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Monthly Archives: September 2008

Since I started this blog, I’ve had over 550 unique visitors. That doesn’t count people who come to my site more than once in a day.

WordPress has great traffic tracking tools, and some of my hits come from people Googling information about Seoul and ESL teaching. I’m glad I can be of help to some people. I wish I had a resource from someone who was actually there before I came.

Not much to talk about these days. I guess that means I’m setting in. But don’t think that I won’t be posting mind-blowing updates anymore. I’m sure more things will happen.
I’ve had a sore throat that has recently been getting really bad, to the point where I wake up with the feeling of rusty AIDS-infested razor blades in my throat. I went to an international clinic today in Itaewon, and surprisingly found the place on my first try. The doctor there was good, but I think he thought I was looking for painkillers to get high. I think I have a simple throat infection. I just wanted something that is not an anti-inflammatory to ease the pain, since anti-inflammatories upset my stomach a lot. I explained how much Tylenol I am taking. He of course insisted on an anti-inflammatory. I was pissed. It didn’t work.

Along with the NSAID, he prescribed me a pill that eases my stomach, an antibiotic, and something else. I have to take 4 pills, 3 times per day, for 3 days.

On Friday, my friend came over. Her mom is a hand acupuncturist. She brought her mom’s gear, some gauze, and a clean needle. She told me she was bringing me something to make me feel better, which I assumed was soup. It was soup, but also the acupuncture stuff. Anyway, after poking me with this tool on my right middle finger to find where the ‘problem’ is, she pricked me 3 times on the middle digit, once on the base of my finger, once on the palm, and once on the knuckle of the other side of the finger.

I personally don’t believe in acupuncture, and I kinda feel bad for being a dick about it to her, but I know she meant well. Maybe if I tried to believe, it could have worked. I am interested in the psychonautic aspects of acupuncture though. I’m sure it can trigger a pretty nifty endorphin response if done properly.

Recently, a guy who I have been in touch with a bit arrived in Korea. He is now feeling the same homesickness and shock that I felt for my first 2 weeks here. I remember how excrutiating that was, so I want to help him. I really feel a lot of compassion for this guy. I will try to get ahold of him and show him around. My biggest fear was the subway, and getting lost in this 700 square km city. You never really realize how huge Seoul is. It’s just massive.

I hope I can ease his transition. I was lucky enough to have some good friends to help me out when I got here.

That’s all for now.

PS: For those of you who have left comments, thanks so much for your feedback, especially you, Doug. It was great to hear from you. I’m sorry I’m so busy these days that I couldn’t respond. I’m glad to know that I still have my fans in Canada. I’m trying to get a cheap flight home for Christmas, although I will likely be arriving on Christmas or boxing day. Spending Christmas day on an airplane might sound like crap for most of you, but for me, to know that I’m returning to my family and friends, it will be the best Christmas yet.

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No iPhone for me. That is, no iPhone service for me, since I already have an iPhone 3G.

The South Korean phone system works like this (from what I understand):

The phone companies here control all phones on their network. That is, every phone is registered on the networks here. The only phones they allow to be registered are Korean phones. Therefore, no iPhone service for me.

I could of course somehow change the IMEI on my iPhone to a South Korean IMEI, but that’s highly illegal, and due to S. Korea’s insistence on being different from the entire developed world, I wouldn’t be able to use text messaging here.

I spent $800 just getting the phone. That’s $399 for the phone itself, and another $400 (plus taxes) getting out of my contract with Rogers. Yes, that’s rape, I know.

So I’ve got the fanciest iPod touch in all of Seoul. I even bought a SIM unlock chip. I got it today, after waiting 3 weeks for it to be shipped here. The guy at the store explained to me how it simply won’t work, because my phone isn’t ‘approved’ for use here.

So there you have it folks. They (and Rogers) have no problem charging me $3/minute for roaming, with data, call display, visual voicemail, and SMS all working, but they won’t let me ‘register’ my phone and use it as a local phone here.

I’ve recruited my Korean friends to help, and they have all found the same information. I couldn’t believe it. I can’t use my phone here. I’ve looked into the Samsung, LG, and other high-end phone lines here, and they’re nice, but they don’t work with iTunes, and they just don’t zip the way the iPhone does.

There are rumors of the iPhone coming (and not coming) to South Korea abound, but nothing official from Apple or any of the providers, so I won’t hold my breath.

I went back to Dobongsan today, because I wasn’t satisfied with the photos I took last time. This time, I was determined to reach a peak of some sort.

I found a rock that stuck out of the side of the mountain. The view was breathtaking. It took me about 2 hours of hiking to reach that point.
Surprisingly, the air is very clean in the mountains. It feels that way anyway. This old man invited me on the tip of a rock to take pictures. I think he secretly wanted to kill me until he saw the Canada flag on my bag. He offered me yogurt. Mmm..

I made a video. And here are my photos.

I wasn’t satisfied with the pictures I took last time at Namsan, so I returned today. I was a bit hung over, but drank enough water last night that I managed to drag my ass there. I wasn’t hiking the mountain this time… no friggin way. I took the cable car.

Taking pictures in the daytime was so much better than when I went the last time. Today was clear and sunny, but absolutely packed.

See my pictures here.

Back to Dobongsan tomorrow.

Today I went for a hike at Dobongsam, one of the tallest mountains in Seoul. I had gone with the aspiration of getting up high, but I dragged my ass this morning and didn’t leave my apartment until noon. It would take 4 hours to get to the top, and about 3 to get down, so I wouldn’t have made it before sunset.

I did get to see some really awesome stuff though. Pictures here.

The pictures really don’t do it justice. This place is amazing.

Hidden in the mountains were several Buddhist temples. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I wanted to become a monk that moment. These guys live beside a brook of spring water. I saw a Korean dude drinking right from the stream. I myself had a drink at one of the temples, from a rock flowing from the mountain. It was incredible. Tasted like any other spring water you’d buy in a bottle.

At the first temple I visited, I sat in front of an old Buddha statue and just thought for a while. I noticed it had candles lit, and incense nearby. I lit an incense stick and thought of my family and friends that I miss so much, and how I wish they could be there to take it all in with me; the smell of the incense backdropped by the soothing quiet of the leaves on the trees brushing against each other, and the flowing spring from the mountain. I’ve never felt more serene.

Video here.

Today I went to Seoul station and headed towards the Seoul tower, also known as the Seoul North Tower.

I couldn’t find my way there, so I figured I would just look for the tower, right? Should be easy to find since it’s on top of a frickin mountain, right?! Wrong. I didn’t factor in the skyscrapers that line the heart of Seoul.

Walking up and down the side streets, I was finally able to see the mountain with the tower on top. I began on my way up, seeing a sign that read:

1200m. 1.2km, uphill. I did it all though, and only stopped to take pictures. I only had 10,000won (about $10) in my pocket, so I decided not to ride the cable car up to the tower. The elevator ride up the tower cost me 7,000 anyway.

But man it was worth it.

More pictures here.

Today I decided I would head over to the Noryangjin fish market. It was a quick ride from Apgujeong to Oksu station, over to Yongsan, and down to Noryangjin.

I spent a couple hours just walking around the fish market. The smells and sights are like nothing I’ve seen before. I am not usually disgusted by the smell of fish, but I gagged once or twice while walking around.

Here they have every kind of sea creature you could think of. There are mussel-looking creatures about the size of my forearm. There were octopus legs as long as my bed.

Here, you can buy some fish or whatever and bring it to a restaurant and have them cook it up however you want.

But don’t take my word for it. Check out this video by mikeinkorea on YouTube.

Pics here.