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Archive for July, 2006

Dumbest Promotion Ever

Posted by Brian on July 29, 2006

Courtesy of Bada’s management agency:

Eight years after her debut, the pop singer Bada is preparing to market her first solo concert, “Showman aLive,” with a novel twist. The concert will be held at Samseong-dong’s COEX convention center in Seoul on July 29, and the singer and her management plan to do their bit for the nation’s paltry birthrate by encouraging people to have children under the slogan “the happiness of manwon.” Concertgoers who have more than two children will be given a “manwon” or W10,000 note (US$1=W954), according to Network Live, the organizer of the concert.

As if a paltry 10,000W note is going to encourage more children…

If Bada is serious about increasing the birthrate, she can give me a call. I’m willing to do my part…

Posted in Korean Issues | 5 Comments »

Back in Seoul

Posted by Brian on July 27, 2006

I’m back in Seoul now. My girlfriend and I arrived from Thailand on Tuesday. The original plan was for me to flu back to America on Wednesday, but I came down with a horrible cough in Bangkok that required a hospital visit and a postponement of my flight out. I’m now scheduled to fly out tomrorrow, and, given that I am feeling better, I think I will be boarding the plane at around 5pm tomorrow night for the 10+ hour flight to Seattle.

Anyway, for my last night in Seoul, I’m staying at the Hotel Jella, a love hotel here in Shinchon that I first learned about at The Iceberg’s blog. He gave this place an enthusiastic thumbs-up, and I agree. For 40,000W a night I get a decent-sized room with internet and a large-screen TV with a DVD player. I paid 35,000W for a room at a nearby hotel and it was about half the size with no internet and a regular TV.

I’ll be writing some thoughts on our trip once I get back to Seattle. But for now I’ll just say that we had a great time, though we both agree it went on a few days longer than it needed to. By the end fo the trip we both felt like we were killing time.

More later…

Posted in Personal | 2 Comments »

Thailand Report, Day 16

Posted by Brian on July 20, 2006

Don’t get the wrong idea from the last message… yea, we’ve had a few problems, but the rest of the trip has been fantastic. Some of the high points:

  • A few days ago on Ko Tao we did our first real snorkeling… and it was amazing. Sure, in the past, I’ve put on goggles and seen the odd fish under water here and there, but where we were at was like some sort of Jaques Coustaeou documentary. I know “undersea kingdom” is a bit of a cliche, but it’s amazing what happens when you break the water and see the world below the waves. It was absolutely beautiful.
  •  Today was another good day. We’re on Samui again but this time we rented a jeep for the day so we could travel all over the island with in comfort. We dropped by the local animal shelter and played a bit with the dogs and cats. One dog in particular, a huge basset hound, caught my attention and was quite friendly to me. And in the cat room, we were practically mauled (in a friendly manner, of course), by a horde of cats, all eager for attention. We made a donation, of course, before leaving.
  • The food is still top-notch across the board. We had some great Italian for dinner tonight, followed up by a super-yummy sundae at a local ice cream parlor. Another great meal was at an odd little Indian resturant that was situated on a remote hill. It had sort of a treehouse vibe going. During the meal, we were joined by a cute kitten that had recently been dumped off in front of the place.
  • As I mentioned,  I shaved my hair short the other week. I alos dyed it just a few days ago… it’s not a bright blonde color. I wanted to get a tattoo to go with the new Brian, but my girlfriend dislikes my idea of getting a large, drastic tattoo done.

We have just a few more days to go… we’ll be arriving back in Seoul next Tuesday morning and then I fly back to the states the next day.

Posted in Personal | 1 Comment »

Thailand Report, Day 11

Posted by Brian on July 15, 2006

Travel disaster strikes! Three times, even…

  1. Last week, on our last night in Bangkok before flying to Ko Samui five days ago, we took some of our clothing to a laundry guy for a wash, who said to come by at 8pm to pick it up. Now, I took this to me an that he’ll have the wash done by 8pm, and it would be OK to drop by at any time shortly after that to pick our stuff up… little did I know it meant pick it up exactly at 8pm, because he would be closing right then. So I arrived at about 8:20pm, but his shop was locked up. We asked a few people nearby what time he opened in the morning and were told that he opens at about 8 or 9am. The problem, however, was that our flight out of Bangkok was took off at 10:40, so we were left in a bind. We camped out in front of his place from about 7:30 to 9:30am but he never showed up… all we could do was leave a note asking him to please save our laundry until we came back on Bangkokl on the 21st. I even offered him 500baht for his trouble.
  2. Three days ago, on Ko Phanghan, I was teaching my girlfriend how to ride one of those autobikes that are easy to rent here in Thailand. The problem for complete newbies like my GF, however is that they can be a bit counter-intuitive at first: you pull back on the throttle to accelerate and push forward to slow down. With such a set-up it’s easy to get mixed up if you panic… I made similar mistakes in the past when I was learning. Anyway, my GF was on a straight road with no traffic whatsoever driving away from me when she panicked and ended up speeding up instead of slowing down… she went straight off the road into a clump of bamboo trees! It was a horrible scene for me to watch, obviously, as all I could do is run over there as fast as I could to see if she was hurt. When I got there, she was lieing on her back under the bike. I got the bike off of her and could see that she was covered in ants and had a deep cut on her cheek. After making sure she wasn’t even more seriouly injured, I got her up and out of the grass so I could check her out my carefully. Luckily, she had a few minor cuts and scratches on her body and the one on her cheek, but that was about it. Unfortunately, the bike suffered a lot of damage, though it was still driveable (minus one headlight). After some time to rest, I got her back on the bikle and took her to a local clinic. The doctor cleaned her up a bit, taped up the cut on her cheek, and assured us that the wounds were superficial. The damage to the bike was less superficial, though, and I I had to shell out about $300 to fix it. From my GF’s perspective, the worswt thing about it was that the cheek wound prevented her from doing any underwater swimmming… no snorkeling for five days.
  3. And the last event… good lord. What horror! NOw, when I’ve ridden a boat in the past, I usually get a little bit queasy, but I’ve never gotten out-and-out seasick. But on the boat from Phanghan to Tao, I started puking before we even lost sight of our point of origin and spent the next 90 minutes puking my guts out (literally… after throwing up every last bit of food in my stomach I started puking up blood). When I arrived, I was a total wreck, my throat was raw, and had to spend the rest of the day taking it very easy. I was also a bit pissed because the boat I thought  I was getting a ticket for (nice, modern, sleek) was not the boat we actually took (old, slow, dingy). We’re leaving here in two days and I plan on taking the high-speed catamaran… no matter how much it costs!

Other than those three unfortunate events, things are going fine.

Posted in Personal | 5 Comments »

Thailand Report, Day 4

Posted by Brian on July 8, 2006

The food here has been uniformly excellent. And I’m not just talking about the Thai dishes, but also some of the foreign dishes we’ve sampled while here. We had Italian twice and Indian once and it was all top-notch. In fact, to compare, I had Indian food in Itaewon the day before leaving and we paid $45 for a meal for three. A group of four of us had Indian last night and the total bill came to about half of the Itaewon price. So the food is not only good, but cheap.

Here’s a picture my girlfriend took at a nearby temple:

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She was a bit shocked when she noticed that there were no other similar signs in any other language nearby – I guess the powers-that-be felt Korean tourists were deserving of a special warning.

And here’s a funny t-shirt:

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Another good one I saw said: “When I become God, everyone dies.”

More later!

Posted in Personal | Leave a Comment »

Thailand Report, Day 3

Posted by Brian on July 7, 2006

I’m typing this at a small restaurant on Khaosan Road in Bangkok. A friend of mine who had visited Bangkok several times since I last came here in 2002 warned me that Khaosan was quite different now, but it seems like the same old place to me. There are a few upscale additions, but that’s about it. Even my old dive, the Classic Inn, is still here, and that’s where my girlfriend and I are staying while in town. It’s spartan and has a slight bug problem, but incredibly cheap, which is a priority for the both of us.

Some highlights from the trip so far:

  • Patbong is still Patbong, home to some of the hottest chicks on the face of the planet. Though going to a go-go bar with a girlfriend is quitedifferent from going to one by yourself. I, of course, only took her to one to demonstrate one element of Thai night life. It was purely instructional.
  • I got my hair shaved short…. #3 on an electronic shaver, if you’re familiar with that device. I’ve never had it this short before… I still have to take a second look when I pass by a window or mirror. I don’t even recognize myself.
  • After months of begging and cajoling from my girlfriend, I went in and had my back waxed. It was an hour of extreme pain and, considering the hair will come back eventually, hardly seems worth the money and agony. It’s the morning after and my back is still all red and hurting. My girlfriend wants me to get my chest and abs done too… not bloody well likely.
  • The food here has been uniformly excellent. I love the fresh-squeezed OJ and the coconut milk.
  • I was able to hook up with an old friend of mine that I used to work with in Korea. He’s in town for a few days on his way to Cambodia to teach English there. We ordered some drinks and played the gentleman’s game of Schnapsen.

Again… I hope to get some pictures up at some point.

Posted in Personal | 2 Comments »

Update

Posted by Brian on July 4, 2006

Off to Thailand early tomorrow morning. I should be doing some photoblogging while there. It’ll be five days in Bangkok and then we’re flying down to Ko Samui for 2 weeks.

I’m looking forward to the beaches, the food, and, yes… the girls:)

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