Some say that he has two left hands, and his nose can tell when it will rain. All we know is that he's called DFM.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

He looks Chinee!

DFM is back in Korea. This time for roughly five months. Keep abreast of the adventures on The Kindergarten Cop's sister site: The Korean Cop.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Keep Our Cake Pure

When I was growing up in Alberta, things were simpler. My television picture was in low definition, my Internet came through a telephone wire that made it possible to download a 4 MB song in fifteen minutes, and GST was an easy to calculate 7/100 of a dollar. What could be better than that?

However, things are changing now, and not necessarily for the better. Sure, I suppose high speed Internet access and televisions that don't require an entire room for themselves might be considered an improvement by some. But, what about that most grotesque of modern perversions the liberal media has tricked our young people into embracing recently? That's right, I'm talking about ice cream cake.

When I was a child I used to look forward to birthdays and other special occasions because it meant the possibility of eating cake and ice cream. My ancestors had consumed cake and ice cream and so it was good and pure, it was part of our culture. Unfortunately, I was young and naive then and I did not know what horrors lie waiting to scare me in the near future.

In the mid-'90s Dairy Queen invented the ice cream cake. While some members of the liberal media elite might tell you that Dairy Queen actually invented the ice cream cake in 1985, I suspect they only sold these ice cream cakes in certain neighbourhoods and bath houses in San Francisco. These were of no concern to good Christian boys though, since their parents rightfully warned them not to go near these places for fear of catching The Plague. I can only assume this involved having a large slice of ice cream cake shoved down one's throat until he gagged. The Plague also apparently involved a sore anus, since it was God's intention for birthday treats to be the union of both cake and ice cream - further proof that ice cream cake is an abomination against God.

Right now you might be asking yourself what I have against ice cream cake. If the above trustworthy recollection of my childhood wasn't enough for you, then I'll have to pull out the big guns. That means informing you that it just ain't Albertan, and that means it just ain't right. Alberta is the number one province, we have freedom from PST (and quality public transportation)... but I digress.

When I was a young boy I remember that things were better. The cake stayed on a silver tray on the counter, and the ice cream had its own special plastic bucket so it could stay in the freezer. Sure, they were separate, but I swear they were equal.

Now I'm not a foodist, I'm not saying that cake can't love ice cream, or the other way around. It's a free country. But this is reverse foodism. True ice cream cake, the way God intended, would have a thin sliver of ice cream hidden between two pieces of cake. However, these affirmative action chefs are creating abominations against The Intelligent Baker by giving spots traditionally held by cake to unqualified ice cream. We let the ice cream be eaten with metal utensils just like the cake. If the ice cream still melts in the sun, then perhaps it needs to work harder.

If you aren't afraid yet, you should be. After all this reeks of something that was written in the '30s in Germany. Think of the bakers who won't be able to sell their cake anymore. How will they be able to feed their families? If any of them are Catholic or Evangelical, they might have as many as seven kids to feed (it's their right, don't you question it).

I for one am very afraid. That's why I'll be heading to my nearest Dairy Queen to protest. I'll be showing up with the knife I use to cut cake in hand - The 18" SWAT Big Game/Hunting Knife (pictured below) - to show everyone I'm a true Albertan. I urge everyone who cares about their children to show up and read their local Dairy Queen manager the riot act too (respectfully of course). It's the Albertan Way.

(I use this knife to cut cake. It's my right!)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Update On My Shame

I was searching the Internet, and it turns out my local paper did in fact advertise the Festival with an article. This of course means the blame must be shifted to the people of my city, a fact about which I am not in the least bit surprised. The surrounding area of my city has 200 000 people, meaning less than 0.1% came out to support multiculturalism. Nice job rednecks. Appologies to the local reporters who may have felt slighted by my earlier comments.

Ashamed Of My City, Going To The Garden To Eat Worms

Recently my northern hick town decided to hold a festival to honour the various "foreign" cultures that comprise our city. It was a beautiful gesture, and one I was looking forward to appreciate first hand.

Due to prior engagements I was only able to see half of the performances that day, but what I saw was inspiring none-the-less.

The first act I saw was a group of Ugandan drummers and dancers. One of their dances was exceptionally lively, and I was told by one of the performers that it was designed to mimic the sound of the cows dancing in the field.

Next came some belly dancers. I'm pretty sure this was a local belly dancing class that was asked to perform because of the obvious exotic nature of the art, although not necessarily the members themselves.

The definite highlight of the show though, was the Vancouver-based capeoira group, Ache Brasil. These guys were professional and it showed. I don't know how we got them to come up to Hillbilly Hell, Alberta, but I'm glad we did. They had colourful costumes, traditional instruments galore, and some of the most incredible tumbling and dancing you've likely not seen before.

While the performers were great, and I once again applaud the city for putting the festival on, the turnout was nothing short of dismal. In a city of about 45, 000 people (maybe less after everyone left following the recession), you'd think you could get more than the roughly 200 people who dotted the hillside in the park to watch the dancing and singing. However, you'd be wrong.

I can't fault the people who showed up, since they were there, and I'm not really faulting those who didn't show up, because they probably did not know about it. The blame lies squarely with the local media. I know they knew about it, because I saw multiple photographers from the paper there taking pictures. However, when I checked the paper that afternoon, after the show, though, I found what I suspected: no advertising (update: I have since found that there was an article, read here for more information).

I guess I can't say there was no advertising. There was a tiny side-bar mention of the festival burried in one of the pull-out sections of the paper. This might be enough for the local Junior A hockey team's next game, since people are going to be searching for the game times anyway. But when you are bringing in a top-notch performing arts group like Ache Brasil, why would you not at least write up an article on the event sometime during the preceding week? It is baffling how badly the ball was dropped this time, and this for a city where the ball has been dropped so many times I've taken to counting the number of times it has been held onto instead.

But what of the people who were there? Surely they would appreciate what a great event they were witnessing, right? Wrong. In my generous estimate, only 20% of the people there could be said to have been actively participating, and that is a very generous estimate. On numerous occasions the ungrateful cretins were asked to move forward and participate more, and by more than one group, but unsurprisingly they chose to sit put on their asses instead.

When I expressed concern, even anger over the situation, I was told not to worry about it. It might be tempting to let it go, but what's the point? What else do I have to do? And more importantly, WWHHD?

"With the joy of responsibility comes the burden of obligation," is what Hank Hill would say, not to mention "with great power comes great responsibility" (Stan Lee, with a nod to FDR and Luke). With the power to recognize evil, I have a responsibility to be angry about it, and with the responsibility to be angry about it, I have the obligation to turn into the Incredible Hulk. DFM Angry! DFM SMASH!!!

In all seriousness though, it was a pretty low moment for a city I didn't think could sink any lower. Here we have a wonderful chance to show the world that we aren't just a bunch of selfish rednecks, and what do we do? We show up to a free event and refuse to participate. Smooth. We had a duty to be good neighbours and welcome these visitors, and we failed. Hank Hill did not keep novelty mail boxes out of his neighbourhood for all these years just to see this happen; he must be rolling in his cancellation grave.

This unbearably grey cloud did have one slim silver lining though. The behaviour of my fellow city folk was so reprehensible that it has eliminated any doubt in my mind that I will ever come back to live in this soul stealing nightmare ever again. Nope, instead this is the beginning of the future for DFM. From here on DFM will be a nomad, a man without a home, attempting to live in every province and territory in Canada (where he will find a home, thereby contradicting his earlier statement).

Keep tuned to to The Kindergarten Cop over the next 10 to 75 years to hear how it goes. The journey starts in three weeks when I head back to Seoul, then hopefully to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Pass me the Maynards Wine Gums, I'm going on an extended road trip, Woo-hoo!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Fight Stupid People

I love trains.

I admit that I may be somewhat biased towards using trains for long-distance travel because I do not own a car. However, my experience riding trains in both Scotland and Korea has taught me that they can be an exceptionally beautiful way to travel, and it is for this reason I like to lend my support to the seemingly outdated mode of transportation.

Because of my affinity for rail transport, I was rather disappointed to read recently that the engineers for VIA Rail felt it necessary to go on strike. Apparently the engineers and other rail workers had been working in good faith without a contract for over 30 months (also disappointing to hear).

What disappointed me most though, were the attitudes and views of some people who chose to comment on the CBC website's article. For example, one commenter with the handle "Nampally" wrote:
In this tough economic times, the Harper govt. should have passed a bill to ban all strikes for 2 years or until we are on the road to recovery.

First of all, why are the "Train Drivers" called Engineers? Do they have a professional Engineer certification? If not they have no right to call themselves "Engineers".

Secondly It is shameful on the part of the "Engineers" to exploit the situation in such an irresponsible manner. What were they doing for the past 3 years with their negotiations? I have no sympathy for such strikers. They should be legislated back to work immediately.

Such stupendous stupidity displayed by Nampally would have normally caused me to spiral into an ever-increasing state of despair over the sorry state of humanity, but thankfully I was rescued by another poster - the one-man truth brigade known as organMike. In response to Nampally, organMike wrote:

Nampally said this:
In this tough economic times, the Harper govt. should have passed a bill to ban all strikes for 2 years or until we are on the road to recovery.

That's COMPLETELY illegal. There's so much wrong with that idea that it's hard to begin counting the issues.
To say no
thing of the fact that we weren't in "this tough economic times" two and a half years ago when the contract expired.

Note that - They have NO contract. There is no legal way to force these people to work.

First of all, why are the "Train Drivers" called Engineers?

Because they drive an engine. They've been "engineers" since the dawning of the rail era.

Secondly It is shameful on the part of the "Engineers" to exploit the situation in such an irresponsible manner. What were they doing for the past 3 years with their negotiations?

What were they doing? Working without a contract. Negotiating
Did you not read the article?

Part of capitalism is negotiation. And part of that is saying 'no.' Part of it is determining what your services are worth.
It's odd seeing such a strong anti-capitalist position from a group of people normally associated with hypercapitalism.

I have no sympathy for such strikers.

No kidding. But I find it hard to believe that you have sympathy for anyone at all.
You also haven't got much in the way of logical capacity, nor sensibility, nor legal or legislative experience.

I would like to say that reading such a response filled me with hope for the future of mankind, but sadly I would estimate that people like Nampally must outnumber the organMikes of the world 4:1 (9:1 in my town). The situation seems so grim I often wonder if there is any point in fighting the forces of stupidity (I often get told there is none by most of my friends).

Over the past few years though, I've finally matured to the point where I do not care if I am fighting a losing battle. The battle is there, and it needs to be fought, and so I might as well be the one to do it. For all of you people who feel the same way I say to you, stand up! Be proud of not being an idiot. Take the red pill and say "bah!" to anyone who criticizes you for doing so. The world can and should be a beautiful place. Don't let it be hijacked by morons.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Where's The Pro-Life Activism For Animals?

Before I start, let me preface this article by saying that I am not attacking hunters individually or as a group. In fact, many hunters have worked alongside various conservation organizations to prevent the extinction of animals. I am instead attacking the attitude of many in Alberta who act as if they think greed is a virtue of which to be proud.

For those of you who haven't the foggiest about what I'm saying, read here to enlighten yourself on the boneheaded Alberta government/University of Alberta plan to sterilize wolves, in yet another attempt to keep Alberta in the 1950s.

In 2008, the Alberta Government, with help from the University of Alberta, proposed a bone-headed plan to raise ungulate populations by sterilizing Alpha male and female members of various wolf packs, and killing their wolf pups.

Apparently, the wolves were getting out of control. Wolves were allegedly responsible for dwindling ungulate populations, despite the fact that wolves only prey on the weakest members of the herd, thereby strengthening the herd as a whole. The fact that the government's own 2005 study found that predator control would not succeed in helping ungulate populations to recover, and that the same plan had already backfired in BC seemed to conveniently escape them. Perhaps it was the sound of the cash register ringing in $100-plus Million in hunting and fishing liscence revenues.

While the idiotic plan was eventually defeated by a storm of protest from the conservation community (and thankfully so), I found it odd that I heard little from Christians or catholics on this matter. Catholics especially seem to hate any form of birth control, and I find it ironic that Alberta Catholics would miss a chance to put a bumper sticker saying something ridiculously obvious, like "Sterilizing wolves prevents baby wolves from being born," on the back of their fifteen-seater family vans.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dr. Strange Nam-hee: Or How I Stopped Worrying And Learned To Love The Tent

Upon returning from Korea I began to actively seek out other Koreans in an attempt to better remember the wonderful time I had just had traveling. I soon met Nam-hee, who had come to Canada to study English.

Nam-hee admitted that when he first came to Canada he thought my small city was "very peaceful," but when it came time to spend his first Canadian weekend he found it "very boring." This was not surprising for me as I also find it very boring, but I was a bit disheartened that my new friend would not enjoy himself in Canada. Remembering all the kind people who went out of their way to show me a good time while I was living in Korea, I decided that now would be the perfect opportunity to repay the favour.

I had my doubts, but if there was anything exciting to do in my boring city I decided to dedicate myself to finding it. I was not just searching for Nam-hee though, I felt the experiment would be a positive personal development exercise since I would soon be leaving to a potentially even more boring town and would need to be able to entertain myself.

About this time MandDFM propositioned me to go hiking in the Alberta Rocky Mountains. Thinking this would be the perfect opportunity for Nam-hee to escape all the "peacefulness" I invited him along as well.

While I love hiking, I have generally disliked camping for as long as I can remember (the original a hotel, but [d]evolved into tenting). However, with the self-imposed responsibility of entertaining Nam-hee on my shoulders I found that I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. MandDFM hates camping even more than I do, but he got into the spirit by educating Nam-hee and the two other Koreans with us about the various species of wildlife that live in the area.

Whether it is because most East Asian countries have destroyed all of their wildlife or otherwise, it is my experience that in general Asians (Korean, Japanese, Chinese, etc.) are petrified of wildlife. Consequently, this was a necessary cultural exchange for the three Koreans, who surprised both MandDFM and myself with how eager they were to see an "oolf" after the lessons.

Apart from the feelings of pride over our "students'" new found love of nature, the Koreans also provided their own, more tangible benefits during the weekend. Nam-hee's parents are farmers back in Korea, and the country boy proved himself invaluable when it came time to start a fire with wet firewood and keep it going during the rain. Furthermore, have you ever had a feast like the one pictured below while camping before? Eating and sharing food is a cause for celebration in Korea, and Koreans do not let the absence of stove or appropriate utensils get in the way of eating samgyeopsal and kimbab.

In exchange, MandDFM and I attempted to share the "Canadian tradition" of roasting hotdogs and marshmallows with the Koreans. However, in what was perhaps the single funniest/greatest moment in camping history, Nam-hee decided he would combine his joy by combining the meals. From Korea with love, I give you Hot Mallows.

After we returned home, Nam-hee thanked me for giving him such a "wonderful opportunity." I told him that by coming along he also game me a wonderful opportunity to repay the kindness shown to me by other Koreans on my trip.

If you cannot find a Korean to take camping, do the next best thing and make the World a better place by sharing the story of a great experience or potential experience at my new website

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Traveling Is The Difference Between Visiting the Zoo And Living In The Jungle

My new website is up and running at, and I've been writing a ten part series on what I learned whilst living in Korea.

Today I came across an article on the CBC website, by Don Pitts, that supports exactly what I am trying to say at my new website.  I will re-post a portion of that article here:

I remember as a young traveller taking "a year off" to see the world, we Canadians vied with Australians for being the most footloose. Why those two nations were over-represented in the hostels and trains remains a mystery to me. Canadians were rich in world terms, but so were Americans and Swiss. My guess is that it was a combination of being outward looking, and having a feeling of security that blowing the earnings of a summer job on travel would not limit our prospects.

Whatever the costs, there were benefits as well.

The most important lessons were the little ones. The sudden realization that the conventions of "normal" were merely arbitrary. That people ate garlic rice porridge or baguettes for breakfast instead of cereal and milk. That French workers started the day with a glass of vin rouge and the Spanish with a small glass of brandy, rather than O.J.

As a budding economist, I noticed that conventions of value and pricing depended on culture. That in places like Korea and Switzerland alcohol was cheap and coffee expensive. That unlike in Canada at the time, students could not pick up a $200 car and drive it. That for most of the world at that time, cars and many other things Canadians accepted as commonplace, were a luxury.

Travel teaches you that the world is not full of scary foreigners, but regular people who do things a little different.

I couldn't agree with Don Pitts more.  To read the full article, click here.  Otherwise visit my new website to have your chance to share what you've learned through traveling or otherwise.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My New Website

My new website is up and running!  My new website is called From The Centre and the address is

The goal of my new website is to create a place where anyone who has learned something in their life can share their knowledge with others, through a single article or a series of articles.

Anyone is welcome to submit his/her article for posting, so long as the content of the article is something on which you are passionate, and it is written with an attempt to educate others.

I hope to see you there.

Friday, May 22, 2009

April Showers Bring May Snow Storms

I was pretty happy to be leaving Korea in May.  Not because I wanted to get out of Korea, but because I have heard Korean summers are hot and sticky.

When I left Korea the temperature was in the high twenties.  Here is a picture of what I came back to.

Thanks Canada.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Episode 65: DFM Go Home

Well, all things must come to an end, and sadly today I had to fly back home to Canada.

My plane did not leave until 5:15 PM, which thankfully gave me some time to pack up all my things and clean my room.  

In hindsight, I should have done some cleaning the other four weeks I stayed at my place.  For the four weeks I have lived in my second gosiwon room, I do not think I cleaned up my floor once.  Now I have about ten cereal boxes and five empty milk jug containers scattered around the room, which is to say that I have a carpet made of cereal boxes and milk jugs.

When I originally came to Korea I had one carry on bag, and one suitcase that weighed in at 48 lbs.   When I had finished packing everything up for the flight home though, I had one carry on bag, another white garbage bag with all of my clothes in it which I would also carry on the plane, and one suitcase that weighed 75 lbs and cost me an extra $100 to load on the plane.

One last note should be made here about Korean efficiency.  I was in and out of security and immigration at the airport in well under five minutes.  I am definitely going to miss that when I got back home.

The plane ride back was quite pleasant (apart from the horrible movie selection) and quick too (I slept for most of it), but the domestic flights area of the Vancouver International Airport is nowhere near as nice as the international flights area I remember from my way too Korea.  

At the airport I had finally made it to the front of the line at the Customs area when I realized that I had forgotten all of my clothes on the plane in the overhead compartment.  I ran back to the plane only to find it was closed.  A woman there phoned someone who phoned someone else and a wild goose chase ensued for my clothes involving five different people.   Eventually my clothes came back to me, and I was able to continue on with my trip.  It must be said that airport staff in Canada are about 1000 times nicer than airport staff in any of the major American airports to which I've been.

When I finally got back to the Edmonton International Airport I was surprised by how normal everything felt.  I had listened to Canadians in Korea who told me they had felt culture shock coming home for the first time after staying in Korea for a while, but I guess two months is not long enough to completely lose your sense of home.

There were a few instances of minor culture shock in reverse though.  I had become so accustomed to reaching for money and everything else with "two hands" in Korea that I felt odd only using one hand again.  Also, every time I met a new person back home I wanted to say "반갑습니다", but had to  catch myself since the person would not have a clue what I was saying.

I wish I was still in Korea, but sadly this post concludes the most amazing two months of my life to date.  I would like to thank all of the wonderful people I met in Korea who appear in this blog (and any who don't), as well as all of my readers in Korea, Canada, or otherwise, who have been following along.  Keep reading The Kindergarten Cop for updates on my new website and any new adventures for DFM.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Episode 64: In Which DFM Falls Back Into Old Habits And Says Some More Good-Byes

Today was supposed to be a rest day in which I packed up my things and said good-bye to everyone.  As per the norm with this trip though, things just could not be that easy.  

My boss phoned me earlier in the week and told me that he needed me to come back into work one more day to show the new guy what I had been doing, so back to work I went one more time.

Today was actually a fun day though, and many of the classes went outside to do their work because the weather was so nice.  I tried to just relax and play with the kids, but my teacher instincts soon kicked in and I found myself back to being "Canada teacher!" (캐나다 선생님 for my Korean readers.)

It was neat to finally get to see Seth ("Australia teacher!").  Seth was actually the person I had filled in for originally when I first started teaching back in March, and at the time many of the children thought I was Seth.  To see both of us together threw some of them for a real loop, and Seth had some fun by telling everyone that he was from Canada and I was from Australia.

I wasn't sure how the kids would react to seeing me again after I had already told them I was leaving, but it was business as usual.  And by business as usual I mean playing "change the colour of the crayon inside of the plastic holder and then try to get DFM to guess the colour before laughing hysterically at him."  Oh, great fun.

Of course I had to go back to Summit and say good-bye to everyone there as well.  This time I met another new friend named Kyu-rhang.  For those of you who think she looks like all of my other friends, look closer.  Kyu-rhang has black hair and brown eyes, whereas my other Korean friends have brown eyes and black hair.

I also had to say good-bye to Hyeun-A.  Lee had made her pay for my KFC meal on our first date, so this time I decided to do the Korean thing and pay for her meal.  She hates coming to Itaewon, but she made an exception tonight because I said there was a fantastic ice cream shop near my place.  Hyeun-A gave me a letter afterwards, but said it was all in Korean so I would not be able to read it unless I studied my Korean very hard when I went back to Canada.

I went to bed wishing I had another week in Korea, and wishing I had gotten a chance to say good-bye to everyone else as well.

Episode 63: In Which DFM Stares In To The Eyes Of A Giraffe And Uncovers The Secret Of The Sloth

The zoo at Seoul Grand Park is 196 000 square meters, and I saved it until the end of my journey because it is one of the experiences in Seoul I had been most highly anticipating.

Everything about the zoo at Seoul Grand Park is huge.  Before you even enter the zoo you are greeted by an enormous statue of a tiger.  Compare the size of the tiger to the gardener working in front to see what I mean.

Once inside the zoo I found a map that showed four separate paths around the zoo which would take you to all the exhibits.  I walked the length of the zoo four times to see all the animals, and it took me over 6 hours.

My favourite animals at the zoo were the giraffes.  I have not seen a giraffe before, and I was not prepared for just how tall they really are.

To get this eye-to-eye shot I was standing on what I estimate estimate was a fifteen foot platform.  Staring straight at this giraffe made me feel all tingly with excitement.

The animals were tingling with excitement too.  It must be mating season, because all the males were puffing out their chests and trying to show off for the ladies.  Unfortunately for the males, I think someone forgot to tell the females what time of year it was.  These two peacocks just could not get any peahen to notice them and I saw a male wolf get bitten for his efforts to try and seduce a female.

I know what you're all thinking.  You're thinking, "wow, that looks just like the skull of a Pygmy Hippopotamus."  I have such smart readers.

How many times in your life do you get to see a Giant Galapagos Turtle?  The Galapagos Turtle is the largest living species of tortoise in the world.

I used to wonder how two-toed sloths could hang upside down all day long.  The secret is out.  It's not quite as impressive anymore though, if I say so myself.

At one point I saw a sign that read "Ant Park," but the park was closed.  Later I found this feller and I figured out why.

Canada's contribution.

Creepy-crawly things are always interesting.

How many human babies do you think this bear has eaten today?

If you got bored of looking at all the beautiful animals, you can always look at the beautiful trees in any number of fabulous rest locations around the zoo.  This pond was once part of a set for a major Korean movie a sign informed me.

I, however, did not do any sitting until the end of my day when I went to see the dolphin/seal show.  I was skeptical, but I purchased my $3.00 ticket anyways.  Instead of being disappointed though, I was blown away.  The seals could dance "the twist" and do comedy routines, and the dolphins were as smart as you'd expect them to be and could hit red balls dangling fifteen to twenty feet over the water (you can see them in the picture).  Just before I took this picture the dolphins dropped under the water and disappeared, but the woman in the water was actually surfing on the head of one of them at one point during the show.  Anyone in/near Seoul needs to check out the zoo at Seoul Grand Park even if it's only to see this show.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Episode 62: In Which DFM Falls 25 Feet And Has A Party Thrown For Him

Today I was planning to meet Choi, Ji-Hyeun, and the rest of Ace for a trip to one of Seoul's many large outdoor climbing walls.  Unfortunately, Choi and Ji-Hyeun had worked so hard over the last five days completely stripping the climbing wall of holds and rearranging them that they were too tired to go climbing today.  Coincidentally and fortuitously, Perry had told me that he was planning on going to an outdoor climbing wall today too, and so just like our first hiking trip I asked if I could tag along and off I went on another adventure.

Before I met Perry I had to catch up on some e-mails and unwritten blog posts that were piling up because of my trip.  While I was working in my room the fire alarm started screaming in my building.  I didn't really feel like leaving though, so I just hung around and kept typing.  Everything turned out to be fine though, and ten minutes later the alarm was turned off.

The climbing wall to which Perry and I went was located in Boramae Park.  Boramae Park used to be an air force base from 1958 until 1985, when it was converted into a 420 000 square meter park.

Today (Tuesday, May 5) was Children's Day in Korea, a national holiday.  That meant the park (and probably every other park) was packed with children and their parents.  In some places I saw people sitting on the pathway to eat their lunch because there was no room on the grass.

There were many activities going on in the park, the most impressive of which was put on by the emergency rescue service which gave helicopter rescue demonstrations and tours of their fire trucks.  Unlike Canada though, the question "what's the number for 9-1-1?" isn't so stupid in Korea (look at the fire truck).

The Boramae Park climbing wall is 15 meters high and is overhung everywhere, even the easiest section.  I'm not sure if it was used for any X-Games climbing, but I know that some facilities in the area were used for an X-Games competition and have ample signage to remind visitors of that fact.

The Boramae Park climbing wall is managed by the woman in the yellow shirt, who also happens to be the number one climber in Korea for her age group.  Perry said she sometimes climbs in the evening when it is cooler, and once climbed up and down the wall 20 times in a row without stopping.  Perry was belaying for her at the time and said his arm pumped out from belaying before she even started to get tired.

Luckily Perry had brought some grapes and break along for lunch, because I had forgot to pack one for myself.  Actually, I did not forget, I just did not have any food at home.

After "warming up" (or was that tiring ourselves out?) on the medium difficulty wall, Perry and I tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to climb to the top of the most difficult section of the wall in the middle.

Later, one of the top climbers at Ace Climbing Center came to the outdoor wall and easily climbed up the most difficult wall... twice.  He told me that I had the strength to get up the wall, but I did not have the confidence.  That information didn't really help me that much though, as I still fell off in the same spot the next two times.

By mid-afternoon a large number of visitors to the park had gathered to watch all the climbers.  Anyone who made it to the top of the wall received a round of applause.  Although I was not able to make it to the top while the crowd was there, I did take a spectacularly large fall of roughly 25 feet which garnered quite a few "oohs" and "ahhs," not to mention a good number of gasps as well (I was only 35 feet up, so I came relatively close to the ground).

After climbing, Perry invited me back to his place for a "party" in honour of my last week in Korea.  His wife only arrived home from her hiking trip five minutes after we walked in the door, but she is the fastest cook in the world and had a delicious feast on the table in under ten minutes.

After the party Perry showed me back to the subway station, but not before we said good-bye to his friend from the health food store.  Upon being told that it was my last week in Korea, his friend frantically looked around the shop for something to give me before finding a box of Korean ginseng tea (this was the item he was holding in the picture I took of him the first time I met him).  It was a touching gesture, and indicative of how much Koreans care for people they consider their friends.  I once again felt that I would miss Korea very much when I left.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Episode 61: In Which DFM Has His Camera Stolen And Takes The Long Way Home

I woke up early again, but this time the sky was a bright clear blue.

The amazing view from my balcony this morning.  The sky may look white instead of blue to you, but that is only because the sun was so bright.  Plus, in the view from the third picture I could see the sea from my balcony.  It's hard to see it in the picture, but if you look closely you can just make it out at the top of the shot.

Today was the last day of my amazing tour of Korea with April.  So, before I had to head back to Seoul we all went out for one last lunch.  This time it was halibut, so I was happy to finally have a meal I half-recognized (we have halibut in Canada, right?).

I just had to get some good shots of the beach with the clear sky, so Jee-seon and I ran off for a bit while her mother and April sat and waited for us in front of a table full of food (sorry Sun Hee and April, I forgot how much quicker Korean service is than Canadian service).

The second picture is probably the best picture of a sky I have been able to take in the two months I have spent here.

Before Jee-seon and I headed back to the restaurant, I noticed that my camera was missing.  I had put my camera in its case, and placed it on the rocks (which were the same colour as the case) while I used Jee-seon's DSLR for a while.  When I went to get my camera again I could not find it anywhere.  I started to get quite scared that I had lost all the pictures I had taken on the trip, but eventually Jee-seon "magically" found my camera.  It turned out it that it had been hiding behind her back the whole time!  I still have not forgotten about that Jee-seon, and I'm still going to get you back the next time I'm in Korea.  Ha!

This is one of my favourite pictures I have taken in the last two months.  Would you believe I took this picture out of the opposite window of a moving vehicle, with a point-and-shoot low-end digital camera?  I still can't believe it myself either.

For my trip back to Seoul I got to experience the Saemaul train.  This train is the only plane, train or bus in which I have ridden where the foot rests were adjustable - classy.

The trip back to Seoul from Ulsan was much more scenic than my trip to Busan from Seoul for my shark diving trip.  The KTX tracks always seemed to run through the industrial areas of whatever towns/cities they passed, so I was rarely able to get a nice view when I rode the KTX train.  However, the Saemaul tracks took me on a slow journey through the Korean countryside where I was able to see a part of Korea I never knew existed.  So, even though the trip may have taken over five hours I enjoyed every second of it.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Episode 60: In Which DFM Finds An Outhouse With Its Own Temple And Eats So Much Seafood He Starts To Waddle

I woke up in a panic today.  The temperature inside my room was very hot (28 degrees was the reading on the thermostat) and I thought for sure I had slept in 'til the afternoon.

In actuality it was not the afternoon it was 6 in the morning.  After eating some breakfast I decided to pass the time until everyone else got up by going for a walk around the luxury golf resort at which we were staying.  It had rained the night before, so there was a cool mist in the air and everything looked especially green.

While on my walk I saw four ten year old boys playing basketball and a rather humorous situation broke out.  One of the boys began double-dribbling quite badly.  A second boy started yelling at him (in Korean), and I guessed that he was telling him to stop double-dribbling.  Shortly after this a boy on the other team started doubling dribbling and the boy who originally double-dribbled yelled at him to stop double-dribbling (again, in Korean).  The second boy came over and shoved him and started yelling at him, which I took to mean that he was telling him to stop being such a hypocrite.  The whole situation reminded me of when I was that age and I threw a basketball at a girl's head because she wasn't paying attention on the court.

After lunch at Jee-seon's home in Ulsan, we headed to the beach.  Ulsan is located very close to the East Sea - between Korea and Japan - and while it is not technically the Pacific Ocean, it was close enough for me (same water).

After visiting the beach we drove back towards Gyeongju, to the mountain Unjesan.

I know it looks nice, but that's not a temple in the foreground it's a really smelly outhouse.

After a shady hike up Mt. Unjesan we came to an unnamed temple.  Of all the temples I've seen this one had the nicest looking buildings.

Back near the outhouse we found another temple, Oeosa (pronounced "Oo-oh-sa").  Everything was still decorated for the Buddha's Birthday season, which meant hundreds of lanterns.  Each one had a candle inside and at night some poor soul probably has to walk along and light them all.

This is probably the best looking pagoda I've seen anywhere in Korea.  I love the blue roof.

The pagoda was not just notable for its blue roof though.  Inside it housed Korea's oldest bronze bell, Oeosadongjong.  Built in 1281, Oeosadongjong had been lost for many decades, perhaps centuries, before the severe draught of 1995 though dried up a nearby river where the bell was found lying at the bottom.

Baby Buddha's Belly! 귀엽다

After a long day of sightseeing, April, Sun Hee, Jee-seon and I went out to a seaside restaurant for some sashimi.  Sashimi is very fresh raw seafood.  The meal I had featured a crab platter, a shrimp platter, a sliced raw fish platter that was humongous, and a large serving of maeuntang ("may-oon-tang").  

Maeuntang features fish that is boiled with various vegetables and then doused in both chili pepper and Korean red chili pepper paste (because one hot condiment wasn't enough).

After eating the maeuntang, Sun Hee filled the pot with the remaining raw fish to turn them into half-cooked spicy fish.  I was over filled by this point, but the half-cooked spicy fish was delicious so I kept stuffing it down.

After dinner my leg had cramped/locked up quite badly from sitting cross-legged for four courses.  I must have looked quite silly as I waddled back to the car, but I didn't care.