Thursday, March 4, 2010

New blog!

Korea is done! Check out the new blog here:

Monday, March 1, 2010

Let's put this sick dog to sleep

Well I am on the last few days of my time in Korea, and my experience somewhat parallels this blog in that the first few months started out with a bang, while the last few months were relatively dry, and sparse for content.

I've said my goodbyes to lots of people, including my kids who have been an utter joy in my life this past year. Two girls in particular cried and refused to let go of me when I told them that I was leaving forever. The bartender at the watering hole I frequent gave me a goodbye present, a flask filled to the top with Canadian Club, in hopes that I maintain my unhealthy lifestyle into the future. I had two final night outs with friends and coworkers in Hongdae, both of which, of course, were not slight on shenanigans.

So, onwards I go. However, I won't be coming immediately back to Canada. Instead my good friend Adam and I will be trekking through Southeast Asia for several months. He flew in about a week ago and is staying with his sister, who also lives in Seoul. In about two days, we board a plane for Bali, Indonesia to start what will be a massive overland journey up the continent and into the unknown. So far we have almost absolutely nothing planned, and we're keeping it that way so we can keep things unpredictable. All we know is that we both hope to make it as far as India. It's going to be tricky, but we've talked about doing this for almost two years know, and the fact that this is becoming a reality has yet to sink in with me.

I am kind of sad to be leaving. I feel like my social rank is a lot higher here in Korea, and the thought of going back to Canada and being yet another university grad with a useless diploma and a lousy job frightens me. I'm entertaining the notion of going back to school, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to stick it out. I love teaching and there's a very good chance it may end up being what I want to do with the rest of my life. There have been numerous factors lately that have been enticing me to come back and work another year, but I haven't seen my family in over a year, and I don't know if I'm ready to give up on everything else I wanted to do with my life. So many things to think about. A hard dose of reality is going to greet me when I get off that plane back in Canada.

So I'm putting this blog to bed. I'm going to start another one to document my travels. When I make it I'll post the link here. Till then, here's a few pictures from the last couple of months. Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Gord the salesman

Ahaha I just have to share this:

Sunday, November 22, 2009

ECC News

My afternoon class is studying the news so we decided to do our own news broadcast. I put way too much effort into this, but here it is.

PS: if you're reading this on facebook, go see the video in my profile or check it out on vimeo directly.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thailand highlight reel.

If you're reading this on Facebook, you won't see the embedded video so go check it out on Vimeo directly instead.

Thailand was great. I'll try to have some pictures up soon.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


So a couple of weeks ago, a bunch of us decided to finally get around to checking out the DMZ.

For those who don't know, the DMZ is the 4km wide strip of land that divides North Korea and South Korea. It's name is misleading because it is actually the most heavily militarized border in the world, with an insane amount of troops on either side ready to roll into battle should anything go awry. In order to get in on this action, we signed up for a USO tour which took us right to the frontlines.

The tour began at 7am bright and early. The bus ride to the DMZ was only about an hour or so, and we were entertained/kept awake by a little old Korean tour guide doing his best to explain the intricacies of North/South Korean relations.

We were forbidden from taking any pictures upon entering the DMZ. Once inside, we rolled in between minefields and alongside razor wire and fortified guard posts until we got to Camp Bonifas. We were given another history lesson of the DMZ, this time delivered with rote, military precision by a US soldier, which took only 2 minutes. After we signed our safety waivers, it was off to the JSA (Joint Security Area).

The Joint Security Area

The official border between North and South Korea within the DMZ is called the Military Demarcation Line. The Joint Security Area lays smack dab on top of this line, and it's where the two sides occasionally meet for talks or just stare at each other all day. This obviously was a very tense area so we were made to walk single file in two lines the entire time. Once we were actually at the border and in full view of the other side, North Korean guards whipped out their binoculars and started checking us out. It was pretty unnerving, but extremely fascinating. Jess was super jumpy at first and gave me the camera, but eventually she loosened up. I got chastised for stepping off the stairs to get a good shot.

Pay attention to what the US soldier is saying, it's really interesting.

A North Korean soldier checking us out.

A strict dress code applied. This is me looking sensible at the JSA.

We were then taken into one of the blue negotiating sheds to see where the North and South actually hold talks. This part was cool because since the shed straddled the demarcation line it allowed us to technically enter into North Korea! Inside there were two Republic of Korea soldiers (ROK soldiers) standing guard and looking bloody tough. We were allowed to take pictures but we couldn't touch or get behind them for any reason.

Guard number 1.

Guard number 2. The door behind him leads into North Korea. If you try to get behind him, he will Taekwondo your ass so hard.

Gord and Charlotte in North Korea.

Jess in North Korea.

The concrete slab marks the North/South border. I'm on the North side!

Once we left the JSA, we headed to an observatory. This part kind of sucked because it was a foggy day and we couldn't see anything or even take pictures. we did manage to see North Korea's propaganda village though complete with the world's tallest flagpole. I also got to see a ROK soldier make a Japanese tourist erase half of the photos he took without permission.

Terrible binoculars at the observatory.

The observatory again.

Next step was lunch and gift shopping. Jess and I got North Korean banknotes and blueberry wine.

Finally, we got to see the 3rd tunnel, one of the 4 tunnels that North Korea dug in order to sneak attack the south. It was a pretty grueling walk through a very narrow and damp tunnel. We wore helmets which came in handy since more than a few people spanked their heads on some low-hanging bars. They didn't allow pictures of the tunnel unfortunately, so sorry about that. After we got back out, we headed home.

So far, this trip has been one of the highlights of Korea for me. After seeing countless historical attractions, it was exciting to visit a place affected by contemporary politics. I think the tour guides try to scare you a little bit to make it more thrilling, but regardless, it was cool actually visiting a warzone and staring North Korea in the face. Plus it was refreshing to see foreign tourists abandon their usual jackassery for fear that it might get them shot, beaten or thrown in jail.