That’s gonna leave a mark

The Marmot posted this video clip of an accident involving a motor scooter. What was most interesting to me is this is the gate I use to access and leave the base everyday.

Now, I don’t drive much, but when I do I am in an extreme defensive driving mode. But as you can see, in this case there wan’t much the driver could do to avoid the red light running scooter. This particular intersection is notorious for red light runners. Sometimes half the signal cycle is gone before the cross traffic actually stops.

Anyway, if I’m gonna get hit I expect it will be from my alley onto the main drag. I usually wait for the pedestrian light to change, which at least slows traffic. But if no one is crossing they are just as likely to blow through. I’m not ragging totally on Korean drivers here, I note a lot of the cars running the light have SOFA tags.

Still, these scooter drivers are insane. Especially on the sidewalk. Give me DC traffic anyday….

Greetings Earthlings!

Well, another weekend is almost gone, but except for the rainy weather this has been a pretty good one. Yesterday I went to Namdaemun market with my coworker Corine. I picked up my new glasses and she ordered a pair. We took the subway over which was very convienent. I need to do that more often, I tend to rely on taxis to get me around. After leaving the eyeglass store, we walked around a bit, Corine bought a tea cup with a built in strainer she was looking for and she also purchased some chop sticks. I bought new batteries for my camera (only 1000W), a handmade greeting card (I have an anniversary this month), and some candy (like peanut M&Ms, only these have a sunflower seed inside). Yeah, I’m not much of a shopper I admit. We had a little lunch and headed home.

My friend Duke came over in the afternoon to use my oven. He baked a birthday cake for his girlfriend Min Jung (who tends bar at Dolce Vita). I also made some brownies. We had a nice afternoon talking, listening to music, and watching an episode of Coupling. Then we headed out to Dolce Vita for some darts. Later in the evening we had a little birthday party for Min Jung. She’s a very sweet young woman and really appreciated the gesture. She gave me a hug for the brownies and when she thought Duke might be jealous, she gave me another. I like her style! Anyway, it was a great day.

I took my camera to Namdaemun and got a couple of pics. It was dark and rainy so they aren’t that good. On the plus side, the rain kept the crowds down a little bit, so it was much easier to move around. I also discovered that it had been quite some time since I’ve uploaded any pictures from my camera (or posted any here). So here you go: the past few months of my life as captured on…well, whatever the digital equivalent of film is….

This is Namdaemun Gate, the historic entrance to the South Market.

Street scene in Namdaemun.

Another street. Lots of nooks and crannies, alleys and pathways to explore here. It seems like mass confusion to me, but it was kinda cool anyway…

A typical shop. The photography sucks, but those are big ginseng roots in jars. You see them all over and they are quite interesting visually.

My new glasses..

Time for lunchee. We walked down an alley full of small restuarants and were somewhat agressively invited to dine as we passed by. We chose a place pretty much at random, it looked clean and we were assured they had English menus. Corine had the “beef rip soup” [correction: it was BEEP rip soup. Thanks, Jenn] which presumably was beef rib soup since that’s what it contained. I had the barbequed beef. I was not brave enough to go for the “ass orted mixtur”…no clue what that might be.

The requisite kimchee and appetizers. This kimchee was a tad spicier than I’m used too, but went down fine with a cold OB lager.

Nothing like a bowl of steamy “beef rip soup” on a rainy day…

As you can see, BBQ in Korea is not quite what we would call BBQ in the USA. It was pretty good though and as an added benefit it was pretty easy to eat with chopsticks. Yeah, I still struggle sometimes with certain things, but I do make the effort. I have stains on many shirts to prove it!

Unlike DC, the subway stations do have restrooms. I was fortunate enough to use the best one in Seoul yesterday. Now, I am no expert in these matters, but I would judge it to be of only average quality. It was a clean, well-lighted place though. I wonder if they have a historical marker for the worst restroom in Seoul?

OK, that’s all the pics from yesterday. Here’s a sampling of photos I also had on my memory card:

The entrance to my home away from home. The Dolce Vita Pub. For those whose Italian is no better than mine, I am told Dolce Vita means “sweet life”.

And when Eun Jung (aka Jenny) pours a cold OB Lager draft, it is a sweet life indeed…

My dart buddies, Duke and Jim….

The other bartenders, Min Jung and Hae Lee were camera shy. Not Jenny though.

Speaking of Dolce Vita, that was the scene of my accident. This is a self portrait I took the morning after. I’m looking a tad rough, don’t you think? Well, it sure wasn’t the sweet life that night….

On occasion I do patronize other bars. This is the way in at Bless U. Right up the street from Dolce Vita. They also sponsored the darts tournaments of recent weeks where I pocketed a little extra spending money.

This is Gina, owner of Bless U, in the process of kicking my ass at pool. Which is still a regular occurence in bars all over Itaewon….

This is the crew from another bar I sometimes visit called Debut. It is halfway up “hooker hill” and when I walk that way I sometimes need to stop at Debut for some liquid refreshment. No pool or darts, just friendly people who provide an nice oasis in a sea of prostitution bars. I guess that’s a mixed metaphor, but you get my point I hope.

Alright, that’s enough of the bar scene, don’t you think? Here’s some photos from my Labor Day weekend trip to Busan (I told you it had been awhile since I unloaded my camera!):

This was taken from the train station in downtown Busan.

Hyundae Beach from my hotel window…

Another view from the window.

The view at night.

It was cloudy most of the weekend as you can see….

The ocean looked dark and forboding….oh wait that’s the opening line to the novel I’m writing. It’s also the only line. And I just wrote it this minute. And now I’ve already lost interest. You are probably thinking the same thing.

“And the tide rushes in, and washes my sorrows away….” I didn’t make that up, its from a Moody Blues song.

Doesn’t every ocean front city have at least one mermaid statue? What’s up with that?

The Westin Chosun is where I stayed. I highly recommend it. If you are USFK related, they even give a discount. I understand President Bush stayed there during the APEC conference…

And now for another change of pace, a couple of photos from my DMZ tour….

Beyond that door lies the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. But I wouldn’t try getting past the ROK soldier. Those guys were quite impressive and certainly gave the appearance of someone not to be trifiled with. Actually, the border between North and South bissects the armistice building we were standing in. I briefly stood on the North Korea side of the room.

Looking into the face of evil. And it was looking back. We could see the Norks in the windows of that building checking us out through binoculars…it was all very surreal. If you haven’t done the tour you definitely need to.

A pretty crappy photo of “Propaganda Village”, a faux city of shell buildings that is uninhabited but built by the Norks to show how prosperous they are.

Ok, had enough? Me too! Hope you enjoyed the show!