Sunday, June 28, 2009

korean exercise

fig.1- parallel bars in the park.
fig.2-rope climbing/pole dancing in the park.
fig.3-chest-high wheels in the park. i have not yet established what these are supposed to do.
fig.4-leg press with no resistance in the park.
fig.5- ergonomic walking machines in the park, similar to what that buff enthusiastic guy with the ponytail used to sell on television.

i've decided to chronicle the mystery that is korean public exercise machines. these machines are in every park. there is even a nearby mountain that has them at the top of the trail, just in case you wanted to work on your lats after your hike. it should be noted, if not obvious, that these machines are relatively useless in terms of providing any real benefit. there is no resistance except that of your own body. so some of these machines can be as strenuous as "standing up" or "walking normally." the only people i've seen use them are: 1)little kids for fun 2)old people and 3)young people on dates, which can be cute.

i wish i could tell you that i've seen a lot of new things or something, and i probably have, but now it's commonplace and this is just the place i live now and you don't take pictures of the place you live too much. i bought a scooter in order to move about the town a little more. it's only 50cc but it can really fly. it maxes at 40mph, but it can go a little faster than that, though even approaching 30mph makes me feel like i'm endangering my life. i've told a few people i think, but south korea has the highest auto-fatatalies per capita in the world. this is because everyone drives like the devil is chasing them. i've started noting references about "korean brakes" which is what foreigners call the horn. i've heard many a horror story about people driving scooters, since they are on the bottom of the food chain. so i bought a helmet. good for me then.

i brought a two volume edition of the brothers karamazov with me. i finished the first volume today and am about 40 pages into the second. needless to say, i didn't accomplish much other than reading today...there are some pretty profound and intense things said by father zossima in his final moments. it's a wonderful book so far, but i can never establish how i feel about the characters. one moment i love alyosha and then next i lose faith in him. i hate characters one moment and then realize that i must hate myself also. it's an exhausting book but it's very edifying as well and if i'm not a better person by the end of the book, it's my fault and not dostoevsky's.

i was going to come home for a week in august, but sadly the tickets went up by about 400$ in the past few days. so 1,500$ isn't really worth a 7 day trip to atlanta i'm afraid. i've thought of coming home christmas, but that will still be very expensive considering that i'll be home in 2 or 3 months anyway. i might just hold onto that money in order to travel for a while before coming home. i want to see thailand, japan, the philippines, and china. this vacation though i'm just going to try going to jeju island since it's relatively cheap and it also happens to look like heaven on earth. google some pictures, you'll see. ok, bed time.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

why teaching koreans profanity is a mistake

me, padraig, and briana met up w/some koreans we met last week. we had dinner and as the conversation rolled on they asked us if we knew korean slang. we didn't know what he meant, but he meant profanity. so he taught us some choice phrases, one of which was "you are so f***ing beatufiul". this phrase is supposedly one of the more offensive things you can say to someone who is not a very close offensive to the point of tears. i don't quite understand, because at the very worst in the states it would still be taken as a compliment, if not a coarse compliment. they seemed to already know our curse words and so in order to teach them something new and interesting, we taught them (forgive me) "cum dumpster."

once they understood what it meant and that it was maybe one of the most offensive things you could say to a woman, they started using it a lot.

we went to a bar later on. some korean girls were hanging out with us and we were teaching them how to play pool and darts. one girl was a bit of a handful, but the other was perfectly sweet and agreeable. both girls were being flirty and stuff. it's not as though they spoke any english...but it was just nice to hang around girls again and i know that i am impervious to flirtation at this point in my life and to feel sort of...special? (maybe not the right word). we hung out with them for 5 or 6 hours and around the time the sun was coming up, we were finishing up a game of darts with them. we were playing teams and someone scored a bull's eye and so someone jokingly referred to someone else as a "cum dumpster" and it was exchanged back and forth a few times in jest (but only between the males). our korean friend decided it was a good idea to share the meaning of this phrase to the perfectly sweet and agreeable girl. she stormed off and sat in the booth. she cried and then tried to feign sleep. it was obvious that she thought that we had called her a cum dumpster. she had been flirtatious all night and then a word is explained to her that signifies a loose woman. i told him to tell her that it was not the case. he said that she knew or something along those lines...and still she had obviously been deeply offended. so i've not felt this bad in a very long time...and i didn't do anything as far as a know. the worst part of it is, she had told him (i'm guessing before the incident) that this was the best night of her life. so this evening makes me feel dirty and sick of myself. i can only hope that i see her again w/a different korean who can explain what happened and that i thought she was really nice and that i'm sorry...but now it's 6am and i should go to bed.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

in silver piles of smiles

so, i have put up pictures! this is a picture of some of the kids hanging out on a giant wooden frog. it had rusty nails sticking out of it. that's korea for you! the picture below is a crazy upside down house. it was an incredibly disorienting experience and i felt like i was going to fall up the whole time.

then below we have a picture of padraig and briana w/some korean dudes we met in the park on friday night. we were having some beers in the park and b. and p. had to get more from the convenience store. so there were some 40 westerners at the park and these 4 koreans off to the side. so while they were gone i went and started talking to them. they were really nice. they had a guitar and played some songs, accompanied by their soulful/drunken croons. it was pretty smooth. one of the guys wants to make music. he told me he was making a "digital single" and that "it's going to be all about sex and will be r&b." i got their numbers at the end of the night when one of them said that it didn't matter if we could communicate or not, we just need to get together and have fun and drink. that seems to be the mindset.
the picture below is of the door to the restrooms in our school. "happy toilet! have a nice time with our special love." i have no idea what that's supposed to mean, but i do know that i didn't notice it for a few months.

and lastly, here is a photo of me looking real classy with a mustache. for the record, everyone here liked it more. koreans hate my facial hair, that combined w/everything else about me is the reason why i will never have a girlfriend here. but i shaved the mustache and had nothing but stubble for a day or two...but in two days or so, i'll have a beard again regardless of what any korean girl says.