Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I don't know how Koreans came up with the stereotype that foreigners are goofy.  Posted by Picasa

The numbers in the back indicate their individual drink total.  Posted by Picasa

Good bye and good luck Miss Sarah. I'm sure you'll miss this face.  Posted by Picasa

Monday, May 29, 2006

Now that I have your attention, check out January 15 in the archive for an explanation of this marvelous/ pitifully sad pic. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Innovative Campaign Slogan: Vote for me and I'll shut-up.

Ah yes, election day is next Wednesday and we are getting massive amounts of election goodness. Actually, I should not use the word goodness for the debacle that is fishing for votes over here. At first it was amusing, the candidates for mayor would set up their little roving campaign booths at busy intersections, blast their terrible Korean pop music and shout at the people and cars passing by. Other than the candidate huffing a lot of carbon monoxide, I'm not really sure what this accomplished. It was entertaining to watch though. Of course I have to wonder what promises the candidates are shouting out, "If you vote for me the whole city of Suji will have free cheeseburgers on Tuesday. I'll call it Free Cheeseburger Tuesday!" My entertainment was short lived, however, as one of the aspiring to be mayors has set up shop next to the apartment building I live in and starts his campaigning at eight o'clock in the morning with music and all. One thing is for sure, I'm not voting for that guy. I used to think it was pretty cool that guns are illegal in South Korea, but now I'm wondering if someone from the states can send me one. Has there ever been an assassination of a would-be mayor?

In other news, this last weekend we went to Iteawon. It's an area of Seoul with lots of bars, foreigners. We went there for the bars. Needless to say a night in Itaewon makes Sunday a bit rough, but bright and early at three o'clock in the afternoon I took the Eagle for a spin. I decided to do a bit of exploring and found two Buddhist temples in random spots. One was in the middle of the busiest park I've ever seen and the other was in the middle of nowhere with nobody around. This is just as the Buddhists would like it: two opposite extremes with the Buddhists in the middle.

Funny thing, in Korea the Buddhist channel and the Christian channel are right next to each other and they get along just fine. I heard this from a reputable source also (Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me: the radio show) that there will be an exhibition soccer match at the beginning of The World Cup between Catholic priests and Muslim clerics, and there will be Jewish referees. God bless those guys.

On a more technological note, I just got a Skype account and the Orris and I gave it a test run. It works perfectly, so anyone out there who wants to call me for free over the internet download Skype ( and get a headset/ microphone. My contact name is none other than karmaking1111.

This is good advice for everyone.  Posted by Picasa

Amanda and Sarah caught in the middle of a hoedown. Posted by Picasa

Landing path of the Eagle.  Posted by Picasa

Old school versus new hotness.  Posted by Picasa

You have to give the Buddhists props for being one of the more colorful religions.  Posted by Picasa

Monday, May 15, 2006

Salsa Anyone?

Happy May everybody! I noticed that my last few posts have been a little egotistical. I haven't been bragging outright but in a more of a "Hey, look what I'm doing," sort of way. This post will not be like that. In this one I'm going back to random, typical, everyday observations of this foreign land. Also this was a rather lazy weekend so there's not much to report.

This week I hit a cross-cultural language goldmine. I found out that salsa means diarrhea in Korean. How cool is that. I know there are some words in English that are questionable in Korean, but this is the first case I've seen of a Spanish- Korean language concern. Now I know why that waiter at the Beer Hunter looked at me so questionably when I said "Salsa jusaeyo," requesting more salsa for my nachos. I had just asked for a cup of diarrhea. I can't wait to find more cultural nuances. Thing like this are what makes language learning fun and rewarding. By the way, if your name is Jill and you're planning on coming to Korea, a name change is in order. Jill is the Korean word for a woman's crotch.

In other language news I've ditched my Pilsmer Korean language tapes. I got to lesson six or so, but then the conversations I was listening to became a bit obscure. Tape one starts with a man and a woman making polite conversation: Excuse me, Do you speak English?, The weather is nice. Standard stuff, but in lesson six there is a conversation that goes something like this:
Guy: Would like to have dinner?
Woman: Where?
Guy: At my place.
Woman: When?
Guy: Now.
Talk about getting straight to the point. I guess in language learning you want to keep things basic, but honestly I can't really see myself using any of this conversation any time soon. If I tried, it would just be asking for trouble. Although I'll admit that I'm curious to see how the whole spontanious relationship turns out between The Very Decisive American Man and the Far Too Trusting Korean Woman. Maybe I'll just skip to tape 10.

The writing wasn't egotistical so the pics will be. I'm in most of them. Here I am with my new Korean friend, although he's a bit on the quiet side.  Posted by Picasa

Whenever you feel life's bad just look at this picture and cheer up. Hey, at least you're not a crab in Korea. Posted by Picasa

On the Busan trip I had a goatee that I shaved in order to impress/ terrify the girls. They cracked up and dubbed it the "porn-star mustache". Posted by Picasa

Balls of Steel Posted by Picasa

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Dynamic Busan

This last weekend was a tag team of Korean holidays. "Watcha gonna do when Children's Day and Buddha's Birthday run wild on you??!!" Okay, so they're not the toughest sounding holidays out there; they don't have a thing on Halloween and Independence Day. Still I'm always up for a day off and getting paid for it so I celebrated Children's Day with glee. On Children's Day it's customorary to throw old fruit, especially tomatoes at children. It's a Korean tradition. (Only the folks in the states will fall for that one.)

In the true spirit of Children's Day, I made a pilgrimage to the sea with three girls, where I sat on the beach, drank a bunch of soju and shot off fireworks. I did it all for the children. Actually, coworkers and friends Amanda, Kerry and Sarah planned the trip and asked if I wanted to tag along. Drinking beer on the beach with girls, let me think about that one. Surprisingly I was a perfect gentleman, or not so surprisingly for those of you who know me. I did learn a tremendous amount about girls though. I learned about issues concerning plumbing (the anatomical kind), relationships and makeup tones. However the girls swilled beer, shot off fireworks and braved ocean currents that didn't even think of entering.

The first night we stayed in a rather shady hotel. They have these hotels in Korea called love hotels, named this because they are available for the hour or the night. It's always difficult to tell which hotels are love hotels. You never really know until nighttime, when all the red lights come on and the calling cards for all the call girls are taped to the walls and the stairs of the establishment. My school actually put me up in a love hotel for my first week here. I'd never have known except for the kinky red lighting on the ceiling and the videos of porn down the hall. Other than that, it was one of the nicest places I had ever stayed in.

So yes, we checked into a love hotel and I looked like the Mac walking in with three girls. We devoted the first night to shooting off fireworks and sitting on the beach. The next day we woke up to worst rainstorm I've seen since I've been here. We switched hotels, bought a bunch of umbrellas, and took pictures of Amanda jumping into the sea as she was the only one brave enough to do so. That night was eaten up by bar hopping (okay, we only hopped to one bar) followed by some of the worst dancing known-to-man provide by Kerry and I.

The next day was substantially nicer. We laid on the beach and I watched the surfers. They have surfing in Busan! I dream of surfing and it's here in Korea! Granted, the waves are dodgy and inconsistent but it's better than nothing. At one point I looked at the girls and asked, "Why am I in Seoul?" Sadly, I could not locate a shop that rented boards.

While we were lying on the beach, holiday festivities started up at the Busan Aquarium. A camera crew set up pretty close to where we were camped out and, what I can only imagine was a Korean superstar began to slowly pace the beach in dramatic fashion while the cameras panned him. By this time a small crowd of Koreans, mainly giggling teenage girls, had surrounded the film crew and us. I figured this guy must be special so I snapped a few shots of him and then horror of horrors; he walked right up to us. He shook our hands, introduced himself (his name apparently was Boom-shake-shake-shake-da-boom) and then asked us a few standard questions. Sadly, I don't think we were TV material. A combination of shy and hung-over doesn’t really make for the most dynamic TV personality. The real kicker is if I'm on TV I'll never know. I never watch the Korean channels. It'll be some ungrateful Korean who will see me and go, "Who the hell is that white boy?" On a side note most of my students know who Mr. Boom is.

After our brief brush with fame we visited the aquarium and stared at the fish, a standard aquarium activity. That night was devoted to a short nighttime cruise around Busan and an early bedtime. We had to be well rested to miss our train the next day. All combined we were on the train for three hours and in cabs for two and a half hours. I was not in the best mood to teach that day. However, all was well just knowing that I had celebrated the Buddha's birthday, even if it was in a slightly less than Buddhist fashion.

Life's tough choices. Posted by Picasa

View out the window of the KTX. This train tops out at 300 KPM (190 mph for you hickish folks in the states.) Posted by Picasa

Tryouts for the psychadelic circus.  Posted by Picasa

Amanda opens a portal in time and space.  Posted by Picasa

Kerry rests her chin on one of my huge, gigantic shoulders. Posted by Picasa

Ah yes, a fine day for a stroll on the beach.  Posted by Picasa

Sister Amanda smiles while I am overwhelmed by the splendor and majesty that is my umbrella.  Posted by Picasa

Sarah was a little unsure about the trip until.... Posted by Picasa

she found an oceanic friend! Posted by Picasa

The western invasion. And everyone thought we were going to do it militarily. Look out Iraqis or well let loose our finely tuned, western restaurants of mass destruction! Look what happened to South Korea! Posted by Picasa

Riots in Busan! Earthquakes! Fires! Actually, just fog and lights.  Posted by Picasa

Sand and Shell (see if you can come up with a better name.) Posted by Picasa