Sunday, May 29, 2005


I got my first university job offer in Korea. It's in Busan, a city of four million people right on the ocean. My office would face a mountain (a big mountain). My apartment would be about a minute walk (literally) from my office. I'd be making about the same money for only 9 hours a WEEK of work. Yeah, this one's going to be hard to turn down.


5,000,000 Buddhas

I never wished I had my camera so much.

After going to a pretty nice temple, Barbie's dad (the gangster) told me he had heard there was a temple close by. It wasn't popular, he said, because it's so far out of the way.

"All the best temples are a little hard to get to," he said.

As we came around a bend in the road, a 50 foot tall gold reclining Buddha statue slipped out from behind the mountain. Behind him stood another Buddha. And as we pulled to their feet, we were surrounded be literally hundreds of smaller golden Buddhas, each about as tall as me.

We got out and walked closer to find thousands upon thousands of small golden Buddhas. Each Buddha had a name of someone who game money to the temple. As we walked up the mountain, every corner revealed hundreds of Buddhas. Some were reclining. Some standing. Some had hundreds of arms. Some were gold. Some dull gray metal. One was nearly a thousand years old.

Gangster dad took pictures of me in front of all of them--dozens of pictures--but I didn't get a single shot of myself because my camera was still at home.


Sunday, May 15, 2005

My new name.

Since in Korea, I've been Ryan, Lyan, Lion, Sa-ja (lion in Korean), Tony (a joke when I shaved my beard), Stony (I don't even know why), Moon Tae Bawm (my joke Korean name), and about a hundred other mispronunciations, jokes, and tomfollery.

I decided recently, though, that I want a real Korean name instead of one that sounds like my name or that's just some joke. I wanted a name that an actual Korean would have. So after many days of deliberation, asking suggestions, and having Koreans tell me something sounded bad in Korean (or me telling them it sounded bad in English), I finally decided on a name.

I'm Bak Jae Min. (Bak rhymes with "rock," Jae like "Blue Jay," and Min as in not very nice).

It doesn't really mean anything (aside from "Jae Min" sounding like "Jae mi" which means interesting), but it sounds good and it's a real name that a Korean would have.

So next time we have a conversation in Korean, remember to call me Jae Min.


My New Best Friend

After the baseball game (see next post), Rose, Dan, and I decided to hit a bar called "The Doors" after the '60s band. The bar is decorated like a little retro bar. It's nice and it's usually quiet. When we got there, there was one lone man at the end of the bar. He smiled down at us, but didn't say a word.

When Rose left for a couple minutes to powder her nose, the man came down to us. My Korean is getting decent, but I still don't understand most of what people say to me. If the speaker is drunk, it's even worse. "Blah blah blad friend blah sit blah drink" is all I understood. So I sat.

He proceeded to babble on in Korean. I understood almost none of it. Before Rose even made it back, he had bought our drinks.

"You're my best friend," he said. It was the only phrase he knew in English.

Rose helped the translation a bit, but the conversation was hard even for her. Mostly we just sat next to the guy, who proclaimed our friendship every ten minutes or so.

He disappeared after about an hour. We assumed he went to the restroom, but he never came back for his cigarettes. I lost my best friend after only having him for an hour.


The Chickens

I hate baseball. It's boring. But Rose talked me into going to a game.

"Try it, you'll have a good time," she said. I didn't think I would, but I agreed to go for the experience.

Rose, Dan, and I arrived at the park early. We passed by food vendors on the way in selling squid and pig knuckles. It was hard for me to go the whole game without the traditional baseball snacks, but I managed.

The team's name was the Eagles, but their mascots looked like chickens. I called the team that for a while, but then I realized that in Korean, sometimes chicken is chicken. I realized this when the person behind me said "blah blah blah chicken blah blah." I stopped calling them that then.

I was bored when the game started until I realized no one could understand me (unless I said Chicken). Then I started yelling at the foreign players. I'm sure they couldn't hear me, but it's still fun yelling "go whitey" over and over.

Whenever anything happened in the game, there was an animation for it on the scoreboard. The player is walked. Animation. The ball is caught. Animation. The ball isn't caught. Animation. There's a stike out. Animation. Only in Korea.

In the end, our team did pretty well. I was still bored, but I wasn't as bored as I thought I would be. I still do, however, hate baseball.


Downtown neon. Posted by Hello

Downtown neon. Yep, it's really like this everywhere at night. Posted by Hello

Korean Superman was downtown handing out fliers last night. Must have been a slow night for crime. Posted by Hello

The naked people bar. Posted by Hello

Nice bar. Make sure you read the red words. Gotta love people that don't quiet understand English but try anyway. Posted by Hello

Yep, this is a toilet. Try pooping in THAT. Posted by Hello

I got this flier downtown. It's kind of an unfortunate name for the show. Posted by Hello

The napkin from the doors. I don't know why these two bars are linked. Or why the peace sign is upside-down, but hey, well, I don't know a lot of things. Posted by Hello

I like this bar. It's quiet and rarely crowded. Posted by Hello

The cheeleaders and mascots getting ready for the game. Posted by Hello

National Anthem. We're the red team. Posted by Hello

Getting ready to bat. Posted by Hello

Pitchin' Posted by Hello

A good action shot. Posted by Hello

A batting shot. Posted by Hello

A good pitch shot. Posted by Hello

A batter. Posted by Hello

The view from my eats. Posted by Hello

The team's name is the Eagles, but this looks like a chicken. Posted by Hello

Another chicken. Posted by Hello

There was an animation for about everything at this game: hits, walks, runs, and, of course, strike outs. Posted by Hello

A shot from the outfield. Posted by Hello

This guy loved whackin' these things together. I'm pretty sure it showed support for the team somehow. Posted by Hello

These drunk guys were loving the game when the team was doing well. Posted by Hello

Here we are when the team is doing well.  Posted by Hello