After I tried to stop this series and start a new series (which failed), I am back in the driver's seat for King's Survivor's final phase, since it would probably have lasted longer if Adobe didn't cancel Flash (thanks for rushing my series, mate!). This season, I tried to do what u/swoldow did before and make a season called Saints Vs Sinners, where 10 people who embody the term "Saint" will face off against the people who embody the term "Sinner", but unfortunately, it seemed like a lot of the people who signed up misunderstood the definition of saints and sinners. For the love of god, someone who is slightly villainous is not a "sinner", and average people are not "saints". Oh well. I guess it's the best I'm gonna get. Here is the cast: Kahramanca (Saints) Tribe: Ardet Prifti, 31, Rhythm Guitarist, u/Twig7665 Ardet lived a difficult life. Born in Albania with a family that was associated with the mafia meant that Ardet was never safe, and one day, he came back home to find his whole family had been murdered by the Albanian mafia. He spent years on the street, struggling to survive, before he discovered his musical talent. He played a guitar (which he had to steal), which enabled him to earn money. After a few years of doing that, he moved to the United States, where he did his best to get into the largest music college in that country, and actually succeeded. He met some people that became his bandmates, and soon they were pretty popular in the underground scene. When their fame exploded, Ardet's bandmates grew either egotistical or paranoid, but Ardet saw fame as a way to spread awareness for mental illness. He has now become a strong supporter of mental health charities around the country, and he signed up for Survivor to raise money for one of the charities he supports. Ava Chrisly, 23, Kindergarten Teacher, u/Gemini_B Ava was born deaf. After her father died when she was 3, her birthmother struggled to care for her and her 3 siblings. Ava was especially tough since she needed special treatment and one night her birthmother left her on the doorstep of a rich widow with a note explaining how Ava got there. The Widow, not wanting to deal with a deaf child, left her outside where she spent a cold night alone and scared. She came across Marissa, a young girl who ran away from home. Marissa took pity on her and the two banded together. They spent years together on the street with Ava learning to read lips and Marissa learning sign language. Marissa quickly saw that Ava had a gift with children and encouraged her to find a job with kids. Ava didn’t want Marissa to leave, but then Marissa surprised her by revealing she had a scholarship to a teachers college. Ava went off to the collage and became a kindergarten teacher, but when she returned she learned that Ava had gone to jail for stealing from a rich old woman and using the money to bribe a college administrator. Ava promised she’d help bail Marissa out, and learned about survivor. She’s hoping she can win the million to help free Marissa and get their lives on track. Chelsea Rutherford, 22, Lifeguard, u/IAmWolfNinja Chelsea was the heiress to the throne of a foreign country with a corrupt government. The wealth that came with such a status meant nothing to her, since she was utterly disgusted with the actions of her family. Knowing her resentment for their governmental policies, Chelsea's family gradually became verbally abusive towards her. Unable to take any more, she escaped as a teen to pursue her own path. When she arrived in America, Chelsea wanted to do everything she could to erase her dark past and the actions of her family, so she got a job as a lifeguard, where she has saved countless lives. She's occasionally recognized as an heiress, but when it's brought up, she tends to have nervous breakdowns. Chester "Cap'n" Richardson, 67, Retired Naval Officer, u/swoldow Some may see him as just the average old man, but Cap’n has seen and done things most people couldn't fathom. Cap’n joined the navy at a ripe young age about 5 years before the Cold War began, and learned everything from afar, slowly working up the ranks. When things got bad in Vietnam, he was given the chance to take charge of a ship during the war, and he immediately said yes. He ran the ship strictly, but he got both respect from everyone, as well as being genuinely liked as a person by his crew. He led them to many naval victories but unfortunately that didn't last, when his ship was shot with a torpedo, which blew the whole thing up and killed everyone on it, except for Cap’n. With the emotional baggage of watching people he has gotten to know kick the bucket, he immediately resigned from the navy after. As a result of the shipwreck, his mindset has changed, as he’s now super overprotective of his family, and still can't let the explosion go after years and years of retirement. He hopes Survivor can help him learn more about himself, and be the thing he needs to live the rest of his life in peace. Cornelius Von Helton, 52, CEO, u/Gemini_B Cornelius was raised by a family that had fallen from riches and was in tough times. He never expected to get to go to university but got lucky by getting a scholarship for his creative greeting cards. While at university, he enrolled in a business course and after collage started a greeting card business with some friends. All of his friends quickly gave up on the business, but Cornelius stuck through it. When he made a greeting card that was delivered to Eddie Murphy, the comedian was impressed and hired him to do his greeting cards to his friends, family, and invitations to parties. Quickly other celebrities started to hire his business and many fans wanted to get into the trend. His business rapidly expanded and he soon found himself with a company that covered parties, greeting cards, published books and even dabbled in a touch of Realestate. While in his thirties though, Cornelius was mugged while on a walk in the park and got stabbed. He was quickly rushed to the hospital and while there, he was nursed back to health by his soon to be wife. He claims that she saved his life and proceeded to date her after leaving the hospital. She was reluctant at first, but he quickly charmed her and the two have been married for 15 years now. He has two children, a son aged 10 and a daughter aged 8. He's continued to run his business, but leaves most of the work to his higher-ups as he wants to be able to spend as much time with his family and employees as possible. He views his employees as his family and does his best to remember all their names and make the workspace as nice for them as possible. He's come to survivor because his wife loves the show and wanted to compete, but due to growing health issues can't. She's trained him to win, and he wants to do this and win for her. Dana Vasquez, 43, Stay At Home Mom, (filler character) Greg Zimmer, 40, High School Teacher, u/AngolanDesert Greg is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. He is very trusting and kind and will do anything for the people he loves. Since he grew up in Texas, hard work has always been his priority. He knows that if he wants to win this game, he has to work hard at everything he does. Greg decided to be a high school teacher so he could teach his students the importance of hard work. He has been a fan of survivor for a while, so when he saw that applications for survivor were going out, he knew he had to join in. Hopefully, he won’t disappoint his students. Gwendolyn "Gwen" Wallerby, 52, Baker, u/ghetra Gwen works at a bakery where she gets to do what she loves every day: make many different kinds of pies. She is a very warm, loving person and has a reputation for helping out whoever needs it, usually by baking for them. Baking takes a lot of patience and strength, and she is stronger than she looks. She naturally has a very loud voice that sometimes irks people, but once they get to know her it quickly becomes endearing. Now that her children are out of the house, she has started reading much more and taking classes on different subjects that interest her. The world is her oyster. Kirk Smolarek, 62, History Teacher, u/Twig7665 Kirk never had a normal childhood. His mom walked out on his family not long after he was born, and his father was a former Polish soldier with PTSD and a severe drug addiction, leading to Kirk experiencing abuse from him for as long as Kirk can remember. Wanting to escape his miserable life, he smuggled himself on a boat bound for Australia when he was 16. Lo and behold, the ship got caught in a windstorm and ended up sinking, and Kirk and a few other survivors ended up stranded on an island. After spending more than a month there, he was taken back to his homeland after being found there. He ended up being the only survivor of the whole ordeal. He was returned to his deranged father, where the next time his father tried to abuse him, he fought back, causing his father to end up in the hospital. Deemed not guilty because he defended himself, Kirk did not spend time in prison for this. His father on the other hand did spend time there for drug-related charges and child abuse, but was killed by another inmate before he could be released. Kirk then went to college, where he studied history there, and decided to become a history teacher. He then kept that job title for over 40 years now, and despite being in his 60s, he is still an enjoyable presence for his students, as he incorporates unusual teaching methods to make his students interested in what he's teaching. Despite being financially stable, he wants to win the money so he can be well off when he retires in a few years. Maralyn Sander, 32, Tour Guide, u/Void_Drone Maralyn gives tours of New York, driving around in her bus, answering questions, watching broadway shows. And she spends most of her money on her family, except for the money she spent on her pink pearl necklace. She enjoys the tours for the most part, but when she's alone she vents about how annoying the tours can be. Kotu Adam (Sinners) Tribe: Alexa Station, 20, YouTuber, u/IAmWolfNinja A 3AM YouTuber who arrived late to the trend, Alexa has a tendency to flex her belongings when no one really cares. She was recently involved in a scandal where she faked her boyfriend's death, causing endless amounts of controversy, and a near arrest. Her sub count is dropping significantly every day, so she joined to help gain her popularity (relevancy) back. Carter Witworth, 23, College Student, u/JTsidol Witworth, he was born to a extremely rich family, but his parents didn’t have time for him, but spoiled him rotten, when he got into school, he was known for being a bully, however no one confronted him, and everytime he’d get in trouble or fail a test, his parents would pay his way out, last year, he got a slap in the face, when his parents yet again had to bribe the college board to accept him, they cut off his allowance, he’s playing just for the money, nothing else. Irvin Eamers, 32, Olympic Sprinter, u/asiansurvivorfan A born athlete, Irvin loved competing in all sports but wasn’t known to play fair as he was never a team player and would often torment others to win. He started training for the Olympics at the age of 17 and eventually got the opportunity to compete in multiple Olympics where he took home many gold medals. However, they were striped from him when he was caught doping and using steroids to give him an edge in races. After the controversy, Irvin’s current wife left him and he was banned from competing in any future competitions. He came on Survivor for one reason and that is that is the money as he’s currently being sued by the Olympic committee. Jessica Abrefa, 25, Poker Player, u/Twig7665 Jessica wasn't the most well off growing up, she lived in Alabama, where racism was rampant. As such, she was bullied for her race, until one day, she decided that they will all be wrong about her not being able to do anything because of her skin colour. She publicly humiliated the whole football team at her high school, and that stunt got her expelled in her senior year. She didn't care, and then she decided to run away to Las Vegas, which she did. While there, she started modeling, but found it boring. She then picked up the hobby of gambling, and played her first poker match when she was 21. She proved herself to be a formidable foe by beating one of the top poker players at the time, a dude named Brett Herman. Impressed by her skills, he tried to form a bond with her, but she turned him down due to him being a very paranoid man. Now, Jessica dates and cheats on men almost daily, and is considered one of the top female poker players, despite only playing for a few years. An avid Survivor fan, she wants to be as flirty and manipulative as she is in her real life. The only problem would be meeting another poker player, but she finds it unlikely that she will. Joey "Wildcard" Caruso, 24, Poker Player, u/wordonthestreet2 Joey did not grow up with the best moral compass as his father notoriously had ties to the mafia. He used the money his father made through illegitimate businesses to gamble throughout his teenage years. When his father learned about his poker abilities and how easy it was for him to manipulate his opponents they began using his poker career as a way to launder mafia money through various casinos. He is known for his excellent poker face and unpredictable style of play which earned him the nickname Wildcard. Maize Nguyen, 28, Heiress, u/Vicctoryy From the outside looking in, the Nguyen Family Dynasty of San Francisco looks like a well supported and strong business, but from the inside, things are crumbling apart. The matriarch and patriarch are always at each other's necks over the company, leaving their children to clean up their messes. Maize, being the oldest, has taken it upon herself to lead the company, and she leads with an iron will and even harder iron fist. While she seems like a worthy replacement for her faulty parents, she has never been afraid to leave with force. Anyone at the receiving end of a verbal lashing from Maize is likely to not return to work the next day, or ever again. She is arrogant, rude, demeaning, and yet she gets things done. Saving the company from absolute bankruptcy caused a lot of backlash, but Maize couldn't care less. Success should be accomplished by stepping on the necks of those who aren't ready for the power, and Maize has done that exact thing. Any person in Maize's way has been an obstacle she has to conquer, and with a flip of her finger, that obstacle is no longer a problem. She has never been afraid to crack a few eggs to make an omelette, and unfortunately, those eggs have just been working class people struggling to make minimum wage and put dinner on their table. Too bad for them according to Maize. Maize has come to Survivor to prove that the Nguyen Dynasty is far from over, and their business monopoly will run on for years with Maize at the front of it. She is the iceberg, everyone else is a ship with no idea of what's in their way. Those too bold to step in her way are trampled, quite literally. Maize has no problem with controversy, controversy brings attention, attention brings money, and money brings power. Molly-Anne Benson, 26, Marketing Assistant, u/ghetra Molly-Anne is a social butterfly. She loves chatting with people about pretty much anything and loves meeting and getting to know new people. She has a natural charm about her that draws people in, but sometimes people are bothered by how chatty she is. She also loves to gossip and is not above spreading rumors. However, she is rather sensitive and can be set off by just about anything. She frequently will push people's buttons if they offend her and will hold a grudge until the end of time. Nikki Lopez, 29, Stripper, u/Void_Drone Randall Martin, 49, Real Estate Agent, u/TDSwaggyBoy Being a self proclaimed sleazeball, which is a very weird thing to be proud of, Randall's life was never too good. He didn't grow up with a lot of close friends. Sure, people liked him at first, but when they really got to know him they didn't appreciate him nor his antics very much. Randall had to make a name for himself. He quickly found a career in the world of real estate. Not even his co-workers enjoyed his company, but they appreciated his skills. Being a fast and smooth talker really pays off in his industry. And now, Randall wants to put his skills to use in SURVIVOR. How well will that pan out? Vito Luco, 49, Used Car Salesman, u/swoldow Vito is the last person you'd want to trust with anything. A true con-artist at heart, he now has a job selling used cars, but his past jobs would make you run away from him in fear. When he was younger, he was a part of a major drug-trafficking operation run by the mafia, and he later got a job selling illegal fireworks, both of which got him to do jail time for a decade. Newly released, he seems to be back to his old ways, as he scams people out of their money daily with his faulty cars. He was born constantly overshadowed by his perfect younger brother, who is a popular politician, while he just swindles from people. As a result, he hates people who play loyally, and wants to prove that evil is the best way to play. He isn't afraid to play hard, as that's what he did all his life, and he'll either win, or go out swinging. Link to Season Episode 1: The 20 new contestants are welcomed into Turkey, where their first task is to compete in a challenge for reward. The Sinners tribe win this reward due to having more young and fit members than the Saints tribe. As a result, the Saints are already demoralized as they arrive at camp. Cap'n starts to feel good vibes from Ardet and Maralyn, and takes them under his wing to form an alliance. Ava, on the other hand, reveals that she is deaf to Chelsea and Gwen, and the three form another alliance due to being close to one another already. Cap'n sees this and scrambles to find an idol, and does so. Over at the Sinners tribe, Witworth and Jessica see their opportunity to look for an idol, and they find it, giving them more security, while back at camp, Maize and Nikki get into a fight over thinking that the other has an idol, which neither of them do. Vito becomes the moderator of this fight, saying that the three of them plus Irvin and Molly need to stick together in the long run. Randall sees this alliance form and tries to get Alexa, Jessica, Witworth, and Wildcard on board, which they all agree to at first, but then Wildcard sees this as his opportunity to cause conflict within his tribe, so he becomes content with being a swing vote. The Sinners win immunity, and on the Saints tribe it quickly becomes a race to see who can scrape up the swing votes the fastest between Cap'n's alliance and Ava's alliance. Dana becomes the target for Ava's alliance because of her weakness in challenges and her blind loyalty, while Greg is targeted by Ardet and Cap'n due to his shiftiness. They are able to get Kirk and Dana on board to blindside Greg, and they try to talk to Gwen, but she does not flip. Instead, at tribal council, we end up with a 5-5 split, followed by a 4-4 vote split due to no one flipping. Then a rock draw occurs on the first vote of the season. Ardet becomes the victim of the rocks, sending him out of the game despite never receiving a single vote. Episode 2: After an explosive first vote, Cap'n tries to figure out who flipped on the six and sent Ardet home. No one tells him who did it, so he assumes it was Ardet. Ava tries to flip Maralyn from Cap'n's alliance, but is unsuccessful at doing so. At the Sinners camp, Jessica and Witworth, despite being closely aligned, argue over who gets to keep the idol, and Witworth ends up keeping it in the end. The Saints pull out a surprise victory over the fractured Sinners, and back at camp, Wildcard decides to snake the alliance he was pretending to work with, and joins Vito's alliance. Their first target is none other than Alexa, who saw this game as nothing other than a tool to get more relevancy back, and it particularly irked Vito, who wanted to play against people who played hard. So together, with his alliance and Wildcard, they vote for Alexa. Meanwhile, the four person alliance realizes that Wildcard snaked them, so they vote for him, and Alexa becomes the second person voted off in a 6-4 vote. Episode 3: After Alexa's vote off, Irvin tries to bond with Vito, wanting to be his right hand man, and they become closer due to both being sleazy people. Wildcard begins to feel like he's in control, and it starts to annoy people on his tribe. At the Saints camp, Cap'n starts to rub people the wrong way because of his cockiness due to having an idol, but no one catches on to him having an idol, which is good news for him, because he plans on holding onto the idol until the merge. The Sinners win immunity for the third time, and they grow cocky because of this. Cap'n and Kirk, being the two oldest men on the tribe, join forces with Dana and Maralyn to take out their biggest threat in the opposing alliance, Greg. However, the other side has majority, and they decide that Dana has been blindly loyal to the other three, and hasn't been pulling her weight in challenges, so she becomes the third person voted out in a 5-4 vote. Episode 4: After a somewhat boring vote, Greg starts to get paranoid, since he's already gotten 9 votes and it's only episode 4. He then tries to get the minority alliance to pin their votes onto Gwen, but Gwen gets angry at him for doing so, and they have an argument. At Sinners camp, Jessica tries to talk to Irvin, trying to get his alliance to help hers take out Wildcard, and Irvin tells Vito about the plan, and Vito starts to see Wildcard as not being of use anymore. After losing the reward challenge, the Saints come back harder and beat the Sinners at the next challenge. Wildcard lets Vito know that he is going to vote Maize, since he wants to make a big move early on. This becomes the final nail in Wildcard's coffin, as Vito was quite close to Maize. At tribal council, Wildcard becomes the first unanimous boot of the season, going out in a 8-1 vote. Episode 5: Vito starts to think that Irvin has been playing way too loyally, and he gets into a discussion with him that slowly devolves into a full-blown fight between them, but Vito, realizing that Irvin would make a bad enemy, tries to make it up to him, and it works. The Sinners win both reward and immunity, and they feel elated about it. Cornelius goes to Cap'n and proposes an alliance to him, allowing them to control things from behind the scenes with Maralyn. He also reveals that he has grown a disdain for Greg, and that they need to flip the numbers on him. They get Gwen and Kirk on board, or so they think, but Gwen blabs to Greg and their alliance, leading to Kirk to flip as well. They decide to vote Cornelius out due to him being the biggest gamer on the tribe, and he goes in a 5-3 vote. Episode 6: The tribes pack up their things, anticipating a swap, but then the host announces that they will be competing for individual immunity on their tribe, and whoever wins will be safe from the double tribal council taking place that night. Maralyn wins for the Saints, and Vito wins for the Sinners. The Sinners also win reward, earning food to enjoy while they watch the other tribe go to tribal council. Witworth, Jessica, and Randall decide it was now or never to get rid of Maize, who had a fight with Randall earlier that day, but Vito, hearing about this, decides that Randall is the biggest sleaze on his tribe, and he needed to go as soon as possible. In his voting confessional, he states there can be only one sleazy guy on the tribe, and that was himself, so Randall had to go, and Randall becomes the sixth person voted out in a 5-3 vote, and he is bitter as all hell about it. At the Saints tribe, Cap'n becomes angry over the fact he cannot vote in the majority, and it makes the majority annoyed with him, so they decide to vote him off. Luckily for Cap'n, he still has an idol, so he and Maralyn vote for the most threatening player in their minds, Chelsea, and Cap'n plays his idol, sending Chelsea out of the game in a 2-0 vote. Episode 7: After Chelsea's idol out, Cap'n officially became public enemy number one on his tribe, and he tries to find his rehidden idol, but Kirk finds it instead. Maralyn and Greg have a fight due to the food on their tribe running low, and morale being even lower. At the Sinners tribe, Nikki begins to be seen as an easy goat due to her one-sided loyalty to Vito. Morale at the Saints tribe dips even lower when they lose both reward and immunity. Not wanting to lose again,the majority decide to vote off their oldest member, Cap'n, as a last ditch attempt to prevent them from going on a losing streak. Cap'n and Maralyn vote for Greg, and Cap'n becomes the eighth person voted out in a 5-3 vote, missing out on the jury by one placement. Episode 8: After Cap'n's vote out, there are only five members on the Saints tribe, compared to the Sinners having seven. The Sinners increase their winning streak by two by winning both reward and immunity. At the Sinners camp, Jessica and Witworth have another fight over the idol, with Jessica insisting that she keep it. This causes the rest of the tribe to be alerted to the fact that Jessica and Witworth have an idol, and Witworth becomes a target because of this. At the Saints tribe, the women form a tight three, and Kirk and Greg are forced to band together to survive. At tribal council, the three women stay strong, and Greg is voted out 3-2 and becomes the first member of the jury, leaving only four Saints left in the game. Episode 9: With his back up against the wall, Kirk knows that he's probably gone next if he didn't have the idol, which ensured his survival until merge. The Saints finally win a challenge, a reward challenge, but lose immunity once again to the inflated egos of the Sinners. Not much else happens this episode, but Kirk tries to get Maralyn to flip and vote out Ava, but she disagrees to do so, and she votes for Gwen instead, making Kirk not trust her, and he decides to vote for her, while also playing his idol. This causes a 1-1-0 tie between Gwen and Maralyn, and Ava, misunderstanding what would happen if she forced a tie, votes for Gwen while Kirk votes for Maralyn, and Ava becomes the second person in King's Survivor history to be eliminated by default, due to there being no other options, and she becomes the second member of the jury Episode 10: At long last, the tribes merge into the purple Ucurum tribe, meaning balance in Turkish. Left in the game is Witworth, Gwen, Irvin, Jessica, Kirk, Maize, Maralyn, Molly, Nikki, and Vito. At first, it seems like it would be Saint Vs Sinner, but Jessica and Witworth come to the three Saints left in the game, and they convince them to vote with them come tribal council. Vito wins his second immunity challenge of the season, and his target was Witworth for being the strongest male not in his alliance, and also for lying about not having an idol, which he believed was given to Jessica. At tribal council, the lines cause a 5-5 divide between Irvin and Witworth, and on the revote, Maralyn randomly decides to flip to avoid a tie, and Carter Witworth becomes the third member of the jury, and also another person to go out with an idol in their pocket. He is understandably pretty pissed about this ordeal, but wishes his tribe well. Episode 11: The day after Witworth's blindside, the nine remaining contestants compete in a reward challenge, which the team containing Irvin, Maralyn, and Vito win. At the reward, Irvin and Vito realize how dangerous Maralyn could be after she starts trying to talk game with them. Soon afterwards, Maralyn finds the idol, and Jessica calls out Molly for following Vito almost blindly. Nikki wins the second post merge immunity challenge, and Vito tries to recruit Jessica for the vote, which succeeds. They then choose to target Maralyn, since she was the most threatening out of the three Saints, and the six remaining Sinners pin votes onto her. Unfortunately for them, Maralyn pulls out an idol, and the Saints vote for Irvin, a potential immunity threat, making him the fourth member of the jury in a 3-0 vote. Episode 12: After Irvin's blindside, only two men are still in the game, compared to the six women. Nikki is able to find an idol, after thinking that she hasn't been playing hard enough, while Molly gets into a fight with Maralyn over the latter pulling out an idol, which she hadn't wanted her to do. Molly wins immunity, and it becomes a battle of the Saints Vs the Sinners, just like the theme of the season. The Saints go after Maize, wanting to weaken Vito further before going after him, but they are unable to swing anyone over and Vito, fueled by vengeance, gets his alliance to vote for Maralyn. In a 5-3 vote, Maralyn becomes the fifth member of the jury. Back at camp, the final seven become annoyed at Nikki's arrogance after being safe from being voted out, so she becomes a target for the two remaining Saints left. Kirk also becomes a target for being a perceived leader for Gwen, causing him to be target numero uno. After Kirk wins immunity, the target shifts from him to Gwen, due to her being perceived as not wanting to play the game, and rather would be along for the ride, which Vito found unpalatable. Kirk and Gwen then try to vote out Molly for her strength in challenges, and in the end, Gwen gets the boot in a 5-2 vote, making her the sixth juror. Episode 13: With only six people left in the game, the final reward challenge takes place. Maize wins it, and she shares it with Vito, her closest ally, and Jessica, who her and Vito wanted to bring closer. Soon, they realize what a threat she could be, especially because she's a poker player, she becomes the biggest target instead of Kirk. Luckily for her, she wins immunity. Kirk tries to bond with Maize as a way to get Vito to not vote him out, but it backfires, and he becomes the biggest target yet again. At tribal council, he votes for Molly, but everyone else votes for him, making him the seventh juror in a 5-1 vote and completely eliminating the Saints from the game. Finale: Jessica, Maize, Molly, Nikki, and Vito remain. Five players who had remarkably different playing styles, but all came from the same tribe. They compete in the second-to-last immunity challenge, which Maize wins, and the biggest target becomes Jessica again, who has proven herself to be the only player not following Vito, and only voting with him just to get further in the game. Vito does not feel the same way about keeping Jessica around, so he and his alliance with Nikki, Molly, and Maize vote for her, and Nikki plays her idol in case someone flipped on her, and Jessica becomes the eighth juror in a 4-0 vote. Back at camp, Vito feels incredibly cocky, and he tries to influence a fight, and he does so between Nikki and Maize. He then goes on to win final immunity, and Nikki tanks her own game with her fight with Maize, and everyone votes her out, causing her to become the ninth juror in a 3-1 vote. The final three consists of Maize, Molly, and Vito. Molly gets criticism for her lack of strategy, only using her social game to get far, and her challenge capabilities. Maize is seen as following too closely to Vito, but the jury is willing to vote for her if Vito tanks his jury speech. He does not, and explains his game in great detail, saying he started out forming a five person alliance on the first night, he commenced the Wildcard blindside, the Witworth blindside, the Jessica blindside, etc. He did it all, but the bonds he formed in the game were genuine, and he didn't intend his villainous backstabbing to be taken personal. In the end, he gets all the jury votes, even from two people he never met, Greg and Ava. Maralyn wins the Fan Favorite for standing up to Vito and her idol play. Winner: Vito Luco, u/swoldow Fan Favorite: Maralyn Sander, u/Void_Drone Potential Returnees (yeah, I haven't done this in a while): Vito, Jessica, Kirk, Maralyn, WItworth, Ava, Cap'n, maybe Ardet, if I do a first boot season Next season, will be the final season before season 35, I won't spoil the theme for 35, but trust me, it won't be a season to miss. Season 34 however, with the release of the new Island Of The Idols sim, it will feature two King's Survivor Idols, who will be revealed with the sign ups. Next season will be King's Survivor Venezuela: Island Of The Idols!
Sleeping in a fountain, waking up in a French Orphanage, and $20 jack and cokes.
I've been meaning to put this out there for the public to read but also in a safe space. I feel like this is where I can do it. Also, I go by an alias on this app so I feel better about that. The background to this story is that myself(18 yrs old) and my pal, we'll call him Wilkins(18 yrs old) were about to embark on a journey last june 26th that we will never forget(or remember). We signed up to be on this school trip to go to the South of France and Spain. Our HS let out June 8th so we got in about 2 weeks of partying before the trip. I got arrested at the casino about a week before the trip and about 5 days before the trip my buddy, when realizing that the chaperones were teachers(1 was strict, 1 couldn't give 2 shits about what we were gonna do), wanted a refund for the whole trip. Wilkins was offered a 30$ refund on a 5,000$ trip. Wilkins declined. So the day before, I realize just how far the flight to london is from the east coast of the US. Now I was not a big bar guy and never have been. They scare the shit out of me and I tend to end up in bad situations off them, but I thought it would be good for me to get a lot because of the 2 week long trip and seemingly endless flights that we would be taking. I called this guy who I somehow got the # from, and bought 20 2 mg's. At least that's what I thought they were. The day of leaving for the trip: We arrive at our city's international airport, meet up with the group we would be travelling with. I knew everybody but really only had Wilkins and my cousin who we will just call cousin and a few girls that were cool. About an hour before the flight, wilkins and I take a half each(18 left). The flight to London is 12 hours we figure out once we go through security, so we take another half. Other kids are taking ambiens, valiums, whatever would make them sleep. Wilkins and I swapped people's tickets so we could sit next to each other and we ended up getting the middle section and I was on the aisle with wilkins in the middle and a random dude on the other aisle. 30 minutes after taking off, beverages began to be served and we both agreed to down 3 mixies and pass out. I drank mine, felt tired. Wilkins drank his, felt tired. I drank my second and felt tired and Wilkins drank his second and felt tired. After badgering the flight attendent for a third drink in 20 minutes, she obliged and gave us 2 final mixies to cap our limit within the first hour of the 12 hour flight. I drank mine and the bar had kicked in at this point and I was shot. I blacked out and don't remember much except that my buddy spilled his 3rd drink on the guy next to him before he could have even a sip of it. He found that to be fine and just asked the flight attendent for 1 more drink. He didn't tell her he spilled it, ever. She said he was cut off, and you do not want to tell wilkins he is cut off, especially of a bar. So after watching the flight attendent go to the back of the plane in her little workspace, he proceeded to drag my barred ass to the back of the plane to hound these attendends for another drink. I guess at this point I realized I could use another one to fall asleep. We get to the back of the plane and he is screaming, telling the attendents he needs his screwdriver asap and I get in on the badgering. We are told the flight will be turned around if we don't calm down and we are ushered to our seats. We then put our heads back and woke up with 10 mins until London. The bars worked. After landing in London, wilkins has been told that he was put on the british airways "list", and that they will be watching him closely. What does that mean for us? Oh lets just go to a bar in heathrow international, take another half bar each(17 left) and black out even before the flight. The flight from Heathrow to nice france was only 2 and a half hours and I don't remember getting on the flight, only that i had a full row to my self and that I sprawled and slept for the whole duration. My buddy did the same except when we were in landing mode, he wouldn't wake up(this is just what I was told from other kids on trip). The attendent had to pull him up and in the process, hit him in the face with his own Ipad. This caused quite the stir between wilkins and her and wilkins wanted some type of refund for being hurt on the plane. Instead, he got moved from british airway's "list" to the "blacklist" which we had no idea entailed for him. You might be wandering how the 2 teacher chaperones were reacting to this. The cool one was laughing but still had a worreid face and just told us to calm down in airports. The other one was appalled. She saw us badger flight attendents, almost miss the flight from london to france, and had to deal with wilkins being put on the blacklist. But anyways, thats just day 1 of (i think 3?). We arrive in nice at around 3pm and I will try to explain just how crazy the next 3 days are. We take a bus a couple hours a way to stay in a hotel on the beach. Me and wilkins are both 18 and that allows us to drink whatever we want there. Each night, we had a group meal at the hotel and that entailed no drinking whatsoever. But there was a hotel bar so thats exactly where wilkins and I went before the dinner. I also forgot to mention that we took a bar each before dinner. (15 left). I don't remember much from the rest of the night but apparently I blacked out at the bar after too many tequila shots, Wilkins was stumbling around the hotel and found me and woke me up and we proceeded to drink even more. We took another half stick each(14 left) and found ourselves the next morning waking up in one of the rooms that 2 girls were staying in. We woke up at around 6am with beer all over the bed and bottles on the bed and no memory of the night before. I proceed to my room and get some more sleep and Idk what wilkins does but we eventually reconvene at 9am to get on the bus because we had a musuem seeing tour all day. There was no time for wilkins and I to think about the previous night, only thinking about how we could get through the 2 hour bus ride to the musuem(famous musuem in nice forget what its called). The only way was to take another FULL stick each.(12 left). We wake up to my cousin telling us we need to get off the bus because we have arrived. The whole group(ourselves included), walk up to the musuem which is beautiful and everything but we weren't built for it. We just wanted to drink and so we go to the restaurant in the side of the musuem and plop ourselves down. Wilkins and I just ask for a jack and coke. We are brought out 2 glasses with 2 cans of coke and 2 little things of jack daniels. We drink 2 each as we got another round after quickly drinking just the tiny bottle of jack. Our bill is brought out and reads 80$. I say there is no way as we only got 4 jack and cokes. The french waiter who speaks little english just keeps pointing to the price of the jack and coke. I was barred at this point(basically the whole trip) and just couldn't understand the prices. Wilkins goes to get his wallet out from beneath him and somehow it hits him at this point to realize he doesn't have his wallet. He also doesn't have his phone. And it finally hits him what he did the previous night while I was passed out in that girls bed. He took one of the girls on the trip and fucked her on the beach. Or on the ferris wheel. Or both. I had no idea and he barely remembered but he came to the conclusion that his phone was on the ferris wheel and wouldnt be found and that his wallet was back at the hotel. Well anyways, I pay and the next part of this story is somewhat foggy for some reason. But we paid a guy in a golf cart 30 euros to drive us to a good local bar near the water. He drives 5 minutes down the hill and we end up at what to have been the biggest dark alcoholic bar in the south of france. Wilkins and I didn't care though because the prices looked cheap. We asked the bartender to make us his favorite drink and he proceeds to serve us what I believed to be straight limocello on ice. We must've had 4 maybe 5 even though the drink was just disgusting and took another half stick while we were at it(11 left). These bars were hitting and we just weren't realizing it. After about an hour in the bar we start to walk up the hill to go back to the musuem and we get a call from the strict teacher saying where are you, we are worried sick and that you need to get here asap. Idk what happened next but we get up the bus with everybody waiting and the strict teacher pulls us to the side and tell us we are on strike 2. Neither of us remember what strike 1 was but we pile back into the bus to go to a little town to get lunch. Wilkins and I are told we have to eat lunch with the teachers as our punishment for going away from the group to drink. This lunch is also foggy but I believe we ate pizza while overlooking the ocean. Wish I would've remembered it a little more. The whole lunch, wilkins and I are shaking because we haven't had a drink in an hour. We are asked why we are shaking, and I believe one of us literally said, "Because we haven't had a drink in an hour". God, we actually belonged with the dark alcoholics in that bar. The cool teacher pulls us aside and gives us the run down. We are drinking too much. Being obnoxious. Being late to the bus. Leaving the group. Acting weird. Basically, we are just being described as bartardos. We promise to be better. Our final stop for the day is at antother musuem. I don't remember the mini stops in between but I do have a picture of me and wilkins during the mini stop. If you want to see it, lmk. It's a keeper and apparently at one of the mini stops I bought 3 packs of cigs. Cool. We get to the next musuem and its one of those musuems with statues and sacred this and sacred that. Not a good place for wilkins and I when we just started to become extremely tired. Funny how that works. We both just became zombies at the same time. I took my resting place to the room of the jesus christ statue. I kid you not, I woke up about an hour later at the feet of this jesus christ statue with the strict teacher asking me about the paintings(she apparently loved paintings) in the room. I took her spanish 4, so my barred ass tells her how I loved the miro painting over there. I just pointed to a general direction. I then went to a bench in the lobby of the musuem and passed out again. During this whole time, wilkins was attempting to find a nice little niche to fall asleep. Well out of all the places, wilkins decided that the sacred fountain was the place to go to. Outside. In the middle of everything. He stumbles onto territory that is marked as sacred and falls alseep I believe with his legs in the fountain. I still havent heard what happened or from any witnesses so I'll just let myself believe he wasn't fully in the fountain. He has told me from his very foggy memory that when he woke up, he was surprised that he was still in the same spot and when he stood up, he saw the people all surounding the tape that said, "No entering". The security guards couldn't even get him because the land was sacred. You weren't suppose to walk on it. Wilkins, in his usual manner, just casually walks off and past everybody with the guards too astonished to even get him I guess. He finds me alseep on the bench(which I have a photo of if you want to see it) and we argue over who gets to sleep on the bench. The next memory I have is us back at the hotel prepping for the dinner for that night. There was a solid 2-3 hours in between that I dont remember. Wilkins doesn't either. There is about an hour and a half before the 8pm dinner so wilkins and I decide to chill out and have some drinks while the rest of the group went to secretly buy handles of vodka to keep in their rooms. We go to take another bar and I count them. Only 10 left, so I guess we must have taken a half each during those 2-3 hours. Doesn matter, we decide to take 1 each. (8 left). We have now successfully taken 6 bars each in about 2 days. I guess that does not sound like a lot but when you are spreading them out and drinking on them the whole day, they hit you constantly. We go to the hotel bar, slam some drinks and proceed to walk over to the dinner we were having that day. When we arrive at dinner, we sit down and I begin to murmur to the girl next to me(the same one that wilkins had out at 3am the night before) about how I wanted to give a toast to the strict teacher to try and gain back some credit. What I told this girl must have been good because next thing you know Iḿ standing up giving a toast to this teacher. Do I remember what I said? Nope. Was I slurring my speech? Yes.(from what I was told). Wilkins clapped for me, so did a few others. God I was so barred out that I just don´t realize how I came to the point of giving a fucking toast. Dinner finishes up and wilkins and I scurry to my room to grab another full stick. Each. (6 left). These things were suppose to be for flights only and here we are just gobbling all of them in 2 days. I did not care. I lived for the moment. After this, we go to the bar down the street and drink as much as we can. Keep in mind im paying for wilkins this whole time as he did not find his wallet at the hotel. So no wallet. No phone, which I dont know if I mentioned but he left his phone on the ferris wheel he believes. After getting hammered, its about 10pm and we go to the hotel, go to the bar, have 1 shot and then our downfall begins. Wilkins decides that his wallet was stolen by one of the hotel room cleaners. He goes to the receptionist at the front desk and drags me along with him. We are hammered. We are barred out. We are mad. wilkins takes my wallet and points at it and points at the girl and does this over and over again. She speaks no english and is getting very scared. Turns out, she thought we were trying to offer her money for sex. And it turns out she was the hotel ownerś daughter. And she was 15. Great. After no success, we go upstairs to my room and take a half bar each. (5 left). We fall asleep pretty quickly at around 11pm. I do not know what happened in the next hour and a half but I was woken up at 12:30am by the 2 teachers telling me I was flying home the next morning and with a string of texts from my parents on how they cant believe I was offering underage girls money for sex, abusing any drug I could get my hand on, and begging anybody for any drugs they had. Then the hotel owner busts into our room. Im so caught off guard and so barred out that I just sit there with drool coming out of mouth while I watch wilkins scream at the strict teacher telling her she is a cunt and everything. After about 20 mins, I finally realize I got kicked off the trip, or the idea actually hit my head finally. I then burst into arguments with everybody. Wilkins and I tell the hotel owner to check the security footage as we were not soliciting his daughter, we call the strict teacher many different things and we attempt to argue our case. There was so much confusion that night and I truly do not remember a lot but wilkins and I went to sleep that night thinking we were getting on a bus the next day going to a musuem with the group. When we woke up and got dressed and tried to get on the bus, we were told we couldn go because we were flying back home today. What? What the fuck do you mean? WE had completely forgotten the night before, at least I did. And I couldn even argue with the strict teacher because she took off on the bus. The cool teacher told us there was nothing she could do because it wasnt her trip. She said she wouldnt have kicked us off but strict teacher just wasnt having it. She told us to get ready to leave for the airport in an hour. We got ready in 10 mins, we went to the bar and had some final stellas. I got hammered actually because I remember the whole taxi ride feeling like I was going to throw up. I have pictures of the drinks during the morning. We get to the airport and the teacher tells us sorry and we tell her its okay and that she is the best teacher and she asks if we can make it on the plane ok and if we need her. We tell her no. Brutal mistake. We had 5 bars left. We had around 3 hours until the plane was taking off. There was a bar upstairs. Thats all we needed. We took 2 bars each(1 left) and it didnt really matter because I was still feeling barred out from the previous 2 days. We go and get hammered at the bar and became full retards. We are at Nice International airport just absoutely fucked out of our minds having to board a plane in an hour. That is when the fateful idea hits wilkins. Ḧe decides he is going to fake an acl injury and get wheelchaired into first class. I did not realize his full intentions until he literally dropped down next to where you get scanned for your boarding pass and started screaming. He was screaming torn acl and I was not going to be left behind so I decided that I would drop down and scream broken back. Miracously, we got put in wheelchairs and our barred out asses got wheelchaired onto the plane in first class. Unreal. We fell asleep within minutes of being on the plane and about 30 minutes later, we were woken up with 3 french police officers standing over top of us. Youŕe fucking kidding. We are told that the captain wont fly with us on his plane because he feels we are an endangerment. We completely forget that we are suppose to have serious injuries so when we stand up perfectly, we are bombarded by questions with wilkins response being, ẅho the fuck told you I had a torn acl. Good god. We are constantly asking why we got taken off and how we are going to get refunded. These french cops did not care for us at all and I eventually got so frustrated i started repeatedly asking them how we were going to get home. I started filming because they werent answering and thats when hell broke loose. I was tackled, phone cracked and the home button broke. both of us get taken to the french jail on the other end of the airport and placed in a cell together. They take all my belongings and the only thing wilkins had was his suticase and ipad. After about an hour, they take me out of the cell and tell me to sit on the chair and not talk. They leave wilkins in the cell. It smelled like piss and a hole to shit in. Great stuff. Happy it was wilkins in there and not me. I got slammed by an officer for badgering him to let me use my phone to call my parents and finally after 10 hours of being in french jail, they tell me somebody is here to take me to a place. What the fuck does that even mean? So in comes this random woman and tells me shes taking me to a place. Again, what fucking place and why is wilkins not allowed to come with me. Wilkins is awake at this point and hes banging on the cell and im looking at him like am I ever going to see you again. She takes me away and wilkins is left with just his suticase (his ipad was apparently left at security so it was never seen again.) I get in the car with this woman and she takes me to this compound. The gates are lifted and we drive in. You wouldn believe where I fucking was. A god damn french orphanage. These kids were straight from the streets and maybe 1 in every 100 spoke english. They take me inside and I tell my story to the head people(through a translator). The orphanage owner then comes out and yells ¨First AMERICAN EVER!!!!¨. You just cant make this shit up. I was the first american to ever be inside that french orphanage. I told them how A. I need to find a way to contact my friend. B. Telling them my parents are buying a flight home for me ASAP(you cant leave the orphanage unless you have a boarding pass to another country). and C. where the fuck was I sleeping that night. After dealing with my parents and wilkins parents who were worried sick, I go to the front door of the orphanage and just try to pray to god that wilkins ends up here. What do you know? Out of nowhere, Wilkins walks to the front door. His shirt is ripped. He has his suitcase. He is sweating more than anybody I have ever seen. When he is finally let in after I tell them he is the friend and he is the one who is with me, there is nothing we can. We just stare at each other and I give him a big hug. I was in shock. He tells me how he walked from the aiport and asked the first reasonable looking person he saw where he could stay for free for the night. They told him the name of the place and through trial and error, he walked 2 hours at night in the south of france and somehow found the orphanage. Again, you cant make this shit up. After buying our tickets home, we are taken to our room. This room had one bed and was about 7 feet by 8 feet and had a toilet that you literally had to stand in the room to piss into because you couldnt fit in the bathroom. I then find out I dont have my laptop and that my phone is malfunctioning. My parents and his paernts are both texting me telling us how we need to wake up for our flights tomorow.(we had different flights) If we miss it, we would be fucked. Wilkins and I fall asleep at 2am with my feet in his face and his feet in mine and we sleep through my alarm but manage to wake up about an hour before wilkins. We rush downstairs and try to call an uber, no luck. We pay some random taxi the rest of the euros I had to drive us to the airport. We get there 30 mins before take off and 5 hours before my flight. Wilkins asks for the last bar. I tell him he is out of his mind, its mine. He panics and frantically runs to security and thats the last I see of him until 3 days later back at his house. I manage to get on my flight and take the bar with a few drinks in me. I gotta say, Scandavian airlines is the nicest airline i have ever been on. I woke up with 20 minutes to my destination. Nice. Thatś basically it. The only legal consequences to come out of this were being banned from british airways and being temporarily banned from France. It took me a while to write this but I seriously had fun doing it. Itś funny to think of the situations we got ourseleves in but we are lucky to say we made it through. https://reddit.com/link/f7urio/video/ld6prrdg74j41/player https://preview.redd.it/mishouav54j41.jpg?width=1242&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=ab5055e237070f93d8d775eb59dca876100a4a83 https://preview.redd.it/6kni9mlr54j41.png?width=739&format=png&auto=webp&s=d56c9f56764c9473d332dae3177259a0835e69f9 https://preview.redd.it/tsdap6il54j41.jpg?width=1242&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=5c4a52a3d17bbd25305086223bf9ba483e321e2d https://preview.redd.it/ci5lum9y04j41.png?width=828&format=png&auto=webp&s=2e84bdf725b5b0511e85eb8aae564fd4f17869dc
How to buy a small bus for sale to startup your own transportation business?
https://preview.redd.it/4kzyifggxio51.png?width=1080&format=png&auto=webp&s=3b4cc4a22159f8c0c404f4820811394f69f5065a The primary aim of any startup business is to make money and loads of it. These dollars can be earned either by selling a product or a service that is in high demand. Of course to make some money one needs to spend some initially, so entrepreneurs or wantrepreneurs should have a budget to get started. There are hundreds of businesses that one can get started with but which one to start with depends on how much money does one wants to make? One can set up a shop on the street to make ends meet or set up a big business to get listed with millionaires and billionaires. The former will make profits by serving people in the local community whereas the latter will make profits by selling its products or services to a wide audience that is spread across city and state boundaries. Demand is the key to success in any business. If there is a big demand for something and you can fulfill that demand at a reasonable price, then your startup is ready to get started. In this answer, I want to show a way where people can make thousands of dollars with a small investment. When one searches for startup ideas online, chances are other people have also read the same articles that you are reading and the competition is already building up. But one of the most neglected industries is that of public transportation. As the population of humans increases, year after year in every country so does the demand for transportation. People in every city are ready to pay a small fee to get transported from one location to another. City centers may not be the ideal place to start a transportation business because there are several modes of transportation that already exist and moreover there may be local laws that will prevent the entry of newcomers to prevent congestion etc. But one can get started in the suburbs. Travel to a location that is far away from the city center and gets down on the streets to know how people travel. Educated people are always in need of transportation because they need to travel to distant locations to reach their place of employment. But the local self-employed people need transportation too so does the housewife in every apartment. Purchase a 15 seater small bus for sale, park it in a densely populated region and offer a jitney service for a small fee. Jitney bus services transport people from point A to point B for a small fee. So you can offer to transport people from their home area to:
Their place of employment.
Other big transportation nodes like a bus depot, railway station, or airport.
Places of worship.
School or Colleges etc etc etc
Buses can be huge and their cumbersome size can be a big hurdle in operating such a transportation business. Hence one should start with a small bus for sale because they have a small turning radius and can easily navigate through busy streets and narrow lanes due to their small size. As one travels beyond the city limits, its not impossible to find people asking for a ride from passing vehicles. The idea is to pick up these people and drop them off to their desired location for a small fee that they are comfortable paying for. Often times people will be ready to pay twice or even three times the average amount just to reach their destinations on time. According to the American Bus Association, tours make up to 40% of the total revenue generated by bus companies, however, they have noted that regions lacking public transportation are also stronger markets to start a transportation business. Believe it or not but this is the fact of life in every country. The situation is worse in 3rd world countries and buses play a vital role in transporting people and their country's economic survival. I will advise you to start a new business of transporting people for a small fee. Start by purchasing a small bus for sale because they can seat up to 15 passengers and can be operated with a regular license. One can start with his bike or car too but in the transportation industry, profits are made by transporting the largest number of people on a single trip. So to keep the profit margins high, one has to transport more people. A car can carry only 4 passengers, a van will ferry just 10 because they become vulnerable to accidents if they carry more. A small bus on the other hand can carry 15 passengers and maybe 5 to 10 more in the standing position. Drop these people quickly to nearby locations and you have made some quick bucks instantly without shedding a sweat. As more and more people are moved from one location to another, the entrepreneur will find out some hot destinations to ride their bus. Small buses are never a problem but check with the local Department of Transportation if special licenses are needed to drive a bus on the selected route. There will be other expenses like driver fees, parking fees, insurance, EMI's, fuel cost, and regular maintenance. Research has found that the biggest expense transportation companies face is the cost of fuel. They spend 40% of their revenues on fuel and another 20% on repairs. The remaining 40% is used to pay employees, office rent, etc. A small bus for sale can be of two types new and preowned. The buyer needs to decide where to get started. I will personally advise them to start with a used bus for sale because they are 60% cheaper than new buses. So a new bus worth $50,000 can be purchased at $20,000 if it already been used for 5 years or up to 100,000 miles. These small buses last well over 300,000 miles and will still have 200,000 miles that the new buyer can monetize upon. The story will be more or less the same in every country around the world. Once the startup has managed to find "SUCCESS" in this business of transporting people, then they can scale up by buying more small buses and increasing their fleet line. This business becomes more lucrative when the startup can tie-up with other businesses and organizations to fulfill their transportation requirements. This venture will give them a fixed income every week or month. For example, a church will need to pick up and drop its congregation every Sunday. A Casino will need to do the same every weekend. A hotel will need a bus to pick up and drop guests to and from the airport, they will also need a bus to take guests to sightseeing spots and popular tourist destinations. A college will need a bus to pick up and drop its students every day. A company will need a bus to help its executives reach corporate events on schedule, they may even offer home pickup and drop services to their employees every day or they can offer parking lot pickup and drop services to employees living in distant locations. I hope you can see the potential in the transportation industry. Everybody needs a bus to transport their group a few meters away to a neighboring block or maybe up to 100 miles. Buses are also required for special events like birthday parties, marriages, overnight trips, and weekend holidays. College sports teams always travel in a bus so that ever member reaches his destination on time so that events are neither delayed nor postponed. The possibilities are endless, all you need to do is purchase a small bus for sale to get started. A buyer should be aware that a bus that has been on the road for several years is bound to be defective, have severe wear and tear, and malfunctioning electrical, mechanical or hydraulic equipment. Often these buses may not be safe for the roads and need to be repaired. A buyer can fix the bus by himself or he can avoid the hassle and the headache by buying the bus from a licensed used bus dealership. The reason is that these licensed dealerships are required by the law to fully inspect and recondition the bus from bumper to bumper before selling them to the next buyer. The reconditioning process is rigorous involving the inspection of more than 400 components in the vehicle and any part that fails the inspection is either repaired or replaced. This entire process gives a new life to the used bus. Dealerships will also repaint the bus if needed to fix any blemishes thus giving the vehicle a brand new look. The reconditioning process is so thorough that a buyer will never be able to differentiate between a new bus and a used reconditioned bus until he has asked someone or checked out their documents. These reconditioned buses may cost more but will give the peace of mind that they will not break down unexpectedly in the middle of nowhere. There are private individuals who try to resell their bus by listing them as fully reconditioned just to make a quick sale. Such individuals should be avoided at all costs because they simply change the seats and repaint the bus to make it look new but they neither have the knowledge, nor the expertise, nor the budget to fully recondition a used bus for sale as mention above. Such practices are considered as fraudulent in the bus industry. But there may be people who are already deep into the transportation business and want to know when to buy a new bus and when to buy a second hand bus for sale. The general rule is, if the bus will travel more than 20,000 miles then it should be purchased new and if it will travel less than 20,000 then it should be purchased preowned. Similarly, if a bus will be used for more than 5 years then it should be new but if it will be used for less than 5 years then it should be purchased second hand. A bus that is employed by a transit company and severs a fixed route every day will put up as many as 25,000 miles on its odometer in a single year. It's advisable the transit company should purchase a new bus for such a heavy-duty usage. However, if the bus will be used occasionally like a church bus which operates merely twice or thrice in a week, then the buyer should opt for a used bus for such light use. A church bus never adds more than 5,000 miles in a single year, which is way below the optimal level of 20,000 miles. Hence a church should always increase its fleet line with used buses for sale. Why purchase a brand new bus when it will never be used to its fullest potential? Transportation companies also buy a used bus as a replacement if in case their new buses break down and need time to get back on the road. Finally, a bus should be maintained on regular schedules every six months just to make sure its in proper working condition. Every vehicle needs regular maintenance and buses need a little bit more than other smaller vehicles. Contract with a good repair shop that will fix and repair your bus on-demand at a reasonable price. Find a repair shop first before buying the bus because these shops are just not located everywhere. Moreover, opt for a gasoline-powered small bus because they are the dominant engine type in North America, and finding a good mechanic to fix them is never difficult. A gas-powered bus can cost $4,000 to $8,000 less than a diesel-powered bus. One may argue that diesel engines offer better fuel economy but that's not true with used buses for sale. With good and regular maintenance, a bus with a gasoline engine will deliver the same performance as that of a diesel engine. Check out our inventory and learn more about how a small bus for sale can help startups find success in the transportation industry by visiting our website here and call us at 516-333-7483 today! https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-good-startup-ideas/answeCharles-Kaufman-8 Small bus for sale, public transportation, start a transportation business, 15 seater small bus for sale, American Bus Association, Department of Transportation, used bus for sale, new buses, used bus dealership, used reconditioned bus, second hand bus for sale, church bus, used buses for sale, gasoline-powered small bus, North America, gas-powered bus, diesel-powered bus.
OBLIGATORY FILLER MATERIAL – Just take a hard left at Daeseong-dong…9
Continuing... “I say that you’re way the fuck out of line, Chuckles. Are you an educated, experienced, fully licensed and internationally renowned master blaster?” I asked. “No, but…” he tried to continue. “But nothing, Scooter.” I said, “What, other than your insane xenophobia and nationalism, causes you to come to such unfounded, not to say stupid, conclusions?” He looked down at the deck. Evidently, he was not used to being challenged in such a manner. He realized he walked face-first into a metaphorical wood chipper. “I’m waiting for your answer, pally.” I continued. Still nothing. He was either deep in thought or ill at ease from newly soggy undergarments. “Want to know why I chose what I did? Fine, meet back here in 15 damn minutes.” He looks at me with a most perplexed, and ignorant, look on his face. “Dax, Cliff? I need you.” I say. We go back to the weapons locker and I explain my idea. “Let’s load a case of typical, TYPICAL Chinese-made dynamite. Then let’s load a case of American C-4. Be very careful with that leaky Chinese shit. Wait one. I’ll do it if you want and you can handle the C-4.” I say. “Ah, Rock; yeah. We’d appreciate it. You being the Pro from Dover, after all.” Cliff agrees. “No worries”, I say, “I got this. You make me up a nice, tightly packed case of C-4. For demonstration purposes.” I find a near-empty case of dynamite and begin to judiciously fill the thing with random samples of shitty and leaky Chinese manufactured and Korean not-too-well-cared-for dynamite. This stuff was so incredibly shitty and poorly manufactured that even when leaking and nasty, it was nowhere near as dangerous as its Western counterpart. It was loaded with so much and many interstitials, like sawdust, diatomaceous earth, literal horseshit, and shredded newspaper, the nitro denatured itself to some degree as it oozed out. Plus, in the non-climate controlled weapons locker; the high humidity, salt air, and poor circulation from the small open grate facing the sea, the nitro had desensitized somewhat and evaporated. It left only sticky, thin, fly-ridden films rather than the usual ‘waiting for a good reason to explode’ puddles. It was in no way as twitchy as that locker back in Nevada. Oh, but be assured, it was still a shit show. If I really wanted to, I could blow myself, this boat and all occupants into the next dimension rather easily, but it was nothing like that old locker back in that disused Nevada mine. I still needed to be scrupulously careful as there could potentially be puddles of the pale yellow, viscous liquid explody stuff, instead of the thin films I was mostly finding. Either way, it required caution and judiciousness. Nitro’s twitchy as fuck and the last thing I need is a dropped nail, blasting cap, or hunk of the rotten box falling into an errant nitro wet patch… Extra attention was exercised. Dax and Cliff are halfway through, and I’m still picking through the leaky, smelly bundles. “Next time”, I mused to myself, “I‘m writing in a ‘Handling fucked-up explosives”-clause in my contract. No matter how much I’m being paid for this, it ain’t enough…” We find a couple of expendable, dry-rotted ‘life preserver’ floaty-rings, upon which we secure both cases of explosives. They’re tethered with a rope and primed with a number of blasting caps. I let the head local Korean crank examine both to ensure that I’m not trying to pull a fast one. He did not notice the 3-pound bag of Tannerite (an impact-actuated explosive) I snuck in the middle of the box of Chinese TNT. “Now. Satisfied that they’re equal?” I asked. “Nothing fishy here. Just dynamite in bundles, with caps. Then, over here, C-4 blocks with cap. OK?” He was satisfied; but only after letting a couple of the shiny suit squad check as well. “Well”, I smirked,” So much for your ‘covert observation’, asshole.” This guy was DPRK secret service or equivalent. “Holy cold-pack cheese-food product fuck”, I cogitate, “They are so goddamned suspicious”. I ask Dax to go over to the pilothouse and borrow the mauled AK-47 I saw hanging on the bulkhead there. They keep it for run-ins with cranky sharks, walruses, and lovesick blue-footed boobies evidently. “OK, here’s what we’ll do. We’ll float each out, and I‘ll trail with demolition wire. Once we’re a few hundred meters out, you can press the big, shiny, green button and detonate your dynamite. I even used 6 blasting caps, to give each bundle its own. You saw that. We green?” I ask. He was, although suspicious of what I had in mind. He agreed although he refused to use my terminology, the stodgy prick. So float away the dynamite case we did. The case of Chinese dynamite floated out and away from the boat, leaving an oily slick in its wake. As it got to around 200-225 meters or so, I requested a rendition of the Korean version of the Safety Dance, as it was just too fucking hilarious to watch. Once completed, I handed Doubting Korean Thomas the detonator. “Your turn, Tweedles”, I said, “Hit the button to spark off your “much-better-than-the-West’s” Oriental dynamite.” He grabbed the detonator, gnashed a tooth in my direction, and mashed down on the big, shiny, green button with a vengeance. PFftt!PAH-foof!fuff There was a cheery little pop, a puff of acrid smoke, and not much else. Let it be said from the onset that I just selected examples of the Oriental manufactured dynamite at random. I didn’t look for the worst or leakiest. Though truthfully I really didn’t have much too choice in the matter. “You! You swindled me! You knew the dynamite wouldn’t explode! Somehow you knew it!!” he swore in my general direction. “Try it again”, I said after retrieving the detonator and doing a quick re-wire to another bank of blasting caps. “Gumeong-e bul!” [“Fire in the hole!”]. MASH goes the big, shiny, green button anew. Pfffft!” *Pop. Poooof! Piffle. Blerp. Nothing but a cute little pop, a poof, and a few acrid puffs of smoke. He was crestfallen. He had taken on the Motherfucking Pro from Dover in a necessarily explosive subject, with inevitably disastrous results. I asked if anyone here was weapons trained. A couple of Coasties raised their hands. “And you are? “ I asked the closest one. “Lt. P'an Tae-Hyun, Sir”, as he snaps a snappy salute. “Groovy.”, I reply and retrieve the AK from Dax. “Can you squeeze off a couple of shots and hit that floating box of dynamite?” I asked. “Yes, sir!” he replied, smiling. “OK then”, I replied and turned to the crowd. “Dynamite is usually pretty stable stuff and won’t detonate without a blasting cap or impulse source. A bullet will most certainly not detonate it. However, I’ve stuck in 3 pounds, imperial, of Tannerite, which is a type of binary explosive used for targeting. Tannerite will most definitely and energetically explode when impacted by a high-velocity bullet. I think we can agree that an AK-47 round is high-velocity?” I asked. There were nods and a buzz of general agreement. “Now, there’s the better part of a case of unexploded dynamite out there. That’s what we in the business call very, very fucking dangerous. Now those three pounds of Tannerite should vaporize everything within a 10-meter radius if it detonates as designed. Agreed?” I asked. Again, there were nods and a buzz of general agreement. “Lieutenant P'an?” I asked, “At your discretion. Fire at will. Or the dynamite case, as it were.” He nodded. He walked over to the furthest point on the stern, checked to see everyone was back and out of harm’s way, as he was a consummate professional. He futzed around with the old AK for a bit and took a shot. It was low and outside. “Ball one”, I snickered. “Sights are off. Not any problems.” He remarked. The next round found its mark. The Tannerite exploded adeptly. It threw sticks of unexploded Chinese dynamite over a 20-meter radius. They each sank into the briny deep leaving only an oily spot to mark their entry and eventual watery grave. The top of the case of dynamite was blown off, but the floaty ring remained. We reeled it back in to find a few more scorched, but unexploded, sticks of fine Oriental manufacture explosive on the bottom of the case. These were motherfuckingly dangerous. Cantankerous dynamite has no place on a ship. I remarked, however, that this would be no problem. Dax and Cliff brought up the case of C-4, which I had wired with one single blasting cap and booster. We had Korean Doubting Thomas and his shiny suit buddies give it the once over to ensure I wasn’t trying to pull a fast one. He agreed, it was nothing but C-4 as advertised. One of the more expendable Coasties jumped down on the stern transom-rack which is just above the waterline on the back of the boat. He wired the two rings together and set them adrift, tethered by a good nylon rope with my nasty, silky demolition wires trailing. Dax was working the rope and I was handling the spool of demolition wire. I had a good 350 meters of the stuff on the spool and wasn’t about to return a single centimeter. Old habits and all. As they floated away, Mr. Kwan asked if we’d like a bit of refreshment, as, gosh, it sure was dusty out here today. Of course, we agreed in unison. Good old Mr. Kwan. So, we’re unspooling our lines slowly, drinking our end of the day refreshers, smoking cigars, and watching our Oriental colleagues getting antsier every minute. I knew what a case of C-4 was going to do when detonated. It would be one hell of a show. I was so confident with my design I had Lt. P’ay return the AK to the pilothouse. Wouldn’t work here anyways if the C-4 failed to detonate. But that’s not going to happen. Dr. Pro from Dover Rocknocker has spoken. Finally, I’m almost out of demolition wire, and Dax has tied off the tether. I motion over to Herr Doubting Thomas and hand him the detonator. “For ye of little faith”, I smiled, recalling the entreaty that even Satan quotes the Bible for his own nefarious uses. But first, an encore of the Korean Safety Dance. They're guaranteed to raise a smile. I look to the character fumbling with the detonator. “At your convenience, good sir”, I say, dripping insincerity. “Gumeong-e bul!” [“Fire in the hole!”]. Mash goes the big, shiny, green button. KA-MOTHERING-FUCKINGLY-HUGE-BOOM! Even over 300 meters away, every one of us not only saw but felt that shock wave. It was like a solid Savate kick to the chest. The boat even rocked a bit in appreciation. I smile, retrieved the detonator, safe it, and reply: “And that is the singular reason why I used good old American manufacture C-4 as a sonic seismic source rather than shitty, leaky Oriental dynamite. Any further questions?” He shook his head in agreement, bowed slightly in my direction, slunk away, and that was the very last we ever saw of Mr. Korean Doubting Thomas. The Captain saw and felt the detonation. He put the boat in park, actually, he handed it over to the sub-pilot for station keeping and came back to the fantail. He wanted to know if we were now officially finished with our project. We maintained that we were and it had come off very, very successfully; in no small degree because of his boat handling abilities. He came over to me and shanghaied one of the translators. “Doctor Stone?” he asked. “Hrmph. Close enough.” I smiled. “May I be first to congratulate your team. In eight sorties, you and your teams are the first to fulfill mission parameters. I am pleased to say that this will go on all our permanent records. It will mean bonuses for all present. I salute you.” And does with a naval flourish. “No shit? Well, thanks, Cap”, I reply, “But I’m just the den mother for this special education class. Without them, and all their hard work, it’d never have happened.” “I knew you would say this”, he smiled, “You are leader of men. We see that. You are teacher, but also not afraid to work. You should do this more often. Use your education and experience to train and teach others.” He says, shaking my hand. Now it’s time for me to wonder. Did he hear of my offer back home? I don’t think he did, I’ve been playing those cards very close to the vest, as it were. I am now officially confused and bebothered. But, since I don’t believe in anything, much less coincidence, I’m going to chalk it up to happenstance and just gratefully consider the source. He asks that we wait here and he’ll return forthwith. “On a boat this size, there are not too many places we can sneak off to…” I chuckle. He returns with a very, very old bottle of something quite unidentifiable since it appears to be lacking a label. He yells something in official Korean and suddenly, a tray with little, itty-bitty demitasse-style glasses appear along with some smoked fish, I think, nibbles of some kind. He pours a dram for all present. No one dares take as much as a preemptory sniff until he’s finished with the ceremony. Everyone thusly charged, he begins a toast. “Shoo-buddy”, I think, “I’ve been down this road before.” It was quick, succinct, brief, and laudatory. According to him, we had ‘hung the moon’. I liked this style of toasting. Left more time to drink and for camaraderie. The project thus finished, as we were running out of potables, especially freshwater, victuals, and toilet paper; we were headed back to base. That is, back to the hotel to see what our comrades who chose to stay onshore had developed. But, that was going to be for another day. First, we needed to chug our way back to port, both literally and figuratively. Ahem. Before which, though, there were some housekeeping and paperwork chores. Dax, Cliff, and I did a quick reconnaissance of the explosives locker and created a ‘used’ manifest; which all three of us signed. They may be officious, they may be obtrusive, but damn, they certainly love their goddamned paperwork over here. We gave copies to the head shiny suit, one for the Captain, and we retained copies for our records. Along with notes that we expended two rounds from the pilothouse AK, as we were trying to out-officious these officious paper-pushers. We made certain the keys were returned and logged in the proper logbooks and the explosives locker was locked securely, solidly, and soundly. Before which, we policed up the weapons locker and actually offered to the gods of the briny deep, quite the quantity of unsafe, leaky dynamite, and other ordinance that was more a disaster waiting to happen rather than inventory. Seawater would neutralize the nasties and in the case of anything metallic, it’d be gone within a fortnight. and the phosphates might provide some nice fertilizer for some lucky passing Cnidarians. We were in water of near 45 fathoms. This stuff would never hurt another living thing. The Captain was very pleased that we had taken that task upon ourselves. He wasn’t allowed to do anything about what was in the locker, but he was responsible for it and keeping the wrong people out of it. I commented that was a fairly stupid way of handling things, and he mentioned that he’d appreciate it if I made an official note of it to the powers that be once we go feet-dry, i.e., get back to shore. I assured him we most certainly would. From then on, all we had to do was putt-putt our way back to port. It was going to take some hours and we’d end up berthing during the wee hours. This would not be a problem as our bus and driver would be waiting for us no matter what the time. He would briskly and without fanfare, return us to our hotel. That we were actually looking forward to bunking back in the old hotel sort of gave one an idea of the Spartan arrangements we had endured for the last three days. Most of the Westerners groused and complained in a humorous manner. Hell, it was only three bloody days. Some of our Oriental friends were so totally aghast they vowed to lodge formal complaints once they returned to dry land. Landlubbers. Odd that once we hit the beach, they all scattered to the four winds and not a single letter nor either a peep of protest was ever forthcoming. Yes, this is an intensely weird place. We wandered down the gangplank, cigars a-fume, and drinks recently and for one last time, refreshed by Mr. Kwan. The shiny suit squad was supervising the offloaded of the seismic data we had collected and had seen it soundly sealed and concealed in the very living bowels of the bus. It was to return with us to the hotel, where we’d demand a receipt. Then it would be off to the ‘Technological Center” on Scientific Street for processing. They assured us that they’d handle that themselves. Evidently we were good enough to acquire the data, but not good enough to see the finished product. Ack, Volna, and Ivan chuckled. “OK, you pirates. What did you do?” I asked “They can try with all their might. But without the decryption key, they’ll spend years processing encoded compressed nonsense.” They snickered. “We did offer to come and help set up the decryption for the decompression of the raw data, but they said they could handle it themselves. Oh, well. We tried. Seriously, we did.” Ack and Volna snickered. “Well, keep it handy in case they come to their senses before we get out of here,” I said. “Always our intention, Herr Denmother”, Volna chuckles. “Oh, you heard that?” I snickered quietly. Back at the hotel, the majority of us sent our sea-gear to our rooms via the on-site laundry. That being settled, the majority of us retired to the catacombs of the basement. We needed strong drink, decent, non-tinned food, and seats that didn’t slop around every time you sat down. Well, with the acquisition of our sea legs, two out of three wasn’t bad. Since the hour was much too late, I decide that tomorrow, well, later today, would be a day of R&R for everyone. Moreover, I was informed that tomorrow would be the “Day of the Sun” celebration, the insanely earnest celebration birth anniversary of Kim Il-sung, founder and Eternal President of North Korea. It’s supposed to be some sort of big, hairy nationwide deal. But aside from a couple of small posters, we heard little and knew less about the holiday and its celebration. Everyone’s being even more uncharacteristically low key. It’s odd like there’s something weird going on here. “What? Something weird and covert and sneaky going on in Best Korea? Pshaw, you old fart. You’re letting the paranoids get to you!”, I mused to myself. This place will do that to you after a while. I asked the front desk to place a note that made the rest of today a day of R&R in everyone’s mailbox. After another cigar, some decent prawn stir-fry, and a couple-twelve really stiff drinks, we were all ready to invade the land of Nod for a few hours. I went downstairs for a drink, a nosh, and a smoke. I ran out of NK won as we tend to use them in Western Expat high-stakes poker games, so I needed to trade some of my weird Middle Eastern currency for weird Best Korea currency. I was used to the 900:1 won:US dollar (equivalent) trade-off, but after cashing in the equivalent of US$500 in Middle Eastern dinero, I walked off with 650,000 won, not 450,000. “Pardon me, Ms. Cashier”, I said to the nice little local woman behind the bird-cage security wires, “I do think you gave me too much.” She took my stack, re-counted it, and proclaimed it correct. “I thought the exchange rate was 900 to the dollar?” I asked. “No”, she remarked, “Now 1,336.” “Any idea what’s causing the fluctuations?” I asked. She just smiled and shook her head ‘no’. I smiled back and tipped her 50 UAE dirhams for the information. “Weird. Now what?” I mused. Little did I know… The next morning dawned dim and early as there some sort of something going on outside. Oh, yes, it was ‘The Day of the Sun’ celebration. I discovered it was is an annual public holiday in North Korea celebrating the birth anniversary of Kim Il-sung, founder, and Eternal President and local Poobah-in-Charge of North Korea. It is the most important national holiday in the country, and is considered to be the North Korean pseudo-secular equivalent of Christmas. “Well,” I thought to myself, “I picked a damn good day to call for an R&R break.” Then I found out, why no one told us about any of this is still unknown, that the next two days after the holiday would also be considered a holiday. Come to find out, there are all sorts of intrusive, inconvenient, and wholly unnecessary nonsense that accompany these high holy days here in Best Korea. There are exhibitions, fireworks, song and dance events, athletics competitions, idea seminars: “Think about it!”, and visits to places connected with Kim Il-sung's life, including his birthplace in Mangyongdae. Shops close, the hotel televisions block any other ‘programming’ and show only ‘special’ movies. Either ridiculously fake documentaries on the life of the also ever so ronrey Kim Il-sung or movies he especially enjoyed. People parade to his statue on Mansu Hill to deposit flowers; later in the day, it resembled a pollinated glacier. There’s general obviously forced elation, all of which is extraordinarily strained and appears fake. People are trucked by the groaning busload to the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun where the dead maniac lies in state. “Fuck this”, I said in the exact spirit of international amity, “I’m going to the bar.” I go downstairs to the basement bar, and even though it’s a high holy day, it’s open early. It didn’t used to be open until the afternoon, but since we’ve arrived, they have adjusted their hours for us. They have also doubled their daily receipts. So they’ve got that going for them, which is nice. One of my favorite barkeeps was station keeping that morning. I greeted him in the usual style and expressed to Mr. Ho Gun the best holiday wishes. “Hi! Ho!”, I said, “Annyeonghaseyo”, which comes out ‘Annie young eez-yo!’ in my Baja Canuckian dialect. Mr. Ho laughs at my attempt at Korean, but he does appreciate the effort. “Doctor Rock”, he says, “Dawn greetings. You will drink what?” Nice and direct, I like that. “Ye’ ken Greenland Coffee, me ol’ mucker?” I asked in a swirl of different dizzying dialects. Koran confounds me, so I thought I’d return the favor. “No, but I’m sure it’s coffee with some of your usual high-proof liquors, correct?” he smiles as I hand him a nice, oily Oscuro cigar. “For Best Most Happy Returns: Day of the Sun”, I said, waggling the stogie, as I hand it over. “However, you are correct. Normally, ‘authentic’ Greenland Coffee is a paltry 1/3rd ounce each of Whiskey, Kahlua, and Grand Marnier with excess coffee. Well, I don’t cotton to those liquors or measures. So my Greenland Coffee recipe, really from Greenland, by the way, is Siku Vodka, or any other high-octane vodka, as long as it’s premium. Then Immiak, which is Greenland’s version of Jagermeister, so let’s just go with Jager. Then finish it off with a shot of Tia Maria or Kahlua, if available. Oh, yes, then hot coffee. Silly me, almost forgot…” I conclude. “And measures?” Mr. Ho asked. “Whatever fills the cup”, I replied, in a bastardization of an old Russian toast. “OK, how about a 35 mils (~1 ounce) stiff shot each booze, then hot coffee to fill your mug? With a chilled vodka chaser, as per usual?” He asks. “Make it so, Mr. Ho,” I say. “No whipped cream or crème liqueurs, please. I’m lactose intolerant, and, well, no one wants to hear that…” He laughs and whips together a very nice morning sunriser. It’s a real day off. In a very, very weird land. It’s Festival outside and I stayed up most of the night calling people back in the world, creating and updating dossiers, doing explosives-tracking paperwork, worrying over logistics, and how and when the fuck we’re going to eventually get out of here. Fuck it, double front. I’m doing my ‘people watch’, perched high on Mahogany Ridge. I’m taking, for the first time since, hell, I left the Middle East, some real downtime. I figured I deserved it. I was the only one at the bar, but after a short time, there were festival-goers who infiltrated down into the hotel's subterranean catacombs. They didn’t know of the bar’s recently expanded hours and when they saw me sitting high up on Mahogany Ridge, smoking my ubiquitous cigar, they rejoiced. Obligatory Festival and alcohol! Better than beer and power tools. In the Baja Canada time-honored tradition, I have a pile of the local currency sitting on the bar. At the new exchange rate of 1,386 won to the dollar, I’m making out like a bandit. Drinks here are cheap, really cheap, to begin with. With this fluctuation in exchange rates, which I figured reflected the holiday, I was flush. In the chips. Well-heeled. I've got a lot of what it takes to get along. So, I was feeling magnanimous. I was tipping people very well. “Paper?” one local asked. “Sure. How much for a week-old English version of the Daily Worker’s Manifest and Pork Belly Futures Digest? 100 won? Here’s 1,000. Keep the change.” Not wanting to become over-caffeinated, I switched from Greenland Coffees after a couple to my usual potato juice and citrus concoction. Each one came in a tall, frosted gimlet glass, a very nice touch, and was expertly made my Mr. Ho after I showed him once when we first arrived. Each one, with the current exchange rate, was about 500 won; an exorbitant sum for any local. It was about US$0.40 for me. I bought several for people who bellied up to the bar and tried to engage me in conversation. I was used to handing out business cards, hell, one never knew where contacts could lead; and not receiving one in return. Today, I collected four new business cards; two from various European ex-pats, and two from locals. I guess Festival! time brings out the best and least paranoid in people. It’s only 1000 hours in the AM and people here are already seriously lubricated. This will be a fun few days. I decided to get a rather tall drink in one of my 100-ounce Kum-n-Go travel cups. With all the hoo-ha going on around here, I haven’t seen a handler, translator, or guide since we got off the boat. I decide with all the shenanigans and goings-on around the place on this festival day, no one would give me nor my wardrobe a second look if I were to venture outdoors for a walkabout. Besides, we’re on a bloody island. It’s not like I can go too damned far. So, quicker than a bunny fucks, I get my drink, fire up a cigar, and walk around the lobby of the hotel. There are the usual comings and goings of tourists, local workers, the security forces, and all that allied tat. I wait until a tour bus pulls up and all eyes are somewhere besides me. Pfft! And I’m standing outside the hotel, looking at all the sights. Which, truth be told, weren’t much. Yanggak Island is a slovenly-manicured island with shrubberies, tracks, trails, and assorted support buildings. The river is basically hidden behind stunted shrubs and nevergreens, and the remains of the defunct golf course. There’s a stadium on the island, which was thronging with festival-goers today. I don’t know what sport, if any, they play there, and didn’t care enough to ask anyone. There was a cinema hall, which was currently empty and looking in need of some dire repair. There’s some sort of Chinese health complex in the process of being built or torn down, it was hard to tell which. Needless to say, the scenery paled almost immediately. I did, after a concerted effort, find a small platform that overlooked the Taedong River. It was a very nice little observation platform with a couple of new-Tudor-esque electrical replica gas lights and two concrete benches where a weary traveler could sit and just watch the river. So I did. I was interested in the fish of the river, and wondered if any of the locals did any fishing; or if it was forbidden, as are so many ‘proletariat’ activities are in town. I did see a few locals, huddled out of plain sight, down by the shores of the river fishing with long, 10 meter, reel-less poles. In Britain, they would call this type of fishing ‘noodling’. I didn’t see them catch anything, but in the bar later, I spoke with a local who told me that they catch various species of fish here. These include Asian Aroana, Blue Guppy, Catfish, Crab, Eel, Halibut, Hucho Perryi, Octopus, Orange Guppy, Pacific Flying Squid, Rainbow Trout, Salmon, and Tuna. I’m not saying my informant was lying or embroidering the tale, but from the nasty condition of the river, I think Coney Island Whitefish, Cotton River Horse, Dumpster Trout, and Bugle-Mouthed Salmon would be the more common species. I had enough perambulation and even though I wasn’t given the least look, I felt a bit uncomfortable out here. That unfiltered sun and equally unfiltered air. After that, I wandered back to the hotel and went to enter to go to my room. “HALT! Who goes there?” some door guard yelled at me. “An American tourista who was out on a walk”, I replied. “Impossible!”, he replied, “Tourists are not allowed out without their guides.” “Look, Herr Mac”, I said, “I’m Dr. Rocknocker, and I am an invited Western Petroleum Scientist with the UN special-invited group here to evaluate the country’s oil and gas potential.” “You are not allowed.” He replied loudly. “My good man”, I replied, equally loudly, "Not allowed? Not allowed? I’m a geologist, I’m allowed everywhere.” With that, I grab the handle of the ornate door, take a slurp out of my drink, and sally forth into the hotel. Of course, he goes non-linear. He follows me and is making all sorts of bad noise. He is almost literally dancing around me, pointing, and exclaiming that I’m not allowed. Then, he made a bit of a mistake. He grabbed my arm. Really, really poor career move. I switched my drink to my left hand and executed a pretty spiffy opposite-side wrist grab on the noisy little nerf herder. He was so shocked by this turn of events, he went slightly white and was rendered mute for a short time. I frog marched the little irritant up to the front desk and asked the head clerk there to explain to my captive audience who I was and why I was here. The clerk smiled and gave the character whom I was dragging around a quick background on the guy who was currently holding him captive. When I heard “닥터 락 노커” [dagteo lag nokeo, “Dr. Rocknocker”], I dropped this guy’s hand and just took a few steps back. After a minute or two, he comes over, very, very abashed. He apologizes as he wasn’t told that any Americans were allowed outside the hotel. I told him ‘No problem’, as I really didn’t have any special permission and didn’t want to get the guy into any trouble. I offered him a cigar, which he refused, but he readily accepted the half-pack of Sobranie pastel cigarettes I had in the pocket of my Hawaiian shirt. I decided from that point to just stay inside the hotel to smoke, drink, and avoid any further Imperial entanglements. I wandered on down to the casino because I was bored and it was unusually quiet. Too hepped-up to sleep, too tired to work, it was that odd interarea between “should I be giving a fuck” and “who the fuck cares?” Leaving the basement, I wandered around the ground floor, just taking in the sights, and looking at the “Festival Specials” at the hotel shops. I found an empty, unlocked conference room that looked inviting. About two dozen chairs, a large wooden table, TV monitors, and a southern view of the city from slightly above ground level. I walked in like I owned the place, as it is always monumentally easier to get forgiveness than permission, sat down at the head of the table, propped my feet up, found an ashtray, and began playing with the remote to see what was available. Evidently, these rooms were available for rent by various factions, cadres, and other sorts of like-minded individuals. However, whoever was here last forgot to re-set the filters on the satellite television. There was real the BBC, real-time. There was German TV, Russian TV, Japanese TV, and even some American TV; all the best of the absolutely prohibited hit parade. I shut it down and left immediately. I went to find my comrades. They simply had to see this. I located Dax first, as he was losing won at a rapid rate down at the basement casino. He said he’d spread the word to any of the team members down in the tunnels and we’d meet at Conference Room #1. I had taken the precaution before leaving to move the “Occupied/Unoccupied” placard to indicate it was in use and that if you hadn’t reserved the room, you’d do best to stay the fuck out. I waited the obligatory 20 minutes for the elevator and went up to ‘our’ floor. I knocked on all the doors where I knew they were occupied by our occupants. I found a few of our team and informed them that if they were so inclined, there would be an unannounced, impromptu, and wholly illicit meeting down in Conference room number 1; complete with refreshments and real, uncensored television. They all agreed and said they’d rouse the rest of our team on the floor. I was feeling so brazen, that when I went down to the ground floor, I stopped at the front desk and ordered lunch and drinks for my team in Conference Room #1. “Oh, sir”, the desk clerk responded, “We don’t have any reservations today for Conference Room #1.” “Well”, I replied, “We are in there and if it wasn’t reserved, how would that have happened? The room would have been marked as unavailable, which it clearly was not; as it was open and available and we are now occupying it. Therefore, it wasn’t marked unavailable so it must have been available; not unavailable as you postulate. It’s almost a simple example of the single equation theory of universal containment. So we are meeting there now and requiring refreshments. It’s simply a logical progression of the facts of the matter.” “You are, of course, correct”, she immediately responded, distracted by all the Festival goings-on in the hotel, “Now, you said you’d like to order 4 dozen assorted meat and cheese sandwiches, two cases of beer, and a mixed case of bottled liquor?” “Yes”, I replied, “You see, it’s only going to be a brief meeting. I’ll also need ice, carbonated and non-carbonated mixers, sliced citrus fruit, and an on-call bartender if you have one available.” “Oh, yes sir,”, she replied, “That will be immediately arranged. Anything else?” “Yes”, I replied, “I’ll need about a dozen ashtrays, of the larger variety. Also, I am going to leave explicit instructions with you to disseminate to hotel staff that we are not to be disturbed. This is a very high-level meeting of the scientists of the IUPG. We will be discussing, umm, ‘sensitive information’”. I used the international ‘don’t-even-think-of-bothering-us’ buzzword to let her know were being very serious indeed. “Oh, yes sir”, she stiffened. “Marvelous”, I said and slipped her 1000 won for her troubles. All sighs of nervousness instantly disappeared. “Excellent. Excellent service.”, I said, rubbing both hands together most Mr. Burnsly. I go over to the conference room and see that our order has begun to already arrive. Have to hand it to them, you call for room service and you get room service. Especially if you’re well known around the hotel to be free with imported cigars, pastel cigarettes, and lavish tips. One by one, my teammates filtered in. There was everyone from out earlier pleasure cruise, and most of the force that remained back in the hotel to prepare the paperwork for our ground assault. Cigars, cigarettes, and pipes were lit. Sandwiches consumed and drinks were downed. After everyone had a chance to see their home-town, or at least home-county, version of the news, I decided that it would indeed be a good time to have a bit of a meeting. It was going nuts outside with the Festival, and as long as we were in here, we were being left alone. After the obligatory facilities break, I returned from a 40-minute round trip to my room to get a couple of my field notebooks. I wanted a record of the proceedings, no matter how spur-of-the-moment. When I returned, I thought the room looked a bit spare. I did a quick headcount and I noted we were missing someone. I glanced through my notes and saw that our Bulgarian geomechanic, Dr. Iskren Dragomirov Dinev, or ‘Iskren’ was not present. “Hey, guys”, I asked aloud, “Anyone seen Iskren lately?” There was a brief conclave and the answer was a solid negative. I called the front desk and got his room number. I asked them to ring his room for me. His room phone rang and rang and rang, but no answer. “Who last saw Iskren?” I asked the assembled crew. The Finnish PT, Joon, recalls drinking with him at the casino the night before last. He seemed normally jovial as was normal for him. “Anyone else? Or since?” I asked. Again, the answer was negative. “Something’s not right”, I thought, my rock sense was tingling. “Dax, Cliff, you’re with me.” We all left, stopped by the front desk, and asked for medical assistance. We explained where we were going and the sudden absence of our Bulgarian friend. We expressed deep concern. 25 minutes later, Dax, Cliff, me, the hotel security chief, and hotel doctor were standing outside Iskren’s room. We had pounded on the door for a good 3 minutes. He certainly wasn’t in the shower. No answer. “Fuck this. Open it”, I said. “Under whose authority?” the chief of hotel security asked. “Mine. Dr. Rocknocker. I’m the team leader of the IUPG crew. Do it.” I said. The door was laboriously opened, as both door bolt locks had to be breached. The room was dark, silent, and entirely unnerving. In the gloom, it appeared that there was a human form, unmoving, on the bed. “I’m a rock Doctor. I think we need a medical doctor here.” I said to the hotel sawbones. The hotel doctor went in without switching on the lights nor touching anything. He examined the mound on the bed. Apparently, it wasn’t a pile of dirty laundry. “Was the occupant of this room a large Caucasian male, approximately 60-65 years of age?” He asked. “Yes”, we all answered together. “I’m afraid he’s dead.” The doctor replied. Dax looked at Cliff who looked at me. In unison, all that was heard was a tripartite: “Oh…fuck.” To be continued...
OBLIGATORY FILLER MATERIAL – Just take a hard left at Daeseong-dong…5
Continuing “Hey, Viv!”, I say, as we’re all being shuttled onto the bus which will take us to our hotel, “Toss me one of those miniatures, if you please. Yeah. Of course, Vodka’ll do. It’s bloody dusty round these parts.” Viv chuckles and asks if anyone else wants anything. He’s a consummate scrounger and somehow sweet-talked a demure and pulchritudinous female Air China cabin attendant out of her phone number, Email address, and a case of 100 airline liquor miniatures. That he looks like a marginally graying version of Robert Mitchum in his heyday and speaks fluent Dutch, French, and Italian might explain his success. I mean, a guy with four ex-wives can’t be all wrong, right? He’s a definite outlier in this crowd. We could be characterized as a batch of aging natural geoscientists who collectively, sans Viv, add up to an approximate eight on the “Looker” scale. Besides the years, the mileage, the climatic, and industrial ravages, it’s a good thing we all have expansive personalities, as most of us are dreadful enough to make a buzzard barf. But, save for Viv, no one presently here is on the make. Oh, sure; we’ll all sweet talk some fair nubile into a free drink or a double when we really ordered a regular drink, but we’re all married, most terminally, that is, over 35 years and counting. The odd thing is that save and except for Viv, none of us married folk had ever been divorced. That is strange, considering that the global divorce rate hovers around 50%, and we are often called to be apart from kith and kin for prolonged periods. However, we are always faithful and committed to our marital units and those vows we spoke all those many long decades ago. But, hey, we’re all seriously male and not anywhere near dead; and there’s no penalty for just looking, right? Continuing. We’re all loaded on a pre-war, not certain which war, by the way, bus which stank of fish, kimchee, and diesel fuel. We really don’t care even a tiny, iotic amount. It’s free transport, we’re tired of traveling, and not keen on walking any further than we absolutely have to. Viv has been passing out boozy little liquor miniatures, and I’ve been handing out cigars since I bought a metric shitload back in Dubai Duty-Free and somehow got them all through customs. We didn’t light up, as there was neither a driver nor handler present. So, we figured we’d all just wait on the cigars, and concentrate on having a little ground-level “Welcome to Best Korea” party until the powers that be got their collective shit together and provided drivers, herders, and handlers. We sat there for 15 long minutes. Being the international ambassadors of amity and insobriety, we started making noises like “Hey! Where’s our fucking driver?” and “I am Doctor Academician! Of All State Russian Geological Survey! How dare you make me wait? ” Suddenly, a couple of characters in ill-fitting gray suits and fake Rays Bans are outside the bus having a collective meltdown. Somehow, someone fucked up and put us on a ‘regular’ bus and not the ‘VIP’ bus. In other words, we got to see what the locals really got to ride around Pyongyang on instead of our supposed to be impressed by the bus that wasn’t there; but was now just arriving. A spanking new purple-and-chrome Mercedes long-haul bus shows up. It even has our group name emblazoned above the placard that normally tells where the bus is headed or who it is for: “’국제 석유 지질 과학 연합’ [Gugje Seog-yu Jijil Gwahag Yeonhab] or ‘International Union of Petroleum Geological Sciences’”. We are brusquely ordered off our present bus and into the opulent, obviously bespoke, bright yellow faux-leather interior Mercedes-Benz Tourismo RH M. It’s so new and so obviously a ploy to get us to think that all things here are so new and opulent, it even smells of that new car, ah, bus, aroma. “Well, we’ll take care of that soon enough”, I muse, as the bus is equipped with ashtrays and we’re going on the scenic route to our hotel, which is only 25 or so kilometers from the airport. However, it was announced that it’ll take us about 2 hours to get to our hotel since we need to see the city in its best light and get a feeling for the town if we should ever find ourselves lost and alone. We all know what’s going on. They’re getting our rooms ‘ready’ for our arrival and need some extra time to make sure everything’s all wired in and transmitting properly. “Guys”, I muse to our new handlers, “I’ve been to the Soviet Union, pre-wall fall. I stayed in places where I was definitely among the first westerners ever to grace their porticos. We’re a busload of natural scientists, of eight different nationalities, covering the economic spectrum from staunch capitalism to sociable socialism to hard-core communism. You even think for a second we’re going to spill any beans about anything you’d find interesting or useful? Think again.” In fact, it would become a running joke between us all to see what sort of fake bombshells we could drop into the normal conversation what would give the listener’s the greatest case of the jibblies. But for now, our bags were all loaded into the cargo compartment of this very, very nice, I must admit, mode of conveyance. Our handlers: ‘Yuk’, ‘No’, ‘Man’, and ‘Kong’, are all seated upfront and please with their latest tally of bodies. We have a couple of shady fellow travelers with the knock-off Ray-Bans and shiny gray suits that just appeared out of the woodwork in the back, seated by the loo, watching over all of us, and we’re going on a fucking city tour, whether we like it or not. We’re all present and accounted for. Let’s keep our camera in our bags for the time being as the drinking and smoking lights had just been lit as the bus fired up its new German-engineered and machined precision diesel engine. The bus rumbled to life and after a moment or two of checking that all dials, gauges, and indicators were where they were supposed to be; without so much as a cursory glance, we pulled out into traffic. Except there was none. Not another bus, pushbike, tap-tap, scooter, car, truck, hover-board, or motorcycle in sight. Nothing. Seems we were a big deal. They shut down the main drag so we wouldn’t be encumbered by such proletariat things like traffic jams or people-things cluttering the roadway, clambering for a look at the Western scientific cadre. So, away we whizzed, sans traffic and into the very belly of the beast, and onward; eventually, towards our hotel. Our handlers were very kind to point out passing scenes of interest. “Look, look! There’s the Potong River. Notice all the lovely birds, ‘eh what? See the Norwegian Blue? Beautiful plumage!” “See here, look. Here’s the Taedong River. Many forms of fish in the river. Maybe we’ll see some fishermen. If you like, we can stop, and ask them about today’s catch.” We all declined, as we were certain that the fish the ‘random fisherman’ we’d talk to was flown in fresh from elsewhere earlier in the day. Besides, we were comfortable. We had our drinks, our cigars, and we were leaving the driving to someone else. After being driven around the city and seeing all the wonderful monuments, like the faux Arch of Triumph, which looks exactly unlike its namesake Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile in Paris. The Arch of Reunification, a monument to the goal of a reunified Korea, which, by necessity, is unfinished. Then there’s the Tomb of King Tongmyŏng, where people are lining up, just dying’ to get in. Finally, we all called for our hotel, the Yanggakdo, after yet another mausoleum, the Kumsusan Memorial Palace of the Sun. Arches or tombs. Such a stunning array of monuments and places of less than moderate interest. We were interested in Mirae Scientists street (Future Scientists street). It is a street in a newly developed area in Pyongyang to house scientific institutions of the Kim Chaek University of Technology and its employees. But we were told that it was too late, there was not much there to see, we needed to express written permission to visit, and we’d be going there tomorrow or next week. We wheel into the parking lot of the Yanggakdo Hotel and are immediately unimpressed by the pseudo-Baroque concrete fiasco that appears to stand, wobbly, before us. It’s a page right out of the Soviet Construction-For-The-Masses Handbook. A cold, gray concrete edifice with multitudes of seemingly little, tiny windows. A perfect metaphor for our travels thus far; look at the expansiveness of Best Korean wonders, through this pinhole. However, we judged too soon. We were told to go inside and check-in, whilst our luggage would be de-bussed for us and handled by the expertly efficient hotel staff. The lobby was opulent, tastefully laid out in earth tones of facades of veneers of marble, granite, some garnet-mica schist, if my hand lens doesn’t lie, some Prepaleozoic anatectic migmatite, displaying intricate and intense plication, xenoliths, and graphic delineation of minerals by segregation through melting points. There was a gigantic well-appointed and well kept up aquarium, complete with snuffling sharks and nuclear-submarine sized groupers. Very handsome indeed. Impressions increasing slightly. Then we see that there’s a bloody casino on the bottom floor of the hotel, several bars interspersed throughout the hotel, and karaoke, of which I’m not terribly fond, but some of my European counterparts almost swooned at the prospect. There are a large pool and weight rooms/gymnasia, saunas and places to relax outside of one’s room, but still under the watchful eye of the thousands of ill-concealed video cameras at every turn. “Covert surveillance” may be a thing in Best Korea, but it’s a practice still leaves a lot to be desired. The Eastern Siberian Russians back before the wall fell were more covert with their obvious button audio microphones woven into the fabric covering the headboard of your Intourist bed than the Best Koreans here. Their cameras were ‘disguised’ as flower arrangements, overhead lights, and speakers inexplicably placed into things like standing ashtrays, refuse bins, and randomly placed holes in the wall. The floors were all covered with exquisite what looked to be hand-woven rugs of most vibrant crimson and gold; the usual Communistic colors. Always with some sort of floral pattern or pattern that’s supposed to be reflective of nature, as I was told. Evidently, for workers to remember what nature was as they don’t get out much with 14 to 16 hours workdays here in the Worker’s Paradise. Enough of the travelogue; we all wander up to the front desk, and each with their own passport in hand, request our reserved rooms. We supposed that we would all have rooms on different floors as the reservations were made, expired, re-made, juggled, rebooked, allowed to expire, re-jiggered, and finally formalized a scant week before we left the UK. Nope. No such luck. We were all on the 39th floor. The place boasts 47 floors, of which, the top floor is a revolving restaurant. Evidently, food tastes better when you’re rotating. However, it won’t spin unless you first buy a drink. We had that thing whirling like a NASA centrifuge after its discovery the second night. Yeah, all 12 of us are bivouacked on the 39th floor. A floor with approximately 30 rooms. I guess we could have played “Room Roulette” and see who got which room and who’s luggage. Or we could switch every day or two to drive our handlers nuts. Or, we could just take our assigned rooms, which were conveniently located one empty room apart. Meaning, no one had adjoining rooms. Why? Fuck if I know. We didn’t spend much time in our rooms, and that time was either sleeping or showering. We’d all meet at the bar, casino, restaurant, karaoke, bowling alley (all three lanes) or actual meeting rooms every once in a while when we thought we should get together and compare notes. It was the most inexplicable situation. Plus, we spent an inordinate amount of time waiting on the fucking elevators to take us to our room. These elevators, and if you think you’re going to get a batch of aging senior scientists to schlep it up 39 floor’s worth of stairs, think again; are the slowest elevators in the civilized world. And that was the consensus of scientists representing not only Europe and North America, but Russia as well. 15-25 minutes added to each journey, up or down; stopping on every floor, except 5, on the way down.. Jesus Q. Fuck, dudes. If you can’t construct a bleedin’ elevator that works better than those at the Sozvezdie Medveditsy Guest House in Lesosibirsk, Eastern Siberia; then I suggest you seriously rethink your plans for world domination and new world order. Grako and Erwin once, while waiting for the fucking elevator, figured out that we were earning some US$25 each just to wait for the lift to arrive and take us to our rooms. Every day. Sometimes several times per day. With that, we all agreed to toss our “waiting time” funds into a kitty and on our last day of captivity here, blow it all in the hotel casino. Whatever became of that would be donated to the Koreans we thought most deserving of our largesse. Would it be our handlers? How about the Korean Scientists we’d be meeting? The affable and most accommodating concierge? Or that plucky little Korean charwoman who was always on our floor and kept everything spotless, right down to our freshly laundered and pressed field clothes and newly polished field boots; done without our requesting or knowledge? Only time would tell. It could be a fortune or it could be bupkiss. Just like our expectations of the Heavenly Kingdom where we were currently sequestered. As it was, with our official protestations, they kept only photocopies of our passports as we roundly refused and threatened a full-scale karaoke battle right here in the lobby if they didn’t relinquish our passports immediately. I had broken out my nastiest cigar and was primed to offend. With that, we all had our keys and trooped over to the elevators for our first, of many, inexplicable waits. We made many uncharitable and potentially nasty remarks about the Anti-Western posters that made up some of the wall décor. Once we finally made it to our floor, we all fanned out to find our rooms. Viv found his first and was quite pleased to report to the rest of us that there was a “Welcome” basket in his room. We all hoped that we would be receiving one a well. I was in room 3914; which I considered a close call, but later only wondered as there was no 3913. Upon entering, I saw it was 1980s Hotel 6 opulent, but with an excellent over-city view. True it was late, dark, and the city was only somewhat lit up; I was looking forward to the view of the town in full daylight. The room had a ‘king’ bed; that is if the king in question was Tutankhamen, the stubby, Egyptian boy king. The bed had no mattress pad and no box spring but it was hard enough for my liking. Many of my compatriots didn’t agree and complained bitterly. They eventually received thin mattress pads for all their kvetching. There was an ancient Japanese color television, which only had 2 English language channels - Al Jazeera and the BBC, which was on a dated news loop. Watching the local channel is amusing though; the ads for ‘personal enhancements’ were hilarious, even without understanding a word of the language. There were a couple of chairs and a low table, built-in dresser drawers for our clothes, a rusty and probably unusable room safe with corroded batteries, a small table built out of the wall that would serve as my travel office, and would-you-believe, a rotary telephone; how’s that for nostalgia? There was an old-model radio built into the nightstand next to the bed. I was very surprised to find it not only received AM, FM but shortwave as well. I had brought along a pair of Bose headphones and during some rainy down days, spent many fun-filled, and I mean that sincerely, hours DXing from the comfort of my ‘enormous’ king bed. Beyond that, the room was very nondescript. Like any other of the millions of rooms in hotels around the world that unlike here, aren’t claiming a 5-star rating. I mean, it was clean, if not a little long in the tooth. But didn’t smell too terrible, even after I took care of that with my Camacho offerings. It was utilitarian, everything worked, even the water pressure, which surprisingly could strip off layers of one’s skin if you weren’t careful. The bathroom, though no Jacuzzi, had a large enough bathtub for the occasional soaking period. Western accouterments in the bathroom were also welcome additions. My knees can’t handle the traditional squat-holes any longer. There were an electric teapot and several brands of tea, but no coffee. A quick “Gee! I sure wish I had some coffee!” to the four walls and damned if 30 minutes later, a porter didn’t arrive to replenish my tea and courtesy in-room coffee… There was a small Japanese brand in-room refrigerator which I thought might house a mini-bar. Oh, no! It was actually a complimentary larder stocked with all sorts of Best Korean goodies. Multiple cans of Taedonggang beer. Several bottles of Pyongyang Soju, in various flavors ranging anywhere from 16.8 to 53 percent alcohol by volume. My fridge was skewed towards the right-hand side of the bell curve; the more heavy-duty boozy side. Evidently, my reputation had preceded me again. There was a selection of German-style wheat beers from the Taedonggang Brewery and the more familiar ales, steam beers, and lagers. There were some imported beers like Heineken, Bavaria, Pils, a couple of Japanese brands: Asahi and Kirin, and something called ‘Hello Beer’ from Singapore. There were also ‘sampler’ bottles of Apricot Pit wine, and a couple of high-alcohol fruity liquors made from constituents such as apple or pear, and mushrooms. There were also special medicinal liquors like ‘Rason’s Seal Penis Liquor’. That is going home with me unopened. There were a couple of bottles of local sake, called Chonju. Finally, there was a couple ‘samplers’ of homemade alcohol known as Makkoli. Plus there was something called ‘Corn Grotto’, which for the life of me, looks and tastes much like a very passable Kentucky Sippin’ Bourbon. I put our concierge on instant danger money the very next day. He’s yet to source me more than a fifth of the stuff so far. I found that there is a popular drink here which mirrors the Yorsch of Mother Russia. Beer and soju can be mixed to create *somaek’; a foamy, frothy, funky drink of many flavors, depending on the soju chosen. Is ethnoimbibology at thing? The science of how different cultures drink and the effects of drinking culture on different societies. If not, now I have another Ph.D. to pursue after I endow a chair at some likely Asian university. Anyways, in everyone’s room was a “welcome” basket, just chock full of Best Korean goodies. Postcards, stamps, ads for coin sets, stamp proofs and other goodies that could be purchased at the hotel. There was a field notebook, which I thought was a very nice addition, newspapers, cookies, crackers, biscuits, candies, fruit drinks, and some fresh fruit; although tamarind chewies and durian chips aren’t on my list of personal favorites. There were a couple of tour books, just chock full of staged photos. These were very nice as well, as so far, we haven’t had much time for shopping outside of government stores or smaller family-run shops in town or out in the boonies. A few of us were hungry and decided to see what the hotel had to offer room service-wise. Bupkiss. But, they did have a selection of restaurants. There is a Chinese restaurant, a European restaurant, and a Korean restaurant on site but they all serve the same food...a Best Korean attempt at western food. And it was weird being the only ones in the restaurant even though it was fully staffed. We grazed lightly and decided to do some late-night perambulations around our hotel. Our handlers admonished us to stay within the confines of the hotel, or see them if it was absolutely necessary to go walkabout. In the hotel, we were on our own. We found that there were tunnels in the hotel’s basement. The basement tunnels were a real bonus. There’s a bar with pool tables, a karaoke room, bowling, and a massage parlor, where I was beaten and pummeled into submission by tiny, diminutive, little Korean lassies fully 1/5th my size. It was wonderful. There was a hairdresser’s, who were completely befuddled by my shoulder-length silver-gray locks and full gray Grizzly Adams beard. They did provide a lovely shampoo/cranial massage though for the equivalent of US$2. There were a couple of shops selling Chinese goods rather than local stuff, which was sort of disappointing, a cold noodle bar, and another casino. No shops selling Korean Communist propaganda posters, as I wanted to augment my Soviet-era collection. Perhaps I’ll find something in-country later on. We were shocked to find that the casino had WiFi that was uncensored and we were able to access; after a fee of liquor miniatures and a cigar or two. We were supposed to have access to the global internet, not local intranet, from the universities that we would be visiting. However, all of that was under the heavily squinting eyes of handlers and guys in shiny suits wearing fake Ray-Bans. I still had my secret satellite internet lash-up available, but that was iffy, a pain in the ass to set up, and ridiculously expensive. However, it did work on the 39th floor and the times I used it instead of wandering down to the tunnels, no one appeared to be the wiser. Thus far. So typically, we’d just head to the basement casino with our laptops, iPads, and phones. Bam! Robert’s your Sister’s Husband, we could connect more-or-less free with the outside world; hence how you are reading this now. Herro! “Yes, I’d sure like another beer. This time a porter, if you please.” The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain. Or the more they put into locks, the easier they are to pick. Besides, we were told we’d have access to unfettered and free internet. OK, so we just found it for ourselves. Whaddya expect? We’re scientists, motherfucker, back off. Ahem. Back to reality. The breakfast buffet the next morning had a wide choice of Asian and Western food, although the choices seemed to be the same every day. The main event was to beat the Chinese tourists to the egg station every morning. Breakfast always included fried eggs, a limited selection of pork, kippered fish, potatoes, rice, fruit, and a very Titanium-dioxide-white white bread After a while, I took to going to the small market behind the lobby, buying some imported Chinese or Japanese nibbly bits and heading to the tunnels for a few breakfast beers before the long hard day’s work. It took almost a week, but I gained the trust of some of the workers in the tunnels and they showed me the on-site microbrewery at the hotel. It produced very passable, and very, very cheap beers of several varieties. Liquid bread. Beer. Is there nothing it can’t do? After breakfast our first day at the hotel, we were told to meet in the Conference Room “Il-sung” as we were going to have a ‘Welcome foreign imperialist scientists’ introduction and indoctrination. Besides our handlers and the shiny-suit squad, there were several Korean folks we didn’t recognize. These were students, scientists, and scholars from the Kim Chaek University of Technology, Kim Il-sung University, the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology; all hailing from Pyongyang, and the University of Geology from North Hwanghae Province. “Oh, marvelous”, Erlen remarked, “It’s going to be a bloody Chautauqua. We’ll be here all day.” “Well”, I replied, “It could be worse. We could be on a bus headed off on another unscheduled road trip.” As we found our seats, our Korean counterparts were busily setting up portable screens, like the ones your grandfather had for showing his 2.1 Googleplex worth of travel slides every Christmas or Thanksgiving get-together. They had a couple of ancient Chinese brand laptops that could have doubled for body armor, they were so thick and heavy. While they fiddled with running cords for the overhead projectors and 16mm film projector; yes, it was going to be movie time as well, the hotel’s restaurant folks wheeled in carts laden with scones, cupcakes, and other sweet sorts of bakery. Another cart was wheeled in with pump-pots of hot water, tea, and coffee. Usual scientific meeting fare. There was one final cart that made the day bearable. It held a pony keg of hotel micro-brewed beer on ice, with several dozen frosty mugs available for all who wanted to partake. There were instantly 12 mugs that were spoken for. I grabbed a cold beer and wandered around the conference room, sipping beer, chewing on an unlit cigar, and just trying to be pleasant to our hosts and their scientific guests. I was surprised when one North Korean professor, who spoke amazingly British-tinged English, offered me a light for my cigar. “Is smoking allowed here?” I asked. “Allowed?” he laughed heartily, “My good man, it’s practically a prerequisite.” “Here then”, I said, offering him a nice, unctuous Camacho, “Try one of mine.” Dr. P'ung Kwang-Seon of the North Korean University of Geology became my instant and lifelong friend at that moment. We had a very nice chat, much to the chagrin of the gray suit cadre, who could hear what we were talking about, but probably didn’t understand anything beyond every 8th word. After a while, we were asked to take our seats, after refreshing our drinks, and introduced to the group of Korean geoscientists we’d be interacting with during our stay here in Best Korea. I tried to record every name, but between the students, other scholars, and professors from the various universities, I decided I’d ask for a list of participants once the day had worn on. After all, they had all our names, references, and resumes if the thick folio they kept referring to was any indication. There were a couple of hours of introductions, as every one of the Korean geoscientists there introduced themselves, mostly through translators, told of their personal area of specialty, and their latest work. Most were what would be considered geoscientists, but oddly enough, not one that you would consider a petroleum geoscientist, however tangentially. There were geomorphologists, structural geologists, petrologists, mineralogists, marine geologists, engineering geologists, and seismologists. However, there were no stratigraphers, sedimentologists, paleontologists, or geochemists. We were all geoscientists, but apart from the obvious Korean:English disparity, it was as if we spoke different scientific languages as well. That would be our first hurdle to overcome. They had no oil industry here; none whatsoever, therefore why one would bother with the geosciences that fed directly into petroleum? That, in and of itself, would make it difficult to explore for oil in the country. Couple that with the fact that they’re so insular, think their version of ‘science’ is the best, at least that’s the official line, and think all other’s ‘science’ is capitalistic, substandard, and inferior doesn’t bode well for your country discovering anything either oily or gassy. We were having another conclave around the beer keg, ack, err…a ‘coffee break’ and I mentioned this fact to my scientific colleagues. “Guys”, I need input here, “We’re going to get precisely nowhere if they won’t even acknowledge that they have major problems from the start.” Ivan replies, “Very true. I’ve seen this before back home. You get a group so entrenched in their own little corner of science, they can’t even accept or acknowledge that others exist. Not only exist but actually know more about a certain problem than do you.” Dax joins the fray, “Sure, that’s very true, but who’s going to tell them this unfortunate fact? They could take that as a personal, national, and global insult. Imagine you’re at an international conference and a bunch of foreigners walk in just to tell you you’ve been doing it all wrong for the last 75 years.” I add, “Remember, though. These characters are scientists as well. I think it’ll be a good measure of seeing what sort of science and scientist we’re dealing with here. If they are truly researchers, they’ll listen to and evaluate what we say as for veracity and accuracy. If they’re just a bunch of Commie goons; no offense, Comrade Academician Ivan, they’ll get all pissed off, kick us out, and we get to go home and enjoy our triple Force Majeure pay.” Ivan walks over and deliberately steps on the toes of my newly polished field boots. “In Soviet Russia, field boots walk on YOU.” He laughs in his heavily inflected, and scary, Soviet-era speech… “Yes, I agree”, Joon adds, “But who is going to address this issue with our hosts? Perhaps one of our Russian comrades, as they are, or were, more politically aligned with our Korean friends and perhaps best understand the issue?” Ack speaks up, grinning maniacally, “No, I disagree. We should have the one person here who so encapsulates the ideologies and political leanings that they love to hate here so much. You know; the quiet, diminutive, and soft-spoken North American…” Dax recoils, “Oh, no! I’m not going out in front of this mob of ornery Orientals…” I smile wanly and tell Dax to cool out. “Relax, Dax. They’re talking about me.” “Oh, yes”, a collective group of voices replies, “Yes. Let out fearless Team Leader break the bad news to our Eastern Colleagues. That way we can gauge their reactions to being bounced around scientifically by a member of the Evil Capitalist Cartel.” “OK”, I reply, “I’ll do it. But be forewarned, my fine feathered fiends. I get stuck on a topic that’s not precisely my bailiwick, I’m going to throw your ass to the wolves. Remember, we’re all in this together.” Whoops, and catcalls were reduced to mumbles and ‘Aw, fucks.’. Chautauqua resumption was called and I asked for the floor. It was a bit off the agenda, but since they’ve been chewing the air for the last several hours, they understood it would be appropriate for us to at least try and get a word in edgewise. I downed my beer, and grabbed a fresh one as what I was going to say was going to be harsh, cut-and-dried, and rather pointed. But delivered in a pleasant manner. I hoped. This all had to be filtered through a series of translators, one for general conversational Korean and another for the more technical and scientific transliterations. I realized I was going to be up here for a while. So, I brought a cigar. One way or another, I was going to deliver our pronouncements and hell, I may as well be comfortable while doing it. . “Greetings and felicitations, my Eastern Colleagues. Let me first say how nice it is to be here in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea as part of the ….” I’m going to fast-forward through all the flowery bullshit and introductory happiness; I’ll going to just cut to the guts of the matter. “…Now, you do know why there has been virtually no oil, gas nor any other hydrocarbon related deposit discovered here in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea?” I asked by way of a rhetorical question. I sipped my beer and lit my cigar. In for a chon, in for a won. I let the buzzing subside on the side of our eastern counterparts. “Because, and please do not take this as insulting or derogatory, but as a statement of irrefutable fact, no one with the proper training nor experience has been looking. You’re historically guilty of applying the science incorrectly and letting dogma and politics guide your search, instead of the scientific method and the facts. Geology, like all natural science, is just as truth based on the facts for a capitalist as it is for a communist. Reality is not influenced by your beliefs, be they scientific or political, secular or spiritual, ‘trusted’ rather than ‘thought’; any more than by your wish that it wouldn’t rain today during a raging thunderstorm.” Little Boy over Hiroshima was dropped with less effect. Our Democratic People's Republic of Korea colleagues erupted into a chaotic mixture of stuttering, internecine yelling, accusations, and sputtering. Calling for decorum, I figured that since I was this far gone, I may as well push the plunger all the way to the bottom. “Gentlemen, I do not denigrate the science of geology as taught and practiced here in Best Korea.” I actually said that, sort of a slip of the tongue. Continuing, “However, one would not fish for Bluefin tuna from a rowboat in a pond with a fly rod. One does not hunt bear in the city with a slingshot. Just as one doesn’t search for oil and gas with mining engineers, geomorphologists, and seismologists.” I let that sink in and after the translation, they calmed a bit and wanted to hear the rest of what I had to say. I could sense a couple was less than thrilled with what I had to say, but forging onward… “One fishes for Bluefin tuna in the deep ocean with huge rods, reels and a specialist boat captained by someone with deep experience in hunting the elusive fish. One hunts bear in the proper environment, the taiga or forest, with the proper tools and guided by one with the education, learnedness, and experience to know how to make the hunt come out successful.” Hit them with some analogies they can relate to and digest. Now, go for the carotid. “Just like one does not hunt oil and gas without stratigraphers, sedimentologists, geophysicists, petrophysicists, and other oil and gas experts who have the education, experience, and knowledge to know where to look. Knowing which environment looks most conductive to hide your quarry, if you’ll pardon the pun, and how best to find them, the guys who know how to corral and de-risk them once you find them, and the engineers and technologists who know how to bring them to the surface so they can be utilized.” They had stopped being irritated and were listening in rapt attention. “My colleagues and I have spent the last few days going over, in detail the geology of your country. There is nothing we can see that would preclude the development, entrapment, and preservation of economic quantities of oil and gas. Ture, the geology is quite complex as is the structural history of the entire peninsula. That’s one other thing you will have to accept. Geology doesn’t give the tiniest shit about political boundaries. One must look at the big picture, and that doesn’t stop at some man-made borders. Ignore that fact at your peril, because if you continue to view the geology here as not existing across political boundaries, you are preadapting yourself for failure.” Drs. Ivan, Volna, and Morse make certain that everyone sees the ex-Soviets agreeing with the bushy-bearded, cigar-chomping American capitalist. “So,” I said, hoping to bring this little spit-balling session to a fortuitous close, “If we can have an agreement; scientific agreement, on these points, then I am certain we can find a way forward with not only this discussion but the program we can devise for the best Korean (notice phase shift?) geologists to take the project forward both scientifically soundly and economically successful.” My North Korean counterpart gets up from his seat in the conference room, goes to the keg, taps a couple of beers and walks up to the podium where I was standing. “Thank you, Dr. Rocknocker, for saying what needed to be said”, he spoke in perfect English as he handed me a beer. I grinned and gratefully accepted the beer. “Why, Dr. Chang Kwang-Su”, I said, as that was his name, “You old fraud. You do speak English; and very well, I must add.” “Yes, almost all of us do”, he relayed, “But, as you said, we are most reserved. We were more or less under orders of the ‘most illustrious’, to play coy, and act as if we spoke no English.” “I see.” I said, “I’ve worked in several FSU countries as well as Russia and saw that there as well. I guess old habits die hard.” “That they do, Doctor.”, he replied, “But, we must now tell you the truth. We knew exactly what you said is true, and we agree. We are not as totally insulated from the outside world as some suspect.” “Well, I was going on what your superiors related to us. Like the police that had all their toilets stolen, I had nothing else to go on.” I replied. “Ah, ha! Quite!”, he chuckled, “We had long suspected that we were lacking in certain areas of scholarship. What you said cements that fact as it was an independent conclusion. We can now present that to our superiors with the caveat that unless we bolster work and training in these areas, the hunt of hydrocarbon resources here will be for naught.” “I am relieved”, I said, truthfully. “I was slightly concerned that some might take umbrage to being told their science is not up to specifications. I tried to be the bearer of that bad news but deliver it gently. Here, I find you need that to use that as a truncheon to smack one’s boss upside the head and tell him that an upgrade is required. And fast.” “Ah, so”, he replies, “We are in total agreement. Now that is out of the way, we would appreciate it if you’d help in designing a course of study for up and coming local geoscientists. Then, we can go forward with a great plan to search for oil and gas here in…Korea. Correct?” “Absolutely”, I remarked, “You’ve got over 400 man-years of science and exploration expertise here in this room alone. Let’s shoot for the moon, so to speak. Let’s get you up to speed on scientific journals and articles that are available out there in all of academia and industry. Let’s get you communicating on a global basis. Let’s prove that you can talk science with global scientists and still not have it affect your political or nationalistic aspirations one little bit. Let’s see if we can drag you, figuratively speaking, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century.” “Doctor”, Dr. Chang remarked, “You are the embodiment of what we were always told what Americans are. Brash, loud, confident, and evil. Except for evil, you are American as we were led to believe.” “Hey, I take that as a compliment”, I exclaim. “You think that’s bad, I’ve got a bunch of earnest Europeans, raucous Russians, and a couple of cagey Canadians on my side as well. Before we’re finished here, we’ll have you ordering hachee, dining on Caldo Verde, snacking on salmiakki, drinking Russkaya vodka with Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, eating poutine, and rooting for the Packers.” “Doctor, I don’t know what half of that means, but I hope it comes to pass. It sounds most fascinating.” Dr. Chang chuckles. The rest of the day was spent with various groups crystallizing and breaking off from the main crowd; then reforming as different groups. This was good, as it showed an interest across not only national borders but across ideologies and scientific specialties. Most everyone here spoke English with some degree of fluency, so the translators were called in only occasionally. I made certain they were included in everything that transpired that day. I want everyone to feel ‘part of the team’. How better to show the classlessness of Western science to include everyone in on both sides of every discussion and activity? To be continued…
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