Category Archives: Uncategorized

Singapore: May 2016

Of all the places I have been to in Asia, I must say Singapore  impressed me the most.  Not weather wise–it makes Florida and Okinawa cool by comparison–but in its human capital.  After taking the typical tour through the zoo, the Marina Bay, CBD, Clarke Quay, and sampling the cuisine of endless street “hawkers” as they are known as here, I never really got good opportunity to converse with the locals early on.  By locals I mean people who are genuinely born there and didn’t arrive with a preconceived notion of the place.

My first “local” I met was a man and his wife in Little India.  Me, hungry and looking for something good among the cuisines ranging from “Indian Muslim” to “Jain”, settled on the humble shack of your typical street hawker, serving cheap $5-7 fare.  While eating your typical mutton curry with naan bread and a teh tarik, I end up having a long conversation with thi

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Gardens by the Bay

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Marina Bay Sands

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Marina Bay Sands

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Downtown Merlion

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City Scene atop Gardens by the Bay

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One of many Buddhas in Chinatown Temple

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Lazy Monkeys

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Hotel view

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Indoor Hawker food. Prices ranged from $3-6.

s local man who has lived here for a long time..like 60 years almost.  The first thing you notice about native Singaporeans is that they are not only cerebral, but seemingly entrepreneurial as well.  They talk like they actually care about the world around them, and wish to understand it.  This man wrote a few books on the music scene of the area since the ’60s, worked as a consultant in adjacent countries, and was very well educated.  It was a nice refresher from the typical niche of government workers who all seem to talk how they are going to weasel another year in Okinawa or when they can retire with their pension.  I don’t know where they get their education, but I guess if you are from a small island country adjacent to continental Asia sandwiched between two giant neighbors–essentially a gnat on an Elephant’s ass–you have an huge incentive to work hard so you don’t get absorbed.

The story of Singapore is one that should be more well known throughout the world.  It is a rare case of human potential actually being reached because of the stellar leadership they had.  Its leader for the first 24 years–Lee Kwan Yew–was actually a certifiable genius, and understood what must be done in order to have Singapore survive.  It is a story of molding a national identity where there was none, utilizing the hard work of its people, and learning from the big government mistakes of other nations.  Every country has potential; very few reach it.

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Camelback Mountain, Phoenix

This was my first real hike out west after a hiatus of over 4 years.  I was laid off from my job in Orlando a couple of weeks before, and decided to check out Arizona and see what the job market was like.  While in Phoenix I could not resist climbing the obvious high-point of the city.  After being accustomed to desert hiking before moving to the southeast, I can say that living in the flatlands of Florida will definitely get you out of shape when you return to the habit!

Since it was a weekday, I was able to find a parking spot.  Apparently hiking during the weekends are atrocious, and easily believed it when I saw how many people were on the trail.  Despite that, the scenery was majestic.  My legs got the workout of their life!  There were times I thought I wasn’t able to make it, but seeing the old guys get ahead of me gave me enough motivation to make it to the top.  An emergency helicopter even made its rounds towards the summit and flew around a few times.  Needless to say, when I was finished I was sore from my feet to my hips.  Definitely was the kick in the pants I needed!  The view was great, and hope to make it back to the Phoenix area one of these days and climb a few more mountains when I get the chance!

Halloween, 2011

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First 2 months in Okinawa

It is hard to put into words my opinion of this place.  When I first landed in Japan at Narita Airport–Tokyo’s main hub–my first impression was how clean and quiet the airport was–not to mention the humidity and wishing the air conditioning was turned on.  The people were friendly, airport security was actually helpful, and strange cartoon characters seemed to be on every door and item in the store.

The flight to Okinawa was a relatively brief 3 hours compared to the unbearable 13  hour flight from Texas.  Sitting next to a drunk woman who kept spilling her booze didn’t help either.  Upon landing, it was noticeably more humid than even Tokyo.  In many ways it felt like moving back to Florida.  It was May 6, 2014.

I spent the next week at the hotel on base spending much of my time trying to deal with typical government red tape.  Access card, passport issues, finding a new place to live, etc.  I would be lying if at this point I wasn’t exhausted from the marathon I began which was after I accepted the job offer in early April.  Honestly the entire transition took at least a month, though it seems like it will take much longer as far as finding a decent social circle around here.  It’s not like the states where in a strange city you can simply go to meetup.com or the like.  There aren’t many English speakers outside of the base surprisingly, which severely limits your options.

Driving was probably one of the more stressful things I’ve had to deal with.  After buying a used 1998 Toyota Windom, I suddenly realized this vehicle was a damn cadillac by Japanese standards.  Given how narrow the roads are around here I have to say it did feel intimidating.  Thankfully after a couple hours of driving in the pouring rain on base I got out of the habit of hitting the curb and did well.  I should also mention that the drivers here are actually courteous.  Now I wonder how I will react when I return home to the States in December…

 It definitely has a different type of beauty here compared to what I was used to in the American West.  Instead of 100 mile vistas of stark lowlands surrounding beautiful mountains with not a cloud in the sky, I have ocean views with a hazy sun and lots of rain, not to mention lush green hills.  Being used to a dry but comfortable climate, I would say hiking will be reserved for anytime except the summer. 

I would say one of the hardest things about living overseas in a time zone 12-15 hours ahead of your friends and family is not having somebody to chat with after work.  When I get home it’s usually 5-6pm, which is the early morning in the USA.  I think it would be easier if I had a significant other and/or a network of friends, but all of that takes time. 

There has been so much I have experienced so far that it is hard to put into just one post.  I’ll make a few more posts to give people an idea as to what life is like here in terms of food, scenery, and the like.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last thoughts on New Mexico

While I originally made this blog as a way to chronicle my hiking adventures in the Southwest, like anything else in life it appears plans have changed.  After unexpectedly returning to NM for a job back in 2012, I accepted an offer to work overseas for at least 15 months in Okinawa, Japan.  The reasons are many–higher pay, job stagnation, new adventures and life experiences. With that said I would like to give a thanks to New Mexico for the opportunity to rekindle long lost contacts from when I departed in 2007, great outdoor adventures, and weekend excursions from everywhere ranging from Socorro to Los Alamos.  It has been a bittersweet decision, since if the job market locally was slightly more favorable and/or I had a significant other I would have probably stayed long term.  With that said I do sense I will make my way back to the Land of Enchantment to live sooner or later since it has become an old friend that always welcomes me back from no matter where I went.

This has to have been among the hardest of hikes I have done in recent memory.  I hosted it as part of the New Mexico Mountain Club in March 2013.  I imagine many of you have seen this mountain if you happen to be on Interstate 10 just east of Deming, NM looking south.  It is a very mean looking mountain even from a distance.  There are are no official trails up at the high point known as Florida Peak. floridas_whole We started at Windmill Canyon, just a couple miles southeast of Rockhound State Park.  It started innocently enough, with a slight slope and an obvious finishing point. Windmill Canyon EntranceSoon after ascending the canyon, however, we quickly learned why this range has the reputation of being the most rugged range in the entire state of New Mexico. IMG_2920 After getting up towards the top, the rhyolite spires became apparent in their starkness: IMG_2905 The view back from where we started was spectacular: IMG_2915 View of the summit: IMG_2912 Three sisters peaks from a distance:

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The amount of dustorm activity was definitely picking up all around.  By the time we started heading back for ABQ you couldn’t even see the mountain range we just finished.

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Total time: 5 hours.

Total Distance 5.6 miles round trip.

Elevation gain: about 3,000 ft.