Tuesday, November 18, 2008

O Canada

Alrighty, I've been home for a while, and I figure it's time to update everyone. I'm living in Canada again. I'm at my parent's new house, and soon will be living in an appartment in their basement. My day is routine and mind-shatteringly restrictive. I'm looking at online tutoring to earn some money, which will be nice. I'm still trying to decide what I'm going to do next September. Where I'll live, what school I'll go to, and, sometimes even, what I'm going to do. Until the time comes for those decisions to be made, I'll be here; and I love visits (even if they can only be online chats or phone calls)!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Fabulous Fun and PIFF

It's festival season in Pusan, and lately I've been really busy just trying to do everything from TreX games to the Pusan International Film Festival, with some mountain-top camping in between!

Lets start with TreX

I only saw a few things from the TreX games, including some outdoor exhibitions that blew my mind. Some Hapkido performances were spectacular, with high leaps, fast kicks/punches, smooth tumbles and unbelievable athleticism. The BMX exhibition was spectacular! High tricks and a lot of hard falls. Again, fantastic athletes! See Chris' pictures for some great shots.

I also saw something I never thought possible. Picture this: four girls. a see-saw with chair cushions under the part that hits the ground on the down tilt. That's it. Two at a time the girls, using their OWN BODY STRENGTH, would jump and propel one another in the air. Once in the air she would do FLIPS and gymnastic tricks, then land on the board again to propel the opposite girl into the air. All this, over CEMENT! No protective netting or cushioning. Just cement. If one of the girls aimed wrong, or came out of a flip at the wrong time, she'd land on cement after a 15-20 foot fall. SCARY! I also saw the kite festival at Haeundae (some AMAZING kites) and some BMX/skateboarding/in-line skating competitions in BEXCO. All were fantastic. Mind-boggling. Unfortunately, my camera was out of batteries...

The Pusan International Film Festival was fun last year, though sadly, I missed most showings due to work. The same thing happened this year. Chris and I decided to see a film called "Religulous", despite knowing nothing about it, because it "guaranteed laughs." I didn't laugh. It was stupid, biased and cut-and-paste to prove the director's point. Only a brainless sheep, like the ones he mocked in the movie, would believe anything portrayed in the movie as "enlightened". A waste of time.

However, one good thing about the movie was that as we were in line to get the tickets a man came up to us and told us that he had to go to Seoul and couldn't use his tickets for a movie called "Johnny Mad Dog". We went and saw it. I have to say, this was an EXTREMELY difficult movie to watch. In fact, I closed my eyes for some parts. It's about child soldiers in Liberia and it was brutal, heartrending, and REAL. Of the 14 main children actors in it all are either ex-child soldiers or homeless/familyless street kids from Liberia. All have seen, or even participated in, the events portrayed in the movie. It was rated +12, but I would put the highest possible rating on it. There are EXTREMELY disturbing scenes, including mass killing, hard drug use and rape. No 12-year-old should be allowed to see those things, no matter how life-hardened they are. It reminded me of all I have been reading about Somalia and Darfur. Which I think is the point. More about those places in the news later...

Anyway, this past week has been great. I'm trying to get in all of Korea I can before coming home, and I think I'm doing a pretty good job...!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Vietnam: The place to be. Seriously.

OK, so Chris and I went on an AWESOME trip to Viet Nam for a heavenly 8 days and 7 nights. We wanted to go somewhere to get our scuba diving lisences so I looked at a few countries and picked Viet Nam because of the weather, and Hoi An because I'd found some divers' blogs online saying it's the new place to go for diving. That was the extent of our planning. off, got tickets, jumped on a plane and arrived in Da Nang (the closest airport to Hoi An) with a bunch of Korean money and a nearly empty bag. Totally random, unorganised and relaxed! The town was georgous, the people really interesting, and the experience, oh so wonderful!

a coracle on the sea.
If anyone has any desire to visit Vietnam in the future, I highly reccomend it, and would be happy to provide information on the town we visited, the people we met, and the place we stayed. It was positively amazing.

Here are some pictures to better tell the story of my trip to Vietnam! To see more, go to




Chris made a friend, Sang, whose father is a fisherman. They kindly took us on a tour and showed us how they catch their fish. His father didn't speak English, so his son translated for him. He was the most beautiful man. His face was weatherbeaten, and full of life and love.

a fisherman's hut and our dive team!

There were very few traffic/safety laws (so it seemed) but everyone was going really slowly anyway...

This is the view from the restaurant on top of the hotel. The land and sky were both breathtaking. I couldn't get enough of sitting on the roof, eating a free, buffet, all-you-can-eat breakfast and staring out from the top of the world to such spectacular beauty. Amazing.

We got a bike taxi back to the hotel at one point. Chris bought fresh-squeezed sugarcane juice!

the view everywhere was amazing. The sky was huge.

Another stunning sunset.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Dear Tommy

I know this is late, but there are some things I wanted to tell you. You really are a good student. You may have never done your homework in the 5 months, 5 days a week that I taught you, but you worked hard in class, and more important, you did your best. I'm not sorry I made you do so many push-ups, nor do I think you regret doing them. You had a smile on your face every day, even on the days when you knew you'd be doing push-ups. I appreciate that you didn't take the discipline personally.

I looked forward to your "Hello Teacher!" any time you saw me, anywhere. Your cheerful attitude was inspiring to other students, and you were a great leader. I know your parents were pushing you to excel in school, and I know you had a lot of stress on your shoulders. I'm sorry I didn't tell you often enough how great a boy I think you are. I know that's all you wanted; to be accepted by your parents and teachers.

Your parents must be suffering so much at the double tragedy of losing both you and your sister. I'm not surprised you tried to save her; that's the kind of person you are. I'm sorry, so sorry, this is late. You deserve so much more than this end. I'm so sorry.

You're a hero Tommy.


Love, Rebekah Teacher

My student who went by the name of "Tommy" died this weekend trying to save his little sister, who fell into a river. They both drowned. He was 12 years old, and although I'm not sure how old his sister was, I'm fairly certain she was much younger. I have no idea how to come to terms with this tragedy. I can't imagine the pain of his parents. I feel numb. I'm confused. Angry. Helpless.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Vacation in Nam...!

Yes. I'm in Hoi An, Vietnam right now! Chris and I spent the morning arranging scuba diving for the next few days (we're getting out international certification while we're here) and this afternoon was spent at the markets, checking things out and taking pictures. Right now Chris is off on a bicycle somewhere with his camera and I just had a nap with my scuba text (that I started reading but fell asleep with).
This place is amazing. The hotel we're staying in is $35/night with free breakfast and bicycle use. There is also a pool and sauna, as well as the option of a manacure or massage (pay extra for those last two). We had a very expensive dinner last night that cost $20 for the two of us and it was DELICIOUS! We start scuba diving tomorrow morning with a French instructor named Rudolph (ze scuBAH divING instrucTORRR).
It's a blast and we've only been here 24 hours! I love every minute!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

summer movies

Three summer movies!

CATUION: mild spoilers.

Chronicles of Narnia:
Begining and end I followed, but what happened to the middle? I grew up with this series and sometimes it felt like they were basing it off a different book! Also... what's with the teenage Caspian? He's supposed to be a kid, right? Entertaining, and once I got past the inaccuracies I enjoyed it. It's a renter in my opinion though.

Indians Jones:
Just saw it. Loved it. So glad I saw it in theatres! Exactly what I wanted from Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Harrison Ford. I forgot how much the first three scared me the first times I watched them! Jumped a few times and for sure squealed once (most likely more). There's creepy crawlies, surprises, supernatural elements, explosions, running, jumping and chases; just like a good Indiana Jones movie should. See it in theatres if you liked the other three, don't bother to see it at all if you didn't.

Iron Man:
Excellent. Loved the action, special effects and acting. It was a bit predictable, but then, it's a superhero movie based on comics, so that's expected. The acting was great, there was a fun element of comedy and there was a serious element of social justice. I loved it, and if you have extra change, reccommend it as a theater movie for sure!


Monday, May 26, 2008

rising prices

There has been a lot of news about oil shortages, and the prices of oil have risen by a lot. We've all noticed this. For example, in 1998 gas prices were about 70 cents/litre. Now, in 2008, prices have been an average of between $1.22 and $1.35/litre. For some people, it's become just too expensive to drive a car. This makes us all angry. We curse at the gas stations, we shake our fists at the pumps, and we grudgingly climb on our bicycles or walk to work, grumpy and nostalgic for the "good ol' days" of cheap oil.

This blog isn't going to be about gas prices. We can live without gas.

We can't live without food.

However, that is exactly what people around the world, especially poorer, developing countries, are facing. Over the past few years the prices of wheat, corn, rice and other basic foodstuffs have doubled or tripled, with much of the increase taking place just in the last few months. Last year wheat prices rose 77% and rice 16% (check out the chart). These were some of the sharpest rises in food prices ever. This year the rise has accelerated, as since January, rice prices have soared 141%, and the price of one variety of wheat shot up 25% in a day. A day!

Josette Sheeran, the head of the UN's World Food Programme, the largest distributor of food aid, is worried.

“For the middle classes it means cutting out medical care. For those on $2 a day, it means cutting out meat and taking the children out of school. For those on $1 a day, it means cutting out meat and vegetables and eating only cereals. And for those on 50 cents a day, it means total disaster.”
The poorest are selling their animals, tools, the tin roof over their heads—making recovery, when it comes, much harder.

Just over 1 billion people live on $1 a day, the benchmark of absolute poverty; 1.5 billion live on $1 to $2 a day. According to Bob Zoellick, the president of the World Bank,

"food inflation could push at least 100 million more people into poverty, wiping out all the gains the poorest billion have made during almost a decade of economic growth."
Hundreds of millions of people were starving and malnourished last year; the only change is that as the scope of the crisis has grown.

Now… here’s some reasons why:

First, there has been a run of bad weather in key growing areas. In particular,
Australia, normally the world’s second-largest wheat exporter, has been suffering from an epic drought. This is just exports. In the poorest countries in Africa there have already been riots, as people can no longer afford to buy food.

Next, people are eating a heck of a lot of meat as a lot more people in emerging economies have become rich enough to start eating it. It takes 700 calories of grain to produce a 100 calorie piece of beef. More people eating beef means more grain going to animals. (I’ll touch on why raising beef is bad for the overall environment later).

The third reason is big: oil is very expensive. A lot of energy goes into producing fertilizer, running tractors and transporting farm products to consumers. Rising oil prices forced up agricultural costs. Oil is expensive because it’s getting harder to find, making it a rare commody.

So we’ve moved on to the big-daddy reason for the food crisis:

Lets focus on grain biofuels for now. Changing crops into fuel was the big environmentally friendly move which was supposed to wean us all off crude oil and onto cleaner, greener ethanol. Not so fast. According to the
New York Times, “producing a gallon of ethanol from corn uses most of the energy the gallon contains.” Shoot, not so efficient. So lets try sugar cane like
Brazil… and cut down the Amazon? Hmm. Biofuel isn’t the solution it promised to be. It's also taking up all the land normally used to grow food, making less space for food growing. This means the grains that go into biofuels are not going to hungry people. Thus, there is less food to put on the table. There is less food available for those who need it. Already high prices go up because there is a shortage. Supply and demand raises already unreachable prices.

So people are selling their homes and starving because … we have failed to aid those who have had crop failures, we eat too much meat, we’re addicted to oil, and we’ve taken away food crops to feed our oil addiction.

Check out this
National Geographic video. It makes me want to cry.

PS> click hyperlinks to view my sources.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

"Town moves against Islamic school"

This article just in from the BBC news makes me sick. If you're the kind of person who doesn't like reading criticism against the opinions of others, don't read this blog, because I'm pissed at what's happening in a little town called Camden. You can find the full article here, but I'm going to summarise it because I'm fuming.

"Don't let them take Camden."

"[the school] will change the character of the town."

"They're taking us over"

"Why hasn't anyone got any guts? They've got terrorists amongst 'em... They want to be here so they can go and hide in all the farm houses... This town has every nationality... but Muslims do not fit in this town."

On the outskirts of this small town the Quranic Society has proposed building an Islamic school for Muslim children. The people are against it, and their reasons are the basis for my anger. Although some reasons are planning based (most of the children do not come from Camden, but will be bussed from Sydney), most are racial. Here's what the townspeople have to say:

Now, I'm not saying the school has to be there, that isn't my point. I realise it will be a pain to have out-of-town children bussed in and out. So what? Those kids don't want to be on a bus for two hours daily either! I don't know about the planning aspect of this situation. What has me angry is the attitudes of the people who, instead of seeing children, see "other". It has become a "them" and "us" issue. These attitudes make me angry, these attitudes lead to hate and injustice, and these attitudes make me lose faith in my fellow humans. I feel helpless to stop injustice.

Humanity lost.

I had been posting a blog called Humanity Lost (which focuses on social justice issuse, mainly in Somolia for a while, but slowly branching out to cover a broader spectrum is global problems), but it's a pain to write on two pages, so I've decided to combine them.

This means that this blog is going to be much more diverse, containing both stuff from my life, and social issues. If you're only interested in one of those things, you'll just have to sift out the stuff that interests you from now on. Sorry guys. :P

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


... I've been busy. There have been a few long weekends in a row this month and Chris and I have taken advantage of them by traveling around Korea in various ways.

We took a ferry to Geoje Island and met up with JJ and the Repps. It was an amazing island! We stayed in a minbeok near the beach and took a lot of pictures. It was windy and cold the first evening, but the next morning was beautiful! JJ rented a car and we toured around a bit. Chris and I want to go again, possibly this coming weekend. Anyway, the island is beautiful and I'm excited to go again when I can SWIM! Woo hoo!

This past Saturday I went on a hike, just me and my sketch pad. I found a beautiful spot and, instead of sketching, I wrote. Later, I will post what it is I wrote, but for now, just imagine Rivendell from the Lord of the Rings (in spring, though without flowers) and you've got the picture.

Sunday I wanted to hike again, but also wanted to get to hang out with Dan and Ash since they're leaving soon. So, we decided to do both and hike to their house for dinner. We left before lunch, at about 11ish, and with a half-hour break to play chess in a tower ruin overlooking the city far below, we managed to get to dinner a little after 5. It was exhilerating, scary (at some points), and exhausting, but worth it the whole time.

Next adventures: hopping on Chris' motorcycle and taking a weekend in Geoje with (possibly) JJ and our swimsuits, and climbing the big hills on Chris' island! Woo hoo!

PS> Yes, that is Chris on the edge of the cliff in that picture.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Deciding to go more natural

I've decided that I waste too much. Now, this isn't a new thing, I've been trying to cut back on the garbage I produce and the negative impact I have on the environment for a while, but I'm going to take it to a whole new level for a while and see what happens. This has been inspired by No Impact Man and Chris, but also by my concern for the products I have been using daily. Chris posted Tips From No Impact Man and I checked some of them out. Facinating. Here are some of the changes I'm going to try to start making:

I will try to...
1. use Baking Soda to exfoliate my skin. Wash your face, then apply a soft paste made of three parts baking soda and one part water. Massage gently with a circular motion, avoiding the eye area; rinse clean.
2. use Baking Soda to unclog my shower drain. Pour 1/2 to 1 cup of baking soda down the drain, then slowly pour 1/2 to 1 cup of white vinegar after it. Let sit for five minutes (covered, if possible). Follow with a gallon of boiling water.
3. use Baking Soda to scrub pans. Sprinkle soda on crusted casseroles and roasting pans and let sit for five minutes. Lightly scrub and rinse.
4. use Baking Soda to brush my teeth. Use a paste of baking soda and water.
5. use Baking Soda to deodorize. Dust baking soda under your arms to absorb body odor.
6. use Baking Soda to wash my hair (along with Apple Cider Vinegar conditioner). The directions are too long to post here, so if you're curious they're
here. Hopefully I end up smelling like apples or apple cider, and not vinegar!
7. There's something about reusable pads ... but I don't think I can make the switch. If you're curious, the info is
here. ;)
8. make my own
soap. Alkali
(lye, urine or ash ) + oil = soap. This may be a bitmore difficult since I have no idea how to find lye in Korea. I'm also afraid of handling lye, don't want to pee in my soap, and don't have a woodstove (and therefore ash) to provide an alkali. Hmmmm. Suggestions?

Anyway, that's the plan Stan. And people think I'm weird because I'm a vegetarian! I'll let you all know how it goes.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Friendships are strange things. I like to think of myself as a friendly person; not particularly outgoing and not particularly shy. I love to be available for friends (or strangers) should they need a helping hand, a listening ear, or encouragement. Thus said, I have evaluated (in very basic groups) my relationships with people and decided there are a few changes which need to be made. Here is the evaluation:

Please recognise that this is very general; people shift across, or overlap with more than one area.

Also, I didn't mention extended family, but essentially they fit anywhere from "family" to "kind strangers" since I'd likely not recognise them on the street...

First, I would like to include more people into the "closest of friends" category. I think to do that I will have to release my tight-fisted idea of dignity and strength a little to allow some who currently reside in the "family" or "close friends" categories into the "closest friends" one.

Second, why do I have family members (essentially immediate family members) in the "hang-out buddies" section? That's got to change!

Third, I should get some of those co-workers out of the "only met a few times" category, and away from the dangerously close "kind strangers" category. I don't feel they need to be my best of friends, but at the very least they should occupy the same space as my hangout buddies, since I only work with 20-odd people!

Fourth, why do I differentiate between "kind strangers" and "strangers"? Somehow that doesn't feel right to me...

Relationships are very important to me, and I've noticed that time spent together makes a HUGE difference in intemacy levels. Living in Korea I spend my time with essentially the same people, and rarely make the time to maintain or improve my relationships with those who live further away. As a result, I'm often lonely. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy spending time alone, but on a regular daily basis I only see co-workers or strangers. I need to relax my hold on my heart and allow others in, because I've noticed that I'm becoming solitary, easily irritated with others, and less able to understand the opinions/motives/actions of those around me. I've become judgemental and insensitive in many ways.

This is a very different picture from that I painted for myself at the begining of this post... but really, the kinder of the two is what I'm going to work harder to become. So... we'll see how this experiment goes.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Drinking Time!

I vote everyone does this at the next SSU grad...
Or in September when all the parents are dropping off the new innocents!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Weekend!

Oi yoi I'm tired.

This past week has been hectic to the extreme and yet also really, really great. Chris' birthday was Saturday so we decided to throw a burger party! Ashley came over early to help out with food (and colour my hair) and then Chris, Dan, Jessie, Justin, Meaghan and Kevin all came over bringing MORE food and we hung out. It was pretty great. After that we went to my first ever professional soccer game -8,000 won a ticket (c.$8.00)! It was great, although it rained a bit and there was no score, it was still a fun time to be there with everyone and watch the game (and have fun). Then we headed back to my place (Dan and Ash had to go home) and had a bit 'o cheesecake, though by this point I was pretty tired and full of (bean)burgers.

Yesterday Jessie and Justin came by to extend the birthday fun and Jessie and I went to the spa... essentially a room of hot-tubs, showers, shower/vanity stations (where you sit on a little seat with a shower and basin) and LOTS of naked Korean women. It was a fun time, though a bit crowded. From there we came back and watched a movie: 10,000BC. It was interesting and, in my opinion, pretty good.


So... now I'm sleepy and ready for a nap. Which I think I'm going to do right now.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

"Kickin' it in Geumchon"

This is the funniest thing I've seen in a long time! Anyone who has lived (or even visited) in South Korea will LOVE this video... and those who haven't will probably still find it completely hilarious...

This song goes out to all the waygooks lookin’ for the place to be

Kickin’ it in Geumchon, Oh, Oh
Komsomnida, Annyong Haseyo
Kickin’ it in Geumchon, Oh, Oh,
Komsomnida, Annyong Haseyo
Kickin’ It, Where? In Geumchon Where?
In Geumchon. Where? In Geumchon Where?
Kickin’ it in Geumchon, Oh, Oh

Verse 1:
South Korea’s got Jeju, South Korea’s got Seoul
Busan and Ilsan if that’s how you roll
But when you work at EV, and live in Paju
Then the town to get down is 15 minutes from you, How do I get there?
Hop on the 900 bus
I use my T-money card so there’s never no fuss
Jump off at the station, or shall I say “yuk”
Are you fluent in Korean? No I got a phrasebook
Pang Pang, now we’re off to the races
To the backstreet market checkin’ out pig faces
Octupus on sale, squid 2 for 1
Let’s hit the waterpark for fun in the sun, I got my swimcap!
Baskin Robbins and Pizza Hut
Knock Domino’s down then slam Dunkin’ Donuts
Geumchon rocks, then it rocks some more
The street meat is sweet and corndogs galore

Kickin’ it in Gumcheon, Oh, Oh
Komsomnida, Annyong Haseyo
Kickin’ it in Gumcheon, Oh, Oh,
Komsomnida, Annyong Haseyo
Kickin’ It, Where? In Gumcheon Where?
In Gumcheon. Where? In Gumcheon Where?
Kickin’ it in Gumcheon, Oh, Oh

Verse 2:
Sometimes it’s spelled with a G, I’ve seen it spelled with a K
Sometimes it’s spelled with an E, I’ve seen the E go away
But regardless of spelling, pronunciation’s the same
The town’s so explosive, Boomchon could be it’s name
The movie theater keeps it real with no subtitles
But we never go cuz there’s no subtitles
But birthday party time it’s so simple to rally
We alls grab our balls at the bowling alley
Then to the Sky Golf hittin’ nothin’ but net
The locals wanna wager but it’s illegal to bet
If your mouth is dry, or if your throat’s got a tickle
Part for the Family Mart, to lick a popsicle
Hungry for bibim bop? The choices never stop
The spice is so nice could make a tear drop
We dedicate the bridge, but not in haste
To the cabbage that we ravage with the chili paste taste

Kimchi, Kimchi, it is good for you and me
Kimchi, Kimchi, it is good for you and me
Kimchi, Kimchi, it is good for you and me
Kimchi, Kimchi, it is good for you and me

Pre-Verse 3:
Kickin’ it
In Boomchon
Kickin’ it
in Boomchon

Verse 3:
When I go to Geumchon, I look at all the hotties
Those ahgashis, they got the hottest bodies
The padded bras, the high heeled shoes
Hey ladies? Can I buy you some brews?
Drinkin’ Cass-uh, drinkin’ Hite-uh
Feelin’ alright-uh, drinkin’ all night-uh
La festa’s no longer the best
Ride your scooter to Guemchon and head over to Zest
The barman’s got flair, flippin’ bottles in the air
Tom Cruise in Cocktail can’t even compare
Upstairs at Posse yogurt soju’s flowin’
Plus Froot Loop balls and the roofdeck’s blowin’
Nature videos while I’m singin’ my song
Number six one three seven at the local Noraebong
Want a night on the town? Wanna spend some won?
Come kick it with us, come kick it in Gumcheon

Kickin’ it in Gumcheon, Oh, Oh
Komsomnida, Annyong Haseyo
Kickin’ it in Gumcheon, Oh, Oh,
Komsomnida, Annyong Haseyo
Kickin’ It, Where? In Gumcheon Where?
In Gumcheon. Where? In Gumcheon Where?
Kickin’ it in Gumcheon, Oh, Oh

(Written by Christian Zonts. The EV Boyz are Christian Zonts, Mike Nance, and Brian Peterson)