28 September 2008

They Take a Pair of Scissors...

It has been a quiet week for the most part. I had the end of the month paperwork to do at work, which filled the few minutes around classes and the week seemed to go quickly. I went out with friends a couple of nights and Yu Jin came to visit on Saturday. That really about covers it.

I guess I have to admit that the trip to Japan affected my view of Korea more than I thought. It would have been easy enough to begin to look at things differently, but seeing firsthand an Asian culture with a little more (ok, a lot more) affluence really knocked the shine off of things around here. I still don't really understand a lot of things about Korea and going to Japan made me ask a lot more questions. This is an old culture, far older than the one I come from, so it is difficult for me to find perspective. And at the bottom of it all this is still a very beautiful country with incredibly warm people. The city can be shabby and in places dirty but it also has its little gem neighborhoods and a stunning natural setting. And to be fair, my tour of Japan was far from comprehensive. I will keep trying to figure out what I mean and try to say it at some point without sounding superior (which I really don't feel anywhere here in Asia).

I spent about four hours today sitting at the cafe Yu Jin and I have made a habit of take brunch at on Sundays. It is right on the beach (Gwangali) and looks straight out at the bridge. I like to read and sip tea. She did homework today and drinks coffee. It is a lovely setting. The days have become a bit cool now, and I broke out my fleece for the first time today. It was nice to sit on the terrace and read. Sailboats were out in the bay and further out the big freighters were loping by either toward the port or away. Above the seacoast cliffs off to the west a group of para gliders were looping through the updrafts in slow turns. I counted nine at one time.

The brunch is simple. In addition to the tea and coffee there is toast and scrambled eggs, soup, tater tots, vegetables, and mini-make-em-yerself pizzas on garlic toast. I use the pizza fixings to make melty omelets. The little salad bar is highlighted by honest to god tomatoes. Pastries and cookies and tofu-rice pockets (what are they called?) are also available. And at 6600W I think it is a great deal, especially since they don't care if you sit there for three hours and drink four cups of tea.

Saturday we went to a Giants game. Before that we went to the gymnasium across the street from the stadium to see what the TreX Games were about. It was billed as a gathering of traditional sports from all over the world. At the gymnasium there was a Thai boxing competition underway, and the field was indeed international. I saw flags from countries I didn't recognize, as well as Mexico, Iran, USA, France, Russia, and Serbia. The Iranian team fielded a female boxer who came into the ring wearing (I am not making this up) a BURKA under her boxing outfit. She then proceeded to beat the crap out of some girl with a blond ponytail. I took the opportunity to enlighten Yu Jin about female circumcision and she agreed that this could account for the girl's hostility.

Next weekend is a three-dayer and I am going to Gyeongju, the ancient capital of the Silla monarchy and home to several UNESCO world heritage sights. Next weekend is also the opening of PIFF, the Busan International Film Festival so we are going to try to catch a few films as well. Should be a busy weekend.

22 September 2008

The Weekend in Pictures

This post contains a haphazardly selected group of photos taken over the last few days. They were taken at Somyeon, Gwangali Beach, and Nampodong, among other places, and have been partially captioned. Say "Kimchi!" KoreaPics18

19 September 2008

Fukuoko, Japan. Bonus Pics!

Here are some pictures that Tom took of our trip to Japan (the captions are in German). I think that his are better than mine and he got the biggest Buddha. Enjoy!
Tom's Japan Pics

16 September 2008

Fukuoka, Japan. Part II

Thus began my favorite part of the day: the archaeological building, sports grounds, Fukuoka castle ruins, and Ohori Park, with its beautiful lake and Japanese garden. It is worthwhile to note that the pace of our trip and the direction it took were the accomplishment of Tom. He had a pretty good plan and he kept us moving. I could not believe the ground we covered in one day. I'd had a bad time the previous night with my nethers but I was determined not to be inhibited on my one full day in Japan so I took some supportive measures on Sunday and this really helped (thanks WebMD momma!). I also took the time to rest periodically and Tom was kind about that. By the end of the day we had walked from Hakata Station to Hawk's Town and my dogs were barking a good one. Luckily, I knew an electronics store with a full-body massage chair.

Tom eats about every two days. I eat about every two minutes. I think, and I told him, that the best way to experience a culture is to put it in your mouth. He allowed this point, if for no other reason than that if I was eating at least I would render myself unable to speak. We looked around and quickly found a noodle shop and went in and sat down. We stood back up and were directed to a vending machine by the door with the menu and prices. We picked a couple of things out and stuck in our money (Y550) and gave the ticket and shortly were delivered steaming grub. I got the special (see the picture) and Tom got something with some crispy noodles. I ate a bite. It was all good. Sides of fried dumplins. Green tea.

On through the shopping district and, after finding a present (a little cherry tree made out of copper wire with rose quartz petals), we broke through to the Fukuoka-jo archaeological area. Tom, walking blind, hit it smack on. We went down an uneven path bordered by a ditch populated by giant koi and trees occupied by a group of huge blue-black ravens. They apparently thought we were hilarious.

And I must have appeared strange to to the birds and all the bird-like zero-body-fatted peoples of Japan, but they don't stare and point like the Koreans. A friend of a friend, female and apparently attractive (I haven't met her), told Tom that she didn't want to live here for much longer because she didn't want to fall victim to what she called the "princess syndrome." Males and females alike she had seen afflicted by an artificially high sense of self-esteem because of the attention: they get a big head, in other words. I, not being the typical "stylishly skinny, twenty-something, just-graduated, hot-enough-to-club-anywhere" type foreigner, have felt something quite the opposite here at times, something which I will call the "Shrek syndrome." I feel scary, at times, and sadly small for my size.

But I digress. There is, upon my first impression anyway, less danger of this in Japan. And (nice segway) this might be because of the unfettered wanderlust displayed by the Japanese throughout history. I actually recognized some of the amphora at the ceramics display in the archaeology display (I taught Humanities 101 a couple of times back home). The pots came from as far away as Greece and Spain. I could only read bits of the notation but I think the dig dated to the tenth century, three centuries before a European came this far East. I am not saying the Japanese went to get them and they were actually after what was in the pots, not the pots themselves, but that is some kind of trading network. According to the literature Fukuoka was Japan's gateway to the west and it remains so to this day.

The complex excavated was a merchant and diplomatic centre for years. Guarding it, just above, was a fortress built of huge fitted stones, a deep gray wall canted inward and topped with earth-works. None of the original wooden structures survive, but a beautiful garden of cherry trees and a guardhouse give one the impression of a wealthy and secure culture that remained impenetrable till 1945. Nagasaki is just 100K south of Fukuoka, Hiroshima 200K north.

Between the archeology building and the castle there was a large flat that probably had some history but it now holds a baseball field and a dusty rugby pitch. We sat under the ginko trees and watched the end of one rugby match and the beginning of another. It was brutal. I was very glad to be on the sidelines. There was usually at least one person writhing on the ground in pain and from where I was sitting it wasn't playacting. Huge collisions, no pads. It reminded me of a game we used to play when I was a kid called "kill the man with the ball." It had another rhymey name that time has rendered inappropriate that could roughly be translated "splatter the homosexual." It was a lot of fun. These fellas were really enjoying themselves, too.

We climbed up through the maze, though the wide guarded stairways and under and over former drawbridges, up several levels to the very top. The uppermost level was only the size of a tennis court but it offered a spectacular view of the city. I tried to imagine the blood that had been let on those steps and terraces and when I closed my eyes the screaming and clash of the rugby match below could just as well have been a battle raging outside the castle gates.

A five minute walk brought us to the edge of Ohori park, which contains a large lake, an art museum and a theater. I have read that the park is a copy of another in China and that it is famous throughout Japan. We walked through the Japanese garden (Y200) that was built to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the park's construction. The park's name means "trench" and derives from the fact that the lake was built using part of the outer moat of the castle. The land itself was reclaimed at one point from the bay, which is amazing since it is a few kilometers from the water now (much of the city lays on land that was once ocean and if my readings of the satellite images are correct there is a large reclamation project underway currently to the north of downtown). One of the old maps in the archeology building showed the water coming right up to the castle and I thought at the time that it was a map of somewhere else.

A walkway with bridges connecting small islands allows one to walk across the center of the lake and we did this, stopping to watch the families peddling around in swan boats, young people rowing skiffs, and a regatta of RC sailboats. On the opposite side there were restaurants and fountains and a concession stand where you could buy little plastic bags of fish pellets to throw to the huge carp patrolling the shore. Some of these fish were four feet long and weighed at least 100 pounds and that is no fish story. There was also a public bathroom and it was a sitter and it had a door! Hooray!

We walked a while further till we got to the Yahoo! Dome complex and Hawk's town, a set of two or three huge shopping malls. We walked around in there and Tom bought some soccer jerseys (he collects them) and we had dinner (Y4000). Curry. I can't believe it either but the guy was slapping naan on the inside of a huge tandoori oven right out front and that was it: I was having Indian in Japan. Oh, well. It was great, too. A surly bearded and turbaned Sikh ran the place and when I told him it was good he looked down his nose at me and grunted his disdain. I love it.

I was foot-sore by that point so after a powwow about how to proceed we decided to take a quick cab over to the Fukuoka Tower and then hunt down a bus back from there. We went up the tower (Y800) and I fiddled around trying to take a decent picture with my poor camera and got a couple that are OK I think. Down below there was a brightly lit complex of buildings sticking out into the water that looked like a medieval manor, complete with chapel. We went down and walked across the causeway but they weren't having us and the bar there wanted Y2000 just to walk in the door so we walked around on the beach for a minute and then went and found the bus stop and went back to Hakata Station. A brief stop at the massage chair display at Yodobashi while Tom got some CDs and then on home. I drank a few beers on the balcony and watched the people walking around outside till I started getting noddy.

The trip home was more eventful than the one there. At one point the sky darkened and it started sprinkling and the ferry slowed down abruptly and they said something over the intercom and everyone started looking out the windows. I asked the Korean guy across the aisle what was going on, "Is it a storm?" "No," he said. "Whales." Then the ferry took a hard turn to port and I looked out the window to the starboard and about 200 yards off I saw it: a huge black dorsal fin rising and turning away into the water.

When I got home I had another surprise. Yu Jin had told her mother that she was going to the movies and then went and got on the train.

Fukuoka, Japan

As the country basically shuts down for Ch'usok and I had a three and a half day weekend, I decided that I would take the opportunity to go to Japan. It was a short trip, but I learned a lot about the country and was able to experience another Asian culture. This had the added effect of clarifying my perspective on Korea in many ways.

We took a jetfoil over the Eastern Sea (Sea of Japan). It was very fast and hovered above the waves on wings. The ride was very smooth. We met some other people on the ride over, including a fellow working for the US Navy. He was able to give us some important information about finding our way around and gave us a breakdown of the relative currency values. I am horrible at the whole money thing under the best of circumstances, but the breakdown for Yen was fairly simple: 1000 won = 100 yen = 1 dollar. I had bought 30,000 yen at the ferry terminal before we left, which turned out to be fortuitous. Tom intended to use his Visa to get money in Japan, as he could get it without paying huge exchange fees (as I did). The problem is that most Japanese ATMs will not accept any card, even a Visa, that is not issued in-country. On the second day we located an ATM at the post office that accepted any card (thanks Lonely Planet!) and the crisis was averted.

When we got through immigration we went out to the cab stand and the back doors to the first cab opened automatically to meet us. We got in and they closed automatically to welcome us still further. We showed the hostel address to the driver. He looked at it, said something in Japanese, and got out. After a while I decided I would take an opportunity to have a smoke. The doors were locked from the outside. I don't like that. After a while he came back and took us to the hostel. It was real nice. Clean and simple. It had a couple of showers for everyone to share and a large communal bath. Boys at one time and girls another. I didn't get in. It was so nice in fact that I am not even going to tell you which one I stayed at. I'm selfish.

After a short nap we took off to check out the town. The hostel was a bit out of the way, but after about a twenty minute walk we got to Hakata Station, Fukuoka's train terminal. Near there was a Yodobashi store, huge and packed with everything electric. Tom went off in search of CDs and I climbed into a massage chair. I almost never got out. It was heaven. See picture of this thing. Unfortunately it was over 400000 yen or I would have bought it. After a bit more walking around looking at things we had some supper and went back to the hostel and bed.

The next morning I woke up early and took a shower. I knocked on Tom's door at 8AM and after he got cleaned up we went to a Cafe next door and had breakfast. I had potatoes and eggs and sausages (hot dog size, polish taste) and a warm bun with BUTTER! A clear soup with veggies and Earl Grey. Yummin. Sounds a lot like a Western breakfast but according to the LonePlan that is what they eat. Order the "morningu setta."

On down the road to the bus stop and back to Hanaka Station, where we finally found the Post Office which was closed but the ATM area was open and boy were we glad to see that. Tom took out way too much money and we went off walking in search of several shrines in the area. They were very beautiful, with large manicured grounds and extensive cemeteries. The temples in Korea that I have been in have all been in wilderness areas with little in the way of landscaping. The pine woods tightly surround Beomosa and a wild mountain stream runs through the complex. Hyang-iram is built into the side of a cliff and the steps up and the buildings are really the only man made thing there. Most of the five or six Japanese temples we saw had grounds. There was far more open space in Japan in general. In Busan the only place without permanent structures are the streets, mountains, and beaches. In Japan they even had parking lots. I know of only a few in Busan and they are minded by full time parking attendants.

I am trying not to make sweeping generalizations about either country. Bear that in mind as I draw these comparisons. I am really only comparing two cities and likely not even doing that well. I came away feeling that, in general again, Fukuoko is far cleaner than Busan. Sorry.

We began working our way toward the shopping areas in Canal City. This is an area diced up by several canals and rivers that filled with malls and small streets full of shops and restaurants. It was beautiful and nice walking. I was looking for a present for someone so I drug poor Tom through a lot more of that than he probably would have stopped for without me.

There will be more tomorrow and some pictures are available here.


Korea has two major holidays, the Lunar New Year (in January or February) and Ch'usok (pronounced "chewsock") which was this past weekend. It's closest American counterpart is Memorial Day, but Koreans, because of their traditional veneration of ancestors, take this very seriously. Everyone who possibly can is expected to gather with their relatives for family feasts that last for days. They also tend and perform rites at the graves of their ancestors, leaving fruit and meat and pouring out soju as gifts to them.

Last Thursday we had a Ch'usok celebration at school and I was able to take many pictures of the children in their traditional clothes, brightly colored silk outfits called "hanbok." The directors also provided me with a suit of hanbok clothing and I was more than willing to try it on. It was an elaborate constum of mostly pink silk. I look fantastic, as you will see in the pictures. We played traditional Korean games, in most of which I was able to participate. They also made some of the moon shaped rice cakes that are eaten at this time and used in ceremony. It was a great time and the children were more beautiful than ever.

You may view the photos in the following album: KoreaPics17. Enjoy!

08 September 2008

Flying Home

Yep, I am still here. It's another quiet wind-down Sunday night here at home. I have always found Sunday nights to be extremely depressing. This one is no exception.

So I have decided to go home. Right now. I am on my way.

First, I'm going to a little place where ne'erdowells like me like to sit and drink. Next stop is a little old time bar where my name is well known to the proprietor. On down the road a ways to another little watering hole where the PBR is always real cold and the hummingbirds are thick. I am getting a little buzzed about now but there is a little daylight left and I can fly in this satellite so I am heading south to get some catfish fritters. That sobered me up a little so I think I'll head downriver to get some ribs. Time for another beer or two, and some salsa would be good with that. I am going to sleep. And when I wake up at the Ruebel tomorrow morning I am going to get some chick-on-a-stick. (If you think you know all the places on the satellite tour send me an email. No fair zooming out either.)

I feel better now. And I am here at home (which isn't too far from work or the beach).

It was a magnificent day, weather wise. The sun shines differently here and today was crystal clear with a brilliant blue sky. Maybe it is the contrast with the green of the mountains or the gray of the city or maybe it is the proximity of the sea, but these days when it is sunny make everything vivid. It's like living in high definition.

We went on the cable car to the top of the tallest mountain in town today. At the top we looked down on the city lay spread out below. It didn't look real. The bridge and the ocean were visible in the middle distance and the towers sparkled in the haze. After a while we came back down and went on the bumper cars at the little amusement park there. We laughed and laughed.

The goodbyes are getting harder. I think I have the train station blues.

03 September 2008

Hit the Ground Running

We were unable to get the ferry tickets we wanted because of the holiday so we are leaving on Saturday afternoon and returning Monday morning, which is fine with me but Minha and Keungmin have decided they don't want to go on that short of a turn-around and I understand. But Tom and I are going anyway.

I have been very busy at work. The classes are still gruelling but it helps that they have made me make a plan. I was asked to write practice prompts for an essay contest that is coming up. I have a couple of kids that I would put up against anyone. One girl, Sarah, who is seven, writes better English than some college students I've had which speaks more to the disgraceful state of urban public education in the US than the native intelligence of these kids, which is significant nonetheless.

After two days of unspeakable gloom on Monday and Tuesday the sun broke out last night. I was getting ready to do something horrible to myself but Yujin called and said that the sun had come out in Daegu and I waited for a bit to see what would happen and it came out here too right after work. I had dinner with Minha at a dak galbi place that I have been told is the hottest food in Korea. I sat there and sweat blood and when it was all over Minha told me that she had asked them to make it mild. My god. It was delicious though I could only taste it immediately after blowing my nose. It was like getting sprayed on the tonsils with pepper spray and I don't even have tonsils.

Afterwards I went to the Megamart and bought some cat supplies. I have already bitched plenty about the cost of kitty food and litter but 12USD for 10Kilos of something a cat is going to crap on. Come on! I am going to try to find some oil dry if I can somewhere. Food is little better. I also got one of the domed cast iron plates that go over the gas "range" so i can finally make samgyopsal and galbi at home. I got some really kewl plates and bowls, a little set of tongs, a strainer and some other kitcheney things I wanted, too. If you look around you can find some pretty good deals. I also got some slippers to wear at work. Socks or bare feet weren't working. I am looking forward to cooking dinner when I have company this weekend.

I also (finally) found some noodles that are mild. The ones I bought before are real paint peelers. If you ask someone if something is spicy they invariably say no. We are doing a book on why we should eat our vegetables in two of my classes and I took in some red pepper paste to illustrate what a pepper was and the kids ate it like it was candy. Begged for more. I gave them a little taste on the end of a toothpick but when they came for seconds they were scooping out big globs of it and smearing it all over their lips. I would have to go to the corner store for an emergency yogurt.

I have been sleeping better at night and I feel a bit healthier every day. I must be losing weight. I eat most lunches at school and I have stopped taking a double portion of rice. I haven't been eating out much in the evening, trying to save up for the weekends and trips coming up. And I haven't been drinking anything like I did before I came. For one thing, the beer here is horrible unless you get an import and then they rape you. And it costs about a week's salary for a decent bottle of whiskey, my favorite beverage. That leaves soju. When I first came here I thought: "Now here is a civilized place. Three bucks and you can get blind drunk on a small quantity of this tasteless beverage, whatever it is." But people told me that I would soon tire of it, and I have. It is ok with food but to sit down and drink it in terminal quantities is not advisable. It hurts daddy.

New photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/cyanocitta/KoreaPics16#

01 September 2008

Daegu and the Days Before

Went out to dinner Thursday night with Jourdan and a German I met named Jes Tom. He works here for a Korean shipping company. His job is to arrange the cargo containers on the ships. He makes layouts considering several factors, including weight and where the containers are going. It sounds like a huge game of Tetris to me. The ships call at ports all over the world and he has to place the containers so that the stuff for the next port ends up on top and so that the maximum number of cranes can work at the same time.

He is here on an exchange program. A Korean with the same job is Hamburg right now at Tom's shipyard. He has been here five months and he will be here till December. Jourdan is leaving on Tuesday and will be spending a month in India and then he doesn't know what he will do. He may travel till he runs out of money and then come back to Korea or he might do something else. I hope he comes back.

We went to a restaurant near Somyeon that we found. It was called "Samba, samba," and it proclaimed itself to be a Latin American Food and Beer Bar. It is always interesting to see what people do with a cuisine that they have read about but never tasted. I ordered a margarita and it was lemon cool-ade and tequila. Salt, no lime. There were a few things that had Mexican names but by and large it was a Korean menu. It was unfortunately not that good.

We talked a while about living in Korea, the difference between living somewhere and being a tourist, the difference between living abroad in Asia and somewhere else like Europe, language, women, food, beer, and other stuff. Jourdan said that his travels in Asia had left him with the feeling that is said best in a song by an artist I hate so I won't credit them who wrote "It's all the same, only the names are changed." I felt that this would be the worse kind of curse but I console myself now thinking about the fundamental differences in the way he and I travel. He is a sprinter, I am a napper. In the week we were off, the week we met, he went to five or six cities. I went to two. I am not saying that one way is better, I just more into being absorptive rather than inclusive.

Later that night we went to Tom's and I introduced him to Minha and Jinhee. When I told Minha a week ago that I was planning to go to Japan on the next long weekend (Sept. 13-15) she told me that she really wanted to go to Japan before long. I asked her to come and, although we had to get permission from her boyfriend and my girlfriend and she is going to have to quit her job to go, she is going. We were discussing ferry schedules and accommodation rates and I said to Tom that he should come and he checked with work and he can go too. Minha has a friend, Keunmin (maybe not right spelling) that speaks fluent Japanese and she is going too. So we have four. Yujin can't go. This holiday, Chusak, is the second biggest after Lunal New Year and it is a mandatory family visitation day. It is killing me that she can't go but the whole country shuts down and unless I want to sit here and do nothing for four days I am going to have to get out of here. She understands. We have ferry tickets and I have secured us lodging in a hostel in Fukuoka for about $30 each per night which is about a third of the cheapest traditional hotel I found online. Fukuoka is the home of the romeon noodle, so maybe food will be affordable too. Ferry tickets weren't exactly cheap, but we are taking the hydroplane so we will get there in three hours. The overnight isn't that much cheaper but I would like to do that sometime. It would be nice to go to bed and wake up in another country.

On Friday I had 7:20 train tickets and I got off at 6:30 so it was a little (a lot) stressful to make it. I got there as the train was leaving after running from the subway station. Yujin met me at the station and I don't know what my face looked like when I saw her but I wish I had a picture of it because when I made it everyone else waiting turned around to look at what I was looking at. We went to a Galbi joint nearby and when they gave us the menu I went into shock. It was outrageously expensive. I asked Yujin what was going on and she said that the place served the special Korean beef. I had to try it. It was worth every penny. It had a rich beef taste and was buttery fat. We cooked it slowly, a few pieces at a time and roasted garlic and grilled onions to wrap it up with. They served it up with a red sauce that I tried and tried to figure out but couldn't place the spices. It was sweet and just a little spicy. It was a little like chunky BBQ sauce but different. There was also thin sliced daikon radish with sesame oil and a soup that we didn't get into much. We washed it down with a few imperials of Hite, Korean beer. It was a great meal.

We talked until late and then I put her in a cab home to momma and went to check into my hotel. The area around the train station is lined with whorehouses. The one I stay in is pretty nice. It has the cheesy decor of a love motel but is is quiet and exceptionally clean. If you like mirrors and colorey lights this is the spot. When you check in they give you a toothbrush, a disposable razor, and three condoms. After I got settled I went for a walk to look for Kim Tae Moon. If you remember he was the character I ran into the last time I was here. I looked at our old haunts and found out from the karaoke guy that Mr. Kim had been, in his words, "captured by the police." Kim Tae Moon is crazy, and when he drinks too much...his words faded and he held up his two fists. Oh boy. I couldn't believe it. Such a kind-hearted person. I couldn't imagine him being violent.

I went back around to the hotel and sat for a bit in the little cafe there. I had a couple of beers and chatted with the Koreans staggering in from there revels. On guy had urinated in his pants and he was cheerfully trying to have a much too close conversation with me against my prostestations until the halmonim (grandmother) saw what was going on and shoved him out the door. One guy I was talking to asked me if I wanted a "sexual partner," which is a suspiciously ambiguous way to put it. I didn't of course, but for the benefit of my readers here I asked him the rates. Three fingers. 30000W. $30. I contemplated ordered one up just to see what would come to my door. At that rate teeth were probably an additional charge.

The next day we went out to eat at a shabu-shabu place. I like these. They bring out a big shallow soup pot with onions and diced potatoes floating in spicy beef broth and set it on the burner built into the middle of most restaurant tables here. The give you a bunch of soup fixins (veggies, mushrooms, and herbs) and a big plate of thin sliced beef and a bowl of homemade noodles and you get the pot simmering and make the soup and add the beef as you eat it. I like mine just past raw and Yujin likes it well done. You mix in some kanjang and kochujang (soy sauce and red-pepper paste) to taste and gobble it up. Delish! After you eat most of it they bring out a bowl with rice and raw egg and chopped herbs and garlic and after they dip out most of the liquid they throw that in the pot and make up batch of fried rice to finish you off. It is cheap and you always end up stuffed.

Yujin then took me to a very special place, her very favorite place. Above a restaurant there is a tiny theater that shows foreign films with Korean subtitles. It reminded me of a gritty coffeehouse back home. Kids were sprawled out on comfy chairs in the little snack bar and the walls were covered with original art work done in magic marker. We saw an American movie, Broken English, which was a chick flick about a girl who falls in love with a French guy and way too relevant and I got way too emotional. Yujin gets a big kick out of it when I cry at movies and I always try to hide it but to no avail. At the end of the weekend we have been in the habit of asking each other what was our favorite moment. This weekend she said that seeing me crying because the French guy was crying. I said Korean beef. (I am lying.)

There are a lot of things that are none of your business. Or anyone else's. I kissed Yujin in the sushi joint in Busan and the sushi chef, a young guy who genuinely likes me, made a face and said something and I asked her what he said and she told me he said "not a gentleman." So I don't kiss her in public anymore unless I can't help it. When in Rome. We had fried chicken once and she told me that wings were her favorite but she couldn't eat them anymore now because of me. What? Koreans believe that if a woman in a relationship eats a wing it could cause them to "fly away," or be unfaithful. I didn't want to point out that although chickens are flightless birds they are rather fleet of foot as she was chewing on a leg at the time.

We had dinner after that but I don't want to tell you where because I have a surprise.

Sunday we kind of lounged around. Had lunch. I took a nap on a park bench. Had some coffee. We spent most of the day dreading my departure. Tom was coming home from Seoul and I had arranged to meet him on the train as it came through Deagu. I got on and he came back to my car and we chatted as the sunset scenery went by. When we got back to Busan we hopped the subway and met Minha, Jinhee, and Jourdan and had pizza at Papa John's to celebrate Jourdan's imminent departure. We went to an arcade later and played Dance, Dance, Revolution, which (surprise!) I suck at. I was on my last legs and bailed about 9:30. I don't know what they did but I got a text from Tom that said he got home at midnight sober. I was too tired to face the subway so Minha told the taxi driver where to deposit me and I got home fast. A quick Skype with Yujin and I was out.

There are pictures and I will post them once I go through them. Thanks for reading!