Do you want a free iPod?

Do you want a free iPod? Sure, we all do. And in the event that you yourself don’t want a free iPod, surely you want me to have a free iPod? Of course you do.

Alls you have to do is click on THIS LINK (or any of the links in the first paragraph), sign up for one of the offers, wait about a week, and then cancel the offer before you get charged for it. I did the AOL one, and it worked like a charm, now I only need four of you to help me. Help me! Please?

I sincerely apologize for using my blog in this manner. I only hope that some of you (4) will help me so that I won’t be forced to stoop to this shameless level again. I don’t blame you, yet.

Big Corn

big-corn

I’ve been here for ten months today.

finish off the story of my trip

Today the rain came, sucking the humidity out of the air and leaving a wash of cool air in its wake. Am I still alive? Did I survive the hottest Korean summer in ten years? Just barely. I was forced to have a toe amputated, but for reasons only slightly related to the heat.

It is time to finish off the story of my trip to Gangjin two weekends ago, although after putting it off for so long it now feels like a chore to cross off my list. I must document. If you missed the first part of the story just scroll down a bit to the entry with the photo of the amazing chair sculputure. I have also added an album with the rest of the photos from my trip — click HERE, or on the left and down a bit, but not as much as in times past.

We spent Saturday night in a fairly traditional yeogwan, which is basically a cheap hotel where you sleep on the floor on stuffed-blankets instead of mattresses. It wasn’t as uncomfortable as I’ve made it sound, thanks in large part to the air conditioning. Comfortable or not, I woke up on Saturday morning/afternoon with quite the hangover, and before I realized what was happening I was downstairs and trying to eat a spicy Korean fish soup of some sort with rice and some other things. It was… to early to be eating such food, so I pretended to eat more than I actually did.

After “breakfast,” we went on a hike up a mountain to a buddhist temple. It was very beautiful, and it was very hot. A big part of the temple was being restored, so the scaffolding surrounding it took a small something away from the historic somethingorother of the place. There were buddhists around, but there were also construction workers smoking cigarettes. The view from up there was amazing, as was the path to and from, which was full of nature noises — there aren’t any nature noises in Seoul, excepting the ones pumped out of loudspeakers.

After the temple we followed a path to a small pagoda, which was fairly full of Koreans (I don’t know why I continue to write “Koreans”… I mean, like, of course Koreans). We were the only foreigners for miles and miles, so our presence in all these places turned some heads. In the pagoda an old man kept staring at me, and a younger guy came up and tried to communicate with me (rather unsuccessfully) in broken English. The pagoda apparently used to be the home of a famous Korean guy who lived alone in the mountains for about ten years and wrote many books about politics and philosophy. We sat in the pagoda and drank water.

From the pagoda and down, a drink of fresh spring water from a plastic ladle, and eventually at a traditional-seeming outdoor restaurant for lunch and some Korean rice wine. A (Korean) couple on vacation from Seoul came and ate with us, the man of which could speak English fairly well, so we ended up having an interesting conversation about life and vacation and all that. Actually, the meal that afternoon was the highlight of the trip for me… it felt, and I think was, authentically Korean. Much of Seoul seems faintly fake, Westernized, whatever, this was the first time I’d felt I was experiencing what old Korea might have been like — eating a traditional Korean meal in this open-air restaurant in the country, sitting on a hardwood floor and looking out at the bay. It was indescribably cool.

Eventually it was back into Jaekwon’s white truck and to the bus station for tickets. We had an hour to spare before our bus left, so we went to a traditional tea house for some TEA and some amazing views of super-green rice paddies. I had never seen rice paddies before this trip, they really are very green. Rice is white and sticky.

The bus ride home was much faster than the bus ride there, and the tickets were more expensive.

junglesque magic

The funny thing is, the last day of summer in Korea was last Saturday, which means that every day of this fall thus far has had temperatures over ninety degrees. In America, fall means falling leaves and jacket weather… apparently this isn’t so in Korea. My students tell me that this has been the hottest Korean summer (/fall) in ten years — how fortunate I am to have been able to experience this junglesque magic.

My schedule is almost back together again, at least for the time being. By the end of this month I should be back up to 3,000,000 per month, if not more. The Private Pimp, while sorely in need of English lessons herself, continues to deliver.

I realize that I have yet to finish the story of my trip to Gangjin. I can only assure you that I will finish it at some point in the near future.

abstract headache

I shall finish the story of my trip to Gangjin soon — immediately it is far too hot to do anything but drink water and stare blankly into space. Ninety-five degrees today, ninety-five degrees tomorrow, and ninety-four degrees on Thursday… I will be relieved when this week finally comes to an end, bringing with it temperatures in the mid-eighties for the rest of the month.

I slept surprisingly well last night, but woke up with an abstract headache.

Mogi Mullenday

Today is Sunday, and it is very hot and humid here in Seoul. I have been told that this is the hottest time of year in South Korea, and that soon things will start to cool down. I pray that soon comes this week, as my head may explode otherwise.

On Friday I finally took a trip outside the Seoul area – my friend Desiree invited me along on a trip to visit some Korean friends of hers in Gangjin, a small town on the southern coast. Despite the limited amount of time we actually spent there (one night), the trip was great, and it made me want to stay here for four more months, if only to be able to see more of Korea before I leave.

To get there was a six hour bus ride, a bus ride that featured a man sitting next to me who was obsessed with his cell phone. He wouldn’t stop playing with it, and he insisted on having the volume on high as he repeatedly listened to the many ringtones that it had on it. When he actually got an incoming call, the song “Limbo Rock” seemed to be his ringtone of choice. Also unusual and annoying was the fact that when he made outgoing calls – or pretended to – a digitized voice would say the number (in Korean) as he was pressing the keys, and thus broadcasted the number he was dialing – or pretending to dial – to the entire bus. In English it would sound like this: “ZERO. . .THREE. . . TWO. . . SEVEN. . . TWO. . . FIVE. . .FIVE. . . SIX. . . THREE. . .” and so forth. Very strange.

We got into the Gangin bus station at about nine, and the stares we got made it clear that we were the only foreigners in town. We stopped in a convenience store and the young women working/hanging out there seemed to think we were the funniest things that’d ever stepped foot in there. Endearing, yet slightly annoying, it was.

Soon after one of Desiree’s friends picked us up in his white truck and took us to a bar (“Blue Moon”) where we sat and drank many Budweisers while eating different kinds of dried squid. Koreans often eat dried squid while they drink. Dried squid is very chewy.

After a couple hours at the bar we got back into the truck and drove out of the city, ended up sitting on the side of the road by this bay drinking beer out of paper cups, looking at the stars, and singing Bob Dylan songs. I stepped in mud that I thought was sand and my shoe got dirty. Desiree’s friend threw a cup of beer in my face as a sign of affection, it really stung my eyes.

dirty-shoe

By this point I had had quite a bit to drink and almost nothing, aside from a few pieces of dried squid, to eat. So, we got back in the truck and went down the road a bit more to an outdoor park/restaurant/bar/etc. that was right on the bay. It was really a cool place to hang out, and we ended up spending the rest of the night there eating and drinking with a bunch of Koreans. Lots of drinking, and I ended up making a sculpture out of plastic chairs. Lots of drinking, and I decided that my Korean name will be “Mogi Mullenday,” which means “mosquito bite.” Lots of drinking.

IMG_0021

Part II tomorrow, or the next day.

future self

I’m planning on leaving South Korea in a little more than four months, to return only under the most extreme circumstances. This is not to say that I’m not enjoying this unusual life I have here, just that I doubt I’m going to want to do it all over again once I’m out.

The question that follows (in my head, at any rate) is, inevitably: What are you going to do next? Shit. What am I going to do next? I’ve thought about this quite a bit lately, and have arrived at several options, none of which involve immediately seeking gainful employment in the States. More school seems to be in the cards, as I’ve come to the conclusion that I enjoy learning and dislike working in cubicles. After reading and understanding these cards, all that remains is to decide the subject. The matter, if you will.

I’ve been unfocussed for much of my life, or at least I’ve felt unfocussed, and now I feel like I need to come to some sort of decision as to what I’m really going to do with my life, instead of doing a bit of this and a bit of that and having it all add up to very little. I majored in English because I thought (and was told) that it was a degree that you could do ANYTHING with, and thus it was a decision that allowed me to remain blissfully unfocussed. Now I feel like it’s time to decide what I really want to do, and separating it from the things that I might kinda want to do. This is hard for me, you understand.

I love books and words, too, but that’s beside the point.

I’m not sure why I’m going on like this tonight. It’s very late and I’m a bit drunk and the air conditioning is broken and I have nothing to get up for tomorrow, what better time to contemplate one’s future self.

Here is a picture of some Koreans contemplating their future selves getting on a subway train:

train-arrival

it makes my back very sweaty

Most of Korea is on vacation this week. The majority of “company men” here in Korea don’t get to choose when to take their one week of vacation per year, they must take it this week. This inevitably results in traffic problems and a shortage of hotel rooms near the ocean, but Korea is such a small and relatively isolated country that it sorta makes sense for all the businesses to close down during the same week. Whatever. To me this means that I don’t have to work much and it isn’t my fault. Yay.

I’ve spent the last coupla days reformatting my computer in the air-conditioned comfort of my apartment. It is very hot outside, I have found that it makes my back very sweaty.

I hesitate to note that the dogs have been quite quiet lately.

And the Korean government has finally decided to stop blocking foreign blogs, which means I no longer have to jump through technological hoops (see: proxy servers) to see my website from here.

Can life get any more magical? I submit that it cannot.