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.

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

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