Posts Tagged With: hiking

)'( And the beat goes on…

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I’ve left Korea for an extended time now. The trip is that I pulled out a couple months ago and have had a wild time since.

I started in LA, went to Burning Man, then to Symbiosis, bought 9 plane tickets since my last post, met a particular woman as a key co-operator in this trail I’m on, am writing from Ecuador, and will need to change the title to and/or address of this blog. It will need to migrate, as I have done so as well. The new name and address will be created and published at a later time.
For now, a blog-post:

View from Quito off the edge of the rooftop lounge of The Secret Garden Hostel.

View from Quito off the edge of the rooftop lounge of The Secret Garden Hostel.

Wow!  What an amazing ride! I am in-fact in Ecuador at this moment at a cool little hostel made of stone, bamboo, palm fronds and hard wood. Populated by as many dogs as people, this place is a chill reality here in the mist of low-season on the beach-side of Montanita. I arrived here yesterday after a strenuous trip that brought me and my travel partner to places that had no name, places that were closed, places that were inappropriate-but-perfect and included a whole freakin’ lot of sitting on bumpy buses through the countryside of Ecuador.

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For the first leg, I was kept awake as much by the need to pop my ears as we came down from the highlands as much as anything else. Unfortunately, it was night-time and couldn’t see the scene roll by. What I found the next day as our journey continued, was that the scene going by was questionable at least, and considering more, sad. There’re a lot of broke folk here in Ecuador, and it was apparent as we traveled that where people sometimes don’t have the same access to certain material elements, they can certainly improvise to create and maintain a way of life that brings about a happy and beautiful existence. Am I wrong to totally appreciate the graffiti? There was so much of it that I couldn’t get enough of!

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Further in, I landed at a cool town that is finally chill enough that I can get some writing done. I’ve put pages into paper, I’ve caught up on some letters, and am finally re-emerging here in the text of Dataland. Not that I wasn’t in great places, but I need places that don’t have external elements popping about in order to write. I need to have something of a space that isn’t talking at me and asking for me to go have fun~ And lately, I’ve had a lot of fun!

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To begin with, I landed in Los Angeles where a friend put me up in a space she runs that contains hundreds of artists in dozens of studios and shops that were all creative in their own ways~ This was a brilliant way for me to land after two years in Korea~

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For two years, I’ve been able to work on being a graphics man, but nothing with weight to it, nothing that required a power-tool or anything of the sort. That was brilliant~ August 9th, 4pm, I got on a plane in Seoul, got off a plane in LA August 9th at noon. From there, I fell straight into the action of creative design and activity provided by that space. That~ was simply elemental.

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After a few weeks there ~ only leaving for deli sandwiches and evening events- either with my cousins or hosted by Burning Man camps ~ I finally found myself headed to Burning Man with a band of strays from the City of Angels who were both organized and disorganized at the same time. Quite the cluster-f*3k at times, I was somehow able to have quite an amazing time in the center of the storm. Later named Gasket by my campmates for my positioning as an instrumental if somewhat only marginally effective buffer between two strong forces that were pressed uncomfortably against each other in the form of people in my camp, I was able to participate with some success such that I left the event feeling much better for the experience, including the meeting of the above mentioned lady-co-conspirator.

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Coming from Burning Man, I was planning on visiting a friend who was in Utah~ An old friend who I consider one of the rare few who are worth extra effort, and as such, had planned a visit for a week with her. The visit was fun, peaceful, pleasant. As an odd overlap, the lady I alluded to earlier happens also to be a resident of Utah and had invited me to visit with her as well. Initially, I had expected it would be impossible. Luckily, there was an unplanned business trip that allowed me to visit with her for three days in an Idaho cowboy-town built around a set of hot-springs that provided quite a nice cleansing after the dusty event that Burning Man is, not that I hadn’t cleaned off, just~ very centering~ especially as I was hoping to get to know this particular human a bit better.  I went back to my other friend’s home with clear eyes and an open mind, enjoyed the rest of my visit and traveled on to the Bay Area where I had two other friends expecting me within the plan of both social visiting and a design of a new tattoo for my back. The first friend I met was an old friend who sketched the lines, the second laid me down and scratched my back with needles for an extreme amount of time resulting in a beautiful bit of art adorning my epidermis. To those two humans, I am deeply grateful.

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Oddly enough, parts of the same group I camped with at Burning Man were also planning on being in the Bay Area at the same time and they asked me to join them to another festival for another production. As such, I went to Symbiosis and helped create a piece of art named Occam’s Razor. It was a 25 foot steel structure that we both produced on-site as an installation of performance art and utilized in a final show at midnight of the Friday/Saturday (I forget) of the event in a percussion format where we put all the people up on top and showed it off. The full video is here. That was fun.

Following that~ I went to SEATTLE~

Have I expressed to the internet (read: you) how much I love Seattle lately?

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See, it’s the city that so amazingly welcomed me when I was looking for a place to call home so many years ago with the warmest embrace that I can never forget or lose the feeling of. It was the most amazing thing to me to have been travelling between 1995 from place to place until 2001, when I arrived to Seattle and found a community that was able to take me in all my weirdness and animation and show me how I could be useful and appreciated at the same time, with gusto. So, of course I’ve called it home ever since, even if I have mostly lived in Asia since 2007. No matter. Seattle is still where I go back to. I have my closest friends in the highest density there, I like the weather, the city still prides itself as being a leader in the world of arts and all things cool. Just try and sell me on another city, I’ll show you a hard sell.

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So I went back~ for three weeks I planned on being there~ Friends had offered their homes to me to use while I was there, and events were planned, leaned in on, and improvised so that I could see as many of my friends as humanly possible while I was there. That was good.

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Okay, so dig~ Not only all that~ but the lady I mentioned that keeps requiring extra words came north to visit… She induced me to become a tourist in my own city~ much to my pleasure~ where we went as far as actually signing up for one of the underground tours through the old city- which I had never done~ Glad I did~ She was great company~ we went all over the city together~ To many places that I recall as my favorite places just so she could see them, and I was pleased as punch to share them with her. So pleased~

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So now I’ve left Seattle and am chillin’ on the coast in Mantanita, Ecuador getting ready for a 5-week class based on becoming a better teacher by relaxing on a beach.

So that’s how far I’ve gone since my last blogpost~

Freakin’ far~

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Goodbye Korea~      So long and thanks for it all…

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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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Birth of a Snapshot

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Heh heh heh

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From the notebook:

As I look over the stone schoolhouse, Korean flag waving in the light 35 degree wind, I imagine exactly where I’m going to be in one month’s time. . .

Los Angeles, preparing for a festival to blow minds off in record time. Heading with a troupe of characters that will be setting up the kind of amazing spectacle that can only be seen intentionally.

But right now, I have a view, as I’ve had every Thursday and Friday for the last two years, that will remain the same for years to come. Nothing in this image will change. The building in the window has been there for 50 years and will likely be there 50 more. The sky is wide and void of other buildings. The area doesn’t require buildings higher than two or three stories. Why should it? There’s plenty of space. Plenty of time to walk from one to another. So much stillness…

It’s 10:30am and I’ve already had a liter of water. Already sweated through my shirt twice and am tasked with exactly nothing for this afternoon’s activities. After work, I will go home, clean up my apartment, and have a house-sale and dinner with friends as I prepare for my departure.

There are times that I remember with clarity, others are lost. My thoughts are on writing, but not here. Not in this box. I must use a pen.

And so I did…

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The systematic overflow of the population is a residual of the medical and social advancement in the last few generations, but it’s worth wondering if it can peak like any other graph that gets pegged. That being said, I don’t think it’s a bad thing per se, more of an interesting balancing act.
Considering the fluctuation has me thinking about the cities that are so crammed full of people, together with the rural elements, it seems that there will always be a balance.

Right now is simply the product of an extremely prosperous time. I think our greatest void is our self-esteem ~ both micro and macro-scopically ~ in a sense that every day, people couple successes with self-depreciating ideas and comments habitually, ritualistically, and we (as a species) tend to look at foreign cultures as adversaries rather than neighbors on the same path. The cultural prejudices that inspire people to belittle achievements or to accentuate the faults of others (so as to look or seem superior) have got to be checked. The self-depreciating commentary I witness among peers is tantamount to the equivalent of abuse if it were coming from somebody else. Yikes! If we’re headed to Hell in a hand basket, we don’t need to paddle down stream. It would seem to me that we would do well with a little of the opposite. We have come so far. Even if it is not your fault personally, you should feel proud for the achievements that other people outside your family, town, country have done. You should use their successes as inspiration, to prove that anything really can happen. The world certainly has surprised before.

7-12-2013

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7-13-2013

Philo of an Expat:   See, once a body has made it out of the bubble, it’s clear the world has got to be seen, felt, experienced, walked through, smelled, sensationed beyond description, beyond imagination, beyond the expectations, abandoned years ago having noticed their inapplicability to the world at large, along with common sense when it became obvious that such constructs are simply more appropriately termed cultural or regional norms, rather than any inherent human reflex of the wise.

And once that happens, the method of travel, of financial stability while living on the road has got to be figured out. I have chosen English teaching for now. Maybe one day, I could be a buyer for somebody who runs a shop in the states, maybe another profession completely ie: writing for travel mags or something. But the business is rather competitive and I’m not a big fan of being competitive in formats like that most of the time.

Theoretically, once the loans are paid, I can dive into the world with even more reckless abandon. Spending instead on the best possible health insurance plan or diving from place to place. I could see the whole planet and write about it as I pass through.

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Today’s Snapshot:

Woke up late and laden heavily with a properly earned headache from a bit of dehydration created from sleeping in the heat of my room after having a gloriously successful party just last night. I had about a dozen people at my place for gnocchi and a house sale where we visited and hung out, had dinner, picked through some of my old gear and decided to keep on to a norae bang or singing room, afterwards.

So, of course everyone left all the things they wanted from me at my house in little piles for themselves to get later, and we went out to sing. I went to sleep looking at 4am on my telephone’s clock and checked out for the night.

As I woke this morning, the hangover combined with the small mountain of dishes in the sink led to a slow venture into my day. Finally, put the house and my head into order, to where I could leave the house around noon. Got to the station to find that the next train to Seoul was leaving in over an hour!! I had some time to kill.

The train station is very close to one of the schools that I teach at, so I figured it would be a good plan to walk to it to gather some sunshine, keep myself occupied and otherwise bring a smile to the situation.

It’s a beautifully hot and sunny day today, so it was good I had my water, and was pleased to find shade now and then. The school is a couple kilometers away, so I had more than a few nice moments with my camera, and eventually burned about 45 minutes on the walk. I still had 45 minutes to wait, so I figured on a slow stroll through the station to bide my time.

It’s a small place. Only two tracks. One sitting room with two cafes, one restaurant and a convenience store, and in the main walkway there is an area that has pictures of the buildings that are being built in the area as part of a massive infrastructural installation that is featured around the station. So I walked slowly and looked at each one of the artistic representations of what is to come.

While doing so, I have to say, I was brought to laughter by a simple oversight that the artists/planners showed in their pictures. A few of them had shadows pointing in three different directions! Always within the same 90 degree quadrant, but as much as, wait, no, there was one that could have been 140 degrees off. Seriously, just a funny thing to see on what was surely an expensive and otherwise thoughtful image.

So I had my fun with that and yes, I snapped a few photos, but soon I was done there and had to go sit down.

***A few of those shots***

Consider the shading. Notice where the shadow from the tree in the foreground lays almost at 20 degrees west of north, then the ones from the railing in the left look like they are heading 85 degrees west of north, then with the building, the smaller wing that comes off on the right, the shadow lays coming towards us, as if the sun is now off to the right and the shadow is now coming in at us.

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Now for a few from the walk.

The path from the station from two angles.

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A couple shots of my school during the walk up to it.

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Some locals just below my school.

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Up close.

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Back at the station:

The wooden benches weren’t exactly built for comfort, but nobody seemed to mind. More of a Zombie-limbo-parking-lot-for-the-digitally-inclined vibe than anything else. So I sat, and I waited between the tv seething garble and the friendly texter.

When it came time for the train to come, I went up to the outdoor platform, enjoying the warm air that welcomed me as I stepped up from the climate controlled zone I’d been in. Found yet another flat wooden bench to sit on and copped a squat.

The sun was shining and I put on my shades and just leaned back. Arms behind me just relaxing, when up lumbers a fella who’s obviously drunk and totally interested in my tattoos. Now, I’m kind of used to the attention that they get now and then as a lot of Korean folk don’t get tattoos so they’re a bit of a spectacle but this guy was something else. He leaned in like he couldn’t see’m ‘less he could smell’m. Head about 3-4 inches from my arm, totally bent at the waist to do it. I let him stare like a mentally challenged fella, but then he reaches in for my other arm and I calmly make like I’m gonna pour my water on his shoes to let him understand he is no longer welcome.

He gets it. So he’s traveling with two other fellas who don’t seem as drunk, but they are there, so he wanders over to them then plops down on the bench I’m on. Now, there’s another guy between us, but he gets up on account of the other dude’s smell and the way he just dropped down on the bench. Just read of trouble. So then it’s just him and me. I ignored him until I felt his hand on my arm which I instinctively and quickly swat away ~ telling him “That’s twice” and go back to chillin’. He’s obviously shaken, his friends come in closer, but I continued to enjoy the sunshine. No bugger like that’s takin’ my sun-time away from me. Hah! Good times.

Then it was time for the train we got on at different doors. While walking on the train later to find a coke, I saw him passed out – (at noon mind you!) in his seat. Heh.

The train ride was good. Quick. It got me to Seoul in about one and a half hours.  Seoul is a known variable. I needed to get to Insadong for some gift-shopping, burned a hundred bucks there or so and am now on the subway to the south end of the city to meet a buddy for a pizza before a poi jam.

Damn fine day~ Hmm. 6 more stops. Let me share a little bit of what Insadong is with you.

So, it’s this overly marketing-filled arts district that actually has a bunch of great restaurants, galleries, tea shops and nice things for gifts if all the redundancy of bookmarks and fans don’t get in the way. I bought myself my first watch in many years, a cool leather banded piece, simple, inexpensive, $20, but cool style. For gifts, I bought 3 business card holders that are inlaid with abalone, a pair of fans, some Korean paper to wrap things in, a stash of masks for burners, some more of these crazy-comic all-so-Korea anime socks and a collection of note cards with pressed flowers that will come in handy when the time is right to use them.

My stop is soon and this paper is valuable and almost filled, so I’ll call it for the day’s snapshot. Almost at Maebong to meet Seoul-Hunter on our way to Manshigan Studios.

July 13, 2013.

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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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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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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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Believe it!

( if you want to maximize any of the photos – just click on them.  Cheers.)

Jik Ji Sa

I’m writing again!

Long-neglected is this blog. Hopefully, this lil’ note’ll make it feel better a bit.
Where to start? Well, I”m still here in Gimcheon – doing my best to stay as isolated as possible for the sake of my guitar skills. I actually sound like a mediocre player these days – that’s exciting. It’s been 6 months, half of which doesn’t count. Listening to such a diversity of music that I don’t know where to start for picking one or six to focus on – so I have focused on the circle of fifths. Working on how the tones work together, rather than putting myself into someone else’s song just yet. So this is where my brain is. My fingertips have changed to where I can either barely feel with them, or they hurt. But just the tips.

It’s kind of a nice place to be doing this.

Teaching – I”m actually teaching. It’s nice – every day I have a different set of kids except for the set that repeats on Mondays and Fridays. I’m even on the verge of trying to remember three of the kid’s names. What a surge that is – huh? I like being a teacher that they both like and that makes them work. I can do that as a once-a-week’er more easily I think than I’m used to. Usually, students get a sense of regularity with a teacher where the balance is hard to find. But because I teach the same lesson to different groups, I can focus on it for one, then I can refine it as I pass through it. It’s cool like that.  Lots of teachers that aren’t my co-teachers are fun.  Some really go out and try to be friendly.  Here’s a science teacher who can speak about 24 words of English – but always kind.

I found a huge collection of educational games today that I’m going to start integrating. I’ve been keeping it to the lesson for the whole trip – but the 3rd graders (of the middle school) just took their finals, and they’re actually finished and will start high school in February, after a month off in January. I’ve no idea what we’re expected to teach them for December, so I’m getting ready for anything.
Recently we had an expo of the kid’s art and such.  That’s where I took that picture from above.  Here are a few more.

I’ll warn you that this site is not for your kids to peruse.  It is peppered with comically-engineered material that is as they say “not suitable for children” at times.  That being said – That link is here: https://sites.google.com/site/englishdroid2/teaching-tips/not-hangman-again

Grading is different here – in a big way. Kids don’t need to pass to pass. They just get promoted, no matter what they did on their exams. Wow. So if anything – the ones that are inspired to do well, are genuinely inspired – not just because of pressure to do well on tests. I’m sure that involved parents have a lot to do with it as well. I saw the final – it was 25 questions. 25. Some kids were done in five minutes. Seriously. Weird.

As far as it goes though – the classes are still on par with what I would expect in a country town in the states – I mean – seriously, my experience is very skewed. I teach at four schools that all have 60 kids or less. I have classes with five kids. It’s kind of ridiculous, in a nice way. My time here is more academic than anything else. I’m forced to focus more on myself than I ever remember being able to do, much less not having the option otherwise. There are a few Westerners here to hang out with, but I really only see them on the weekends, and so between Monday and Friday, it’s just me and the co-teachers for company. To be fair, two of them are genuinely interesting. That’s three of my days. So that’s cool. I can’t sit and talk stuff on the others, they’re lifers in the gig, and set in their ways – ways that I neither understand nor find reasonable for spending my time getting to know. But they aren’t trouble. They keep to themselves pretty directly, and that serves me fine. I hope I don’t come off like that.   Trying to focus on my guitar and all.

Meh – whatever.  I’m having a fine time, if not for the isolation that spins the brain a bit now and then.  Like right now – I just went for a walk to this cafe – took 20 minutes to get here, been sitting in the window for for nearly an hour in the busy, walking district of town, not one foreigner has passed by.  Some high school boys tried to talk to me – got as far as hello, and that was it.  They seemed pretty proud of themselves for getting there – got uncomfortable and left.  Heh.  I did kinda vibe privacy for the sake of this note, but still, one word in the last three hours, and that’s more than normal.   Thank god for headphones.

And I hike.  I’ve been able to get out and see some amazing places for sure.  Sculptors, check this out:

Then there’s

Which as situated somewhere near this…

… in this amazing scene…

,,, which leads to a 15oo year old temple called Jik Ji Sa.

Jik Ji is one of the oldest temples in Korea, and has some fun hiking around it too.  I’ve been through it a few times now, and it’s still a good time.  The following picture is of the main building – now, mind you – the compound is something like 40 buildings, but this is the center one, the main one – inside are three giant paintings that are about 600 years old – the structure is about 400 years old, and the stone pieces in front are at least 800 years old.  Dig:


Then there was this time that one of my schools took me up to a mountain to check it out and have dinner under it….

Tell me it ain’t a good-lookin’ spot.

Then there was this…

and these…

So it’s understandable why I stay I think.  I have time to practice at arts that I’m trying to master, and am surrounded by all this weird coolness – and I’m fed fairly well.  All that’s missing is you.  I’ll get back when I can…  And you know I can.  But it’ll be a minute.

Peace!!!

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