Tag Archive: Lakeland


The Return


No Im not high, I just hadnt had a beer in 4 days...

Spent the last 3 weeks in the states gorging myself on BBQ and Mexican food. I forgot what real salsa tastes like. Dont ever take that for granted. Salty, the smells of cilantro, crunchy white onion pieces and gawd…. fresh tortia chips!!! The highlights in no particular order: 

  1. Umami Burger – Los Angeles, CA, Carnitas Burger with jalapeno sour cream, guacamole and Mexican Coke
  2. Cristos Cafe – Orlando, FL, Deep Fried French Toast (’nuff said)
  3. Malo – Silverlake, CA, Soft Tacos and 3 epic Spicy Cucumber Margaritas
  4. Some shitty sports bar in Lakeland, FL – Crappy bar food, Sierra on Tap and Hockey on TV
  5. Grandmas House – Lakeland, FL – Smoked Turkey and Fried Okra
  6. Wendys – Orlando airport – Spicy Chicken Sandwich
  7. St. Pete Times Forum – Tampa, FL – $5 plastic cheese nachos with $1 extra for jalapeno

Josh, his girlfriends sister and I went to the Tampa Bay Lighting vs. Boston Bruins game. Scored 3rd row seats on the corner. We were lucky enough to have some additional entertainment in the form of classic Floridian white trash. Some gold chain mafia guy and his girlfriend showed up cheering for Boston. Im guessing she had nothing to do with Boston besides the fact maybe her boyfriend went there once for a vacuum cleaner repairman convention. She had no grasp of the game or the rules but luckily for us that didnt hinder her from expressing her expert analysis in what was kind of a play-by-play with the vinacular of Sam Kinison and the depth Paris Hilton. She dropped the F bomb so many times that midway through the 2nd an usher had to come down and ask whoever was using the foul language to please stop. Thankfully the Bruins played their perennial-flop-of-a-goaltender Tukka Rask and Tampa rolled them 3-1. I got to watch the joy drain from her face like a child who just lost their toy down the sewer drain.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, Mom continued her annual tradition of making up traditions that never existed before and spent most the time talking to inanimate objects around the house. I dont blame her, its just a natural response to 15 years of being alone with my dads stoicism. Grandma seems to be the most sane of any of us despite the fact that she likes to go on nighttime drives with vision that would make a possum look like a prime candidate for a military sniper. I continued my own personal tradition of doing a detox while there which just accentuated all the minor annoyances putting me in a real lovely mood. I cheated the last night which was when #4 above occurred.

Its so easy to improve on what the French do but this is the ultimate make over for french toast

Went on my shopping spree of food and tech gadgets. After 10 months of shopping in Indonesian computer stores with their Chinese knock offs at 25% mark up of the real deal, walking into Frys Electronics was like the first time I walked into a strip club. Justin had to force me to leave. I liked how they carried as many adult magazines as computer magazines, they know their audience. I got my stash of candy, sauce (Stubbs BBQ, Tapitio and A1), pecans and more candy.

Thankfully I was able to experience my last time flying where I belong, with the rich people in up front. Sat next to a nice old man that was living in Vietnam because his pension didnt cover the cost of living in the United States (yet he was flying Business Class) but just then turned out to be a dirty old man. He left his wife of 40 years to go live a 38 year old woman (he was about 70) in Hanoi. He had some interesting stories but the prospect of me being him in 40 years messed with my head the entire flight.

In Singapore I had a layover for 24 hours but my friend Dicky was also there on business so we hung out all day and did some more essential shopping (Media Center to play the 2TBs of movies on my TV that my friend had loaded in Orlando) and got some great ramen noodles. Oh and also got to have a $15 beer which was a real special treat since it tasted like Budweiser. Thats the problem with jumping around from country to country is you lose track of the currency exchange rate.

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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.