Thursday, September 05, 2013

travel juice

Random people coming up and trying to talk to me in heavily contorted English... A man walks into a subway with a big boombox and starts playing a cheesy popsong while trying to sell CDs to the passengers who all don't even notice him... People taking crap from me and moving it around to "help" me without asking... Noisy, noisy, noisy... Food so spicy it adds fire to your brain cells... Yup, that's right, I'm back in South Korea. I'm only here in beach-city Busan for a few days.


It's fascinating how traveling can stimulate your creative juices. One moment you are living your day to day life like a zombie, the next you are in a new place and everything stimulates an urge to describe.


I'm sitting on the sunny beach in Busan, watching time evaporate. A strange old man comes up to me holding a large open bottle of beer, a paper cup and some chips. "Hey drink some." he says in Korean, I surprise myself by still understanding some Korean. None the less I'm not about to drink from this mystery bottle. I ignore him, but he keeps pushing. "No way!" I say in Korea. He pushes a little more, but I just repeat myself, and finally say "Thanks..." when he shoves off happily, clearly already intoxicated. Later I walk past him passed out on the beach in a corner, hardly moving, embraced by the blinding blur of his vice.


On the ferry over here, I was happy to notice that a lot of the staff could now speak Japanese, compared to my first time on that boat 8 years ago. Or at least they did at first, but it seemed to dissipate the closer we got to Korea. At first they helped me and explained things in Japanese quite a bit. But as the minutes rolled us closer to Korea, I couldn't find any staff who could speak proficient English or Japanese. It's as if the Japanese speaking staff went into hiding as we approached Korea... I'm standing at a counter on the ferry, filling out some customs forms ahead of time. An old man, who holds himself like a Japanese man, comes up and is clearly confused. I hand him a form and say "These are the forms for Japanese people." and he says "Thanks, but I'm a Japan born Korean." and I say, "Oh these are the forms for Japan born Koreans." and he smiles and thanks me. I should work on the ferry.


I had a few more memories the next day, but instead of adding them to a new blog I'll just add them here.


I met a German guy at the hostel, and started walking around with him downtown. We went to a fish market and had some great grilled fish. He also tried living octopus. (I didn't, because it's expensive.) After the fish market, he wanted to go to an amazingly designed theater but we got lost. I stopped a random Korean lady and said in Korean "Excuse me, do you speak English?" and she said "Uhm.. no not really." and so just in case I said in Korean "Do you speak Japanese?" and she switched to Japanese and said "Sure, how can I help you?" and I proceeded to have a clear conversation with her about directions. She was using the wrong register often, but other than that, she was quite good at Japanese. She pulled out a Japanese map and showed us where to go. She then gave us the map. I couldn't help but wonder why she had a give-awayable map written in Japanese in her purse.


I go into a market and see a zipper tie that looked nice. The salesman comes up and offers it at three times the price of what I bought them for in Seoul. I know I hadn't been back in Korea for awhile so prices might have changed a bit but my instinct told me it was a "tourist price". So I said "You crazy?" in Korean. And got ready to leave the shop. He took that as bargaining and dropped the price in half, which confirmed it was just a "tourist price" originally but at that moment the local cultural demands to bargain just bugged me so I kept trying to leave the shop, and so he dropped the price yet again but I was already heading out kind of annoyed. At the end of a long market hallway, I found a little old lady in a booth with nice looking ties. She offered me one at a little too expensive of a price, but she was nice about it. She took the time to take them all down and show them to me and discuss each one in a Korean/English mix, she told me what she thought would match me, and everything. I decided I should just buy one. As I turned to leave after buying a flowery one, she said in Korean, "Wait a minute." and went behind her counter to grab a can. She said "Coca-cola" and handed it to me. It was a can of a local brand energy drink, not coke, but it was still nice of her to share.


That's it for now, just thought I would capture a few moments on here before they fade away.

Friday, June 21, 2013

episode of the surreal

A few days ago, I got dressed for work and walked out on to the stairs in front of my place. Immediately my eyes land on some guy at the base of the stairs. He was filming the stairs and mailboxes with a small black HD camera. This seemed so odd and out of place. I looked down at him and said sternly but politely, "What are you filming?" in Japanese. He didnt answer. He pointed his camera down  but just looked icily at me quietly... So I said "Explain yourself!" A little more harshly, but he didnt reply. And so I yelled "Hey, you want me to call the cops?" He kept looking up and just said quietly "Call 'em..." and I found that quite creepy. On the other hand, I had to jump on the train to work and I didn't have time to call the cops--- if I did, I would have to give a statement and everything that would make me late for work.  I didn't know a good route, so I just got noisy; yelling at him to get lost or I'd call the landlord. Seething seemed to change in  his attitude and he quietly came up the stairs and hissed in a strange husky voice "it's a video shoot" and then went down the stairs again. I swore at him but i had no choice---I left for work. But that wasn't the end of the story.

I came home and read an email from that land-lord's daughter. Apparently the creepy guy was an undercover police office, and he was looking for an illegal immigrant that had been hiding in my neighbor's house. My neighbor is a legal Chinese resident in Japan, but his "girlfriend" was a "lady of the night" that had been stealing money out of customers wallets and other devious things. Apparently the police were undercover trying to prove she actually was living there. I almost blew their cover by yelling at them. They arrested her now though, so that's the end of that odd story.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

missing thoughts

I have used diaries since I was a little kid. Feet up on the table, my words flowing horribly misspelled on to the colorful pages. Somewhere along the line (about 10 years ago, actually) that went digital. Type type here, type type there. Slowly chronicling the unfolding of my own personal mysteries. Anyway, this is a long winded way of saying I've been a delinquent chronicler. If one doesn't leave foot prints, no one knows you passed that way. I need to start thinking that my words, however useless they might feel to me, are my footprints in time. Life is the beach, time is the waves, and each time I pause and update my journal I'm leaving a small impression in the wet sand. Sounds a bit useless when you put it that way I suppose, but I don't mean it in a futile way. In any case, I hope to be a more active blogger again but only time will tell...
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