Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The first paragraph is about pushy old ladies...

Hi guys! Just me, dropping a line. It's been a while for sure...sowwy! It's just kind of getting to that point in being in a new place where things start to seem not interesting enough to write home about anymore...if that makes sense. I guess there are some things that still surprise me everyday, like when an old lady totally invades my personal space on the subway. Today one actually grabbed my hips and moved me over one seat so she could sit beside her friend. I just shook my head and smiled and tried not to laugh. Last week one was hanging on to the same pole as me and her hand kept slipping down so that it was on top of mine but then she'd move it up again really quickly...it probably happened like 15 times in total haha.

Other than old lady antics, things are starting to feel like they're stabilizing. A few weeks ago I was feeling a little burned out from too much...things. Just trying to do too much and be too many places in too short of a time period. My first three months here has been pretty packed with seeing things, doing things, going places and frequently staying out really really late. I think that there's no coincidence my burnout occurred almost simultaneously with the weather getting colder. As you may already be aware, I hate hate hate hate HATE winter and cold and snow and wind. Loathe it. Winter is for blankets and books and movies and for short walking distance excursions to the nearest licensed establishment when required. Also, I was sick for like three weeks. Started out as just a regular cold and then dragged on and on. Same thing happened with several of my friends and a couple of them developed bonafide bronchial infections :(. Not to lay blame, but I am gonna mention that they didn't turn on the heat at my school until last week, same with many others. Know how hard it is to recover from a cold when you are constantly chilled to the bone? Yeah. Hard. I've been feeling mostly better for a couple of weeks but the cough and mucus and sore throat sneak back into existence every once in a while. So, anyway, in summary, I've been hanging around Daejeon and slowing down into winter mode...until winter vacation anyway :)

WINTER VACATION YOU SAY!? THAT SOUNDS SPLENDID! Right? It looks like I'll be getting the last two weeks of February off work ( until March 3). I haven't quite determined a plan as of yet...but I will definitely be going somewhere WARM with BEACHHEESSSSS. My Lonely Planet Southeast Asia book has come in the mail so I've got some reading to do before I figure it out for sure. I'll update again when I do know. Expect something like Thailand, Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam etc.

In general things seem to be going well. I still get this anxious feeling sometimes that everything is going to go to shit and I'll be in Canada by the end of next week over some ridiculous issue out of my control. Or that I'm going to "do something wrong" and get kicked out of Korea. I expected I might have some stress regarding this as a residual effect of what happened with China. Realistically, this situation has almost nothing in common with the one I found myself in in China, so worrying about it is probably stupid. Problem is, anxiety isn't really one of those things where mind over matter works. I'm hoping that the longer I stay here the more it will help me to get over it, especially because I'd love to make a visit back there sometime next year and would love to not have a panic attack at the airport. Sometimes it surprises me that I still worry about that. What a stupid series of events. Sigh.

Okay, I should probably cut it off here. Sorry for the solemn tone, I really am having a great great time. Besides, I'd be a total jerk if I didn't miss having you guys around at all amirite? Hope everyone is doing okay (and not missing ME too much haha)



Thursday, November 1, 2012

Mary whines about being sick...

because I'M SICK!!! :( And it sucks. My friends are out watching the new James Bond movie, but I literally can't stop coughing for five minutes even. I'm on day 4 of a common cold...past the sore throat and into the non stop coughing...and should have a lovely runny nose in time for the weekend. It suuuucccckkkkksssss. I'm also the biggest suck in the world when I'm sick. I usually just mope around until one of my roomates takes pity on me and makes me tea or food or buys me some soup. Since I'm roomateless I'm just sitting curled up in a blanket on my bed warming myself with my laptop's warmth. The schools I work at are both quite cold, and this seems to be pretty standard from what I hear from the other foreign teachers here. Not only does the heat not seem to be turned on, but they like to keep the windows open. Most of the teachers and kids wear their coats in class. Today I was actually thinking about how I need some fingerless gloves for working at my computer...my hands were soooo coooold...my nose too :(.

Ok, enough whining. Just understand that I am really cold ALL the time, and I'm also sick. What else is new? I made a trip to Costco and found 1 Litre of maple syrup from Canada AND pumpkin pie! It was a good trip...and now I know that they have pie all the time, so I can get some anytime I need it. And as you may know I'm not super picky about pie. Halloween weekend was last weekend so we went to Busan to check out the celebrations there. It also coincided with a huge International Fireworks  Festival. Unfortunately it rained all day on Saturday so the postponed the fireworks until Sunday. Most people left before it started, but we decided to stick around. We ended up catching the very last train back to Daejeon (home) that night by about 10 minutes, which was a little stressful, but totally worth it. The fireworks lasted for an hour and was one of the most incredible, breathtaking things I have ever seen. I couldn't have watched it for 10 hours and not gotten bored or eaten or used the washroom I think.

I also managed to find a pair of pants that fit. Most Korean stores only carry up to a 30...which is a US 8 or 10? 30 is JUST too small, but too small none the less. I found ONE place where she had bigger sizes and it was a total victory. I have now purchased pants in TWO Asian countries where I though it would be impossible. In your face ASIA! I did have to endure a bit of a body fat pinch in my waist/hips area from the lady I bought them from, but things like this no longer surprise or alarm me. Old ladies do not care about whether I am comfortable with them touching me, they are going to do it anyway. I would say it's like I'm invisible to them, but some of the impacts are definitely premeditated...like the elbow to waist move. The subway on a Saturday is mostly grandmas in hiking gear throwing elbows hahaha! Not joking! I do my best to stay out of the way of any old ladies I see in case they start yelling at me or elbowing me.

I still haven't got my winter vacation plans nailed down, although I DO know when at least 2 weeks of my winter camps are. First 2 weeks of January I am here for sure, and then I MAY get stuck with another week of this other Ministry mandated camp. I'll let you know when I know where I'm going. It's almost definitely somewhere warm...a type of Thailand-ish place perhaps. OK, I should try to do something productive like get a lesson ready for tomorrow or learn Korean or something. Although I'll probably just nap because I'm SICK AND PATHETIC!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Every day...

I'm shufflin....no just kidding. But as predicted, I've got all my work done up to next Wednesday and there's 2 hours to go of this workday. I was warned that I'd be doing some deskwarming, so whatever. It's not a big deal, I'm just bored and it's a beautiful fall day outside and I want to go for a bike ride and have a picnic by the river. Oh ya! My bike is fixed. THe crusty old Korean man fixed it without saying a word basically, for free, and then shooed me away. Luckily, the man who owns the garage right beside the bike place was a little more curious about the foreigner with a broken bike and also I said hi to his 5 year old daughter the other day, so he likes me now. He informed me through gestures that I can't change the front set of gears, only the back ones. Which is kind of funny because that's EXACTLY what my crappy Toronto bike was like too. So it all worked out far better than I thought it was going to.

I was trying to think yesterday of something I could write about that wouldn't be totally boring for somebody like you to read. I think probably, knowing my family, what would go over well for sure is a day in the life! edition. I'm basically one of those day-time people now that carry about their business during daylight and only sleep until the afternoon on weekends. Which I'm totally OK with. I haven't reached the point of waking up before 6 to go for a run haha. I'm saving that for my 30s. OK, here goes.

I wake up at 6:30 am. I'm not good at rushing in the morning...I like to be lazy and eat a nice breakfast and drink a cup of tea and check up on the world and take longer than necessary to decide what to wear. Oh, it may also interest some of you to know that, similar to China, I don't have a shower. Just a shower head attached to the faucet on my sink. Which means there is a very high risk of accidentally getting showered on when I go to brush my teeth in the morning after I've got my clothes on. This is an issue haha. I seem to be incapable of learning this lesson...

I leave my house anywhere between 7:50 and 8:05...although I really should be aiming for 7:55. It all depends on whether I take a clothes on shower by accident or not haha. The morning also seems to be the best time to catch Canada on the internets and I usually have to cut off a conversation that I'm REALLY enjoying and so I leave late.

Get to school HOPEFULLY around 8:30am. Both the schools I'm at are really chill. I think I would have to be REALLY late to get in any kind of trouble for it. At one school the other teacher is always late a solid 15-20 minutes haha! Sometimes I think she isn't going to make it, and I will have these kids that barely speak English with no help from the computer, which I don't know the password for...and these kids are nuts. All hormonal and crazy. Being a preteen ain't easy. But she always shows up just in time, so it's ok.

Next, I generally teach classes all or almost all morning. 4 of them. Then lunch. Let me tell you about how much I love lunch here: LUNCH IS AWESOME. Basically, there is a caf that cooks food for the kids and the staff. The younger kids eat for free, the older kids have to pay a bit although I hear that all of them will get free food starting next year. I have to pay for it too, but not very much. And it's totally delicious Korean food. There is always rice, always kimchi, always soup. Usually there is something that tastes like fish, something that is too spicy for me to eat very much of and something that is pork/beef/chicken. And I gotta be honest. It's better than Chinese food. It just is.

Usually in the afternoon I have at most one class right after lunch. Then I'm at my desk until 4:30. Usually I've totally got stuff to work on for classes the next day and stuff, but because of this whole entire day of just sitting here I'm pretty caught up on everything. You know what I could/should be doing and will maybe do some of after I'm done this post? Learn Korean. Wouldn't that be smart? And a good use of my time?

I get home from work around 5 and usually don't do anything super exciting after that. Might go grab some dinner with friends, might go buy some things I'm still missing for my place from my favourite dollar store, might do laundry...stuff like that.

Weekends have been a lot more varied for sure. There's definitely enough going on in Daejeon to keep me interested. This weekend is a wine festival thing...which is awweesommme. I've been to Seoul a couple of nights to visit a friend I know from Toronto there...been to a city called Suwon a couple of times to visit another friend and go to a huge music festival...been to the south coast, and planning a Busan trip for Halloween. The trains in Korea are great so getting around is super easy and inexpensive...UNLIKE CANADA!! I think I've also mentioned somewhere before about how bars don't close...makes weekends verrrrryyy interesting!

Special Thanksgiving Edition

Happy Belated Thanksgiving Canada! I haven't really done anything to celebrate it here to be honest. Last year I skyped into the g-rents place and said hi to everyone (and blew my great Uncle Jim's mind with the wonders of technology haha), but this year the time difference wasn't going to work out. I think hands-down mine and everyone else's favourite part of Thanksgiving is the food. I hadn't really been thinking about it, but then some jerk somewhere must've reminded me of the existence of pumpkin pie, and now all I can think about is pumpkin pie. Apparently I can get it at Costco, but honestly, I know I will just be disappointed by it. Pie that you buy is ALWAYS unfulfilling. Oh well. I hope everyone else enjoyed their pie this weekend, including my stupid brat brother and his entire pie that he probably won't even eat all of.

What else is new? You're getting a surprise blog post because I'm bored at work. Because tomorrow is a field trip day and all the kids I teach are going to Seoul to watch a movie and look at a building? I don't know they didn't explain very well. Not only do they not speak English, they are 11. Getting information from them is not easy. So I have nothing to prepare for tomorrow, and my coteacher are gone, and I'm all alone and I'm soo boorrrrrreeed. And of course there are things I could be doing, like making sure my money transfer worked or trying to learn Korean or looking up FLIGHTS TO THAILAND or something like that, but I don't feel like doing it. I feel like communicating with people and maybe even interacting with them. So here we are.

On Monday I bought a bike. On Tuesday I broke it. I tried to shift gears and I mangled the thing that feeds the chain into the gears and also the plastic bit that protects the gears. Bent and snapped respectively. I bought it from one of those crappy little shady bike shops for about 50 bucks, which is really cheap for a bike here. Probably a bad idea all in all. The guy didn't speak English at all and he looked kind of annoyed the entire time I was trying to buy it. So now I am trying to work up the motivation to take it back to him and try to get a refund, or at least get him to buy it back from me for slightly cheaper if that's what I have to settle for. And if that doesn't work I'm going to just leave it outside and hope that someone steals it...which seems like the least amount of effort anyway. My roomate in Toronto was really smart with bikes...as soon as it happened I was like "AGH Pete would know what to do!" So Toronto gets to score a point over Korea in the bikes department. That's Korea 10 and Toronto, like, 2.

There is a Wine Festival this weekend, which should be a good time! The weather is warmer here than back home but it's cooling off pretty fast. I've still been getting away with no jacket and bare feet, so I am completely content. I need to start thinking of a costume for Halloween...any ideas let me know. I also need/want to start thinking about/planning my winter vacation time. All I know for sure is that I'm going somewhere warm. China can wait until it's not freezing cold like I know it will be. I'm thinking Thailand Cambodia maybe Vietnam? I only have 2 weeks, so I don't want to stretch it too thin ya know?

OK that's likely all for now, workday coming to an end :) Thanks for tuning in, I'll see ya'll next time around. Hell, maybe tomorrow. Maybe I will write TWO posts tomorrow. I'm gonna be super bored. Apparently only the 2nd and 1st graders will be here with their teachers...everyone else in the damn school is gone. Maybe they will let me hang out with the first graders haha

OK, much love!


Thursday, October 4, 2012


HI THERE! I have things worth updating you about. Promise it's interesting. First and foremost, one of my best friends had a baby last weekend in Toronto! Baby and mom are both healthy and beautiful! I was receiving updates from various sources on this event while on vacation. Chuseok is basically the equivalent of our Thanksgiving, and this year we were lucky enough to squeeze a 5 day weekend out of it! 5 days is plenty of time to go on a little trip somewhere! We found an organized trip for not a bad price that a bunch of people we met at our orientation were going on too. We went down to Namhae Island from Saturday until Wednesday. Namhae is technically attached to the mainland via a huge bridge so we bussed all the way there. The first morning we hiked up a mountain to see a temple then went to a beach. Then there was a fire on the beach, because I wandered off looking for firewood like the true hunter-gatherer I am! You can't hang out on a beach at night without a fire amirite? The next day we switched lodgings to move closer to a town where the rest of our activities were planned. Here we went kayaking, but because they ran out of kayaks, 4 of my friends and I piled into a 3 person canoe (recap- there were 5 of us) and we paddled out into the sea. We didn't even tip over! It was a glorious success. The last day of the trip there was an Oktoberfest being held in this German village that was created for Koreans who had lived in Germany to learn the secrets of being efficient or something (that's gotta be pretty close haha). Anyway, Oktoberfest, complete with German beer and sausage and I think schnitzel too! We spent the whole day there and listened to Koreans yodelling and watched them dance to polka. It was probably the best day ever. The next day was Wednesday and time to come home. It was a long and harrowing bus trip...I was in pretty rough shape, particularly after Oktoberfest the day before (as you can imagine). Today I had to go to work, and it was paaaainnfullll. I call it vacation hangover...that first day after you get back from vacation and you're all tired and unimpressed with your regular life. Luckily I only have to go back to work for 2 days before the next big party! This weekend is Global Gathering Korea, which means dancing all weekend to lots of great DJs, including Guetta!!!! Who I swear is crazy famous, but if you don't know who he is don't worry, neither did Mom hehe. I'll likely update you on that one too. I'm pretty proud of how short I've managed to keep this exciting post, so I'm gonna keep it that way. If there are anythings in particular you want me to talk about in the next blog LEMME KNOW!!! I just want to keep you, the reader, satisfied and also entertained.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Guess it's time for a blog update

Yaaaa, I'm writing another blog post. Because I feel like I should, so that you, the reader, maybe my friends and most definitely my family, don't forget about me. And so you can hear my voice in your head while you read this. I will try to keep it organized and as non-rambly as possible.

First: The logistical stuff. I've been teaching for almost a whole week now. My week is being split between two school that are pretty close to each other. Lemme break it down for ya. On Mondays and Tuesday I teach Grades 5 and 6 at Jayang Elementary School. The rest of the week I'm at Daedong Elementary School, where, on Wednesdays I teach grade 5, Thursdays grade 6, and Fridays grade 4. On Thursday I also do a staff conversation class with any interested teachers at Daedong. In Korean public schools they use a system called co-teaching, which means myself and a Korean English teacher are both teaching the class together. I have 3 co-teachers between the 2 schools who all have different teaching styles, different classroom rules, different lessons plans and different expectations from me. Let me make a point of saying they are ALL AWESOME and have gone pretty easy on me my first week. I get to do mostly fun stuff like games, dialogues, high-five giving and saying "what's up dudes?" in the hallways. What else about work...oh oh oh. So, getting a new guest English teacher appears to be a big deal for both schools. At Jayang they put me on the television morning announcement and made me talk and bow and also I think I swore allegiance to the King of South Korea at some point or something...it got a little confusing. At the very least it was probably the most nationalistic thing I have ever/will ever do haha. At Daedong they had a staff meeting to introduce the new teachers, including myself and 3 others. Of the four of us, I was given a rose by the head teacher. Nice. And then, AND THEN, the principal of the school busted out his SAXOPHONE and played two sax solos. That's right, not one, but TWO. I felt like I was in an episode of The Office, and he was Michael Scott, and I was Jim making faces at the camera and trying not to laugh. In other words, I had to put a lot a lot of effort into not laughing at the hilarity of it.

Ok enough about work that stuff's totally boring, I'm sorry. I already told you about how much I love my apartment, but I'll tell you again. It's the best. And close to the subway system, and close to downtown, and close to the best burger place in town. It has also been decided that living in a different neighbourhood than where your school is located can only be a good thing. This way your students don't know a damn thing about your personal life, such as when you leave, when you come home, how often you go to the store to buy booze and what other people are coming into and leaving from your house and at what hours. These are things teachers best keep to themselves. I've been doing some nesting in my little apartment...bought a plant, and a stool, and a jug of wine (the exact same cheapo jug of wine they sell in Canada haha). Now it feels like home.

We went out on the town last Friday night, and it was the first time I had been in the downtown area. Good news: it's pretty great! It's essentially 4 or 5 blocks of small little streets crammed full of restaurants, bars, clubs, street food, karaoke, internet cafes (duh, I'm in Korea), shops and people. We were able to check out a few different places before we realized it was 6am and the sun was starting to come up. Turns out, in Korea, bars just don't close, ever. In Canada there's always that natural 2am last call reminder of what time it is, but when there's no last call it is super easy to lose track of time! So that's some good news.

Ok ok I'm gonna wrap it up real soon. I've been seeking out Korean classes so I can return to my regular loquacious self ASAP and make sure that all the people can hear all of the wonderful things I am thinking about saying. I'm trying to find somewhere to get some exercise...there's a hot yoga studio just down the street from here that I'm considering. Also thinking about buying a bike. Planning on going to a big music festival to see GUETTA among others. Ummmm...I have a 5 day weekend coming up in a few weeks and I'm trying to figure out a little trip somewhere within Korea for that.

Oh a couple more things that I noticed. All the dogs here are tiny. Like miniature. And sometimes dyed pink. And Korean TV has about 30 double/triple/quadruple takes for every hour of programming apprx. They love double takes. And everyone is really impressed at my mad chopstick skillz. Last one: one of my co-teachers sings in a metal cover band. She sings Guns n Roses, AC DC...anything in a higher register that she can scream to really. How cool is that?! OK that's it for real. Thanks for reading to the end, so much for not rambling.



Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I have pictures!

Welcome, friends, to a blog where I post photos. Of my apartment.  Because I lucked out and have internet already! Also a bank account. Things happen fast here.

Okaaaay photos.

This is the view from basically my front door. Straight ahead is the bathroom, to the left is my kitchen, and to the right is THE room.

 Here we see THE room, complete with bed, desk, chair, flat screen tv mounted to the wall, and a wardrobe and shelves out of sight in the corners. The wall paper is really lovely!

And last but not least is my laundry room, which also houses the fridge and pleasant surprise microwave! It's located to the left of the room shown above.

And that concludes our tour! I'm really really happy with it. I had been warned that it might be even smaller and a lot dirtier. It's really cute, really clean, in a FANTASTIC neighbourhood, and best of all there are no gates hahaha.

I also had my first day of teaching today...I think it might end up being a pretty laid back year for me. My co-teachers seem like they might do quite a bit of the leading and I will just supplement with my native speaking skills. We'll see though, there might yet be some lesson planning in my future.

Monday, August 27, 2012


Quick update because I'm pretty sure I've got to go and get on a bus soon.

Thing 1: Orientation is over at last and I've been told that I'm teaching at two different elementary schools that are in the same area. One school gave me a fairly detailed description, saying I would be teaching there wednesday to friday, grades 4-6. The other school provided almost no detail, so all I know is that there are 300 students or something and 20 classes. OK, that was a short one, but I've gotta run, and I likely won't have internet for a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

First Korea Post!!

Hi friends! The blog is back by popular demand (I swear it)! I flew into South Korea last night and am currently staying in a dorm room at what I assume is a university in the city of Daejon. I woke up in Toronto on Sunday morning at 4am, was on a plane around 8am, flew 5 hours to San Francisco and then another almost 12 hours from there to Seoul. From the airport we got on a “shuttle bus” for a 3 hour trip to Daejon. We got here and settled in around midnight on Monday. I didn't see a sunset from Sunday morning to Monday night. For serious. It was like we just skipped right over Sunday night...which I guess is exactly what happened. Anyway, we're here and the jet lag isn't so bad as of right now.

Points of interest thus far: after I had cleared security I walked into a washroom at Pearson and saw a girl that went to university with me drying her hands. We had had a few classes together but I hadn't really heard from her in a couple years, but we remembered each other. Turns out, not only was she flying to South Korea to teach English, she was going to the exact same city as me! My guess is that the chances of that happening are pretty slim right? Anyway, not even on a plane yet and off to a pretty good start. When I got here I met ANOTHER girl who went to UTSC for a couple of years and found out we have some mutual friends too!

UPDATE: I have now been here for a couple of days. I have been REALLY busy. We've got a packed schedule starting at breakfast at 7:30am and ending with Korean lessons that are over at 8:30. For seven days in a row. Friday gives us a nice little break with a field trip into the city (but still takes up the whole damn day). The food is served to us cafeteria style and it has been cracking me up on the regular. They are trying to cook food that is familiar to us, but since they are Koreans who cook for Koreans, the meals are usually lacklustre and a little strange sometimes. Lots of soup for breakfast, lunch AND dinner...creamy, bland, thick stuff that looks suspiciously all alike even though it's got a different name each time. And cabbage! Cabbage in the soups, cabbage in the stir fries, cabbage in the salad, cabbage in the meat (I swear). Also there were hotdogs (or spam) in my lasagna today hahaha. Yesterday for dinner it was rice, fried rice AND spaghetti, which also made me LOL.

What else...had the medical check up today. I will list all of the things that happened. Hearing test, colour blindness test, urine sample, blood sample, height, weight and chest measurements (by chest I mean my rack...so they're going to totally label me as obese lol ), eye test, consultation with doctor (for real), blood pressure and an X-ray which took place in a mobile X-ray bus. The same bus, my temporary roomate pointed out, on which the muffins they were feeding us afterwards were being stored. Thus the title “radiation muffins” was coined today haha.

Ok, this should be an update enough for everyone. I still don't find out what age I am teaching or where I'm living for sure until Sunday I think. I haven't had a chance to explore Daejon at all since the gave us a TEN PM CURFEW because foreigners can't be trusted. Found a bar down the street from the campus last night, but this area doesn't appear to be super trendy or anything. Will give more details when I can though.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


This is how you pronounce the name of the island. I, as with most places I have ever been outside of Canada, was pronouncing it totally wrong and had no idea until I arrived. Now we allll know! Alright now, it's only been a couple days but now seems to be a good time for blogging, so let's do it. Yesterday we started into the extra touristy junk, with a little plane ride around the island. It was excellent...it's something like 90% of the island is unreachable by road, and there are parts that you can't even hike to up in the mountains. It took us about an hour and twenty minutes to go all the away around the island, including into the interior for a bit, and back out to sea. Tiny tiny. Found out that this island boasts the "wettest place on earth" where I guess it just rains non stop.

Today we did a kayak/hike tour. I may have misled dad a little about how much effort this trek was going to be, and he was pretty exhausted by the end. Oops haha. In my opinion, it was all totally worth it because we got to see and also swim at the bottom of a picturesque little waterfall. And we got a picture of my standing in it, which is totally the greatest. And of course all the parts other than just that were also super beautiful.

I forgot to mention last time: Reggae is a BIG deal here. They love it, it's played heavily on 2 of the 4 radio stations, and of those 2 one of them ONLY plays it. It makes cruising around pretty badass.

There is a Hawaiian form of Pidgin, which is English mixed with regional language or variations. And they call it Pidgin too. I haven't heard a lot of it, but I have definitely noticed some interesting dialect, like 'tree' instead of 'three' as an example.

Wal-mart sells the cheapest souvenirs. That's just how it is. Although I haven't been in Costco yet haha.

OH! And I found out today that it is totally legal to sit in the bed of a pick up truck if all the seatbelts in the front are being used. That is a law. On an unrelated (or is it?) field, booze is crazy cheap.

That is all for now.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Hawaii Installment

Okay team...it has been a while, but I feel inspired to fill the internet in on this little Hawaii side vacation. Short story: this is the greatest place on Earth. Somehow, Hawaii has been underrated by the tourism industry. Doesn't seem possible right? But seriously, this place is some kind of untapped paradise. Beautiful weather every day, perpetual beaches, friendly and welcoming culture, perfect AND empty beaches, and WHALES!!!! SERIOUSLY! I am glad this island isn't swarming with people, but frankly it is astounding that it isn't. For those of you who don't know, I'm on the island of Kauai, in this little tiny town called Kekaha, a town that according to the guide books, is "rarely visited, even by locals". This place is smaallll town...Bayfield style...but with a school...and so much surfing. So, since I wasn't really planning on blogging at all, but have been noticing little things I want to share with everybody, and probably won't have a chance to upload any photos until I get home, I'm gonna list off some of the more interesting things I have noticed while here! HOORAY!
1. The "surf's up" sign. You know that thing you've seen in surf movies with the thumb and the pinky sticking up?
Ya, this one right here!! This is a big thing. People flash this to each other when they pass on the road, when they see each other on the beach...all the time. Spreads lots of good will and surfer karma I guess.
2. Literally everyone here surfs. Everyone. It's like hockey in Canada. People can surf before they walk. It's pretty cool.
3. Jacked up trucks/jeeps. Jacked up literally...like when the body of the vehicle sits above the tires by at least a foot? Like that...all the rage. And not new trucks...trucks from the 1980s. Vehicles here age waaay differently than in Canada...salt damage occurs on THE TOP of the vehicle rather than on the underside. Weird right? Either way, it means that taking preventing salt damage tends to be a lot easier, and thus vehicles age more gracefully and thus older vehicles can be "cool" and not just totally worn out.
4. The Pacific Ocean is terrifying. Totally scary. Respect. I've heard lots of stories about pro surfers getting HELLA banged up...and these are people who KNOW what they are doing and still manage to get totally mangled by the ocean.
5. Hawaii's main industry is tourism. Until about 10 or 15 years ago it was sugar cane in a few places still, such as this island, but this has been totally shut down and moved to the Philippines where labour is cheaper. On this island there is a great deal of seed corn grown, but that requires minimal manual labour. Our hosts have been telling me that since property values have increased by so much, young Hawaiians are unable to buy their own homes, and up to 4 generations are living within one rather small house (and spending a lot of money on their souped up trucks!) Sooo...economic situation could be better, especially on this island that tends to stay away from the tourist spotlight.
6. ROOSTERS! Actually roosters everywhere. Back in 1992 a hurricane destroyed all the cages that the fighting cocks were kept in. If you know the fist thing about anthropology you know that cock fighting is a pretty big deal in Polynesian culture, thus, a pretty big deal in Hawaii. You might also know that it is highly frowned upon by most Western governments. Thus, in 1992 when this hurricane hit, a bunch of illegal fighting cocks were released into the wild by a hurricane, and there was no legal recourse for going about recapturing them since nobody wanted to take responsibility for a bunch of illegal birds. So now there are just wild roosters all over the place! And not North American variety roosters...fricken South East Asian JUNGLE fowl is what they are called!!! As a person who is afraid of most kinds of birds, they are pretty intimidating. I've been taking photos of them, but at a respectful (fearful) distance, so watch for those to come.
Okay, that it is for now. More to come probably!!! Also lots and lots of photos. Peace and love friends!