bucket list

My First Visit to a Korean Dentist

I’m pretty fortunate my teeth have not rotted out of my head by now.

Vlog Entry #16: Beaches, Boats and Bikes in Thailand

I finally got around to stringing together the footage from my 10-day trip to Koh Lanta and Bangkok this past February! From the beautiful beaches, to the beat-up boats, to the bumpy bicycle rides, Thailand was full of character and adventure!

Low Blows in Shanghai

Pudong International Airport

Pudong International Airport

It was 9:00 on a Thursday morning and I had just landed in Shanghai, the largest city in China by population and the largest city proper by population in the world. I was ultimately headed to the temples of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia. However, before I could bask in the tropical temperatures and dubiously bathe myself in sunscreen, there was one thing standing in my way: a 9-hour layover.

Vlog Entry #7: Busan International Fireworks Festival

Busan, You’re A Firework

busan ffI don’t consider myself a pyromaniac, but I will say I do love me some fireworks. The way they sparkle and shine against the dark night sky. The elongated screech they produce as they’re released into the air, and the extra half second it takes for that final BANG to reach the ears. And there’s something about the collective experience of standing in a crowd with your neck craned high, saying “Woahhhhh!” along with everyone else.

The Red Dragon Diaries and JPD Does ROK Do Live Octopus

Oh, memories.

Pop over to Tom Gates’ “The Red Dragon Diaries” where he has posted the video of our first (and last?) taste of “San-nak-ji,” or live octopus, a popular raw seafood treat for soju-swilling diners in Busan, South Korea.

Footnote: after we’d finished filming, a group of middle-aged folks sat behind Tom and ordered some food, including their own plate of live octopus, which they gleefully began to tear into without much hesitation. Hey, someone’s enjoying it!

Tea Time and Sea Roads Shake Up Someone’s Same-Old Syndrome

A girl sitting two rows behind lightly gasped as our bus passed through the rural western Korea town.

“That house looks like it came from somewhere in America,” she said of the single-family dwelling, an odd sight if an expat spends the entirety of their time here somewhere where such things rarely exist, like Seoul, Busan or pretty much any of this country’s metropolises.

Her astonishment made me smile. She’s likely not been in Korea long, at least not long enough to have seen that single-family houses in Korea exist, even if their apartmentalized counterparts outnumber them by perhaps 5,000,000 to one–kind of how waygookin sometimes feel outnumbered by their Korean overlords.

But, they exist. It was about a year ago that I, too, stared dumbfounded on Gadeok Island, during my first visit to Soyang Orphanage.

Everyone Gets Back Aground Somehow

Everyone gets back aground somehow.
And I will admit I was more than a little scared.
Anyone who knows me knows my distaste toward hyperbole.
So, know this: I was terrified.
When the guide yelled, “go! go! go!”
My first step, I felt my calf muscle pull,
A searing pain.
But how could I turn back now?
This fear of heights, or this fear of falling. I’ll shut it out for now.
So, I kept running, until my feet felt no ground.
And, for seconds, or maybe just one,
I hung in the middle of air,
Until the guide behind scooped me into the chair between us.
But, I swear, I only got halfway inside,
All the way down.
“It’s OK,” he said in broken English. “It’s OK, It’s OK.”
My mind kept coming back to uneasy thoughts:
What if I fell?
What if this cord connecting us somehow became unhinged?
What if I unhinged it?

I am the Max Cream Master

Maybe I missed my calling? Or, maybe it’s just waiting for me at the bottom of a freshly-drained glass of Max Creamy Draft.

The fine folks at Hite-Jinro were out in force at the Ansan Valley Rock Festival, held over the final weekend of July in Ansan, a satellite city of Seoul. One of my best and oldest friends here in Korea, Sam, convinced me to drop the 250,000 won or so to spend the full weekend there. We braved some rough heat, rain and incredible mud for the occasion. We also had a pretty great time in the process.

My First (and Last) Overnight at a Jimjilbang

At least I didn’t have the chubby, possibly drunk Korean man constantly rolling over onto my feet or face depending on which direction I was facing at the time. But, I did end up losing my sleeping mat at 4 a.m., possibly to a pair of giggling girls.

Last weekend, a group of us traveled from Busan to Gwangju to explore the sixth-largest city in South Korea and hike to several peaks in Naejangsan National Park, a beautiful place.

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