The Cycling Canadian »

March 11, 2011 – 7:21 pm

I admit it. This picture was taken a few years ago, but I think I still look vaguely like that. Depends on the day (and the time of day). And today, just before I uploaded this picture, an Indonesian English student told me how much she liked my nose. I heard that a lot in Indonesia. Apparently, a large nose like mine is a good …

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Korea 007 – The Bathhouse

January 9, 1995 – 4:49 pm
Korea 058

When I woke up the next morning, my room was still pitch black and I was chilled to the core. I was disoriented at first but slowly realized where I was. I lay there a while listening to the sounds outside my room, the sounds of Korea and of the Inn Dae Won waking up.
I climbed to my knees and then to my feet, …

Korea 006 – Ajimahs and Salarymen

January 8, 1995 – 4:47 pm
Korea 058

Sleep didn’t come easily that night, tired as I was. I thought about Robert and Charles and Ajimahs and Salarymen. At the time of course I didn’t realize it fully, but I had had a glimpse into one of the key defining characteristics of Korean society: its division into distinct categories. It isn’t a perfect division by any means but it was the …

Korea 005 – Charles and Coffee

January 7, 1995 – 4:46 pm
Korea 058

My reverie was interrupted suddenly by the arrival of Charles from London, England. He was about 38 years old and to my eyes one step away from a hospital bed. He was gaunt, red eyed and a sickly yellow-white in complexion. The way he moved, he seemed split between manic energy levels and total exhaustion. Dazed almost. I came to know it well as the …

Korea 004 – Salarymen at the Hof

January 6, 1995 – 4:45 pm
Korea 058

After our meal of bi-bim-bap, Robert and I began to walk back to the Inn Dae Won. At the first corner we encountered more salarymen. Five of them, obviously very drunk, were coming towards us and taking up the entire width of the alley. They had their arms about each other and were weaving down the alley shouting and laughing. Their identical rather ill-fitting dark …

Korea 003 – The Mad Biker

January 4, 1995 – 4:43 pm
Korea 058

I’m glad Robert was the first person I met on that cold miserable night. In some ways he was so weird he made the place I was staying and the situation I found myself in appear normal. He stood about six four, the top three inches of that, thick black curly hair. I met him in the dark hall, his huge white teeth …

Korea 002 – Arrival

January 3, 1995 – 4:42 pm
Korea 058

When I saw Seoul from the air, my heart sank. It sprawled snow covered for miles in all directions, a crush of aggressively square buildings without a tree in sight to break up the monotony. From the crowded airport bus, I could see nothing at all except the occasional light in the darkness. The outside of the windows were sheeted in ice from the storm, …

Korea 001

January 2, 1995 – 4:40 pm
Korea 058

There are untold numbers of people wandering the world and making their living as English teachers. In its way, teaching ESL is the modern French Foreign Legion attracting all manner of people from the fully qualified professional to the out and out lunatic. They are of every possible and improbable nationality, spreading (some would say oozing) to every corner of the globe and creating an …