Friday, 28 October 2016

OMG, time is fleeting. T minus minus SEVEN, SIX, FIVE, FOUR, THREE, Time for PANIK !

A few days ago I almost installed an English-Vietnamese dictionary on my Android Phone, but changed that plan at the last moment when i saw the reviews of other users who LOVED the app, but HATED the ADS.  It's bad enough dealing with ads in a web-browser, but I'm NOT going to install an app that comes with ADS.  Give me a choice to pay for the app and I'd choose that any day over having to look at mind-numbingly DUMB ads.   An hour after I had that thought I also had installed AdBlock on my new laptop.  I simply don't understand how people can put up with those CRAP ads, in particular in the new days of individually placed ads.   I mean how long is going to pay money to Google to show me ads for hotels in San Francisco?  I'm no longer there !  (And this is the reason why you should TURN OFF the LOCATION service on your cell phone ;-)

At least there is no follow-up ads when applying for an e-visa to Cambodia, which is what I am doing right now.  Where is my passport again?  And where is that CD with the passport photos I got done in Phnom Penh last December? (for US $4 including retouching and the CD burn; and they didn't do the minimum; they put in effort to make me look GOOD with their retouching, the thinking being: This man is paying money for this, we might as well make him look good.  (notice that solid but unfortunately fictional solid hairline ?)

Gotta LOVE that country and its people ! ;-)

Part of this musing is taking place while having a late lunch (3:30 pm) at the Vietnamese place right next to my hotel.  And Vancouver thinking has finally taken its toll on this place too.  I just ordered my second glass of wine. Yes, some might say that my wine consumption has been increasing during recent years (Hey, I'm a widower and there is supposed to be Truth in it ...), but that is NOT the reason. The reason is that the glass of wine served by the restaurant has been decreasing in size.  I kid you not, I still have a picture of the original glass of wine from years ago (on the right)

Now here is the new glass:

SAME Napkin Holder 
See the difference? The napkin holders are the same size ! And I'm a REGULAR there, so at least they fill it properly, which means the place hasn't gone Vancouver completely yet.

Yes, time is evaporating like spit on lava and I'm looking at visa requirements.  Not just for Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, but also for Thailand (the easiest way to travel from Phnom Penh to Vientiane is to fly to Bangkok, to take the train from there and the cheapest flights to Bangkok happens to be with Malaysia Airlines with a 13 hour layover in Kuala Lumpur (that's Malysia;-)). I think this is yet another reason why I like IndoChina: the distances  and border procedures involved are kind of like the Europe of my childhood.   Grandma still tells me stories and I even dimly remember how they had severe trouble getting a 10-13 year old Me over the German-Dutch border because I didn't have my passport with me (Sounds like a long time ago? I never thought of 40 years as a long time before but I guess it is; you probably noticed how I am wading through memories here)

I visit Grandma and count her remaining pills. 20.  Not enough until I get back.   I renew her prescriptions over the phone and during the apres-cigarette on the balcony notice that one of her very tall trees has succumbed to the storms last week.  For 20 years, Grandma has been telling me and Grandpa that she needs to get a permit to top the trees in her backyard.  "They are going to fall because they stand so close to water". Grandpa and I usually just gave her phony agreeing nod and an appeasing "Yes, Grandma" and changed the subject.  My line of reasoning usually was "They've survived the last 20 years, they're not going to fall NOW".  Well, Grandma was right after all.  When I check the root ball with a diameter of about twice my height (it's sitting vertical now), I notice that the tree hit the other side of the wide creek when it fell. I also notice that it was actually two trees that didn't survive the storm but the second one only smashed the neighbour's gazebo.   Fortunately, the trees fell in the direction directly AWAY from the house.   Imagine finding Grandma squashed under a fallen tree after she has been mentioning those trees for 20 years and you did nothing !

A new camera I need (AGAIN).  Since it always travels in my pants pocket, it is subject to sand (hey, I like beaches!). Normally that is not a problem, but the present camera was unlucky enough to have something solid caught between the lens and the lens covering blades.  The result?  A small deep scratch right in the centre of the lens which causes a blurry grayish area fuzz to appear in the middle of every picture. And that won't do.  Once in a while I run into a scene that takes my breath away. And I'm counting on encountering lots of those places on the coming trip.  It's no fun taking a picture of that if I know there will be that fuzzy area right in the middle of the picture.  

Ideally I'd get the same camera again. BUT NO, Best Buy doesn't even carry it and London Drugs says it takes them 3 weeks to get one in.  Visions advertises it at a $70 discount today and tomorrow, but when I visit their store, they admit that they ONLY have the display model. WTF?  Fortunately, there is still Kerrisdale Camera and they have a branch in North Vancouver.  They have my camera in stock, in black and silver, and the $70 discount is in effect here as well.   Good.  

view finder in top left corner

One of the reasons for wanting that particular camera again is that it has a view finder with eye adjustment, allowing this ageing photographer with tired eyes to see what he is taking a picture of, which quite often is no longer possible by looking at the LCD screen because it's all a blur to my eyes.

More good news:  When I complete the Cambodian e-visa forms, the page says " You will be paid 37 USD for government e-visa fee" ;-). Instead of paying ME $37, they should give it to their translator so he can change the word paid to charged !  Anyhu, the application is submitted and if approved that means I'll only get a small entry stamp when entering Cambodia instead of wasting one of my precious remaining passport pages on a full page entry visa !

All these panicky last minute preparations are impeded by the weather.   Rain. Rain. And .. ah well, you can probably guess ;-).    Apparently it has rained on 24 of 27 days in Vancouver this October.  I guess I can handle 3 more until I escape.

There is an article in the Oct 21 (digital?) issue of Vogue. NO, I'm not really a Vogue reader, more precisely I NEVER read it (I don't like the idea of human beings herd-following trends invented by small groups)..  But this article is about Anthony Bourdain, my favourite TV personality (Surprise, it is NOT Kim Kardashian, LOL). Why is he my favourite?  He ain't phony !  His latest project is to introduce Street Food (think Hanoi, Bangkok, Istanbul) to New York.  And if it does NOT succeed (which means it would taste like a 'celebrity chef food', Bourdain says "“If it feels like a Todd English product, then we can all just go home and throw a noose over the fucking shower stall.”
This might be hard to understand for people who prefer their food to be prepared by the culinary equivalents of Martha Stewart, but will make sense to anyone who ever distorted their face in astonishment at the unbelievable taste of a simple and dirt cheap food item  acquired at a dirty and grimy stall in the so-called third world.

Denise is in town today, and agrees to my suggestion to have lunch at Earls.  NO, I do NOT like the concept of EARLS in general, but they happen to make a FABULOUS pizza at my location.  The waitress has seen me here with Zu in June, eating Pizza solo numerous times, and now her demeanor suggests that she thinks that the strange pizza guy finally managed to get another date ;-)

Just look at the colours !!!!
I eat nothing else until 8 pm and find myself starving. Back to Hoi An Cafe in East Vancouver. I have a rental car today (Rain, Rain, Rain) so this is within easy reach.
But not that easy. Traffic is ATROCIOUS. It's DARK, POURING, and the exhaust from the incomprehensible number of cars contributes to the fog blowing over the roads from creeks and other bodies of water.  After 30 minutes of creeping from red light to red light, a growing pain in my neck starts telling me that this is not the proper type of locomotion for me.   But that serves me right. Why eat at a restaurant halfway across town?   The planet doesn't mind if you ride a bike there, but driving a car there is a different matter.

What day is it today?  Friday?  3  more sleeps?  Time to enter into a state of controlled panic ;-)

Another 3rd world moment.   The Kingdom of Cambodia provides me with an e-visa within 24 hours (Yep, that's ONE day). Canada can't manage to renew an expired PR card in less than 60 days (Yep, that's TWO FRIGGIN MONTHS).  And the moral is?  Go figure .... , LOL

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