Irreverent rants, hungover musings, too much salt...

Saturday, August 21, 2004


It was my birthday the other day. Apparently. I didn't know this at the time, I always thought that my birthday was in late February just like it has been every year since I was born. Apparently I was wrong.

I was in a restaurant that I frequent often with two friends, Won and Ryan. The woman who runs the restaurant is very friendly and always chats away with us, supplying free extras and even bags of ice that she stuffs down the back of your shirt when you least expect it. My friend Won is from Seoul and for some unknown reason decides to tell her it is my birthday.

She gets very excited even though I do my best to deny it, she literally runs off out the door and down the street. I call Won a bastard and a few other names while Ryan pisses himself laughing, as we watch the ajumma go hurtling back the other way past the restaurant.

Three minutes later she comes huffing and puffing her way back, red-faced and proudly clutching a box of 'choco-pies' (a revolting marshmallow biscuit) and a bottle of Korean champagne.

Oh shit.

For those of you who are unaware of the traditional Korean birthday cheap shitty, sugary, sparkling wine celebratory method, read on.

This lovely lady proceeds to make a cake out of the choco-pies by stacking them on top of each other and inserting 27 matches to use as candles. Everyone sings 'Seng il chuka hamneeda' and I brace myself for the inevitable. The ajumma shakes up the bottle of wine and tries to force the cork out to no avail. I offer to do it for her, sensing an opportunity to turn the tables on my bastard friends, but she is on to me, and is having none of it.

A man in his 40s at the next table offers his services, stands up with the wine, shakes it some more then carefully asks whose birthday it is... Again, I try to fend it off saying it is actually Ryan's birthday, but no one will believe me. I try again, claiming my clothes are new... He pops the cork and sprays the horrible sugar-water all over me, as I try to wrench the bottle away in order to get Won and Ryan. They, however, have done acrobatic maneuvers out the door to avoid getting wet and are so laughing so hard they can't stand up straight.

I then have to go and drink soju with the guys at the next table as they toast my birthday, leaving me suitably hammered when we finally leave. Won and Ryan are still laughing as we walk down the street, my clothes sticking to my skin and reeking of stale wine that smells like sour grapes shat out of a leprous cat.

Thursday, August 19, 2004


Enough angry ranting... Here are some pretty pictures.

Typhoon Maemi in Kangneung

The day after

400 fucking stairs up the face of Sorak san

View from Seoul Tower

KyongBok Palace... The photo everyone takes

Anmok Beach the day after Typhoon Maemi

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Only in Korea


It is so fucking hot here. The air is trying to suffocate me. It squeezes the will to live right out of my skin. You could cut the air with a knife then use it to butter your bread. Heat on toast.

I have to wear long pants to work. My underwear gets so fucking hot you could cook things in it. One of my students spontaneously combusted right in front of me today. I think he was trying to avoid being called upon to read next.

I get home around 9:10. My shoebo… I mean ‘house’ has been percolating all day, absorbing the heat through the walls, then retaining it in my still-trying-to-dry clothes. I open the door and humid beer-scented air goes straight for my throat like a very determined rubber snake. I gag and tear off my shirt as I head to open the window, then peel off my socks, hit the button for the fan, and step into the bathroom where the floor is still wet from the shower I had nine hours earlier. I have another shower then burn the clothes I was wearing before.

I crank the fan to maximum warp and fix it two feet away, pointed directly at the chair in front of the computer. I sit on the chair earring a pair of shorts and drink cold beer in large gulps so as to stop the evil heat from corrupting the chill.

Soju Vortex

It is simply impossible to stop drinking in Korea.

I know the owners of two bars in Kangneung. Both are within walking distance of my house. Both will give me credit if I have no money. I went out for dinner last night and woke up sometime late morning wondering what the fuck actually happened. The chopping board, cream cheese and condiments were sitting on my table, so I obviously had a late-night feast of which I have absolutely no recollection. Luckily there was no sandwich in my bed, such as the time I fell asleep while eating (actually possible) and woke up with the fucking thing all through my sheets.

Last night during dinner, my friend Alec made the mistake of throwing a lighter to a Korean opposite us rather then getting up and handing it to him. The Korean guy had to come over and teach Alec the correct technique, to a confused Alec who didn't understand a word the man was saying. After me explaining what the man meant, and Alec accepting full responsibility for his appalling act, the man sat down and invited his friend to our table. He asked us if we liked soju. I said a little, so he ordered three bottles of beer and two bottles of soju. He explained to us that as we were in Korea we had to drink soju. He also said the more we drink the more we will smile, and the more we smile, the happier we will be. In order to properly appreciate Korea we needed to be drunk.

See, alcohol is the secret of happiness.

He also explained that as he was older then us, it was morally illegal to not accept his relentless refilling and commands of ‘one shot!’ Eventually we extracted ourselves while walking was still an option, and bailed down the street before they could follow us.

We stopped in at my friends bar, Bumpin, and as it was dead quiet. Alec went home while I stayed and was plied with free tequila. I enquired as to the current state of my bar tab, expressed amazement that it was still not too bad, and left with the intention of going home.

To go home I have to walk past my other friends bar, Yazz. Well ‘have to’ is perhaps a little strong as I could have taken a more direct route home... Anyway, I get there and it’s closed, very surprising, but I know where they will be, so I head around the corner to a place I know they favour. Of course they are there, I am welcomed with open arms, they laugh and say things like ‘Hah! You always know where to find us!’, and then the bastards make me drink soju. I remember leaving the table, I don't remember going outside and I certainly don't remember walking home, making a sandwich, setting my alarm and getting into bed. The amazing thing is I woke up and I wasn't fully clothed, wearing my shoes on top of the doona sleeping with the light on in a pile of mashed sandwich.

And this was Monday night.

Problem is this seems to happen nearly every night. I start work at 2:00 so it’s entirely possible to binge and purge in time for class. I never intend this to happen but one thing always fucking leads to another, and the next thing you know I'm washing sandwich out of my hair, inhaling coffee, and applying eye drops to my brain.

Total strangers are always inviting me to drink at their table. I don't know if they can see a certain look in my eyes, or maybe I have an invisible sign over my head that says ‘pisshead’ that only other pissheads can see. And, 95 percent of Korean men drink absurd amounts of alcohol all the fucking time, late into the night, and when the sun comes up they go to a bathhouse to sleep on a plank of wood for one or two hours before getting up and going to work, where they perform neurosurgery or design missiles for 10 hours straight.

Then they start all over again.

I am trapped in a vortex I cannot escape from...

Deadly Rubber Snake

I found a rubber cobra on the street on Tuesday. I was walking to work in a dazed and hungover state, lost in a world of my own when I saw it on the ground about a metre in front of me. It scared the shit out of me, I leapt backwards into the path of oncoming traffic before I realised that it was not real.

I picked it up and put it in my pocket. It kept me amused all day, I showed my snake to everyone I saw.

I took the snake home.

I put the snake on top of the fridge in a lifelike pose. I went into the bathroom for a few minutes then came out and headed for the fridge in order to extract beer.

I saw the snake with its beady little eyes when I was about a foot away.

Oh fuck! I leapt backwards and deftly fell over my own feet.

I laughed a while, then had a jam, and then went out and got drunker. I came home in a semi-sloshed state. I walked in the door, took my shoes off, stepped into the main room, and caught a glimpse of the deadly rubber snake on top of the fridge.

Ahhh! I nearly did a fucking back flip.

I laughed a while on the floor, then went to bed. I woke up, went to the bathroom, came out rubbing my eyes, and headed over to switch on the kettle. The kettle is on top of the fridge, next to the snake...


Saturday, August 14, 2004

I'm sorry, I can't do that Dave...

Everybody has one. I decided I need one.

A blog that is.

Prepare to be enveloped in my fried-pig-eating, bamboo-wine-drinking, hungover-with-children-beating-you-in-40-degree-heat world of pain and obscurity.

As soon as I sober up...