Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Top 5 things Korea will miss about Todd

1. All the camera’s he left behind.

2. Getting schemed out of a karaoke bar.

3. The pick up line: Hey baby, ever been to Mexico?

4. His ability to crash a scooter, and shadesville his way out of it.

5. Who knew one man could drink so much Soju? You have honored this beverage.

The Plan

Alright, so I'm coming "home". I said I'd say it here first, and I am. With my usual sense of gusto and timing, I was hoping to pull off some sort of surprise, but I fear the cat is destined for freedom from its bag-like imprisonment.

Why the quotes on "home?" Well, I don't exactly have one, since everybody is everywhere. In a lot of ways, I guess I'm leaving home, since here I have a place where my bed and TV are. Anyway, I didn't post tonight to wax philosophic, but rather to reveal my plan, so here goes:

On the night of December 19th, I will finish work and have a party, certain to be the social event of the season. The party will certainly continue well into the 20th.

On Saturday the 20th, I will fly to San Francisco (on Singapore Air! Yay!) at 5 p.m., throw back a bunch of Singapore Slings, and hopefully catch some sleep as it is an overnight flight. I will then land in San Francisco at 11 a.m... on Saturday the 20th. the fuck? My flight actually involves time travel. This is fortunate, as my buddy Wiley will pick me up at the airport, and we will immediately haul ass to Reno. I'm hoping said time travel will allow me to win big in the sports book. After a night of booze, blackjack, strippers, Taco Bell, and general debauchery in Reno, Wiley and I will drive to Lawrence, and we expect to arrive on the 23rd, or the 22nd if we make really good time. After 1 (or possibly 2) nights in Larry, I fly to Baltimore on Christmas Eve, just in time to get my Christmas shopping done.

Plans are far more tentative after that. And by tentative, I mean completely non-existent. I plan to go to the Inauguration (on January 20, duh) and I assume that I'll fly to both Chicago and Florida before then.

Anyway - Lawrence people (ie, Lawrence, Kansas City, St. Louis, Topeka, Wichita) - you know the bars I like - December 23rd - be there. Chicago people - I'll see you soon after. I suppose I should end this blog so that I can call my parents and update them on this.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Stuff I'm not looking forward to in the US

-Douchebags. Sometimes I forget how much I hate generic white people that I don’t know. A couple weeks ago in Itaewon, I was in a full bar filled with whiteys, and I wanted to kill most of them. Frat boys, hipsters, hicks, they all suck. Some guy was wearing a Star Wars trucker hat. I thought about asking him if he wanted to be me Friendster friend.
-The absolute need for a car outside of New York and Chicago.
-Bitchy girls that dress badly.
-Jobs. There’s not a single job in the US that I could conceivably get that I would want.
-Health care. I mean, come the fuck on.
-Once again, 2 a.m. last call. Or, more like 1:15 for a 2:00 close.
-Open container laws. Walking down the street with a beer rules.
-Commercials. I can pretty much avoid them here, as Korean TV runs minimal commercials during a show and then a big block between shows.
-Smoking bans.

Hey, I'll be announcing what my immediate future plans regarding my return to the states soon - and in this space first.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Stuff I won't miss about Korea

-Protectionism. I never pegged myself as a free-trader, but the protectionism here drives me crazy. Every western chain restaurant here is like double the price it is back home, except for good old McDonalds. Outrageous prices for computers (except Apple products, which are actually cheaper given the exchange rate), western-branded clothes ($150 for fucking Levi’s?) consumer electronics, cameras (having bought 5, I should know) and worst of all, airfare. The going rate for a round-trip flight from Seoul to Jeju, a Korean island, is $120, but the going rate for a flight to Fukuaka, Japan (equidistant from Seoul as Jeju) is $400! Seoul to Bangkok ($650) is about the same distance as Chicago to Vegas ($200). I know the international-ness plays a role, but not that much. Bangkok to Penang, also international and about the same distance as Seoul-Tokyo ($500) was 80 bucks.
-The won. I fucking hate the won right now. See Here. And it’s gotten worse since then.
-Points and stares from local kids... and adults.
-The language. I don’t know it.
-Christianity. Korean Jesus freaks (and there’s a lot of them, way more than you’d think - The Christian vote won the last election) are insane.
-The general craziness much of the populace - as witnessed during the insane anti-American beef riots last summer. I mean, if you want to be pissed at America, we give you lots of good reasons to do so, but to almost overthrow the government over beef imports? Really?
-Overpriced or rare staples, such as ranch dressing. Yes, that’s a staple for me. Leave me alone.
-Music - mostly. I’ll admit, I like more shitty K-pop songs than I ever thought I would. But, when there’s a BIG HIT (like The Wonder Girls’ “Nobody”) I hear it in every bar and restaurant and coming from every store and it’s every kid’s ringtone. Yet, once the BIG HITS go away, they’re never heard from again. Ever.
-Covering secrets, or rather, brushing over past black marks that aren’t necesarily secrets because everybody knows about them. For example, the National Museum at Gyeoungju (a lovely town I was in last weekend) had a large time line of Korean history, explaining the various empires and dynasties that ran the peninsula over the past 3 or 4,000 years, finishing with the Republic of Korea from 1948 to now. Yet, they called the period between 1893 and 1948 the “Korean Empire.” Of course, this was the Japanese Occupation. This would be similar to a “Cherokee Empire” established by Andrew Jackson, or a “French Empire” started by Hitler in 1940.
-Also, traffic sucks, but traffic sucks everywhere, so whatever.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Stuff I'll miss about Korea

-Soju. Getting plastered for 2 bucks is awesome.
-Short skirts, even in the winter. It’s fantastic, really
-Late night bars. 2 a.m. last call will be a rude awakening. I often don’t even go out until 2.
- Convenience store tables. This is a brilliant idea that every country should immediately adopt. Sitting at a table of friends out front of Mini Stop drinking beer and soju rules.
-Transit. There’s no need for a car in this country. The subway goes everywhere, taxis are dirt cheap and surprisingly honest (I’ve passed out in them and gotten home for a fair fare).
-In-country travel - There are cheap trains and cheaper nonstop buses leaving Seoul for every city of note in the country pretty much every 5 minutes. Once I get to wherever it is I’m going, I can get a decent motel room with a big bed, a big TV, a high-end shower and free porn in the center of whatever town I’m in for $30 a night.
-Easy to meet girls, and getting phone numbers usually just requires holding my phone out.
-Internet. Yeah, the internets are everywhere, but here there’s an internet cafe on every corner and free high speed wireless pretty much everywhere.
-Barbecue. The crown jewel of Korean food. Great to go out with a group of people and cook samguepsal over charcoals. Ssamjon sauce and soju just improves it.
-Time. I wish I’d done a bit more with it since I have so much. My commute is 5 minutes by foot, and last month, including prep time, I spent 30 hours a week in the office. When I factor in commute, meetings, and built in lunch breaks at my previous job in Chicago, I spend half as much time working here.
-Noraebang. It rules.
-Cheap smokes. 2.50 a pack, for every brand, at every store, even the airport. Plus, I can smoke them most anywhere too.
-Of course, my friends here. One of them even once got me Taco Bell. A cool bunch.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Well, my Korean time is nearing its end. in light of this, I've decided to make some useless lists. I'll start with the positive: Stuff I'm looking forward to in 'Merica

1. Taco Bell
1a. Taco Bell
2. Seeing friends, family, all that good stuff - preferably at the Bell

The others, in no particular order:
-Food variety in general (ie, not Korean, McDonalds, pizza, spaghetti, and cereal for every single meal)
-Easier access to, um, society?
-Cheap flights - I miss me some Southwest
-Music. I’m so out of the loop, I think I have maybe 20 songs on the pod that came out after 2006, most of which are shitty K-pop songs
-Pop culture in general
-Sports. I keep pretty damn up-to-date and I have a playoff-bound fantasy football team, but I’m excited to see live games at reasonable hours
-Sensible stores sell stuff I’d be interested in buying
-Regional variety - Korea is small enough that the weather is pretty much exactly the same all over the country all the time.
-Driers. I hate hanging my clothes.
-Ovens. They don’t exist here. Of course, I only use them for frozen pizza, but whatever.
-Karaoke - American style, where you sing to the whole bar
-Beer. Korean beer sucks and it’s overpriced at the grocery store