Leavin' Trawangan for the US

   

Spent last week back on Gili Trawangan getting my PADI Open Water certification. Saw white tip reef shark, cuttlefish, octopus, lion fish, scorpion fish, an tiny eel and a bunch of green sea turtles. We aced the written exam including 5 of 6 dive table questions which is similar to chinese algebra. On the last day I felt my first earthquake.  It was just a second or two and felt like someone dropped a 100 ton boulder in the middle of the island. Apparently there was a 5.2 in the Moluccas Islands that we must have gotten the residual from.  

I left Friday at 9am (GMT +8) morning flew back to Jakarta and was there just long enough to buy some wood carvings and other gifts for friends, pick up my bags and catch my 8pm (GMT +7) flight to Singapore. 6 hour layover in Singapore which I spent at a hotel.  The cab driver on the way back was an old Chinese guy. Upon hearing I was American, he went off into what I imagine was his standard mantra for Amercans about how they saved them from the Japanese, who, in his opinion, are brutal and horrible people.  He went into morbid detail about the Japanese occupation of Singapore and said how the “Japanese would ki-ew us a’wa, wike chickens. just cut off you head”.  Each morbid description was followed closely by a Dr. Evil-esk laughter.  Quite strange for a 4am cab ride.   

Singapore Immigration Officers are the only immigration officials that are more miserable than U.S. immigration officers. Passing through this country is always a depressing experience. Next stop was Hong Kong, arriving at 10:30am (GMT +8) Saturday, then an 11 hour flight to San Fransisco arriving 8:20am (GMT -8) Saturday morning. Didnt get upgraded on either flight, despite still having my 1K status with United so I came off the airplane smelling like failure and meritocracy. A particularly saucy Chinaman (purposely trying to sound like a bigot) freaked out when i put my bag in the overhead on top of his wind breaker. Watching him was entertaining and he actually called me an ” assho’ ” which sent me into a giggling spell, conjuring up images of Russell Peters standup. This didnt help to calm him down so I asked him to get down off the seat he was standing on (no joke) and moved my bag off his wind breaker. But all stress was alleviated as I got my first taste of Mexican food and a Sierra Nevada once in San Fransisco. After a miserable 4 hour layover there I caught my flight to LA at 1:05 (GMT -8) finally arriving at my destination 42 hours later at 2:45pm.   

Trying to get my Blackberry hooked up on a pay-as-go service plan reminded me how much I absolutely HATE U.S. cell phone companies.  The only one that offers non-contract SIM cards with data services is T-Mobile. The cheapest plan is $60 for 500 minutes and one month of data. Found out later that night that the guy had sold me the wrong one and it didnt work with Blackberry Services . Of course there would be no way to refund my money, so I had to buy a brand new SIM card for an additional $70.    

Now its off to Dallas for a night and then Orlando. Talked to my mom this morning on the way to the airport in LA. She spent about 30 minutes explaining in detail the cloths she recently bought and the reason for the color selections. Its gunna be a long week at The Colonnades (retirement community) combined with the Rod Stewart cover band we are going to see at the Lakeland Civic Center.  I think I will take up working out twice a day at the community center. Maybe make a shuffle board friend.

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