Tuesday, October 20, 2009

DMZ: The Prologue

So I went to the DMZ last Saturday. Here's my story.

Started off with an uneventful bus ride to Seoul after school. Read a little bit of my book, relaxed, and looked forward to the weekend ahead. Rolled into town around 7pm and jumped on the subway over to foreigner-ville, AKA Itaewon. I was supposed to meet up Tom, who planned the trip, and some other folks around 8 or 8:30. I called Tom and told him to meet me at the Wolfhound, a fairly well known Irish pub in Itaewon. I sat down at the bar upstairs, chatted with the bartender (who spoke really good English), and ordered an AlleyKat, which tastes sort of fresh and hoppy and may or may not be an IPA, but is definitely delicious. I start playing sudoku on my phone and get really into it. I finally beat this really hard puzzle I've been struggling over off and on for about 3 weeks. I have a couple of beers. I chat with some other American guys, Army guys I think, for a bit, and then look at my phone. 9:15?! Where is everybody?? I text Tom. The reply: "Wolfhound." Doh.

So I pay my tab and take a walk downstairs. Sure enough, there's Tom, Travis, and a couple of girls hanging out and drinking. I order another beer and we sit and chat for a while about how we need to bounce pretty early and get to sleep so we can make our 7am call at the USO Office. A couple beers later and we decide to order club sandwiches and potato wedges. Then this South African chick, Nomfundo, shows up and we get more food: steak and kidney pie or some such. More beers. Next thing we know it's like 1am and Nomfundo talks us into coming back to her motel. So, by this time the other chicks are gone and it's just the 4 of us. The guys figure we can all share a room for a few hours, so we decide to walk over there. And stop at the Family Mart, to buy more beer and some soju, naturally. Like, that wasn't even an option, for real. Anyway, as we're walking it begins to thunder and lightning, and then to rain more and more heavily. You know, we're not that upset, because we've got beer and the plastic bags that the beer came in to put over our heads. But as it turns from storm to raging downpour, we start looking for little eaves and awnings and whatnot to hide under. Then the kicker: Nomfundo can't remember where her hotel is! But no worries: She's got a business card! But wait -- the address doesn't mean anything to us, because we're not from Seoul! But it's ok because it's got a phone number! But hornswaggle -- we can't speak Korean! Idea: we'll find a taxi and make him call and find out where it is! Bullspit -- no taxi's will stop because we're not by a designated taxi stand. And soaking wet. I'm sure that didn't help...

After about 20 minutes standing on this corner waving and cursing at every cab that came by, we finally got one to not only stop, but also call the hotel, find out where it is, and take us there. Awesome: it's like 2 minutes away from that corner we've been huddling on. Even more awesome: it's smack dab in the middle of the Red Light District. Yep, on both sides of the road, just hookers. And not old dirty ones either... these girls were hot! I'm sure the cab driver was... well, probably not at all surprised that 3 white guys had found this particular hotel out of all the options in Seoul, but seriously: we're here to learn, folks! Not to make out with you! Billy Madison... anyone? Anyone? Ok, never mind. So yeah... we did take a quick stroll (in the pouring rain, mind you) to see what was for sale, because I for one had never been to a Korean RLD before, but it was strictly window shopping. Anyway, back to the hotel for about 3 hours sleep and then we're off to the DMZ.

Morning, hangover, quick walk, quicker cab ride, no breakfast, check-in, bus ride. Korean tour guide, Freedom Road (along the Han River, protected with fences to keep invading North Korean marine units off the freeway), and up to the actual De-Militarized Zone.There we receive a briefing at Camp Bonifas ("In Front of Them All") about the DMZ and expected behavior and such. Highlights? In front of the North Korean guards (whom we only saw from a distance): no gestures, no pointing, basically don't acknowledge their presence in any way. You can take pictures, but they will remotely scan any and all electronic equipment that you carry. In other words, don't make yourself a target and don't be a dumbass. Done and done.

And that's where the story ends for today, ladies and gents. Pictures can be found here.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Curiouser and curiouser

UPDATE!!! Link to Sports Day pictures is now working. So, go look. Also, costumes and such.

Actually, a more appropriate title for this would have been lazier and lazier, but that just doesn't roll off the tongue quite as well. So here we are. 3 weeks later and with a title that makes no sense. You're just gonna have to bear with me though. Or... not, I guess. I mean, I don't know if anybody's still checking this site for updates or not anymore. I hear the best way to gain readers to a blog is to actually blog consistently. So... failing that, I guess I could promise naked pictures of Megan Fox or miracle weight-loss techniques or a way to get your house clean without actually doing anything. So... yeah. If that last sentence doesn't draw in at least a few hits from google (hi guys! fooled ya!) then I don't know what this world's coming to.

So what's happened since last I wrote? Hung with out the teachers a few times. Samgyeopsal, kalbi, dalk kalbi. Lots and lots of soju and beer. Man those guys love to drink. We did sports day at our school, at which I took lots of awesome pictures which will soon be up on facebook and my google pictures site. And by soon, I mean later today. Once they're there, I'll come back and add the links. But, you know, I was finally in the mood to write something, and based on how rarely that's happened recently, it would've been dumb to delay it just to upload photos. But they're awesome. And they're already on my computer, just waiting to be captioned and rotated and such.

Went out with the rest of the Janghowon crew a few days ago for booze and chicken and noraebang. The karaoke is actually more fun with white people... I mean, it's fun with Koreans too, but at least with the westerners we all know the same music. So we can all rock out to Bon Jovi, Queen, and Sir Mix-a-Lot at the same time, without having to intersperse it with Kpop.

Went shopping yesterday with the girl. Bought a kick-ass UH Cougar-style (note: not actually a UH jacket; those are impossible to find in the states... the odds against finding one here are astronomical) red white and navy Puma wind-jacket-type thing for like $12 at the outlet. I must be losing weight, cuz as far as Puma jackets go, I can now wear a Korean size medium. Which is kinda ridiculous. Now, like in shirts and stuff, that's not true. But baby steps, ya'll, baby steps. Also, got some new weight-lifting gloves on sale at the Nike outlet and then hit up E-Mart for some groceries. Got pork 'n' beans, snack-sized snickers, arizona green tea, some more dill pickles, some crunchy peanut butter (which is still way too expensive here, but sometimes ya just gotta say screw it), and a big ole jar of sundried tomato alfredo sauce, which I'm using tonight. I'm doing a chicken, shrimp, and spinach alfredo over pasta, and I hear at one of the bakeries in town you can actually get garlic bread with no sugar on it (joy!), so I'm gonna hit that up as well. I'm excited! =)

Oh, and before shopping, we went and saw this god-awful movie that I hadn't even heard of until we got to the theater. "Fame," I believe it's called. Anyway, it has Kelsey Grammer and his ex-wife Lilith, whoever the hell that actress is. Also, the chick who played that obnoxious lady in Will and Grace, and uh... yeah. Anyway, it's terrible. It's like getting humped by a dolphin until you drown terrible. Because you can't actually drown. And, to top things off, I spilled my bucket of popcorn about 30 minutes in. It was actually kinda cool, because the way it fell, I guess there was some kind of centrifugal force on the popcorn. So, it pretty much all stayed in the bucket, which then landed perfectly open-side down next to my feet. So, at least I got to spend the rest of the movie trying to figure out ways to use the objects in my pockets to somehow salvage all but the bottom layer of popcorn and get the rest of it into my belly. My efforts were futile and made a gigantic mess in the aisle, but it was certainly better than actually watching that piece of shit movie.

Today is the end of the Chuseok holiday. Chuseok is like Korean thanksgiving, I guess. Family all gathers, there's lots of food, and then they all drive to their family's ancestral burial mountain to bow to the graves of their forefathers. Just like in America. So, tomorrow it's back to work, but today I'm gonna go look for new bedcovers. I feel like a change. And apparently, the really awesome soft ones I bought when I arrived here last year are like, a winter seasonal item. So they just arrived in stores again this past week. All the summer ones suck, by the way.

So, to recap, here are some links which for now, mean nothing, but soon will have signifieds and therefore become signifiers.

My Chuseok gift set can be found . . .
School Sports Day is moving in right over here!!!
Some other random photos including me dressing up in all sorts of fun and exotic costumes are here!!!

Stay tuned.