Meet the Parents

But first, some happy endings: The drama of last week appears to be over, here’s hoping May is a less of an up-and-down month. I’m actually getting very excited about my new job, so much so that I have to be careful to take care of business and make sure things progress the way they’re supposed to, as well as do more than just mark time during my last month at Yale.

So now I have two T-shirts to make: one which says “Yale foreign language department” and another which says “Yale dropout.”

My parents came to visit last week, and we drove each other insane (maybe I just drove them insane), but they must have had a good time because they started trying to facebook friends all of my friends, which is delightful. I was very sad when they left.

I was initially worried because they indicated that pork and raw fish was off limits at meal times, which eliminated a bunch of potential “local” places, but I got them to the best Korean bbq place in Seogwipo (marbling) and I showed them around all of the western/non-Korean places that are ok.

We toured around the eastern side of the island on Sunday. Pictures will be posted at some point in the future. We went up Sunrise Peak, which is featured in 99.999% of promotional tourist material for Jeju, and its nice and all but I’m not sure why you can’t go into the crater at the top. When you reach the summit (it takes about 20 minutes) everybody is just sitting on stairs staring blankly down into the mountain. Maybe they were waiting for the sunrise.

I’ve started to really enjoy riding my motorcycle really take pleasure in taxi rides, particularly between here and Jungmun beach. The coastal roads are quite nice and if you go there at a certain point in the day, you can see the angry protesters trying to stop construction of the naval base.

Idiots. Where else are you going to play in sports or skin dive or study oceanography?

I was supposed to go camping and play sports this weekend but it rained on Sunday so I slept for 15 hours, and watched a lot of things happening on screens, like baseball and the Avengers.

Tomorrow marks my last time ever teaching Test-prep, which is a great relief. My students seemed to indicate to me today that I’m a human roadblock to their study time, or their computer game playing time, or something. Last week one of my students threw a hardcover book at a friend. They had been chucking paper balls at them, but once they realized that this caused no actual damage they moved on to the book. His punishment for this appears to have been…absolutely nothing.

But I’m not a punitive person. I just want to see some learning going on.

For some reason I thought I had a lot to write about. I guess not.

Lastly, a warm farewell to once-upon-a-time co-worker Charlotte Cummings, who is off to southeast Asia for a big adventure (bold for the right reasons) but probably won’t take the malaria pills (bold for the ???????? reasons).

Happy May 1 everyone!


Birthdays are for Assholes

First, a big thank you to my wonderful friends and family who came out in recognition of Hitler’s birthday, and who helped me make his 123rd anniversary a special one.

Unfortunately, things did go very much downhill after about 12:30 am Saturday (which, to be fair, was no longer mine OR Hitler’s special day).

This week kind of sucked. One of my best friends has stopped speaking to me. I got fired from my job. Ike Davis is batting .123. But there is good news:

I did save a bunch of money on my motorbike insurance…by not having any!

It does look like another job is lined up, so the future of this blog isn’t really in geographical jeopardy. However, the volcano is beating the shit out of me right now and it hasn’t even erupted yet.

Something about my parents visiting and some other stuff will be posted later this weekend. For now, this is all I’ve got. Not even a picture.

My Trip to China

My parents are here, this deserves its own post later in the week. They’ve been here for two days and already complained about the lack of western food. Spend eighth months without eating a real sandwich, THEN I MIGHT be sympathetic.

Anyway, I had a wonderful time in China this past weekend. I especially enjoyed the fountains in front of the building. The fountains were really nice.

The room service at the hotel was fine.

On Saturday morning I met the direct descendant of General Tso. For those of you who haven’t been to an authentic Chinese  restaurant, General Tso has been feeding Jews on Christmas since before anyone can remember, even before PBS aired that really fun special on China Sesame Street did when I was a kid.

Great-great-great-great-great-great grandson Tso looks like this:

He currently works as a hydrolics engineer but he takes time off on the weekends to vend fresh steamed buns and I got him to sign the back of this fortune slip I had kept from dinner the previous night.

Speaking of which, for westerns wondering how prevalent fortune cookies are in China, the answer is, yes, you can find them, but they look very different. Here’s a picture:

Mr. Tso helped me sneak into see where and how they make the fortunes. These ladies sit in a room and punch out fortunes using a combination of tea leaves and facebook stalking, but the lack of accuracy is probably due to censorship issues.

I ate at the original Panda Express. I saw a panda at the zoo, and later I saw one ordering a latte at a Starbucks. Wild!

I’ve spent the last twenty minutes trying to think of a joke involving “pandas” and “bamboozled” but nothing’s coming.

Unfortunately, I did not get to see where they house political prisoners whose organs are harvested after their execution. Not only that, but I didn’t even get to take back any organs home with me! That is, unless you count the duck liver I ate on Sunday night. But if that duck was a political dissenter, it doesn’t really matter because his fate is probably the same as all the loyal communist ducks.

In Beijing everything is yellow from the smog which is actually really cool because if you put on the right pair of sunglasses everything suddenly turns green.

On Sunday morning I saw the factories were they make everything in the world. At the end of the tour they were selling yellow dust in the gift shop which I thought was a total ripoff because I’m from Jeju where the dust lands naturally for free.

I was really jazzed to see the Great Wall. That Wall is the original giant wasteful expenditure that completely failed to keep out the invading Huns. Although as “Mulan” showed, it might have slowed them down long enough for a plucky heroine to start an avalanche and later foil an assassination attempt.

At least the Wall is still a ‘wall.’ Hadrian’s wall is barely a fence, and the fence that separates Canada from the USA was the only casualty of the Aroostook War (look it up, I sort of did).

As with most things, the pictures that you see in travel magazines and coffee table books don’t accurately represent the landmark in reality. My camera was running out of batteries but here is a photo I snapped before it died:

Also, I didn’t get a good photo of Beijing’s skyline because of the smog:

So here’s a picture of Beijing’s sister city Addis Ababa:

If anyone has a free weekend coming up, I would highly recommend heading west for a few days. Going to China, even for that short time, was an experience I’ll never forget.

And if I do, I’ll just read this blog post as a memory jogger.

I was a spineless pale pathetic lot. And I didn’t have a clue. But somehow China made a man out of me. Now I’m as swift as a coursing river, with all the force of a great typhoon, with all the strength of a raging fire, mysterious as the dark side of the moon.

Waterfalls and Sportz

I went to a waterfall yesterday. Here are some pictures:

On the way back, I took this photo of World Cup Stadium, where Jeju United plays.

I went to a Jeju United game yesterday. Nobody scored. It was really boring. Even the cheerleaders were lame. Korean women shouldn’t dye their hair blonde.

And in case you think it’s only because I don’t know a whole lot about soccer that I think it was sup-bar experience, I got a semi-pro evaluation from my co-worker Daniel (who used to be semi-pro) that the skills on display were worth what I paid for the ticket (0,000 won).

This is what my friend Andrea thinks about Rachael Ray, the Miami Marlins fraudulent and abusive relationship with their city and fans, and all those jinjabongs:

We are already a week into baseball season, and MLB.TV is as reliable and glorious as ever. The Mets have gotten off to a reasonably good start, which is nice to see. MLB.TV is wonderful because you can skip between innings and when your team is winning you can enjoy the ride and if your team has a bad day you can abort the video feed in a way that would offend Rick Santorum.

There was a joint meeting between the Korean teachers and western teachers at Yale today, but nobody got high. Should’ve waited until April 20, I guess.


My First Korean Wedding

I went back to Udo Island this weekend. It was nicer than I remembered, maybe because our pension was a little nicer this time around and it was on the side of the island with the rocky hills. Here’s a picture (not mine):

You can see from the picture that there’s a big white lighthouse on top of the hill, which you can climb to and get great views of the whole island, as well as Jeju. From Udo, Jeju is dotted with bumpy oreums while the volcano looms in the distance.

Also, on the bottom of the hill in the picture is a cemetery where the people are buried in large mounds surrounded by stone walls. My camera wasn’t working, hopefully I can take pictures of them next time I’m there.

I also went to my first Korean Wedding this weekend. I have no idea how it compares to other weddings but it was lovely. The wedding took place at ICC Jeju in Jungmun.

Although I missed the kiss, I did get to see them slice the cake which was probably my favorite part of the ceremony. The groom got out this big fancy knife and then made the gentlest of cuts.

We were then treated to lunch and everyone took home a lovely bottle of women’s shower gel.

The gel came in wrapping with this poem (these are not typos):

“When we turn out the lightsrn The two of us alone togetherrn

Something’s just not rightrnBut girl you know that

I want you foreverrnEver let another’s touch, come betweenrnthe

two of usrnrn. Cause no one else will ever take your placernrn.

No one else comes closernrn.

And when I wake up torn

The touch of your head on my shoulderrn

You’re my dream come true, oh yeahrn

Girl you know I’ll always treasurern

Every kiss and everyday

I’ll love you girl inrnevery wayrnrn.

And I always will, cause in my eyesrnrn

No one else comes close to you rn

No one makes me feel the way you dorn.”

The friend I was with noted that the Koreans at the wedding didn’t do much staring at the three westerners there. They barely seemed to notice us.

They have no time to gape at us just because someone’s getting married? Ridiculous.



Dinosaur World Theme Park

But first, puppie pictures:

Also, some other nice pictures from that day:

And now, this blog takes you to a land that time forgot. A land that Korean developers forgot.  A place Like Disney, without the rides, robots, long lines, overpriced fast food, but with the exact same number of asian tourists.

Sir Richard Attenborough welcomes you to: DINOSAUR WORLD THEME PARK.

The dinosaur were extincted 65million years ago. If you think that’s a typo, just check out this display:

I knew this was going to be a good adventure when we took the detour into the “Arctic Cave”, a 10-foot long passageway through some rocks where maybe you’re supposed to make out ala the “tunnel of love” but it was foggy outside and there were no dinosaurs so it was time to move on.

Last year I rode a camel. This year, I rode a brontosaurus:

The cafe was closed, and I was hungry. So I followed the predators to the food:

Then they got more hungry, so it was time to RUN!!!!!!!!!!!

At least on Pirates of the Carribean, when the ride breaks down, the pirates don’t….

Okay, but at least at Dinosaur World Theme Park, when the person you’re with doesn’t want to watch the 3D movie, or go through the muddy empty maze, there are still parrots who will say “anhunghaseyo” over and over and over again for your entertainment. And a turtle who loves sitting in his carrot bowl:

Worth 9,000 won? I will let the critics judge. All I know is that I was able to experience something that only Jeff Goldblum and random suckers on highways in the midwest USA can relate to.

Only on Jeju: Dinosaur World Theme Park, a Pirate Submarine (!!!), and coming soon (grand opening 2013?) a BRAND NEW NAVAL BASE!

You don’t earn the right to being a seventh natural wonder of the world without fake plastic dinosaurs!