Man in motion

Yesterday I walked through the rain so I could get my requisite steps in.  Then my phone chirps and I have a message from my “stalker” with this photo:

I had on my headphones and was focused on the task at hand, so I had no idea someone I knew had spotted me on the road. Ah, the joys of small town living. Everyone knows your business.

I made it to the river without further incident. The bugs were biting. Not mosquitoes who tend to be stealthy, but some kind of biting fly. Going to have to remember to spray on the off next time I’m on the water.

Life is good.  At least that is what I keep telling myself.

Ain’t she beautiful?

I finally have a new grillfriend.  It all came together yesterday.  And she’ll be residing here at my house.  I think she’s really hot (or will be soon enough).  Big thanks to the nephews for helping making it all possible.

How many McCrareys does it take to assemble a grill? Apparently three.

Well done guys!

Welcome home baby!

Rarer than a solar eclipse

For the first time in the long and storied history of Pyeongtaek, three McCrareys graced the fair city with their presence.

Nephews Justin and Joshua came down for a visit with their favorite uncle.  I showed them around the army base and they were suitably impressed.

Fed the hungry boys lunch at the Alaska Mining Company, one of the fine dining establishments on Camp Humphreys. Justin declared it the biggest burger he’d ever seen in Korea.

Luckily both the nephs were up for a hike.  I took them on my “3 parks” hour and a half loop walk.  They seemed to tolerate it well, although we were  all drenched in sweat when we finished.

Rested up some and showered then it was time to introduce the boys to the Anjeong-ri nightlife.

First stop was Horse and Cow where we were well served by the Lana, the bartender from Uzbekistan.

Next stop was Mass bar where my favorite barkeep Mi Young gave the boys a friendly welcome. Hmm, she never welcomes ME like that..

The owner of Galaxy bar came in to Mass (which is owned by her mother) and gave me some good natured flak about cheating on her bar. So I promised we’d visit Galaxy next. Promise kept!

Then it was on to Shooters bar. Della, the African gal from Cameroon is a hoot. She can parry all my witty jabs and pay them back in spades. Always have a good time there. The gal in yellow is the owner, Tee. Well into our afternoon hike she spotted us on the street and called out to me insisting I visit her bar that night. The boys were impressed that everyone in town seems to know me. Well, everyone in the bar biz anyway…

I left the youngsters at Shooters and stumbled on home.  Just can’t hang the way I used to.  They continued their good times without me then made it home safe and sound on their own.

They are both still snoring away the day.  While I wait for them to get their asses moving I’ll share some other photos from my bar life this weekend.

“Mama” and Lana from Horse and Cow.

Me and So Yeon, the owner of Galaxy.

An action shot from Friday night in Galaxy. I’m usually the only miguk in the place.

Hanging with Della from Cameroon at Shooters…

Mi Young from Mass bar. Interesting gal. Spends all her free time working at the animal rescue shelter. Says she has 8 dogs at her house waiting for adoption too. Can’t imagine what that’s like, but good for her to be so committed to a worthy cause. I told her I was a sick puppy but I don’t think she got what I meant. Ah well.

Seems neither reason is good enough these days…

Yeah, well who needs it?

My personal assistant/caregiver from the PI is always sending me encouragement from afar.

Thanks for looking out for me Loraine.

Still need to get a bike ride in and then do my 2 hours of walking.  Assuming the nephews ever wake up…

 

Something to blog about

Well, settling into my small town life.  Not much happening that is blog worthy, but I do feel a sense of obligation to keep my loyal readers informed about the mundane details of my so-called life.

But what to write about?  Well, sometimes inspiration just comes walking through the door.  Literally.

Last night I’m sitting in Shooters bar finishing my final beer of the evening when a couple walks through the door.  I had to turn and look because people actually coming into Shooters is an infrequent event.  The guy looks at me and says “I know you, John”. Now, I’m pretty drunk and my memory ain’t what it once was, but he didn’t look familiar at all.  Seeing my confusion he tells me “I read your blog”. Outstanding!  Nice to meet you David!

In over 12 years of blogging meeting a random stranger who follows LTG has only happened a handful of times.  It’s always surprising to me.  I know a couple of friends and family members visit here regularly, but I usually just write as if I had no audience (yeah, I know it shows).  That people find enough amusement or interest or maybe pity that keeps them coming back for more is really quite humbling.  Sincerely, thank you all!

Anyway, David and his lovely Korean wife (sorry, the name escapes me now) invited me to join them at their table.  How could I refuse?  David also works on base and he was wearing a Scrooge Pub shirt (a bar I also used to frequent in Seoul).  Plus, he enjoys throwing darts.  So we had quite a bit in common. Had a nice chat and a couple of friendly dart games.  It was a nice way to end the evening for me.

It’s a small and random world after all.

New friends in town and the inspiration for this post.

The End of an Era

On Friday afternoon I drove up to Seoul for the official close down of my office building.

Building #1377 has now been signed over to the Yongsan Garrison Department of Public Works.

I climbed those stairs for the first time on January 23, 2005. They led me to a life I could never have imagined.

The trailing group of my employees who remained on Yongsan during the transition. They’ll all be reporting to Camph Humphreys on Monday morning.

I was here at the earliest stages of the planning for the move. It feels good that I was able to return and be here for the completion of those plans.

I stayed the night and met up with my old pal Alastair who was visiting from Scotland. Had us some beers and samgyeopsal and reminiscing.

Back home in the countryside Saturday morning where I enjoyed a nice long bike ride on the river.

On my afternoon walk I encountered this big ass sunflowers. They stood about 8 feet high…

Tried a new bar on Saturday night called the Eagles club. It was a huge place with just me and the (male) bartender. Maybe I was just too early. It was one beer and out for me, but not before I captured this sign with a somewhat unusual sentiment. I’d say it is more true of Korean women, but that’s just been my experience…

I was able to capture this image of the Saturday night action on the streets of Anjeong-ri. Powerful stuff, no?

And finally, talking about the end of an era, my daughter posted up this picture of me from the 1980s.  Good times!

Wish I still had the shirt.

Who you calling human scum?

Apparently someone high up in the North Korean food chain read my post about the Eighth Army headquarters move to Pyeongtaek*.  I guess they weren’t too thrilled based on this response in the commie propaganda rag:

US Troops Not To Escape From KPA’s Long-Range Artillery Strike
17/07/2017, Pyongyang Times.

A spokesman for the Panmunjom Mission of the Korean People’s Army released a statement on July 14 over the recent desperate and undisguised moves of the US to provoke a nuclear war against the DPRK and perpetuate its forces’ presence in south Korea.
The statement said:
On July 11, the US aggressor forces, which moved the Command of their 8th Army present in south Korea to Humphrey Base in Phyongthaek, Kyonggi Province, invited bosses of the south Korean government and military and even human scum, including ultra-right conservatives, to an “opening ceremony of the new building” of the Command.
The commander of the 8th Army in his “welcoming speech” praised the south Korean lackeys,terming the move an “event demonstrating the solid south Korea-US alliance” and allowingjournalists to look round the interior of the base.
As far as the transfer of the US 8th Army Command to Phyongthaek is concerned, the US has pushed ahead with it in collusion with the puppet regime since 2003 in order to move its aggressor forces bases in south Korea to the areas south of the Han River to get rid of the striking range of the KPA’s long-range artillery strike.
Lurking behind it is the ulterior design of the US to save its troops only, indifferent to the plight of the south Korean puppet army at stake.
The US imperialists are busy hyping the transfer of their 8th Army Command, the shock brigade that will play a flagship role in igniting a war against the DPRK. This fully revealed the US scenario to perpetuate its military presence in south Korea and stand in confrontation with the DPRK to the end in league with the south Korean puppet warmongers.The US regards the Korean peninsula as a vantage point of strategic importance where the strength of maritime forces and the strength of land forces are interchanging. It is the centuryold Asia policy of the US to occupy the whole peninsula with south Korea as its springboard andthus realize its wild ambition for dominating the world.It is a tragedy for the US that it is unaware of the tremendous might of the army of the DPRK.
The bases of the US troops in south Korea, the primary targets of the KPA, can never escape the mercilessly annihilating strikes by its long-range artillery, no matter whether they are located in Phyongthaek or in Pusan. The US warmongers will never escape the miserable destruction if they persist in foolhardy military confrontation moves in south Korea despite the warnings of the KPA. KCNA

Well, fuck you very much.  And Kim Jong Un if you are reading this all I can say is bring it on biatch.

*It is possible that the NORKS heard about the move somewhere else, although that doesn’t seem too likely to me.

All in a day’s work

My workday started at 0445 with a call from the Eighth Army G1 advising that a “phone alert roster drill” was in effect.  This meant that I had to contact all my employees to make sure they could be reached in case of an actual emergency.  I was also instructed to report on my progress every 20 minutes or so.

No problem!  I worked the phones and woke my folks up like a pro.  I had a little math problem though.  I know I have 19 souls in my organization, but for the life of me I could only come up with 18 names.  And then I realized I hadn’t counted myself.  Duh!  Anyway, it took 3 hours but I accounted for all my people.  Mission accomplished!

The other big event in my day was deciphering this:

3.E.3.B. (U) CIVILIAN CORPS INDEX (CI). BECAUSE METHODS OF EFFECTIVENESS (MOE) AND METHODS OF PERFORMANCE (MOP) FOR SO2 ARE RELATED TO BUILDING COHESIVE TEAMS AND A CULTURE OF TRUST, THE OPERATIONAL OBJECTIVE FOR THE CCI IS TO INCREASE POSITIVE BEHAVIORS BY 2% FOR TWO YEARS FROM THE DATE OF PUBLICATION OF THIS FRAGORD AND BY 5% OVER A 5-YEAR TERM. TO REACH THIS GOAL, MSCS TRACK AND ENTER METRICS QUARTERLY INTO SMS. HPO / R2 CHIEF DETERMINES-WITH COMMAND APPROVAL-WHICH CHPC WORKING GROUP TAKES LEAD ON THIS
INDEX ASSESSMENT. ALL DATA COLLECTED IS AGGREGATE./

Yes, I can speak Army, but not fluently.

It was a great day to be an American in the Republic of Korea!

And so it goes

Another weekend in the books.  I’ve said just about all there is to say about how it all went down, but I do have some photos…

I braved the forecast for torrential rain and went on a riverside bike ride anyway. Wound up getting soaked, but it was all sweat. So that worked out for me at least.

After the bike ride I drove out to the Osan Air Force base to do some shopping.  The current commissary here at Camp Humphreys is woefully inadequate.  There is a new bigger version under construction but it won’t open until next spring I’m told.  That won’t do me any good.  I figure I can supplement with a monthly excursion to Osan or maybe Yongsan.  Nice to change things up.

Got home and filled the pantry with my purchases, then walked into town for a haircut.  Yeah, my life is a thrill a minute.  I got drunk and juiced later, so there’s that.

Started my Sunday morning off with some scrambled eggs, with ham, cheese, and salsa. Bacon on the side of course…

It rained most of the day today, but I took advantage of a late afternoon break in the storm and managed to get my steps in. This is about 10 minutes from my house.

I enjoy the random beauty that pops up in the most unlikely places…

…but I enjoy it alone.

Such is life.  No complaints though.

Oh, and I thought this was funny as hell.

Good job random foreigner, whoever you are!

 

 

Walk thoughts

Better to ask and be disappointed than to always wonder what if…?

I was thinking back to the last time I felt a strong attraction/connection to a person I had just met.  I would have been 25 years old and recently divorced.  I walked into a bank and when the teller smiled at me it just about floored me.  I probably stared longer than politeness allows, but she was just amazing.

Unfortunately, my self-esteem was at a low ebb and I just took for granted that she was out of my league.  Couldn’t get her out of my head though and on Valentines Day I sent her a dozen roses anonymously.  Several months later I accepted a job in Fort Smith, Arkansas and went into the bank to close out my account.  Sure enough, the beautiful lass was once again my teller.

As my business was completed, I told her how much I had appreciated her kindness and warm smile during my time as a customer.  She exclaimed “Oh my God!  It was you!  I’ve been trying to figure out all this time who sent me those roses!”  I confessed to having been a secret admirer since that first day I had seen her.  She looked me in the eyes and said “I wish you would have told me”.

There was a lesson to be learned from that.  Who knows if she was “the one” I let get away.  Odds are that I would have fucked up that relationship like all the others in my life, but maybe not.  Well, you can’t go back in time but all these years later I’ve remembered being rejected is not the worst possible outcome.

“Your friends will know you better in the first minute you meet than your acquaintances will know you in a thousand years.” 
― Richard Bach

I got juiced!

And I don’t mean drunk.  Although truthfully I was both drunk AND juiced.

My struggle to find a bar home where I feel at ease and comfortable continues.  The problem is there just don’t seem to be any straight up pubs like I was accustomed to in Itaewon.  It seems that all the drinking establishments here in Anjeong-ri are all some variation of the “juicy” model.  For those not in the know, in juicy bars the bar girl will receive a commission on the drinks a customer purchases for her.  The going rate for a lady drink here is W10,000 of which the girl receives half. Depending on the bar and/or the girl, they can be quite aggressive in pursuit of getting you to buy them a drink.

I find it very off-putting, to the point of aggravation, to be asked to purchase a drink.  I’m not a “cheap charlie” but I prefer to choose when or if I’ll buy a drink.  And I certainly don’t need to pay for attention and conversation.  Most times, I prefer to drink alone or interact with other customers.  I can justify the occasional lady drink because I know it is how these girls make a living. But I get especially irked when the actual bar owner asks me to buy HER a drink.  C’mon!

I bring this up because I had an especially frustrating (and expensive) weekend in the bars.  You’ll recall I’ve stopped going to the dart bar because they added drinks to my tab without permission.  I blacklisted two other places because the staff was flat out rude to me.  And then there are three or four others where I just don’t feel welcome (probably because of my age and/or lack of free spending on lady drinks).  So my bar options are rapidly dwindling.

There’s one dive bar I kind of like, one of the oldest in town (circa 1985), because they play my kind of music, that being classic rock.  The two bar girls are similarly aged and not particularly attractive.  But like I say, I’m not there for the company.  Anyway, I’ve thrown a few lady drinks to one of them over the course of my several visits.  I decided to try a little experiment on Friday night.  When I came into the bar and she approached I said “I won’t be buying any drinks for you tonight”.  The look on her face!  She wound up sitting two bar stools away from me with her back turned during the length of my visit.  Which proves the point that no matter how friendly these girls might appear, it is never about you, it is always all about the drinks.  A fool who thinks otherwise will be both broke and disappointed.

So, I found another new (to me) bar that seemed to have some potential.  Not too busy and the owner is friendly enough.  They just hired an ethnically Korean gal from Uzbekistan and I welcomed her by buying a lady drink.  First time she’s worked in a bar and I don’t think she is much into drinking because she shared the bottle of beer with the other bar girl.  When it came time to pay up the owned wanted to charge me for TWO lady drinks.  I said, nope I just bought the one.  She said the other girl won’t get a commission if I don’t pay for both.  No can do, I bought one and it was shared, not my problem.  I got the impression the think I’m an asshole.  Oh well, they might be right.

There is a bar where I’m actually quite fond of the bar girl and have no issue with “buying” her time and company with drinks.  She’s also quite generous, asking me to buy the other girls drinks as well.  And the bar owner also seems to get thirsty quite regularly.  I spent about W150,000 in there the other night.  See, I must be very popular!  Asked the girl if she would like to have dinner sometime and got a polite no.

Methinks I need to go on a quest for new venues.  And leave my wallet at home.

And the Army goes rolling along

Welcome home Eighth Army!

This week was the official ribbon cutting on the new Eighth Army Headquarters here at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek.

Soldiers and Distinguished Visitors from near and far were in attendance…

I was not a DV so this is as close as I got to the 8th Army Commanding General, Thomas Vandal.

General Walton Walker also made the move down south, but he will always be pointing north towards the enemy.

It was also pretty cool because I was there over seven years ago when the Walker statue was first unveiled on Yongsan. 

Katchi Kapshida!

These banners were plastered all over town in honor of the big event.

You are welcome.

And so it goes.

 

Back home in the south…

It was a good trip to the Philippines for the most part.  In fact, other than starting and ending my vacation in Angeles City, it was quite lovely.  I despise AC and the whole sexpat vibe.  Just looking at the old decrepit “whore mongers” (a term they actually call themselves) made me shake my head in disgust.  As much as I am down on how trivially I’m living my life, I am so glad that my future will not include being a lonely old man looking for love in all the wrong places.

Which is not to say I didn’t spend a goodly amount of my nighttime hours in the girly bars of Olongapo’s Barrio Baretto.  It’s a way to pass the time and I enjoy treating the girls to something a little different from what they are used to.   My style is to pass out chocolate (I’m told the bargirls call me “the candyman”), tip the dancers for their efforts, and pick out one or two deserving girls for a lady drink (an overpriced beverage from which they earn a commission) and a little conversation.  It seems to make their night and I enjoy seeing them smile.

Of course, it’s one thing to get a little wild on vacation, but I can’t sustain that lifestyle long term once I retire.  I expect I’ll visit the “regular” bars for darting events a couple times a week and perhaps limit my role as candyman to only one night.  As the prophet has said, man does not live by bars alone.

I mentioned my doctor consult, but forgot to say what that appointment cost me.  400 pesos!  Which translates to $8.00 at the current exchange rate.  I didn’t do a lot of serious house hunting because I’m not yet sure when I will quit my job, and really I’ll need to be on the ground to make that decision.  I did find one place right on the beach.  Small one bedroom house, but a huge yard.  Only 20,000 pesos a month ($400.00).  Eh, when I looked inside though it was just too old and worn out for my first world tastes.  Plenty of time to find the right place for me as I don’t intend to live poor in my old age.  

Baretto is similar in size to Anjeong-ri, and I was remembered in some places from my previous visits and also made some new friends as well.  It is nice to be greeted with “welcome Sir John” or “San Miguel Light, sir?” when I enter a bar or restaurant.  I was walking down the main street one evening and a young woman came running up to me and said “John! Glad you are in town.  We need a player for dart league tonight!”  Heh. Makes me feel kinda at home.

A big difference to Anjeong-ri is the age demographic in Baretto.  Hell, most nights I was the youngest fucker in the bar (and by some accounts at least the most handsome).  I could get used to that!

Living and eating large caused my belly to bloat and this week’s weigh-in finds me back up to 225 pounds.  I intend to work hard at reversing that trend.

Getting back to my current home was not much fun.  My 0130 flight was delayed over an hour which made an already long day particularly hellish.  I rode the AREX to Seoul Station, cabbed to my old office (where my car was parked) and then started the hour and a half drive to Pyeongtaek.  Halfway there I ran out of gas.  Well, not my car.  Me.  I was afraid I was about to fall asleep at the wheel, so I had to pull off the highway and take a power nap.  That was enough to get me the rest of the way home.  

And now it is on with my not so exciting country life.  That won’t stop me for writing about it no doubt. Stay tuned!

Welcome to the Philippines

Or in the vernacular of the locals, Mabuhay!

The news I alluded to yesterday was that my long lost daughter (lost in the sense that I’ve not seen her for years) Avery and her partner Annie popped into the PI for a rendezvous.

A chip off the ol’ block. I’m not Avery’s birth father, but she was just a baby when I married her mother (that wold be wife #2 for you all keeping score at home) so I’m the only father she has ever known. Somehow she managed to overcome that handicap and is living a happy life. There is no greater success than that!

Avery and Annie. Quite the adventurers as they are six months into a journey that has taken them to Hawaii, Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, and now the PI. Next up is Myanmar, and after that Korea is on the radar.

Annie has been blogging their exploits at Nomadic Vortex, go give it a read.

Well, we’ve seen and done the things that you can do in Baretto, and they seem to have enjoyed themselves.  They even had a blast in the go-go bars which touched my drunken heart.  They’ll be flying out to more adventure tomorrow on Palawan Island.and from there, who can say? The world is their oyster and they have youth on their side.

Jet ski fun day. It was a first for Loraine and she was crazy about it…

They are off!

They are back! Me? I stayed on the beach and drank some beers. I don’t do much, but what I do, I do well!

Yesterday was our banka boat adventure.

Annie felt like king of the world…

We stopped at a small island in the middle of the bay. I was channeling Magellan and claimed the land in the name of Spain. One of the locals said “I’m Lapu-Lapu” so I quickly retreated.

With the daughter and my bodyguard Loraine…

The lonely light house at the summit of our small isle.

I mentioned the outstanding food here at our resort, here’s a taste:

That’s not everything they serve here at Blue Rock, but you get the idea.

Yikes!  Gotta check out of here now and catch the bus to Angeles City.

More later…

The adventure continues

Well, provided adventure is broadly defined.  I’ve basically just settled into a new routine in a new location.  But I’m good with that.

Everyday starts with an outstanding Blue Rock breakfast followed by a walk on the beach…

Early afternoons feature a variety of events.  I visited the hospital here for a consultation on my COPD and the availability of my meds.  Doc says the warm and humid climate here will be good for my health and all but one of my current prescriptions are locally available.  She also referred me to an internist who will be my primary care provider once I make the move.

Also took a couple of trips over to the old Navy base for some shopping.  Happy that we were able to restock the larder at the Kings Fil-Am Home, a small orphanage I’ve adopted as my charity project.  Truthfully, this is another example of my innate selfishness.  Helping take care of these kids alleviates some of the guilt I feel about having to ignore much of the poverty that surrounds me.

I’m eating good though. Good but not always healthy. I’ve basically said to hell with the low carb diet this trip.

I haven’t said no to french toast or pancakes for breakfast either.  And the other day at Sit N Bull, one of my favorite places to hang out, I had the prison plate special.

Featuring meatloaf…

And of course, the evening entertainment involves hitting the bars for copious amounts of my favorite brew, SML.

The girls are friendly and seem to really enjoy the contents of my wallet my wit and humor.

And I usually end my night back at the Blue Rock Resort bar where I am well attended to…

…by my favorite bartender Izel. She’s a real sweetheart…

…more than willing to cater to all my cravings for sweet things. Like this apple pie a la mode.

And then I go to sleep, wake up, and repeat.  Hey, it may not be paradise, but it’s close enough for me.

Big news (comparatively speaking) coming up, but now the maid wants to clean the room.  I’ll be back!

I’m a judgmental SOB

Or at least I was Friday night.  Yes, once again I was drafted to serve as a judge at the weekly Sons of Baccus dance contest.

The lineup of competitors.

Your humble judge and his faithful assistant.

Bring it on girls!

It was a tough call, but here’s how I saw it. The other judges must have agreed because that was the final result.

Just another day in paradise.

 

It’s more fun in the Philippines

Don’t take my word for it, just ask the Department of Tourism.

And on with my story…

I had two options for getting to Subic inexpensively, the Southern Cross shuttle or Fly the Bus.  The latter left later (9:30 versus 8:45) so I figured I;d catch a bit more sleep.  Woke up at 8:00 which left me time for breakfast so I hoofed over to Kokomo’s.  Breakfast was fine but the WiFi may as well have been non-existent. Ah well, deep breath and accept the Filipino way. Back to the my hotel, the Orchid Inn, to check out and wait for my ride.

And wait I did.  At 9:45 I went back to the desk and they called the Fly the Bus folks who advised the driver would be there in ten minutes.  Thirty minutes later I went back to the desk and the FtB dispatcher said “soon”.  Ah well, deep breath and accept the Filipino way and all that.  The van was packed tight when it arrived at 10:30 but I squeezed in for the uneventful ride to Barrio Baretto, in Olongopo City, in the province of Zambales, situated on the beautiful (mostly) Subic Bay.

My pre-booked lodging was at the Blue Rock Resort on Baloy Beach.  Stayed here last time and was comfortable, so here I am again.  When I walked into my room I was accosted by about 50 good sized flies.  Called the front desk and they sent someone up with bug spray and she dispatched them rather quickly.  Even wiped up a few of the carcasses.  I unpacked my bags and went in to take a shower, only to see that the shower control knob had been sheared off, and based on the rust this wasn’t a recent event.  No answer at reception this time, so I marched myself down to the lobby.  I explained my dilemma, staying as true to my mantra as possible, but clearly peeved and a young maintenance guy came back with me to the room.  He looked at the shower handle, shook his head, then looked over to where the water heater is hung.  And pointed out that a new knob had been jury-rigged there underneath.  Ah well, it worked, so I took a deep breath, thanked him, and accepted the Filipino way.

For those wondering why I was having to fend for myself, my personal assistant/caregiver was unavailable for this portion of my trip. She was busy attending her graduation upon earning certification as a massage therapist. I expect to reap the benefits of that investment in the days ahead…

I consoled myself with an icy cold SML…

…and enjoyed the view of the floating bar.

Out on the town for a few too many beers on Thursday night, but wound up safely home alone in my bed.  The Blue Rock does have an impressive menu and they do a good job in the food preparation, so there’s that.  I had a fine breakfast and a nice walk on the beach.

It’s rainy season, but so far I’ve missed the worst of it…

My bitching and moaning notwithstanding, I do recognize this is indeed a third world country. I need to suck it up and appreciate my blessings in life. It is infinitely worse for so very many others.

Your humble correspondent will be back soon with more of the story. Stay tuned!

 

Observations

Well, here it is Sunday already.  Let’s catch up.

Up early and off to Seoul on Wednesday morning.  The 18 year old that brought me didn’t disappoint.  I’m talking about my car of course.

She’s a good old gal…

Finished a successful meeting with the union president and then had the good fortune to secure a coveted “Space A” doctor appointment at the Army hospital.  I mostly needed to get refills on all my meds, but also got three shots (pneumonia, tetanus, and one other one recommended after age 60 that I can’t remember at the moment.  My arm hurt like a mother fucker for a couple of days afterwards though.

Caught the AREX at Seoul Station and arrived at Incheon International right around 6:00 p.m.  My flight wasn’t scheduled to depart until 9:30, but better early than late is how I roll.

I passed the time by walking around the terminal several times. At least it was air-conditioned, but the place was crawling with tourists…

My flight was delayed 30 minutes because of air traffic congestion, which put me on the ground at Clark Field in Angeles City just before one in the morning.  Breezed through immigration and then got stalled at baggage claim.  I don’t understand why, but the bags were coming out in batches of five or so at a time, which made for a frustrating delay.  It was my first opportunity to practice my new mantra for successful living in the PI–take a deep breath, relax, and accept the Filipino way.

Got gouged for 500 pesos (ten dollars) for the short ride to my hotel, but I employed my mantra and stayed calm.  Once checked in, it was 2 a.m. (three Seoul time) but I figured I’d grab a beer or two before getting some sleep.  Wasn’t in the mood for a girly bar, so opted for the street side seating at Phillies and engaged in a little late-night people watching.

As I sat there it occurred to me that I have become more of an observer of life than I am a participant.  And perhaps I’m projecting, but what I observe seems to be sadness and desperation.  Or maybe dull resignation to the meaninglessness of everyday living.  I certainly have felt that about the people I encounter on my walks through the boring little village of Anjeong-ri and the surrounding countryside.  Sometimes it.just seems all so pointless, and yet folks continue plodding on with their routines day after empty day.

Now, there in the bar district of Angeles City in the early morning hours, those manifestations of hopelessness are only enhanced.  As I started in on my second San Miguel Light beer I wondered what it was that makes people just keep pushing on the way they do.  I guess it all comes down to you just don’t have any other choice but to make the best of life until that too has disappeared.  That’s my plan at least.

So, I caught a few come on smiles from the ladyboys who frequent the area (which I did not reciprocate), watched the bargirls who hadn’t snagged a customer for the night and those that had as they made their way to home or hotel.  And then one young woman stopped in front of where I was sitting and wordlessly pleaded with me to be with her that night.  I know the look but I told her sorry, not interested.  She then spoke and asked will you buy me a drink?  I hesitated, then shrugged, and said sure, why not.

When she set down next to me I immediately asked her age (she looked even younger in good light) and she told me she had just turned 20.  I asked her where she worked and she told me she was a masseuse.  That normally translates to freelance prostitute. I again declined her this time verbal offer to give me a “massage”.  We sat in silence as we drank, but she practically oozed sadness and desperation.  I’m sorry for her situation of course, but these days it’s all I can do to save myself.  And it was time for me to go to sleep.  As I paid the tab, I asked her if she had eaten and she told me no.  I handed her 200 pesos and left her sitting there alone.

More to come.  And it is not all doom and gloom.  I promise.