Wednesday, 21 October 2009

King Tut’s Octopus.

Normally people are not allowed to do this, but since she was invited, a woman selling squid and octopus products came to visit us. Apparently the stuff is bought directly from the fishermen in order to give them a better price for their labor, but that is not what attracted my attention.

What DID attract my attention was something in the samples that she gave me. It was something I had never tasted before. It was something a bit thicker than my thumb and cut in to coins. It had a rather soft, smooth texture with a chewy rind and tasted a lot like octopus. I knew I liked it and immediately wanted to know what it was.

The lady had left to market her products to the other teachers, so I peeked in to her bag to see if I could figure out what I was had sampled. What awaited me was one of the ugliest things I have seen in Korea so far (food wise, I mean.)

What I saw was what looked like the tentacles of a rather large octopus that had been mummified quite recently. Even thought I knew I would end up giving most of the stuff away, I also knew I HAD to get some for a photo and a blog post.
This is the result of my photographic efforts.

* A fellow teacher informed me that this it is called Mooneo (문어)

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Life's Priorities

One day, you too will be able to say “I am FIFTY years old, I just ran around for 30 minutes and I have another 30 minutes of football to go, so if and when I smoke is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.”

Monday, 19 October 2009


Remember the Hapkido tournament that I competed in about three weeks ago? The photos for that are finally ready. Most of the Hapkido photos were not good because it was indoors and with the zoom lens we were not able to get a fast enough shutter speed to get good photos. Here we go…

It is not always obvious, bit Korean love sport. I don't agree with the way they support national teams, but their passion is undeniable.

This photo was from the Gyeonggi Sports For All Championships. Sports For All is a nationwide organization that covers a wide variety of sports. As far as I know they only compete nationally in single sports. Provincial meets is a all sports affair.

This is a photo from an over 50 year old men soccer match. These guys will quite literally run circles around any a high school student for an hour.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

I always shiver.

Yesterday, as part of the beginner’s English lesson for adults they were doing the structure “How often do you…” or something of the sort. I don’t have the lesson with me as I write this so can’t be sure. The answer included the phrase “I always…”

In one of the practice phrase, “I always shiver when it is cold”, everyone started giggling. All I could get out of them was that this sounded like a bad word. After taking a minute to think about how this will be written in Korean I figured out that they were thinking of Shibal, with Korean not having a V sound and no R at the end of a syllable.

Shibal (시발) as I understand it, means “S***”, but is often more used as the equivalent of the English exclamation “F***!” No wonder they were giggling.

Note to self, NEVER use this word with the middle school students.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Poladroids in Pretoria

It is not that I was lazy, no. I just didn't have anything to say or post. I didn't go looking for photographs this week, but I am going for an expedition on Sunday.

What I have been doing was uploading Poladroid conversions to Flickr. Here are my upload of photos from South Africa. There are still a few to go, but I suspect my next photos on the blog will be will be of Hongdae in Seoul.


Monday, 12 October 2009

Training Day Time.

We went for teachers “training” again. In this particular case the training involved walking over a mountain at full pelt and then going for a 5pm dinner.

While on the mountain we were mercifully allowed to take a quick breather. Although I am quite fit and would normally cross the mountain in a near run, on this particular day I had a blocked nose and that was seriously impeding my activity level.

As we were standing around, a biker appeared around the bend on his say down the mountain. Taking your bike over a mountain that is filled with hikers is quite an impressive feat and the ladies from the first photograph decided to show their admiration with hoots and applause. As you can see from the delighted laugh, they cheered his tired mind right up.

Friday, 09 October 2009

School Days – Part Dul

I post dated this post with the wrong month. Sorry about that.

Every now and then I bring my camera to school so that I can walk around during breaks and see what I can get. Some days I am lucky and some days I’m not. This particular was a good day.

Koreans students are violent, I tell you. I am glad I didn’t grow up here because if girls start beating on me I start beating back, and that is just not gentlemanly for most people.

In this photo I actually wanted to focus on the boy, but they were moving and I ended up focusing on the girl. Now it looks like that was the better option anyway.


Oh, the victory/peace sign, part of that very special photo pose that many Asians, especially East of India, seem to be addicted to. This girl wanted to do the normal next to the face pose, but I was not having any of that. Twenty students giving me the same pose was going to get old quickly.


Sure, I was a gentleman and helped the female teachers move everything, but not before I shot a few photos

Thursday, 08 October 2009

School Days – Part Hana

Every now and then I bring my camera to school so that I can walk around during breaks and see what I can get. Some days I am lucky and some days I’m not. This particular was a good day.

See that in the background. I’m going to kill him!


If only they were a K-Pop Girl Group. They already have their pose down pat.


Korea’s national sport. Whenever you have a problem that has to be settled, whether it is who wins the game of skill that ended in a draw, or who gets the last piece of chocolate, you can solve it with Gai Bai Bo. I wish it was this simple in the West.

Wednesday, 07 October 2009

Project Idiot/Otto Proof

It’s midterm exams time and that means I get choose one day out of three to go home early. Because I’m sick and my nose is completely blocked, I’m not going to Hapkido, so it was perfect timing for me to go to Seoul to start implementing Project Idiot/Otto Proof © AND get back early.

Project Idiot/Otto Proof ©, in case you were wondering, is my plan to protect my photos from myself. It involves getting a new 1 Terabyte External Hard Disk Drive and a USB HUB so that I have space to connect my two external drives and still have space for an iPod or USB Thumb Drive and my mouse.

Why 1 Terabyte? Well, I’m already up to 130 gigabytes of photos and a large part of that is from my new camera with which I shoot in RAW. So, basically, although I have way to much space right now I’m planning ahead. By the time this drive is full there will be larger drives available at reasonable prices.

Currently I’m in the last phase of Project Idiot/Otto Proof ©. I subscribed to Backblaze, an online back-up service, and everything is being backed up. Once that is complete I will be set to go and hopefully protected from myself. However, as you can imagine, backing up 130 gig to an online service is going to take ages. I suspect it will take me a week for my initial backup. Whatever! As long as I get it done, right?




Now for the side story. I had bought my ticket for the express bus to Seoul and wanted a drink for the ride, so I bought something from a little shop. As I came out I was stopped in my tracks by a woman I don’t know. In a soft voice she asked me something in Korean and then just looked at me, waiting for an answer. I didn’t recognize any of the words so responded that I didn’t speak Korea. Her prompt answer to this was a playful rebuking punch on the chest.

What the…?

Suspecting something was amiss, I looked at her and softly said “Why?!” and again came a weird response. She leaned in to give me what looked like a kiss. When I was obviously not going for it the kiss turned in to an attempted hug. Again…

What the..?!

I blocked the move, looked at her like she was crazy, turned, and walked away. I had moved only a few steps when I heard her running up behind me and felt a punch on the back of my shoulder.


I turned and looked at her, wondering what the hell I should do, considering that she is obviously crazy. She just stood there, looking at me so, I turned and started walking again. I heard her coming again and I moved just quickly enough to sidestep another punch.

AAAAAAH! What is this woman’s problem?!

I eventually managed to get her to stop punching me by letting her pass me, because every time I turned my back on her she attempted a punch.

This had really been a frustrating/fun/weird few days of my life.

Tuesday, 06 October 2009

Saved Sunset

I messed up. I really messed up. I accidently deleted most of my photos from this weekend. Normally that would not be a problem, but the recycle bin likes to completely delete filed when you drop a large amount of stuff, especially said stuff includes large files.

This photo is one of the files I was able to recover. The original RAW file is gone now, so I had to use the colour JPEG to recreate the Mono, but at least I will have this photo.

I was also able to save a few other edited files for which I lost the RAW images and they just happen to be the other files that I was planning on uploading this week.

Tonight I am going to Yongsan to get an extra external hard drive. All photos will go directly on to that so that I will not have to copy and delete anything later. When I come back tonight I am also signing up for an online backup service. I’m not loosing another photo.

Anyway, back to the photo. It was taken from the top floor of my apartment building. Alas, I live on a lower floor so I don’t have this view. Initially I was going to delete this photo, but thought I would give it a go. After cropping it I was quite impressed and decided t continue. This was the result.

Monday, 05 October 2009

Sunday, 04 October 2009

Hanbok Cuteness

One of the fun things about Chuseok is seeing the children dressed up in their little Hanbok. Adults don’t wear it very often, but that does not stop them from “punishing” their children, does it? I always say that if I ever have children, I will dress them is the silliest clothes I can until they start realizing what I’m doing. At least the Hanbok is pretty and traditional, er?

I saw this little girl at Express Bus Terminal in Seoul and could not resist the chance to snap a picture of her. I found the men in the background a little distracting and tried to blur them a little, but applying to strong a blur was creating a halo around the girl herself. At least I know I was not the only one appreciating the cuteness of the little girl in her pink top and navy blue skirt chasing the pigeons.

Saturday, 03 October 2009

More of the Ghost Town

Continuing my theme of the scarily empty Seoul.

These photos were taken in a Saturday after 10am. When, other than during Chuseok, will you see COEX mall or Seoul National University Station, an important subway transfer point, this empty?

Friday, 02 October 2009

The Ghost Town of Chuseok

Koreans take it very literally when I tell them at I go to Seoul during Chuseok because it is empty. Despite what they might tell you, it is empty. You can find a seat in just about any restaurant. You can often walk across roads without a car near you and the highways have huge spaces between cars.

Today I decided to go in to Seoul to get a few things from Yongsan and also to take photos of the sunset from Dongjak Bridge. The sunset was a failure, but I managed to get a few other interesting shot that I might post over the next few weeks. I did get to try out the new subway line though.

Dongjak Station is connected to the new subway Line 9, so I decided to take that line back to Express Bus Terminal. It was interesting indeed. Everything is brand new. The seats are clean. There are no strange smells. All the monitors work and have an interesting display for the upcoming stations. The stations, although very clinical, are nice and the line has a very distinctive chime to indicate a transfer point, but back to the empty Seoul.

Dongjak Station Line 9 platform was EMPTY. I don’t think it is normally the busiest of stations but still. I’m not sure if it was because people are still getting used to using Line 9 or if it was Chuseok’s fault, but it was kind of weird seeing almost no one at a station in Seoul.

White waiting for my train there was a Crazy talking about. I find it interesting how in every big city with decent public transport, you will always encounter crazy people. Today I had a young man sneezing open mouthed in to the air while walking up and down the end section of the platform. He was carrying a crumpled up handkerchief in his left hand that he used to wipe his none. He would use the same handkerchief to wipe imaginary sweat of his forehead and neck. (Shudder)

Twice, on reaching the end of the platform, he looked at himself in the security window, you know the new ones that keep people from jumping in front of a train, and spat on to the glass before strolling away. You can see two such gobs in the photo. He was pacing up and down the carriage as well, but thankfully he wasn’t spitting.

Tomorrow might well be another day in Seoul, but what exactly I will be doing is still up for debate.