Speaking of steps:
Stick around, I’ll be here all week.
Speaking of steps:
Stick around, I’ll be here all week.
Green acres is the place to be
Farm living is the life for me
Land stretching out so far and wide
Keep Seoul city just give me that countryside!
Saturday night in the village found me participating in the dart tourney at IDK Bar.
I should probably add this shirt to wardrobe, don’t you think?
And so ended another weekend.
Despite a nasty hangover from last night’s over indulgence, I set about hiking a new section of the local river this morning. Unlike the Han, there are very few bridges. Well over two hours into my walk I finally reached this bridge:
I chose the later option. The only exit from the river trail was across a narrow concrete jetty through the adjacent rice paddies. I could see traffic way off in the distance, so I figured what the hell. The farmers must have thought I was nuts.
So when I reached the highway I saw a sign that pointed to Pyeongtaek/Ansan. Well, that’s generally the right direction although I live in Anjeong-ri. After a goodly long walk my road intersected with highway 45 leading to Pyeongtaek. Problem is, that’s a major thoroughfare not conducive to pedestrian traffic. So, I took a detour and walked through the sleepy little village of Bucheon-ri.
Nothing to do but soldier on. After awhile I saw a taxi on a cross street up ahead. I wondered about the odds of his turning in my direction (well, I guess they could have been 50-50). He did turn my way so next I wondered if he might be empty. As he approached I saw that he was indeed without a fare. Deciding it was providence I flagged him down and said take me to Anjeong-ri. A few minutes into the ride I realized that if I had walked on for ten more minutes I would have known where I was. But that was still a 45 minute hike away from home, so I was glad to be in the cab anyway.
Had the cabbie drop me at the street market where I purchased some fresh bananas for tomorrow’s traditional Sunday smoothie.
…but it’s free…
A whole bunch of nothin’ going on here in my country life, which I expect is what country living is all about. Well, nothin’ to say never stopped me from sayin’ it anyway, so let’s roll into June, shall we?
Still struggling with the emotional side of my life. Not really going to go there, but this is one way to put it:
Time is a one way street. So, why does the past loom so large?
I’m still being an oversensitive crank. In fact, this could be my theme song…
That’s it. I say it best when I say nothin’ at all. But you knew that.
I’ve never been a particularly patient man. And lately I seem to be in a perpetual bad mood. Little things I could and should ignore just irk the hell out of me for some reason. Or maybe I’ve just become the proverbial grumpy old man.
My irritation seems to manifest itself most often in bars. Not surprising I suppose since I spend too much time in bars these days. I guess the bar I frequent most often is IDK. They have darts and a reasonably friendly staff. But I stopped in early on Friday night and was served my customary Miller Lite beer. There were a couple of guys playing pool and me alone at the bar. They were playing the crappiest music I’ve ever heard (hip hop?) at an eardrum piercing loud volume. Now, I can tolerate crappy music. I can put up with loud music. But crappy and loud crosses the line. I could have said something I suppose, but it’s not my bar or my place to tell them how to run it. Instead I voted with my feet. Plopped W7000 on the bar (6 for the beer and a tip) stood up and headed for the door. The owner was surprised because I never only have one beer and asked me what’s wrong. I just pointed at my ears, shook my head, and walked out. I was back last night for the dart tournament and the music was played at a more reasonable volume.
I have crossed a couple of other bars off my circuit for various minor irritations. I don’t have to put up with bullshit so why should I? One thing I don’t like is being asked to buy a drink for the bartender. I’m pretty damn generous in that regard and I’ll normally make the offer in due course. I usually do it as a reward for good conversation/friendly service. But not likely if I’m asked or its expected. I understand a lot of the gals make “commission” on drinks they receive, but that whole “juicy girl” routine is not my style. I’d rather be alone than pay for company.
Anyway, if I had a life I wouldn’t be spending so much time in the bars I suppose. It’s a social thing because I do need to get out of the house and be around people. Here in Pyeongtaek most of the bar scene caters to young soldiers, not exactly my demographic. Still, I got drunk with a group of combat engineers the other night. It’s all a little fuzzy but I remember this song was being sung.
In other news, I got a series of text messages from the woman who parked her car in my driveway. It was clear she was using a translation app, but I played along. We did the name exchange and the what do you do here thing. She asked me if I had any plans this weekend and I’m thinking “hmm, this might get interesting”. When I said I had nothing going on, she started in on the going to church thing. Damn. Told her I wasn’t religious and didn’t need to be saved. And suddenly she lost interest in chatting. Oh well.
I had a successful work day in Seoul on Thursday and spent a few hours in Shenanigans afterwards. I guess folks were glad to see me, so that was nice.
Left my hotel at 0530 for the drive back to Pyeongtaek and encounter no traffic jams or vehicle malfunctions. Didn’t get lost either. My Waze app did the job even though I didn’t understand a word she was saying. I can follow the arrows!
What an exciting life I’m leading here in the countryside! I’ve got pictures to prove it:
I’ll keep holding on.
Can you help me remember how to smile?
Make it somehow all seem worthwhile
How on earth did I get so jaded?
Life’s mysteries seem so faded
Actually, many bitter pills to swallow.
I took the afternoon off work to go on a quest to find the Good Morning Hospital. My Waze app, despite being in Korean, got me there with no problemo. Finding the parking lot was another story. But eventually I did.
And the English spoken here was surprisingly good. Noteworthy in fact. So the way it works is you tell these folks why you are there (COPD) and then they walk you over to the appropriate physician and serve as your translator. Well, my main goal was to get some prescription refills and make sure I didn’t have anything else to worry about The pulmonary doc I saw didn’t seem to be all that concerned so either he doesn’t give a shit or I am not in any immediate danger. He did take an x-ray and told me I don’t have pneumonia. So there’s that.
Anyway, another nice feature is they fill your prescriptions right there at the hospital. Easy Peazy. Although two of the drugs I requested were not available, so I’ll have to find them on the economy I reckon.
Anyway, the hospital is about 15 minutes away by car and I’m glad to know where it is in case of emergency.
When I got back to the house there was ANOTHER car parked in my carport. What the hell? I called the number on the windshield and a woman answered. Apparently she was getting her hair done at the salon across the street from my palace. She came running out all apologetic and she was pretty cute for a fortyish gal (meaning hadn’t gone full ajumma). I tried to flirt a little bit, but alas, her English was next to non-existent. And of course with my limited Korean all I could have asked is get me a beer please. By way of explanation she did go to Google translate on her phone which told me that my house had been vacant for a long time and she thought that it still was. Fair enough.
Tomorrow I’ll be driving up to Seoul to attend a couple of three meetings. Will spend the night, take leave on Friday, and come back down to Pyeongtaek for the long Memorial Day weekend.
Ain’t life grand?
Had a coughing jag yesterday afternoon. Then I experienced chest pain. Wasn’t sure if I was having a heart attack or if my violent coughing fit had pulled a chest muscle. Seeing as how I have no clue on where the nearest hospital might be and having too much pride to call on one of the few people I know down here, I just said fuck it, I’ll go to bed and see if I wake up alive. I did.
I did check out the local hospital with an international clinic today on the interwebs. It’s named “Good Morning Hospital”. Better than good night I suppose. I’ll get in the car this weekend and find out how to get there. Just to be safe.
Speaking of the car, I came home last night and someone had parked next to me in my carport. Seriously, who does that? I wasn’t in the mood to deal with it, and this morning around 0530 I observed 4 fuckers from the house next door hop my fence and then hop into the car. I didn’t bother confronting them. But I did re-position my vehicle today in such a manner as to take up both spaces. Fuck you motherfuckers!
And then I came upon this short vignette that I expect captures exactly how I will die when the time comes. I’m in no hurry, but maybe tomorrow….
Finished up the first week in Pyeongtaek. Let’s got to the photos for the story.
And that’s all I’ve got. Feeling isolated and lonely, but that’s a big improvement over sad and miserable. Progress!
So, the new washer wasn’t working right. Repairmen comes out and fixes my jury rigged drainpipe. He explained that I was trying to fit an American sized hose into a Korean sized hole. Who knew?
The dryer installation went fine, but when I asked the installer about the washing machine he gave me a look like I could do it myself, gesturing at the two hoses that just needed to be connected to the machine and to the faucets. I shrugged, it seemed simple enough.
Nothing ever is.
Trying to do a load of whites right now, but something doesn’t seem to be working right. Gonna have to get the landlord out here I suppose.
What a life!
Here’s how my Monday went down.
Once the delivery was completed I headed on in to work for my first day in the new building. Alas, my computer has still not been hooked into the network nor has my phone been activated. Even for a government employee, that makes it hard to get things done. So I took care of some other business. Went to the medical clinic pharmacy for some refills on my inhalers.
Yes, I’m sorry to report that I’m still dealing with my lung issues. It was better for awhile, and still not as bad as it was, but last night I had a pretty tough coughing fit. The inhaler helps, but I’ve found that the nebulizer brings more comfort. Out of juice though and no refills left on my prescription.
Seeing as how I wasn’t going to get much done with no computer/phone, I took some sick leave and went off to find a Korean doctor. I did, and his name is Dr. Kim. Go figure. In the manner of Korean medicine to which I’ve grown accustomed, I was granted all of 3 minutes of face time with the doc. Dr. Kim: Nice to meet you. What’s the problem? Me: COPD. I need a refill on my nebulizer juice. Showed him the prescription. He types into the computer and shows me an inhaler. Nope, got those. I need the liquid to go into my nebulizer machine. Oh, he says. So he gives me a prescription for 3 bottles of juice. The pharmacy only had two in stock, so I took them. Maybe they’ll help, maybe they won’t. But it gives some peace of mind having them if I needed..
Then a man came and installed my new bidet. Woot!
Then I found a dry cleaner around the corner and dropped off my clothes.
Next the washer/dryer installer came and installed the dryer. He left me to my own devices on the washer. That fiasco is worthy of a post of it’s own. Look for it tomorrow!
I did do laundry. And fired up the grill.
Oh, and I met the neighbor across the street.
Finished the evening at IDK bar. I guess I’m achieving regular status there as they all remembered me from Saturday night darts. I told the bartender everyone keeps asking me what “IDK” stands for and I tell them I don’t know. So they said I should ask. What does it stand for? She told me “I don’t know”. I guess no one does.
Ah, and here it is 10:00 p.m. and the sound of Taps is filling the air. They sure do blast it out from the Army base. Must be telling me it is time for bed.
Well, I’m pretty much unpacked and settled into my new place. Waiting for the washer/dryer to be delivered so it’s a good time to recap the weekend.
It’s quiet here. Real quiet. Walking the streets I’m just amazed at how little foot and vehicle traffic there is, even in the “downtown” area of Anjeong-ri. I’m so used to the crowded sidewalks of Seoul I suppose, but sometimes it feels almost deserted here. It’s not unpleasant, just a little disconcerting. I’m sure I’ll get used to it.
I honestly don’t know how some of the businesses remain viable, but from appearances, most have been around awhile. And of course, things are only going to bet better when the rest of 8th Army follows me down here next month. Right now, the most prevalent business seems to be real estate shops catering to USFK personnel.
I did find a nice little Korean restaurant called “Me and You”. It caught my eye because the signage said they served “American-style breakfast”.
I reckon there to be some 20-odd bars in the immediate area, I’ve probably sampled about half of them so far. One difference from Itaewon is that very few seem to open before 6 p.m. The other difference is most seem to cater to a very young crowd, mostly soldiers. I understand that, given that this area lacks the diversity of foreigners (age, nationality, job type) that you see in the ‘twon. I do miss that and it makes it more difficult to find a bar I’m comfortable hanging out in on a regular basis. It’s early yet, I’ll keep looking!
I did play in the Saturday night dart tourney at a bar called IDK. I don’t know what that stands for. Oh, wait a minute! Anyway, the tourney was small and not so well organized. Most of the players were new to the game and didn’t have much skill or knowledge of the rules. I finished second (my former teammate Craig who lives here now as well) took first. Eh, I wouldn’t call it fun but it was something to do.
What else? Apparently there is a weekend street market here.
Did some shopping at the commissary yesterday. It is half the size of the one in Yongsan so it stands to reason the selection will not be as good. Still, it was disappointing that so many things I’m accustomed to buying are not available here.
So that’s how things are so far. Stay tuned.
All moved in. Most of my stuff put away. Let’s take a tour.
That’s where I live. More on the life here soon…
Well, I made it down to Pyeongtaek. Barely.
As I was leaving my office for the drive I noticed something dripping underneath the front of my car. I dipped my finger in the liquid and it was the color and consistency of transmission fluid. Except it made no sense that it should be dripping from the front end. Maybe it was power steering fluid?
Well, I briefly considered nixing the trip until I could get it checked out. But I had already loaded my work computer and monitors in the back seat. So I figured I’d roll the dice.
I questioned my judgement thirty minutes into the drive when I noticed some unusual surges. But I was on a packed expressway and had no idea where I’d go if I exited. So I continued on. Things seemed to settle down and I cruised along at 100 kph for most of the rest of the way. As I entered Camp Humphreys there was some slippage, but I made it to the new headquarters building without further incident.
Off loaded the computer and figured I’d go to my Star Palace and drop off some stuff I’d carried down for the house. And that’s when my car had had enough. The tranny would barley engage, and my top speed was less than 20 kph and dropping fast. I put the shift into low gear and was able to crawl out the main gate, turn left, and pull into a auto repair shop.
The owner spoke excellent English and advised me he could rebuild the transmission for “500”. That’s about what my 1999 Hyundai is worth, but what are you going to do? He said it might be ready for me tomorrow. Hailed a cab and piled some of my shit in the trunk and back seat and guided him to my new place. I was disappointed that when I announced “Star Palace” as my destination he didn’t have a clue.
Ah well. More adventures to come I sure.
Farewell to Seoul, my home for most of these past 12 years. It’s been swell and sometimes hell, but the memories will last a lifetime.
Thanks to Shenanigans for the alcohol fueled farewell last night. It was good to see so many familiar faces one last time. I’ll post some photos when I get home.
This morning I’ll check out of the Crown Hotel (okay for less the $50 a night), catch up on some emails at the office, then meet my landlord at my former residence where hopefully some money (in the form of my deposit) will change hands. I left the place cleaner than I found it, that’s for sure.
Back to the office for a pizza and cake event to celebrate the May birthdays on my team, after which I’ll load up my work computer, and head on down the highway for Camp Humphreys.
See you there!
Signed the lease today on the “Star Palace”. It’s a done deal. Just over $3000 per month, including utilities. Thank you Uncle Sam!
Tonight is the last night in my humble villa here in Itaewon. I’ll sleep at the Crown Hotel tomorrow and drive on down the road to Pyeongtaek on Friday.
Packers in tomorrow morning. Then a final cleaning before I exit. Close on with the landlord here on Friday morning. Stuff will be delivered to my new abode on Saturday.
It’s time for a change.
I created a little excitement in Shenanigans last night. I had been enjoying a couple of gin and sodas and chatting with some dart league friends. I remember standing up and coughing. And then I remember being helped up off the floor spewing blood from my mouth.
I hate when that happens.
And it has happened before. Back in February 2006 I had a black out in Dolce Vita. That earned me an ambulance ride and a bunch of stitches in my forehead. Stupid is as stupid does, eh?
Then there was the night in May of 2008 at Metro Bar that also left me in stitches.
I guess you might say that blacking out and falling down in Itaewon bars is something of a tradition with me. I couldn’t very well leave town without one last fall for old times sake, now could I?
Last night’s tumble went down just like the first two incidents. I stood up, I coughed, blacked out, and went face first into a table. This time I came away with only a split lip, so I’ll consider myself lucky.
And for the record, I was not drunk, nor was I drunk the other two times. The fact that it only seems to occur in bars is purely coincidental. I’m not sure what it is all about, the combination of standing and coughing seems to create a lack of oxygen flow to the brain or something. Hell, I don’t know. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen frequently and it’s always good for a blog post.
As I was being helped up from the floor and regaining consciousness, I was in a dream-like happy place. I didn’t want to leave there. It wasn’t exactly a “walk towards the light” moment, but if that is what dying feels like it won’t be so bad. Of course, there is only one way to find out and I’m really not THAT curious!
I guess you could call it the long goodbye. But really, no one cares. The Itaewon churn continues apace. Faces come, faces go. I’m sure I won’t be missed. It is what it is.
Saturday night was more of the same. Jim, probably the oldest friend still remaining in Itaewon, joined me for a drink at Shenanigans. I appreciated that opportunity to say goodbye. I then made my way to Debut to say farewell to Jin Hee, the bargirl I’ve had a fondness for these past 10 years or so. Feelings that have never been reciprocated, but such is life.
Had my best week ever walking wise. 175,000 steps, everyday 20,000+, with a high of 33,000 on Tuesday. Not so hard when you don’t have a life. Still, this weekend the dust was a challenge. Lots of coughing and sneezing as a result.
So there you have it, the last weekend of so many in Seoul. I’m ready to put this life behind me. Hopefully in doing so I can leave the sadness behind as well. Too many memories haunt me here. I need to let it go.
Camp Humphreys that is.
You’d think I was from Moscow the way I was rushin’ around on Tuesday morning. Wanted to catch the 0700 bus from Yongsan Garrison to Pyeongtaek. I was there on time. In fact I was two weeks early. The 0700 doesn’t begin to run until May 15th. Ah well, the 0800 got me there in time for my 1000 meeting with my realtor.
Now, I had previously looked at a monster of a house. Way too big for me (4 bedrooms/4 baths, 2 living rooms and an office), but in the location I was seeking (downtown Anjeong-ri). The issue was whether the landlord would accept a short term lease. Here’s how it works–I’m given LQA (living quarters allowance) based on my pay grade. Realtors want to max out your authorized LQA amount because that equals a larger commission. I get that, and my efforts to be shown smaller places in the neighborhood fell on deaf ears. The realtor convinced the landlord to rent to me for four months, so I’ll be living in a palace. I’m going back to sign the lease next Wednesday.
Given the short period I’m committing to, the landlord was unwilling to completely furnish the house. I told the realtor to just move everything from upstairs to the first floor and I’d make do. The downstairs is bigger than my current residence and I don’t use all this space.
The movers are packing me out in Seoul on Thursday and if I can work out the logistics of closing out with the landlord here (i.e. turning in the keys and getting my 5 million deposit back) I’ll be living in my digs on Friday. Monday at the latest. Ain’t life grand?
With my business completed with the realtor, I walked around town some. I was really taken aback by just how quiet the area is compared to Seoul. That will take some getting used to, but as a pedestrian I have to admit the lack of traffic is pretty nice.
And just like we say in Itaewon, “meet me at the Hamilton”…
I wanted to check out the walk from my new digs to my new office space in the 8A HQ building. It’s about 30 minutes hoofing it to the gate nearest HQ. When I arrived there I noted that the walk-in part of the gate access was still under construction. Security would not let use the vehicle entrance, so I turned around to make my way back the main gate in Anjeong-ri. Then I spotted a vacant cab with the tell-tell base access window sticker so I shouted out “Yogio!” and he turned around and drove me to my office.
Speaking of size, Camp Humphreys is HUGE! The largest military base outside the USA, taking up about the same square miles as the District of Columbia. And it is bisected by an airfield, which means driving and walking to anywhere is by necessity done in a roundabout fashion. From the garrison bus depot near the commissary and PX it took 30 minutes to walk to the main gate. From my office back to bus station was a good 45 minute walk.
Now I’m back in Seoul packing out my old office. And I came upon this relic from my previous tenure:
Ah, I see now I wrote about it on my last day at work in 2010. Little did I know what heartbreak lay ahead of me.
Okay, here’s the book condensed into a 16 minute animated video. Thanks Google!
I think I’m steppin’ into the Twilight Zone.
An odd weekend. Closing out the Seoul chapter of my so-called life left me feeling a little more melancholy than usual, Well, by my reckoning this was my penultimate weekend here. Soon I’ll be feeling blue in a new city. Something to look forward to for sure!
Ah well, at least I still have my sense of humor.
Help, I’m steppin’ into the Twilight Zone
Place is a madhouse
Feels like being cloned
My beacons been moved
Under moon and star
Where am I to go Now that I’ve gone too far