Monday, April 26, 2010

Gold Dust

"Although gold dust is precious, when it gets in your eyes, it obstructs your vision."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Motorcycles R' Us

Robin and I return to the repair shop later one evening, only to find the place closed.

Our hearts sink as we pull up to the empty, locked garage bay door. I physically restrain robin from grabbing a crow bar and trying to break in. We drive back home, and Robin agrees to teach me to ride his 125cc motorcycle, his small, black, ghetto motorcycle.

The ignition doesn't work, so he teaches me to kick-start the bike. This takes some effort, but after a bruised calf muscle, I manage to get it going. I hop on back and Robin takes me to some deserted road in the foothills of Jinhae, his home and the town directly South of Changwon.

He gets off and explains the gears, which I am already somewhat familiar with.

"So how do I know if I've hit neutral if the light isn't working?"
"The light will work when the battery charges up again, but don't worry about neutral just yet."
"Now, when I go from first gear to second, how will I know if I'm in neutral or second."
"If you're not looking for neutral, you'll miss it. If you push up hard enough you'll go right past it." Don't worry about that for now."

So he explains where a few more of the controls are and off I go! I get it into first and go a whopping 30 feet without falling over. I then try to turn, but almost drop it, as motorcycles are shockingly heavy and unweildy when unpowered.

"Watch it there! Just try to go straight for now. Worry about turning later!"
"Ummmm..... OK."

I take it again in a straight line, this time with no trouble. So I start down the hill and shift into second. I'm really going now. I hear Robin yelling something but I tune him out and concentrate. There's some traffic! Oh no! Better turn around before I kill myself. I try to turn it, and attempt to control the motorcycle in a turn. Doesn't work very well and I'm going all over the place in first gear. I manage a 180 turn (barely) without falling. Only problem is, my turning radius is far too wide, and I careen into the curb on the opposite side of the street and drop it. Crash! :P

Robin comes running down the hill, his gangly 6 foot 4 inches bounding nearly as fast as second gear. "TYLER! TYLER! ARE YOU OK??!!"

His concern bemuses me slightly, as I crashed the thing at less than 10 kph, and suffer nothing but a slight bruise on a foot. He helps me pick it up and I manage to ride it back up the hill.

Once at the top, I do some loops in a circle at a very deserted intersection.

Suddenly, Robin gets hungry and declares that I have passed the first day's lessons. We head into town late that night, where he shows me his favorite restaurant.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saturday Night Pool

오늘밤 마산에 갔어요. 제친구 최인심씨와최정은와같이 닭고기를 먹었습니다.

Despite my previous exaustion from the afternoon's crazy shenanigans, I went to Masan on Saturday night to meet some new friends. I ate spicy chicken with my new friends, Choi In-Sim and Choi Jeong-Eun. I met them both in Masan over the previous two weeks at my Wednesday night Masan Korean class. Both are excellent teachers, and generously indulged my desire to learn their native tongue, despite my poor renderings of Korean pronunciation and frequent grammatical mistakes.

We went to a billiards hall following dinner, where I won 1 out of three matches, with In-Sim winning the other 2 (She's quite talented, but I think I got very unlucky in 1 of the matches). Nevertheless, I'm obviously rusty and need to practice more! There will definitely be a rematch. :P

We concluded the evening with ice-cream cones!

Drive to Busan with Robin Gazdecki

My friend, Robin Douglas Gazdecki sold me his motorcycle on Saturday. Problem: the motorcycle is parked in the middle of Busan, which is a 2 hour drive away on weekends (45 minutes without traffic). Part of our agreement included me driving him down to Busan so that we could take it to a repair shop (where it apparently needs a new alternator).

Finally, we saw the bike, which Robin had randomly parked in front of a big casino a month earlier. Having told me that battery was dead, we were both shocked to watch the bike start up with very little trouble. So we hopped on and rode half the distance to the repair shop. Unfortunately, it started sputtering out just before we got there, and we wound up having to push it halfway to the place. Scariest part: we pushed it across this intersection between a highway offramp and a 6 lane avenue without median strips. Buses honking and dodging us. Finally we got it to the repair shop and were able to explain the problem to them.

They said it should be finished by Monday night (so that's when I'm driving down with him again. Part of our deal also included me driving him to Daegu that afternoon as well. So that's what I did after we got it to the shop. Daegu proved to be quite a distance though, so by the time I arrived back in Changwon, I was exausted (and far too sick of driving to bother going the distance to Masan to meet friends for the evening).

So, I'm not buying it until its ready, but I'm getting excited. Here's the motorcycle:

From Korean Lint

Monday, April 19, 2010

Alan Watts on Plans

"No valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now."
- Alan Watts on Plans

Sunday, April 18, 2010

250cc Cruiser? Well, why Not?

A friend of mine, Robin Douglas Gazdecki will leave Korea before the end of April, returning to his native Wisconsin. Consequently, he's interested in selling his motorcycles, and thought a series of increasingly desperate-looking Facebook status updates would sell his wares. He offered a choice of two different bikes to me (and anyone else who hasn't blocked him yet). And so, with less thought than I give to purchasing dish-soap, I chose the "cruiser" with the (slightly) bigger engine (which he said tops out at about 100 miles an hour).

But just so you all don't think that I've completely lost my mind, I will mention that Robin has offered to give me a few lessons on the bike before I take to the mean streets of Changwon. This will prove critical, as I haven't been on a 'real' motorcycle since I was 10 years old (and was riding with a friend of my father, Ted Duncan). I rented a 50cc scooter once in Thailand (which hardly counts), but that is about the extent of my experience. Here's my new ride.
Moreover, I think a motorcycle would prove advantageous in Korea in many ways. After driving Carlos' truck for 2-3 weeks, I find the most annoying aspect to driving in Korea to be the lack of parking. I won't really have this issue with the motorcycle. Moreover, during the frequent traffic jams that plague this city, I will be able to bypass everyone on the shoulders with all the scooters and other motorcyclists. The only disadvantages I see include rain and safety.

But I also just realized that I made a major lifestyle choice with very little thought. So I naturally felt I should perhaps learn a thing or two about motorcycles and spent a good portion of this evening reading up on the topic. On Youtube, I sifted through 20 or so videos of boneheads on crotch-rockets that didn't quite make the cut for Failblog. Then I found this very informative video and watched it about 10 times.

비음산 Hiking Bieumsan

일요일아침 우리는 비음산에 등산을 했어요. 제친구과같이 등산을했어요. 수연씨는 창원한글학당에서 만났습니다. 수연씨와같이 등산을많이 해봤습니다. 수연씨는 2명친과같이 왔습니다. '진니씨는 헬스 클럽에서 만났습니다. 재미있었어요!

Hiking again! The Korean national past-time. This particular mountain is not far from my house (and if you know where to look, one can see roughly where my house is in one of these pictures (but I won't bore you with a description).

This time, I'm hiking with Su-yeon, one of my Korean teachers, and 'Jeanny' an English interpreter/translator at GM Daewoo I met through my health club. Suyeon brought along a couple of her friends from Jinhae and we all joined in the 'Congo line' and marched up to the summit. I had mild concerns about the weather but eventually enjoyed the relative warmth (I couldn't tell if it was the dreaded Hwangsa dust from China, or just overcast weather threatening rain (the rain explained it all later on (and yes, I realize I'm using triple parentheses))).

As usual during a relatively warm weekend, the crowds were out en masse, an army of adjumas (middle aged women in trademark florescent gore-tex rain jackets and perm hairdo-friendly sun visors) were marching up before and after us. So we joined into the 'congo line' and went up with them. Unbelievable how many people.