Tuesday, August 26, 2008

No Tokyo for Dan. . ..


So it appears that, at this time, Tokyo has eluded my grasp (sigh).

Well, this is why - I've got to move into the new place and start work a full week sooner than expected when I told them that I had the week free (me and my stupid mouth)! So I have to move.

Appearantly, though, it's possible to rent a car as long as you have a license - not strictly an international license, either.

Minds are a' brewing, folks . . ..

(Time to get packing)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Tokyo, Packing, and Tattoos

So, I'm changing jobs.


Well, for several reasons;
  • For another, the place I work at, while filled with great staff, SUCK because they only take two holidays off a year. And no, other places do NOT do that.
    • And it's not Christmas, New Year's Eve, nor No Pants Day - and frankly, I don't want to be associated with an organization that doesn't celebrate No Pants Day. (Not, that the new place would observe the holy day, but they have more holidays, at least)
  • Another complication was that a few months ago, Leah's school decided, without Leah's input, that she would work the morning shift.
    • Let's think about this one:
      • Lil' Daniel goes from work from 3PM to 10PM (which, coincidentally, kills his chances of him joining ANY clubs/activities)
      • Lil' Leah goes from work from 9AM to 5PM
      • Leah and Daniel live/work about an hour away from each other, which means that either Leah would have to leave Daniel's place at 7:30AM to go to work or that Daniel would arrive at Leah's place at 11PM, only to see his wife go to sleep at, oh, I don't know, midnight.
Like I said, with the exception of the holidays thing, I like my job - I like my coworkers, I like my boss (well, he is very absent-minded, but I think it may be a Korean "your-boss-is-a-god-so-suck-his-cock" kind of thing), and I like where I live(d)!

Having said that, this (08/18 to 08/22) is my last week with my current employer.

  • My current boss, William, tells me that I can move out whenever I'd like - so, since this is my last week AND the fact that I've paid rent for all of August, I thought I'd move out next week at the end of the month, when I'm NOT working all day and when I DON'T have to travel an hour to get to/from Leah's place.
Well, that's apparently not the case.
William conveniently tells me last Thursday, that I have to move my shit out by the end of the term - meaning, this Friday (I did, however, get to convince him that I should get the last week refunded to me). Did I mention that I have to work all afternoon?

You know what, I don't think I like my boss that much.

So, I start searching for new jobs - and I interview, after interview, after interview - and you know what? Every single place tries to either dick me around, saying that they would NOT give me housing (which they do for, "full-blooded Americans"; you know, honkys), or they just tell me outright, no Korean-Americans (actually, Leah's soon-to-be former employer stated that they don't want African Americans working there; yeah, anti-discrimination laws don't exactly exist here yet) - until I go to this new place.

My god. The place is new, and I go for an interview, at which point, I'm taken aback - the owners are w.o.n.d.e.r.f.u.l human beings. I mean, wow. So, I get the job (thankfully), and I actually convince Leah to interview with them - and she loves it too! I mean, her other job kinda sucked to begin with, so there's nothing much to compare it with, but I'm looking forward to it, I tell you what.

But, having said this, I get two weeks of vacation from my previous job to getting the new job - which means I have time . . . to TRAVEL! I am excited, I tell you what; for 4~5 days, I think I'm going to hit up Tokyo, as in Tokyo, Japan.

And when in Rome . . ..

Being less ambiguous, here's a lowdown of things I want to see/do while I'm in Tokyo;
  • I want to stay at a capsule hotel; yes, because I'm a nerd.
  • I'm pretty much planning on sticking around Akihabara; yes, because I'm a nerd.
  • I'm definitely going to visit the Kyokyshinkai Honbu; yes, because I'm a nerd.
  • And who could forget? The Kodokan . . . and yes, because I'm a nerd.
    • (While I'm in Korea, I might visit the Kukkiwon. Maybe.)
And, of course . . . (and this one might surprise you guys a little)
  • I might get a tattoo. I don't know about this one, as it will be pricy (it IS Tokyo) and I AM flighty, but I think I'll look into it and if it's possible, then why not? I'm looking into getting a half-sleeve if possible, but we'll see what I can swing . . .. I guess this is also because I'm a nerd(?).
(If I missed anything, or if you have criticisms/advice, dish it out!)

Anyhow, at this time, the plans are still tentative. What with moving and changing jobs, I'd hate to leave it all to Leah willie-nilly; I'm sure she'd do great, but it'd still not be fair.

So, to sum it all up; I'm busy as hell, but I can't wait.

Jeju Island (a little late, perhaps?)

Well, I'd like to give you a reason for not talking about Jeju Island . . .. Why? Well, no reason other than the ol' standby (because it's true) - I'm laaaazy.

Anyhow, Leah and I went to the isle for about a week. And it was, surprise surprise, awesome. For the most part, we just beached around, and hung out, nothing spectacular.

Jeju is a small island, and we rented a scooter (the cheapest ones go for about $10/day) and I tell you what, it was a blast. I mean, this being Korea and all, it's only 125cc and it did 50MPH max, but it was just great being able to ride again!

And as far as the rest pf the trip gpes, we also checked out some other tourist areas - we did the submarine tour (which sucked - there were no marine life to speak of, and the poor narrator guy was trying to excite us with what basically amounted to floating kelp in the sea) and we got this lil' nifty picture at a tourist spot called "Love Land" - for the neophyte, or just the person who is too lazy to click the link, it's a place to educate people about sex - well, Koreans nowadays are pretty educated (but from what I hear, they don't use protection, which is . . . well, let's just say I'm glad I'm married), but apparently even 20~30 years ago some newlyweds didn't know how to do the horizontal tango.

And Jeju being the honeymoon destination for Korean newlyweds, a new business market grew out from then on . . ..
(On the downside, I was expecting XXX when all I got was a Skinamax R)

Last but not least, the beaches. Oh, the beaches. There was this one particular spot that was nearby the hotel we were at and I have to say, it was beautiful there - the island is volcanic, so the sand had this beautiful mix of gold and black and the beach itself was (what was told to me by a friend of mine here) a "pancake" beach - which means that the beach water was flat and you could go out, pretty much, for about 200 yards and you'd still be waist deep.

All in all, I think it was a blast - as far as vacations go, I'd give it a solid 3 1/2 stars out of 5.
(I've taken down a star because we were stupid enough to go beaching at the sunniest hours of the day, on the first day, without sunscreen. We paid for it dearly)

Monday, August 11, 2008

North Koreans

First of all, sorry; I havent' kept up with this blog as much as I should.

Not, that there's like a blog-o-meter or something.

Anyhow, been back from Jeju Island and just finished peeling all my skin off. Pleasant to itch my back only to find a sliver of skin has decided to jump ship from my back . . . onto my hands.

(A full week of beaching on a volcanic island was kinda nice, though.)

Anyhow, now that that business is done and over with* I have another topic I want to (aimlessly) ramble on about;

North Koreans.

I mean, where to begin, right? Well, let me be a little more specific here - I've been to North Korea, the most totalitarian nation on the face of the Earth, before this whole fiasco - right before, and to the same damn place, actually, and let me give you an impression of the North Koreans I've seen there.

Stiff as a board.

You may ask yourself; what, are they bored stiff**? Are they dead? Are they the stereotypical-hard-nosed commie types we've all seen in 80's codl war movies? Are they scared stiff?

My answer, and of course I could be wrong here, is that it's a mix of all - and in retrospect, an uneasy fear, especially around caucasians.

Why do I being such a topic up, you may ask? First, I'd say get out of my head, and secondly, I'm currently volunteering to teach North Korean refugees English through a small church*** - essentially, they get a free college education but they have to qualify to enter - and admittedly, I've just started to help, but damn.

It's kind of weird to see them in person - what I mean is, they are, physically, just the same as South Koreans - but they do have a North Korean accent, and they seem just as friendly and outgoing as any of us - it still blows my mind that just two months ago I've seen others like them in North Korea, standing stiffly, monitoring our evey move and anxious to not be around any white people. And that they had to risk their lives to get here.

I'm not saing that we should be grateful to be here (where ever that "here" may be - America or S. Korea), but goddamn that outs some things into perspective.

I tell you - one the one hand, I feel for what they may have had to go through, but they have my utmost respect.

*I'll post pictures later. Maybe.
***No, I've not suddenly turned fundie Christian - it's a coworker's church that I've decided to help out in.