Saturday, December 31, 2005

People: Sharon... Throw one more on top of it!

Dear Sharon, if you are reading this, I just want you to know that I remember and I care!

Happy Hanukah!* Happy Birthday!

*Sorry lah, too many holidays to remember. Type wrong pulak.







(Keep scrolling)







...and to all the other good-looking people reading this post.

Happy New Year ~ 2006!

Have a great year ahead.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Music: Bottle sliding

Was hunting through a list of musicians recently to listen, and got stuck on Eric Sardinas. He is one crazy Dobro (type of guitar) player ~ Forte being his mean-ass slide guitar playing, reaching deep into musical roots of Delta blues.

In a nutshell, it involves playing notes on the guitar with a wee tube made of plastic, metal, or glass stuck on one of your fingers. It creates a smooth sliding effect, which is DARN RIGHT cool.

I decided to give slide guitar a try yesterday ~ using a glass health drink bottle. Haven't been bothered to go buy a proper slide just yet. *Ehem...

Well in fact, they DO make bottle slides, and Sardinas, in his absolute coolness, played his Dobro with a Budweiser bottle too didn't he (see picture)? *Wink...

Have a listen at my first half-decent attempt at the slide (ever!). Click 'HERE'.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Stuff: Funky ear muffs

You know it's really cold when the temperature outdoor feels like

-45,267,899 Celsius!

OK, that was (honestly) bullshit. Anyone who's studied a bit of science will know that it's impossible to go below 0 Kelvin (approximately -273 Celsius).

Facts aside, you know it's cold when the Koreans dish out their funky earmuffs.

For the non-Korean readers ~ This is a really funky work of art. Unlike a beanie, you just pop it on. It DOESN'T ruin your hairdo, and it slips right under the hardhat when we're at work.

For only USD$3.50, you can keep your ears nice and warm. Another reason why I think the Koreans have got it all figured out. Brilliant!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Stuff: High speed tours

As usual, my camera was sitting handy in the glove box as I pulled up behind one of these tour buses this morning.

In case you were wondering, the English stencil on the bus doesn't exactly reflect the true meaning of the Korean one.

Actual translation: 세계(World)고속(High Speed)관광(Tours)

What never ceases to amaze me about some of these tours that operate on the grand theory of seeing ten countries in 2 hours, which I assume this tour company is part of, is:

How do they do it, and who'd be crazy enough to join their cause?!

I mean, how in the world do you see Italy, Switzerland, Germany, France and Netherlands, spanning over 2000 kilometers in just 10 days on a bus? An aunt was in one. Maybe Jordan and the whole of Turkey's north to south coastline of over 1000 kilometers in 1 week? Mum was in that one. Now this Korean 'High Speed' tour ~ the whole of the South Korean Peninsula in a weekend perhaps??

*Not sure if the tours might throw in North Korea on the 3rd day, but unless you're dead-set Adventerous (spelt with a capital "A"), I'm not sure if too many people will be keen on that one.

This made me realize how fortunate I have been over the last few years to travel for work, taking time in-between work to see the sights and soak in the local culture(s). Not many people have the luxury of time or money for multiple trips, but still, that defeats the whole purpose of traveling isn't it?

Bringing back only pictures and not a single memory of where they went... Admiring nice scenery and not knowing the significance of what they are looking at... Bringing back loads of souvenirs and not a story to tell of the local culture...
Just food for thought.

Monday, December 26, 2005

About me: My new chickmagnetronifying-atrracting'O-trapamajigit 4-wheeler.

Yo people! I will complain no more about the so-called "PMS Car Replacement Program". I love my new car. It's a Hyundai Accord* Sonata NF 2.0...

I will be behaving for the next few days, finding out how the car drives. When we've finally gotten to know one another, that's when the people on the road will have to watch out! *Evil laugh

Yipedeedodah yay!

*Kinda looks like a Honda Accord doesn't it? Guesses anyone?

I looked at 1998~2005 Accords. Similar, but not close. I swear I've seen it somewhere!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

PMS: The reason...

We are issued a company car each for this job in Korea. These cars are owned by our local office in Seoul. TODAY is the last day that I will use my 1998 Hyundai Sonata EF. This leaves me a tad nostalgic, since it has been with me all around the country for the last 9 months or so.

The reason we have to get rid the cars, so says our management, is that they are OLD ~ A.K.A more than 4 (only??) years old. This supposedly increases accident risks, which is a liability our company would like to avoid.


Tell me why that sounds Pretty Much Senseless (PMS)?

I mean, shouldn't the car's integrity be based on it's 1.mileage, 2.upkeep and 3.typical useage, and NOT age? I'm not exactly bitching about it, since we are getting some NEW rental cars from Hertz tomorrow. But the reason why we're getting rid of the old cars still sound a little PMS-ish. *Wink

We'll see what car shows up at the door tomorrow... ;)

Announcement: Merry Christmas!



Special season greetings to the people who left comments on the previous post: 'The other Kenny', Beck, Gene, Laynie and Nomad. Have a good holiday ~

Friday, December 23, 2005

Music: Merry Christmas 2005!

I think it's clear that in Malaysia, we are still allowed to say Merry Christmas, instead of all that politically correct bullshit terminology, where we are obliged to say "Happy Holidays".

In case I don't post on the weekend:

Merry Christmas!

I have a little something I dug up from my guitar recording archive two years ago. This is in-line with the festivities, regardless of what the day may mean to you. For me, being away from home without family, it's just another day at work with plenty of overtime. Hope you have laugh.

Click 'HERE'

P.S: I apologize, because you'd have to download the file and play it. Putfile has banned further uploads from the Asian region because of the recent Australian hanging. Stupid.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

News: Bloody snowstorms and killer traffic

This is yet another bitching post about the snow... only that this time, it's backed up with headlines on the news.

OK, note the news date: December 5th. But I swear, yesterday was just as bad if not worse!
Yesterday, it seems that our Jeollanam-do (전라남도) province got hit by sudden snowstorms again. In Suncheon (순천), we had probably 6 inches of snow in the few hours that the blizzards came down on us. It took me almost 4 hours over 35km to get home from work, which I normally do in 30 minutes.

Some of the highlights going home:
  • Site was closed down by 4pm, and all work stopped.
  • Highways were closed, and all trunk roads were clogged. Many cars and trucks were not able to climb even the slightest slopes due to the icy surface.
  • Policemen called in for last minute relief efforts, and overtime duty to spread salt & dirt on the roads.
  • Abandoned cars and trucks all over the side of roads. Many people walked home instead.
  • I gave up giving hot stranded Korean chicks (Evil grin) a ride, and instead did two blokes going my way the favor.
    *Sorry mum, no grandchildren for you in the horizon. I'm too honest for my own good.
  • Almost missed the Christmas dinner in Suncheon at Outback. Thanks for waiting up guys!
Driving to work this morning was OK, because I started earlier than usual. But I am so NOT looking forward to driving home again today!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Stuff: Innocent-looking, but mean ass street money dealers!

On the weekend ~ Spotted these looking old ladies, sitting with wee towels covering their laps while at Namdaemun market in Seoul.

At first I thought they were innocent old ladies... possibly asking for alms. But NO!Just wait till you see them dish out these big-ass piles of Korean Won and USA Dollars from under those towels.


Apart from calculators, I bet that if you pissed any of them off enough, they'd probably pull out a machine gun from underneath those towels.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Language: I mean... what the... food?

OK, so you do realize I've been bitching about the cold a lot lately.


Yes, there will be no stopping until the season ends. So live with it.

Anyway, we were in Insadong (Seoul) on the freezing Sunday afternoon. One of the best ways to keep warm, is to fill the stomach with hot steaming foodstuffs. Well, that works for me anyway.

So we pop by a wee street store that sells little red bean paste-filled tarts.

Not sure what it's called though...


What we DID figure out though, is that it costs 1,000 Won (USD$1) for 8 pieces. I guess that's good enough...

Monday, December 19, 2005

Nature: Weather report on Seoul... visit in spring!

Alright, Seoul was cool... might I say COOOOOOOOOOOLD!

To be exact, it was -13 deg Celsius (8 deg Fahrenheit) on Saturday night and -5 deg Celsius (23 deg Fahrenheit) during the day on Sunday. Remind me next time to go there only in spring!

Had fun though. Will be blogging about it when I get time later today.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Announcement: Weekend full of SeOul

Heading off to Seoul this weekend. Been there a gazillion times, but there are a few things I'd really like to catch this time, include the city hall lights, as well as the newly built Cheonggyecheon (청계천) restoration project.

Have a great weekend readers. Updates will be in on Monday! In the mean time, I will have my earmuffs on for the next two days.

Its bloody -8.3deg Celcius in Seoul as I type now...

Stuff: Yuletide joy for the dog

Guess what Momma Ferby sent her grand-dog, a.k.a. Kwangyang resident pup Gizmo... A Christmas Care Package!

In the care package we received yesterday, she threw in a whole bunch of stuff from wee winter jackets, to chew toys! Awesome... Gizmo can now take it out on Mini-Santa too!

*Momma Ferby is my American colleague's mum. They hail from Oklahoma.

Since she doesn't have any grandkids, and non are in the horizon... Gizmo (Ferb's new Shih Tzu) is probably the next closest thing.

Hence, Gizmo became the "Grand-dog".

What a better way to welcome the little fella, than a Christmas care package!

I wish I were a dog sometimes... *Mong mong!

Friday, December 16, 2005

@ Work: Girlie men playing with soap bubbles?

OK, what would you make out of BIG BURLY men carrying bottled soap water, spraying bubbles all over the place... girlie?

Heck NO! That's how we (engineers) check for air/gas leaks on pipes, lines and hoses... There's just no other more convenient + cheap way to do it.

By the way, MY bottle is transparent PINK. ;)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Business: Hyundai Santa Fe 2005/06

A show car was perched outside where we have lunch and sales people were out swarming the place with fliers of sorts. Seemed like the new Hyundai Santa Fe is on the streets. Not a bad looking SUV I must say... plus the brochure cracked me up. Hence this post.

*Note though, it looks a tad like a COPY of a Mazda 6 from the back, and probably a Honda Accord from the front. B****y copy cats!

Either way, Hyundai has once again come up with a sweet deal as far as warranty is concerned. If I read my Korean right, I believe its a 2 year OR 40,000 km warranty with free servicing on the first 1,000 km and subsequent 10,000 km until the warranty period is over.


You could opt for the Mozen option. Mozen seems to be an in-built safety and GPS system that probably curses in Korean whenever you don't drive per the directions. That's what I think anyway, since I don't understand a friggin word the GPS (SHE) utters whenever I'm in a car that has one.

The Mozen SOS system will (I quote) lay your worries to rest anytime. So supposedly if your car breaks down, commandos swoop down, locks everything in place and airlifts your car to the ultimate destination?

For USD$33,000, you could purchase the (I quote) "Super-High Class" SLX Santa Fe with the top Mozen option, which unfortunately is only 2-wheel drive... Throw in an extra USD$1,860 and you can have the 4-whell drive option.

*Note: On the brochure, there is NO standard model, only High and Super-High Class models. So you'd be driving what technically is a standard (a.k.a. CHEAP) model, that's labelled high-class.


I'd buy it though, it if it were as cheap in Malaysia. Anyone knows how much the current Santa Fe retails for in Malaysia?? My guess is 2.5 times the price here (Korea).

*Grumbles at stupidly excessive Malaysian duties and import taxes...

I hope it drives as well as it looks too.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Food: Raw fish ~ FRESH!

Finally, we have a Chinese colleague who just arrived on our job site. He's the only one who's been brave enough so far, to go ease the craving for raw fish with me.

When the Koreans eat raw, they mean RAW, and they mean FRESH...

This is a common sight all over Korea: You rock up to a fish tank, pick the fish, have it weighed, sit down at a table, and wait for the fish to be sliced up. Other non-fish options include sea slugs and urchins.

We picked the minimum of 1kg that night, and it cost 20,000 Won (USD$20). That should feed 2 ~ 3 people. Not bad at all!

Settings vary, but typical fish tanks can be found at fish markets, or even raw fish (회) speciality shops. One of the most famous markets around is Jagalchi Market (자갈치) in Busan, and the annual Jagalchi Festival in October.
Just try not to gross-out ok...

Don't ask me what fish we ate... Whatever the lady said when she picked up the fish sounded pretty foreign to me! Tasty though it was, and not a hint of smelly seafood... It was THAT fresh!

As with ANY Korean meal, life would not be complete without soju, accompanying side dishes of Kimchi, raw leaves of lettuce and mint, as well as chilli sauce.

It's freestyle as far as how you eat it. I love it with leaves, and a tad of mustard + light soy sauce.

~ Lovely ~

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Announcement: Plunge forward

I have submitted to my destiny... The IELTS application has been submitted!

If you're lost on what I'm ranting on about, read HERE.

Culture: Slogans will protect you!

Just remember, Koreans LOVE slogans!

This again, is a shot of Mr. An, our model from the Tourmaline post some time ago. This time, he's here to model for us the vest, which we were told we have to wear on site.

On ALL vests are scribbled the words:
무재해 (Mujaehae) ~ "No accidents"

It's a stark reminder to everyone on the job site, of the reputation of having a poor safety record within its construction industry. Maybe some people believe it provides extraordinary protection to the wearer, by forces incomprehensible to the common man?

Here's food for thought on why I DON'T wear it... Which is safer?
  1. To wear a vest that says "No accidents" on it and climb/walk around the construction site, only to have the edges of the loose-hanging vest frequently caught in items that stick out, aka: bolts, pipes and sharp edges.
  2. To not wear it and simply have my shirt tucked in while climbing about. No loose edges.

It's corny anyway. I think I am entitled to win my case. :P

Monday, December 12, 2005

About me: OK, so my Engrandish sucks rite?

OK, remember how my case officer for the permanent resident requirement me to do an English test? I wrote an appeal, which was rejected, stating reasons of policy.

I then found a clause on the immigration website that states:

"...Any waiver of the test is at the DISCRETION OF YOUR CASE OFFICER."
SECOND letter of appeal!

Response... short and sweet:

Crap la... that means I have to drive all the way to Seoul (5 hours away) on a Saturday for a stupid test that I aced 9 years ago, and pay another ~ USD$180.00. I mean, how in the world does your English language deteriorate with time anyway?

*Grumble grumble grumble... !@#ㄸㅌㅠㅃ他Xガrセア媽U^!@%#$*!!! (Swearing in ALL Asian languages I know...)





30 minutes





I feel better now.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

PMS: Wireless internet

Let me have a go at the Korean internet system one more time.

This (Sunday) morning, I decided to use the FREE wireless internet again, which is from onlyGodknowswhere. Note that I've been using this in my apartment for the last 8 months. Personally, I don't think I'm 'stealing' someone else's bandwidth, because obviously, I could log on with no problems. This means that someone did not set up the system's security properly, and ANYONE could use the connection at will.


Anyway, what I'm here to take the piss out of is not this. Refer to the screenshot above.

Today, I believe they finally did something about it, and enabled this log on feature in the KT Megapass opening splash screen. Without logging on, I was restricted from getting on the internet.

"Oh joy... I have no account!" I grumbled to myself. "What about my faithful blog readers?!!"

This is where you get teary eyed, and promise to send this link to everyone you know. Since you KNOW that I care, and you'd want others to feel the joy of reading my blog.
Refusing to give up, I try to see if Yahoo, MSN and Google Messenger would work, because they do tend to bypass firewalls and proxy servers sometimes.

Voila ~ It works!

Since the messenger programs worked, I decided to try logging in to our company's network, and so I dished out the ol' VPN (login program, in a nutshell), and lo and behold... I now HAVE access to the internet, and am typing this at home right now!

So here's why I feel this deserves to be a Pretty Much Senseless (PMS) post:
A splash page that only prevents me from getting to the internet directly (only), is exactly like a locked gate in front of an un-walled house. PMS!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Business: Fags

It's funny how some businesses are named. It was a good laugh when I spotted this one.

In case you were wondering what's the joke... See the word "FAG"? By definition a FAG could be:
  • A cigarette ~ British English.
    Example: "Would you like to go out for a fag (smoke)?"
  • A derogatory term for homosexuals. An abbreviation for faggot.
    Example: "Don't come near me you fag!"

What a gay name for a business, but it IS a brand of bearings.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Announcement: Can I come to Australia??

This came in the mail yesterday. Yup ~ a reply for my long awaited application to be an Australian Permanent Resident!

It's not quite approved yet, and they still need two documents:
  1. Medical checkup (fair enough)
  2. International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score... shudder in disbelief!
OK, so what does that mean: My English is bad? I have always been speaking a minority language, while traveling the world with multi-national companies for the last 5 years? This blog was completely written up by my personal assistant while I recited ideas to *HER in dialects?!

*Yes, I wouldn't mind not being able to speak English in that case.

Anyway, I have written a letter of appeal to the case officer. There was an exemption clause in the English testing requirements document, which I feel that I've fulfilled. I had taken this test in 1996 anyway, but only that it has passed the expiration period of 2 years. We will see what goes.

But usually at this stage, you could pretty much call it good on the application once the required documents are in. So Australia... hold on to your wigs and panties, because Vincent's storming into town by 2006!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Culture: Kimchi refrigerators

You know that the Koreans are DEAD SERIOUS about their kimchi (pickles) when:
  1. They eat it EVERY meal

  2. They have special Kimchi refrigerators (김치냉장고) for making that stuff!
Always remember this: If you marry a Korean person, you'd probably have to live with two refrigerators. One for the normal stuff, and possibly a kimchi refrigerator with a capacity of a whopping 180 Liters! This is the largest I've spotted by far.

For comparison sake: 180L is equivalent to 120 LARGE coke bottles, or about 4 full tanks of petrol/gasoline in a mid-sized car!

Now that's A LOT of Kimchi!

My American housemate X has a Korean wife of 15 years. Apparently her kimchi refrigerator hasn't been quite enough. So over the years, some of the stuff slowly snuck its way over into the normal fridge.

Keep in mind that X doesn't quite do the whole kimchi thing. Unfortunately he has had to put up with kimchi-flavored cheese on some days... Oh joy.

I guess the best solution would be to buy her an even BIGGER refrigerator! Click 'HERE' to download a copy of this sales brochure I got.

297 Liters?? *Gulp...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Stuff: No more motels!

Cultural note #427 (on Korea) states:
Never make promises to meet anyone inside, outside, at, or near a motel. This applies, even if the people whom you are meeting, stays AT that motel, be it for legitimate or non-legitimate purposes, a.k.a. shagging someone other than the officially recognized 'partner'. Motels with discretely curtained car parking facilities are not exempted from this rule.

Save yourself the embarrassment, because you never know who else you will bump into.
It was 7pm, so a colleague and I were waiting at a motel lobby for two other guys staying there. They are colleagues, in town for another project. We were meeting for dinner.

Ten minutes into the wait, we bump into someone else I knew. Whoa! Yes... he was there for a shag with a woman whom I did not recognize, presumably a 'working girl'. I personally wouldn't do it, but I've got nothing against him having a go at it ~ it's his choice. But it was just sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo embarrassing!

After handshakes were exchanged and grins with heads lowered, we parted, each to our own business...

I will NEVER, EVER, for the life of me, till the END OF ETERNITY, would want to go through that embarrassment again!

Note on why I think this cultural note applies to Korea ~ Read 'HERE'.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Music: Wedding song revamped

Since there's been a glut in the Malaysian economy because of the marriage binge recently ~ according to KurtLow (lol), I was inspired to do a rendition of the famous Wedding March by Felix Mendelssohn.

So I finally sat myself down last night. It's not quite finished yet, but have a listen to the first half anyway. It should be pretty accurate, as far as following the scores on the original music, except...

Click 'HERE'.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Traffic: Slippin' and slidin'

Although winter is one of the most beautiful times of the year, the traffic, I must admit is horrendous!

As reported yesterday, we had first snow in Suncheon. So, being that it was so early in the season, none... I mean NONE of the roads had sand or salt on it!

Saw a few wrecks and torn up road dividers coming into work today ~ Ouch!

*For the readers who are not familiar with driving in winter, do note that local municipalities in most snowing countries usually dump a mixture of salt and sand on the roads. Salt + snow produces a salty mix that doesn't freeze up as easily. Hence it all reduces to a mushy pool of water that makes driving easier. Even then, driving in winter is VERY VERY different. Flip a switch ~ drive different!

Have a look at the pictures. What looks like angel dust gracing the road surfaces is really the devil in disguise.

Snow gets compacted into ice as cars drive over them. This turns roads into such slippery surfaces, you simply cannot brake and do simple corners without going less than 30 ~ 40kmph. Worse is when people think that it is only water on the roads, when it really is

Slip Sliding Surfaces of HELL

Gee~ I just wish that they'd start putting salt TODAY. Otherwise I might as well start walking to work tomorrow.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Nature: First snow in Suncheon

Weather report brought to you at 7:03pm Suncheon, Jeollanam-do local time.

Yes, we have first snow in Suncheon today.

William and Sharon Cheang... if you are reading this, I hope the both of you are psyched up because your honeymoon is going to be a dream come true! It usually snows more too, up north near Seoul and in the mountains of Gangwon-do where you are going.

Hope you're happy :)

About me: Waste not this Turkey before us

I have FINALLY fought the good fight yesterday, and finished off 5kg worth of Turkey leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner!

Some of the guys from work had a few of those lunchboxes I put together, but I cleaned up most of it over the week.

Two dogs of some friends have also been given their pre-Christmas feed of leftover Turkey bones from the soup. We're supposed to be good friends now, as relationships were tense some weeks back. I had a go at some of their cousins...

Oh crap ~ just remembered about the 1kg of leftover roast ham! Fried rice maybe?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

News: What in the world will they think of next?!

Too much money on their hands I tell you!
Read it 'HERE'.
Snow in the U.A.E?? What will they think of next...

They can have it all. I'm Freezing in Korea!

Food: Chestnut & sweet potato pizza

Didn't want to do another food post on my blog, but I couldn't resist it. This showed up in the recent Pizza Hut menu... and I had to blog about it! Noticed it yesterday when we did our once-a-month thing there.

Rich gold crust with the sweet potato and cheese ring has been around for a while. But Chestnuts on pizza?? What the...

Only in Korea!

Friday, December 02, 2005

@ Work: Cheezy stickers

Remember the good ol' school days where teachers motivate you with star-shaped stickers?

Spotted this at work today!

Apparently the contractors have been using these stickers as job-progress markers. My best guess is that the pressure transmitter got:
  1. 1 Star = Cable is connected at the transmitter.
  2. 1 Star = Wires loop-checked.
  3. 1 Heart = Transmitter powered up no problems.

Its the first time I've seen something akin to this. Rather amusing... but just a tad too pansy for a construction site. I guess it does the job though.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Traffic: Another example of dumb-driving in Korea

Here's a perfect example of dumbness, thanks to my camera being in the car this morning!

Many Korean drivers in Jeollanam-do province have no bloody clue that it is dangerous, and it obstructs traffic when you park way ahead of the stopping line. They just stop there, thinking they can get a head start from everybody else when the lights turn green.

If you want to park like that, you might as well run the RED light!

Here are some other posts I've done on the subject:
  1. Hazard lights will protect you!
  2. Stupid parking habits.
  3. Speeding cameras that don't make sense.
I hate dumb drivers... and it's a struggle everyday getting to work. Argh!