Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Broken tailbones and bruised egos

I know that I was just on vacation...a couple of times with in the last month an 1/2...but i'm not on vacation again. Saturday morning I left with a bunch of friends to go up north to a town called Gang Nueng. It's a smaller city about 4 hrs north of Daegu by bus. It gets a lot colder up there and it gets snow! My friend Emily lives up there and told me I could stay at her apt with a couple of friends even though she was in Japan. She rocks. I also have another friend that lives up there who I haven't seen in a while. We got a little bit of a late start and arrived in Gang Neung around 1pm. We settled in and got something to eat. Only 3 of the 9 people stayed with me in the apt, the rest of them got an ondel room. Which is like a big room with no beds. The floor is heated and there are blankets and pillows for everyone. When we were eating they went to find a hotel. They showed up at the end of dinner and we made our way out. The girls went straight to the mountain. Some of the guys had to rent all the stuff and I had to rent just boots. We took a bus about 10 mins outside of Yong Pyong (where the actual mountain is) and I called the number of a rental place that Emily gave to me. They spoke JUST enough english to communicate. They arrived at the bus station and took us to the shop. When we arrived we got our stuff sorted out easy enough. The owner was a trip though. He was this 5 foot 8 guy wearing tight leather pants, a tucked in black turtle neck, a bright red leather jacket and this shiny bling bling necklace that sported 2 BIG globe shaped things, all topped off with the thickest black rim glasses I have ever seen. I really had to try not to laugh. Since we were renting for two days, and me for 3, he was going to give us a discount. I think laughing in his face would ruin our chances of a better discount. After everything was settled we got there about an hour earlier then we needed to and waited till 6:30 to get out tickets and go. It was great. Nobody on the slopes and the snow wasn't that icy. Most of my friends were first or second timers but my friend Terry could keep up with me. We basically did the whole night. One of the last shuttles was 10:40 so we met the guy at 10:10, gave him our equipment to take back, and took the free shuttle straight from the mountain back to Gang Nueng. Emily's shower didn't work so we went to the family mart to ask the person if there was a sauna around. BINGO! Got him to write the name down, went there, hit up the hot tubs and steam rooms, and took a shower. We made our way back to the apt for an early wake up.

The second day we mostly like the first except it was day time. Finished up a longer day of boarding. We went from 10 to 4:30 and it showed on my friends faces. Like all beginners they bruised their tail bones and their egos...but at least they had fun doing so. We again hit up the sauna. Right after my friends got on the bus and went home sunday night. They had to work in the morning. I on the other had, like I said before, was on vacation. I met up with my friend Cathrine, who lives up there, and had a couple of drinks. I made plans to snowboard with here in the evening the next night.

Basically went night skiing one last time. I was very impressed with cat. Probably the best chick snowboarder that I know, she kept up nicely. After that, one last shuttle ride back, one last sauna, and one last night in the apt. Next morning I woke up and took the bus back to Daegu.

I start my language exchange today...I think...with a friend of mine. I teach her better English because it's pretty good already, and she'll teach me more Korean. I can only do it for an hour maybe once or twice a week since I have a Hapkido tournament on April 13th. I have to lose about 6 pounds before then so i'm not in the "super" heavy weight division. It's funny that i'm around 185 pounds and that is SUPER heavy. What little people.

The plan for the day: Lounge around for a little more. Meet My friend for some lessons. Go to Hapkido. Go to the gym. Go downtown to meet up with friends for a birthday. Go to communes and meet up with the Philippino band and sing "Let It Be" by the Beatles with them at the bar. Gotta love open mic night.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Weird man, fucking weird

TODAY was my last full day of school for this school year. Tomorrow I have two 6th grade classes and two 5th grade classes. My 5th grade co-teacher told me that she was going to teach the class by herself. I SAID "FINE FINE FINE." I don't like those little bastards anyway. Today was however my last class of class 1 of the 6th grade. They were my favorite class. They always did what I asked them to, never talked a ridiculous amount, and always participated. I was teaching all my classes the song "we are the world." It was basically a week of karaoke in my classes. Fun and easy for me, and pretty decent for the kids depending on if they got into it or not. After tomorrow, thursday is graduation, I have no class on friday. I'm back on vacation AGAIN after that. Is it just me or do I have a sweet deal? Now for what provoked this post.

As you might remember I am what you would call a "fan" of the sauna or jim jill bong. Now recently i learned there is a difference between the sauna part and the jim jill bong part. The J.J.B part is for both men and women. Unfortunately there is no nakedness between the sexes. They basically give you clothing and there are things to do there. You can get a massage, hit up the p.c area, sit in the hot one of the J.J.B's there is even an ice room that you can chill in....haha man. The sauna is where the nakedness with the men happens. Usually I go to the sauna down by my friends apt. We are downtown most of the time and end up over towards his place anyway. There is a pretty decent one. I heard from sources that there was a really nice one up in Chilgok, where I live. I convinced my friends to come up to this area and try to find it. Later that night we had a costume party so we were all going to go to the sauna, get dinner, and then get changed and head down to the party. We were going to go as gangsters/pimps/the fucking ill na na. Call it what you will but I was going to rock it in the suit that I ordered from India which arrived a couple of days ago. We had to go to home plus (basically cvs but bigger) and get some BB guns, which we later used to make a couple of girls go home from the party from shooting them. Amelia and Michelle if your reading this...haha got you good fucker. Sorry:( SOOOOOO first stop was the sauna. We found it without too much trouble. When we got up there it was awesome. Many a hot tubs, including a hot tea bath, and various temperatures of hot tubs. There was a cold pool, 2 sauna rooms, a steam room, and a "natural ocean pool." It was nice, real nice. We got into the hot tub that had built in massage chairs. They were tiled chairs with water jets that hit ur back and ur feet. Very nice. We all moved into the tea bath and I began to think...wait a second. This is where I's about 3 blocks from my would be REALLY fucking weird to see a student here. I had to think it didn't I. The second I said it out loud to my friends guess who wondered over my direction and sat in the bath next to me? ONE OF MY STUDENTS. Now THAT was as weird as things have ever gotten in Korea. Not even joking. When my friends stopped laughing he started talking to me and them. He is one of my higher level students so he was able to ask the basic questions. But for real people...there I am sitting in a dark pool of hot tea water butt ass naked and right next to me is a 11 year old kid with his friend also naked. There was something that felt REALLY REALLY wrong. WHAT THE FUCK.

So today I saw him in class. I was afraid to ask the class what they did this weekend, because when I do this kid I saw at the sauna always is one of the children that answers. I did it anyway. Of course his hand was the first one, and the only one up. I hesitated but called on him anyway. My jaw clenched, and my mind said "please don't say anything about a sauna." He speaks,"I saw your friends." PHHHEWWWW! Alright, LET'S SING!

Whether or not he told his friends anything afterwards isn't my concern. I was just happy that me and him being naked together in a bath (which sounds pretty fucking wrong) wasn't announced during class, in front of the class. So what did Jake learn from this? STICK TO THE SAUNA'S FAR AWAY FROM WHERE YOU LIVE!

Monday, February 11, 2008

The final day, thoughts, and Thailand, back to Korea


The final day I woke up. My chest and shoulders were in pain because I was dropped basically on my face. We packed up and met downstairs in the restaurant. We decided together over food what school to give the fund raising money to and what to get them. We decided to give it to one school and hire someone to oversee the building of a new school, with new stuff. Why would you give one school a sea-saw and one school a new fence when that doesn't help with eduaction. You give one school all the money and help every kid who goes through that school have a better learning environment. I think that is the best way to do things.

After that we got on the bus back to Chennai to fly home. The ride was 18 hours on a sleeper bus...long. Before that we were able to go to "the point" and see where three seas combine. The Aribian sea, The Indian Ocean, and the Bay of Bengal. That was really cool. Got on the bus stopped for lunch and went straight on through over night back to Chennai.

This was the craziest thing I have ever done. Two foreign people racing a rickshaw over 600 miles for 10 days down the southeast coast of India. I can't believe I had the opportunity to do this. On any normal vacation you worry about what time should we wake up and what should we see. This vacation was, hey wake up and try to survive the day so that you might be able to wake up the next day. The whole trip we broke down 5 times, almost died 35 times, I hit a bus, might have killed a dog, gave out school supplies, broke numerous things off of the rickshaw, and got recognized in the street because Art and I became superstars. It was the most amazing thing in the world.

After India we flew to Thailand and got on a bus right away that took us to a ferry. We took the ferry to an island called Ko sam met. It was sun, sand, and scuba for the next 4 days. I had to go back home cause I started English camp that monday. Once I got back I took the longest shower ever and fell asleep quite quickly.


India day 2 to the party

The second day started out like the first. Try to get out of a busy busy city, and try to get the the end checkpoint before it got dark. The second day we finally got our rickshaw. It was Red #25. I requested an orange rickshaw but at least they spelled our team name right. Art and I took turns driving and divided it up by distance. Every day I started out driving he would end driving. We were a good team. We only broke down like 5 times. A couple of the times we were close enough to a town either to be, pushed back by another team, or to push it back manually to get a part. Sometimes you could pay someone to take their mo-ped into town and bring you back the part for the local mechanic to install. If you weren't close to a town you could call the dispatcher on the pre-paid phone they gave us to use and the mechanics that traveled with the ralley would come and fix us where ever we might be. If they touched it there was a 200 rupee service charge no matter what...we tried not to have them help us out. The stuff that broke for the most part wasn't anything major. The first time it was the clutch wire, then the accelerator wire. The next break was a little was a piece of the cluth. At one point our crank shaft cover screws came out and the thing was open. It was a little costly. I have to say gas and maintainence was the biggest expense. But still wasn't that much. We carried with us spare bottles of oil and gas in the "trunk" in case we ran out. We never knew because there wasn't a gas guage...or a speedometer...or for that matter a front head light, horn, or turn signal etc. Our rickshaw was still the fastest out of all of them. We ended up being first a bunch of times and techincally should have won. They don't pick the winner on that basis though. It's really whoever is best for their publicity. But like I said before we left, I wasn't going to win.

Around the 4th day Art and I started to hang out with the documentary crew that was there to cover the whole race. The t.v channel was called SS Music which was the equivelent of MTV. The face for the documentary was named Gibran. A cool guy that was fluent in English. We started hanging out a lot and he eventually told us that 1)The article he was writing for this english magazine was going to be about us. And 2)The documentary he was filming was going to be focused on us. It was like over night a star was born. They would follow us in their mini-van and do interviews with us during the day and after we hit the end check point. It was fun. During one of the first days they were traveling with us they stopped us at the school we were suppose to visit. Everyday we visited a school and played with the kids, handed out supplies and stuff like that. So we were in first place so we weren't surprised when we stopped and no one was there. We saw the kids inside looking out there windows and smiling, obviously excited that there were white people and video cameras there. We did the opening of us walking into the school while being interviewed and once through the gates the producer (gopi) whispers to us, "Yoooo wrong school!!!" We immediatly waved to the kids and jumped in our auto and drove away. It was soooooo funny but I felt so bad for those kids.

After about the 5th day we got to the end checkpoint after another day of trying to survive the madness. After the arrival and taking pictures with the whole group of racers for the local paper we were requested by the radio station that interviewed us the first time. "HELLO 106.4" This was a different area but the same station. They brought us to the radio station and we went in. We had our second live broadcast. The whole show was for about an hour so we just chilled and took phone calls. Went out, had dinner, went back and passed out.

The second to last day I have to say was probably the coolest. One of the challenges was to go about 30km's off of the track and check out a waterfall. The road up to the waterfall was windy and steep and up a mountain. No guard rails and a steep drop awaited us if I fucked up. We got up the mountain in one piece and saw the waterfall. There were monkey's everrrrrryyyywhere. I had a stick with me already to beat monkey's off the rickshaw because they had a habit of jumping onto the rickshaw and stealing whatever they could even while we were moving. We took all our valuables and walked to the waterfall where we found a chain that led under the waterfall. We had to get under it. The t.v crew was with us so they watched our shit and we went under. It was soooo refreshing and cold and amazing and AWESOME! After a little bit we walked back to the rickshaw. From the radio station they gave us a HUGE bag full of business cards with sucking candies stapled to them. We left that in the rickshaw because it wasn't valuable. We got back from the waterfall and the cards were ALL over the place with not one sucking candy left in any of the wrappers. Damn monkey's.

After all that we got to the end checkpoint and after the next day, which was thefinal day of the race, they threw a party for us in a really nice hotel (which was included with the entry fee so we got to stay in a place that actually had hot water!). It was all you can drink, all you can eat, all you can party. They gave out awards and announced the winners. I think we got something like 4th place out of 26 teams. Our award was the "wow I can't believe they are still alive" award. We had a reputation, know what i'm saying? After that ceremoney we continued drinking. Sometimes in the evening 9 people decided to grab me and try to throw me in the pool. I couldn't escape and started yelling that I had my passport and cell phone in my pocket. My teammate Art said "I'll help you!" Then proceeded to only take the stuff out of my pocket so I could be deposited into the pool. I stopped fighting because each appendage had a person or two on it, it was a losing battle. All at once they counted to three and realeased me into the air! Sadly they got a lot of upward motion but no foward motion. I landed smack on the concrete with only my face hitting the water. They fucked up! I stood up and grabbed the first person I could and launched us into the pool. My chest felt like I was dropped on it! What a night.

India and Thailand trip. First couple of days.

What's up Yall. Hope ur still checking this blog out, it's been a while since my last post. I came back from India and went straight into 2 weeks and 3 days of english camp. I haven't been that busy all year. After that I went into vacation and I was too busy relaxing so I had no desire what-so-ever to write. Today is my first day back at school and there are no classes so here goes nothing.


The YouTube video below should say it all but just incase your left wondering about more i'll give you a quick run down of that adventure.

We flew into Bangkok, Thailand and Art was able to scar me for life. There is this famous district called Papong. It's where all the hookers gather and all the dirty old men go to get the hookers that have gathered. It's great cause you can see the ugliest fattest old man walking around with the smalled and cutest girl. Quite amazing. It is also the capital of the world for what they call a "Ping pong show." I kinda figured out what it was before Art told me he HAD TO take me to one but I played dumb since I was kinda curious. We got there at it was EXACTLY what I thought. These girls were doing things with certain parts of their bodies that I could never even imagine. They opened bottle caps, they blew out candles, they shot fruits (at me), they popped balloons with projected darts, they even did that clown trick where he pulls tied hankerchefs out of his mouth...except not with her mouth. I don't think I laughed that hard in a while. After that we sat down to a nice steak dinner...You might ask how could I be hungry after that...No idea. We were only in Bangkok for one night. The next morning we went to India.

We got there and took an autorickshaw, or auto/tuk tuk for short, straight to the training area. People were already there for a day or two and we arrived right as they started. It was basically a really big go cart course where they let us all go balls out and just learn the ropes. The gears, unlike a motercycle, and clutch are operated with your left hand. The throttle was the right hand, and the brake was with the foot. One person in the front and 2 could fit in the back. I did however see about 12 people packed into one auto in the streets of India, as well as about 5 people on a mo-ped. After our first experience of almost dying we got ready for the next morning.

The first day was a big event. Press all over the place and racers getting ready for the race. Our rickshaw was not there during the training day and actually broke down on the way to the venue area for the start. We were allowed to use the directors rickshaw which was pretty diesle. To start off with it was painted like a zebra. It was faster than the rest, and inside it had a sound system and a p.a system. They gave us all a sheet with the distances (which were wrong) and the town names that we should look for. Also on the sheet were challenges that were worth various points. Such as "give us the names of the god's that the malapuram temple was dedicated too." This was a really cool part of the race because it made everyone stop and see the attractions of that area. The flags went up and we were off. Once we started my teammate and I realized that we didn't know how to get out of the city. By luck we saw a sign and an arrow. We did it, out of the city. At our first check point we were approached by a guy from a radio station and he asked us to do a live broadcast. We said "HELL YEAH!" After our first celebrity appearence we left and wanted to stop for lunch so we pulled over in the middle of an open road at this little shack and ate the most delicious food ever and yes, I used my hands! I have to say that was my favorite part of India. Chowing down with your fingers in even the fanciest restaurants was a trip. WHO NEEDS A FORK! After a long day of rocking the roads of Tamil-Nadu we made it to the end-of-day check point. The checkpoint was always the hotel that most of the people were staying at. Weeks before the race even started they offered us a package for about 500 bucks and you get the nice hotels and good accomodations. 500 BUCKS!!!??? YEAH RIGHT! They also offered a budget package for 250. Still, hell no. Me and Art roughed it and found our own hotels...or should I say rooms. They were really never more than 3 or 4 dollars a night and worth every penny. It was a room with a bed. We didn't need nice places. The other days pretty much went the same way.

Day 1 sum up: Ran over a coconut, almost died. Almost hit a truck. I hit a bus. 1 radio broadcast. came in first place. Couldn't wait for day 2.