Tag Archives: Busan

Me and the Mountain

18 Apr

There’s a 3rd grade homeroom teacher at my school who considers himself to be my older Korean brother. I like to call him  Mr. Boastful. You might remember him. He’s the one who got me shit faced on soju one night following a staff dinner. He’s the type of person you always enjoy being around but who in some ways, scares the shit out of you because you never know what type of hijinks he’s gonna pull. Following my recent staff noraebang experience, he tried to physically hold me hostage until I agreed to let him come downtown with me to meet a friend for beers. I pulled a spin move to shake free before running to catch a cab. He’s really a nice guy, just a tad pushy.

Now Mr. Boastful is quite the outdoors man and a couple weekends back he invites to go rock climbing with his climbing team on Guemjeong mountain in Busan. Earlier in the year I had expressed some interest in going climbing while he was showing me cell phone pictures of a recent expedition.

I should mention that of the two times in my life when I’ve gone rock climbing, neither of them was on a mountain (let alone real rock) and neither was high enough to brag about. I contemplate coming up  up with an excuse for why I can’t go (afraid of heights, bad knees, expected Saturday morning hangover), but instead agree to go.  He takes my shoe size and tells me that he will prepare every thing I’ll need for the climb–harness, shoes, helmet, climbing pack, etc. At this point I realize he’s more excited about the climb than I am.

He picks me up Saturday morning and we head off for the mountain. With us are two members of his climbing team (a couple college aged girls fully decked out in climbing gear).  The hike to the climb site is short and when we arrive at the site one of the girls gives me a crash course on how to prepare and put on a climbing harness. She barely speaks a word of English so she carefully performs each task on her harness in front of me and I attempt to do the same on mine. I  pay close attention because I’m already nervous and the last thing I want is be in the middle of the climb and have something go wrong because I didn’t attach or tie something properly. My angst is heightened when one of the other team members tells me “Don’t worry. With good harness you don’t never die on mountain!”

Up until that point, the notion if dying hadn’t even crossed my mind. I was completely naive to the possibility that I may not make it back from the mountain alive. I give her a thumbs up accompanied my a nervous smile and proceed with readying my gear. The words “you don’t never die” would become my motto for the rest of the day.

Before starting the climb I reach into my pack and grab the pair of climbing shoes that have been prepared for me. I can instantly tell they will be too small (even for climbing shoes, which are generally smaller than a normal pair of shoes) but I try to squeeze my feet into them anyway just to say I did. After several attempts I decide to simply do the climb in my Reebok running shoes.

Everyone is tied off and we start the climb with one of the girls going first followed by Mr. Boastful then myself. I watch them make their way up the first stage taking mental notes on their route and technique all while thinking “there’s no fucking way in hell that I can do this.” When it’s my turn to start I try to do the same route but quickly find myself  slipping and struggling to find a good hold. Luckily Mr. Boastful takes pity on me and, seeing me about to throw in the towel, begins to hoist me up until I can find a proper hold to continue under my own strength. Despite what you might think, this in no way impedes on my feeling of accomplishment after I complete the first part of the climb.

Just before we start the second stage, I notice two other men have joined us on the climb ( other members of Boastful’s team). One is in full climbing gear and looks like he knows what he’s doing, and the other is a legitimate ajossi with no gear whatsoever; just a small backpack and a pair of lime green Nikes.  This second gentleman ended up doing the entire climb as a free climb. No ropes, no harness, no helmet, all balls. During one stage of the climb I start before him and arrive at the top to find him relaxing on a rock smoking a cigarette. A feat that has earned him the title of Mr. Bad-Ass. I can be positive, but i’m pretty sure he lit his cigarette with his bare hands.

In general Mr. boastful is helpful during the climb; coaching me up rough sections, showing me how to position my body, telling me I “don’t never die” to make me feel at ease.  However there are certain parts of the climb, usually when I’m struggling the most, when he tells me to stop where I’m at and look up for a photo. Here I am clinging for dear life to the face of this fucking mountain, sweating like a slave in my too-small-for-dreadlocks helmet, and I look up to see the man who’s supposed to holding the rope keeping me from falling to my death, grinning and pointing a camera down at me. Several times this happens. Several times I almost panic but keep my cool and muster up a smile. Damn Koreans and their paparazzi tendencies.

We make it to the peak where we plan to have lunch before repelling down, but before I can break out my kimbap and nacho cheese chips, I’m told that I need to hop a gap about five feet wide to get to the flab slab of rock where we will eat. Below the gap is drop that is easily 100-120 ft. down. I look over at Mr. Boastful and Mr. Bad-Ass who are already on the other side waiting and laughing and begin to think they’re actually anticipating that I won’t clear the gap. Again, Mr. Boastful takes out a camera to document the feat.

I clear it just fine, but the same cannot be said for the girl behind me who spends an entire 45 minutes trying to work up the courage to take the leap. When she finally does make it over, she completely breaks down in tears and can barely eat her lunch. And I thought I was the rookie?

When its time to repel down, Mr. Boastful goes first and I follow after leaning how to attach the rope to my harness. He gives me one last “you don’t never die” and snaps another photo before my feet are planted firmly on the ground.

On the ride home I am asked several times if I had a good time and if I would ever do it again. I say yes and Mr. Boastful says that it makes his heart “vely happy.”

“But,” he adds. “Next time you bring soju!” I nod my head and look out the window while mouthing the words “fuck no.”

Ciao,

Kimchi Dreadlocks

Koreans Love Baseball Too

13 Apr

I’ve been anticipating the start of the Korean baseball season pretty much since the end of last season when, due to still being a newbie to Korea, I knew little about it and was likewise unable to secure any tickets to a game here in Busan. It’s a shame because the Busan squad, Lotte Giants, happens to be one of the better squads in league.

At first glance Korean baseball seems somewhat of a joke. The Korean Baseball Organization, the equivalence to the MLB in the states, has only eight teams and several of them adopt their names from the majors (Lotte Giants, Kia Tigers, LG Twins). I also heard that the caliber of play is not comparable to that of the MLB (not that I expected it would be) and that each team is only allowed to have two foreigner players on their roster. Unfortunately the the salary cap for them is so low, teams are rarely able to lure in quality players from abroad.

Still, Koreans take their baseball very seriously. Walk into to any corner store, bar, or galbi joint on game night and there will probably be several televisions tuned into the game. A single mention of the Lotte Giants in my classroom sends the students into a frenzy complete with reenactments of recent home runs and the spouting off of scores and players’ names.  As I’m discussing how to get home opener tickets with other Busan waygooks, a friend of mine tells me he’s been told that many people sleep outside the night before games just to be first in line to purchase tickets after the online seats sells out. I don’t know if this is true or not but if it is, thats the type of fandom I can respect and ultimately want to be a part of (some of you may remember my soju infused Minnesota Twins rant from last year).

Despite the possible odds, I decide to make a go at getting some tickets to the home opener for myself and Kicker Jean. She’s normally a Samsung Lions supporter, but for today at least, she’s sworn allegiance to the Giants.

The Plan is to have a friend who lives by the stadium arrive early and hop in line to secure tickets for himself as well as others who are planning to show up later. I arrive to find him about 15 people from the ticket booth. It looks certain that we’ll be able to get tickets. Right as join him in line, the entire crowd turns around an begins walking away from the ticket booth. We’re less that 20 ft from the counter and the tickets sell out.

Luckily I spot an ajossi ticket scalper nearby. We are absolutely screwed on the price (having to pay double for an otherwise 7,500  Won general admission ticket) but I don’t care. It’s the home opener and the price is still comparable to what I might pay back home for Twins tickets. Unfortunately, my friend who arrived early to stand in line decides not to grab a ticket from the scalper and heads home. I feel bad because he showed earlier than myself and Kicker Jean, yet we were the ones who were getting to see the game. I phone him up and tell him we’ll save him a seat if he wants to try to find a scalper who will sell him a single ticket, but he’s already made it to the subway. There’s nothing else to do but head into the stadium.

Possible the best part about going to a Korean baseball game is that you can bring whatever food and drink you want into the stadium with you. Korean fans seem to take full advantage of this. I see people carrying in whole pizzas, cases of beer, instant noodles, soju, makgoli, kimbap–even fried chicken. Instantly, I fall in love. If you opt to buy your grub at the stadium the possibilities are countless. Instead of  the peanuts and cracker jacks you’d find at an MLB stadium, one can get  dried squid and silkworms. Instead of hot dogs and potato chips, you can enjoy samgyupsal and soon-dae –all of which can be bought either in the stands or at booths around the stadium.

Back in the states, I’m surprised they don’t hand out lube when you purchase a baseball ticket because you definitely get fucked when it comes to game time concessions. $7 bucks for a beer, $5 bucks a hot dog and damn near $10 for a hamburger and fries, and what’s worse, no fried chicken.

After buying a couple jerseys and more food and beer than is probably needed to enjoy nine innings, we take our seats to see the Giants take on the Hanwa Eagles. Before long we’re chanting along with the crowd and high-fiving everyone in the vicinity. I don’t know any of the chants so I simply match the inflections of my voice to that of the crowd. Similar to how people often mumble over the unknown words of a favorite song. From what I can tell, no one notices that I have no idea what the hell I’m saying and the college kids sitting in the same row seem impressed at my participation, so I do my best to keep up with the crowd  Later in the game we end up doing a few cheers together swaying back and forth; arm in arm.

Besides it being my first baseball game in Korea, it would also be the first time I’ve ever witnessed out-of-the-park home run.

The culprit?

Fatty Lotte Giants power slugger Lee Dae-Ho. This man is a beast. Last year he dominated the league in every offensive category except for one: steals. Fatty can hit, but fatty can’t run. Coincidentally, after Lee knocked one out of the park, Kicker Jean points out that I’m actually wearing his jersey (when I bought it, I just picked the biggest size and went with it).  I fight the urge to pretend like I knew who he was the whole time.

The most bizarre momemt in the game comes when, during the seventh or eighth inning every fan in the stadium puts a blown-up orange platic bag on their head. I’ve heard of this a few times, but no one has been able to adequately explain to me what it symbolizes.

My guess is that it’s a method used to rally the team toward a victory when they are losing, and to uphold the victory when they’re winning. Whatever the case, we have a hard time getting our bags inflated and attatched to our heads, but eventually are successful after the people sitting next to us helps us out. My ears are too small to keep the handles around them so I end up deflating it and wrapping it around my head like a bandana.

Many will say that it was sound pitching and home runs that lead the Lotte Giants to a victory that day, bit I like to think that it was the work of our orange rally bags that made it all possible.

I won’t be able to enjoy a Minnesota Twins game for long while yet, but for now I’m content with watching the Giants. At the very least, it will give me some material to chew up class during dull lessons at work.

Ciao,

Kimchi Dreadlocks

Radioactive Rain?

7 Apr

Korea has been all up in a fuss about the radioactive rain that was supposed to hit the peninsula today. Schools have closed down, kids have been banned from going outside and citizens have been generally  pissed off because they were initially told by the Korea Meteorological Association and the Korean Institute of Nuclear Safety that there would be no radiation coming into the country from Japan. They only admitted to the possibility after other foreign institutions did. Not that it mattered anyway. The trace amounts that were previously found in the air as well as the amount that was expected to fall with the rain were said to be so minuscule that it would have no harmful affects on the human body. Still, with the Korean media blasting information about even the possibility of radioactive rain, many locals are taking extra precautions.

However, as it turns out, all the scare is for no reason. The rain is nothing more than springtime doing its thing.

Honestly it doesn’t surprise me that the nation freaked out for a couple of days over this–even after being told it would cause no harm. Koreans seem to be good at working themselves up for little or no reason. We’re talking about a country that damn near shuts down on spring days when the yellow dust from China blows in (as it does in most of  the southern part of Asia). Likewise, During the winter Busan had snowfall that barely covered the ground, but many schools in the area were closed or had late starts because of it. I strolled into work that day only to find out that classes would be delayed nearly 2 hours–time I could have spent sleeping. A Korean friend of mine (a grown man) told me his mother had called into work for him because she didn’t want him to catch the bus; y the roads weren’t safe enough (which was probably true, but had nothing to do with the snow and everything to do with how crazy Korean drivers tend to be).

Personally I was hoping to get a couple days off with the coming of radiation infused rain. It would have been a great start to my weekend. No lie, when I showed up this morning I was halfway expecting to be sent right back home. In my head I was planning out the rest of my day just in case it happened. Nope. Even without the false alarm, I would have still taught my taught my usual lessons and had to tend to my normal desk warming bid.

So just like that, the possibility of radioactive rainfall has faded, and with it, my hopes of growing webbed feet in time for Busan’s beach season. Dammit.

Ciao,

Kimchi Dreadlocks

P.S. Links here and here in case you want to read more

*UPDATE: So I guess there was some radiation found in yesterday’s rain, but still not enough to create any interesting mutations or provide super human powers.  Now all we have to worry about is the possible radioactive  yellow dust sandstorm.  Great. Just great. Big ups to The Marmots Hole for the links.

 

Friday Collision

4 Apr

I’m in the middle of my third period fifth grade class, partially pretending to check some of my students’ review assignments and partially day dreaming about what I will do after I get off of work. For the first time in months, all the windows in the classroom are open and I’m not royally pissed about it. The midday weather is gorgeous and the breeze that’s coming in isn’t freezing for once.

As I’m still daydreaming, my co-teacher begins to explain the art project we will be working on for the remainder of class and I poke my head out the window just in time to notice a bus jump the curb and smash into a light post on the street in front of the school. I’m so surprised that the words “holy fuck” almost slip from my lips.

After the kids begin working on their projects I tell my co-teacher about the accident and we both stare out the window at the scene trying to dissect what happened. The light pole that the bus ran into is completely bent sideways and resting in the branches of a nearby cherry blossom tree

“I didn’t see any other vehicle hit the bus before it crashed into the pole.”
“Maybe the driver was drunk.”
“I wonder if something malfunctioned on the bus.”
“He was probably talking on his handphone.”

She returns to her desk and starts explaining the next instructions for the art project to the kids while at the same time grabbing for her camera and motioning for me to gt some shots of the action unfolding outside. By now an ambulance, two squad cars and another bus have arrived. The passengers are taken away while the driver stays to talk with the police.

It’s exciting because this is the second time this week (and really since I’ve been in Korea) that I’m seeing police doing actual police work.

Last Tuesday while out for dinner with some friends, I saw the police arresting what looked like a drunken teenager after he had crashed his fancy Hyundai into another car. They even had him handcuffed. I didn’t even know Koren cops carried handcuffs. Actually, up until then I didn’t think Korean cops did much beyond walking down the block in droves of 10-15 men intimidating everyone in their path (ajummas and grade schoolers included).

I snap a few shots of the accident and chuckle at how excited my co-teacher is about it, despite the horrible picture quality.  Neither of us really cared if anyone was hurt in the collision. It seems we were both open to any and all distractions to help get through our Friday classes. Do I dare say that we actually bonded over someone else’s misfortune?

At lunch she tells me that she posted the photos I took of the crash (I have no clue where) and that most of the people who looked at them were worried that someone might have gotten injured.

“Am I a crazy person for not caring?” she asks.

I grin and shake my head.

Like me,  she’s not crazy; just generally interested in other peoples’ fuck-ups.

Ciao,

Kimchi Dreadlocks

Teaching from the Bottom of the Totem Pole #4: 6 Months Down (6 More to Go)

3 Mar

Yesterday was the official start of the new school semester and the (unofficial) halfway point of my one-year contract.

I’ve been here 6 months. How do I feel about it?

The end of last semester was fairly  confusing, to say the least. My sixth graders took off for middle school and while there was a big ceremony commemorating their time elementary schoolers, many of the teachers seemed to take it pretty lightly. I brought a camera to possibly take some photos with some of my students before their departure and hoped to shake their hands and wish them good luck. Instead they were promptly marched out of the auditorium and out of the school to the sound of applause and cheering from their families and fellow classmates. As far as I could tell, most of the other teachers in the school went back to their rooms or to the teachers’ office to finish out the rest of the day. I took no pictures, shook no hands and congratulated no one. The ceremony, it seems, was mainly for the students’ families. Not that I have any problems with this, but I would’ve thought that many of the teachers would be little sad to see their students go. I certainly wasn’t shedding any tears on the matter, but over the course of six months I have developed a fondness for my students and admittedly (cue the violins) was somewhat sad at their rapid departure.

It then dawned on me that in Korea teachers and administrators move from school to school quite frequently and are very used to these sudden changes. They come and go almost as much as the students so when it’s time to move on, the goodbyes are short and everyone continues on with their assigned tasks. Sorry Mr. Dreadlocks. There is no time to dwell on your previous kids. We must prepare for the new semester.

As is the norm, change brings about confusion and this situation is no different. New textbooks are being used (though much of the material is the same), I have a new co-teacher (my former one moved to a new school), and my schedule has been jostled a bit. Surprisingly I’m taking it all well. If the past 6 months have taught me anything, it’s that in Korea it’s best to roll with the changes and (as much as you can help it) let the stress fall by the wayside. To do anything else might drive you into a state of depression.

A few thoughts about my first six in the classroom:

–Getting used to my completely illogical teaching schedule didn’t take as long as I expected, but I still have problems understanding how they came up with it. Why am I only seeing my third and fourth graders once every other week?

–Classroom rewards can be useful to foster participation, but they’re a pain in the ass to manage. I’ve written about this before.

–What is the benefit of placing special education students into my classes if I’m expected to completely ignore them? Everything about this seems unethical. *Chris (now gone from Korea) over at Kimchi with Eish wrote a good post on this a while back.

–Playing soccer with the students outside beats desk warming any day of the week.

–Instant coffee isn’t so bad…especially when it’s all you got. I just close my eyes and pretend it’s hot chocolate.

–I never expected to be told that I look like a “strong African warrior” during my time in Korea; let alone be told by someone at my school. Truly, the assistant principal is my homeboy.

–Soju hangovers will not improve your teaching ability, but it will make your breath smell like the inside of a Korean squatter toilet. Never again.

–Teaching my students how to beat-box and pop-lock (in addition to teaching a few hip handshakes) are some of the best ideas I’ve ever had.

–Simply put, the old textbooks were horrible and the new ones show little promise of being any better.

–Dong-Chim was created by satan.

All jokes aside though, the first half of my teaching contract hasn’t always been a breeze, but I have thoroughly enjoyed it and am looking forward to another six months of last minute staff dinners, desk warming and perky Korean students throwing up the peace sign as I pass them in the hallways.

Ciao,

Kimchi Dreadlocks

* On a side note, welcome to all the new EPIK teachers who just started. Words of wisdom for the “newbies” in Busan: KSU on Saturday nights can be bad for your health. See you there.

Grocery Store Shuffle

2 Mar

When I talk with other foreigners here in Korea about some of their annoyances, many of them mention how much they hate going shopping at  the grocery store.

They complain about pushy Koreans who shove you out of the way and abruptly stop right in front of you with their shopping carts; or how there’s never a good time of day/week/month when a particular store is not completely packed with people shopping as if preparing for a  global apocalypse. Then there’s complaints about product representatives who stand at the ends of  aisles screaming at shoppers in an attempt to influence their purchasing decisions–the reason you might walk into a store looking only to buy a soda a some chips, but walk out with a head of cabbage and the latest brand of Korean baby formula. Lastly, the most often cited annoyance is the exuberant prices you’re likely to spend for the oddest things–no Bullshit, I saw a bottle of maple syrup going for damn near $26.

Now all of these are very valid points worth whining about, but as I see it we shouldn’t let these simple nuances deter us and overshadow some of the more interesting elements of shopping at a Korean grocery store. In many ways a trip to the local store can be quite interesting if you know how to approach it. Let me explain.

For starters, let’s look at the obvious. In Korea the term “grocery store” doesn’t quite do these places justice. They should be called “smorgasbord stores,” because you can literally get just about anything you might need on any given day. This is one of the things that amazed me about the stores in my neighborhood when I first arrived in Busan. Not that I’d ever need to, but should I ever want, I can purchase hiking boots, a new washing machine and a space heater–along with milk and eggs–all from the same place. If I was so inclined to (perhaps if I was in a rush with little time before a date, for example), I could also grab a stylish pair of boxer briefs and some designer cologne. Some of you may be less than impressed by all of this, but next time there’s some random item that you can’t find anywhere, check the nearest grocery store. Chances are they’ll have it.

I once needed to have a spare key made for my apartment (I don’t live in one of the more modern buildings with an entry keypad). I checked out every hardware shop in my neighborhood and scoured the subway underground mall looking for any place that would be able to copy a key. Turns out there’s a locksmith’s booth on the third floor of my local Megamart–right across from a McDonald’s, Converse outlet store and the Megamart dry-cleaning service. Amazing. At the time I didn’t even know Megamart had a third floor.

Besides their versatility, Korean grocery stores can also be a cheap place to grab a bite to eat. Most of them have small diners located right in the store (usually near the frozen foods or meat and poultry sections) where you can buy a wide assortment of spruced up Korean street food. Tight on cash? Hit up the free samples. As long as you make it look like you might actually buy whatever you’re sampling you can usually eat as much as you want, but make sure to use the best judgement. If the clerk starts throwing up a fuss, it’s probably best to move on. There’s no sense in getting chin-checked by an ajumma because you wanted an extra piece of mandu.

Lastly, visiting the grocery store can be quite the hilarious adventure if you’re open minded enough. You’d be amazed at the shit they place together. It would be odd to wonder thorough the frozen pizza aisle and end up in the womens’ shoes section back in the states but in Korea, this type of thing is a completely normal occurrence. You might be looking to pick up some spaghetti noodles and discover you also need mayonnaise. Not because you’re out, but because the mayonnaise is probably strategically placed on the shelf just below the spaghetti. Who knew the two went together? After you’ve grabbed your pasta and mayo, head over to the next isle and pick up some sliced cheese. It should be right next to the soju and rice wine.  Tortillas and rice cakes, eggs and cucumbers, dried seaweed and curry sauce; the combinations are endless and each one is more bizarre than the last. True, this can make finding specific items a nightmare, but after a few trips you’ll get the layout down pact. Until then I’d let it the stress roll off your shoulders and simply enjoy the randomness.

Now because I’m really curious as to what grocery stores people most frequent these days (Megamart is my current favorite, but there’s always shit I can never seem to find there), I’ve decided to take a poll: What is your favorite grocery store in Korea? I’ve never done a poll on my blog and I don’t expect it to become a regular occurrence, but I figure I might as well use the feature I’ve only recently discovered exists.

I realize some of you may not cook your own food and could’t be bothered to go grocery shopping outside of picking up beer so obviously there’s no need for you to participate. The rest of you, however, can find the poll on the right at the top of the sidebar.  Be a good friend and cast your vote, and If the spirit really moves you, feel free to drop an explanation about your choice in the comments section.

Ciao,

Kimchi Dreadlocks

Korean What-the-Fuckery on the Bus

15 Feb

I often visit a blog call What the Kimchi??? On it, Flint does a series entitled “Mook of the Week” where he details some of the crazy shit that he notices Koreans doing.

Many of these posts are incredibly funny, and while I have no intentions of starting a similar series on this blog, I experienced something last week that reminded me of the Korean what-the-fuckery I often read about on What the Kimchi???

Everyday after work I hop on a tiny bus that weaves its way down a mountain on narrow streets packed with parked cars. . I often marvel at how drivers moving in opposite directions negotiate who gets the right away when there’s not enough room on the road for both vehicles to pass simultaneously.

Normally the right to pass is given to the bigger vehicle while the smaller one waits its turn off to the side of the street. For the most part this system works well, and even during rush hour, traffic seems to move along at a steady pace. On this particular day however, we were met with a road hog that decided to fuck up my plans of getting home in a timely manner.

As the bus I’m riding makes it’s way down a steep incline a van approaches from the opposite direction and  instead of turning off into a nearby driveway to let the bus pass, this bastard decides to speed up and stop right in front of us while motioning for the bus to back up and let him through. At this point I take a look out the back window and notice the bus would have to reverse back to the top of the hill into the middle of an intersection in order to let the asshole get by. It made much more sense for the van to back up and turn off into the driveway that was all of ten feet from his rear bumper.

Instead, a 45-second stare down ensues with both drivers motioning at the other to back up and neither vehicle moves an inch. I begin to get frustrated and search the faces of my Korean co-passengers hoping I wasn’t the only one. Surprisingly, no one seems to give a damn.

The driver of the van then hops out, approaches the bus and begins arguing with the bus driver, each man motioning for the other to back up and let him by.

I haven’t the slightest idea what was said but I imagine it went a bit like this:

Van Driver: Why aren’t you moving out of the way?

Bus Driver: Because I was here first. Why don’t you move?

Van Driver: There’s no way that I should have to move. Sure, it’s much easier for me to back my van up a few meters and let you pass, and clearly this would be more logical than you backing your bus up a hill into an intersection, but I was here first and as such, should be awarded the right to pass first.

Bus Driver: Wait, can you explain all that again. I have passengers that need to be somewhere and I’m pretty sure they want to sit here longer while we argue about which one of us should let the other pass. They enjoy watching two grown men act like complete jackasses.

Van Driver: Fine. I’ll just return to my van and stare at you some more through my windshield hoping you and your bus mysteriously vanishes from the road.

The van driver then returns to his vehicle and does just that.

I again look around at the other passengers hoping to find at least one person who shares my growing frustration (In hindsight I think I secretly hopped a gangster ajumma would come to my rescue, going upside the stubborn van driver’s head with a bag of freshly bought bean sprouts. Alas, this is an imperfect world).

After another minute-long stare down, it’s now the bus driver’s turn at an attempt to exert his will. He climbs out and approaches the van, and once more, an argument kicks off, this time with more arm flailing and gesturing. Another minute or two passes (I would have been home by now had I chose to walk) and he returns to the bus swearing (I’m assuming they were swear words) under his breath. He then calmly takes off his sunglasses, wipes them clean and places them back on his face. I got the feeling a curbside brawl was approaching (which I no doubt would have stuck around for) or maybet a game of “chicken.”

The van driver, meanwhile, is wildly pounding his steering wheel and screaming out his window at the the equally stubborn bus driver. I finally decide to get up and walk the rest of the way home when the van begins to creep backwards. What should’ve been a simple 90 degree back-in to the driveway turns into a five-move NASA space shuttle manuver that nearly clips the side mirror off a parked Hyundai.

As the bus finally pulls forward and continues along it’s route I contemplate standing up and applauding but this would have been pointless. I was the only one on the bus who even remotely cared that we were finally on our way. Everyone else was too busy staring at their cell phone screens or otherwise not giving a fuck about what was going on around them.

Why?

Because I live in Korea.

Ciao,

Kimchi Dreadlocks

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