Mystery – Why is this here

Mystery Veggies

Having asked the question  I admit I have no idea why its here but it is ominous to me. As an old dude I think about things that happen to anyone but particularly old folks.  I am seeking comments, guesses and general input. I do not take this lightly. If were mine it would probably mean I dropped it while having a stroke or heart attack so I am serious about my concern but will probably never know.

No I did not put it there. I really just encountered it on my daily walk which is the extent of my exercise.. I am sure it was from the same fruit and veggie stand that I stop at every day on my way home from daily walk. I saw it, passed on by and then it hit me – no one just dumps at least 500 pesos (about 10 US dollars)  100 meters from where they bought it. So I went back and took the picture. The veggie stand has only been open for an hour or so. It rained last night so this is todays buy for tonights dinner. I had my little bag of todays food in my non camera hand so I know from whence I speak.

Mystery Veggies Lewis Grand

It is in front of The Lewis Grand Hotel, Don Juico Avenue, Angeles City, Philipines if you wish to google earth it and join me in a headache. Maybe it will add to an ongoing novel for someone. “The Veggie Bag Conundrum”.

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Posted in Blogging, cameras, food, Life, Mystery, Old Age, Philippines, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

reboot – now an expat

I have been on a hiatus, not a TV show as the word is generally used but a great blog HIATUS. I started this blog with 2 thoughts in mind. Just because one is advanced in years does not mean they should commit themselves to the old folks home and stop living an adventurous life. The other is I intended to do a lot of traveling and wanted to share my adventures. I failed to recognize that a commitment had been made to readers and that less travel did not necessarily mean less adventures. so to my followers I apologize and off we go.

Since my last post I have settled in Angeles City in The Philippines. I am now a legal resident with a fantastic jumping off point to more travels in South East Asia – SEA. Starting to blog again required an assessment. Just because I wasn’t going to travel all the time did not mean I didn’t have a purpose any more, just a slight modification. As an Ex-Patriot (Expat – one living as a resident in a country they are not a citizen of). I am an American citizen who is a legal resident of the Philippines and have a resident-retiree visa. Sort of like the American green card.

The Philippines is a beautiful country full of wonderful people and an incredible number of places to visit. With 7107 Islands it offers boundless opportunity for blogging. There are a number of expat blogs and a few vlogs. Since my views and observations are bound to very from theirs (different places, different interests, etc.) I will offer my perspective. I will often comment on what expat life can be like for someone that at home would be “over the hill”. Since a great deal of the impetus for “old not dead” is to get people of a certain age out of the retirement chair and into the travelers seat. It is worth noting that one of the reasons I chose this area to live in is the large number of old guys similar to me that live here also.

So we will start in Angeles. Until the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 the United States had one of the worlds finest Air Force Bases just outside of Angeles City, called Clark Air Force Base. Clark was badly damaged by the eruption and at the same time the US was contemplating whether to maintain the lease for Clark. Opinions very on what went on but in the end the base was returned to the Philippines and it is now the “Clark Freeport and Special Economic Zone”. The runway is now the basis for an international airport and the remainder is a variety of commercial and Philippine government uses.

I live about 100 yards from the perimeter road that surrounds the economic zone and the area has build up to provide living and entertainment support for the area. It is a haven for retired military who were once stationed here and for those that like the atmosphere. I will address expat life interspersed with the traveling I work into my budget. I am committing to post a minimum of one per week. We shall see how it goes. Coming up in the next few weeks are a view of expat life, The wonderful “Clark Freeport and Special Economic Zone” and branching out from there. Manila is an hour away and as one of the most densely populated cities in the world has a thousand faces and is a new Asian tiger with one foot firmly planted in third world issues and the other tickling the possibilities of greatness as it struggles to keep up with its own growth.

Coming up “An Expat in Angeles” (still old – 73 as I write this, and obviously not dead)

 

Posted in Blogging, Life, Old Age, Philippines, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , ,

On The Move Again – A forgotten post and humorous now in retrospect

Having just posted “My Bags Are On Vacation” I am going to try to be more consistent. [failed that big time] From the first week of September until the end of November I was working on minimizing and getting to a point where I have what I need and little else. Far from successful I got 95% in a 6×12 box cargo  trailer and had to flee. Now in a relatively small apartment 7700 miles away I have yet to learn my lesson but I am getting closer.

When I was much younger I had a sailboat in a slip in Quivera Basin in a Marina in San Diego. Although we knew it would never happen we used to plan trips and think about living aboard. The point is if you see a book you want to buy then you must find one on the boat you are willing to give away. There is no room for an extra anything. Forty years later my situation is similar. I have a very nice fully furnished apartment . It has a pool and standby power which is often needed for because “brownouts” are common place. There are cabinets in the kitchen and wardrobes in the bedroom. but there is no place for “stuff”. Stuff is not something I want a place for. Stuff is toxic.

Six months from now I may  want to move to Saigon (you call it what you wish) or Siem Reap. Bangkok may call again.  Guatemala is not out of the question. The point is this; my bucket list is long and my remaining years are few. I do not need to build in artificial pitfalls.

I am looking forward to visits from family and friends. I wish to share with them many of the cultural differences of countries in South East Asia.

Posted in Blogging, friends, Life, Old Age, Philippines, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , ,

My Bags Are On Vacation

I am no longer a frequent flier by the airlines definition but I am a frequent Traveler. I make an overseas trip at lease once a year and usually more often. Last year I was literally homeless and so my belongings moved with me (except for a storage unit). I have never had a lost bag. Most of my travels are carry on only. Physical limitations keep me from being a “back packer” but my packing usually would  qualify.

Beginning my current trip I resolved to rent a “base of operations” somewhere in Southeast Asia. I also resolved to take much of what I need for civilized long term living with me since I had a generous baggage allowance.  I marked the bags well, both with multiple tags and permanent identification. I fully realize that the airlines only pay attention to a half inch by one inch bar-code sticker read by a computer as the bag flashes by at warp speed on a conveyor belt but I can’t control that.

So I checked my bags in Phoenix on Delta to Manila. My bags and I were going to change planes in Los Angeles to China Eastern and again in Shanghai before arrival in Manila.

I stood and watched everyone pick up their bags. I watched the last bag come off the carousel. I was alone. Jilted. My dreams shattered. I had no bags.

Some nefarious so-and-so convinced  my bags that it would be more fun if they exerted their independence and went on an adventure of their own.

The customer service lady at Shanghai Eastern was very nice and helped me fill out the “missing” bags form. She said they would find the bags and I could come pick them up. “Not going to work says I, I am on my way to Olongapo. “OK sir, they will be delivered when we locate them”

Since I had checked bags my carry-on was used for important papers and the more expensive electronics. Duh, no clothes. Not just no clothes but I had chosen to travel in heavy cotton jeans and a cotton shirt, not my dry overnight Columbia so i couldn’t wash my clothes before I went to bed and wear them the next day.

NEWS FLASH

An email from the nice lady at China Eastern. We have located your bags. They were left in Los Angeles. they will arrive here tomorrow morning and be delivered to the address you gave during the day tomorrow. YIPPEE

Upon their arrival, I had to sign for the bags before I could touch them. if there was anything wrong I could go to the airport and submit another discrepancy report. What I did notice immediately was the zip ties I had used instead of locks to tie the zippers together were gone and multiple wraps of sticky wrap had been used to secure them. 

Inside there was one of the nice little cards that the TSA uses to let you know they have been visiting. Something in the x-ray as my bag whizzed by caught their eye. Since I don’t keep a list as I pack and since this was a move not a vacation type of pack.

In this case I did remember a few things. I am an electronics nut (not expert, NUT). I had so much stuff in my carry-on that I had packed my Microsoft Surface and it docking station. Quick Check, there they were. Next AA and AAA rechargeable batteries for all the carp, along with dual voltage chargers. Uhhhhh – Uhuuuu not there. We cooperative Americans apparently flag things that the country they are passing through don’t like. I guess rechargeable batteries are a no no in China. I do remember this nice lady in Shanghai that kept saying “power bank, power bank” as I dug through my stuff. At least she shrugged her shoulders and waved me on as I was holding up the line, She could have arrested me since I did have a power bank I just couldn’t find it.

Something else to note. Stopping one bag caused both to be stopped and opened but only the one that took something from got the little note inside.

I am not complaining. A little inconvenience is worth the safe skies plus if I had checked a little better I would not have had banned articles in my bag.

NOTE: This blog is a little off my actual flight schedule. Moving, Christmas, and a horrendous gout attack have intervened. I will address the gout attack shortly as health issues are a really big deal with older travelers.

 

 

 

Posted in friends, Life, Medicine, Old Age, Philippines, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , ,

The Killing Fields

I have told you about Rocky my Tuk Tuk driver and now friend in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Rocky is an independent businessman with the same hopes and dreams of any entrepreneur. He is also extremely proud of his country and its beauty and importance in world rice production and coffee as well as many other things. He was born at the end of Pol Pots Rein, however his family was heavily impacted by Pol Pot. They are still adversely effected by it today, but that is his story to tell. I was 30 and had heard of it but really didn’t understand it  Rather than try to explain something I can’t understand, I again defer to Wikipedia.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cambodian_genocide  .

Getting to the killing fields via Tuk Tuk is a trip through back roads and residential neighborhoods. There were no freeways to put it near conveniently and as with the dozens of other horror venues this one was selected because it was out of the way, near an old Chinese cemetery. Pol Pot and his henchmen did not want people to know about these sites much less what was going on there. As we arrived there today we rounded a bend, so to speak, in front of us was a large unpaved open area that appeared to be a parking lot. At the far side was a solid fence and an entry way. In the distance past the gate there was a tall building. There was no sign that I saw identifying the place at all. I think it may have been intended that when an individual comes upon it today that you not know what it is unless you intend to be there, It is not something you want to bebop into.

I opted .for the recorded guided tour and suggest that you do if you go there. As you start the tour the first thing you see and the only real “thing” is the very tall stupa. The tour itself is to different locations which describe what was there, such as the truck stop and the detention building, the offices and the store room. Every other stop is a mass grave or many graves, now sunken by time, and discussions of the findings. There are many other killing fields, dozens if not hundreds. Pol Pot did not want people to know what was happening. For years people would just disappear and loved ones thought maybe they were in jail or a labor camp or who knows. If everyone knew what was really happening there might have been more resistance.

This is a somber place. It is a quiet walk around the sunken mass graves of thousands of people. This one location is the main one so that people will never forget what was done here. It is a memorial to mans inhumanity to man. It is in short a warning to all people of all nations of what can happen when a government goes out of control. It is far from the only genocide in history – the one we think of most is the Nazi extermination of millions of Jews, but there are others also.  This one memorial of  what happened in Cambodia is far from the only one here. Pol Pot had them all around the country. The others that have been found all have some sort of memorial or marker and there are others that have been referred to that have never been found because they are in the deep jungle or were too well hidden.

The photos of the killing tree for children is my worst nightmare. Often they would bash the child against the tree with its mother watching and then kill her and put them both in the pit. The fence surrounds the mass burial area. The thousands of wrist ties around the tree and fences are tributes from people visiting who were as shocked as I.

If you have the opportunity to travel I highly recommend Cambodia and this is one of the reasons why. Please don’t judge Cambodia based on this horrible chapter. It is an example of what can happen anywhere. People in America in 2017 are calling for the deaths of others because a charismatic leader told them that A is good and B is bad, death of a people has happened again and again because of lies and deceit. Good people everywhere may disagree about this or that in their political situation but this is a reminder that a powerful or simply charismatic leader can cause good people to do horrible things to their neighbors. I spent far longer at  this place than I thought I would and I thank Rocky for suggesting it. A note: This place and writing this blog brought tears to my eyes. It is more than one stop of many. it is life changing. Angkor Wat is incredible and I loved it, but it did not change my life. The killing fields did.

Posted in Cambodia, Life, Old Age, Politics, Tourism, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Angkor Wat

Although I have visited many temples in Thailand I was ignorant of Angkor Wat. Although people have told me “go to Cambodia, all the temples are covered in gold” etc. I have ignored them. Partially because, even last year, I was told there are bandits that hold up the buses and the Cambodian people don’t like westerners. Possibly it’s true if you enter from Thailand and I came on a bus from Vietnam. (Which I highly recommend.)  I have already mentioned Rocky and his Tuk Tuk and the killing fields but it was a great experience. Siem Reap is even better. I am not going to try to explain, describe or otherwise tell you of the temple. Google it for pictures and history. Here is the link to wikipedia     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angkor_Wat .  I will tell you of my/the experience itself. Angkor Wat was originally created in the 12th century  as a temple for the  Indian God Vishnu. It was later rededicated to Buddha and became a Buddhist Temple. The main building is massive in itself but the temple grounds encompass just over 400 acres which is overwhelming on first entry.  

I was told to go early and be at the ticket office  before 5 AM. I got there at 4:40. I was about 18th in line at window 23 of 40 windows! They take US dollars or credit cards. I left at 5:15 with my golden ticket.  I returned to my Tuk Tuk Driver who headed for the main temple. The entire process reminded me of Disneyland, except here if you try to pass off a fake ticket you are fined $100.00 US on the spot and turned over to the police for defrauding a national treasure. There are signs telling you this so be warned. Enroute we were stopped three times and my ticket checked. It must be TODAYS ticket and they take your picture and print it on the ticket. Use someone else’s ticket, off to jail. Sweat on it so the picture is unclear ticket voided now invalid, buy a new one. No messing around. I saw someone arguing with a ticket issuer and a guard came up and the person shut up. Its their country not yours.

Angkor Wat is incredible and worth the trip, the ticket and the hassle. It is the lynchpin to a number of temples and other sites and your ticket covers all. There are 2 day and 3 day tickets for the hearty. these come with additional requirements and warnings but the windows are marked and there were a number of 3 day ticket windows with a lot of people waiting in line. I believe the 3 day ticket can be used 3 times over a 10 day period and it is laminated because of rain, sweat and if damaged it is invalid.

My pedometer said 8700 steps before I gave in to heat and exhaustion, I am sure at least half of those steps were up and down stone stairs or wooden ones where there was an incline that did not have actual steps.. This is the off season because the heat is brutal and it may rain. there were lots of backpackers and children so I assume they  were there because of school break  instead of it being the brightest time to be there. If you have trouble walking around the block this is not for you, but then again I did it with two bad knees and a bad back and the antiquity was worth the pain.

inside selfie

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Rocky’s Tuk Tuk and Guide Service

Odd how things happen. Originally I was going to fly from Manila to Siem Reap for the express purpose of seeing Angkor Wat. Then I decided to go to Vietnam first and fly from Saigon to Siem Reap, skipping Phnom Penh (big city who needs it). Then I thought – why not take the buss and see the country side. THEN I thought ’12 hours on a bus in one sitting’ so I booked a stop in Phnom Penh.

I took the Giant ibis – that’s all I’ll say right now but DO IT. As we got deposited in the entertainment district of Phnom Penh, bags laid out in the office, I heard “do you have a hotel sir”, “do you need a tuk tuk sir”, “can I help you sir”. I am an independent old goat but I was tired and I had no idea where I was and where I  was going, so I said sure. (I usually book a room ahead on Agoda so I am not in this situation but all the rooms I saw were $100.00 a night and up.} First he said “do you need Money?” I said yes, I don’t have any Cambodian Riel. He said, no riel, everyone uses dollars, I will take you to a dollar ATM. He did. Being a bit cautious I punched in 200 and out came 2 crisp current series Benjamin Franklins!

He then took me to a hotel, said it was not great, but OK and reasonably priced. Both true. I dumped my bags and said “Rocky, I am hungry, take me to a good place to eat”. He took me to a great place called “The Mekong Bar and Grill” where I was introduced to  Angkor Beer and Cambodian food. Both wonderful. As he dropped me off  at the hotel, he said “would you like me to take you to some places tomorrow”. YUP

Rocky took me to WAT  PHNOM where the admission fee was one us dollar. A wonderful historic temple positioned perfectly for casual tourists or those in a rush. Easy to get to from the entertainment district. From there to the Cambodian Museum for Buddhist and Hindu religious artifacts. Another great Cambodian meal and off to the Presidents Palace. Have I mentioned that it is HOT and MUGGY? There is a reason it is the low tourist season. IT IS HOT. I told Rocky I had enough and needed a nap and cool down. He said great, do you like kick boxing. I do. ‘I will pick you up at 5 O’clock.

There were a total of 5 bouts, three pretty good undercard matches, a teen aged bout and then the Thai vs Cambodian main event. This was in a large venue at the TV station with a massive ring, sponsored by Red Bull. There were TV cameras and all the hub-bub of a Vegas fight except they didn’t charge to get in!  It was obvious the audience was the people. No cigar smoking big shots, no diamond encrusted girl friends. No hollywood just the people that loved to watch the fight – and war drums. When the bell sounded to start the round the war drums started. The big shake the building drums that let you know there is something going on! Man was that fun.

Rocky read me – he made perfect selections, he carted me around. He took care of me.  I sure am glad I was flexible in my planning so I could meet Rocky and discover Phnom Penh.

The Next morning he took me to the killing fields early so I could take my time in peace. Again spot on, and it gets its own page. The killing fields is something one should not miss.

Thank You Rocky  –  Rockys real name is Sin Oul – he said no westerners could pronounce it so a Canadian started calling him Rocky. Great choice.

Rocky

 

Posted in Cambodia, Life, Politics, Tourism, Travel, Uncategorized