Mon Jun 9, 2003
Greetings loyal readers, and thanks for joining me once again, here in South Korea, at once so bizarre yet so familiar. Let’s see, an update of my long week-end is in order. Friday was memorial day, a day to remember those brave Korean soldiers who died during Japanese occupation and in the Korean war. A few of us teachers hired the school bus driver to drive us in the school bus to an island - Mwi-do (do=island) off the West coast. Unfortunately it was an appallingly wet and windy day, ironically, our most tempestuous so far. The disgruntled bus driver kept wanting to turn back, but we urged him on by feeding him lots of chips and kimbap (seaweed rolls). Surprisingly, a few hundred other keen vacationers decided to visit the island, so we spent a good while waiting for the rusty little ferry to shuttle a few cars across at a time. Since Koreans don’t get many holidays, a little rain (or even a lot) doesn’t deter them, and the beach was swarming with keen crab-hunters. After our rather miserable, yet tasty, barbeque, we put on our rubber gloves and went hunting ourselves. Our counselor, Alice, was prancing about, flinging over rocks and snatching up the crabs with nimble fingers. I wasn’t too keen on eating the poor creatures myself so I let my crabs go. After the wind became a gale we huddled next to another group’s fire trying to stay dry and decided to call it quits. On the way back we stopped off at this live shell restaurant where one of our ex-teachers works and gorged oursleves on assorted shells, limpets, crabs and ther unidentifiable crustaceans. Poor Sora had a severe toothache and a cold and sat in the bus crying while we ate, I felt so bad for her. On the way home one of the larger crabs with a feisty temperament cut his way loose and was scurrying around on the bus. It didn’t stand much of a chance with Alice’s lightening fast reflexes, she would do well on fear factor. Today I discovered that no-one wanted to eat the crabs and Sora’s dad threw them all into the river yesterday. I hope they find new homes, although somehow I don’t think they will find Paju very hospitable.
On Saterday night I went to watch the Matrix reloaded with Sulu…I’m sure the pseudo-intellectual jargon didn’t translate well into Korean, especially when the ‘architect’ was recklessly juggling ‘erego’ this with ‘erego that like some philosophy prof. And apparently Zion is one enormous dance party inhabited by distinctly ‘primal’ dreadlocked ravers who unwittingly wandered off the Mad Max set and seem very keen to perpetuate the species. Quibbles aside, I’ll admit to being quite entertained and wasn’t sorry I spent a few hours watching wooden-Keanu hop around in slow motion. Although, it’s probably just as gratifying renting “Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure”, hitting the ‘slow’ button on the remote and listening to RATM on full volume.
Yesterday I went to check out the Seoul World Cup Stadium, which is a rather impressive piece of architecture, and after the billions of dollars spent terraforming the surrounding landscape it’s well worth a look. Former landfills are now ‘themed parks’ where you can go roller-blading and have a picnic and smell the pungent aroma of the flowers. Flowers do seem to have a heady, poignant scent here and explode in dazzling colour across the landscape. Here is also the world’s tallest fountain, a plume of water shoots up over 200 meters in the middle of the Han river. I decided to go off bush-wacking as usual and ended up traversing this old fortress wall for a while congratulating myself on my sense of adventure, but really thinking what an idiot I am. It was hot, hot, hot and there was a game on…hordes of fans donning their red T-shirts swarmed into the stadium and I got to taste a bit of that World Cup fever…the fervor of Korean soccer fans is undeniable, I went home and watched the game on TV. Korea lost to Paraguay 0-2, but still they cheered on.
Recently, during the evenings, there has been this horrendous noise like a propellor-engine aeroplane roaring through the streets outside. After detecting a rather unpleasant odour every time this noise occurs I chekced it out - To my horror I saw a truck driving down the street spewing out billowing clouds of white gas. Debbie tells me it’s some sort of chemical disinfectant to ‘kill all the germs’ and that I should cover my food when it happens. Not always possible since it appears without warning at around dinner time. Mmmmm. I suspect it’s doing wonders for the respiratory problems I’ve been having too.