Saturday, November 30, 2019

a walk and a meal with John Mac

My friend John McCrarey lives in the Philippines, but before he began life as a retiree there, he used to live and work in South Korea where, according to his version of things, life could be kind of rough when it came to interpersonal relationships. John had a great rapport with the people he worked with, but readers of his blog know that he thinks of himself as a work in progress, especially when it comes to his personal life. That said, he is the proud owner of two awesome dogs, a dedicated Hasher (member of a distance-walking/hiking club), and a charitable giver to his local community. He has made the PI his home, and he's a lot happier there than he ever was in Korea. However, John's ties to Korea remain strong, and he does come back, now and again, for visits. He arrived earlier this week with the intention of spending only five days on the peninsula, and he honored me by spending a large chunk of today going on a hike down to Bundang and then eating a late lunch or early dinner at my place, all despite the fact that he was dead tired after the walk, and in desperate need of a nap.

I didn't take many pics of this hike, mainly because I took so many pics of the Tan Creek hike over at my other blog (see here and here). Today, I snapped only three photos while on the trail, so here they are. Below is a pic of yours truly, bundled up for the cold: said it was 28ºF (-2.2ºC) at 8 a.m. But with no wind, it didn't feel as if it were below freezing. John arrived slightly early for our meet-up; luckily, I was outside waiting for him, and we marched down Gaepo Street to the Tan Creek and began our trek to Bundang. We had to take frequent toilet breaks; we also stopped plenty of times for photo ops, and I was my usual slowpoke self, so we ended up averaging about 4.5 km/h on our way down to Jeongja Station in Bundang. Most notably, the walk had taken me about 30K steps when I did it the first time, but today's walk barely crossed over the 25K-step mark. I'm going to guess that that's because John walks faster than I do, so I may have unconsciously increased my stride length (thereby reducing my step count) in order to keep up with John. It wasn't much of an increase; had it been an effort, I'd have ended up with blisters. All I had, at the end of the walk, were achy feet. And I already know what that feels like, so that wasn't an issue.

Below: a pic taken while I was seated on an artfully placed tree stump, waiting for John to do his business in a nearby restroom (of which, as you'll recall, there are plenty on this route):

In the following pic, we go meta. This is a pic of John taking a pic of a gathering of birds. Egrets? Storks? I have no clue. Maybe egrets. How would I know? I know nothing.

In the next pic below, we're back at my place, having taken a crowded Shin Bundang Line train to Yangjae, then a not-so-crowded Line 3 train back to my apartment. I had a bottle of La Chouffe beer left over from the previous weekend's get-together, and since I don't drink beer, and I wasn't about to throw perfectly good beer into the garbage, I offered the Belgian bière blonde to John, who gamely drank it:

John claims not to be a beer connoisseur. His comfort zone consists of "cheap shit" like San Miguel Light, as well as OB beer while he's in Korea. As he puts it (this is nowhere near a direct quote): if a cheap bottle of beer makes him as happy as an expensive bottle does, then he may as well stick with the cheap stuff. Makes sense to me.

The meal I served John was partly warmed-up leftovers, partly new food cooked for the occasion. Among the new grub: a chicken roulade, done right this time; some deli-sliced ham done up with honey, maple syrup, and mustard, almost to the point of candying; some bacon gravy to be used on the stuffing, the potatoes, and the aforementioned roulade. Oh, and bread pudding, which included the remains of the ill-fated pecan pie. As for the leftovers, we had stuffing, mashed potatoes, and peas & carrots. I think this meal was arguably better than the one I'd served last week. That's good for John, but not so good for my other friends, alas. Here's a shot of my immodestly filled plate (cornbread not pictured):

The trick to getting the roulade right this time was to cook it for 30 minutes less. The end result was a hell of a lot juicier, but the chicken was still cooked through. I'm not totally happy with shooting a pic of the roulade in its baking pan, but here's a shot of it all the same:

After a half-hour pause to allow ourselves time to digest, we turned our attention to dessert: bread pudding and vanilla ice cream. John Mac declared the bread pudding a winner, so I felt redeemed after my failure with the pecan pie. I'll be taking the rest of the pudding to work, where only two people, at most, will eat it. (Everyone else is on some sort of diet or other, much to my chagrin.)

John was utterly beat by the end of our meal. He said that, in the PI, he normally takes an afternoon nap around 1 p.m., and he had been up since 4 this morning. I could see him sagging in his chair, and soon enough, John knew the time had come for him to go, get some rest, and then prep for his return to the Philippines tomorrow. He's leaving on a super-early flight, so the earlier he can rest today, the better. It was good to see John; he told me twice that I need to go hit the Philippines. He's aware that I'm no fan of heat and humidity, but I might travel down there at some point—maybe next year—for a brief visit. I'm also thinking about hitting Qatar at the behest of a different friend, but that's a post for another day.

Safe travels, John McCrarey! Long may you walk!


  1. It was a long walk but I'm glad I did it. Not sure I'll walk that far in one go again anytime soon, but it's nice to know I have the capability.

    I really enjoyed the meal. You are a master in the kitchen! Reminds me that I'm just a "pretend" cook.

    Thanks again!

  2. Wait, does this mean you will not be committing seppuku? And here I was practicing my swing.

  3. John,

    I'd say you're a bona fide cook, based on what I've seen on your blog. And I was sure you'd be able to hack that distance. Now, you get to go back to doing your muddy hills and creeks!


    Alas, I won't be needing a second. The head stays in place. For now.



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