Village of the dead, only the bus could save me

Not so much dead, more of a warm body. Perhaps walking into the local Pharmacy wasn’t such a bright idea.  The pharmacy stank, reeked of traditional medicine being brewed by sets of pressure cookers.  An old woman with a voice, like a rusty gate being opened, asked for, and got her bottle of tonic. In front of me, stood an old woman, waiting for he prescription to be filled. Beside her sat an even older woman, seated. I guess her bones felt a bit tired.

The old and the elderly sat in chairs not unlike sitting at a bar waiting to be served their medicinal liquor. While the pharmacy assistant (possibly the pharmacist’s wife) hurried about making up off the shelf prescriptions. Another woman, not as old (and obviously not as sick, was standing while she took her meds) drank her three bottles of off the shelf medicine, then put them into the correct recycling bin.

After having gotten her daily fix, she then turned to me and just stared. I was onto her and didn’t return her stare. She snuffled in way only Koreans can, and walked out, through the exit; Spurned by my non-repsonsiveness. Yo Mama, zom-bina! I’ve been here too long to fall for that gag.

Escaping the fume-filled pharmacy, after being served my over priced anti-histamines, I walked to the bus terminal and the waiting room. Got my bus ticket, and waited. Not one person in the waiting room was under 50.  So many people waiting to die, but more immediately, waiting for the bus to arrive.

I went outside to get some air, a little disturbed at seeing all those elder people. Maybe the bus terminal doubled as a day-care centre, but more likely the younger demographic were at work, or at school.

Took a hike, we got Gengis khan between our teeth

Ben and I went on our regular hikes around Seoul. This time, perchance it was West Incheon. WE walked a portion of the Uiejeongbu line, an estimated 15 kilometers or so (according to my fore finger and thumb and Google maps) to Bupyeong station.

The weather that day was overcast, cold and windy. According to my walking companion the ‘yellow dust’ had made it’s annual pilgramage across half the world. It was passing over South Korea and we just happened to breathe in at the wrong time. Gengis Khan, who had conquered a goodly portion of Northern and Middle China, and Eurasia had been dead for 700 years, and was probably dust for a long time.

The origin of the yellow dust is from Northern China, close to the Mongolian/ China border. Sadly bits of China, the Gobi desert and no doubt the best bits of Gengis Khan were now lodged between my teeth.

More dusty tales:

Korea Times, March 21, 2010

The Earth times

About the photo; taken at about 6.10pm at Bupyeong station.

Shooting mode: Manual exposure

Shutter speed: 1/125

Aperture value: 5.6

ISO speed: 800

White balance mode: Auto

Still only software, but, HAL was easier to switch off

Vainly trying to remove some software from a school computer that I use. It’s a legit piece of software, but it’s acting like a piece of spyware, and is vermently resisting removal. It’s an anti-virus programme that was written in Korea. Why so stubborn? Yes, nationalism even goes down to even software. The programme has never detected any viruses or spyware. I installed Microsoft’s security elements, and hey presto! Two trojans, both are removed.

The Korean anti-virus programme is proving difficult to remove, more difficult in fact than when Bowman deactived the HAL 9000 in 2001: A space odessey.

The actual laptop that I use has been used under public domain within the school. No real ownership, so everyman and his dog has installed programmes on it without a second thought for the next user.

No real solutions for the buggy anti-virus programme except that when it does cede, it will sing a Korean rendition of Daisy, and ride off on a carriage built for two. My only hope is that it doesn’t kill all the staff who are in cryostasis, while I try to reenter the school through the airlock without my spacesuit helmet.

Billy the kid and the bowl of fire

All of the teachers from my middle school had gone to a students home/ restaurant to have dinner, as a way of thanks from the parents.

Served straight from the pressure cooker, goats meat, with a side dish of goats skin. Poor kiddie. But it was delicious. The ‘dipping sauce’ for the goats meat was a mixture of Go chu jang and twen jang, or fermented bean sauce. Certainly every cook has their own preferences and I have to say that every dish that wasn’t peppered with red pepper, was salted to an inch of its preserved fibre.

Easily fixed with a drink though. They had a selection of beer or so-ju. I chose the so-ju; you just can’t go wrong with it. One glass later the soup course come around and is sat on a portable gas burner to heat. Given a ladles worth in a stainless steel bowl, I sampled it. I was surprised it didn’t melt the spoon as it melted and killed off most of the taste buds on my tongue. This was a bowl full of pepper spice, not as a seasoning, but as a major ingredient in the recipe. Maybe if you’re making nitroglycerine. If I drank the entire bowl, I was have had an asthma attack and have anaphylaxtic shock at the same time. This stuff was explosive.

Finally they they trotted out some bottles of home-made berry wine. I’ve got a bottle of this stuff at home, and this tastes nice. Don’t get me wrong, this stuff here also tasted nice, but had been fermenting for way too long. It was like some berry-brandy-wine rather than wine it was supposed to be.

It just occurred to me that everything that I ate was amped up, and out, to the maximum possible extent. Almost everyone at the table I was sitting was either red in the face or was feeling hot. One teacher even fanned himself; the food was that spicy.

Talk about a gastronomic olympics. My collegues were *well seasoned eaters*, but this meal certainly had them going.

Urban myth, tastes so good

Strange mytiscism exists between coca-cola and pain killers. Cautionary tales from my wife, and even gasps of surprise from my Elementary students, not to take pain killers with cola, or anything but water. At worst, the combination could prove deadly.

I wrinkle my brow in distain; I’ve taken all sorts of pills, most of my life, with a liquid, thats usually not water.

Could it actually be, not the combination, but the condition that was bothering you in the first place that killed you?

The Doctor Pepper and anti-histamine  pill tasted great, both bought in the most unusal of all places, a country town in the back end of no-where.

Dutch Miss, it’s so cheesey

Foregoing the usual cheese selection of BEGA cheese, I instead chose a larger, Dutch cheese. As it turned out, it was a good choice. The Bega cheddar cheese was more moist, while in comparisson, the Gouda is more mature and firmer to the bite.

The cheese was eaten on crackers and tomato, it was lovely (and expensive). Such a pity that it was such a cheesy label on the packet.

Westland Gouda cheese.

How to use an escalator, well, no kidding

Eye-catching on first glance, superficial information only to be had. Or so it would seem to the casual eye.

The bullet points roughly translate to:

  • Hold onto the handrail
  • Stand inside of the yellow line marked on the step
  • Don’t run while on the escalator
  • Children and the elderly are to be accompanied
  • Take care of your clothing or belongings so that they don’t catch in the steps

It’s obvious that some people seldom ride escalators, not enough so that they’re a hazard to themselves and perhaps to others.

A search of google revealed that there is a rhyme to the reason for all the escalator safety posters.  People tripping up on the steps of course, but why are they taking tumbles on the moving stairway? The article couples escalator safety with the walk on the right veto, which according to the article, isn’t being taken all that well.

9-1-6, three drinks to sobriety

We walked along side mostly roads and roads under construction. Ben and I sought out the Han gang (river). At one point we found a car headlight, fittings and mouldings only. No bulbs. Perhaps it had come from the Hyundae car factory not too far across the road. We thought for a second of carrying it along our hike. It would’ve been the perfect accompanyment for the walk along side the road. You drive your car, we prefer to carry ours!

Finding (if not sniffing out) the Han, we proceeded to our ultimate distination, Yongsan and Yongsan electronics mart.

Sadly no beers were raised in having completed the short 1 1/2 hour hike; (The bus ride in to Seoul took longer), I was recovering from a sever skin complaint. Alcohol would only stir things up again. No beer for me. Or Hoegaardens for that matter. I sat in the bar that night, first nursing a Doctor Pepper, a Virgin Pina colada, and finally a Gold medalist, while I complained at the state of my soberness to my friend. Sadly the, gold medalist was not Kim, yu-na in her skating costume, but a strawberry and banana smoothie. This was too much. I went to the toilet to empty my bladder.

School chimes, wishing for the old school bell

When I was at primary school, my friends (the only ones with wrist watches) used to ring the bell 5 minutes late.

In Korean schools it’s an electronic chime, selectable at some sort of control board. I guess they have a choice much like a cellphone has a selectable ring tone. Mostly nameless and tuneless, but I have heard the Oxford chimes being played before. My current school, what they have playing, is just plain terrible. I plug my ears everytime it sounds.

China New Year, welcome to Sarajevo, 1992

Arms dealer, Shenyang style

If ever you wanted to experience the sounds and smells of a battlefield, then CNY, possibly anywhere in China would do it. The apartment where Jiang’s parents live is a group of buildings clustered around in a citadel arrangement. The noise was papable, through my thick winter jacket. Car alarms blare unchecked because the concussions from the fireworks set the bump sensors off.

One pair, a father and son were letting off fireworks. The father was letting off minature moon rockets. Unlike the Saturn V rockets these exploded at their apex. The eight year old son, was frightened by the loud report from the rocket exploding. I think the father was having more fun than the son was.

I could smell the cordite from the burnt fireworks. Some of these fireworks are fucking enormous. The bigger the bang, the better it is to scare the evil spiirts away that have been lingering for a year. This is why when there’s an accident at a fireworks factory, it’s a big one.

The seige of Sarajevo, 1992.