Saturday, 7 January 2017

on y va (or I wish my body were where my mind already is)

Only a few more sleeps and I'm sitting in a plane again taking me out of here.   And it can't come soon enough.  

T minus 7 

Only superior driving skills or a guardian angel saved me from totaling my rental car.  See, Vancouver doesn't clear any roads anymore. Yes, the very major roads are mostly cleared, by even minor major roads are covered by an inch-thick layer of black ice (That's what you get when mushy snow gets compacted by car tires and freezes).  People are walking on egg-shells and I've seen many people fall just trying to push the pedestrian-crossing button at traffic lights.  It's the 3rd of January today.  The snow fell last year.   The city is doing NOTHING anymore.   I guess the money for road-clearing comes out of the city budget while that for broken hip bones comes out of the federal health care budget.  Pathetic.
Anyhoo, I turned right into a street.   It went slightly downhill at first after a bit it became STEEP.  Of course, it was covered in black ice, so I couldn't back out.  What to do?   Ok, lets CREEP down the hill inch by inch (literally, I came to a complete stop every couple of centimeters as long as that was possible). But then even that failed and I went into a free slide.  No point breaking anymore, only once in a while to see if it worked.  I manage to clear the two cars parked on either side, even though the car has acquired a rotating motion.   That STOP sign is coming closer QUICKLY.  Oh, and on the other side of the stop sign the road keeps going downhill, only even steeper than here. And at the end of the next downhill section it's a curb and a grassy knoll.   GREAT!   Quick thinking is required.   If I keep going downhill I'm dead (Grassy knolls do that ;-).  The stop sign is almost here. Just before I slide without control through the stop intersection I turn the steering wheel right, hit the gas, and hope for the best.  SOMEHOW, the car finds a tiny bit of grip and TURNS RIGHT.  It misses the car parked on the far side of the street I'm skidding into and after a frenzied sequence of breaking,more gas, more steering, more breaking, I come to a stop.   I still can't believe that I and the car came out of that unscathed !  Lots of other iced-up roads are now blocked by city barricades.  I assume they only do that after someone calls them to bitch after totaling his car or a serious accident.  Yes, that's right, they BARRICADE the streets instead of sanding them.   Even DURING one of the heavy snowfalls the city of Vancouver admitted that out of its 40 snowplows only 10 were operating "because the weather forecast didn't call for that much snow".  BRILLIANT ! 

Well, I survived that and various other NITWIT obstacles placed in my way. However, despite CAREFUL walking I failed to navigate the slippery streets properly yesterday and landed on my right butt cheek.  It didn't even hurt, must be getting fat, LOL.

T minus 6 

Today I visited my hairdresser Fiona for the Indochina-Cut (TM).   We get along well, LOL, to put it mildly.  I've been following her through at least 5 salons for the last 15 years.  And I've infected her with the travel bug.   She'll be in Europe for 3 MONTHS this summer (visiting her daughter) and I already told her that I'd hunt her down for a haircut during that time.   I showed her pictures of Koh Rong and she started making that noise "ooooooohhhh" that I've heard a few times now when people see the white beach and the turquoise water.

Wilhelm pointed out that it will be a win-win situation when an 'experienced' Indochina traveler will hit the subcontinent together with an absolute Asia novice, as will happen next week.  

Zulema will get to see the worthwhile gems that I've found so far and I'll get a renewal of the WOW effect, which diminishes over time. 

I had got used to having horrible Wifi in my hotel in the few years.  But now it seems to have spread, LOL.  Denny's Wifi hasn't been working properly in weeks and now the Wifi of the Vietnamese restaurant around the corner only works half the time.  WHAT is going on?  The fact that old infrastructure like roads, bridges, and railway lines, are in pathetic shape I can understand.  But how can a country fall behind in information technology if it wants to play a worldwide role this century.  Sure LPG and fossil fuels sound great if you listen to Christy Clark and Donald Trump. 

 But then Clark's highest academic merit is her high-school diploma (she did study political science and religious studies at university but never graduated) and while Trump has earned a bachelor in economics, that doesn't necessarily give him qualifications in understanding science.  Unlike the chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, who used to be a research scientist with a doctorate in chemistry, and is putting all her effort into eliminating nuclear and fossil-fuel-based power plants in Germany.   There are many exceptions, but usually it is best to only talk about things one at least has a fleeting understanding of.

T minus 5

I'm reading The Cambodian Daily.  For the first time since the '70s, the number of landmine victims has dropped below 100 in 1916.  Just for comparison, I go to the Vancouver Sun web-site to see what happy news a Canadian newspaper can deliver.  Yes, I suspected even before opening the page that I would be disappointed.  Vancouver murder numbers on the rise in 2016 !  What surprises me is not the actual number of murdered human beings, but the number of people that could not be identified.  What's going on?  Is the police just slow or is the latest thing in murder modus operandi these days to cut off finger tips and to remove teeth to eliminate the possibility of using finger prints and dental records ?  You can guess which possibility I think is more likely ;-)

T minus 4

It's January 5th today.  I get an e-mail from the PR card processing centre telling me that my application has been received on December 12th.  WHAT in the world could be the POINT of this e-mail.   You couldn't send that on December 13th? 
Anyhuu, the e-mail also contains a unique client identifier (UCI) and a link to check your application processing status. So I try to check the application status, after all they've had the application for almost a month.  


I almost expected it: 
Checking the processing status is BROKEN.  I type in my name and the UCI and the stupid thing says "We can't identify you based on the information you provided".   

Isn't there ANYTHING that FUNCTIONS properly in this country?   Not that I expect much from white Canadians: they'd rather evoke the spectre of the 'failed immigration policy' to blame it on someone else than actually fixing a problem. (Coincidentally, that is also my prediction for the chances of Trump's promise of making America 'great again'. Good luck if all you have to work with is a bunch of ignant racist whiners !)  But what about all those immigrants to Canada?  They at least should still be able to think!  But they probably prefer Google as their workplace to a Government department.  NO, don't even think of mentioning racial stereotyping, LOL.

But it's just another example of how tediously effort-filled life in the Western World has become.   Sure at some point I will get a new PR card (assuming that the application will not be rejected on some technicality).  ONLY then will I be able to make an APPOINTMENT (waiting time about 30 days) to submit the APPLICATION for a new passport (waiting time 8-10 weeks).  

The forecast predicts more snow for tonight.  6 days have passed since the last snowfall and East Vancouver side streets are STILL covered by a sheet of at least 1 inch of ice.  That should be fun, seeing a full-fledged pandemonium develop with the new snow.  Maybe at some point someone will have the bright idea of spreading sand on the ice.  Oh, NO, hang on, that costs money, so the chances of that are VERY slim. 

The highlight of these days occurs when I meet Denise, Hans, Kathrin, and Marc for drinks in the evening.  This is actually fun ! 

T minus 3

My mother calls me at 1 am.  Joy.  What is the emergency you wonder?  There is none, she just hasn't been able to figure out the time difference between Canada and Germany in the last 30 YEARS !   No, she just decides to tell me that her TV no longer works.  She doesn't get the clue when I ask her in return whether she wants me to call her if any of my belongings break, and continues into a direction I won't even mention here.  After every single one of these phone calls I recall the fact that my cell phone does NOT roam in Cambodia and therefore will NOT ring when I am there.  I AM looking forward to that !

My word in someone's ear (even though this post hadn't been posted yet).  MIRACULOUSLY, 5 days after the actual snowfall, the city sent out trucks to East Vancouver to spread sand on all the side streets.  I'm not exactly sure what took them 5 days to realize that this would be a good idea, because during those 5 days NOT a GRAIN of sand was thrown on the ice.  And driving on sand on ice works quite well actually.  

Within the last hour, I realized that I'm in for more of an adventure that I bargained for.   My travel companion is a zip-line aficionado ( aficionada?).  On the island where she will be spending her birthday is a "Rope Adventure Park" that includes two zip lines.  

When I saw the above picture I instantly started wondering whether the operators have a LOOOOONG ladder to rescue decrepit people once their old hands are too tired to hold onto the blue rope, or whether they can just haul in the old meat using the red rope.  I think I might just find out within the next two weeks.

Yes, I DO realize that this lousy post has no direction or sense at all.  But I decided to publish it anyway, just in case at some point in the future I'll be sitting somewhere nice and am contemplating whether returning to Canada is a valid option.  

To close this post in a less whining manner:  I just discovered this morning that Bourdain's Parts Unknown episode about Vietnam is now on YouTube, in its entirety. Unfortunately it's in a bit of an annoying slow-motion mode, to circumvent copyright laws.  But it's still worth watching ;-)

And when Bourdain says: "I keep coming back."    "I HAVE TO !", I know exactly what he means.

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