Posts Tagged With: food

Geumosan

Gumosan Hiking:

Trouble Squad plus a few, minus a few, tromped up to the near top of Gumo Mountain this after noon. Joined by Nichole, Marcus, Natalie and a spare Dutchman; Ryan, Tom, Cortney, Rene and myself all hopped onto the stroll of the adventure of the hike in a way that brought smiles to the miles. Fun stroll it was, heading from the train station. We meandered to the hill in about a half an hour and found ourselves going by the lake to the inevitable incline that would come.

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I saw one bro, Tom, go off his own way and the others to the left so asked what was up. Heard he was hiking the first half and the others were taking a cable car. Decided to join my man who is a veritable rock-hopper. I was notably slower than him and blamed it on half a hangover and the ice cream I’d had for breakfast which I mentally marked up to extra calories available for use. So we spun up the hill past a Buddhist temple to a waterfall and I had to walk on in. It was brilliant. The rocks were green with algae and the water was cool as a dream after the crazy-swift assent we’d just pulled off. We actually got there faster than the guys in the cable car. When the others arrived, we all hung out and played like children in the water and with our cameras.

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The beginning of the next stage was stairs. About 500 yards of stairs. That’s a lot of stairs. We almost lost a few of our group to amazed exhaustion that the rest of us played off somethin’ ridiculous. The folks soldiered on and we headed into the interior.DSCN6261DSCN6284

The mountain-proper was a delight of challenging rocks and interesting switchbacks. At one point we even found a guy carving a tree with a saxophone nearby. It was pretty awesome… Until… The rain started.

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At first, we cursed it and hoped it would let up. It was just a slight drizzle, then it just opened up ~ The water was pelting us somethin’ fierce! Folks ran for shelter under bushes and cursed the storm again, but with such meaning… We knew we’d turn back.

There’d been a turn-around-and-call-it lobby for a full kilometer already. One of the leaders of the lobby grabbed the fastest hiker and turned around and disappeared. They were out of sight before the rest of us had our heads out of the bushes. Well, to be honest, I just stood there under my umbrella with a playful smirk and waited for my friends. They were getting drenched. I kind of had to laugh. Earlier, I’d been one of the two who’d gone under the waterfall, so I was wet already, but my bag was staying dry~ That was important. But yea, I waited for my friends to re-emerge, coming to terms with the fact that they were in fact, going to be completely soaked through and the rain was going to stick around for a while. We began our descent with our eyes on the rocks underfoot, knowing that they had thus become slippery and we treaded through the path which had since become a stream.

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All but one of us took a spill at one point, that one being Nichole, but we made it down full of laughter and pleasure at the weird turn of events. In fact, one of the nicest parts was when we took the cable car down. The view was brilliant, and it was a nice way for us to catch our breath.

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All in all~ a very good time, even with the calamity.

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Back from London~ Part 1

On the bus from Incheon~ Finally.

My flight was delayed last night, resulting in a wonderfully long conversation with a lady from GuangXi who told me many things about her area that make me reconsider my plans of location. See, I was just in London for an interview with a Saudi oil conglomerate, and simply didn’t get the job. No big deal to that effect. I had no expectations, just a glimmer of hope and in the interview, I did in fact fail at one or two of the grammar questions in a way that resulted in me being denied the 4-5000 dollar a month salary that I otherwise could have enjoyed. Maybe some other time. Not to worry.

So the delay also made me miss my bus home. As a result, I’m missing a day of work that I otherwise would have disliked as it is with a teacher who has recently changed her attitude towards me and is getting increasingly argumentative with her interaction. As such, I don’t mind in the slightest the fact that I missed her school’s day. And ultimately, it wasn’t my fault at all. I had the ticket to make the trip, and simply wasn’t able to do so on account of my flight being delayed for a full two hours coming out of Guangzhou, China.

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The hotel that I was given was really nice. It had a giant room that was basically a small apartment. It was complete with a full-sized refrigerator, a washing machine and stove. Not the normal hotel room. They even gave me a meal ticket for the restaurant next door and covered my taxi on the way there (there was a free shuttle to get back to the airport in the morning anyway). So now I’m on a bus at 2:45 in the afternoon instead of landing back at my home 12 hours earlier. I had a great night’s sleep and am ready for work tomorrow. Should be good.

So London!!!  Omagahd!

What a wild ride! First thing I noticed was that all the signage was purely in English~ I know, that may sound silly as a concept, but I’m used to English being a secondary language, if available at all. So that was super cool. I got off the plane, walked with the bunch through the corridors and eventually arrived at the queue for getting my passport stamped. About ten minutes into waiting, I realized that I had forgotten my duty-free bag that had all the things from Amsterdam that I had bought during my layover there! Of course, I consulted the nearest person, and decided to go back. The thing is, these corridors aren’t marked with numbers or names, as they’ve been created for one-way access, with no effort given to people’s needs on the way back. So I worked my way back through the winding halls to the final passageway to my airplane where a bloke was sitting with a newspaper. As I headed down the passageway, he called to me and I explained my sitch~ He said it was no problem, that he’d go and get it. So I wrote him a thank-you card on a Cambodian post card and felt the joy of reconnecting with my giant block of cheese and other random trinkets I’d picked up while wandering the Amsterdam airport.DSCN5790

Headed back to the customs line, I was a bit behind schedule. Maybe burned a half hour on it. So I was the absolute last soul to pass through the line, and made my way down the escalators into the Tube and on my way to my friend’s place in North London. The fare was a surprising seven quid and some change, which comes out to about ten US dollars for the international reader who hasn’t opened XE.com in the last few weeks. So, it was quite a lot to me, coming from Seoul where all trips, no matter how long are usually under three dollars worth  of Korean won.  But whatever, I had known coming into the visit that all  things met would have price-tags larger than I would expect, that I should just pay them and move on with my day. And so I did.

Into the Tube! It was a treat to see such an old and legendary tunnel system. It was celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, not that I saw much more than the occasional note on a signboard with a 150 on it, but none the less, that is an old system!

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It had stops that were war memorials reminding folks how the tubes had been used as bomb shelters in WW2. Others had interesting old-school wood-paneled doors that seemed to be interesting entryways that surely were cut off to the general public, but had served as something of a passage to authorized people. There were ads completely in English…  Oh, what a treat to not have to try and translate!

The trip ultimately took about an hour and a half, including the bus from the station to the neighborhood that my friends lived in and the walk from where I got off the bus to their house.

When I arrived, my friend was just walking in from a friend of his having come by and was just leaving, so I was able to call out to him to leave open the gate. He was of course surprised someone would call to him, but when he saw me it was all smiles. He and his lady-friend live in a lovely abode in the back-garden of the home of her parents, who clearly built this space with their children in mind. The building was covered in camouflage and on the inside was absolutely a treat! The door opens into a large sitting room with thick, plush couches, covered in giant pillows of all sorts, walls covered in well-framed art of all styles and a thin but sturdy table six people could sit for dinner at, including the ends. Off from the living room was the kitchen, bathroom and their bedroom, which reached even further to an additional bedroom for guests like myself, and then on into a small office where they had a computer under a window overlooking the yard we’d walked through to get in, in the first place.

Staying with them added such a wonderful dimension to my visit; it’s hard to imagine what my trip would have been like without their pleasurable company and physical presence. That being said, we began our collective adventure by heading out to a classic English pub, as that is on my short-list of things needed from my life’s first foray into the island’s life. So they took me to a spot that was in the neighborhood of 400 years old as a pub, and had a kind of draft-beer I’d never seen before, and I don’t just mean the brand. The way it was taken from the keg was by a pumping that reminded me of a hand-pump that brings water from the ground. It was that. There was no secondary gas providing the pressure to bring it up, just the pump. I thought that was cool. So we sat down in the old seats provided at tables that looked like they’d come from the middle-ages, only well-thickened by years of polishing. It was cool, definitely cool. But alas, British pubs close early in North London, and we only had time for one pint before the house was ready to see us out. None-the-less, achievement unlocked! A pint of local beer in a 400 year-old English pub~ hell yea!

We weren’t done though. We stopped by a store on the way, grabbed a few more and headed back their lush pad for the remainder of our evening. We proceeded to crack out the bottles of soju that I’d brought as a house-gift and we proceeded to play games and share life-goals and chat whimsically into the wee hours when we fell into our respective beds, I waking in exactly what I’d worn the day before, and none the worse for wear for it. Rather a nice factor. So, hangover-free, I began to sift my real logistics about the project of being in London. I isolated my clothes to wear, text-messaged my second friend in the city, and dove into my email where a spot of information was waiting for me to help prepare me for my interview the next morning. By three o’clock I was ready to leap into the city and agreed to meet up with my hosts later in the evening with the help of my second friend whom I planned on meeting at 5:30 that same day. As I ventured out, I felt the mist. It was a pleasant, mild mist that hung in the air not falling or rising, just keeping all things ever so slightly damp for the English ambiance that it allowed. My trek to the train station was a good 15 minute walk and I had a plan to stop in on a computer shop on the way to print a few documents that were needed for the meeting in the morning. Otherwise, I was all about just checking out the little bits around me, like the markets that had bowls of fruit for a pound and the folks waiting for double-decker buses on the left side of the street. At the computer shop, I read an email that shared there was no need for the printing, so that simplified my bits a bit. Then I stepped up and finished my tromp to the station. In I went, and down I sat to watch the walls buzz by me. I was to sit in the tube for just a few bits, maybe 20 minutes, then shift to another line and travel one or two stops up to where my second friend would be meeting me.

During the transfer, I was able to again enjoy the unique architecture of the London Tube. Its walls were old, red, laid-brick that showed its age yet was certainly not going anywhere soon. Its solidity was surely tested a generation ago when the German bombs echoed above, and it stood through that, so no summer breeze was going to chip that last crumble, that’s for sure. So as I popped into the second train, and then out into the sunlight above, I was taken by a sight of great achievement. In front of me was an open-air atrium-like area that was a vast expanse and was clearly a newly redesigned space. Directly in front of where I stood was a building that was likely a hundred years old or more. A straight-bricked, cream-painted large jut from the ground who’s upper floors were hidden by the new-age wide, rolling roof over the square that was constructed of round tube-steel and was twisting and curving all around. I took a quality panorama-shot of it. The photograph almost looks fake, but isn’t at all. Maybe I’ll be able to attach it here for posterity.DSCN5798

Ah, okay. There it is. It does fit nicely here in the writing. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, then I’m up to nearly 3,000 for this (really only 1,878).

I decided to head directly for my friend’s location as I figured it would take plenty of time to find and I could just mill about for a bit. So that’s what I did. To the left from where I stood at the point of the photograph, there was an information booth where a fellow was able to look up the name of the hotel and point me in the right direction. I was only about three blocks from where I needed to be. So I thanked him, told him that my students were super big-fans of his and explained that I was honored to meet the famous Simon from the legendary Simon-Says game. He laughed and I headed out.

Eventually, I found the hotel, a modest but elegant one located across from a park with questionable occupants, but a tall fence, and I noted the time. It was five o’clock, which gave me 30 minutes to burn before our planned meeting. Remembering a pub around the corner, I headed that way, bought a pint and sat at a window booth in the mid-afternoon sun to go over some of the notes that were sent to me the previous day regarding my interview in the morning. As my clock ticked on, and my notes grew longer, I finished my pint, shut the lid of my laptop and set out to meet my friend. When I arrived, I found him sleeping in a large leather couch with the look of a fellow who’d just finished a large holiday meal and has fallen asleep during the football match following it. There he was, feet up on the table, mouth and arms open for the world and quiet rested in the room. My greeting was laughter at the sight and we began to catch up.

From here, I will begin again later as my computer’s battery is about to fail. A good day it was.

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The long strange trip continues

Somehow the experience of my Korean phenomenon is still in action almost two years into the third go here. It’s absolutely amazing the abstraction of actually being here. It’s late April, we were celebrating Spring’s arrival yesterday, and woke up to snow. It just never ceases to amaze me how strange the planet Earth can be sometimes. But I feel like I’m still ahead of the curve, no matter how bent it all seems to get. Went out with some friends for dinner and drinks afterward and understood them all to have woken up with hangovers. I’m not sure how that happened. Maybe they just drank more than me. Maybe my body is comfortable more easily with a barrage of sedative chemicals than theirs. One of them seems genuinely damaged. I hope he feels better soon. Life is hard on folks when they land in a new land sometimes. There’s the local bacteria to get used to, the local allergens, local languages and customs… It ain’t always easy travelin’ the planet. I like it well enough though.
I’ve been applying for jobs in the Middle East all week. I finally got my hair cut and a good mugshot made for professional purposes, so now my applications can be submitted completely. Not to mention the lovely reference that my co-teacher wrote for me.

Yesterday…
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Yea, I know, I won’t have any more late night bar-hopping if and when I go, but that doesn’t really bother me. I like booze, but I like chocolate and apples too. It’s just a random substance that makes me happy. I can swap one for the other and not worry too much about it. It feels kinda cool to be going somewhere that’s dry anyway. It’ll be an interesting juxtaposition with Korean style which puts ratty cheap booze with every social gathering possible. Why am I dismissive of the style? Because it’s cheap, ratty booze. Soju’s lame. Their beer is lame. It’s like shifting from fresh apples off a tree to one that fell off a week ago and got lost under some grasses, turned brown and kinda got soft. Yea, that’s measuring soju against nice beverages such as Bowmore, or Jameson, or Laphroag, nice things. Things that you don’t gulp. This is a land that Jack Daniels is treated as an expensive, classy drink… Carlo Rossi is sold in 700 ml. bottles and given shelf-space half-way up the wall… Do you get what I’m sayin? Anyway, I certainly won’t miss it… Fun fact~ Diesel was found in soju last week. http://koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2013/04/116_133238.html Seriously, the stuff is poison.
Okay, so clearly I’m good letting go of that. 🙂

Today…
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Wow~ the country is pretty awesome when it isn’t snowing on what was supposed to be the first summer Saturday~ I really look forward to the summer here. It’s bound to be right around the corner. I guess… Anyway, with it will come long bike rides, warm winds and blue skies. My last summer here in Korea for a while I figure~ Then off the USA~ I haven’t had a summer there since 2010~ I love the idea of going back the way I’m doing it.
Going back for Burning Man~ It’s going to be so chill~
Can’t talk about that until it’s in the past tense, but the future looks good from here, real good.

To warm weather!!

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Bypassing the Obvious~

Truth is, my vacation in Cambodia and Vietnam was so stunning, so mind-blowing, it’s hard to put it into words. I’m not even going to give it a go just yet. This post is about a weekend that lasted four full days, covered three cities and I’m not even sure how many events that absolutely rocked my status~ Yes, it was a 5 train, 4 sauna, 3 meeting, 2 evening show, and 1 achieved primary goal of getting to all people and seeing all things possible~ kind of weekend.
Typically, I’d finish writing in the notebook where I start, but as I’ve put over 12 pages into handwritten format, I’ll start putting it down here so that I can continue from where I left off, here in typographic form.

2April_tnFrom the notes:
February 24th, Sunday, Itaewon Station.

I’m just now heading back from an incredible weekend that began mid-day Thursday from Gimcheon, where I live when I headed south-east to the city of Ulsan where I had plans to meet friends for a bit of an event. Taking the train is my favorite way to travel long distances in Korea, so I went to the station in town to catch one. A fairly uneventful ride in itself, it did offer the views I’ve come to find commonplace, but still enjoy. My train stopped in Dong-Daegu, or East Daegu so that I could transfer to another line as the train I was riding at first wasn’t going to take me all the way… Speaking of trains… I just took one to Samgakji Station where again, I wait for the connection… which is now arriving… That one brought me to my new way-station, Seoul Yuk, or Seoul Station if you like, where I will wait for my next train for the final leg in this epic loop ~ which last had us at a stop-over in Daegu headed East last Thursday. And that’s where I will resume from now.
As I said, my stop at Dong-Daegu was to facilitate a transfer, one from a Mugunghwa level train (regular) to a high-speed KTX line that would take me on to Ulsan. Of course I had a bit of time between the trains so I began walking around the concourse which is a grand installation of pillars, glass and shopping that an engineer somewhere is surely very proud of. As I walked, I not only enjoyed the creative design of the semi-circle shape of the overall environment, how it provided layer upon layer of relaxed spaces for people to sit, shop, congregate or walk, I also considered the shops myself, as I was a little hungry and I did have nearly half an hour to work with.

Eventually, almost all the way to the end of the ring of shops, I found a dumpling shop that was steaming a collection of buns and dumplings that seemed like the perfect answer to my hunger.
I sat down, ordered the variety set and enjoyed the collection of mandu set in front of me until it was time for me to go to my train. When I did, the race was on ~ we glided at over 300kmph on to our destination at the coast where I hopped out and caught a bus into the center of town. My intention was to catch up to an open mic session so that I could perform and record a few bits. It was incredibly fun.

I might as well have been licked clean by a team of nymphs, I felt so good with a microphone and a pair of guitarists who were completely into it. We simply rocked the night. I realize I shouldn’t equate musical performance with surreal pleasure so decadent, but honestly it is just heaven when it works ~  If only because it happens so rarely ~ or maybe it just feels as right as rain on a spring’s breeze. I performed at first with a friend who traveled with me in Vietnam and had already heard me sing, and I knew his guitar work, so we both went into the improvisation with a bit of knowledge for the other’s style, but ultimately it was improv and we had never played together before, so we had fun feeling it out as it went down.

I sat with a circle of friends who didn’t know me but we all had friends in common. As we had been sitting together before the performance, when I was finished I went back to visiting with’em. They were a fun bunch of folks, and I’m sure if I go back, we’ll enjoy each other again. The second guitarist for my second set was also really good. He and I hadn’t played together before, but what the hell, we had a good time. Now that I think about it, I remember jumping stage on him because he was floundering on stage, starting and stopping and obviously having a hard time figuring out what to play. But he was playing some really cool licks. Just chords really ~ and they needed to be hit like I did, so I did. We built about 6 songs there. Unfortunately I didn’t record our set.  Too bad, one of the songs was a cherry. Oh well. It was a fine night. The bar owner bought me a tall glass of old scotch when it was over. That’s always a nice thing. So I ride with my buddy to his place on his scooter after the show and crashed out after a minute of thinking about it. Woke up recalling a dream in which I had magical children ~ it was pretty cool.
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~ Right now, I’m in Seoul Station and I have to go down to the next train on the list of transportation used this weekend…
As I sit, I think back with a few moments to spare. This ride will last for the next three hours when I will step off to go home, taking a taxi to my apartment from the station so I can rest a bit from this trek. Tomorrow morning I will get up to go to work, but I don’t actually have any work to do there. I will be “desk warming” as it’s called, for the entire day since the students are on vacation and we’re getting new books next year, but they’re not in yet so I can’t even lesson plan. So I’ll work on graphics and create an environment for myself that is productive while sitting at my desk in my own way for the day.
But back to the story…
I set off for Seoul to meet with the folks that I’d arranged to meet and do the things I’d planned to do…
For Friday, my pre-built plan was a late afternoon meeting with a traveler from the US, a meeting at ten PM to discuss the Korea Burn and a jjimjill bang for the evening.  Then on Saturday a lunch, an evening beer, and another meeting. Well, I met them all, and added even more.
Let us review.
Beginning with the travel, I’m already having an adventure. At 8:30 AM, I left my friend’s apartment in Ulsan for a local bus that could take me to a station nearby since the ride to the KTX train station would be an hour from there and the regular train would have been a fine way to travel at the time. However, when I got there, the ticket master told me that I would have to wait 2 hours before leaving, burn a transfer-stop half-way and the cost was only 3 dollars less than the high-speed train ~ ugh! I left. Went outside to the buses and found one that would take me to the KTX. An hour of reading Carl Jung’s Man and His Symbols and I was there. Walked up and was told I still had to wait ~ The next three trains were nearly full with the first only having one first-class seat, the second completely sold out and the third with six seats left. So I decided I’d rather sit and wait for the 3rd train instead of taking the first-class (read: expensive) one figuring I had more time than money to burn at the time. So I sat down at a cafe and designed a poster for an event a friend is putting on soon.
(*Bam! Solid Graphix studies~~)
Ultimately, there was a time I got back onto a train to head north-west across the nation to find myself in Seoul. That time was mostly spent reading the Jung text I have. My writing from that trip reflected on creating a sense of ritual in my life and an interesting happenstance where an old friend asked for pictures of my tattoos so that she can design more for me. Now that’s a happy thing. I rather like the idea of her staring at my skin, considering her impact in the past, considering the future in a very real way.
My arrival in Seoul was early enough that I still had many hours until my first meeting so I imagined where a playground would be and decided on Hongdae ~ a neighborhood around a college which has a lot of interesting places. So I sat down in a cafe and worked on some graphics. I figured out how to have a smooth image manipulation of a complex gradient inside a clipping mask. Very happy about that.
Soon enough, I heard from the traveler and we met at the metro. He’s a US govt. analyst for the Dept. of Energy who is also a Burner and got in touch with me via the Burn Community.
We had good conversations on a number of topics and shared a few beers over a hamburger at a little boutique hamburger shop before he was off to meet another friend and I headed off in another direction. I then settled into a cafe for some tea as my mind was a little abuzz for the cap of a Jagger shot he shared as we parted ways. ~ A little peppermint tea was a perfect assuagement for my time in the next sitting. I found a cafe near the college and just parked for the next two hours, giving myself an hour for travel from where I was in the western reaches of the city to the area I was headed in the south east, near the omnipresent, internationally-known Gangnam neighborhood. I needed that time too. I eventually arrived 20 minutes late after initially arriving on time, but decided to wait at the station for a friend who was also coming to the meeting who was just a bit behind me, but would need to be guided from the station and so I waited. In that 20 minutes, I learned about Kobuki, the Japanese theater style that she’d mentioned in a text, via the Google access in my telephone. Great theater style! Must read more about it.
Today’s train ride inspired a nap.
As such I will put this down for a moment and begin again soon as my stop is approaching.
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^And that was that for entry-one of the weekend…
Now typing from the computer~ Eumo Myeon, Gimcheon, February 27th.
We left off walking into a meeting~ This meeting is the first of what will surely be many meetings regarding the Korea Burn that will happen later this year. The meeting consisted of five individuals, all interested parties. The content of that meeting has been related in a format for another venue, and is not for this particular public venue, but suffice to say, it was a good meeting that covered many topics and was both useful and productive. From the meeting Shin (the most active Burner in the Korean Community) and I went back to Hongdae where I was looking for a place to crash and he was going to a show. As we walked past the show, which I didn’t know to be where he was heading, I mentioned it would be cool if we were headed there instead. He said that was where he was going and I was sold.
The front of the venue was like an old Catholic church with the stone carvings etc. and the music coming out was thick rolling beats of drum and bass that spelled good dancing on any night. We went in. He knew everyone in the VIP section and introduced me~ I was decked out in Buddhaful wear and the new cap by Hologram Raja, so one look at me and they were all impressed by this foreigner in their midst~ not to mention my shining smile~ We got drinks and spun around a bit. It was plenty packed~ ladies were dancing cool, fellas were there to cool the later hours when it was fade-out time. A few of the fellas invited me out for food and drinks about 4am, and so we went around the corner for spiced noodles and beers. Cool blokes yo~ Tattoo artist one, rock band manager another~ the other was just high for it being his birthday. We had a good time. My Korean’s good enough, their English, the same. It was a good time.  Seriously, that night was fantastic~
Eventually it was time to head out, so I spun to the nearest sauna, which was ultimately full~ which sucked, so I hopped in a cab and went to one up the road. Jumped in the tubs, and at first sign of falling asleep, hopped out, went upstairs to sleep and noticed the time on the wall said 7:30am.  Heh~ Okay~ unfortunately at 10am somebody came in and woke everyone up, so my day began then.  Went down, tubbed again and met my friend in Itaewon for a lovely breakfast and chat.
She’s headed to Vietnam and it would be the last time I could see her, so we decided a while ago we’d have this lunch both to visit and so I could share my experience there with her to help out a bit. It was really nice. She brought me to a sweet little spot on the side of a hill that I got what amounted to a tip chilli with kick-ass bread and a cup of coffee. Well, she was meeting friends for an afternoon tubbing and board-game experience so she invited me along. Sounded good to me. Who doesn’t like going to a sauna three times in 24 hours? It was funny, one of those board-games that has monsters and points.
Afterward it was time for me to be headed somewhere with an invitation, so she joined me on to a ridiculously awesome micro-brew tasting event that had something like 25 beers, all free, in a basement that was basically showing off the location of a new spot that would be a new venue for drinking and food, starting after their cleanup from this event. It was a good time. I haven’t had well-crafted beers in a really long time. Going there was also me meeting up with a friend that I haven’t seen in years, so that was nice. She’s an artist I used to hang out with back when I was living in Gwangju. She’s been living up in Seoul for the last couple years now. From the beer-tasting, we stepped out to a poutine restaurant that offered me my first. It was good~ I liked it with pulled pork too. We put blueberry makkoli with it and called it a win.
My breakfast-date had to break off near 8pm and I went on with my artist friend to the next bar where another friend, one from the show in Ulsan, was planning on meeting up with us.
Needless to say~ we had a brilliant time~ ended up crashing in a jjimjil bang in Itaewon and eventually called it a trip the next morning.
Zam~~ and people wonder  just why I laugh at my time here.
12 hours on trains or in train stations, half a dozen events, great people, saunas, all in one amazing weekend… Now do you understand why it’s hard for me to write regularly here?
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More photos from the trip~

As it stands, I’m spending so much time working on photo-editing and training otherwise, I’m not quite feeling the push to write yet this week about the trip itself. I think when I’ve finished processing the photos, I can look back and use individual bits to rattle on about. For now, enjoy these:
Hanoi http://www.flickr.com/photos/jimmerdcheshire/sets/72157632627877907/
Near Angkor http://www.flickr.com/photos/jimmerdcheshire/sets/72157632632193992/

Enjoy!

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Life just gets weirder

 

My life just seems to add layer upon layer of weird to it.

Not a complaint, actually, today is quite a nice one.  What do your school lunches have?  Mine was sliced duck with white rice, sides of cucumber, freshly picked hot pepper, pickled cabbage (kimchi), seaweed soup, and fishcakes. The sauce that went with the duck was a lightly spicy but robust thick reddish sauce that really worked well with the pepper and duck.  After finishing, I entered the teachers’ lounge where I was invited to join everyone in a batch of giant, plump, fresh and local deep-purple grapes that were sweet as a body could hope. After enjoying my fill, I stood, realizing that there was no hope for conversation with these nice people, said may thanks and bowed out of the lounge.
So here I sit at my desk, listening to an animated conversation under the window between two teachers. One a man, the other a lady. They are clearly talking about costs of something and weights thereof, but I can’t get any further into the conversation about what they are talking about.

Today was a special day~ I guess…  We all received an annual gift from our principal. It’s the run-up week to Chuseok, so gifts are being given as if it were Christmas in the states.  Only, Chuseok is a different kind of holiday. Sometimes called Korean Thanksgiving~ it isn’t that at all. It is actually the annual remembrance of ancestors. People visit graves and tend them, mowing the waist-high grasses that have grown on the hillside mounds and visit with the elders of the living family where they have elaborate meals that are created by intense labor by the women and enjoyed in lazy repose by the men. And in tribute to this time of harvest, this festival of ancestors and food, I have been given (exactly the same gift as last year!) a giant box of two bottles of shampoo, two bottles of conditioner and four tubes of toothpaste. Long live the harvest festival! Um… yea…

So here I sit at my desk with some time on my hands. So far, I’ve taught two 45 minute classes and I have one more to go. Granted, my first two class periods before them were in fact used for lesson planning, I’m pretty much done for the week after that effort.   So as it stands, I can sit and reflect a bit.

Recently I’ve been more busy than normal with working on the project of the Korea Burn as we called our Burning Man-like event that happened a couple weeks ago.   Just last night I sent in my final AfterBurn Report and spent the weekend up in Seoul in order to have a series of meetings that helped get some plans on the table.

Being in Seoul is always interesting. I was able to do some gift shopping and visit with friends, and most importantly, enjoy pancakes.

As far as I can recollect, it’s the first plate of pancakes I’ve had since a midnight stop with a dozen friends in the summer of 2010 right by Boeing.  That’s over two years since pancakes.  I’m not sure that’s legal.  So I took care of that.  They were twice the price I’ve ever paid, but what the hell, I was on the roof-top patio of a restaurant in Seoul, South Korea on a beautiful sunny Sunday morning with great company and I couldn’t deny the pull of a brilliant plate of the steaming wondrous goodness that is pancakes with cinnamon apple topping with half a liter of syrup on the side with bacon together with a bottomless cup of drip coffee (for those who don’t know, drip coffee is actually extremely rare in Korea. Even at the boutique cafes that are everywhere, you will always get an americano as opposed to drip  coffee. To me, pancakes require the latter.)  Really, that was nice.

On the other side of the coin, we had a major flood recently that totally washed out tons of stuff. check these two photos out to appreciate how much water was in the river that day.

The one on the left is full of water, and the one on the right is the next day after it all went away.  Look at the post in the background to get how high it was. In the foreground of the photo on the right, what you see are two roads that were totally covered the day before. Under the grasses in the pile was the remnant of a reflective mirror, the kind that stand like signposts so that people can see around sharp curves. It was totally bent over and gathered the debris in the flood.  It was a lot of water.

Of course, because “as Koreans, we work hard” even though there was an historic storm overhead and children were kept from school for their safety, we as teachers were still required to come in during the typhoon. At lunchtime they were evacuating the building because the surrounding roads were becoming flooded and getting home would have been impossible. ~ They actually wanted me to fill out forms to use a vacation day in the process of leaving.  I laughed and explained that just wasn’t going to happen.  We all left the building together. Some of the roads that we made it through at noon would have been completely impassible later in the afternoon. Good thing we left. I gotta wonder about that request though. Humans are a weird bunch.

Cute though.

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Processing transition

So as it stands, if I actually make it through this coming year ~ I’ve just realized ~ it will be the longest I’ve ever kept a job.  Looking back, most of my good work was temporary stuff, and even when I was in a business for many years in a row, like with restaurants (8 years), it was always short-term.  With teaching, and the year-long contracts, I’ve been staying in a place for sure.

It is definitely one of the things that has kept me coming back, and part of why I didn’t like the environment in Vietnam. There, the contract was just so flexible ~ even to being written to allow for it, that it didn’t amount to much of a scene of job security.  Now that I’ve gone through three full years here, I have a better feeling for what it is to be nailed to a spot.

Speaking of: I can’t say enough how stoked I am to be returning to Seattle next week for vacation.  There’s a spot that I got attached to socially, but professionally not so much so ~ so now I consider it home, a home to go back to, and a home for the future.  But for now, I’ve got to kick the ball around the planet a bit in order to pay the piper and get my bearings for my eventual landing.

Gimcheon is simple. It’s a small town with small schools, and asks very little of me.  Three out of four of my schools are fantastic, and the other is tolerable. I’ve recently taken to leaving town more often so that I can get a better feel for the area I’m in, and I realize that I’m on something of a permanent vacation.  I speak to others, local Koreans, and they plan weeks and months ahead of time for things I would do on a whim.  Things that I plan a month or three for are things that most people here do once or twice in their lifetimes.  It really keeps me bumping myself back into perspective.  I’ve got such a sweet deal here it’s kind of ridiculous.

For example, last weekend, I got Monday off so I decided I’d go hiking.  Got to the train station and the guy told me that the train actually only rides that way twice a week, and I’d have to wait. So I got on the phone and called a friend three hours away on the beach to see what was up. He mentioned a rock show, and I told him I was there. My bag was already packed, and I had the gumption to go. So off I went to Ulsan to see a rock show for some fun. It was dope, we danced and played and drank and chilled. Then the next morning we went for a gorgeous hike that made us late for a baseball game in Daegu, but guess what~ we still made the game! It was awesome.

When foreigners show up at a packed ball game in Korea, it’s actually a big thing.  People were dancing with us and getting their pictures with us, and all sorts of weirdness. My team won, and the home team lost.  What can I say? I came from three hours away – that was my home team.  Go Daegu!

After the game was over we wandered out of the stadium, talking of food.  There we were on the beach, so why not some awesome fish, yea? We found a barbecue shellfish spot that rocked our world.  We had scallops, spotted unicorn (sea snails with a pointy tip), big burly clams, and geoducks.  It was awesome.

Now~ we were enjoying a Sunday evening at that point, as the rock show was on Saturday night, right? So the others had to get back to go to work in the morning, but me, I had Monday off~ and I was at the beach… It was getting late, but I knew where I was headed.

So I meandered off to the beach in a lucid state, looking to just play on the beach.  Much to my pleasure, I was invited by a collection of vacationing Thai ladies to join them in late-night volleyball and variations thereof.  When the sun came up, we went our separate ways…  That was a fantastic experience ~ exactly what I needed.

Looking back, this was the kind of weekend that people only do once a year if that around here. I don’t know how most people live, my people in Seattle are rather extreme when it comes to adventure, so I don’t know what the norm actually is, but I love living a life where I can just hop on a train, see a rock show, go hiking, see a ball game, eat fantastic foods, and roll in the sand with super-friendly ladies all night. Cleaned up at a world-class sauna in the morning for about ten bucks, rolled into Daegu to visit the Nikon shop as I… broke my camera… and they told me that they would fix it for free! Made it home in time for my 4pm bedtime.  This is the life for me…

Now I’m back to work, Tuesday I intro-ed the R/L dichotomy and played three card games, Wednesday same, and now it’s Thursday, 20 minutes on the clock.  I’ll do the same thing for those 20 minutes, and otherwise, I’ll be typing here, and other projects before my graphics practice.

Good times.  Yea, I’m glad to sign in for another year here.  This just doesn’t suck.  Hmm, everything but the girl…  Still accepting applications~

Otherwise, I’m on top of the world…  Time to got to other projects…

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