Archive for July, 2007
I said I would send a photo of the ube ice cream and here it is. Randal and I just biked over to a wood working shop to pick up a fishing rod hangar he’d ordered. The shop is just outside of Freeport so we needed to stop at the gate for the Subic Bay/Freeport security guards and be okayed through. Same thing on the way back. The shop can’t be more than 3 or 4 miles from the Yacht Club. When we got back it was lunch time.
Randal had left over lima beans, canned Vienna Sausage (yuck) and a beer. My lunch was left over warmed up green beans that I had cooked with balsamic vinegar and soy sauce for Sunday’s dinner; four minutes in the microwave…pretty good. For lunch today I added some fresh parmesan cheese but microwaved it too long so the cheese was a lump of rubber. But tasty rubber so I ate it. We both deserved a treat for dessert so had some of the ice cream. That is the problem with having ice cream, we find excuses to eat it!
Anyway, here it is. Ube is in the yam family. It may be the same as taro or just a relative; I’m not sure. It makes great ice cream.
A close up. Pretty!!
Unfortunately since I have been reading my Wounds Made Easy book this looks more like a clogged artery than ice cream.
It’s July 31st, 9:40 am here. Yesterday we rode our bikes to the immigration office in Olongapo and renewed our Visas. It is hard to believe that we had been here almost 3 weeks when the original Visa would expire. They have now been extended to September 9th. The process was quick and easy; fill out the appropriate form, show your passport, pay money (4,040 P = $90 for both) and have your visa extended. Actually Randal handled the transaction while I sat outside with our bikes and read. He had asked for 2 more months, but they included the 21 original days and just added enough time to make it a total of 2 months. We can extend again if we need or want to. After that Randal rode back to the boat and I rode over to the grocery store to buy yogurt, some veggies, fruit, and beans. There are far fewer fruit and vegetables here than in China or Hong Kong. I don’t know why since the climates are very similar. But I usually end up with green beans or spinach for my vegetable choices. They have eggplant, but Randal isn’t wild about it, and it does seem to take lots of oil to cook it. The broccoli often looks wilted and brown edged so I don’t ever buy it. Yesterday, though it looked ok, it cost $2.50 for a medium size single crown. Not worth it. We’ll eat beans and spinach. Funny what seems too expensive given buying a boat and making it comfortable and seaworthy isn’t the cheapest adventure on earth. And even though in Roanoke broccoli seemed like an essential, no matter the cost; here it isn’t. Salads here aren’t so great either with iceburg lettuce the only thing that’s used. So I usually order dishes with the interesting cooked vegetables like beans and okra, and yams, and that bitter thing I can’t name yet but am coming to recognise when I see it on my plate. I do see other veggies in the markets, but have no clue yet what they are or how to cook them. The one cooking/ culture book I bought doesn’t translate the local terms to anything I really can recognize, at least not yet.
I don’t have any photos of us biking, but I we do bike here the way we would have used our car at home. The area directly around the Yacht Club where we shop is very flat and the major road has a bike lane. There are several stores near the big Royal Supermarket (Subic version of a Wal-mart Superstore) including a hardware store with a bike rack out front. I lock my bike there and carry my panniers to the baggage claim stand at the grocery store. There are lots of "American" brands available. Fig Newtons, Kettle Chips, Del Monte lima beans, Progresso Soups, Campbell’s Prego mushrooms, Post Raisin Bran, Panteen Shampoo, Dove products, Mr Clean…all kinds of things. But no butter beans or pinto beans or frosting in a can though you can buy cake mix. No Gaviscon either. I have some of the Canadian Gaviscon if I get desparate, but it tastes so awful, I’d rather have reflux! Foreign versions of medicine don’t have sugar so taste bad to me. I am thinking I could mash it and add Splenda. I know that sounds terrible, but you should taste this Canadian Gaviscon, YUCK! You CAN buy Ubi flavored ice cream! That’s the taro ice cream I loved in China. It’s a purple color and I’ll send a photo of it next time. Yesterday I managed to buy more groceries than I could stuff into my pannier so had to tie the plastic grocery bag to my bike rack. Usually I take both panniers for shopping, but this was a spur of the moment trip. But it worked ok and I didn’t have far to go.
I haven’t needed to go clothes shopping since I did manage to accumulate a supply of sleeveless cotton shirts in China, and our pallet had some too. Nope, don’t need clothes.
Biking around Freeport on the main roads and along the beach is easy. They are wide, have a bike lane and not so many cars, motorcycle cabs, jeepneys, pedestrians, etc. In Olongapo everything is crammed together into narrow streets where the right of way goes to whomever is brave enough to go. Just like in China, if you make eye contact, you lose right of way no matter where you are going. If you’re riding down the main road and someone is leaving a side street, they will just come out. People walk off the curb into your path. Jeepneys will pull over and stop right in front of you. But it doesn’t feel unsafe. If I need to cross a rode I just signal, pull into the lane, and everyone stops to let me go. I don’t do it willy nilly, but sort of wait for an opening. Drivers give me my turn and don’t seem to mind. In the U. S. cars minded. Here bikes really are used for transportation so maybe that makes the difference. With everything to watch out for, including raised night lights in the road I luckily didn’t crash on when I rode over a set, it’s unsafe to sight see when you bike. We were riding back from the beach on a fun ride when I looked over at a beach side restaurant and didn’t notice the raised lights. BUMP BUMP BUMP, and the whole time I was marvelling that my bike stayed up. I did avoid the last three sets of lights, but learned my lesson about looking anywhere other than the road ahead. The night reflector/lights are at least 2 inches above the road and act like those horrible Iowa rumbles designed to wake you up before you sleep through an intersection. They have their good points, but not for biking. Luckily Randal had put wide sturdy tires on our bikes so they can stand paved road hazzards and dirt roads too.
Our friends the Nagles have their Diesel Duck, David Ellis, here in Sublic Bay too, having additional work done too. Dorothy showed me the way to the post office and then we walked to the Scuba Shack for lunch.
I can’t decide if it feel like we just arrived in the Philippines or if we have been here forever. This morning Randal mentioned that we had to renew our Visa before another week passes. So we will probably go this Monday and get it done. Apparently your first renewal is after 21 days and then changes to each month.
Randal has been working to get boat additions and corrections accomplished. Cleaning up the boat’s stainless steel and teake decks takes time. For that we have a young man who comes to work on the boat everyday with Randal. Gilbert lives across the canal in Olongapo City, so needs a worker pass to come into the Subic Bay Freeport Area. I want to marvel at how odd that seems, but I honestly don’t know what it takes to get a job in the U.S. any more. The last time I applied for a job was in August of 1979! But no one needs a pass to travel among different cities, towns, states, etc. You might need a business permit in each area, and who knows what other paperwork, but no one stopped you from entering an area. I can’t imagine what that might feel like. I test my experimental baking on Gilbert and he is polite and eats it. Gilbert works Monday - Saturday. I did take some too old bought bread to feed to the flock of geese in the park yesterday on my way to Olongapo City for groceries. But my banana bread, brownies, and corn/cheese bread will get finished by humans.
During my earlier"walk around Olongapo" I included a photo of a young man wearing a NY hat. He, his pal, and I walked through the Magsaysay Gate out of Subic Bay - Freeport, and across the bridge to Olongapo together, chatting about baseball. Yesterday as I was walking to the grocery store in Olongapo, a young man passed me, smiled, and said, "Hello Boston!" That was cool! Made me feel like less of an outsider. And one of the Philipino boat workers across the way, another Yankees fan, chats baseball with me too. It’s my new universal languate.
Today I was biking to the National Bookstore for a book called Wound Care Made Incredibly Easy! and saw several bikers going the opposite way across the highway. We all waved at each other. About 30 minutes later,, on my way back to the boat, they came riding up behind me and I rode back to the SBYC with the president of the Olongapo - Subic Bay Cycling Club, Edwin Sentasas. He assured me that the club didn’t ride fast during all of their rides, but that some rides were 150 km long! Our 20 mile ride the other day was my longest in eons, so I guess I’ll need to train a bit before attemptin a club ride. I was always the slowest in the Blue Ridge Bicycle Club so I wouldn’t mind being the slowest here.
Randal and I did get our immitation Boston Red Sox hats. Not sure what the MLB or Red Sox will think of them. It might even be a trademark violation. But I’m willing to chance it. I have had to replace my genuine Red Sox watch, watch band twice in 12 months, so I figure we’re even somehow. Ru
Our new green Dora Mac - Red Sox hat on the left. It says DORA MAC on the back instead of MLB on the side. The shop owner said the B would look just like the one I just typed and I said fine. But when I rode over to get the hats, Randal got one too, the B looked just like the real B.
Many signs are in English and most grocery items are recognizable from home. So far, it’s just restaurant menues where local favorites are written in Tagalog, that are the stumpers. The waiter/waitress tries to explain, but could you explain asparagus to someone without a picture; or a zucchini? Even an apple: it’s round and what? Not all are the same color, texture, taste, firmness. I have learned to ask the color of something listed as a vegetable and if it is bitter. That’s more helpful. If it’s green, I will order it. But there is one vegetable that is bitter and green and I don’t like it. That’s why I ask about the bitterness.
I ordered Apan-Apan for dinner last night at the Yacht Club. No one could really describe it, and actually it was the name of the dish and not the vegetable itself. I asked the color and if it was bitter. Turns out it is very similar to the greens I like, but got so tired of eating, in China and Hong Kong. Oh well. These, though, were more tender and easier to chew. Plus with a knife and fork I didn’t end up eating the entire stalk at once as I had to in China requiring lots and lots and lots of chewing.
Here is info I found on the web. I guess Kangkong is the name of the vegetable, our "swamp cabbage." Would I have ordered swamp cabbage? Probably, though I never ate it at home. But I have eaten chicken feet, cows tongue, and marrow bones so why stop at swamp cabbage.
The Humble Kangkong
Bagoong alamang is shrimp paste.
It is Saturday noon here at the Internet Cafe. The wireless at the Yacht Club seems to be having issues. I had prepared emails to send from my computer and will, as soon as I can. If you don’t hear anything for a few day, and some of you might be thinking what a relief! don’t worry.
I usually check on the Sox each morning and couldn’t this morning and they won. Hmmmm I’ve already given up my red beads, but I don’t think I could promise not to check on them till after the game. My new hat seems to be bringing them bad luck. Hmmmm.
I have seen lots of different B hats, but not one of the wearers know what I am talking about. I will probably get a reputation as the crazy gringo who keeps pointing to hats. Oh well.
I walked to the Public Library the other day. We will be in Subic Bay for a few months, probably, so I hoped to get a library card. I will do that next visit; they have lots of fiction. I don’t like to buy fiction, once I’ve read it, I don’t need to own it. I have to take a small photo with me to get a card and didn’t know so didn’t have one when I went. The staff were kind and waved the daily charge. They did ask if I had books to donate and I will bring some when I return. It’s about a 35 minute brisk walk and a 50 minute sight seeing stroll from the boat to the library. "The City of Olongapo registered a total population of 194,260 persons in the year 2000, up from 179,754 persons in 1995. This translated to an average annual growth rate of 1.68 percent, an increase of 3.03 percentage points during the 1990 to 1995 period. " census.gov.ph
http://olongapomuseum.blogspot.com/ Is the web site of the Olongapo Museum with lots of good information and history about the area. It’s just down from the library and I visited it, too. The curators were very kind and made me feel very welcome.
Olongapo has a larger population than we do in Roanoke County, but our library system has so much more to offer. I don’t say this to criticize Olongapo. The staff seems as interested and dedicated as that of the Roanoke Valley libraries. One day Philippine libraries may have the funds to provide what Roanoke libraries offer. How lucky we are to live where libraries are funded well enough to offer the vast services we take for granted. American librarians have visions and funding to move towards those goals. Here librarians have dreams, but not the funding to match. Hopefully, one day they will.
Lots of open ocean most of the time, though occassionally we would cross a shipping lane or a fishing ground, and there would be more traffic. If our our routes had taken us to exactly the same spot at the same time, the auto-pilots would have run us into each other. Auto-pilots only know points on a chart, not what is actually happening on those points. Radar knows, but it isn’t steering the boat. The auto-pilot and radar work together through the person sitting watch. It’s easier during the day because you’re dealing with what you see, not just what the radar is interpreting for you. At night you can see lights, but they are so far away, luckily, that they aren’t so useful. Anyway, had we run into the ship in the picture, or he us, we would have been history. (Randal says that is a really simple explanation of auto-pilot and radar, but accurate.)
In the late afternoon it was nicer to go down the cockpit stairs to the swim platform and take a hose shower. Just you and the open ocean, and the guys upstairs! So I showered with my clothes and took care of two tasks at one time. The guys would have given me privacy, so maybe next passage I will skip the clothes bit. I have to say it was tempting to think about a swim, but of course I couldn’t go, so didn’t.
We had rain and then we had sun, so we had a rainbow. It really does look like the water is spilling off the world when you look at the horizon, and you can do it 360 degrees worth on a boat. The stars were amazing too. I’m not sure if I was seeing the Big Dipper, but north was off our stern and I think the North Star was following us. I have to look all of this up at some point, but no matter, it was beautiful. I couldn’t capture it with my camera. Just imagine you’re at a planatarium, only better. The sky’s truly so vast, as vast as the ocean. And the ocean really is ink bottle blue, bluer than I thought it would be. Unfortunately we only saw a few small flying fish skipping out and over the water away from bigger fish and not any more interesting sea life.
Entries from my journal…
Our fly bridge has a ladder that goes up from the cockpit just behind the pilot house back wall. We can raise the ladder up to the flybridge and zip up the cockpit biminy to keep the cockpit sort of dry. We had left it unzipped because the weather was good and we wanted access to the flybridge. Here was my entry as I was lying back on the cockpit cushions.
"Looked up through the ladder opening in the biminy and watched the mast point to the stars."
"One hand for me, one for the boat." That’s the way you have to walk around a rolling boat.
"48 hours out 18.32 N 117.5 E"
"We have been at sea for 3 nights and it’s starting to feel like a month."
"Nights are beautiful with the stars."
"Mornings are beautiful with the sunrise."
"Days are too long and too hot."
"The South China Sea doesn’t taste like the Atlantic where the salt coats your lips and you can taste it as you lick them."
"The bright sun makes the water port side look black/purple/blue; the starboard side is ink blue."
"Our horizon is 360 degrees!"
"At night the stars fall to the water."
Bill put up our American flag to indicate where DoraMac is registered.
We also fly the flag of our host country; the Filipino flag.
We had forgotten to get the yellow quarantine flag that you fly into port. Guy used a yellow supermarket bag.
After the quarantine inspector comes and the immigration inspector comes and the customs inspector comes, you can finally leave the boat. Till then everyone must remain on board. All inspectors were pleasant and interested and accepted a bottle of water. The 3 inspections cost $150 U.S.
Randal backed us into our slip. Good job Randal! Not sure what slip number we have, but we are on the last row, left side, near the end of the dock.
I will probably not explore so much for a few days as we work on boat chores and giving the boat a good cleaning inside and out. I do have a back log of photos to send so that will let me catch up rather than take more that just sit. We have all of the Chinese and Hong Kong pollution to wash off and stuff to rearrange now that I have experienced a passage. Stuff moves around, and even if it doesn’t break, it makes noise and that’s annoying. So, though I have gotten off relatively easily up to now, it’s time for me to get to work and learn about the NAV system and First Aid and, and, and. But we have lots of time here so that’s ok. I’ll try to send some of those photos soon.
Jul 18 2007
This is an email from our great friend Jane Chou at the Boat Yard. Jane always had a smile and was alway so positive about getting things done if Randal asked. She even sat with him for hours in the hospital so I could get some rest after sleeping 2 nights on Randal’s hospital bed.
She wrote this about accessing my journal link in China. I had mentioned in a recent email that I was worried about what the Philippine censors, if there is such a group here, might think of what I write. When my journal stopped being available in China, it was available everywhere else, even Hong Kong. Marino Rancier, computer guru at the Roanoke County Public Library had been able to check and make his computer mimic one from China; no journal. My Chinese friends Jane and Lillian both were unable to access it and Randal and I both tried when we were in China and also could not access it. Because it was available everywhere else, I made the assumption that it was an action of the Chinese rather than any decision by the www.oddgamer.info service. (Of course you know what happens when you assume!) The Journal disappeared in April during our trip home, but is now back. I think I tried it just before we left in June, so it has returned since then. I can’t explain its reappearence any more than its disppearence. Bill said the Chinese government wouldn’t even notice a tiny journal like mine, but it did disappear….
So as Gump would say, "that’s all I have to say about that."
(Jane Chou wrote this to me yesterday. She has a very poetic way of writing. I had asked her to check when Bill Kimley said he could see www.oddgamer.info on his computer. He wanted add a link to it from "Duck Talk" a Diesel Duck discussion group.)
It was bright and sunny so I put aside boat tasks and just went for a walk. I was looking for a drug store for more first aid supplies and also veggies for dinner. But mainly I wanted some exercise so went out to look around Olongapo City. I still don’t know much of its history, but the name has something to do with the severed head of a brave old man standing up against corrupt authorities. Tagalog is the official language of the Philippines but most people speak English too. Lucky for us.
When I was in China I tried to be objective in my observations. The Chinese, oddly after several months of entires, decided I wasn’t portraying things in the way they might wish so stopped www.oddgamer.info from being available in China. I’ve decided to be a bit more circumspect in my writing and just show lots of photos. I will photograph what I see and you can come to your own conclusions. Obviously I will photograph what appeals to me; but also what will help you share our experiences. Like every other country in the world there is wealth and poverty and I’ll try to show both. When I know interesting facts to share, I will. We’ll see how it goes.
Ruth and Randal
Boston Red Sox hat travels the world.