Saturday, April 30, 2005

hi seoul festival opening ceremony

i went to the tourist information centre near city hall to find out some info on where i catch the ferry to china and saw that they were setting up a big stage and had kiosks all over the place. i asked what was up and they handed me the flyer for the hi seoul festival. i stuck around and ate then went to to the 7-11 for some beer and snacks, parked myself on the lawn in front of city hall and waited. it got packed really quickly and people were giving me their food and newspapers to sit on. it was really nice. the main attraction was a joe yong pi, a very famous guy i guess because all these old women were screaming his name and new all his lyrics. after the concert they had fireworks and a lazer light show, using city hall as a canvas. i then met some people who were headed to a big street party that was going on until 5am. we danced to korea's top djs and i got really sweaty. i would have stayed but i had my bag and it was awkward to dance. i went home and tried to sleep. i think i will go to another hostel today. it is just too crowded and disorganized here lately. i will let you know how that goes. here are some pics.

korea's most famous pop star was playing a free concert so i sat through it. pretty good actually. Posted by Hello

Friday, April 29, 2005

incheon and everland

the last couple days were fun. just walking around incheon, a small pretty port town with korea's largest chinease population, and then everland, an eerily streamlined and very korean version of a themepark. yesterday i just played some baskeball at the university nearby. there has been a lot of changeover at my hostel the last week and i think i want out. i will see about organizing a trip to an island on the west coast. maybe i will be able to catch a ferry from there direct to china. i will keep you posted.

me in incheon Posted by Hello

they had a lot of pretty flowers at everland.  Posted by Hello

Saturday, April 23, 2005

another day in busan

my second and last day in busan was spent again climbing mountains. i walked for about an hour up a long hill to a large buddhist temple outside the city. it was beautifully adorned with colourful lanterns and tapestries. there were about 10 minor shrines and one large one where the monks were performing a large ceremony for the locals. i prayed for 15 minutes in one shrine before i began feeling unwelcome. after checking out this temple, there was a path that supposedly led to other temples on the mountain. i decided to take an offbeaten trail though and kind of got lost. it was all good, however, because i found a nice rock sticking up out of the dense forest and sat in the sun meditating as i listened to the prayers spilling from the distant temples echoing through the valley. really nice. then i went back in to the city to look for a park that again was on top of a mountain. i managed to arrive just before sunset and took some photos of the city. please see the photos here.

the roof of a buddhist monastary in the mountains outside busan Posted by Hello

Thursday, April 21, 2005

first day in busan

so my first day in busan was very eventful. i went down to korea's biggest beach at haeundae where i walked along sand and cliffs to see some great views of the ocean, the gwangan bridge and the new APEC building for the 2007 summit (i believe). then on to korea's biggest fish market at nampo-dong where squid, shark, dried frogs and even whale meat can be bought. i wandered in and out of traditional markets and non-traditional fashion markets to find a great park in the middle of the city. on the top of the mountain was a shrine and a great view of the harbour. after sunset i headed downtown for dinner and a drink before walking home. great day. here are the pics.

there were all kinds of water creature at the market, including whale meat. Posted by Hello

busan is a beautiful city with korea's largest fish market and port. Posted by Hello

holy $&*#

k, so this guy who is friends with the hostel owner in seoul just comes crashing in all excited about driving the lot of us, which is about eight people, up this great big mountain to a lookout so that we can snap photos of the skyline. it has been raining pretty hard at this point for five hours and it didn't look to be letting up but we crawled into his jeep and held our breath. i have never felt more scared in a motor vehicle since my first go-cart flipped over the tire wall. the driver has this maniacal laugh that burst out of his large gut with one single 'whoooaaa hao' and he would explode like that everytime we nearly died to add an extra edge of fear on the experience. so we get to the top of the winding road and take a few pics and then all of a sudden, as we are held hostage in the vehicle, moving very quickly down a dark, slick mountain road, he lets out a "whoooaa hao to the riverrrrr". so next thing we know we are dodging cars and people, running red lights and making u-turns on freeways through the downtown to the hangang river. he talks his way past a guard at the gate of a private park and we soak ourselves trying to find a good place to take a picture but it is raining too hard. reluctantly, we get back in the car and 'whoooaa hao' we are heading downtown again. all in all we drove for three hours. it was a lot of fun but i don't think i will do it again. funny thing is that everyone drives like that. i think it was the laugh that did it for me.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

weddings and war memorials

hello, so i made it to the wedding after a four-hour bus ride south. it only lasted two hours before we had to return but was very nice. it wasn't really traditional at all but i felt very welcome and kaori's friend naoko was very good at translating everything for me. i went to the war memorial the other day. i found this very interesting. i didn't know much about the korean war and knew even less about canada's role. i am not a big military buff but this museum made me happy that we were building something similar in ottawa. today i head to pusan in the south and will be there for a few days. i look forward to nice weather and beautiful scenery. see all the pics here.

this guy not so radiant. Posted by Hello

kaori looking radiant - congratulations. Posted by Hello

Sunday, April 17, 2005

what a hike

went for a traditional korean dinner with music and everything, the night before two girls from my hostel, one from vancouver and the other from thailand, and i went to climb this mountain. it has a small buddhist temple at it's peak. it was a long way up but we got to pass through this whole abandoned neighbourhood. i don't know why everyone had left but some of the houses were knocked down and there was a lot of furniture and stuff left behind. i saw this freaky hole cut into the side of a hill and risked my life for the first time this trip. it was creepy i didn't want to go in because i could see that a person had made a nest in one corner. i almost died trying to get down. anyway, the top was pretty cool but the smog masked a lot of the city. we went looking for a place to have lunch and found a cool food stall in a food market. it was two dollars canadian for the three of us to eat a lot of food. pretty wicked. then we went to look for a converter for my laptop to plug it in here. we went to giant technology mall. was pretty interesting just wandering all day. that's pretty much it. i took a few pics.

seoul skyline. you can see the smog is bad here. Posted by Hello

Friday, April 15, 2005

i hope i didn't screw it up

hey, i was just double checking the links to my photos on another computer and they asked me for my yahoo address and password. i have been sharing them publicly but maybe this is just a way for yahoo to get more users. please all of you let me know if this is the case. maybe you will have to sign up for an account to see my photos. but tell me either way. cheers. j

spring in seoul

so on my first day in seoul i just wandered and got myself lost. luckily for me there are five beautiful palaces and a bunch of shrines and temples here so i went on a couple tours. i mean, temples are temples and i am sure by the time i get to bejing, i will be sick of them, but it is interesting to see the contrasting cultural representations of the buildings. anyway, so i just walked around and came back to the hostel. there is a japanese guy who lives at the hostel and he owns a bar, so a bunch of us went there and had a drink. it was nice. i have lots of pics from this day and they might be a little repetitive but hey, it is my blog. see them here. oh and i fixed the link for the last posting. thanks jenn.

i took a lot of flower shots, sorry. Posted by Hello

the colours on the shrines and temples here are noticeably brighter than in tokyo. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

leaving japan (hello korea)

the last couple days have been a bit hectic. i was scrambling to make new plans for leaving tokyo. originally i was planning on making my way south to a city called shimonoseki where i could catch a ferry to busan korea but my week in tokyo has already cost me more than i was willing to spend in the first week of my six month trip. so instead i opted to just fly one way to either busan or seoul. since it was our last nights, james and i along with naomi, brandon and their friend chris, went to a korean barbecue and ate and drank a lot. james decided to come back with me to party with the australians and so we were all up pretty late. i was hoping to get my tickets the next morning and leave for korea in the afternoon but i couldn’t get up in time and i had to delay another day. but get this - when i bought my ticket to seoul, there was a frenchman there who was explaining to me that he had met a man in tokyo that knew french and so he took him out drinking. well this guy said the other man drank a bottle of rye to himself and died on the bar in front of him. the frenchman ended up missing his flight because of all the paperwork he had to fill out as a witness and was totally screwed. that is such a crazy story that i decided i would try and write it into a short piece or something, we will see. anyway, so, without a place to stay i crashed on the couch in our hostel and managed to make it to the airport by 12. right now i am on the flight to seoul and have the oddest instructions to the hostel i booked. i hope i make it. but the same french guy ended up getting a refund for his ticket and i saw him again in the airport. i think he said his name is jean-francois. he is on the same flight as me so maybe i will get to practice my french for when i am in vietnam. i am also trying to memorize the basic words in korean but it will probably be some kind of mix of the Japanese i learned this week and the mandarin i was studying. wish me luck. oh yeah, and if no one hears from me for a few days, i am supposed to be staying at a hostel called windroad guesthouse. send people to look for me there. oh god!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

the redlights of shinjuku

so this is the last day in japan. james and i went to the redlight district (it was dead because it was too early) before meeting up with naomi and brandon for dinner. we drank and drank and ate and then james came back to my hostel so that we could all go to karaoke one last time. i am tired so just look at the pics.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

hanami day

so naomi knows this bar owner who was throwing a big hanami in an old grave yard. we got lost on the way there but a young school kid helped us out. when we got there, the petals were falling like volcanic ash and thousands of people were partying amongst the dead. right away we began drinking beers and eating some great food. then an old drunk guy came and offered us all sake. he even bit naomi. i broke out a hacky sack and next thing you know i am giving a clinic to a bunch of excited japanese guys. it was a lot of fun. after, we went back to the bar and played some darts before heading for some karaoke. the aussies and i had to leave after two hours but james, naomi and brandon were there till four. crazy day. here are the pics.

the bar owner cooking up some chicken. hanami baby! Posted by Hello

Saturday, April 09, 2005

surf bars and big buddhas

james and i went a ways out of tokyo to a buddhist temple and then to see this giant buddha. there was a beach nearby where kids were surfing and we had a bite and beer at a calafornia surf bar. it was fun and a lot of walking. my camera battery didn't last though so i will try to get pics from james and will post them later.

hey there guys, can you tell me where i can find the big buddha? fine ignore me. Posted by Hello

Thursday, April 07, 2005

so i checked into my new hostel and met two australians. we walked around the neighbourhood and got lost. but we came across a beautiful cemetery with cherry blossoms all over. there were japanese people sitting amongst the grave stones having a hanami, eating and drinking and we stopped to have a beer. on the way back it was happy hour and so we ducked into a few cool bars. when we got back to the hostel we decided to have a hanami of our own. great day. anyway, here are some pics.

blossoms at night Posted by Hello

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

a beautiful day

so the sun was shining like crazy and the cherry blossoms were in bloom. i just walked and took it all in. i went to a great big buddhist temple in asakusa. i met up with james and we walked around. it was a beautiful day so before heading to meet our friends for dinner, we decided to drink beers on the patio of my hostel, which overlooks the river. we went to a ghetto karaoke place but it was fun. here are some pictures. check em out.

this is me in front of a big buddhist temple in asakusa Posted by Hello

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

arrival in tokyo

so i am here and writing this on wednesday in the morning even though back home i am still celebrating my birthday. i had a decent trip. it was long but i met some people on the plane who are going to tailand to do relief work and some nice japanese people who showed me that i was going in wrong directions. last night i met up with james and we went to naomi's for dinner. her place is really cool and authentically japanese. i began feeling the jetlag though and on my way home fell asleep standing up on the subway. a number of times i actually fell over onto people (oh and yes the subway really is as crowded as they show on tv) but i made it to my hostel and fell asleep. my first day. wow. it is starting to hit me. approximately 180 days left. i think i will check out the cherry blossom festival today and will show you the pics. i have my first japanese photos if you click here.

naomi invited me for a nice birthday dinner and i blew out the tofu cake candles Posted by Hello

Monday, April 04, 2005

bye bye bye

So I have left. I just want to thank everyone that made it out Friday night and to wish everyone good luck with their exams and to have a great summer.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

happy birthday and goodbye

i organized a big thing at a bar i like to go to sometimes, andy poolhall, and it was a lot of fun. pretty much everyone showed up and we drank, danced, chatted and played pool. my mom and sister came too and i wasn’t even that embarrassed. i think a lot of people were expecting a dingy billiards hall but this place is definitely more swanky. anyway, muguet took lots of pics so if you want to see them check them out here.

jen, tai and govind at andy poolhall. cheers. Posted by Hello

Friday, April 01, 2005

karaoke night in toronto

thursday, march 31, james organized a go-out to the local china town karaoke place. since we will be in tokyo at the same time he figured we should practice. i must admit i had a lot of fun. the three mexican girls living in our friend’s house came along and we drank and sang latin and english pop songs. Good times. See the pics here.

karaoke night - the fun never stops!! Posted by Hello