it feels pretty fucked up right now.

Well, of course regular readers know that I chose love over the Philippines.  And as it turned out, I chose wrong.  I’m still not really over it and I definitely don’t understand it.  But there is of course no going back.  I can only lament the wasted time.

But as Facebook reminds me today, there were moments of love.  I even made a movie about it, circa 2013.

Painful to watch now.  And for those who say it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, I call bullshit.

One thing is for sure, I am bound and determined to never love again.  Don’t need it, don’t want it.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

Mem’ries,
Light the corners of my mind
Misty water-colored memories
Of the way we were
Scattered pictures,
Of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we gave to one another
For the way we were
Can it be that it was all so simple then?
Or has time re-written every line?
If we had the chance to do it all again
Tell me, would we? Could we?
Mem’ries, may be beautiful and yet
What’s too painful to remember
We simply choose to forget
So it’s the laughter
We will remember
Whenever we remember…
The way we were…
The way we were…

A sunny Sunday

…on the water.

The voice in my head kept telling me to “walk towards the light”. I did, and it was almost heavenly.

The “Throw a Child in the River” attraction was closed for the day. Guess it was too cold out.

It was good to be out walking about again, although truthfully, I feel that stamina wise I’m only a shadow of my former self…

….Still it’s all coming together. Or maybe apart?

Blue skies, blue water. I’ll take it!

My lengthy time being mostly housebound has taken a toll…..back up to almost 215 pounds.  Time to get back to work!

Shows improvement

I won’t call it a miracle, but I’m feeling almost normal these past few days.  Practically no cough, little sputum, sleeping through the night, and most importantly, no breathing issues.

Maybe it’s the drugs.  The Prednisone (a steroid) keeps the lungs clear.  The Azithromycin is a strong antibiotic. The Albuterol is a  bronchodilator that I’ve only used a couple of times so far, mostly as a preemptive measure before engaging in physical activity.  With the exception of the inhaler, my meds run out this week.

Shouldn’t be an issue as I was instructed to do a follow-up visit on Wednesday.  Ah, but I got caught up in a classic Army catch-22 situation.  I called to schedule the appointment but was told as a “Space A” (space available) patient, I can only call in at noon on the day I want treatment and will only be scheduled should, well, space be available.  Now, I understand and support that military members should get first priority.  But it was an Army doctor who told me to come back.  The schedulers couldn’t help, rules being rules and all. I called the patient advocate and she confirmed that notwithstanding doctor’s orders, I could not schedule an appointment in advance.  Given that it took me three days of trying to get my first appointment I expressed concern that any needed refills of my prescriptions would not be forthcoming in a timely way.  She suggested I use on off-base provider.  So, it looks like the Hilarious Dr. Yoo remains in my future.  It’s okay, at least I have a diagnosis.

These kids came marching by my villa making a gawd awful noise at 0900 yesterday. Not sure why. The first full moon of the lunar new year perhaps?

It was a bitterly cold morning but I got out in it anyway determined to tackle my old nemesis, Namsan. Made it to the base of the steps to the top and then thought better of it. Too soon to push my self that hard. Did get in close to 20,000 steps though.

Sometimes there is a poetry to walking…

…if you know where to look, the signs are all there.

Not bragging but one of my staff members suggested I be nominated for an Equal Opportunity and Diversity award.

“- You’re all about providing equal opportunity to Asian women who want to date you.
– You promote diversity by connecting with various women in Asia.
– You frequently visit Asian countries and promote their economic growth by spending your money at their hotels, bars, shopping malls, and restaurants.
– And lastly, you adhere to equal employment opportunity by hiring a Asian women who’s also over 40.”

Oh lord, it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way!

Speaking of the office, we have a new addition:

It’s kind of an intimidating photo, don’t you think? I feel like he’s saying “get to work McCrarey or you’re fired!” No worries, his civilian hiring freeze is keeping me plenty busy these days…

What else?  Well, this proved to be a sad reminder of my reality:

Well, I won’t be fooled again!

I leave Friday for ten warm days in the tropical Philippines.  Am I excited?

Why, yes. Yes I am!

Pulled pork in the crock pot and a Han River stroll on tap.

Life is good when you are feeling good.  Let’s keep it that way!

Perfect timing!

Feel free to skip this post if you are weary of hearing my tales of woe regarding my health.

Okay, for the rest of you then…

Today I successfully secured a coveted appointment at the Brian Allgood Army Community Hospital on my third day of trying.  Oddly enough, I started experiencing shortness of breath about an hour before my 5 o’clock appoint.  And it was the worst occurrence I’ve ever had.  I was having difficulty even talking to the intake nurse about my symptoms.  The took my blood pressure (185/100!) then I met with the doctor.  He could immediately see I was in some pretty serious distress and asked me how often this condition occurred.  I breathlessly explained that I never let it get this bad since acquiring my nebulizer.  The good doc said let’s get you some nebulization going now and while I was inhaling that sweet relief, he listened to my chest and apparently didn’t like what he heard.

As is usually the case, I felt better almost immediately.  But apparently my blood oxygen was staying in the low 80s (normal is 95+) which meant I was experiencing Hypoxemia. That’s not good and the doc wanted me to visit the emergency room then and there.  And so naturally I did.

The took my blood pressure again (still over 180), did an EKG, and started me on another round of nebulaziton.

Suckin’ in the ER.

Then they wheeled me down to x-ray to get a gander at my lungs.

My first ever ride in a wheelchair on the way to the x-ray department. Whee! (I’ll be happy if it is my last ride in one though).

At least I had something to read.

By the time I got back to the ER I was feeling much better and my vitals confirmed it (blood pressure back down in the normal for me 140s, and blood oxygen back in the high 90s.  So, now I wanted to hear the long elusive diagnosis.  Doctor says it seems to be a case of Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  Damn, I was afraid he was going to say that!  (A couple of friends had suggested that may be my problem, but I was in denial).

There it is, the price I paid for 25 years of moderate smoking.  The fact that I’ve been off tobacco for over 2 years now is certainly a positive.  It appears my COPD is still in the early stages, and there are things I can do to slow it’s progress.  So, that’s what I will do. We all got to die of something, but my death is far from imminent.  My dad had COPD and made it to 83.  That’s a worthwhile goal I reckon.

I came home with some drugs and an inhaler and instructions to return for a follow-on visit in a week.

In the meantime, it is always possible I will run into someone like this:

And maybe she’ll live up to her name!

It’s all good.  Onward!

 

 

Everything is just super

Even when it’s not.  Great game today though.

We had a little Superbowl party in the office this morning…

Good people, good food…

….and lots of it…

No way anyone comes back from being down 28-3 at the half, right? Right?

In other news…

baby brother turned 60 this week…

Tried to walk on Saturday, this is as close as I got to the Tower….

But I had enough energy to make it out to Shenanigans…

And later enjoyed some delicious grilled pork belly. Soju was not my friend that night however….

Thank you Facebook for reminding me of the ex-Korean girlfriend, Se Hwa.  Well, I’m sure she is still Korean, but you know what I mean.

Happier days….

I’ve learned a lot since then…

Bitter and disillusioned is not too attractive I reckon…

Speaking of Facebook, this is some of the troll bait I’ve been chumming to my lefty friends…

Seems a lot of lefties these days are engaging in the same eliminationist rhetoric of their ideological predecessors…

Open up and let ’em in!

And this about sums it up…

What else?  Well I’ll be heading out to the Philippines later this month to do some retirement reconnaissance.

Will look at some places on the old Subic Bay Naval base…

Not sure I’m completely down with moving to the PI and living in an American subdivision….

But then again, I do like creature comforts like a big ass kitchen…

A backyard patio…

And waking up each morning to a view of the bay like this one…

Of course, I need to make sure I’ll still be waking up every morning.  Still not completely recovered from whatever it is that ails me, but I’m getting increasingly concerned.  This afternoon I again experienced the shortness of breath thing which is quite disconcerting. So I was motivated to go on over to the Army hospital on base and get registered.  Well, actually, turns out I was still registered from my former tour of duty here.

Couldn’t get an appointment today though.  Civilians are at the bottom of the pecking order.  I’ll try again tomorrow.  Just want to get another opinion about what is happening and hopefully a resolution.  Time will tell.

Journey through the past

Sheryl the sweetie.

Back in the day (circa 2006) I was a member of internet information board devoted to visitors and expats in the Philippines.  Once I got married the wife insisted I divest myself of all things Philippines and so my membership lapsed.  After the wife jettisoned the marriage, I renewed my membership.  Unfortunately, all my old submissions were nowhere to be found and I assumed they had been consigned to the dustbin of internet history. But it turns out that all my old posts had been archived, and with the help of a board moderator I was able to recover them.  So I’ve been enjoying reliving those optimistic times when I first discovered the PI.

The best day ever was in July 2008.  I had returned to Angeles City and hooked up again with Sheryl, a gal I had met on my first visit.   To set the scene, the bargirls were provided lodging by the bar, which was called a “stay-in”.  The first time I saw where the girls lived I was shocked and saddened.  It was a one room apartment, with bunk beds lined wall-to-wall.  I’d say each girl had maybe 4 feet of personal space.  No aircon, just a solitary fan. Sheryl assured me however that compared to life in the provinces this was a big improvement.  For example, most of the girls had never enjoyed indoor plumbing prior to moving to Angeles.  Anyway, here’s the story of that special day all those years ago:

Sheryl’s niece has a birthday coming up so I had promised a trip to the mall to pick up some presents. It has been a LONG time since I shopped for a two year old (heh, other than my granddaughter) so it was kinda fun. We picked out a couple of cute outfits and I said, mom will love this, but a kid needs a toy. Preferably one that makes noise (which mom will of course hate). So we got a pull toy and a “teddy-rabbit” and I said now its your turn. Sheryl is always shy about accepting my gifts, but I insisted, so she picked up a nice skirt and a couple of tops. Unlike Koreans, Pinays are quite easy to please and I do appreciate that fact.

So, we headed back to the stay-in to drop off her bounty. Man, that place still depresses me. The girls seem alright with it though and it beats the hell out of living on the street I suppose. Anyway, the plan was to invite the girls over to the Wild Orchid for a little swim party. We wound up with eight happy takers, and off we went. Speaking of easy to please, an old fat guy walking down the street with a covey of young brown-skinned beauties sure did put a smile on my face! 

Soon enough the party was in full swing. I guess it is natural to love the water when you are born in a country made up of 7000 islands, and these girls were no exception. The music of their laughter as they frolicked in the pool just warmed my heart. And the stares of the other guests as we all partied and goofed was kinda cool too. Hell, I will just let the pictures do the talking…

They enjoyed the water, they devoured lunch, and finished it off with a gallon of chocolate ice cream.  It was a day full of smiling faces!  Not the least of all, mine. 

All too soon the sun was sinking on the horizon and the girls had to head home to prepare for another night entertaining the monger horde. God love ’em. I’ll tell you what, I had the best time that afternoon, and I didn’t even get laid. There is more than one way to find satisfaction in AC, and this was my way. Got them out of the hot stay-in, put some smiles on their faces, gave them some good food, and got it all for less than 3000 pesos (about 60 dollars). I’d call that a bargain!

These days I’m not into the go-go bar scene at all, but I still respect the hard lives these young women experience.  I hope the men they entertain treat them with kindness and dignity. They certainly deserve it.

What became of Sheryl?  Well, she wanted me to take her away from the bar life, but I didn’t have it in me to have a long term relationship with a 25 year old Filipina.  What I did do was pay her tuition to become a certified caregiver.  Once she graduated she was able to escape the bar and return home to Manila.  Last time I heard from her was in an email from Australia.  She had married an Aussie and she was trying to be a good wife and therefore would not be staying in contact with me.  I was very happy that she had made her dreams come true.  Thanks for the memories!

When the winter rains
come pourin’ down
On that new home of mine,
Will you think of me
and wonder if I’m fine?
Will your restless heart
come back to mine
On a journey thru the past.
Will I still be in your eyes
and on your mind?

Rollin’ on the river

Weather warmed up to a almost sweltering 1 degree today, so I decided to head out for walk on the Hangang.  About five steps out the door it started spitting snow, but what the hell, I was well bundled up.  It felt damn good to be out again!

Started with a hearty steak and egg breakfast before hitting the road…

A snowy morning on the river…

…but like a good boy scout I came prepared.

Nice ice!

Better to be walking than driving I suppose.

And came back home to the wonderful smell of a pot roast cooking in the crock pot…

All told, 21,000+ steps in just over 3 hours.  Longest walk since 3 December.  I was tired but it felt good.  And it seemed like maybe I had turned the page on this illness.

Went to the bar this evening and had a coughing fit.  Calmed that down with a couple of Hot Toddy’s.   Then about the time I started walking home I experienced that shortness of breath thing.  Made for an uncomfortable walk home, that’s for sure.  Did a nebulizer treatment and now I feel much better.

Nothing really matters to me…

My lunar new year holiday is over, so it’s back to work for me bright and early in the morning.  Thanks for dropping in!

Death and taxes

The blog is not dead and neither I am!  So far anyway.

Apologize again for the dearth of posting here at LTG.  The cold weather and diminished lung capacity have pretty much clipped my wings lately.  Which leaves nothing significant to report.

Well, people are dying.  I’m not talking about Mary Tyler Moore or other famous folk.  For example, there’s Gavin.  He was the long term manager at the Arizona Resort in Barrio Baretto, Philippines.  Had a few chats with him over the years and he scored me a nice discount during my visit this past September.  The reports from the scene say he had been feeling poorly for a couple of days, then encountered difficulty breathing (which sounds eerily familiar).  Went to the ER and suffered a massive heart attack.  By all accounts he was a great guy and he’ll be missed by all who knew him.

Closer to home, two long time expats in Itaewon have recently departed the land of the living.  I did not know either one personally, but I’m sure we frequented the same bars, likely at the same time.  One had a fatal heart attack while enjoying Seoul Pub, the other passed on outside the Itaewon McDonalds.  In a freaky coincidence, he had been drinking at Shenanigans and then left for a late night snack at Mickey D’s.  I had done the exact same thing only a couple of nights previously.

Anyway, being ill and hearing reports like these certainly brings home the fact that I am mortal and subject to the whims of fate at anytime.  I do feel the clock ticking on the rest of my life and have a sense of urgency that I should be getting on with the business of living it.

In that regard I’ve been spending countless hours on the internets gathering data about living the life of an expat in the Philippines.  Going to do some boots on the ground research for ten days next month.  I’ll keep you advised.

One of the tidbits my PI research revealed. That’s mighty cold beer!

At any rate, I’m not 100% healthy, but I’m doing much better than I was.  I do hope to have kicked whatever it is that ails me completely before I head out for my next Philippines adventure.  I can’t wait to stop being impatient.

President Trump issued an order freezing hiring in the Federal government.  That’s thrown a monkey wrench into a lot hiring actions here in Korea (including some in my shop) and has made my working life a little more interesting than I prefer.  I’m sure it is going to shake out in the next several days, but in the meantime I guess I can honestly say I can’t quit my job because I’m irreplaceable.  Heh.

Speaking of the President, he’s featured in a new commercial for Rush Cash here in Korea.

And let me leave you with this little gem from the past for your viewing and listening pleasure.

You are welcome!

Oh yeah, taxes.  I’ve got all my documents together.  Now I just need to get motivated to scan them and email them off to my accountant in South Carolina.  It’s always fun to anticipate how much my Uncle Sam will be ass raping me this tax season.  Oh well, I’m proud to be an American.

This day so far

Welcome to Friday!

As I mentioned in last night’s post, a big day in store.  Starting with a bus trip down to Pyeongtaek to check out the new office space.

Time to get up!

Already? Okay, let’s get on with it then.

Better check the weather…

…..hmm, not promising.

Fixing my morning beverage…

Ingesting my morning pill regimen.  Don’t ask me what they are.  Doc prescribes, I take.  They help some I suppose.  At least for the symptoms.  Haven’t seen a cure yet.

Time to check the internets. Yep, still there.

 

 

Nebulizing to the rockin’ beats of Hairy Chasms.

Blood pressure a little high this morning. But it’s been higher…

Time for a shower…

….and a shave.

Dressed for success. I don’t know, it’s all still a little blurry…

Snacks and lunchee for the trip…

And then I get the call. Trip cancelled. Don’t report for duty until 1200.

Nothing to do now but blog about it.

And here I sit.

Fuck that

Fucking hilarious.

Had the pleasure of being treated to dinner at Casablanca in HBC last night with my friend and renowned blogger Kevin Kim. I wasn’t very good company I’m afraid because I experienced a coughing fit that lasted throughout the fucking meal.  Kevin was gracious about it, and I also appreciated his encouragement as I struggled up the hill to my villa. It was a really fucked up situation.

Today I’ve felt mostly fine, not sure what the fuck is up with that.  If I’m not fully recovered when this round of meds is completed I am going to have to get more assertive about finding out just what the fuck is wrong with me.  Kevin sent me a link to pneumonia symptoms, but given the tests I have had done I’m thinking that’s not it.  I hope the fuck I’m right.

Tomorrow is inauguration day and I’m sure liberal heads will be exploding across our fair nation. I suggest putting that anger into meaningful action! Why the fuck not?

And no, I’m not serious.  I want all my liberal countrymen to stick around and enjoy the ride of a lifetime.  No fucking way he can be worse than Hillary, right?

I wish the fuck I could learn to be more tolerant though…

I’m off to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek at 0700 tomorrow.  They say we are in for snow tonight, but the Captain I talked to said the bus would roll regardless.  The Army always goes rolling along after all.  Fuckin’ A!

 

What dreams may come

These past few nights my dreams have all been Philippines related.  Not in any specific way, they just took place in the Philippines or featured Filipinos.

While my sub-conscious has apparently taken something of leap into the future, here in the present I’m consciously aware that I’m withdrawing from my Korean life.  Such as it is.

Yesterday was the opening night of the new dart league season, the first season in over 10 years in which I haven’t participated (well, except for the year I was stuck in the states waiting on the green card for Jee Yeun).  I was at the bar of course to cheer for the home team, but more and more it feels like I have one foot out the door.

Eight or nine months to go yet, so I need to maintain some focus on reality, but I’m very much aware of the fact that a new life beckons.  I’m not so foolish as to expect it will be better, but given my state of mind, different will suffice.

Korea for me has become a land of broken dreams and broken promises.  And there always seems to be something to remind me of that sad fact.  So I need to let go and move on.  I’ve been wallowing in self-pity for far too long, I fear if I stay here I may drown in it.

In other news, it was back to the doctor on Monday morning.  Dr. Joe did the honors this time, and I walked out with another impressive collection of pills.  I honestly do think I’m slowly getting better, but without the meds I can’t get a decent nights sleep.  And it’s no good being sick and tired.  Trust me on that.

I will likely feel better about things when I can start walking again.  It’s just been too damn cold.  No matter how warm I dress, breathing that cold air wreaks havoc on the lungs. Hopefully next week I’ll get back in my routine.

Ah well, enough of this.  Things change.  Stick around.

If there was an award for most pessimistic, I probably wouldn’t even be nominated.—anonymous 

 

Time for a post

And so here you go. Not much to say, but that’s never stopped me before, has it?

Work is work but it’s been a pretty decent week.  In the midst of expanding the role of my office in a way that I think is both overdue and adds value to the command.  I’d call that a win.

Still dealing with the cough, albeit not as intense.  I’m sleeping better as well.  Tonight is my last round of medicine so here’s hoping I keep making progress without it.

It’s been too damn cold to get much walking in. Yeah, I could just man up and do it anyway. Actually tried that the other night after work. About halfway through my planned 1.5 hour jaunt I started having a coughing fit. Finally had to concede defeat and take a cab home.

It’s never too early to plan ahead…

Table for one please.  Again.

But I’m not giving up on happiness! My tour guide posted one of my favorite poems on her Facebook page.

Thanks for the inspiration, Loraine.

Meanwhile, Facebook continues reminding me of memories from years gone by…

Like this one from six years ago….

….and this one of my brothers and mother who will be six years dead next week. Miss you mom!

What else?  Well this was my epiphany of the week:

I’m not afraid of love. Just like I’m not afraid of poison. I avoid both, because love is poison to me.

I’ll keep reminding myself of that each time temptation rears her foolish head.

And finally, let me share another vignette from a writer who seems to speak to me on a level I can understand, Steve Rosse.  Your mileage may vary.

Look for the girl with the sun in her eyes and she’s gone.

And that’s all she wrote.  Well, all I did anyway.  Until the next post.

Old mountain, New Year

Today I decided not to do something. Later on I didn’t do something else. Tomorrow I may not do one of a selection of other things.

Having said that, one thing I did do was take a 2 1/2 hour hike around Namsan.  Not up to the top, wasn’t feeling quite ready for that yet.

I walked at a comfortable pace and experienced no real difficulties with the lungs or the leg. Progress!

I choose to ignore any possible negative consequences of breathing whatever it is in that haze. Zero vaping during the hike, so maybe that cancels it out…

Something else I didn’t not do today…make a hearty breakfast!

Prepared this after getting my pulled pork roast simmering in the crock pot…

Just so you know….

And finally, in the category of things I’m going to miss about Korea…

….my favorite flower ajumma. Been seeing her in the bars for I don’t know how many years now. Always has a big smile for you whether you buy flowers or not. I usually make it a point to drop man won on a bouquet, even though I have no one to give it to.

When I have ceased to break my wings
Against the faultiness of things,
And learned that compromises wait
Behind each hardly opened gate,
When I have looked Life in the eyes,
Grown calm and very coldly wise,
Life will have given me the Truth,
And taken in exchange–my youth.

–Sara Teasdale