Monday, May 23, 2011

Busan: Matt's Last Weekend

[To Matt Slansky:  Thank you for all of the good times, great talks and memories that will last forever.  As I have told you before, there are some people who find their best friends in college or in other parts of their lives.  I was lucky enough to find mine in South Korea.  Be safe in America my friend and know that we will meet again soon enough.  Enjoy all things American for me and have fun in college.]

Here in Pohang, we are lucky enough to be in an ideal location.  Pohang has plenty of beaches only a short ride or walk away.  It is close to most of the "hot spot" touristy cities and just a 2 hour bus ride away from some of the more Western friendly cities in Korea.

Last weekend I was lucky enough to spend with a great group of people.  For the majority of my time in Korea I have stayed close to the teachers crowd.  Lately, I have been spending time with a small group of Marines in Pohang and have gotten to experience an entirely different experience.  We went to Busan (another coastal city about 2 hours south) for a goodbye extravaganza for my good buddy, Matt Slansky. After almost 2 years in Korea he is finally on his way back to America and it was only fitting for him to be sent off in style.

We spent the majority of our time eating Mexican food, getting our fill of the beach and partaking in our fair share of adult beverages.  It was by far one of my favorite weekends since arriving in Korea all those months ago.

We had the bright idea to jump in the elevator.  Not
our best decision.  The elevator broke and we were stranded
for an hour listening to an angry man screaming over the
loud speaker.  Lesson learned.   Do not jump in elevators!

Outside of TGI Fridays.  Yum!

Enjoying some time at the Haeundae Beach 

The boys at the Busan aquarium

A crazy guy who actually goes into the tank and feeds sharks.

Quite the gang.  From left to right:  Shivvers, Dan, Matt, Korean guy,
Leighton, Megan, me, Korean guy

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Marines

The past few weekends have been spent with some of the local military boys.  One of my best friends, Matt Slansky, is on his way out of Korea so I am taking advantage of the beautiful beach weather to spend as much time with him as possible.  We have been bumming around on the beach, eating western food provided by a local base and soaking up as much sun as we can.

Before meeting them I had a very negative perception of the military here in Pohang.  While that perception does fit with some of the younger, more inexperienced ones, the men I have been spending time with lately have really changed my mind.  I guess this is proof that sometimes the first impression is not the most important. 

Here are just a few pictures of the past few weeks with this specific group of friends.

My ladies of the night

The majority of the base dinner crew

They sure do know how to have a good time

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tomato Picking in Korea

A few weeks ago I went on a tomato picking excursion with my itty bitties.  They eventually understood that the red (not green) tomatoes were for eating, not to squash them in the hair of friends or to throw them as hard as possible on the ground touchdown style.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Reign of Terror is Over

[Now, I lay me down to sleep, one less terrorist this world does keep.  With all my heart, I give my thanks, to those in uniform regardless of ranks.  You serve our country and serve it well, with humble hearts your stories tell.  So as I rest my weary eyes, while freedom rings our flag still flies.  You give your all, do what you must.  With God we live and God we trust.]

On Sunday, May 1st the U.S. armed forces finally ended Osama Bin Laden's reign of terror.  After almost 10 years of waiting, praying and wondering, the world can finally stop wondering when the other proverbial terrorism shoe is going to drop.  The families of those who were killed on 9/11, they can finally breathe again.  To the families of our soldiers who lost their son or daughter in the war against terror, finally have peace knowing that another patriot to our country will never be killed by him again.  To people everywhere who were forever changed by the events on 9/11 and every day since, sleep a little sounder tonight knowing that there is one less terrorist our there challenging our way of life. 

This day will go down in history as a day that eased the burden on the shoulders of our country.  A man who has been the face of terror for nearly a decade has been brought to justice.  Never again will he bring a country to its knees, reeling in shock from the needless destruction that occurred on that September day nearly 10 years ago.  Never again will he try and challenge the freedoms given to us by our country.  Never again will he haunt the thoughts and dreams of people around the world, wondering when and where he will strike next.  His reign of terror is over.  

I hope that you pray (as I am praying now) for our soldiers to come home.  For peace to finally find its way throughout the middle east and the world as a whole.  For a sense of unity that has long been forgotten, long been lost. 

While I do not celebrate the death of another human being, no matter how many unspeakable things he carried out in his life, I am relieved that such a man no longer has the power to irrevocably change entire nations.  

Let the healing begin.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Trash bags, Coffee girls and the Tooth Fairy

After almost 4 months the Koreanisms are making a comeback.  Here are some of the weird, unusual and completely Korean oddities that are seen by yours truly on a regular basis.

#160.  In Korea, there are specific approved trash bags we are supposed to use for garbage collection.  In America we can use whatever bag we deem fit due to the fact that our trash is contained in garbage cans.  Walmart bags.  Hefty bags.  A brown paper bag from yesterdays lunch.  Not in Korea.  Here, we are supposed to buy (this is one rule I don't exactly follow) approved trash bags from your local market.  The bags vary in size (the larger sizes come with a hefty price) and are difficult to find.  I'm definitely guilty of not using these Pohang pre-approved bags.  You caught me.  I am one of the many foreigners (trust me guys, i've seen it happen) that quickly drops the bag of garbage in whatever plastic bag is handy at the moment at the "corner trash spot" and take off on a brisk walk for fear of being verbally attacked by the local ajumma trash bag nazi.  Okay, sometimes I run.

#161.  In America there are many delivery services.  Dry cleaning.  Pizza.  Flowers.  You name it, America has it.  Or do they?  Here in Korea, there is coffee delivery.  Sounds pretty ordinary.  It's just coffee.  Or is it?  Let's say you're jonesing for that cuppa joe and you want a little female companionship to go with it.  Call one of the 24 hour coffee shops.  The "coffee shop" is known here as a Da bang and provides coffee and female companionship to that lonely cafine-deprived individual.  A scantily clad coffee girl will bring you the desired cuppa joe and do more than just chat for the right price.

#162.  After one of my favorite kids lost her tooth and didn't understand what the tooth fairy was, I realized it was time to ask questions.  What did I learn? The tooth fairy is non-existant in Korea.  Not only is it non-existent but my explanation of what it is actually drew laughter.  Hysterical, high pitched laughter.  The kids don't put their newly lost tooth under their pillow and anxiously wait until morning for their hard earned money.  Here, they do it differently.  They throw it over their house.  Or attempt to.  The idea is to throw the tooth as high up in the air as possible.  The lore is that the higher it goes, the more that person wants a replacement tooth.  You couldn't throw it very high because your FIVE YEARS OLD and have arms that barely have the strength to push in your chair?  Obviously you don't want another tooth.

After more than 14 months of living in Korea there are still an abundance of Koreanisms yet to be shared.  Next on the list are the following: the abundance of penis sculptures everywhere, dancing girls for business openings,  blood type denoting the kind of person you are and the curse of red ink.

Stay tuned.