23 June 2008

"Time for me to Fly" (Or "I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane")

Sorry for the lapse between entries. It has been rather busy around here. Moving, packing saying goodbyes, thesis [non]defence (long story), and all the rest of it has kept me hopping. I talked to Brian (been in Korea for about three weeks) via email and asked if he had any last minute advice. He said that the best thing I could bring with me is an open mind. He said that there would be challenges, but that the Koreans are very non-confrontational and a "subtle approach" to disagreements works best. That is good. Subtle is my middle name. He also said that most things were written in both Korean and English, and that getting around was fairly easy. He is in a much smaller town than I will be in so we will see. He said to pack lots of toiletries as it is difficult to find things like toothpaste. I have got about a six months supply, more if I am careful and only brush on Saturday night.

I spoke to another friend of mine, Troy at the bike shop. He has been around to a lot of places and he said that Korea is one of his favorites. He said it was like the Midwest. Down to earth people, good food, conservative with a redneck party attitude. I will see if this holds true. One thing I have always found interesting is the way a culture's character is reflected in their cuisine. Mexican gassy, British bland, French saucy. Springfield cheesy? These things are certainly oversimplifications but not unuseful. Korean food has been described as raw, spicy and pickled. If this describes the people I will fit right in.

I have made some decisions in packing that I think bear discussion as they might backfire completely. The packing list has undergone several revisions, the latest and most dramatic coming after I encountered the 100 Thing Challenge. This guy has decided to pare down his personal possessions to 100 items. The blog is essentially a list of the things that don't count in the 100 items (books, underwear, toy trains), but it got me thinking. Some of the guidelines he set down for himself I applied to my packing list to try to achieve a safe bare minimum. Hopefully it will be only my minimum which ends up bare as a result. For example: the guy tries to keep essential clothing items to one per type. I looked at my packing list and asked myself: how many pairs of blue jeans do I really need. I had two. I am taking one. Ditto sweaters, PJs, dress shorts, dress shoes (one pair, basic black), dress shirts (one, basic white), ties. He also tried to make a single piece of clothing serve multiple purposes. I found a pair of pants that unzip to become shorts. My biggest challenge was outerwear. I wanted and finally found a Columbia shell with a zip-out fleece that could stand alone on cold days. The shell could stand alone on wet days. Together they will get me through Winter. (Best of all I got it on sale $120 off...shopping for Winter clothes in June: if you can find it they are practically trying to give it away!). I am taking three hats: a stocking cap, my trusty Cardinals cap, and a Boat Tavern floppy hat that I am going to use as a travel gnome.

Electronics: I came very close to purchasing an inexpensive camcorder today but talked myself out of it on the basis that my digi camera takes high def video. A nice person purchased me a universal power adapter (They use the two round-pronger there) and a travel power strip. I have my trusty laptop, world band radio (BBC news might be the only thing that keeps me sane), and mp3 player. I haven't loaded up on tunes the way I wanted, but oh well. I plan to purchase the MLB.tv package when I get over there so I can listen to the games so don't email me the damn scores! I will be watching on tape delay.

In packing I have used Space Bags and this has helped a lot. I have a very limiting weight restriction (50# per bag) so it may end up that there is actually empty space in my suitcases. This will be good if customs decides to open up the space bags and the clothes explode like popcorn. Not good. Last Friday, I purchased a 2200 page Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces to take on the trip, figuring it would buy me a week or so to find a bookstore. I have already read a third of it...oops. There may be more room/weight for books in my smaller case. Another trip to Prairie Archives tomorrow. These books might be like gold when I get over there.

Well. It is the middle of the night and I can't sleep and this is a good thing. It is tomorrow afternoon there now. I may by now have my sleep pattern so jacked up from stress induced insomnia that I won't have any jet lag at all. Onward!


Jim said...

Keep the entries coming Joe. Tjis should be an interesting year:)