The Ol’ DMZ

31 08 2008

So this is the beginning post of my orientation things, I didn’t really have much time during them so I will try to write all about orientation, starting with going to the DMZ, between North and South Korea (it’s a strange place).

The DMZ is the “border” between South and North Korea, which are actually still at a state of war, and only have a cease fire to stop the fighting that started with the Korean War. So while I was at the DMZ it would have been possible for the war to resume, which would have been dangerous. There have been several incidents where fighting between the ROK army (Republic of Korea/South) and the KPA (Korean People’s Army/North) has actually occured. These were explained to us by the soldiers that guided us around the DMZ. I won’t go into those, but I will say that being at the DMZ was a very strange experience.

For many years it seems like North Korea has been such a dire enemy and it was a bit odd to see some of the KPA soldiers in person. Wasn’t so much frightening as just unsettling. I even went onto North Korean soil, in the conference room where the UN flag is flown. We also saw ‘Propaganda Village’, where the world’s biggest flag is. It is called ‘Propaganda Village’ because no one actually lives there, even though there are buildings and every night propaganda is played over speakers to tell the South Koreans to defect to the North. Soldier of Fortune magazine also put a $1,000,000 bounty on a square meter piece of that flag, which the American soldier guiding us told us, and we all laughed and tried to figure how to do it, but unfortunately it is pretty difficult.

Anyways, I think this is a good time to show off the pictures as they are pretty interesting themselves.

The large building in the back is the main North Korean building and the blue ones are conference rooms

A KPA soldier watching us (we weren’t allowed to point or make any gestures towards them)

The cement thing going across in the middle is the exact location of the border, and those are two ROK soldiers

That is our American soldier that guided us around the DMZ… he was pretty cool

This is the main conference table and a U.N. flag on the right. All the soldiers there are actually working for the U.N. but the Americans are in charge of them. I was also technically in North Korea when I took this picture.

All the ROK/US soldiers at the DMZ wear these armbands. I just thought they looked pretty cool and thats the only real significance of that.

Here is ‘Propaganda Village’. That is the big flag, and the nice looking town that nobody lives in.

These now rusty signs mark the border between the countries, and they are positioned about every 50 meters along the entire border.

Here is a picture of North Korea, taken from a vantage point.





So Jet Lagging Sucks

27 08 2008

As the titles says, being jet lagged sucks. I have felt really bad all day, maybe due to the fact I only got about six hours of sleep, and had a very strange waking up experience that took about one second, which was odd. Normally my waking up is a very protracted process. I am definitely tired out right now though. It was another fun day, but it was also exhausting. I am definitely going to take tonight easy and rest up for tomorrow, which will probably end with something (probably drinking).

I do have a picture to show off though! We went onto one of the guys’ brother’s roof and it has a great view of Seoul and Sinchon. So here it is:

The view over the river

A big street in Sinchon





Now I am in Seoul

25 08 2008

So I am finally in Seoul, and just got some delicious food. I am tired and am going to put up what I wrote in the plane. Goodnight, I will be back tomorrow or so.

Airplane!
So I am currently on the plane somewhere over the Pacific, but I don’t know where because the map that tracks our progress isn’t really working right now. Either way I am a few hours in (I think 3) and things are going well. Just watched The Graduate, which is an amazing movie by the way. Weird they just turned the lights off and all that and it is only 5:30PM Seattle time. Anyways so The Graduate is an amazing movie. I cannot think of anything that is really wrong with it. The soundtrack is great too, but I think the general feeling of the movie is what makes it great. You can really relate to it in college, and not knowing what you are doing (or where you are going in my case). I would show you some sort of poster, but considering I am on a plane without Internet I am not. This is all being written in Word, so yea. I am a bit disappointed in the lack of Internet though because I was under the impression that it would be on the plane.
The most fun thing about this plane so far is the free wine they give out with meals. I always thought that you had to pay, but apparently not on Korean Airlines, which is fine by me. I did make the mistake though of getting the beef instead of the rice. Always get the food that is native to the airline’s country, it will make you happier, and maybe even actually happy. Another good thing so far in this flight so far is the David Cross I am listening to. He is really funny, and that makes me smile. Plus, he hates Georgian rednecks. So yea, I am out of things to say, maybe I will pick this up in a few hours after some more stuff happens/ doesn’t happen.
Part 2
So two movies later and some other stuff, I decide I am hungry, which I am currently in the state of. It would be nice to get something to eat, and I still regret getting that damn beef and not the rice. Although I did get a really good beef bun thing, and I would describe it as being closest to those Chinese BBQ pork buns. Though this one was kind of crispy and delicious. So if it isn’t quite clear yet… I am hungry.
My next big decision in my life is, which movie do I want to watch next? There is a very amazing selection of lots of movies, not necessarily amazingly good, but rather amazingly big. I think next up will be a nice and light romantic-comedy. Either way it should be pretty exciting. As long as I can get some food I will be happy. A weird thing that has happened is that I do not think that the brightness has changed at all since we left Seattle, which means we are following the Sun! A bunch of people are starting to get up and walk around a little, meaning that about five people have passed in the last five minutes. I am kind of tired too, if I am not watching a movie I start to get pretty tired and yawn a lot. I am sure this is really interesting to hear about.
Excellent, the little arrival time thing on my TV screen just showed up and said there are only about three hours left in the flight. Which means I have to go watch that good old-fashioned rom-com, unless I get something better… STAY TUNED! For part three which may or may not exist.





Packing up

23 08 2008

So I am currently packing up stuff… I’m not going to be overly dramatic and say I am packing up my life, because I am not doing that. I am just packing clothes and such. That’s not what I wanted to say though, what I wanted to say is that I hate packing. I am writing this post to delay the packing effort a little, also my laundry hasn’t been finished so I am waiting on that. Luckily my friends are coming over in about 20 minutes to have a little goodbye dinner thing and to generally hang out.

That is another good thing to delay my packing. The only concern I have with this packing up of stuff is whether or not I can confine everything to duffel bags. I hate wheely bags when travelling countries. I feel so stupid rolling them and they get in the way if public transport is in the works. Luckily, I do enjoy traveling by myself though, as I can do whatever I want and don’t have to wait or do what others would prefer. It makes my mind happy as I can focus on nothing really.

I don’t really feel like I am going to South Korea tomorrow. I think I should be feeling a bit more anxious or nervous about going to a new country where I do not speak the language or know much, but I am not so whatever. I didn’t even really do much for last things before I go. Overall, this pre-departure experience has been pretty easy and not all that nervous making, which I am a fan of.

So I guess tomorrow is the big day, when this blog will actually begin to explain things about my travels to Korea. So far it hasn’t had too much to do with Korea, so it should be a good change of pace. So probably the next time you hear from me I will be in a new place, across the world, where I know nothing. Then you will get a better understanding of what happens in Seoul.





I’m like a real blogger now

21 08 2008

So I am like a real blogger now since I haven’t posted in a while. Anyways to catch people up on things, I just got back from New York, like 20 minutes ago, and went to Idaho last week. So most of my things from my list are now complete

1. Get out of Canada (where I am currently located)

2. Go to Portland for a concert by The Faint

3. Go to grandmother’s memorial service

4. Go to New York to see my girlfriend for the last time before I am gone for possibly a year

5. Maybe learn some Korean… which I have no knowledge of

Now I just need to learn some Korean… which I know for a fact won’t happen before I leave. Although I did read one of those Korean culture and customs books on the plane back to Seattle. It was, overall, not that helpful, but whatever it’s probably best I read it anyways. So I also signed up for classes today in the airport (best place to do that sort of thing if you ask me) and I am taking: PRE-MODERN KOREAN HISTORY, TRADITIONAL KOREAN SOCIETY & MODERNIZATION, and INTERNATIONAL TRADE PRACTICES, along with the beginning Korean class I will be placed in once I get to school.

Overall I am pretty happy with the courses I am signed up for, and the best part is that all I have on Fridays is Korean and no class starts before 10AM which is always a big plus. I am the anti-morning person so that is an important thing for me. So before Sunday (when I leave this place) I have to do some stuff, such as, buy a few more clothes, get a haircut, eat some good food, and finish up on video games. One of my goals while in Korea is to severely cut back on the amount of video games I play, which hopefully won’t be too hard as I will be busy doing all sorts of things.

Anyways I am pretty tired and I think I am going to go head over to my big cushy bed and put myself to sleep for a bit, as I have to get up and start doing some wonderful errands.





The Faint Concert

4 08 2008

Well the concert finally happened and it was amazing. Drove down to Portland which was about a 3+ hour drive each way, which wasn’t bad knowing that The Faint was to be seen. I was also really quite suprised by the type of crowd that they attracted, I was not expecting to see so many normal people there. I figured it would be much more of an alternative crowd. But I got myself a t-shirt and their unreleased CD all for $20 which was a great deal.

The opening bands were Shy Child, which I was really impressed by, and Jaguar Love, which I think was a little lackluster. Shy Child is a duo of a drummer and a guy on a keytar, and they were actually quite good… at least I liked them. The other band, Jaguar Love, was really loud and didn’t seem to be in full control of their volume/sound which made it difficult to listen to. They did have a few very good songs but for the most part Jaguar Love was fairly underwhelming.

The Faint, on the other hand, blew me away. By far the best performance by any band I have ever seen. They had a really good set list, every song they played was really good. I do wish they had played ‘The Conductor’ but that’s okay since everything they DID play was perfect. They had parts where it was so loud that I actually started to get a bit dizzy and feel off balance as the wall of sound hit me, but that kind of added to the fun. I am extremely happy that I got through that rockslide and made it to the concert. Here is the cover art for their new CD, Fasciinatiion:

 

It was a great night.





Freedom!

2 08 2008

So the road is finally getting cleared and is supposed to open in one hour, which is when I will be leaving to go back to the wonderful city that is a suburb of Seattle. That makes me very happy as I will also be able go see The Faint concert down in Portland tomorrow! It will be alot of driving though… and I hope my car got its tabs renewed so I can legally drive it down there. Either way I will be home tomorrow, since the drive will take at least 5-6 hours with all the traffic from opening the road. So hopefully this will be the end of my rockslide woes.

In other news, I watched another movie called “Our Happy Time” about a convict and girl falling in love. I don’t want to review it or anything right now because I have to prepare this house for leaving, i.e. take out the garbage, do the dishes, and laundry.

Once again in other news, a funny thing happened when I checked my blog stats after the last post, as my traffic to the site had a large spike due to my last post’s title having the word ‘sex’ in it. I found this pretty amusing as some people looking for ‘sex’, ‘erotic-romance’, and ‘korea sex’ ending up finding my movie review. Which probably did not lead any of them to what they were actually looking for… I almost feel sorry for them. I also feel like there are better places to find that than on blogs. Anyways I think that is it for tonight, I gotta get going so I can get back to Seattle at a less random hour of the day than 5 AM.