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Spring, At Last (I Hope)

Finally, we had a nice Saturday in Yeosu, one that saw me walk for several hours in the morning and early afternoon around Odongdo and the downtown area near that part of Yeosu. I took quite a few photos near the Expo 2012 site, up in Jasan Park and at the new walkway on the harbor, Jongno Ocean Park. I have to go through all the shots and process them, but I hope to have some of them posted soon.

In the meantime, because I think (hope, pray, beg) that spring is here at last, I’ve changed the banner photos at the top of the blog, from the wintry scenes to a few spring photos I took around campus last April and a few spring-like shots from Meknes, Morocco. The banner photo should change every time you reload or revisit the blog. Now that I’ve jinxed myself, we’ll probably see the return of cold, freezing weather. 😕

Moroccan Mosque

I forgot to offer my condolences to all of my Moroccan friends for the devastating loss of life in the collapse of the Bab Berdieyinne Mosque. I pray that those of you I know are all well, Insha’Allah.

For those who haven’t heard, the mosque disaster occurred in Meknes, where I worked for a year. At last count, 41 people have died and many more have been injured. My heart goes out to all of those who have been affected. Here’s a link to a photo I took of the old city of Meknes from a position across the wadi, where I lived in the new section of town. Although I don’t know where the Bab Berdieyinne Mosque might be in that photo, I’m sure it’s one of those pictured. If anyone views the shot, let me know if you see it. Again, my condolences to anyone affected by this disaster.

City of Angels–July 2

Ok, I made it to Bangkok in fine shape, more or less, after paying a HUGE overweight baggage fee in Casablanca. I know it has to be some kind of scam. Beware of too much luggage on Qatar airlines flying out of Casa. When I went to pick up my bags off the carousel in Bangkok, I noticed that many travelers were hauling off mammoth bags and there is no way that they were under the weight limit. NO way. Maybe they had to pay for the extra kilograms, but if they did, they went broke because these were some of the biggest suitcases I have ever seen and the people trying to pick them up looked like they were ready to burst blood vessels doing so. Qatar in Casa charged me about $60 per kilogram for being over the limit. $60 PER KILO (about 2.2 pounds per kilo). The lady behind the check-in counter told me that I was 10kg over, but that she would only charge me for 5. Come on now, if these people have that much discretion, they also can decide who to charge and who not to charge. My boss, also, told me he thought it was a big scam. One of my friends here in Bangkok, Eugene, said that he was charged a similar excess baggage fee just 6 months ago when he moved from Korea to Bangkok, but that Korea Airlines charged him only $7 per kg. So, Qatar Airlines is making out like a bandit and their rating, in my eyes, drops way down. Beware if you are flying Qatar Air and you’re at all worried about how many kilos you’re over their low 20kg limit for checked baggage.

Anyway, I got to the guesthouse ok in a typical monsoon deluge. It rained buckets again today for about half an hour, but now it’s down to just a light sprinkling. It’s not too hot, but very humid. I work up a sweat just pigging out on fresh fruits and seafood.

I did get to hang out with Eugene for a while, and we ate a rather large, 7-course breakfast at Crepes and Co. off Sukhumvit Soi 12. I’ve eaten there before and they have a great menu. A bit on the pricey side (over $14 for breakfast, but then again, I had the smoked salmon crepes as one of my courses), but be sure to give them a try if you get over this way. What the heck, here’s my complete breakfast, in case you’re interested:

1st course: choice of beverage–coffee and orange juice
2nd : choice of either fruit plate or fruit salad–fruit plate (mangos, watermelon, and cantaloupe)
3rd : bread basket–choice of 3 types of bread–I had croissants, toast, and English muffin
4th : choice of muesli, yogurt, or something else (I forget)–I had yogurt
5th : choice of eggs with many side portions, like smoked salmon, mushrooms, bacon, ham, etc.
I had fried eggs with bacon and mushrooms
6th : choice of pancake–I had one with smoked salmon
7th : choice of another beverage–I had tea

Excellent place to eat. What a life!! More later.

Last Night in Morocco

Yes, I’m off for the tropics tomorrow. My flight leaves for Bangkok in the afternoon from Casablanca, arrives in Doha, Qatar around 5:30 a.m. Saturday, leaves Doha about 8:30 a.m. and arrives in Bangkok around 8 p.m. Of course, this is Qatar Airlines, whose flights are invariably delayed, so those times will probably shift a few hours forward. As I’ve posted before, QA has top notch service in the air, but it leaves something to be desired in its ground service.

Anyway, this will probably be my last post for a while, but I will try to write as I travel around Laos and Thailand for the next 6 weeks. I’ll take the overnight train to Nong Khai on the evening of July 4th. Until then, I have to go to the U.S. Embassy to get some more passport pages, check in with the Korean Embassy to find out how long it takes to get my visa prepared (I’ll do that in August, just before leaving for Korea), store my big bags and computer until August, buy a ticket to Korea, and look up a few contacts at one of the schools in Bangkok and look up a former colleague who is teaching at a university there. Whew! I’ll be busy, but not so busy that I won’t be able to chow down on curry, seafood and pad thai, not to mention fresh mangos, pineapple and such. Happy 4th of July to all my fellow Americans. More later.

Checking In

Sorry I haven’t posted anything in a while, but I’ve been quite busy getting ready for the move back to Korea. Yes, I signed the contract for Woosong University, and I’ll be going there around the 15th of August.

Right now, though, I’m busy doing final testing of the CPR students, packing things up, writing reports, and doing other chores associated with moving half way across the world. I fly out of Casablanca on the 30th, arriving in Bangkok the next day. Uhhhhh, let’s see, that’s almost 6 weeks in the Land of Smiles and in Laos. Yessssss. 😎

I’ll be seeing my friend Nai, of course. I just talked to him the other day, and right in the middle of the conversation his household was beset by “big big snake . . . it wants to eat chickens!” Well, he stayed on the phone to give me a blow-by-blow account of what was going on, even though he wanted to join in the chase with his brothers. (He said his mother told him to stay on the phone with me, a convenient excuse if I’ve ever heard one.) Eventually, things settled down, and I asked him if one of his brothers had killed it, but he said it “run away quick quick.” Now, I don’t know how big the snake was or what kind it was or how fast it was, but I usually spend a few days with his family. I’ll be sure to keep my eyes open. Maybe all the jogging I’ve been doing lately (I’m up to 50 minutes per run) will prove to come in handy!

I’ll definitely post again before I leave next week, so I’ll have more later.

CPR Student Photos

Here are the photos I took today of my students at the CPR–our final regular class together. Parting is such sweet sorrow. Students, click here to view the photos. Click on the small photo to see a larger one, then click on the larger one to see another, larger photo.

Here’s another photo from my Sunday morning bike ride.

Red_Flowers1

Yanks-Sox

How the Yankees are maintaining their pace with many of their top-flight players being injured at one time or another or being out for the season is beyond me. I guess we Yankee fans can thank the “Baby Bombers” for coming of age at the right time. Like in last night’s 13-5 shellacking of Boston. Sweeeeeeet!

I took a short bike ride Sunday morning, when it’s quieter than usual. I felt in a “colorful” mood and took a few photos, some of which follow. More later.

Here is some detail of a lime-colored nursery school I thought was interesting.

Lime_Bldg

And then there is this pink apartment building.

Pink_Apt

It’s a bit past spring, but there are still many blooming flowers on bushes and trees. (Actually, this is true pretty much year round.) Here are a few examples.

Blue_Tree

Here’s one of the areas I go jogging. The building in the background is going to be the new city library, I’m told, when it’s finished.

Meknes_Trees-01

Nearing the End

Thought I’d better post something, just to let everyone know I’m still kickin’. This starts the last week of formal classes at the CPR, and I’m giving my students an exam on Thursday. Next week they have off, ostensibly so they can study for final exams the week after. Then, we’ll start grading on the 22nd or so and finish off the final week in June. On the 30th, I’m outta here! I fly to Bangkok, via Doha and Qatar Airlines again. I found that they are one of the top five airlines in the world, according to this website.

I’ll spend about 6 weeks in Thailand and Laos before heading over to Korea around the middle of August. Hopefully, I’ll have a job at Woosong University in Daejeon (day-juhn). I’m waiting for the contract to arrive. Once it gets here, I’m sure I’ll sign it and send back all the other documentation they need. It’ll be a good feeling to officially have a job!

In the meantime, I’ve been practice packing, scanning my books onto my hard drive so I don’t have to send heavy, EXPENSIVE boxes all the way to Korea, and doing all the little chores that need to be done before leaving. Like jogging. I’ve increased my time to 45 minutes in my so-far futile attempt to lose some weight. (Maybe I should lay off the buttered popcorn.) I don’t go running until about 8 p.m. due to the hot, sunny days we’ve been having–temperatures in the mid 90s (that’s mid 30s for you celsius folks). Tonight, though, I felt very tired (sleepy) and my legs were pretty sore, so I decided that I’d only do about 30 minutes. I ended up doing 46! I’ll probably feel it tomorrow.

Back to Andong

Yes, my former boss at Andong Univ. in Korea offered to rehire me and I told him, yes, I’d like to come back. Lots of reasons for that–Andong is a nice, rural area of Korea (even though the population is 200,000, it is considered “out in the sticks”; the pay is decent even though the hours can get rather long; I still have some former colleagues working there; I know what I’m getting into; and many of the jobs offered in Korea require a ton of paperwork, stuff that is just too difficult to do from here. Some of the items they want include sealed transcripts from the U of M, notarized diplomas (which can only be done from the Korean embassy in Rabat), medical reports (I’d have to go to Rabat to try to find a doctor to do this), a criminal record check from Montana (can’t do it online), face-to-face interview, either in person or with a webcam, and other assorted procedures. These would be difficult enough to do in Korea and the U.S., but trying to do them all from Morocco by the deadlines that the various employers set makes the process almost impossible to complete on time. I assume that Andong won’t require a whole lot of me, especially things like an interview, diplomas, etc. We’ll see–I’m waiting to hear back from the administration since I emailed them a few days ago accepting their offer to rehire me.

Anyway, it looks like I have a job nailed down early enough so that I don’t have to go through the trauma of settling everything at the last minute like I did when I left Andong last August. That is, indeed, a big relief since it gives me time to pack, to ship boxes (if necessary) and to handle all the little details involved in moving half way across the world . . . again. This time, I plan to stay in Korea for 6 or 7 years, hopefully saving enough money to retire in Thailand, eventually. A lofty and seemingly very difficult goal, but one that I will really strive to achieve. (Sorry, U.S.A, but, for me, the Land of Smiles has much more going for it) 😉

Yes, I’m still planning to make a rather late posting about the rest of my trip to Laos last month, with photos. In the meantime, I have posted a few shots in the gallery and I’ve highlighted a link to those on the right hand side of this page. I really have too many photos in the gallery, and it looks like it’s getting hard to find the various sections; hence, the link to the most recent ones. Enjoy. More later.

May Day March

It’s obvious to me now–the march in Meknes, about which I wrote in the previous post, was related to May Day, the traditional Workers’ Day of May 1, except, of course, in the U.S., which celebrates Labor Day. Thus, workers around the world, from Indonesia to Cuba, celebrated and protested today in mostly peaceful marches.