Travel, in the waiting

IMG_20180304_181647 (travel, in the waiting)

Everything that the reputation lives up to. They are indeed fast trains. As an alternative to flight, they are comfortable and have the distinct advantage for the passenger of being able to get up and stretch your legs or to be able to buy food and drink. The only thing you have to worry about is, your fellow passenger. Quite often they’re quite civil but, you occasionally can be seated next to someone who lacks manners. I’ve always said that the comfort of your trip is sometimes dictated by who you share the seat next to with.

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More (PC) BANG, for your buck

PC bang.jpgPC bangs (literally PC rooms), are something I have avoided simply because I have had an internet connection. Up until last Thursday when the connection was cut. My fault, haven’t paid the nice people at Korea telecom, and in return they switched off their service. A fair cop. What wasn’t cute and cuddly was once I’d paid the over-due fee, was the delay in restarting the service. Suffice to say having no internet connectivity for four days didn’t kill me, but on the other hand it just wasn’t interesting at all. I did have a lot of time to play games that I had installed on my laptop though.

Sat back in the big, comfy chairs that all PC bangs seem to come equipped with, I then proceeded to check my email and Facebook. Nothing new there. In order to safeguard my passwords and surfing activity, I made sure that I used the browser that was installed on my USB stick. Useful things that, your own browser of preference (Chrome in this case), and it also means that you leave no digital crumbs on what essentially is a computer for public use. I’m such a geek sometimes. Just one niggling complaint is the presence of smokers in close proximity. Most of the patrons that frequented are middle aged men. Given that the area has Samsung manufacturing plants, most users then, are middle aged men that worked in a factory. Sadly, the man sitting at the end of the row of computers was puffing away merrily on his cigarette. I’ve got nothing against smokers, but the fan and ventilation system in the room was pushing his smoke right at me. If anything, that did make me want to leave sooner than I wanted.

Bus tours, to the picnic table

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It has to be the strangest place to have slept, but I’m not sure if I slept at all. Public sleeping isn’t at all an unusual sight in Korea. On the way to the World Expo in Yeosu, the bus had parked at around 3am, and without announcement, and more of a necessity, the entire busload of tourists went to sleep. I came to the drowsy, pain-induced realisation that I had to get off of the bus to sleep. Parked at a rest stop, the facilities had it’s allotment of picnic style tables. Choosing one, I initially put the hood of my rain jacket over my face (it was too suffocating) so instead moved it aside so that only my mouth was uncovered. The rest of face, namely my left eye, was covered from the overhead lighting. Apparently I did sleep for a time as my wife made occasional trips from the bus, to check up on my progress.

I have to say that I’ve never sought the company of fellow English speakers but, in my tired state of mind earlier in the evening, I found some America’s female conversation incredibly whiny. She was conveniently located in the next row behind me.

I just wonder if all the effort to see the expo will be worth it or simply I’d be to tired to appreciate it all and sleep through it. We shall see.

Hello, good-bye Incheon

A recent hike through the Incheon station area, located, not unsurprisingly at the end of the Incheon line. The station had the usual refinements, being an above ground station, it was a simple matter of walking out the doors. Putting on sunscreen (and later a hat) inside of the station seems normal enough. Only it attracted an unwanted stare from some older-middle aged Korean man. I stared back, he kept starring back, I turned, only to check later if he was still starring. Essh. What a cycle. Welcome to Incheon, home of the xenophobic throwback Korean men.

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The odd contrast to this initiation was the Chinatown that had been build. It was plush. Cobble-stoned streets and preserved buildings from Koreans’ colonial era. Ben and I made a bee-line for Jayu park. This is significant for the fact that it holds a statue of Douglas MacArthur, and other adornments celebrating the Korean war and (surprisingly) Americans. Found in the park were two rather esoteric sculptures. One of them under certain conditions could look like giant turd. Personally I found the graffiti that was on it a more interesting composition than the inscription found across the square from the sculpture. Built to commemorate Korean-American cooperation during the war. Well, something like that. Further inside the park there was a life sized bronze statue of MacArthur himself. Mounted on a pillar no less. Beside it was something more interesting, a wall frieze of MacArthur and his staff making for the beach. Presumably during the historically notable Incheon landings, you could actually see MacArthur’s bronze hand showing signs of wear, that it had been touched, and ‘shaken’. For an expression of appreciation or just a chance to even come close to a man of such reputation I can only speculate.

Onwards and downwards to the Chinatown. Exiting the park, we both noted elderly people that seemed to congregate in the park. I noted the same thing too in China. My walking companion observed that the old people there are more appreciative foreigners since, they would have seen and experienced the Korean war, unlike their younger, fellow citizens born after the war. Maybe the ajossi at the train station could do with a change in attitude.

The Chinatown had cobble-stoned streets and was well taken care of. Perhaps falling under the influence of Jayu park above it. Very much a show piece of Incheon, it was part tourist trap (there were tourist shops on every street, and on almost every corner), and historical site with the actual Chinatown having many buildings from the period of colonization from the Japanese. Ben and I went into a former bank to have a look, but also with the ulterior motive was to get out of the sun and cool off. The museum/ 1st bank of Japan was wonderfully air-conditioned. It has massively thick walls, arranged in what seemed to amount to a maze of rooms. I had my photo taken infront of a stage set, of the street, as it was back when the bank was constructed. The one and only helper at the front desk was mature, pretty and very helpful. Exiting, Ben and I gave the donation box some notes.

Back to wandering through the streets, a school kid started to speak to us in English. I blew him off, but Ben being more patient, answered his questions while I hurried around the corner of a building and onto the main road.

Leaving behind the Incheon station and into more conventional streets, I took a photograph of a ‘shop’ that sold just anchor chains. Looking at the amount of heavy metal he had, I’d say he’d cornered the market comprehensively. I didn’t see a shop that sold only anchors, but would have been very pleased if I did!

After all that, walking toward Bupyeong station was all a bit of an anti-climax. To cap off the walk, we went through Dong-Incheon underground shopping center. Corridor on corridor of mindless crap that I personally could never think of buying. I’d always thought that underground shopping centers and even the underground subway lines in Seoul also serve a dual purpose of acting like bomb shelters a’la the London blitz of world war two. Would they, could they, withstand a direct hit? Would the North Koreans use gas in their warheads? What’s more would the gas be heavy, and go down, into the subways? Would there be enough kim-chi to out-last the siege? Ben and I walked out and onward to our final destinations.

Broken down, deplorable behaviour

What a bunch of losers. A car had broken down at an intersection.  Hazard lights blinking. A woman sat behind the wheel, telephoning for assistance. I’ve always known that Koreans can be ego-centric, but this was the worst display of “me first, fuck everyone else” I’ve seen in a long time. Honking, looking back with aggressive stares as they drove past, and all the while no-one thought to help he push her car out of the way. Sometimes she would step out of the car an usher people on. If it as obvious to me that the car had broken down, how obvious was it to other people and other drivers?

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Making a comparison for the worst, people in New Zealand would have helped her, if only to get the car out of the flow of traffic. Sometimes you’d have someone that could actually get your car going so that you could get to a garage..

When the repair vehicle arrived with so much blaring of it’s sirens and horns, all it took was a man to lift the bonnet and one minute to get the car started. It’s at times like this, I’m proud to be a Kiwi. God help these guys if there’s a genuine emergency and you have to think.

Driving test manual, gets the car tart?

Not so much blatant advertising but a flirty book cover for the driving education manual. Theory and mock questions and the other requisite street signs too. Since most of the learners are teenages, the incentives are there. Get your license, get a car tart. For such a weighty document, it serves absolutely of no use at all. Drivers on the road breaking every rule, taxi drivers ignoring red lights, bus drivers doing whatever they want. For me, I’ve stayed away from the drivers seat. Too dangerous. What has four wheels and handles?! Looks ridiculous. Parked where-ever he pleases, it’s parked by the bus stop. I can only imagine a 4 tonne bus hitting it, there wouldn’t be much left at all. (Nothing would send a stronger message than having a bus ride up, and over your ass). Don’t park there!  The police force here must have an incredibly difficult job at times.

Too many spammers, Reggie gets his game on


It may have been a genuine email.  A letter of love, sent on the premise of my profile above.  Her email alluded none of her details (suspicion rising)  and hoped that everything is under god control (alarm bells ringing). She obviously hadn’t seen The rise and fall of Reginald Perrin, since this is my avatar. The actor, Leonard Rossiter has since passed on, but in this guise, Reggie is still “has it”. Way to go Reggie.