Thursday, December 11, 2008

Arrived in Seoul

05 December 2008

I arrived in Seoul in one piece. Nearly missed my connection in Dubai! We got stuck circling in the air and then the transfer bus got lost on the way to the terminal....Duh!

So I arrived very sleep deprived and hadn't slept in like 24 hours. Good thing I had the chance to recharge in Kuwait those couple of days. Went out to eat and what do you think my first meal here is??? General Tso's Chicken! Forks weren't even on the table. Guess it's good I know how to use chopsticks. It's almost like I came out of the womb with them! (Thanks Jasmine! Jaz was a Chinese/German/American translator friend of ours when I was stationed back in Germany in the 1980's. Our group would cruise the countryside on weekends near
Kalkar/s' Herrenburg/Nijmegen/Emmerich area for Chinese restaurants. She declared that if we were going to make a habit of Chinese Restaurants, we all needed to learn to eat with chopsticks.)

Slept like a babey (an intentional mispelling due to an infiltration of advertisements!) last night, but up early today (it's now 0645 and we're headed out the door) to go on the DMZ tour. More later...

Relaxing in Kuwait

02 December 2008

Just got into Kuwait yesterday and got my passport back tonight. Went up to the airport to see if I could move up my tickets and Emirates said that they are booked both tonight and tomorrow from Dubai to Seoul. I can't even go to Dubai and wait till Wed because of the way my ticket was booked. Damned Expedia. They get you good prices, but don't try changing anything!

So I'm holding up in the Kuwait Hilton right now. I've been here before, but this is only the second time. I usually go to the Crown Plaza, but I like the Hilton here a bit better and decided to treat myself since I couldn't get out. Got a room facing the water and will probably do a massage and haircut and get the string treatment on the brows. Tryin to keep the uni-brow under control! So far about as much as I've accomplished today was breakfast.

Back off to the Blue Elephant Thai restaurant for dinner. I wanted to have dessert yesterday, but was too full. They have a coconut flan that I was dying for but was ready to bust last night, so I'm going to have to save room tonight!

03 December 2008

It's Wed afternoon about 1pm and I'm about ready to go. I was able to get a late checkout till 5pm. My flight to Dubai isn't until 1050pm, so I'll be spending some time at the airport. Of course that is nothing new. Like all the airports in the Middle East, it is like a huge shopping mall, so there is plenty to look at and window shop if nothing else.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

In Kuwait…finally

30 November 2008

I was beginning to wonder if I was ever going to get out of Baghdad. All day Saturday, it rained cats and dogs. Fortunately, there seems to finally be enough rock down in most of the places that count so that the mud is somewhat reduced…except in the streets. Even the suggestion of liquid coming down from the sky turns the fine dust in the streets turn into a soupy pea soup slurry.

It wouldn’t be so bad if they had sidewalks all over the base, but they’ve yet to put sidewalks along the most traveled pedestrian areas, ie the very pedestrian crowded streets leading to the Green Bean coffee shop where the all the shops are and additionally along a busy street leading to the Medical clinic. (Go figure. If you’re not in bad enough shape to require an ambulance to get to medical help, you will be when you’re hit by some Humvee driven by Sgt Mario Andretti. Don’t laugh, it happened last year. The poor soldier ended up with a broken pelvis. And we joke in Chicago that if you’re going to “buy the farm” let it be by a Bentley and not a cab! Imagine the stigma of being run down by a Humvee. Oh the humanity!)

Add to that the issue of the MP’s only pulling over civilians because it is too much hassle to ticket Sgt Snuffy for going over the speed limits…that and the fact that turn signals are completely optional for the military but required for civilians.) But the military certainly have had plenty of concrete the last two years to pave parking lots all over creation here on Victory.

I’m finally beginning to understand that success in winning the war on terrorism is only measured and truly accomplished by the amount of concrete parking lots you can lay down in Iraq.

More on the subject of pains in my ass…

The flight desk told me on Saturday evening that my call-time for my flight was at 1330 Sunday afternoon. Got there with plenty of time to spare and all they say then is..."oh, the flight has been pushed back 6 hours." That’s when you know it’s going to be a long one!

So we end up sitting on our thumbs for six hours, only to find out the plane landed in Baghdad, but wasn't going to take "Leg 1"…neither was it going to take us ("Leg 2") to Kuwait where it was headed back to because of mechanical problems. Now we know this is not looking good. Okay, it’s time to start wondering if they are going to cancel the flight.

The C17 flew back to Kuwait, they repaired the front landing gear, flew back to Baghdad, took Leg 1 and arrived back in Baghdad at 0245am this morning to take us...Leg 2 to Kuwait. Fortunately, the crew got permission to run a complete mission back to Kuwait and we boarded finally at 0300...arriving in Kuwait at 0400.

But the baggage people were slow, so it took our luggage until 0530 to get to Ali As Salem. Yep, I'm kinda tired. I slept from 0630 till about 1100am and am now finishing up shopping and wondering around Ali As Salem before trying to catch a few more zzzz's. This is the part about traveling out of Baghdad that is in the realm identified as a pain in the butt! More later.

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