Thursday, December 15, 2011

More stuff on Tae Kyon

I put an old video of me doing some Taekyon on my other blog.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tae Kyon 1st Dan Test

I'm a bit of a collector. I'm a collector of black belts. What brought me to Korea was my desire to train Korean martial arts at the source. That was a good six years ago. What brought me back to Korea was a desire to earn a somewhat comfortable living. The first time I came to Korea I stayed for six weeks while doing some extreme Tae Kwon Do training at a high school outside of Seoul. I came back to get a Tesol certificate and to do a little English teaching. At that time I was a third degree black belt in Taekwondo. I had hoped to learn some more martial arts at that time. I had hoped to hook up with the University Taekwondo team to work out with them, but that didn't happen. Instead I did a little light training with a local master as a part of the tesol program. I took some classes with some other English teachers.

Since I had a good ten years experience on everyone else I didn't really find the classes that fulfilling. They were pretty fun, but I wanted some serious shit. That's when I hooked up with a Kumdo school. Kumdo gave me all kinds of new challenges. At first it was pretty easy, but after a month of swinging a stick around, the instructor called me into his office and invited me to the next level of with the kendo armor. Little did I know that the stuff would cost about six hundred bucks. I ended up staying in Korea a little while longer just to pay for a plane ticket back since I had blown a good chunk of change away on some athletic equipment. This was in March of 2005.

I stuck with the Kumdo stuff until December of 2005 when I headed back home for a brief respite. I took all of my gear with me. I went back home and I stayed away from my old Taekwondo school for a few months. I'm not sure why I did that. For the year of 2004 I ran a Taekwondo dojang for my instructor. That was one of the hardest jobs I had ever had. It was hard because I didn't get paid well, and I felt like I was stuck there. I got paid eight bucks an hour and worked twenty hours a week. I felt marginalized after having been to Korea. I had big dreams of improving the school's curriculum, but I thought that I needed more scientific physical education. I was also second fiddle to a master that had been hired from Korea. This guy had a college degree in Tae Kwon Do, but I was kind of disappointed in his skill level. Anyway, my marginalization had a little to do with that and a little to do with the fact that I was teaching classes to what I considered the best of my ability, but the most important part of the job was to get people to sign up. That's why I left to get a Tesol certificate in the first place, and it was also why I was a bit reluctant to go back in 2006 and start up again for a few months.

Also in 2006 I got into contact with a local Kendo club that I joined. I was worried that my instructor would disapprove of my training Kendo at a different school in his area. (Yes I know that it is hard to believe that somebody would get upset about something like that, but old Korean men. That's right I'm not even going to explain this rational other than by saying old Korean men.) After about two months of looking for a job in South West Michigan, I picked up some shitty work in a flower greenhouse putting plug trays on carts for shipping to garden centers. At that time I figured I could go back to the Taekwondo school and start up again. I didn't want to be coerced into being a dojang master again so I had the leverage of having another job. Almost instantly I was offered the opportunity to give my instructor 900 bucks and test for my fourth degree black belt...which I took even though I didn't feel any better at Taekwondo.

I sailed through that test. I wasn't the slightest bit worried, and I didn't really take it that seriously. I joked around with some of the other black belts. Another black belt, a man from Mexico who had taught me many things about the art when I was a kid, happened upon a broken board when it was time to do our board breaking. I thought it would be funny if I stood on the other side of the room and made a punching motion as he pulled the already broken board apart. The truly funny thing about that was that some people didn't get the joke and actually thought that I had some how broken the board with my mind. I sailed through the test and had some fun with it.

That would be my last black belt test for a few years. That test was in June of 2006. I returned to Korea in August to work in a middle school . That middle school represented a huge missed opportunity for me. It turned out that a guy who works in the office there was on the Korean national Kumdo team that competed in Taiwan in the 2006 world championships. That year Korea took first in the team competition while a Japanese guy took first in the individual. I never really ended up practicing with that guy, but by December of that year word had gotten around that I was back in town, and my old instructor sent me a text. I was really appreciative towards him for wanting me to come back. By December of that year I didn't know what I was going to do with myself. I kind of hated my job, but it paid well. Starting back up with Kumdo was a real comfort.

Then in October of 2010 I did my Kumdo 1st dan test. The test was pretty easy. A real departure from the black belt test events that happen at Chung's Black Belt academy in Kalamazoo. Here is a short list of what is involved:

1. A three day fast.
2. A research paper about teaching Taekwondo or being a referee.
3. A speech about something.
4. A recitation of all of forms or poomse that are taught there....Those are:
a. the Taekwondo Taeguk forms.
b. The 5 Tang Soo Do pyung ang forms (Also practiced in Okinawan Karate)
c. Bassai.
d. Five forms invented by Grand Master Sun Hwan Chung called the Shim Shin forms.
e. A form called 21 basic motions, where a motion is done while calling it's name in Korean.
f. A very athletic form called 42 basic motions...Also invented by Grand Master Chung.
g. If you are high in rank you are supposed to make a creative form....although these are rarely done.
h. If you are over a first degree black belt you have to do the Taekwondo Dan forms Koryo, Geumgang, Taebek etc.
i. If you are over a first degree blackbelt you should to the Tangsoodo Dan forms: Nianchi, Shipsoo etc.
5. demonstrate your self defense ability.
6. demonstrate your one step sparring ability. (One step sparring is a self defense exercise that isn't widely practiced at modern Taekwondo schools. An attacker steps back into a low block and punches at the other person's face. The other person takes defensive and counter attacking postures.) Before I was a third degree black belt one step sparring was done in a free style manor. These days every belt up to and beyond black belt has three to five techniques that must be learned.
7. demonstrate your sparring ability.
8. demonstrate your sparring ability against more than one attacker.
9. break a board with a foot speed technique. What makes something a "speed" technique is the fact that the board holder only uses one hand to hold the board rather than two.
10. break a board with hand speed technique. Again, hold a board in one hand and break it with the other. This is really hard if you have never done it before.
11. Take a picture.
12. Eat something.

So when I took my 1st Dan in Kumdo test, I was expecting something a little more involved. Instead I just had to to an ancient Korean sword form called Bon Guk Gum bub. I messed that up pretty bad. By then a lot had happened since my fourth degree black belt test in Tae Kwon Do. I got married, and at that time my wife was pregnant. During the time of the test we were waiting for some D.N.A. results for our son. We wanted to see if he would have downs syndrome or not. Needless to say my mind was somewhere else. I also thought the hardest part of the test wouldn't be any of the physical stuff which I knew by heart, but the written test. The written test was in Korean. A few days before the test my instructor gave me the test questions and answers in Korean. This is a pretty common practice for everybody, but it was still pretty difficult for me to memorize all of that Korean. Anyway, I passed despite my flub.

October passed and it was onto November. On Thanksgiving I was walking around Jinju's Geumsan Myun during my lunch time when I happened upon a truck that had a phone number for a Tae Kyon school near my house. I had wanted to learn Tae Kyon for a long time. By then I had given up on on Taekowndo in Jinju. I tried it at two schools. One school was filled with bratty high school kids, and I was better than the instructor. The other school was just filled with kids. I made the discovery that adults in Korea don't practice Tae Kwon Do, unless they own a Tae Kwon Do school, or are college kids in training to be future Gym teachers or Do Jang owners.

I copied the number of the Taekyon school down in my phone and went home to celebrate Thanksgiving with my wife. (We also found out that day that our son didn't have Down's Syndrome. I don't think we would have loved him any less, but it was a pretty big relief...I don't mean to offend anybody by saying so, so I'm sorry if I do.) Anyway, that day I zapped some chicken in my dong yang magic with some mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. My wife called up the Taekyon school and we went over to meet the master.

I joined the next week, and a year later I tested for my first dan. I have to say that the test was a little lack luster. I just had to do one form, and demonstrate a few techniques. Taekyon techniques are a lot like Taekwondo techniques, so in my opinion I looked like a goddamned master compared to a lot of the other people there. Think about it, if they had only been training 1 year too, they couldn't have developed the skills that I had after fifteen or sixteen. Also the kids testing suffered a bit from Korean kid syndrome, and that is a disease where you spend all of your time studying Math and English so when you go to your martial arts school you don't put fourth any effort. Their instructors could have also suffered from Korean master syndrome. Korean master syndrome is where you understand that the kids who come to your school spend all of their time studying, therefore to keep the kids interested, you don't really teach them how to kick or punch or concentrate on anything, you just spend the whole time having the kids run around in circles, play soccer, dodge ball, or do super annoying gym class leap frog activities. I can't vouch that any of the Tae Kyon masters did any of those things, but I did see that at Tae Kwon Do schools. That is one reason why when I would train Tae Kwon Do in Jinju, I would often leave in a fit of rage.

The test also made me a little sad about the state of Tae Kyon. Tae Kyon is said to be a root martial art of Tae Kwon Do. (Actually Karate is) Tae Kyon actually existed a few thousand years ago. It was probably a lot different than what it is today since it was outlawed by the Confucians and it was also banned by the Japanese. Modern Tae Kyon stems from one guy who learned it when he was a kid and he demonstrated it to one of the dictators. That guy taught a bunch of other people, and it has gone on to become recognized by the Unesco cultural heritage people. Because of all of that you would think that the Gyeongsangnamdo provincial competition and dan test would be able to muster a little more than the 40 or 50 people who showed up to my test. This was 40-50 people and about 7 masters. It is somewhat obvious that one cannot make a living as a Taekyon master in Korea. That is pretty sad I'd say. Comparing Tae Kyon and Tae Kwon Do, it is kind of sad that the thousand year old martial art isn't as popular as the sixty year old sport. That being said though, sometimes Tae Kyon can look a little silly. It sounds a little silly with the strange guttural ki-aps taht are said with each motion, but it isn't bad. It is a lot more gentle on the joints than TKD. I think that it is more suitable for older people who just want to have an exercise. It also provides some good crossover context for Tae Kwon Do and Hapkido. Tae Kyon doesn't have punching techniques, but the sparring combines kicking and take downs. The kicking and take downs aren't meant to hurt anybody, but you can learn how to knock someone down, and a Tae Kyon push kick has a lot of power behind it. Also if you a Tae Kwon Do person who isn't used to blocking hand attacks at your head or foot attacks at your legs, the sparring gives you a lot of new things to think about.

Anyhoo, I'll end this here. I have spent way too much time on this post.

See you all later.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Post Just for the Sake of Posting Something

I haven' put anything up on this site for about a month. My October was a bit of a commercial film of a different C.F. variety. First I moved houses in late September. Still haven't completely moved in. The new place doesn't have as much storage space as the other one did. A week later my folks came to visit, and that was great, but it was also a bit busy too.

The Jinju Lantern Festival was a bit disappointing this year. Last year it was pretty awesome. They had this floaty thing in the water where you could watch soap operas in the middle of the water. They didn't have that this year, just the same mass of humanity.

Then the baby got sick and had to stay a week in the hospital. That sucked. It sucks worrying. It also sucks staying in a hospital with other sick people. I also had a hard time trusting the doctors and how they are so quick to stick I.V.s in babies. The treatments worked though and he's a bit better.

Now it's November.

I started up with my practice of Kumdo again. It feels great to get a different form of exercise. I've been Tae Kyoning it pretty hard since March. I took some time off of Kumdo cuz it took too much time and money away from the family. I found a way to make them both work though.

Meat Buffets

Had lunch today at a meat buffet. All you can eat meat for 9,900. Pork, beef, marinated beef, marinated pork, all there. Just go up to a cooler, pile your choices up on a plate, take it back to your seat and grill it up. I'm super meated out now.

On blogging

We live in a decadent society. We live at a time when you can eat dead animals without much effort for a low price. We also live in times where several people can discuss the merits of a Korea expat blogosphere. Fifteen years ago this type of thing was unimaginable because there wasn't such a thing as a blogosphere. It's kind of funny how so many adults can have such spirited debates about whether or not a blogosphere is racist, sexist, or any ----ist when a blogosphere is nothing but a bunch of dorks who write stuff just to feel important. (I don't discount myself from the race of dorks. Just read this blog and you will get a feel for the degree of my own dungeon master mentality.)

Seriously, a few weeks ago there was a big debate on some other blogs about bloggers who write about their sex lives on their blogs. I really don't care what complete strangers do or write about....but I think that the last thing that I would do if I wanted to get laid by an American woman/man or a Korean woman or man, is mention that I had a Korea blog as a positive point of my character.

A: Hey baby you want to go for a ride?

B: Sure can you handle my shit?

A: For sure, I can handle your shit. I'll handle your shit and get my hands all poopy.

B: You talk all dirty.

A: I don't want to get my hands too poopy though because later I want to write about my own personal difficulties while teaching English Korea. I have gone through as many keyboards as there are notches on my bed post.

B: Really? You have a Korea blog? That's amazing.

A: Yeah I cover all of the topics. I try to write the expression "Kimchi fart," at least fifty times in one week. I also don't like how things change at the last minute.

B: What's your blog called, I'll check it out after we have sex.

A: It's called "Last Minute Kimchi." I'm linked with all of the best Korea blogs out there. "Kimchi time," "School and Kimchi," "My Kimchi experience," and my favorite one "Daryl in Busan Kimchi."

B: Oh, shit your talking about Korea blogging just made me wet. I think that if I see a paragraph about how contracts have no bearing in Korea, I'm totally going to have like seven orgasms.

A: Let's do it baby.

On the suffix gasm
It's really becoming a bit of a cliche. Please stop using gasm as a suffix, everybody, it's not cute anymore. I get the feeling that people aren't having orgasms anymore. It's all just foodgasms, clothinggasms, and other kinds of gasms. I get the feeling that we are just a year or two away before advertisers really ruin the word. I would hate to have to order a cheesegasm pizza at pizza hut. Being double stuffed is bad enough.

On putting pictures of your baby on the internet

Just don't fucking do it. I understand what it is like to be a parent and want to show your little bundle of joy to the world, but damn, try thinking for a fucking second. People bitch and complain about Facebook invading people's privacy, but Facebook doesn't invade you or your families privacy when it is your stupid ass who puts pictures of your kids as your profile picture. Mark Zuckerberg didn't force you to do that, that was all you. I can't stand seeing that on Facebook and on blogs. I tend to invade my own privacy. I post videos of myself doing martial arts on this blog and on youtube, and I alone bear whatever adulation or hate comes my way. However, if you put your baby's picture on a blog or on facebook.....well guess what? You just invaded your own baby's privacy. It's not fair, the baby doesn't get a vote in the matter. Who knows?

Maybe the culture will change in the future so much that people don't care about their privacy. Putting it all out there is also a way to blend into the background. One minute people are all about you and your family, and the next minute they don't give a shit.

Anyway, I don't feel the need to do so. I don't really need other people to tell me how awesome my kid is. I like him plenty. Besides, he gets too much attention from middle aged Korean women who come close to kidnapping him. (Yep one time we were pushing him around in the stroller and some ladies at a market stopped us and insisted that they would watch him while we did our shopping....creepy)

On the Wonder Girls New Song
Not as good as Miss A.

On Space Exploration
I wish people would get interested in it again. It's been capturing my imagination recently. People have forgotten how the amazing the idea of walking on the moon is. CNN had a statistic recently about how many people have ever been alive. They figure that the number is about 500 billion. Of those 500 billion, only twelve have been on the moon. It makes me kind of disappointed that I teach English in Korea. On the other hand, I am happy to have a job. Just how the hell does one behave when they get back from the moon? Nothing else would matter. Would petty political bullshit even make any sense? Blah blah blah, Republican Democrat, fuck you I've been on the moon.

The End.
I have to get some actual work done.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Jinju Lantern Festival 2011

Fun Times in South East Korea is the third hit on google for the search words "Jinju Lantern Festival 2011." That leads you to an awesome video of me kicking stuff. Unfortunately that can be misleading. Therefore I want to post some links on this site to some stuff I did for the "Jinju Lantern Festival 2010."

Here is a pretty cool drum and break dancing video.

This is a band that I saw last year at the Jinju Lantern Festival 2010

I also tried some Korean Kiwi wine last year at the festival. That stuff was pretty good.

Please, everyone in Korea go to the Jinju Lantern Festival 2011. The Jinju Lantern Festival will tear a hole of awesomeness in your soul.

Friday, September 9, 2011

New Faces on the Side Bar

A week or two ago I added the blog, "Things Eve Would Do," to my blog roll. I like that site, the author is another English teacher in Korea who doesn't always talk about the normal things that you can find on Korea blog sites. It's also pretty cool because there are some posts that one might find published in a "Best American Erotica," anthology. Also-unlike this blog- the author is pretty good at making sentences.

Now another blog would like to promote is a blog by my friend Mathew Awalt. I met him a few years back in one of Jinju's most famous watering holes. We found common interests in cooking, and I also enjoyed talking to him about fishing. I am not a fisherman, but my dad is, and so is Matt, so from time to time I do enjoy talking about fish and rivers.

On a few occasions we burned meat together on one room building roof tops, and he ended up leaving Jinju to go work in the northern provinces. When he left he sold me a Weber charcoal grill that I in turn gave to my father-in-law as a Christmas present. Since then I have held two annual Christmas barbecues at my wife's parents house. The first year I made beer can chicken, the second year I blew $100 on a couple pounds of top shelf Korean tenderloin. (That shit was goooooood.)

Anyway Matt started an Asian-fishing-travel blog about his exploits taming the rivers of Korea and Japan. I like his blog because it tells good stories of his adventures. I think that travel blogs should tell good stories rather than simply having pictures.

Anyway check out both sites.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My Terrible Idea

My son is four months old now. He is really cute. I think so, and it tends to be the consensus of all of the people who see him when we go out. The guy gets a lot of attention and he is happy to smile at his adoring fans.

Sometimes they get a little Bieber crazy and actually touch him...without permission. This one crazy guy on the street came up to him and started playing with his feet while he was in in his stroller. Some lady in Homeplus came up to him and touched his head.

My wife has joked about baby modeling to help pay for his college, but I don't think that is a good idea. I don't trust people in show business. But I did come up with another terrible idea from which we can make a little side cash off this baby, and perhaps it would be a good way to get people to leave him alone when we are out and about.

The terrible idea:
My son can become a living advertizement for my sperm samples. All I have to do is get a little bumper sticker that says that with my phone number and post it above his head in the stroller. Good people would probably get offended and leave. People with fertility problems might take the number down and give me a call.

I think it's a win win win situation. People will leave me alone at the store. I can earn a little cash on the side. Also I can charge my trip to Baskin Robbins as a part of the delivery expenses. If you have ever been to Baskin Robbins in Korea, and if you have ever gotten a pint of ice cream to go, you would know that they ask you how long it takes to get to your house and then they chip off some dry ice to pack with the pints.

They can just ask me, "Hey how long does it take to get to your house?"

I can say, "One to two business days." They will then give me a bowl of dry ice that I can then use to pack with my sample to send to hopeful couples.

Everybody wins...except my son if he ever finds out about it. That would be the time to do the whole midnight runner thing.

*This blog post should be submitted for "worst father of the year award."

**This is one of those times when I'm happy that nobody reads this damn thing.

***I'm sure glad I didn't post the video or express my opinion about that guy issuing a beat down on the bus, that would make this post look really bad, also people might actually come here to hear my thoughts on the matter...which they really shouldn't care about, I'm not that bright.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Odds and Ends

1. I'm calling off my Fatwa on Nic Kun's femurs. Most of the traffic to this site comes from a picture of Nic Kun that I ganked off of google. I've been happily married for two years and I don't have any beef with the guy anymore.

2. It turns out that the search term "Fantastic New Ab Workout," ranks this site's post as #4. I'm sorry to announce that I haven't taken the taxi very often and I haven't had the opportunity to test the theory of pulsating progression-a term that I made up-for abs. I'm also still number two for Ring Pang Donuts. This is a very misleading blog, Donuts and Abs.

3. I went to the tailor today to order a shirt. My waist and chest measurements are smaller. I think it is because I ride my bike to work a lot these days. I also practice Taekyon which involves a lot of abdominal lunging. I still don't have a six pack, I had one last Friday, but it is down to a one pack. Homeplus had "Fosters," beer on sale for 7950 won. "Fosters Australian for Beer," except for in Australia.

4. I'm very proud of the post after this one. No comments on it, that sucks, my favorite posts never get comments. Neither do my videos. Well I have one video where I made tacos that got a lot of comments, but my martial arts stuff never did. Oh, but anyway, when I was writing the post about bikes and dinosaurs I heard all of these noises outside of my apartment. This dude was totally vandalizing some cars really loudly, and he got arrested. He was vandalizing some cars in the parking lot right below my apartment really loudly. Anyway I looked out the window and saw the police chuck some shirtless guy into their car. I'm going to miss this apartment.

5. It's time for a beer and "Burn Notice."*

*I'm a little embarrassed to be such a fan of U.S.A. original series, "White Collar" and "Suits" are pretty good too.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Bikes and Dinosaurs

Bikes and Jinju

Jinju is a great place to go bike riding. Jinju has a large bike path that runs along the river. The bike path spans the city starting at Jinyang lake and ending about seven miles down stream before turning into a gravel path that goes on for about another five hundred yards. I use a bike for my primary mode of transportation. The most time it takes to get anywhere by bike is about twenty minutes. That is, anywhere in the urban part of the city. At my old job it took about thirty five minutes to get to work, and I would usually be covered in sweat by the time I got there.

Jinju is an interesting city because the boundaries of the city are huge. I've heard that land wise it is the fourth largest city in Korea, but the city center is where everybody lives, a lot of Jinju's land is farms and mountains on the outskirts. For example, my wife's family comes from Jinju. Both her father and mother come from the countryside. When my mother in law was a kid, she could remember the North Korean army coming to town, executing the mayor, and then stealing a cow before running away to the mountain. It would take them a day to walk downtown and back. The train running heading east takes an hour to get outside of Jinju. There are five country stations that the train stops at before leaving the city.

Bordering Jinju are a few counties and one city. An area in Korea is either desegnated a city or a county depending on how many people live there. Jinju has about 400,000 people, immediately to the East are Uiryeong with 30,000 people, Haman with 60,000 people, and Goseong with another 60,000 people. (More on Goseong later)

The inner area of Jinju is the most populous place. Towns in Korea get designated with various names. I don't know exactly how it works but a town within a city can be called a dong, eub, or myeon. In Jinju it seems to work out that the places with a lot of people in the city proper are called dongs, and the outlying areas are called myeon. I used to work in Geumsan myeon. I was and am still quite fond of Geumsan. Geumsan is turning into a suburb of Jinju. There are some expensive apartments out there. There is also a small lake and the iconic Wol Ah Mountain.


For some reason South Gyeongsang Province is a hot bed of paleontology. The most famous place for fossils that I can think of is in Goseong county. There you can find two dinosaur museums and this special place on the coast that has some dinosaur footprints. It is pretty cool to see the dinosaur footprints but the museum designers made the place look too childish. There are a bunch of big rubber dinosaur models all over the place, and it kind of ruins the view of Goseong's stunning coast. The footprints are just small holes in the ground while the vista from their location is this wonderful inlet harbor where you can see islands and mountains and the silver ocean. At low tide you can walk through a cave to get to another part of the rock beach where you can see some more foot prints. The place is absolutely wonderful. It makes you wonder why anybody in their right mind would live in Gangnam when there is such a place just four hours south. It makes you wonder why there are no yaught clubs or rich guys with sailboats that navigate the south coast. It seems like a big turn off to women if you tell them that you have your own boat in Korea, they would just think that you are a fisherman. (Fishermen probably make a lot of money too though.)

Less well known than the dinosaur footprints in Goseong are the ones that you can find in Jinju. According to the Jinju website. There are three places where you can find fossils. Also, my wife told me that they found a new place somewhat nearby my house that has some more dinosaur footprints. This week, I embarked on three journeys to find these places. Unfortunately I just ended up with some sore legs and some slight disappointment.

Day One Hotandong and Moonsan:

I think that the "Broken Flowers," ost is proper for this section.

As I said before, my wife told me about some kind of news report that they found some dinosaur footprints near my house. The alleged location is somewhere in Hotandong. Hotandong, Gaeyang, and Gajwadong are three ambiguous places somewhere in the vicinity of Gyeongsang National University and an exit for the expressway. My wife wasn't exactly clear as to where the footprints were, but there is a lot of road and building construction in that area so I guessed that it was somewhere around there. I have to admit that I didn't concentrate my efforts to the place where the construction is. Instead I opted to take a quiet country road to see where it would take me. After being on that road for about ten minutes I realized that there was nothing around. The road runs next to the railroad line that goes through some rice fields and fruit farms. I passed a deer farm and ended up in Moonsan Myeon. In the future, Moonsan will become an industrial powerhouse because the government housing company LH is going to move there.

Now the place is famous for pear farms. I kind of hate the town part of Moonsan. It is simply awful. Roads turn into eight way intersections. There are no sidewalks. People don't look where they are going when driving, and they walk down the middle of the road as if cars didn't exist. It's also ugly as sin, just a massive construction project that never ends. No stop lights at those eight street intersections either.

The outside of moonsan is another story though. Last Monday on my bike ride through there, it was nothing but lush green farms and rolling hills.

Anyway, I hooked up with another road that took me by the construction projects, and I didn't see any dinosaur footprints anywhere.

Day 2, Geumsan myeon, Jinseong Myeon, and Moonsan once again.
The first day turned up nothing so I resolved to check the internet to see where a site was that I knew I had read about before. Naver and google earth revealed that there was a site in Jinseong myeon Gajin ri, on mountain 6. There is an easy way to get to Jinseong from my house. You simply take the road between these two mountains.

It is actually much higher than what it looks like in this picture. Instead I opted to try to go around the mountains through Geumsan. So that's what I did. I took the half hour bike ride to Geumsan and stopped off for some doughnuts and coffee at Ring Pang Donuts. (Searches for Ring Pang Donuts bring most of the people who read this blog to this site.)

After that I went in search of my equivalent to the north west passage. I took a road that went next to some mountains for about twenty minutes. I ended up in some place called, 남성마을. There was a pretty cool old style house there. I went up the road further and realized that this particular road was going to drop me off next to geum ho lake, in effect making me go in one big circle.

I then opted to take a ride down a farm road that went between greenhouses. The road ended at a large hill that appeared to be a levee. I asked a farmer who seemed somewhat surprised to see me there if that was the river. He confirmed that that was indeed the south river. (A Korean farmer who looks surprised at a white person just kind of stares at you dead eyed.)

I retreated and turned left at another ally that ran between some green houses. Since I could see more greenhouses in the distance I concluded that this road had to go somewhere. The road ended where the levee seemed to end so I climbed the levee and found that there was another road that snaked along the mountain. Again I figured that the road had to go somewhere, but was disappointed to find that it went to a chicken coop at the bottom of a mountain. I retraced my path back to the levee and saw a gravel path that had some tire tracks in it. I had low hopes for this gravel path since there were big parts that were washed away from erosion. Some parts had mildly deep mud, and other parts had some foot deep puddles.

The path ran next to some rocky cliffs of a to my right mountain, and that mountain gave birth to some mineral springs whose streams ran tributary through my wild road and into the nam river to my left. Foot prints of some cloven hooved animal could be seen from time to time. I thought they looked like deer footprints, but I think they were wild boar. It turned out that the road I was on was this one: I took this picture from google earth. The day that this picture shows was much dryer than last Wednesday.

Anyway I followed the road and eventually came to a bridge. On the other side of the bridge was daegok myeon. My side was Jinseong. I was happy to be on a paved road again, and I headed towards town in search of a brown sign that might say something about dinosaur footprints. I found that sign outside of the Gyeongsang province scientific education office. Jinseong is the home to a few things. There is the Gyeongsang province athletic high school, where select jocks from all of Gyeongsang province can go to high school and train their sports, and there is also the Gyeongsang province science high school, where the smartest science students in all of Gyeongsang province can study science. I ended up at a building that said that it was a bird foot fossil culture center (in Korean).

I had arrived. My destination was not tucked away on some mountain, it was tucked away on a mountain and preserved in a museum. My good luck turned sour I went into the building and found that the the wing of the museum that I wanted to see that day was closed. The lights were turned off and there was a rope saying "don't go in." Bummer.

I decided not to return the way I came. I think this was a mistake. I got to see some cows though. There were some cows sticking their heads out of their barns and onto the road where they licked the air. I filmed, but I'm too lazy to edit the video of my adventure so I'm writing about it instead. So I rode for about another half hour in Jinseong. I came to the road that goes between Wol Ah mountain and decided to try to go around Wol Ah mountain again. So I followed the cow road and ended up near the Jinseong town office.

There are a few roads that go to Moonsan. One is a treacherous expressway, the other is a country road. I followed a country road that passed Jinju country club. On that road I met an old lady who told me that if I followed that road I'd arrive in Moonsan. This was a relief, but I soon discovered that this road went up a steep mountain. I wussed out and walked up most of this mountain, but I took this picture:

At the top of the mountain I was happy to see a sign that said that I was indeed in moonsan.

I coasted down the mountain and walked up another, and coasted down it again. I was then happy to see that the road was flat for a pace, until it wasn't, and I walked up another hill. This time I saw an old guy who was doing some landscaping next to a hospital. He told me to ride my bike and stop being such a pussy. I obeyed and then went down this hill.

I kept on trucking until I was to the outskirts of moonsan. I wasn't happy to see the sign that said Jinju 12km, but sooner or later I ended up in that shit hole moonsan. Ten minutes later I was to Jinju stadium. A little while after that I was near my house. After that I bought my wife a cup of coffee and took it to her office. Day two complete.

Day Three Dino-disappointment in Naedong
I still had the ridding bug in me after my huge journey on Wednesday. The ride must have been about 15-20 miles. I left my house at ten and got home at three thirty. But I still hadn't seen anything dinosaur like, so I checked another site in Jinju in "Naedong." This location was much closer. Just a bit past the lake and on a small river called the Gahwacheon that meets up with the ocean in Sacheon. This ride went well. I was at the base of Jinju damn when my damn bike decided to act up. The back tire started to rub up against the bar. I pushed on after I kicked the wheel and swore at my bike some. Again I didn't know where I was going but I ended up here:

An information sign revealed that this was the right place. An old lady emerged on the stones and I asked her. I greeted her and she asked me if there were any fish about. I said, "no," and then I asked her where the fossils were. She said that they washed away with the current a few years back...I think, they may have been excavated, but at any rate I didn't see any fossils.

I gathered my bike and limped to a bike shop where the owner re-aligned my wheel. After that it was to McDonalds to try the new burger that has salsa and bacon...verdict, not too bad. I guess I hadn't had enough exercise for that day so I headed to the Taekyon dojang and practiced some kicks and throws.

So no, I didn't see any remnants of the paleolithic era, but I had a pretty damn good time on my bike and saw a lot of beautiful country. I hope some day to make it to the coast. I think that if I follow the gahwacheon I can make it if there is a road that traces the river. Hopefully my story wasn't too boring.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Awsome Ice Building Activities

I found this post in draft form. I started writing it last year. I thought the idea was kind of funny so I decided to finish it off.

We all know the concept of ice breaking. These are the classes at the beginning of each semester where ESL teachers try to engage the students into thinking about what kind of great people we are. It is a way to make the students feel comfortable about speaking English, and comfortable talking with people from other countries.

The problem though is that sometimes the more boring or unattractive elements of each class might seek friendship beyond the classroom when the class is ended. (I'm talking about adult students, kids who were jerks in class are sometimes pretty cool outside of the class.) Now, a lot of times there is nothing wrong with these people, its just that social engagements take time, and if you are married like me having a social engagement with former students that you aren't that interested in takes time a way from spending time with the wife. It also takes time away from seeing your normal friends that you don't get to see that often.

Activity 1: The airing of annoyances.
Pre-teach the language, "It really annoys me when you________________________."
Sit the students in a chair circle and have the students complain about the person next to them. Go clockwise and counter clockwise so that all can be exposed.

Activity 2: How to make other people feel unimportant.
This activity is a roll play. Put the students into groups of three. Write a monologue for one student while his or her partners send text messages to each other. The person speaking the monologue has to try to get the attention of one of the people sending text messages. You can tie this into the previous lesson.

Activity 3: Computer class.
Teach your students all about how to use facebook. Show them how to use the hide friends button.

Activity 4: Mean art
Have your students design some mean greeting cards.

Mean Happy Birthday Card = write "Happy Birthday," on the receipt of some awesome present for somebody you like better. When the birthday boy or birthday girl asks you what you like to do with your I-pad, tell them you don't know, because you gave it to Joe.

Mean Sorry for your Loss = Get a card printer, find a nice picture of the person who passed, buy some card paper, print the picture onto the card. On the inside write, your sorrow cannot match my apathy.

Mean get well soon = Think of all the things that said person might not need in the future. Think of his or her possessions that you want. Practice with the students the phrase: Oh by the way, if you are not going to be needing________________________________.

Activity 5: No follow up question:
Have your students brainstorm topics that interest them. Leave.

Activity 6: Dream Date:
Have students think of qualities that would make for the perfect divorce.

Activity 7: Music Class:
Ask the students who their favorite singers are. If you are an ESL teacher. You are probably some white Canadian or American man who is in his late twenties or thirties. As the students tell you their favorite musicians, bitch about how pathetic the Korean music industry is. Talk about how everything is so fake and how anorexic the girls look. Talk about how gay the boy band members look. And then search around on youtube for some of the shit that you listen to like The Bareneked Ladies, The Dave Mathews Band, or Counting Crows. Sing along with "Mr Jones," creepily go up to one of the women or men in class and then say "She's looking at you, Oh no she's looking at me." "Grey is my favorite color/I feel so symbolic." If you really want to alienate them....have them learn the whole song.

Activity 8: Organize a special conversation class. Have it meet for three hours every two weeks.

Activity 9: Let's Everybody Loose Face.
Teach reported speech. During an oral test, call students out of class one by one. Ask the students what they think of each other. When you hear something juicy tell the person who the rumor was about. Get them to say something about the other person. Repeat until you have enough dirt on your class to teach them

________ said, "__________________________________," about ____________.
name 1 rumor name 2

Activity 10: Acting Class.
Put the students into pairs. Tell the students to study each others' mannerisms. Tell the students to act out an exaggeration that the other person might feel self conscious about.

Don't actually do these lesson plans. You can hurt people's feelings.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Health Food

Sometimes on blogs you see the topic of food. Which country's food is more healthy, America or Korea? I'm going to posit that it is possible to eat much more healthily in America than in Korea, but when you compare what people in to two country's actually eat, I'd say that Koreans in general eat more healthily.

If I stuck to a diet of only my mother-in-law's food, I'm pretty sure that I could shed some pounds. Since I came to Korea the first time, I gained about 20 pounds. I think there are a few reasons for that though.

1. I can actually afford to feed myself nowadays.
2. I don't have a car. If I want to drink some beer, I don't have to worry about getting a D.U.I. dieing in a car accident.
3. My job in America was Taekwondo instructor. My job was literally to exercise every day. When I first started working at the middle school that I quit last March, I started a job where I would stand around for a while and then surf the internet for four or five hours.

In general the diet that a lot of Koreans eat - rice, soup, and vegetables is probably more healthy than what a lot of people in America eat. I'm not going to try to quantify the typical American diet, because America is a beautiful country where people from everywhere lives, and there is no typical American food. A lot of Korean people try to paint Americans as people who eat three squares of hamburgers and steak, but to be fair, I have read some blogs that criticized Korean mothers for feeding their only white rice. There may be people like that, but it has been my experience that people generally add barley, millet, brown rice, or beans to add some fiber. A few years I went on a diet where I would make rice like that, and I lost weight pretty effectively. Barley and rice is a wonderful combination, also studies have found that brown rice lowers blood sugar levels. However, it can be difficult to wolf down a bowl of dry brown rice, so you can add white rice for moisture.

What has surprised me about health food here, though, is not the typical diet of what people eat, it is the bizarre choices that some people label as "healthy."

I'm not talking about dog soup or big bowls of broth and boiled chickens. I am literally talking about things that have oddly been designated as "well being."

For instance, there is a don ggass chain around my house that calls it's self "health food." There is no fucking way that you can call a deep fried pork chop "well being." Ddon ggass is pretty delicious, but if you want to diet, you should probably just stick to the mound of rice and the cabbage salad that comes with the meat.

It doesn't stop there. Today I was watching a show called, "Korea's Got Talent." One of the acts on the show was a group of elementary school kids who did a highly choreographed cheer leading dance. A prologue to the performance was an interview with one of the kid's mom's or coaches who was showing the healthy diet that gave the kids so much energy. This consisted of ham and cheese sandwiches and some fried spam. What the hell?

This shouldn't come as any surprise though. These kids were way too good at what they did to be some kind of amateur operation. They seemed to be some kind of performance team like the Chinese opera or something.

I had an encounter with something like that when I was in middle school. A team of elementary and middle school kids were hosted by my Taekwondo school to do a Taekwondo demo. About 20 kids went on an America tour and went everywhere from Las Vegas to Kalamazoo, Michigan. My family put up about 5 of these kids for two or three nights. This was a step up from sleeping in a gymnasium in Las Vegas one night....

But anyway fast forward about ten years. The first time I came to Korea, I competed at an international competition/festival in Jincheon. While I was there I ran into one of the kids who stayed in my house. At this time he was a university student, and he was on the Korean national demonstration team. His job for the team was to run and jump off of somebodies arms, do a back flip and then break some boards. I think he also had to wear a blindfold and break some boards with a back flip kick too.

After the tournament, my instructor got me into this high school where kids like the ones who stayed at my house trained. Like most high level athletes, these kids would have to eat a lot of calories per day. I happened to visit them on their vacation so I didn't get the full training schedule that they got - 7 hours of kicking per day - I managed to squeak through with five. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays these kids would eat four meals per day. In the morning they would have standard Korean breakfast. For lunch, they would eat in the school cafeteria. For dinner, they would have some kind of Korean meal, but after the night training, they would have a midnight snack. The snacks could be : milk, bananas, and egg sandwiches or A whole pizza or even a box of doughnuts and coke.

I understand supplementing calories, but I really don't see the competitive edge in eating a whole pizza and a box of doughnuts. Maybe the pizza and doughnuts had nothing to do with health. Maybe it was about motivation. The life of Korean students can be kind of shitty. The lives that these Taekwondo kids lived seemed pretty hard to me. It was definitely painful and quite frightening. Their coach was kind a psychopath. They had another teacher who was a total drunk, a nice guy, but he scared me one night when I had to escort him up from the seaside to an area where the students had congregated. Upon seeing the kids he immediately made them assume a stress position where they had to support their weight on their heads and feet, on concrete, but that is a different story.

Anyway, I have this wonderful book called The Very Best of Recipes for Health. This book is a compilation of recipes from the New York Times in the series, "Recipes for Health." This book is awesome. The pictures are beautiful, and the food is delicious. I've made about five things out of the book, and most of them have been home runs. While I think that eating Korean style is indeed healthy, there are a lot of foods that simply don't exist here. Since I moved here I have developed a liking for oatmeal.

Oatmeal is not impossible to find, but it is kind of like going to a speakeasy to get the stuff. And when you do find it, a $2 cylinder of Quaker oats costs 15000 won. My marvelous cookbook has this wonderful section on quinoa. I sure would like to try quinoa some time, I'll have to change continents for it though.

It's not all bad though. Seafood here is abundant. Last Monday took my bike 400 meters west and bought a live halibut. It was 25,000 won, but the lady skinned it and cut it into filets. Then I took the filets and botched a recipe for poached fish. That's okay though because I have the bones and head, my wife can make maeoontang.

Well that's it. I really need to learn how to write better conclusions. But I'll leave you all with a lead on oatmeal and big blocks of cheese.

If you live in Korea and want to order some hard to find yummies, or ham that tastes like ham, go to The delivery system is a little slow, but payment is easy for foreigners because it is a simple atm transfer. No personal I.D. number needed.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

롯데삼강 Cookie O

It was about two months ago. I had been riding my bike to work and I stopped off at Dunkin Donuts for a large coffee. For me coffee always goes with food. Savory food for breakfast...unless I'm eating pancakes or french toast....Paris Baguette bread makes great french toast by the way, and chocolate of I'm just having a mid day coffee. (I'll probably die young)

I ordered my coffee and went to the mart next to dunkin. I had in mind one of those ice cream cone things, but suddenly a picture of an ice cream sandwich caught my eye. Immediately I saw visions of the big meat freezer at my parents house. I remember sneaking out on hot summer days to raid the box of the country fresh ice cream sandwiches.
I think the last time I had an ice cream sandwich was last year when I visited my parents. It's something that I just had never seen in Korea and something that I never knew that I missed. But suddenly, there they were right in front of me. A few individually packed ice cream sandwiches, and the damn things taste exactly what you get back home. Cookie O's have walnuts in the ice cream, but the cookie on the outside is about the same.

My only problem with them is that they are 2000 won per sandwich. Summer is here though and pretty much for the whole month of July, Korean grocery stores run 50% discounts on small ice creams so cookie o's at my supplier are 1000 won, but damn that is still pricey.

Now before I sign off, I'd like to give another shout out to a few other contestants in the ice cream/Popsicle category. First I'd like to mention shark bars. I think a shark bar was the first Popsicle that I have ever eaten in Korea. A shark bar is orange flavored ice, around a raspberry/or strawberry sorbet. The orange ice is dyed grey and is shaped like a shark, the damn things are refreshing as hell, go out and get one.

Also don't forget 생탱. A sang tang is a fruit juice stick. For the longest time I only saw manderin orange, but recently I've had a few pineapple flavored ones. Sang tangs use a percentage of real fruit juice, and the pine apple ones have real chunks of pine apple in them. Again refreshing as hell.

I think that the Mango and Kiwi things are pretty good too. Tank boy is too sweet. My biggest problem with the bits of frozen juice wrapped in wax, is that they look like big frozen dildos. And then when you finish them, the empty shell looks like a used condom.

Anyway for a taste of home...and if you like ice cream sandwiches, check out 롯데삼강 Cookie O's. They brought me a lot of joy.