Sunday, December 31

Happy New Year: My Legs Ache

We took the dog for a walk today and covered a 6.5 mile loop around Mokpo. It was a blast of course, but I am going to pay for it tomorrow... Here are some pictures. (You can see the rest by clicking here.)

Thursday, December 28

Climate is What You Expect, Weather is What You Get

A lot of people have asked about the weather here in Mokpo... So here's a bit from the Korea Meteorological Administration:

The Republic of Korea is located in the mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere and the Temperate Zone with four distinct seasons. Geographically, it lies on the east coast of the Eurasian Continent adjacent to the West Pacific.

During the winter, from December to January, it is cold and dry under the dominant influence of the Siberian air mass.

Meanwhile, the summer, from June to August, is hot and humid with frequent heavy rainfalls associated with the East-Asian Monsoon, locally called "Changma".

The weather in korea is mild and serene during spring and fall, with fairly periodic passages of the transient high and low pressure systems.
Oh... and by the way: it is freakin' snowing out there! Rachel is bouncing off the walls and the dog is pretty confused. Good times!

(As always... click the picture for the large version.)

Monday, December 25

Christmas Eve with the Kim Family

Dinner with Rachel's boss and her family was awesome. Just look at the spread... They went all-out with dinner and 15 year old whiskey and desserts and kimchi. They all enjoyed the presents we brought and Rachel and I got matching hats from them. A good time was had by all.

Poor Charlie (in the Santa hat) was in a fight in school last week. He's gonna have that black eye for a few more weeks.

I can't believe I got "rabbit-eared" by a Korean.

Sunday, December 24

The St. Johns Meet the Real Santa Claus!

Wow! I thought Santa would be be much rounder around the middle... and less Asian.

Monday, December 18

Shopping with Canadians

These are some pics from our Saturday visit to Mokpo's Shinay Shopping District. That's me with Abby and Jason. Rachel, as usual, is behind the camera... BTW: Rachel bought the "boobies" shirt for me as a Christmas present. Best wife ever. Click each picture for a larger version.

Thursday, December 7

Culture Shock (1)

Culture shock?

Let me start from the beginning- I needed a shave and heard that you can get one at any beauty parlor free with a haircut. Then we found out that it's illegal now to get one there cause they were driving all the barbers out of business and that I'd have to go to an actual barbershop. So we looked and looked and finally found a barber shop, complete with red and blue spinning barber pole outside.

I told Rachel to come back in half an hour, walked into the foyer and followed the signs down into the basement of the building. I opened the door to a room lit with a single blood-red bulb, containing a single barber's chair and a curtained doorway leading god-knows-where. A Korean woman in her forties comes out of the curtain and gives me a funny look. (This is when I start imagining myself waking up in a bathtub filled with ice-water with a note pinned to my shirt instructing me to get to a hospital cause my kidneys have been removed...) So I rub my stubbly face and say "Can I get a shave?" She seems to consider for a minute, looks me up and down, decides I'm really in search of a shave and says "Anyeo" (No). So I rub my face some more... She says "Anyeo" again and turns back to go through the curtain. But I still have twenty-five minutes until Rachel shows up. I considered inquiring further into her services, but the red light kinda threw me off. Oh well.

Needless to say, Rachel accompanied me into the next shop...

BTW: When I finally did find a real barber and had my first Korean shave, he lathered and shaved not just my cheeks and neck, but also my forehead and earlobes.

Am I Less of a Man?

I ate the whole box by myself... and I gotta tell you, the smile really did make happy and joyful time.

Sunday, December 3

Dave the House-Husband

So... Rachel works Monday through Friday, teaching English to middle-school-age children. She spends an hour or more planning her classes and five hours a day in class. That leaves me with at least 30 hours a week to keep the house clean- and I love it.

I sweep and mop, do dishes, laundry, walk the dog and clean the kitty-litter box...

Good times. No really. I'm learning what pride there is in having a tidy home- and it only took me 34 years. One problem: in Korea everything associated with house cleaning apparently is made for Lilliputians.

Friday, December 1

Jet Fuel at Thirty Cents a Cup

As promised... Here I begin the record of our adventures in Korea, Land of the Morning Calm.

We are having a fantastic time so far. The locals are friendly and the food is delicious- even if both are somewhat mystifying. At least once a day Rachel says, "What the hell are you eating?" and I am forced to answer, "I don't really know, but it is good!" It would seem, however, that I really like seaweed. I have been eating a lot of it anyways. And noodles. Sometimes I even eat seaweed AND noodles together. What a life.

Just outside our apartment building is a little Mom and Pop convenience store with an evil coffee-dispensing machine in front of it. Our daily ritual- after drinking two or three cups each of Maxwell House in the apartment- is to stop at the coffee-machine before heading out for the day. For 300 won (about 30 cents American) this machine spits out a sickly-sweet, high-octane brew that is guaranteed to put a spring in your step and an ulcer in your belly. But, oh is it delicious. In fact, since these machines can be found on every corner and in front of every store, pushing their vile ambrosia on the masses for mere pennies a cup, Rachel and I have started calling them "crack-machines." So, to get back to our daily routine: we have regular coffee upstairs, hit the crack-machine downstairs for 30 cents each worth of jet fuel, then it's off to hail a cab.

The extra go-juice is really necessary, because without it the taxi rides would be unendurable. I couldn't tell you what kilometers-per-hour converts to in miles-per-hour, but when the speed limit sign says 50 and the speedometer says a 100... It is like a video game where your friend is doing all the driving and all you can do is watch as street signs and pedestrians and red lights and oncoming traffic all kind of blur together and the 5000 milligrams of caffeine coursing through your veins are the only thing allowing you to keep track of it all until suddenly you have arrived safely and in dire need of a bathroom. The city is so small that riding around in taxis is pretty cheap- we can get from our house to most places for under 3000 won (about $3). "Cheap" is relative, however, when you lose minutes of your life from the time dilation effects of traveling at light speed. The best part of the ride, though, is getting out of the car and finding another crack-machine no more than ten feet away.