A Travellerspoint blog

The Mad Cows are Coming!

Lee Myeong Park is one unpopular gaucho these days

sunny 23 °C

I have many conversations with my students during the day where we just agree, we don't understand each other. So I'm not completely sure I understand this issue completely, but I can tell you this, Korean president Lee Myeong Park (pronounced E Myeong Bak) is one unpopular dude these days. You might ask yourself what he's done. Did he bog his country down in an expensive, unjustified foreign war? Has he driven the economy into the ground? Did he shoot a hunting buddy in the face?

No, E's brazen disregard for his people's welfare is much more diabolical than any of those "hypothetical" mishaps. It seems Easy E is content to bring the downfall of modern South Korea by letting American (miguk) cow meat into the country. These are not just American cows, they're Mad Cows!

Now when I was told this, I had to check my Korean phrasebook to see if "mad" might translate into something like "tasty", but I haven't been able to find a phonetic translation for ma-ad.

According to my students, American beef is all tainted by mad cow disease. How is this not driving all of the Americans mad you might ask? Well, duh? Americans don't eat American beef. They only eat beef imported from Australia and then ship all of their crazy cows to other countries. It makes sense if you think about it. I mean if all of your countries' cows were crazy, you'd certainly want to make them somebody else's problem and pay top dollar to eat another countries sane cows.

This blog is quite tongue-in-cheek, but this is apparently a very serious issue over here. And as I said, I'm sure there is a much more legitmate news story here than what I glean from the mouths of 12 year olds. But since I can't read the newspapers, I can only write about what I live from day-to-day and what I read graffitied on the desks at school.

If I were to write a list of things I don't like about Korea and Koreans, I'm sure I couldn't come up with much more than it pisses me off that they park their cars on the sidewalks. So my brief attempt at humor here is in no way a reflection of my opinion of Koreans. My blog is merely a reflection of what I come across from day-to-day and this on-going conversation struck me as worth noting.

And since I just ate a dinner tonight that was comprised of the "unmentionable" parts of cows, it could just be that I've gone a bit mad myself.

Posted by john7buck 06:27 Archived in South Korea Tagged animal Comments (4)

Putting the Old Blog Back Together

Back on Travellerspoint and Kick'in it in Daegu

sunny 23 °C

The challenging thing about maintaining a travel blog while living abroad in a foreign country like Korea is that after awhile, everything that once seemed strange, surreal or all-around cracked; eventually just becomes a part of everyday life. As such, you may have noticed that I haven’t regaled you with my tales from Asia in quite some time. It’s not that life has become any more comfortable or less entertaining; it’s just that it has all become much more of a routine and the curveballs much easier to deal with.

For quite some time now, I’ve been meaning to put the old blog back together and let you know all about everything I’ve been up to over the past several months. I’ve envisioned an elaborate, well-told narrative with witty anecdotes and a seamless story-line. But the fact of the matter is that that seems like a lot of work, which doesn’t exactly jive with my current year-long paid vacation schedule. Thus, the blank canvas I’ve been staring at for the past several weeks.

On a Skype call this morning with my blogging spiritual advisor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright of the Vail blogging community if you will, Tommy Boyd reminded me that people just want to know what my life is like over here. He reminded me that my now mundane life over here might still be of interest to some of you back home whose routine is still very far away from that of life in Daegu, South Korea.

So for the next couple of months, as I wind down my year in Korea, I’m going to put together a string of short snippets on my life here in Korea. Topics will include my experiences with the food and drink, my evolving take on Korean women, my participation in a foreigner softball league and the delights of teaching a bunch of Korean children who are not shy about telling me that I have a big nose, a wrinkly forehead, hairy arms and that I am either incredibly handsome or just a freakish-looking human being; depending on their point of view and their opinion of my class. I’ll also be open to your suggestions on any topics you might be mildly curious about concerning my life living abroad.

But for tonight, I’m just going to keep it incredibly simple and let some video do the talking for me.

This video shows my morning ritual of making coffee. Although Korea seems to be way ahead of us back in the States in terms of technology, for whatever reason, home coffee production has lagged behind the Samsung technology boom. I'm sure that somewhere they sell automatic coffee grinders and mechanical drip coffee machines, but for whatever reason I'm stuck making coffee John Dunbar-style over here.

Please ignore my Ed Grimley morning hairdo. . .

This second video does a lot more justice to the experience of being a foreign English teacher in Korea than I can muster with my own rapping skills. If you squint though, you can imagine that I'm the dude in the Ed McCaffrey jersey.

Though this video is loaded with inside jokes that come only with living in Korea as a foreigner, a few translations might help:

Komsamnida - thank you
Anyong Haseyo - hello

These are two of the four phrases I've actually learned to say over here.

Posted by john7buck 07:46 Archived in South Korea Tagged armchair_travel Comments (3)

Confession of a Wayward Traveller

In Preparation for a Move to Korea, Continued Travels and an Undetermined Return Date

-17 °C

I have a confession to make. I have absolutely no idea what I am doing. I think it is widely assumed that because over the past several years I have travelled solo to places such as Borneo, Myanmar, South America and Austral Asia, that I in some way know what I am doing. Well, I don't. No more than anyone else does, I assure you. So why do I do it? Why can't I seem to "settle" into the life that I know how to live?

I think it boils down to two simple things that I seem to have an equal combination of: faith and hope. Wait, wasn't that the title of a really bad sitcom? Well, before any of the guys out there jam a screwdriver into their hard drive to make this all go away, I ask that you to hear me out.

Faith: I've never been big on preachy religious mumbo jumbo and I'm not going to use my blog as a vehicle to make people keen on Jesus, Allah, Buddha or the benefits of a being a snake handler.

I simply have faith as a traveller that the world is a far better place than most of us give it credit for. Though nervous thoughts have inevitably crept into my head preceding each journey, I've always returned home thinking how silly those thoughts had been.

Have bad things happened to me while travelling? Absolutely. Is it entirely possible that I might not make it back from the trip I am about to embark on? Sure. But as I write this, I am several hours removed from learning of the death of a 27-year old woman in my hometown. She was driving home from work. I have no idea how to make sense of this.

So what I try to do is understand that life is something to be lived every day until it is over. I've always felt that it is my greatest obligation to myself to not be let down when the chips are cashed in. In this regard, there is a quote by a man named Mark Twight that has been haunting me for some time.

"Eventually, I sickened of people, myself included, who didn't think enough of themselves to make something of themselves - people who did only what they had to and never what they could have done. I learned from them the infected loneliness that comes at the end of every misspent day. I knew I could do better."

I think this quote sums up why I travel, but it also leaves me with some level of confusion. I've never considered making something of myself to be tied into saving money or accumlating possessions. In my mind, my overflowing bank account will come in the form of a culmination of life experiences and the satification of a life well lived. But I also wonder whether Mark Twight, or I, truly know what it means to make something of ourselves. Success and happiness are relative terms and their respective paths are not always the same.

If I lead a full life, but have pleased nobody but myself, have I really made something of myself?

And this, to me, is where hope comes in.

In regard to hope, I like to think back to something a man said who climbed through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side.

"Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies." - Andy Dufresne, The Shawshank Redemption.

Personally, I hope that the decisions I make and the endeavors I pursue will lead me down a path that would have otherwise been unattainable should I had stayed at home doing what was comfortable. I hope that the sacrifices I will make in the pursuit of doing something worthwhile prove to be worth the risk. I have hope that by making bold choices in life, the rewards will far exceed those of the safe choices. I hope that I never completely know what I am doing.

I hope that the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. . . (sorry couldn't resist)

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Posted by john7buck 17:32 Archived in USA Tagged preparation Comments (1)

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