Archive for the ‘ Korea ’ Category

My Only Regret: Thunderdome Rules

I want to take a moment to confess my one and only regret. Deep breaths. Here it is:

I regret not implementing Thunderdome rules in the classroom.

Classic 80's cinema

Classic 80’s cinema

“Woah, wait a minute there, crazy!” You are probably screaming at your computer screen at this very second. “I love the film as much as the next person, but I don’t think parents would be too pleased if you made kids fight each other to death under a steel cage!”

To that I’d say, “Yeah, obviously.” Then after quieting you down, I could continue.

More often than not, when certain kids were getting rowdy, I’d be forced to remind them who run English town in a fashion that made me think of this scene from the film every time.

Who. Run. English Town?

You know who.

Say it.

Amanda Teacher.

Say it, loud!

Amanda Teacher.

Amanda Teacher, what?

Amanda Teacher runs English Town.

Honestly, I like the Thunderdome laws. It’s more than just “two men enter, one man leave” you know. There’s “Bust a deal, face the wheel,” in which the person who busted the deal (hereafter referred to as “bustee” must spin a wheel (ya don’t say) to find the punishment. In the film, Max landed on Gulag (and I don’t think they knew what that word really meant.) To make it socially appropriate, my wheel would consist of punishments such as: write lines, sing a song, stand up for twenty minutes, etc. The standard punishments already implemented in the classrooms over there. Hell, if I’m feeling generous (and I am) and I’m a gambler (also true) I may even have a thin sliver that says something like “you got lucky” and they don’t have to do anything. Of course, the entire class would chant “bust a deal face the wheel” as the bustee walks up to and spins said wheel.

But alas! That time has passed and I don’t see myself returning to teaching anytime soon. I can’t believe I let this one slip through my fingers.


Chuseok 2012

Rabbit moon is in the sky tonight, so my friends on the other side will be preparing for a long holiday weekend thanks to Chuseok, the Korean autumn harvest holiday. Last year a bunch of us got a place on the beach for a weekend of monkeyshines. This year I’m still hoboin’ so it’s not like I need the day off of work (what with not having a job and everything).

I will miss the obligatory Chuseok gifts.

One year I got a year’s supply of hand soap. A ten pack of toothpaste before that. Panicked, a friend of mine tried to unload a portion of the six pounds of bananas they were given. Yes. Six pounds. Bananas. The fruit with the least lasting power.

I wonder what I would have set on my apartment floor this year if I’d stayed, puzzled at where to store it given that Korean one rooms have very limited storage capacity.

The practical gifts (toothpaste, soap) were ideal. Saved ever having to buy it that year. The food stuffs, while a lovely gesture, were difficult, especially the fresh fruits (Got a bushel of apples once. Most of them went bad. Who could eat that many apples on their own??) or the crates of canned processed meats that I wouldn’t eat on principal alone (and I’ll eat pretty much everything).

Brace Yourselves, Bolevan Is Coming

Presently sitting in a room of a friend’s apartment on the 14th floor of a highrise waiting to ride out the typhoon. The eye should pass by in couple hours. The wins have been picking up all day, and the ominous dark clouds have been crossing the sky in an arc. The wall length glass windows are rattling something fierce, but I have been assured that it’s ‘safe.’

We’ll see about that.

The typhoon earlier savaged Japan and I believe somewhere around the Philippines where it presumably started. It continued it’s way up and around the west end of the peninsula, where it will die out somewhere in eastern Russian in two days.

Glad my flight to Turkey is on Wednesday, when it will already be in northern North Korea.

I’ve seen a great many typhoons in my time here, but typically they’re far out and we just end up with high winds and heavy rains. Nothing particularly special or even different to the observer from, say, a standard issue monsoon. The eye of this one is ass deep on the coastline, which is apparently a real game changer. Schools are being cancelled tomorrow (though, of course, teachers are still expected to brave the weather) and some metro areas have broadcasted warnings through the bullhorn speakers around the city that are part of the national emergency alert system (for Northern invasions). The underlying theme is to brace yourselves. Have food and water on hand, and for some reason I’ve never heard of, put wet newspaper up on your windows (?? What? I thought it was tape, and even then I thought that didn’t actually do anything…?).

We’ll see how it goes. Could be interesting tomorrow.

Hobo’in 101


Well, the apartment has been emptied out and everything that I have left has been shoved into this bag. Starting tomorrow, I’m homeless, and will be continuing where I left off three years ago when I landed in Incheon and continuing west around the world, stopping when I’m staring west at the Pacific.

Backpacking is a good time, and a convenient way to see the world on a budget of breath mints and clever stories. Backpackers are the fancy versions of our cousins, the Great American Hobo, which aren’t to be confused with tramps or bums.  We follow the wind looking for work, and that’s how it goes.

Now that I have all my possessions in a sack on my back, I have only a few hours to figure out what my hobo name is. I suppose it will come to me on the road, and I suppose I should earn it, but I’ve been watching a lot of Call of the Wildman and feel like it should be animal based. Like Boxcar Coyote, or Ragtime ‘Possum. In time, in time, time will tell…


This is the kinda shit I’mma miss. Check it out. I came home to this flyer taped to my door from a new restaurant called Chip-ken (See what they did there?) that specifically peddles combinations of fried chicken and french fries. And they deliver. With beer.

Last Minute Adventures In Korea

T-26 days, and I do my last walk through the hallowed halls of Incheon airport. The gravity of the situation is finally settling in, and it’s really surreal. It hasn’t fully set in that I’m nearly done with Korea. I keep having stress dreams about returning to the US, but that’s another story. Three years is a long time.

Yesterday my office and I decided to go on an adventure to Unjusa, the temple with a ton of Buddha statues just outside of town that I never managed to go to before. In spite of the raging typhoon in the north, it was fairly pleasant in Jeollanamdo, in spite of the oppressive heat.


From the parking lot there’s a bit of a walk to the main area, and that’s where you can start counting the Buddha statues. Originally there were much more statues of varying shape, sizes, and poses, but today there’s only about 100 (?) dating from before the Joseon dynasty.





There are also around 21 stone pagodas. This round one is highly unusual, and a national treasure, I assume because it breaks from the mold of square ones.







Here is the typical square pagoda form. This one is half way up a large hill that’s sprinkled with stone works.







The massive lying down Buddha at the top of the hill is the most famous icon of this place. It’s pretty impressive.







See those two large round stones? There are seven of them, laid out on the side of the hill in the shape of the constellation Ursa Major (Great bear, big dipper, I prefer my Latin, thanks). From what I understand given the language barrier, the constellation stones are prehistory (?) or at least happened to be the first things there and not recorded. Maybe. Again, this is what I gathered, and I can’t seem to find anything online in English to make it more clear. The pagdoa next to it is from Joseon dynasty, and that’s as much as I know.






Favorite Things: Episode Food

Make no mistake, everything is really fucking cute in Asia. Take for example the company Cotton Food, which makes smiling plushies in the shape of things that should not be smiling. Like food (hence the name, I suppose). Hamburgers, broccoli, carrots.

The sushi line was pretty prominent: