Friday, June 16, 2006

When It Rains It Pours

After a rather long haitus (which if French for "being lazy") I finally updated my blog with several stories and about three months worth of pictures that I had backed up. I hope you enjoy all that's below. Please remember to hit the "June 2006" button to the left in order to see everything I posted, because otherwise only the first 50 posts will show up.

Also, check back here in early July for pictures of my trip to Paris, and I'm sure some sort of accompanying story.



Nice Temple

I've seen a lot of temples, but I think my favorite was one I went to just a couple of weeks ago. It had this long flat path with a river beside it that ran from the gates to the temple itself (I'd say about a mile or so). It was very peaceful with a lot of birds around and nice places to sit. The temple itself is one of the oldest in Korea, and it's said to contain one of the actual bones from the Buddha himself in this urn sort of thing. In any case, I really enjoyed myself there, and I hope you enjoy these pictures below.


Chinese writing that I don't understand on a rock. Posted by Picasa

Lantern and path. Posted by Picasa

River. Posted by Picasa

Road. Posted by Picasa

River. Posted by Picasa

Lantern. Posted by Picasa

River. Posted by Picasa

Stones with Chinese symbols on them. Posted by Picasa

A picture that I like. Posted by Picasa

Turtle with a thing on his back. Posted by Picasa

Gate to the temple. Posted by Picasa

Dragon heads. Posted by Picasa

Statue. Posted by Picasa

Temple area. Posted by Picasa

Temple. Posted by Picasa

This thing supposedly contains one of the real Buddha's bones. Posted by Picasa

This is actually a place where you go to sing with friends. I'm not sure how exercise is involved. Posted by Picasa

Mountain Biking

As many of you may remember, I've had two bicycles stolen in Korea. One was a bicycle that I had about $800 invested in. I spent $130 to take it on the plane with me to Korea. I had it in Korea for a total of six weeks when someone took a hammer to the lock and stole it. I replaced that bike with a cheap little bike just for getting around. I had that one another six weeks before someone cut the lock. I actually laughed when that one was stolen.

So I was hesitant to buy a new bike. When I moved into the apartment I live now, one of my first thoughts was that this apartment was large enough to bring a bike inside. I had only lived here about a month before I bought a new bike. That was in March, and even though it was cold, I still made a point to get out on the bike as often as possible. I learned the placed I could bike in the city, and I even biked in a few places that I shouldn't have. I went up in the mountains a bit, but not much.

And then I found the mountain biking group.

The first time I went out with them was just a few weeks ago. I met up with the group at 10 in the morning, and we headed to a neighboring city that had some bike trails that these guys wanted to train on (for an upcoming race). There was one other foreigner in the group, and because he spoke no (and I mean no) Korean, they assumed that I didn't speak any either. One guy in the group spoke English, and he was the only one that spoke to me before we headed up the mountain.

The ride up was a lot of work. The trails were steep--so much so, in fact, that you couldn't go straight up the trails, but kind of had to weave back and forth across them. When we got about half way up the mountain, the trail turned and headed back down. Great, I though, now it will be easy.

I stayed with the front of the group for about 2 minutes. Then I hit a rut in the trail. The rut through me off balance, and as I tried to regain my balance, I hit a bolder....hard. I flew off my bike. I landed face first in what was luckily soft soil and then rolled. When everything began making sense again, I realized there was loud hissing. My tired had popped, but that appeared to be the only damage my bike had taken.

I wasn't so lucky.

The soft dirt saved my face (although I had mud caked on me an a scratch on my forehead), but I had several scratches on my arm. My arm was nothing compared to my leg though, which was all scratched up, bruised, and bleeding pretty badly. Okay, I thought, I'll just walk my bike down the hill.

But as soon as I tried to walk, my back tire locked up. I couldn't figure out why at the time, but it was because my back rim was so bent that whenever I tried to roll it, it rubbed against the brakes. What that meant was that I had to carry my bike.

Bleeding and with a broken bike on my shoulder, I waddled down the mountain. I realized exactly how wreckless I was being when it took about 5 minutes for anyone else in the group to pass me by. I was going that much faster than them (but the leaders of the group were at least that far in front of me). The first two to pass me by didn't think anything of me, I guess, but the third stopped. Still thinking I couldn't speak Korean, he tried to ask me what happened in broken English.

"Tired?" he asked.

I showed him my arm, and he grimmaced. He came down the mountain with me and showed me to a first aid tent. While he was there, they tried to patch up my front tire. When it was good to go, I tried to ride again, but the back tire still locked up. That's when they realized my back rim was bent.

That's also when the other people in the group first found out I could speak Korean, which lead to questions about my wreck, then questions about me, and then questions about the other foreigner in the group (since they couldn't ask him directly).

After a quick lunch, they went back up the mountain, and I sat around with my broken bike (which took almost 4 hours to fix back at the bike shop, by the way). I hurt myself, sure, but I had made a few friends. I got a call last weekend inviting me out with them again, but I turned them down. I think I'm healed up enough for another go this Saturday, though. I'm sticking at the back of the pack this time.


Leg cuts (there were a lot of bruises on my leg too, but I didn't take any picture sof it). Posted by Picasa

Forearm burn. Posted by Picasa

Elbow scuffy. Posted by Picasa

May (Or, The Month of Damian, Dy, and Daejeon)

My was a much more eventful month than April. Check out the pictures and stories below.



This year I got to see my first Korean elections. This was only a local election this year, but it was still terribly amusing.

First off, the candidates rent trucks. They put huge pictures of themselves on the backs of the trucks and drive them around. They then stop someone, get out of the truck, stand on the back next to their big picture and yell stuff. The yelling certainly doesn't sound like an election, but more like they're calling for violent overthrow of not just the Korean government, but the whole world. The candidates make a point of saying "Tae Han Min Gook" (the full name of Korea in Korean) at least every other sentence, and they say it vehemently, as though perhaps that's the product that they're selling, which in a way, it is.

Occasionally, the trucks are surrounded by supporters. You know they're supporters because for some reason, they all wear the same colored shirt and a sash with the candidates name on it. They chant things and cheer when the person talks. They also chant back and forth with other candidates supporters if that candidate happened to park his truck a little too close to their truck.

These supporters do other things when their candidate's truck doesn't happen to be nearby. The their they're the best at is clogging up sidewalks and giving pieces of paper to everyone but me. I never particularly wanted the paper anyway, but it would have been nice to have been offered. I could have made a hat out of it or something.

Another thing the candidates are good at is waking me up in the morning. Since everyone in Korea usually goes to work at about 8, the candidates would drive around talking over loudspeakers at about 7. Seems to me if a candidate woke me up in the morning, I'd go out of my way NOT to vote for him. To make matters worse, they all co-opted the same song, so although it was different candidates waking me up every morning, it was still the same song that was doing the waking. It was "Peel Sung Korea," which means "Korea will definitely win." It's a song from soccer games, and I'm not sure why candidates though it would translate over to elections very well.

In any case, I'm glad the elections are over. I hope the guys that didn't wake me up won.


The Trip to the Fortune Teller

Fortune tellers are much more common in Korea than in the US. What's really odd about them is that they're not phone psychics, they're not crystal ball readers, they're not tarrot card readers in gypsy clothing. What's so odd about them is they're just dressed like regular people and they sit around in little orange tents downtown. That's it.

I've never really been interested in this kind of thing before, but I decided to try it out once. The experience was well worth the $10 I paid. First, I had to wait outside a little orange tent for about half an hour while the fortune teller finished up with the high school girls in line before me. It was a crowded street, so sitting on a tiny stool outside of an orange tent (just outside of a movie theater) waiting for a fortune teller seemed really surreal.

When I finally got inside, a woman who looked like she could easily be someone's aunt or maybe a cleaning lady asked for my birthdate, and nothing else. She looked up something in a small handbood she had, did a lot of what appeared to be mathmatical calculations, and then told me my fortune:

1) Apparently, I'm going to get married either this year or next year. I'm not exactly sure how that's going to work out.
2) She said I was good with language, but that's a pretty easy guess since I'm a white guy in Korea (and about 90% of white guys in Korea are language teachers) AND I was speaking to her in Korean, obviously not my native language.
3) She said I didn't have to worry about money, another good guess, since more foreigners in Korea are well paid. I DID however ask if I'd still be not have to worry about money if I went back to the US, and she said I'd never have to worry no matter where in the world I went.
4) She said I like quiet places, which is true, and that I get stressed easily, which is not true.
5) She said I can be a writer if I want to.

She then asked me to ask her any questions that I want, but I didn't have any that she didn't cover. Sure, it was a whole lot of silliness, and she got a few things wrong about me, but I was surprised she also got a couple things right. I suppose it's her job, though. It was worth the $10 just for the experience of it.


The classroom that I usually teach in. Posted by Picasa

The view from my classroom window. Posted by Picasa

Outside my classroom window. Posted by Picasa

Some cherry blossom pictures that were on my camera phone that I forgot to post during actual cherry blossom season. Posted by Picasa

More cherry blossom pictures. Posted by Picasa