Saturday, 31 January 2009
I made a henge out of the embarrassing amount of cheese I brought back from Ilsan. At Costco Koreans were looking into my cart, and when they saw how much cheese I was buying, they gave me the 'you're worse than Hitler' look, as opposed to the usual 'who farted?' look Koreans give me when they realize I'm me.
I don't know what head doctors would say about this, but I enjoy making henges, and will do so at any given opportunity. It started early, with Blockhenge, Eraserhenge, Legohenge, and Jengahenge. If there are henge-shaped objects lying in front of in henge-able numbers, I will soon craft a henge.
Here are some pictures to illustrate my henge-mentia. There's VHShenge, an impromptu henge set up to celebrate the bottling of a batch of 'Sparrow Solstice Ale' I made with my father in September (yes, I own 'Iron Eagle 3' on VHS, so what?). Then there's probably my best henge yet, Beerhenge. I made that on an island called Muuido about two years ago, at 3 in the morning. It made the locals visibly uneasy, and they knocked it all down at first light, after pointing at it and discussing it in small groups for about an hour.
Thursday, 29 January 2009
When I see a random, grinning Korean kid running up to me armed with that question, I try to beat them to the punch by asking them where they're from, in Korean. The old turnaround, always good for confused looks.
A group of chatty Korean guys fell upon our happy reunion last Friday and started annihilating us with that question, and the other standby, 'How old are you?' I gave a Jeju orange to Black Hoodie, and he became my instant new best friend. He put his arm around me, and didn't let go for 20 minutes. He rested his head on my shoulder and kept mumbling 'chingu...chingu' in my ear. Apparently his girlfriend had just broken up with him, so his buddies took him out to get impaired. Reminded me of the Finland story from the movie 'Night on Earth' (watch it today).
T-bagz had worse luck, as he was later double-teamed by two guys, who gang-banged him from both sides with endless variations of the two questions in question.
Wednesday, 28 January 2009
I used to be a predator at the claw machines, pulling out lighters at will. Sadly, my clawing skills have atrophied during my time away, and all of my claws came up empty. We pumped way too much money into this particular one.
B-dawgs was nice enough to let me drive his little 125cc scoot around. Nice! I loved my scooter in Taiwan, and I miss her. I have to get one on Jeju, soon. B's helmet was large, but of course it didn't fit my misshapen melon. I was once told by a wincing and apologetic Taiwanese helmet monger that my head was too 'long' to fit inside the available helmets. I ended up settling for a special Great Gazoo helmet.
SPAM is still given as a gift on special occasions in Korea. I suspect it holds a special place for older Koreans, as it was probably the only meat widely available right after the Korean war.
When I left Ilsan I left my old bike for T-bagz, but he never bothered to get it. As we walked by my old apartment (BoBo County, great name), I checked to see if it was still there. Gone. The next day, I walked by a beat up white Alton chained to a post. I stared at it for a while. It was my bike. Ilsan is not a tiny city, so the odds of this happening, especially a year later, are pretty small. I toyed with the idea of waiting around to confront the new owner, but in the end I figured it looked like my old ride was getting well-cared for, so whatever. It was a piece of crap anyways. I paid 100$ for it new, but then I basically bought it again piece by piece, as each component failed in turn.
Interesting cast of characters in Ilsan. At one point we were introduced to a staggery Korean business man and his two cronies. Apparently he was very well off and connected, so we were warned to be on our best and most polite behavior. He promptly fell asleep in a big way, the endless whiskey shots getting the best of him. His friends got bored with not talking to us so they tried to drag off the big shot, at which point he threw several wild overhand rights, one of which connected with a surprised face. Whap! His friends then threw him down, and showered him with rib punches and verbal abuse, before leaving his inert ass there.
We mulled our options. Should we also leave his ass there? Should we drag him into a cab and toss him in? Should we throw him into a wood chipper? We selected the cab option, but our first few attempts were met with more wild right hooks. We soon gave up, and threw him into a wood chipper.
That same night we were treated to a lame-errific impromptu karaoke/trivia contest. I dig the Beatles hairdos that are popular in Korea these days. I want one. I want hair.
Tuesday, 27 January 2009
And so was this guy. He got really drunk, passed out, and then his date left in an angry huff. Or...maybe his date left in an angry huff, and then he got really drunk and passed out, I forget the exact sequence of events, as does he. He slept it off pretty well, getting at least 3 hours of good REM sleep in the bar, without moving once. Poor fella.
This was up in Ilsan, where I spent the last 5 days. About to hit my bed in a minute, so more tales of Ilsan shennaniganneries will be coming soon. No one broke into my apartment, yaay!
Thursday, 22 January 2009
Going up to Ilsan tomorrow for Lunar New Year. I smell some raucous Call of Duty deathmatches coming on...
I'm so coming back with my bag full of Costco cheese and Nutri-grain bars. Yaaaay!
Town smelled great yesterday - sea rain and pine trees. Gimpo never smelled like that. That would be a great first line for a country song: "Gimpo never smelled like that, I went to Korea and I got all fat. My hair fell out after it grayed, I crapped my pants when I actually got paid."
-->A Grey Heron that was floating in the stream in the temporarily appropriately named 'Resting Place'. From a distance they look huge, but up close, it seemed really small. Looked freshly dead, can't tell what killed it.
-->A Pale Thrush I walk past every day, looks like it hit a big window.
-->A Snipe that got caught in netting over crops.
Wednesday, 21 January 2009
I went to Gecko's, and hung out with some other waygooks. Good batch of folks down here. Some images have been blurred to protect their identities. Not having had a sip of the creature in weeks, and my liver not being what it used to be, I fear I've turned into a lightweight. By the end of the night, I may or may not have done goofy things like: eat street plants, fly formation with the king of rock n roll Elvis Presley, try to borrow delivery scooters, sing 'Flight of the Bumblebee', babble incoherently, and solve the world's economic crisis using neo-Keynesian theories. Some of these feats may have been dreams. I'm sure I made a great first impression with these insanities. I was feeling crap on Saturday, but a disgusting 'combination' pizza and X-men 2 on OCN helped me out of the woods. Sometimes you need bad, the worse the better. I don't know how often I can drink so much, as I'm getting to be old, like in the lyrics to a Sam Roberts song.
Tuesday, 20 January 2009
I picked up these wacky safety glasses today for cheap. I got them because a buddy on the north shore is soon returning from America with an assload of airsoft guns. The plan is to shoot the hell out of each other while giggling, it's gonna rock nations. I can't wait to try on my holster. Tell yo momma to buy a black dress! Clickety clack bop bop! I actually think I'm gonna wear the glasses around town. They're so bad they're still bad.
I also found a Family Mart that sells ginger ale. I was never a prodigious consumer of ginger ale back home, but I appreciate the option. I also think that small cans make more sense than bigger cans. Yes I do. Boring but true.
I don't know what to do about my hiking shoes. They never fully dried off from Sunday's hike, and now they smell like actual shit. I've got them confined to my little balcony area, but it's smelling pretty grim.
I pass this apartment every day on my way back to my apartment complex, the Toddler Towers.
I recently found a mini batting cage. Yesss! Great stress relief, thought I. My first 20 balls went well, as I swung for the fences and cracked homers left and right. As I went to put in my second 500 won coin, I chanced to glance over at the old Korean carny grinning at me maliciously from his 1/4 shipping container office. As soon as the next set of balls started flying out, I understood why he was grinning like an arse. No more soft lobs for this waygook, the machine was now launching curving white laser beams at me. I actually heard him guffaw after I yelped when one of the balls pinged me on the thumb. Bastard! I like him for doing it though.
Monday, 19 January 2009
Are all within a 5-20 minute walk of my pad. The first is the rocks in the harbor. I get a kick out of sitting on the rocks, and staring into the sea, reflecting on the malaise of modernity. Uhhhh, if I'm honest, I guess I just sit there and zone out.
That UFO on the horizon is the KAL hotel, an eerie spot if there ever was one. I've heard it's shut, but you can slip onto the grounds through a sort of hole in the fence at the end of an orange orchard. Even though (/if) it's shut, they can't seem to let it go, because the gardening is still done, and there's soothing elevator music being piped into the outdoors via mushroom-shaped speakers. The hotel itself could be a beached cruise ship from the 70's that's been awkwardly re-painted by vikings using their hands. The archers are 'round the next headland.
My other new favorite place is a 'Resting Place' built around a small river. It's a park, but I prefer the official name. I've yet to see anyone else there for some reason. One branch of the river turns into a creepy (everything is creepy) dry river bed that's filled with fetid pools and upended traffic cones. Plenty of good birding there.
Sunday, 18 January 2009
Had I hiked Halla San with my co-workers on Saturday as originally planned, we might have had some great views, as it was warm and sunny. I'm glad we went today, as there was thick creepy fog shrouding the whole mountain, making everything feel Tim Burtony. Was a great day of climbing, but I'm gonna feel it tomorrow. There was an insanely gorgeous temple near the trail head. The crampons and MEN'S TIGHT'S were essential purchases, as it was pretty slick and wet. I faced the strongest winds I've ever encountered in my life just below the top (of this particular trail, not the mountain itself - we opted not to 'summit'). The wind was so strong that as it passed across my nostrils, I could actually feel it sucking the air out of my lungs. I love wind, so good times. The reward at the top? Hellish. A shack jam-packed with 100 folks eating ramyan. The place had a micro-climate going on - today's weather called for partial cloudiness, with a 100% chance of soju rain dripping from the ceiling. Charming. Thankfully we didn't stay long. There was at least 5 feet of compacted snow on the trail in some points, and I found myself up to my hips into mini-crevasses a couple of times when I strayed off the trail. I'm gonna try to download and watch 'Touching the Void' again tonight. Great mountain climbing movie. I'm the best at fake action poses. That's the 'Zissou'.
Saturday, 17 January 2009
I got my health check done a few days ago. I hate needles, and I swear the doctor was grinning maliciously as he jammed the syringe into me, while I dramatically winced and gritted my teeth. I'm not a huge fan of doctors and hospitals, and I tend to avoid them if at all possible.
When I got a sinus infection from the crappy air up in Gimpo, the quack I went to violated every hole in my head with various cold metal sci-fi probes, before prescribing 6 different drugs for me. Six! I googled them, and it turns out they were all made by the same up and coming Korean pharmaceutical company. Hmmm. When I took them, my face turned red, and big weight-lifter veins bulged from my forehead. When I went back a few days later, he again gleefuly and clumsily face-probed me, then handed me a scrip for 7 drugs. Seven! And get this, most of them were different from the previous batch. I suspect he used some kind of prescription Ipod with a 'shuffle' setting. Stupid.
So my health check states that I don't have the AIDS, and that I don't abuse 'morphine' or methanphetamines. I was certain that the test results would have happy endings, but for some reason I felt a sense of relief at the results. A similar feeling to the strange guilt I feel at airport security checkpoints, and accompanying relief when the metal detector doesn't go off. Even though I'm not in the habit of drug-running, I always feel like Warren Fellows when I'm at airports. "Act normal. Act normal." I always tell myself.
Speaking of airports, in Frankfurt a few weeks ago, I was randomly pulled into a room for extra security checks. I was pretty damn nervous. Maybe it was the jetlag, but more likely it was the creepy German accent and attitude of the clean-cut security prick. I thought it was rubber glove time for sure. When he was done rifling through my stuff, he turned around and looked down at some paperwork, without saying anything. I was still standing there two minutes later, when he turned around and shooed me away, amazed that I was still standing there. Stupid.
Zit update: I popped the beast two days ago, and it was a complete mess.