Making my way through Asia (and grad school) one adventurous step at a time.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Happy Birthday Buddha...

Since today is Buddha's 2568th (?) Birthday, and about 1/4 of the Korean population is Buddhist, today is a holiday.

A few moments ago, I was enjoying this holiday with a cup of coffee and a good book on my balcony - when my quiet morning was shattered by the most horrific racket I've ever heard. It was louder and more prolonged even than any rucus I've caused since I was 5.

Moving aside my bamboo curtains, I peered down to discover the source of the commotion. It turns out bricks are being delivered to the back of our building, and they are being delivered in the following manner:

An entire load of bricks is stacked on the back of a bongbong truck (A Korean style pick-up truck). The solitary brick delivery man is standing in the bed of the truck pushing all the bricks row-by-row off the stack. All the bricks clink-a-chink together, until they go tumbling and rumbling over the metal ridge of the truck and onto the pavement below. So it's an entire prolonged symphony of "Clink-clink-chink - bricks, bang-clang-bang - metal, crash-bang-clatter - pavement." Oh well, at least he decided to wait until 11 o'clock, and didn't start conducting such noise at 5am.

Speaking of 5 am, that's when the crazy rooster has gotten warmed up. Most roosters, as we all know, go "Cock-a-doodle-doo" in their own special rooster way. Not the nutcase that lives in the village beside my building. This lazy rooster wakes up early early early every every every morning, and cries out "Cock-a....." "Cock-a...." So there I lay in bed, every nerve on edge, waiting in vain for the "Doodle-Doo". It never comes. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that my life would one day be lacking in sufficient "Doodle-Doo"'s, but lo and behold, that day has come.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

No More Monkeys...

As a person approaches the age of 30, (give or take a couple of years), they should receive a reminder in the mail. This reminder should state "Monkey Bars were not made for people of your age." Yes, today I forgot that I'm no longer 10 years old. We were hiking an exercise trail in Seoul (some of you may remember Participaction Parks - it's a similar concept). When lo & behold, we saw some Monkey Bars, all my mature restraint and decorum left me, and I decided to play. Now I'm sore and bruised. ouch.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

I've changed my mind...

After considering the list of 100 places I posted last time, I've changed my mind. I've decided to save myself hours of jetlag and tons of money by making my own list. Of places I've already been, and would like to see again, and would strongly encourage others to visit if they have the chance. And so... in no particular order:

1 - The Great Wall of China. (China) Sure it's just old bricks, but by golly there are alot of them.

2 - Harbin Ice Festival. (China) It's cold, and dark, and cold some more, but it's a stunning combination of breathtaking beauty and bizarre tackiness.

3 - Hershey Chocolate Factory. (Canada) 'nough said.

4 - Blue Lagoon (Iceland). Gorgeous, blue warm water 12 months a year. It's a huge natural spa surrounded by black volcanic rock. Very cool.

5 - Daechun Beach Mud Festival (Korea). Lots and lots of soft silky mud to play in. Everyone is covered from head to foot in smooth mud.

6 - Bay of Fundy (Canada). Same muddy reasons as above, but also some gorgeous hiking trails.

7 - Museum of London. (England) Hours and Hours of museum fun. It traces the history of London from pre-Roman days to the present. It's fabulous.

8 - JeunJu Paper Museum. (Korea) Yes, it sounds like an absolute nightmare of a way to spend an afternoon. But there are many hidden amusements within. I've never laughed so hard, or for so long in a museum before.

9 - Q'Appelle Valley. (Canada)They look like mountains that got shaved. The top is all flat, like the Prairies should be...then poof, you're driving in a valley.

10 - Inside my Tent. (Anywhere). It could be pitched in my back yard, and it would still feel like an adventure.

Okay - so there are 10 of my favourite places. I also have a list of 4 places I would like to go. Dorking (England), Ko PiPi (Thailand), Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) and Disco Island (Greenland). Why? For the pure and simple reason that the names amuse me.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

One more list...

As some of you know, this year I'm reading my way through the BBC's list of most loved English books. Not all of them are great, but at least it gets me reading things I usually wouldn't choose.

Now, thanks to Ben's Blog, I've decided to start working my way through the top 100 wonders of the world. Hopefully by the time I retire, I'll have seen at least one on each continent.

I've been to
#2 - the Great Wall of China (9 thumbs up)
#16 - the Forbidden City (8 thumbs up)
#73 - New York Skyline (I couldn't see my thumbs. It was dark)
#88 - Statue of Liberty (I was far away, so it was the size of 1 thumb)
#94 - British Museum. (5 thumbs up.)

Let me know where you've been! And assume you have 10 thumbs to rate 'em with.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

And the beat goes on...

Next week is Festival Week here at DaeguDae. Already there are tents, stages, lights and mammoth speakers being erected around campus. It should be a fun week. My students are already excited about it, and have been inviting me to come visit their tents (each faculty has a beer tent, with snacks, games and, well, ... beer).

We're expected to teach next week...even though the music is so loud we'll hardly be able to hear ourselves talk, only 4 or 5 of the keenest students will actually come to class, and even they will be hung-over. So, I've told my students that I'll be there, but I won't be taking attendance. To my students, this translates as "Oh, I don't have to go to class."

On Saturday, 2 of our teachers will be close to their birthdays, so all the teachers are getting together to play volleyball and/or frisbee in the afternoon, and rounding off the evening with a big BBQ bash. There are big brick BBQ's in a little park near our apartments, and everyone is always up for a good reason to slap some meat on the coals.

All this makes me realize that I've been here for 3 months (nearly a whole semester), and I still don't feel as though I've been working. I feel as though I've been on holidays ever since the weather turned nice. Ahhhhhh..... Life is Good.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Just to prove you wrong....

On occasion, some of my friends accuse me of having an exciting life. In order to dispel such vicious rumours, and prove once and for all that my life is really pretty dull, I'll relate how I'm spending my Saturday.

I have spent 3 hours doing laundry and cleaning my closet. As a reward for finally packing away my winter wear, I made myself a glass of Ice Cappuccino, and sorted my coins. The thrills never cease.

While sitting on my floor surrounded by coins, I got to thinking... mostly about how much I like my new colour of toenail polish, but also about 3 other things.

1) There's not a great deal of creativity going into coin-size in this world. Except for the pictures, there's no difference between a Canadian quarter and a Korean Baek Won. A Canadian Dime and a Singapore dime are also about the same size. The Japanese do get some credit for showing some spunk in their coins with big holes in them.

2) Coins say a great deal about what's important to a culture. Korean coins have ancient temples, Great Historical figures and rice. (As an interesting aside, the first modern South Korean coins were minted in Philidelphia) Canadian coins on the other hand have leaves and weird animals. I'm starting to think of some other ideas we can submit to the Canadian mint... suggestions, anyone?

3) I'll come across an old coin, or one that looks like it's got some wear and tear, and I think about everything it's been through. Riots, Revolutions, floods... all kinds of things. Then I start to think about where it's been...pockets, sidewalks, gutters, and I start to get grossed out, and go wash my hands.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

What a day...

I'd forgotten how much I (sometimes) like to travel. I finished teaching at 10:00am yesterday, and today was a holiday. With a mid-week weekend available, I headed to Daejeon. Mike is heading back to Canada on Saturday, so I thought I'd wish him a fond farewell (until he comes back in June...)

Coming back this evening, I got on the train ~ with the Pusan soccer team. (drool) But they were in a different car, so the excitement ends there. I also discovered that my friend John and his girlfriend were on the same train. At our stop, his girlfriend continued on and we headed for the exit. Usually, I take the train - then the subway for 20 minutes - then a bus for 40 minutes before I'm home. However, John filled me in on a secret that there is another train that takes only 20 minutes, and cuts out all the subway / bus time. Hooray! We boarded the 'secret train' and were engrossed in conversation as the train slowed to a crawl. Thinking we were missing our stop, we lept up, and ran to the end of the car. The door was closed, but John hit a button and it opened. He got off, and I followed. As I was stepping off the train, I realized IT WAS STILL MOVING!! Slowly, but moving. Then a man with a flashlight started hollering and waving at us. ooops. It wasn't a stop at all. We were just slowing down for some reason. So, we lept back on the train through the next door, and eventually made a rather bashful-faced exit about 5 minutes later - at our proper stop. What a day.