Who’s whom?

Sorry, Kevin Kim.  I saw this and immediately thought of you.  Don’t know why.

In other news, I’m glad I stopped listening to those voices in my head.

And finally, it was two years ago today that I posed with this elephant (I’m the one on the left) in Cambodia.

I’m a lesser man these days.  269 pounds back then.  204 at yesterday’s weigh-in.  5 pounds more to reach my goal.

And life goes on…

 

 

Smoked

I gave up on waiting to get a date to join me at the new BBQ joint here in town.  So last night I dined alone at Smoke Town.

I had walked by before but never checked the inside or the menu.  It did come highly recommended to me however.  When I entered I was surprised at how small the place was.  Three tables and counter seating along one wall and the front window.  I also didn’t see a restroom and thankfully didn’t need one.  I assume there is a community CR located in another part of the building. They seemed to be doing a brisk business (tables full and several folks waiting for take out).

Here’s the menu. Somewhat limited and a little on the pricey side. I really dislike eating out alone and one of the reasons is that whole “for two” bullshit. Us single guys need to eat as well!

I opted for the pulled pork sandwich ($7) and sides of beans and slaw ($3 each). Cheapest beer was a Hoegaarden for five bucks. Although the menu shows dollar pricing, I paid W18,000 so it was actually a little cheaper than it appears.

How was it?  Well, I thought the sandwich was one of the best I’ve had.  The beans were very good and the slaw average.  As you can see, the portions were fair.  How does it compare to Linus’ or Manimal in Itaewon?  Eh, too soon to tell, but I’d rate Smoke Town as competitive with those venues.  Of course, Smoke Town wins hands down for location convenience.  So there’s that.

Spent the remainder of the night getting drunk at various venues in the ‘ville.  I came home in a foul mood and woke up feeling depressed.  I’ll see if I can’t walk those blues away this morning.

I really need to get out of here.

Go tell it on the mountain

A co-worker invited me to join him on a mountain hike this morning.  It was snowing when we headed out at 0930 but had stopped by the time we arrived 20 minutes later.

I’ve gotten so accustomed to flatland walking that climbing today was a bigger challenge than I thought it would be.  And coming down was a slick slip and slide. I was happy for the change of pace for sure.

I don’t know the name of the mountain, perhaps these signs say?

I’d judge the climb up to be similar in difficulty to the trail ascent of Namsan (not the road up).

Some nice views…

And lots of these grave shrines…

I guess you’d call this the semi-summit…

….we elected not to continue on to the top of the peak behind me. My co-worker said there were places you had to climb over rocks holding onto a rope. He was concerned about coming back down where a slip might well prove fatal. Saving that portion of the hike for a dryer day was fine by me.

It was a good morning’s hike.  I look forward to coming back for more soon.

Just how cold is it?

Almost as cold as my damn love life. Almost.

 

Or to be precise, minus 16 Celsius.

Here’s a useful tip: Don’t leave a 12 pack of diet Coke in your trunk when the temperature drops to -16. Just sayin’.

Still getting my steps in, despite the cold. Actually, I can dress warm enough but the black ice is treacherous. I pretty much have to curtail walking after sundown.

The snow covered bicycle trail along the river. I managed to get in a two hour walk here after work today.

 

Cold nights, hot food. Ribs? Aye!

Make no mis steak about it. With a side of Frankenstein’s brains.

Anyway, it was just about a year ago that I received my COPD diagnosis.  The meds have been working great, I have rarely had the coughing fits and shortness of breath I used to experience.  But this cold air has given me some trouble, especially after long exposure.  Been hocking up some nasty shit along the trail.  Ah well, doctor says the hot and humid air in the Philippines will do me good.  In the meantime I’ll just try and enjoy my last winter weather.  Or endure it.

Also one year ago I posted this Charles Bukowski poem on Facebook.  It was a good reminder for me to read it again:

Into the great wide open!

Friday night and cold beer and cold air await me!

Stuff about things

Just some random ass shit from my so-called life.

I guess the highlight of the week was doing a meet and greet with the new Secretary of the Army Mark Espers. And perhaps the final photo op of my 35+ year career….

It’s been cold and snowy, but I’m still walking to work.

A winter wonderland perhaps, but treacherously slick in places. I’ve shortened some walks because I don’t want any broken bones. Still getting at least 20,000 a day though.

Speaking of walking, I did my first Hash with the Humphreys Hangover Hash House Harriers (5H). It was a small group to begin with (maybe 8 at most), and the majority said they were too hungover to participate…

It seems with this group following the trail markings is half the battle, and some are even intentionally misleading. Not sure why. Anyway, I got a crash course in reading the signs.

So, in addition to the “Hare” (the who marks the trail) it was just me and another couple….

Speaking of couples, I’m not part of one. Hence, I had no one to share this fine dinner I prepared. It was still good, but would have been twice as good with company. Too bad for you Mi Young!

Anyway, it’s all good.  Another day, another turn of the wheel in the sky.  Each day brings me closer to a new and better future.  Just wait and see!

Ghosted

Well, there’s a first time for everything.  Unfortunately.

Ghosting is breaking off a relationship (often an intimate relationship) by ceasing all communication and contact with the former partner without any apparent warning or justification, as well as avoiding or ignoring and refusing to respond to the former partner’s attempts to reach out or communicate.

Ghosting may be especially traumatic for those on the receiving end, causing feelings of ostracism and rejection;[6] those with low self-esteem may be especially vulnerable to negative emotional and psychological consequences as a result of it.[citation needed]

Some mental health professionals consider ghosting to be a passive-aggressive form of emotional abuse, a type of silent treatment or stonewalling behaviour, and emotional cruelty.[6]  

My “friend” Mi Young has apparently broken off all communication with me without any explanation.  We last talked on Thursday (via messenger) and I had invited her to join me for some American BBQ at a new place in town.  As usual, her schedule was ambiguous so I said I’m free whenever you are, just let me know.  And that’s the last I’ve heard from her.  I sent a message on Monday asking what was up which she saw but did not respond to.  And so that’s it I guess.

Never experienced a “ghosting” before.  It sucks.  And it hurts.

Similarly, my “ex” Loraine, who had professed to want to remain friends, has not responded to a series of messages I sent.  I wished her a happy new year and got nothing back.  A week later I sent a message simply asking if she was okay.  Nothing.

How hard is it to say “I don’t want to ever hear from you again, please don’t message me”.  Sure, that would be painful but it is better than just being ignored as if I didn’t exist.  It’s just a chickenshit thing to do.  I was good to both of these women, I think I deserve the dignity of a response, even if that response is “fuck off!”.

Oh well, life goes on.

The present

Presently, my wonderful life finds me immersed in my WWD routine.  That’s the lovely Pyeongtaek skyline reflected in the glass…

Work: As I wind down my career (again) it sometimes feels like I’m closing a loop.  Yesterday I was preparing for a Monday meeting dealing with whether our Korean Service Corps (KSC) employees are direct hires or indirect hires.  Not to get into the weeds on this, but direct hires are people who are hired by and paid by the Army.  Indirect hires are employees of the host nation government and supplied as needed in support of the Army.  All of the Korean Nationals working for the Army are direct hires.

This shouldn’t be an issue at all.  Except there is a Department of the Army regulation that states KSC employees are indirect hires.  This probably dates back to the Korean War when the ROK government did provide the manpower to support the KSC battalions.  I vaguely recalled dealing with this issue in the past and asked a staff member to pull up anything she could find.  And sure enough, there was a memo I signed and sent to Army HQ noting that the regulation was in error and needed to be corrected.  That was in September 2010.  Army responded that our KSCs were indeed direct hire and the regulation would be amended accordingly.  Except it hasn’t been.  Hence the need for a meeting to once again explain the difference to local leadership.  And by God, I’m determined to see that regulation updated before I leave Korea!

I’m getting some arm twisting to stay until my current appointment ends in September.  I actually do enjoy my job and the people I work with and for, but the other 16 hours of my day pretty much suck. I know it is time (past time perhaps) for me to move on with my life.  May it is!

Walking:  This morning I hiked to and through Pyeongtaek city and back.  Took almost four hours.  I’ve discovered there is a local Hash House Harriers group here and I’m excited about doing my first (well, second) Hash with them tomorrow afternoon.  Hopefully I can meet some interesting people and discover new trails to hike.  I’m pretty bored with my current walk routines.

Yeah, that’s pretty much the only way I can get through the night here in Anjeong-ri.  Five more months!

Drinking: Nothing significant to report.  I’m friends with the bartender at Shooters and enjoy cutting up with her.  There’s a couple of other places I frequent to change it up a little now and then.  And I’m somewhat smitten with the Filipina bartender at AR, even though she is half my age.  I invited her to join me for dinner but have not received an affirmative response.  Yet.

That’s Hanna. What’s not to like, right? What I enjoy about her is she has a great sense of humor (i.e. she laughs at my jokes) , she’s witty and can hold an intelligent conversation. I fear I’m the creepy old guy in her life though but she is too kind hearted to tell me so.

But I am philosophical about it all.  The owner of AR was wearing this wisdom on his back last night:

Yep, that’s my plan!

And there is the latest update on my so-called life.  Wonderful indeed!  And things can always be worse I suppose:

Yeah, maybe not having a girlfriend is a blessing…

UPDATE: She declined dinner.  “Headache”.  Haha, told you she was a smart girl!

Done with the Philippines

It was a long ass day.  Started out with intermittent power outages in my hotel.  When the lights went out (we’d leave the light on in the bathroom) it made a popping sound.  The first time was around 0300.  The noise woke me up and I laid there worrying how the hell I was going to pack the rest of my shit in a pitch black room.  About 10 minutes later the lights “popped” back on.  Relieved I went back to sleep, only to hear the lights pop off again a few minutes later.  This cycle continued until my 0500 alarm sounded.

Rushed around and managed to get most of my gear ready to travel before the next blackout.  Used the phone light for awhile and then once again power was restored.  Got a call at 0545 that my driver had arrived, so it was off to Manila.  Arrived without incident at the airport by 0930 for my 1230 flight.

The airport in Manila, much like the city, sucks.  As I waited to board by flight it occurred to me that I was most likely completing my last vacation in the Philippines.

Goodbye to you Manila!

The flight departed one hour late (of course!) and landed me at Incheon just before 1800.  Almost all the passengers on the fully loaded Asiana 747 were transferring to other flights so I was able to sail through immigration.  And lo and behold, my bag was one of the first to hit the carousel.  Hoofed over to the AREX express train and made it ten minutes before it departed for Seoul station.

Which gave me time to figure out how to cut the zip tie the agent in Manila had helpfully used to lock my bag.  The bag that contained my jacket and gloves for the sub-freezing weather in Korea.  Brilliantly, I remembered I had some nail clippers in the unlocked front pocket of my suitcase.  Woot!  They did the trick.  Donned my sweatshirt and jacket and I was once again dressed appropriately for my environment.

I like the AREX.  But I always get lost trying to get up five floors of escalators to the main floor exits at Seoul station.  Last night was no exception.  And then my AREX ticket wouldn’t work on the exit turnstiles, so I had to hit the help button (on two different occasions) to be let out.  Once I exited the station I grabbed a cab and got to re-experience the joy of miscommunication with a non-English speaking Seoul cabbie (and yes, it is MY fault for having not learned even basic Korean).  I did say “Noksapyeong yak” which he repeated, but then started entering the location in his phone like he didn’t know where it was.  I’m all like “you know, near Itaewon” which didn’t seem to register.  Eventually he figured it out and got me there.  The fair was W4600 so I gave him W12,000 and asked for 5000 back.  Which created more confusion and miscommunication.  When he figured out I was just wanting to give him a decent tip, he seemed pleased.

I wanted Noksapyeong because it was the closet location I could think of to where I’d left my car parked on the Army base at Yongsan (near the gas station).  I had to hike a couple of blocks to get there, but of course that’s no big deal.  Loaded up and hit the highway at just past eight.  I was really surprised to encounter bumper-to-bumper traffic heading south at that hour.  Frustrating to be sure for a weary traveler and I was lamenting my decision to not spend the night in Seoul.  Once I got past Seongnam things cleared up and I had smooth 100 kmh sailing the rest of the way home, arriving just after 2130.

A long and tiring trip, almost as boring as this post.  If you can imagine that.  I did have lots of time to think which in my case is often not a good thing.  But one of my thoughts was that I had traveled from the future back to the present.  And made pretty good time at that.

The first day of the rest of my life…

…this year.

As days go it was a pretty fine one all and all.

Gem and I “kissed” and made up. We’ve got some communication issues we need to work on, but it’s early yet…

I’ve been very impressed with Gem’s willingness to indulge my walking habit. She hangs right in there on our 20,000+ step days. Hell, the other day she even said “I’m bored, let’s go for a walk”. Nothing seems to get her goat out on the road either…

During a trek out to Baloy Beach I found this place that may very well work for me…

Talked to the owner, “Lucky Mike” who said the current tenant is leaving in May which of course is when I expect to arrive…

It’s small, only one bedroom, but…

…it has this huge ass patio/deck/balcony thing going for it. My vision would be to convert it to outdoor living space. You know, table/umbrella, hammock, chair swing, and of course a nice grill. It’s on the 3rd floor and features outstanding water views from the patio and great mountain views from the house. 20,000 pesos a month ($400.) works for me too.

The highlight of the day though was participating in my first Hash House Harrier event.

We started out with the administrative stuff (250 peso dues) at Johannson’s Bar and Grill.

Then we loaded up in the back of this truck for the drive out to the Hash starting point.

The days route included hiking up and down two mountains. It was honestly much more difficult terrain than I’ve experienced on Namsan or Bukhansan in Korea. There were a couple of spots where I was even a little fearful. Only fell on my ass a couple of times though.

Let’s get started!

And we are off!

Passed by some residences that show just how lucky I am….

The trail was more difficult that it appears…very steep with dicey footing in places.  Next time I’ll definitely bring a walking stick!

Gem kept right up with me the entire way…and she was much better at spotting the trail markings (chalk arrows on trees) that I am. I can truthfully say I would have been lost without her.

From the top of the mountain we were rewarded with amazing views of the bay like this one…

And there lies Barrio Baretto in all its glory. I’ll be calling here home one day soon…

The local kids were quite amused to see the crazy foreigners walking about in the hot sun for no particular reason.

The Hash finished up on the roof of the Hot Zone bar…owned by the leader of the Subic Bay Hashers.

Now, there are certain rituals associated with the Hash that take place at the conclusion of every hike. I don’t fully understand them all yet, but they include sitting bare bottomed on a block of ice and drinking from a toilet plunger. I was happy to just observe.

As a Hash House “virgin” I was required to engage in an initiation ritual…

Which concluded by my having to guzzle an entire bottle of beer in one shot. Anything remaining in the bottle after it left my lips was unceremoniously poured over my head. I missed it by just a sip…

Anyway, it felt like a fresh start and a step in the direction of a new and better future life.  We will see how that works out for me.

Dead and buried

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Rest in Peace motherfucker.

And welcome to the new born year of 2018.  Chances are I’ll fuck this one up as well, but hopefully in new and more interesting ways.  For sure my future fuck ups will primarily be taking place in the Philippines.  So there’s that.

Spent the last night of the year at Lollipop enjoying more live music.

The actually put on a pretty good show playing some outstanding classic rock songs.

Last night a big dick walked into the bar. That really took some balls…

Welcomed the New Year on the rooftop of the Paradise Hotel where we could view the firework show from the old Navy base.  Then had a fight with Gem and woke up pissed.

This year is going to rock!

It’s a small town after all

Apparently.

One of the things I like about Barrio Baretto is that while it is a small town it has easy access to major conveniences, such as dining, shopping and of course, bars.  I’d reckon it is similar in size to Anjeong-ri (where I currently reside) but with more of an Itaewon vibe (lots of expats from around the world).

So anyway, earlier this week I walked into Rolling Stones bar for the first time ever.  And a guy shouts out, “hey John, I know you!”.  Well, it turns out it was a guy named Scott. He is a member of the local Hash club that I made Facebook friends with.

Yesterday I popped over to Cheap Charlie’s bar for a quick beer while Gem was napping.  The place was packed but I scoped out one open stool at the far end of the bar.  Once I was seated I noticed that the guy next to me was Scott, there with another Hasher friend.  After they left I saw a woman across the bar who looked vaguely familiar.  Finally, I recognized her as the sales girl in a small shop who had sold me a ball cap earlier in the day.  We made eye contact and I saw the confusion on her face. I called out that I was in her store earlier…then she remembered me.

Later as I was walking back to my hotel I was thinking about what a small town this truly is so hopefully it won’t take long to make friends and see lots of familiar faces while I’m out and about.  Then a Jeepney pulls ups, and out hop John and his girlfriend Mango, the only two people I actually know here.  Weird, huh?

And oh, later that evening while Gem and I were enjoying the floating bar at Arizona Resort, in walks Scott and his friend who sit at the table next to mine.  Turns out Scott was from Huntington Beach, CA, right next door to my hometown of Westminster.  I couldn’t help but remind him how we always kicked their ass in football on Friday nights.  Small town, small world.

Snapped this photo of the sun going down from the Arizona floater. Made it my FB profile picture. Later I noticed that Scott had taken a similar photo and made it HIS profile picture. Yeah, it’s getting a little strange, I know.

Had a fish and chips dinner at the Midnight Rambler. Saw this sign on the way out and thought it was good advice. So I took it.

We went to the Velvet Touch bar to hear some live music on a Saturday night.

Apparently the new “no smoking” ordinance is even more restrictive than I thought if this sign in the men’s room is any indication…

Enjoyed my final breakfast of the year at Treasure Island.

Then Gem and I hopped in a Jeepney for the short ride to the Navy base to get some walking and shopping done.

My challenge for the final night of 2017 is to stay sober enough awake to enjoy the countdown to 2018 and fireworks show.  We shall see.

 

Judgement day

So kept busy yesterday working on the transition to my new life in the Philippines.  Walked through a subdivision called Santa Rita.  Most of the houses appeared to be Filipino occupied and were in various states of disrepair.  The guard shack at the entrance was not manned, so much for security.

There was this place…brand new. Called and was told it was a 2 bedroom 2 bath, partially furnished for 25,000 pesos ($500) per month. Given the dicey nature of the neighborhood I’ll give it a pass…

I hired a car and driver to take me out to Club Morocco to look at that big ass house I mentioned yesterday.  It’s a great house but…

…much as I’d enjoy waking up to this view every morning the distance from everywhere (over 30 minutes from Baretto) and associated inconvenience makes it not worth the trouble.

I next had the driver take me out to the Subic Bay Freeport Zone (aka the old Navy base) to do some grocery shopping.

Not for me, for the kids at the Fil-Am orphanage.

When we delivered the bounty it was the first time I had actually met the children.  On my previous visits they had always been in school.  I was very impressed with how well-mannered and happy they seemed to be.  Glad to be able to provide a little support and I told the administrator that once I make the move I want to set up a monthly event for the kids to celebrate birthdays and share a big meal.  Should be fun!

Last night was the weekly Sons of Baccus (SOB) dance competition. Once again I was asked to sit in judgement.

The other judges concurred with my opinion that the gals from Wet Spot had the best routine last night…

I wound up getting drunker than usual but Gem was a good sport about it.

I also put in some efforts at exorcism trying to free myself from the ghosts of times gone by.  Can’t say that I succeeded in slaying them, but I did confront them head on, intentionally visiting those places where the memories were made.  Other then feeling a little sick in my stomach I came through unscathed.  I’d call that progress.

Had breakfast in one of those old haunts…Treasure Island.

As you can see I’ve suspended my war on carbs for now. Damn, it was good eating!

Gem opted for a traditional Filipino breakfast and she declared it “masarap”.

The journey continues.  Stay tuned.

Ghost on the coast

I despise Manila.  Getting from the airport to Subic took nearly four hours, most of that stuck in Manila traffic.  It’s an ugly and filthy city and even after all these years I find the poverty shocking.  To be fair, there are nice parts of the city you just don’t see them on the trip from the airport.  I much prefer flying into Clark in Angeles.  Just hard to score a ticket this time of year as it is a very popular tourist destination for Koreans.  Well, Korean men anyway.

Anyway, leaving the city behind it is a quite pleasant and scenic drive.  Arrived safely at my lodging for the week and got checked in.

The Palm Tree Resort was my third choice, everything else was booked. I’m not happy with the “no view” room, but otherwise the place is clean and comfortable.

I normally stay on Baloy Beach at the Blue Rock Resort.  But I knew I’d be dealing with the ghost of Loraine this trip and staying there without her would have been overwhelming.  Honestly, I’ve been haunted quite a bit so far as it is.  Nothing to be done but face up to the fact that the memories will always be there, I can only control how I choose to react to them.  Gem has been a nice distraction.

Speaking of Gem, I’ve introduced to some of the elements of my lifestyle.  She hung in there for a pretty decent walk, some on the beach, some on the highway.  Gem also has now experienced her first “go-go” bar and she was not shocked or offended.  Even seemed to enjoy herself.

Gem is actually a non-drinker. She’s a good sport about my enjoyment of a cold brew though and she’ll even occasionally have a few sips with me.

One of the things I’m hoping to accomplish on this trip is to nail down at least the general area where I will find my house when I move here permanently come what May. (ahem).  Revisited a nearby subdivision called Alta Vista.

Most of the houses in Alta Vista feature bay views like this…

…or mountain views like this.

Some houses even have both views. I liked this one because it was about my size (lots of the houses are McMansions in scope).

I did not see any indication that there were any available rentals in Alta Vista however.  I do have a phone number where I can at least make some additional inquiries.  I did find a house that seems perfect and it will be available for rent in late January.

It has everything!

Including a view to die for.

And what a kitchen!

And the rent?  A whopping $500. a month! The only problem with it is the location.  Club Morocco is 14 kms from my preferred area in Barrio Baretto.  Going to hire a car today and see just how inconvenient living that far out would be.

Met up with my only friend in town for dinner last night.  He brought along his new girlfriend.  Very lovely girl, and very sweet.

They seem very happy together.

As we finished dinner I was rewarded with this lovely sunset view:

It was a good day.

Onward!

 

And so it begins. Again.

Up at 0330 to to catch the 0430 Airport Limo that arrived at Incheon at 0550 in time to make my 0750 flight to Manila.

I had scored a business class seat when I booked which paid off in many ways.  Firstly, I avoided an incredibly long line of cattle coach class passengers waiting to check in.  And my checked bag also got priority handling, which made it one of the first ones on the carousel at bag claim in Manila.  And one thing I hadn’t actually thought about, my ticket came with access to the Asiana Business Class Lounge!

Waiting for my flight in style and comfort…

Free coffee and breakfast. Damn the carbs, I’m on vacation!

I perched myself by the windows and took in the view while I dined.

So, this trip is my first post-Loraine.  There will be no escaping the memories we shared together during my past travels.  But I’m going to try and accept that what is done is done and what will be is yet to be seen.

That’s me looking cautiously optimistic…

Well, when I checked in I was advised my flight was delayed for 30 minutes because of “connection problems”.  The thirty minutes became almost two hours.  Ah well, nothing to be done about it.  Got some steps in while I waited.

And of course, once I did board I got to enjoy the luxury of life as a business class traveler.

Big comfortable seats. Good food served on china. And very attentive flight attendants.

I may be ruined on coach forever.  Not sure how I wound up with the business class seat to begin with.  I booked like I always do through kayak.com.  I rarely pick the cheapest flight, instead opting for convenient flight times and major airlines (the budget carriers are just too damn cramped and uncomfortable).  Still, I never request business class as an option because spending an additional three or four hundred dollars for a 4 hour flight is just not worth it to me.  My ticket this trip was $578., about a hundred dollars more than what I usually pay, but given the holidays not too bad.  It as only after I booked that I noticed I had business class on the outbound.  Stuck in coach coming home though.

After a comfortable flight which included a nice nap in a fully reclined seat, we landed in Manila.  One of the first off the plane, I had no wait at all at immigration.  My bag was promptly retrieved, I exchanged some dollars for pesos, and headed outside to enjoy the first day of the rest of my life.

And this little Gem was waiting to greet me. Let the adventure begin!

Coincidentally, it was exactly one year ago when Loraine met me at the airport for the first time.  And on that day I had posted this to my Facebook:

“You take a risk giving your heart to anybody. But every time your heart gets stomped on, you pick it up, brush it off, and start looking for somebody else to give it to. You know the risk and you accept it, gladly, because the payoff is worth it. And any love that qualifies itself, any ‘I love her but I don’t trust her’ love, isn’t really love. If you’re not risking everything you have, it’s not love. Ya pays yer money and ya takes yer chances.”
–Steve Rosse

Well, I have a long way to go yet.  Let’s see what happens.

Everyone needs a little Seoul…

…so here I am.

My flight departs at 0750 and getting to Incheon from Pyeongtaek is a pain in the ass.  I just didn’t have confidence I could get there earlier enough.  So, I’m spending the afternoon in the big city, will drink some beers in Itaewon tonight, then set the alarm for 0400 in the morning.  I’m just going to grab a taxi from the hotel.

Been a while since I’ve had a brisk hike on the Han, rather enjoyed it.

Settled into my hotel room and figure I’ll log a couple of more hours on the road before nightfall.

Stay tuned for all the excitement that I’m almost certain to experience during my journey to the Philippines…

So this is Christmas

Ah, Merry Christmas to each and every one!

You know, I’m not a religious man so the holiday has no spiritual significance to me.  It’s a day I’ve always enjoyed with family.  My sweet mother loved all the festivities.  I sure do miss her.  I have no family here to share the day with, but I’ve been invited to a Christmas celebration later this afternoon.  Tonight my friend Mi Young will be joining me for dinner, so all is not lost.

That about sums it up.

Christmas is just one of those days I suppose.  Three years ago on Christmas Jee Yeun told me for the first time she wanted a divorce.  Two years ago when she repeated her request I moved out.  And of course two months ago Loraine stabbed me in the heart.

But…in two days I’ll be flying to the Philippines to begin preparing for the rest of my life.  And yes, I’m doing much better at looking forward these days.  The old memories may make me sad, but there are new memories just waiting to be experienced.  I’m so ready to get on with it.

So here’s to 2018, the year I’ve been waiting for!

So this is Christmas
And what have you done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun

And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

 

 

 

Christmas Eve

Seasoned Greetings!

Have a gander at the Christmas lights on Camp Humphreys to put you in the holiday spirit…

They actually look better than my photography skills demonstrate…

Even Anjeong-ri is making the effort…

Didn’t cook last night….

…..well, I did fix up some Brussels sprouts…

And Fitbit awarded me the NIle badge…

 

Superb!
You’ve earned the Nile badge
By walking 4,132 miles, you’ve walked the length of longest river in the world and added a new badge to your stream of accomplishments! There’s no deNILEing how impressive that is.

 

And so I rewarded myself:

Nothing like a pedicure for tired aching feet…

Speaking of rewards…

I bought me these new hiking shoes…

…and sexy long underwear as Christmas presents to myself…

This morning when I woke up my computer was updating Windows software, so I had to busy myself without the assistance of the internets…

Regular readers will know what those ingredients add up to….

Yep, Aunt Pat’s Recipe World Famous Fruit Salad!

Damn computer was still not ready (upload 84% complete).

So, I got most of my packing done for my upcoming trip.

Still at 84%…damn…might as well commence walking!  I planned a longish walk to Pyeongtaek city….

Damn, it was raining though…oh well, grabbed the umbrella and started walking.  At least it wasn’t very cold out…

And beauty is where you find it, even in the rain.

Wound up walking almost 5 hours. That’s the longest I’ve done non-stop…felt it in my left foot this time…

So guess what?  I get home after that long ass walk and my computer update was still at 84%!  What the fuck?  Turned it off and turned it back on again (contrary to instructions on the screen), but no result.  Turned off and waited awhile, and when it rebooted, it still had the 84% screen.  Shit.

Well, I went into a panic.  It is Christmas Eve.  No way it’s getting fixed before I leave on my trip.  And I’ve got to have a computer when I travel.  Smart phones just don’t cut it for me, especially in the PI where coverage is spotty at best.

Well, I rushed over to the PX and bought a new laptop.  Merry Fucking Christmas to me!

First blog post on my new unit.  I see no improvement in quality.

I’ll get the old laptop repaired when I return from vacation.  I actually planned to take a new computer with me when I moved anyway.  Electronics are pricey in the PI.

Alright, that’s where things stand on the night before Christmas.

I’ll come back tomorrow and wish y’all a very Merry Christmas.  Now it’s time for the drinking portion of my day….

 

‘Tis the season!

On the best of days I’m not exactly full of the Christmas spirit.  My kids and grandkids are thousands of miles away and even the nephew is leaving the country for the holidays.  As things stand now I’ll be spending a solitary Christmas here in the countryside.

But all is not lost because I spent a wonderful day yesterday with my work family.

I lead an amazing team of hard working professionals. It truly is an honor and privilege to be associated with this cheerful bunch!

Were it not for my Deputy Donna I’d actually have to work for a living!

The staff did an amazing job decorating our office suite…

Me and the Mrs….

And we treated ourselves to some sweet treats. I baked the cupcakes and brownies, Leb prepared his renowned rum cake and it was damn the carbs, full speed ahead!

We went off site to AK Plaza in the afternoon for a Korean buffet dinner…

Played some games and did a gift exchange…

It’s good to be the boss man! I know I am going to miss my working life more than I care to admit. But all things must end. Going to do my best to enjoy every minute I have left before my May departure.

Best wishes for the holiday season to all my faithful readers.  Here’s hoping 2018 will provide many cheerful experiences to blog about.  Hey, it could happen!

In the comments

I always appreciate comments from my long suffering readers.  Especially when they give me pause to think.

My friend and fellow blogger Kevin Kim left this simple comment on my post “Everything changes”: You, sir, are Heraclitus’ river.  Well.  Heraclitus was vaguely familiar in my muddled memory, but I had to go to Wikipedia to see exactly what he meant.

Heraclitus was famous for his insistence on ever-present change as being the fundamental essence of the universe, as stated in the famous saying, “No man ever steps in the same river twice”.

So, yes.  Everything does in fact change, including the water in the river I often encounter on my walks.  Heraclitus also said “the path up and down are one and the same”, which resonated with me as well.

I also had to chuckle when I read that Heraclitus was known as “the weeping philosopher”. Sounds like the perfect mentor for me!

As always, thank you for the education Kevin!

I also received this from a long time reader but first time commenter (thank you!) JTthomas:

None of my business and you’re more than welcome to tell me to F off; but your life seems to be made up of work, walking, and drinking. I don’t think I’ve ever read where you watched a movie, binged on a TV series, read a book, finished a crossword or jigsaw puzzle, or anything else relating to a pastime or hobby.

Yes, you are exactly right and that has been on my mind as well.  My descent into being boring is a relatively recent event.  Back in the day I was big into binge watching my favorite TV shows, especially in the USA iteration of my life.  I still have my Netflix account active, but honestly I just can’t seem to sit still long enough to watch even a full episode of a series I’d otherwise enjoy.  I also used to be big into darts but I seem to have lost my passion for the game somewhere along the way.

Well, honestly those were things I did when I was enjoying the relative stability of married life.  I’ve kind of gone off the rails these past couple of years.  And the drinking thing…well, I know I’ve got to start moderating my self-medication for psychic pain.  I drink 4-6 beers every night in what passes for my social life here in Anjeong-ri.  And it helps me to shut my brain off long enough to get some sleep.

But I do have a more robust vision for my future life in the Philippines.  I’m going to join the local Hash House Harriers (a drinking club with a running problem).  I fully intend to get back into darting on a regular basis.  I’ll join a gym and do volunteer work with local charitable organizations.  In short, I’ll try and rediscover a more fulfilling lifestyle.

I’ll also continue to walk so I won’t miss out on fascinating observations like this:

The giant marshmallow harvest is now complete. Apparently.

Seven days out from my return to the Philippines for a short vacation.  Something interesting is bound to happen, right?  And you’ll read all about it here on LTG.

Stay tuned!

In the clearing stands a boxer
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the remainders
Of every glove that laid him down
And cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame
“I am leaving, I am leaving”
But the fighter still remains

 

 

Everything changes

Courtesy of Facebook comes this memory from December 19, 2014;

That was me, fat and (relatively) happy as a married man.

Little did I know that one year later the wife would tell me she wanted a divorce. These past two years have been a soul crushing emotional roller coaster ride.  I’ve been wrong about so many things and learned some painful lessons along the way.

BUT. Everything may change but not all change is bad.  For example, I’m more than 60 pounds lighter now.  I may have lost seven years of my life to a failed marriage, but perhaps I’ve gained at least that much in longevity with my new found healthier lifestyle.

I don’t know that I’m a better man than I was back then, but I am a changed man.  The guy in that photo no longer exists.  Now I need to get on with finding out what happens next.  And learning to enjoy the ride.

The sun may be setting on my Korea life, but new adventures await.