Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Announcement: I miss you all!

Just so you all know that I really don't miss you all, and can't wait to get home to properly update my blog. My holiday cum conference here in Bangkok ends on the 5th of March.

Just so you know how I feel, here's a picture of me with a LONG and MISEREABLE face in front of Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn). :)

Friday, February 24, 2006

Announcement: Bangkok here I come... Life's hard like that.

I will try posting as often as I can next week, but I hope you understand my HARDSHIPS of being in a paradise of culture, sights and history, which probably will cost me a fraction of what I'd spend in Korea... ;)

In the meantime, leave COMMENTS on THIS POST if you want a remake of the national anthems. It'll be good, I promise. Come on, you can do better than that!

P.S.: For a preview of what I can do with the guitar, refer back to the WEDDING MARCH audio post in December '05.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

News: Rock version of Korean national anthem causes a ruckus!

I was in the midst of remaking our Malaysian anthem in the key of Rock when I read 'THIS'. *Gulp

SK Telecom managed to ruffle some feathers in Korea recently when they screened a TV commercial containing the rock remake of the Korean national anthem ~ Aegukga (愛國歌/애국가).

Credits go to Yoon Do-Hyun band (윤도현밴), which I must say has some excellent musicianship, and were probably only trying to expressing their love of the country through their style of music. Don't see anything wrong with that!

Not that this is an issue now, but damn ~ I also found out the song is copyrighted.

Yes, you heard me right:


It's a first for me to hear that a national anthem has a copyright... especially coming from a country that copied EVERYTHING from Louis Vuitton bags to Rexona deodorants!

Copyrights originally belonged to the composer Ahn Eak-Tae (deceased) and his family until 2015. But rights were relinquished/transferred over to the Korean government on 16th March 2005!

- wikipedia.org

I wonder if shit is going to hit the fan now if they pursue the matter. Anyway...

Got me a wicked idea!

If anyone wants to hear MY souped up version of the Malaysian national anthem Negaraku, or if you want to hear me remake Aegukga (gulp!) ~ Leave a comment, as well as forward this post to as many people as you can. I will take the plunge if we get the comments box filled up with at least 20 comments.

If that happens, you'll be seeing some remodeled national anthems on this blog, and probably legal lawsuits, all within the next two weeks. *Wink

Travel: Korea ~ Come prepared.

In response to the comments over the last two posts on: 1.Whether I am in Seoul, 2.I should leave an address for that raw fish place, and 3.People are all rave about Korea, and would like to visit.

I definitely appreciate the comments, and there is no doubt that Korea is quite the place to visit.


Response 1:

I am NOT in Seoul, but in Suncheon (순천) city of the South Jeolla ~ Jeollanam Do (전라남도).

I am a gazillion miles from Seoul!

Let me jog your memory by re-posting this map.

Response 2:

I wished I could leave you an address, but the fact is, it would not do you ANY good...

Addresses DO NOT work in Korea!

Streets are messy as hell here. Sure ~ officially, EVERY building has an address, but people rarely have a friggin clue about where that would be. This is VERY evident especially in Busan (부산), where side streets, lanes and haphazardly built houses are scattered all over the bloody place.

*Any thoughts about Jeju Island G?

People work with LANDMARKS and MAPS. That was how fax machines were popularized in Korea, as people often faxed each other maps of where they lived/did business ~ Quote from Lonely Planet Korea.

Many businesses that don't have an address in a premier building, or on a main road, like this motel I stayed at once, would have a map of their business location printed out on the back of their card.

I salute Korean postal workers.

Response 3:

Don't come to Korea unless you have local contacts, speak and read the Korean language, or are with a tour group.

It is ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE to experience the real culture if you do not fall into the afore-mentioned categories.

To illustrate this ~ I had to go to Seoul for my IELTS exam in January, and also a medical checkup. So the clinic I had to go to was at the Hanaro building.

Fair enough. I called up, and the nice front desk lady said it was "... in Insadong... two corners away from Pizza Hut... get off at Jonggak metro station... you will see a BIG sign that says Ha-Na-Ro".

How hard can that be right?

*Mumbles: "Yeah right..."

Instructions were clear, but it still took me awhile. Have a look at the picture below.

See any English writing ANYWHERE, apart from that microscopically lame excuse for an English signage at the bottom? Even though I read Korean, I'm still not as fluent as I should be. That's why it took 30 minutes before I spotted the words "하나로" up top.

Not convinced?

Most local restaurants (non of that tourist restaurant crap) have only Korean menus. Services such as most banks and even motels have no English speaking personnel... and good luck to trying to find an English roadmap if you intend to drive around the country ~ there is non detailed enough that I know of.

Heck, if you are still hell-bent on visiting... come prepared!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Business: Chockablock full!

How the crap does a business/shop attract customers when you are:
  1. A wee shop on the 5th floor of a building with no elevator?
  2. Have 20,000 business banners cropped up next to yours?
  3. Is one of the 450,000 PC rooms, where ALL of them are most likely to be packed into a two-block radius?
Note that in the picture, EVERY banner you see represents a business in those buildings. This is not a unique sight.

Welcome to the Korean money making dilemma dream.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Food: Raw fish ~ with class.

Sometimes, when raw fish on a cheap marble bench with water all over a market floor just ain't good enough, a visit to a raw fish house ~ Hoitjib(횟집) may be necessary.

Had a chance to ask a friend out just before Seollal. Since he's a good friend, and the occasion was more of a congratulatory New Year celebration, I couldn't be all cheap ass could I?

That being said, we dined at Sugung Hoitjib (수궁횟집) in the Jinwol/Hadong area. It's a fancy restaurant, which is famous for local delicacies of raw fish and side dishes. The good news is, the cost for something of similar quality, is nothing like that in Seoul or Pusan. A meal for the three of us, which you will see, cost only 80,000 Won (USD$80). Relatively cheap!

--- Savor the unlikely ---

Side dishes flow onto the table in abundance before the main event of sliced raw fish. Contrary to popular belief, none of the familiar radish and cabbage kimchis were present. Instead, we were presented with a selection of mollusks.

Among the lot, was this icky-furry-looking thing that you have to dig the insides out... the rest of the fur goes in the thrash. Sounds kinky doesn't it?

More shells and clams.

Spring rolls, fried fish and such...

Then there was this funky mushroom/roe assortment that tasted like... mushroom and roe?

I swear that this next dish ~ Preserved Fish A'la Hadong (name of this area), is one of the nastiest I've ever had. Since the meat is plain white/pinkish, it looks exactly like plain boiled fish to the unsuspecting eye ~ Guess again.

As the unsuspecting connoissuer samples the cleverly disguised morsels of death, a potent wisp of ammonia pierces through the nostrils in succession of every bite... and the stench does not back off easily. Not even after multiple shots of Soju!

OK, so I exaggerated. It DOES taste like ammonia, but the taste does grow on you, and I like it. It's an acquired taste. ;)

--- End of Entree ---

Yes... it's true, that was JUST the entree.

Here comes the main dish of raw fish ~ Hoei (회). Raw overload!

I guess the Koreans don't believe in ever believe that being skinny is a good thing. Along with the sliced fish, more side dishes are laid down. One of the funkier ones was an ingenious mixture of tuna and roe/caviar. Interesting...

--- Almost at the end! ---

To wash it all down, there was also the infamous fish broth ~ Maeuntang (매은탕).

Still believe that this whole meal, which really could feed four people, cost only $80? You bet'cha ;)

Monday, February 20, 2006

Stuff: Holy crap ~ Bubble butt sighting!

It's a bl***y Monday, and I believe a light and nonsensical post would be appropriate. So let's just take our attention away from Korea for two seconds, and focus our attention on Egypt for instead.

Was surfing Google Earth the other day and decided to look up the Egyptian Sphinxes you see...

As I zoomed in on the Sphinx, I discover... Holy crap, the Sphinx has a bubble butt!

Bubble butt
~ Well rounded, firm/not sagging and wobbles when walking. Bulges pants preferably.
Example of a perfect bubble butt:

What I'm particularly excited about, is because Korean women have NO bubble butts. Stereotype dictates that ALL Korean women have flat butts. So it's been awhile since the last sighting.

Hail the great buttatologist Vincent!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Announcement: IELTS results are out!

I finally got the IELTS test results in the mail a couple of days ago. This was after a wee mishap, resulting in emails flying back and forth. A copy of my original test results slip was probably sent to Godknowswhereland, and I had to request for an extra copy from the British Council (Korea).

Cut to the chase ~ I did good. Hope my immigration case officer thinks so too.

Full score is 9. *Winks

Friday, February 17, 2006

Food: Oyster rice ~ Gulbab (굴밥)

Gul (굴) is Korean for Oyster. As far as I'm concerned, it's one of the nastiest, slimiest morsels that one can ever savor... I mean, what's up with the funky gross-looking layers of GRAY skin anyway?!


OK, if it's not particularly appealing to you, here's one (less gross) way of eating it ~ In a hotpot of rice and roe. I introduce to you, Oyster Rice ~ Gulbap (굴밥).

As with the post I did on Barley Rice ~ Boribab (보리밥) in November, you mix the contents in the burning clay pot so that the oyster, roe, seaweed, vegetables and rice will cook in each other's juices. Add soy sauce as appropriate.

Once cooked, consume it in any manner your culinary senses desire.

I personally like the idea of it wrapped up in seaweed ~ Kim (김).

Then there were the side dishes again. For one, the plate of dried seaweed seasoned with sugar caught my taste bud's attention.

...and more oysters!

Tell me why do we need SO MUCH aphrodisiac in this country again?

One of the best things about Korea is the cheap seafood. By saying 'cheap', I am talking in relative terms... Just so you know, this meal cost only 5,000 Won each at the Tongyeong Gulbab (통영굴밥) chain of stores. :)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Travel: Geoje and Oedo Islands

Last Sunday was one of those rare days in winter where the temperatures actually shot up above the 10-Celsius mark. Being all-trusting in the local forecast bureau the previous night, we planned a trip down to Geoje Island in the South of the Korean Peninsular bright and early. The ultimate destination was to visit the Geoje's outer lying island of Oedo.

For movie buffs, this is where the grand finale where Winter Sonata (겨울연가) was shot. In the show, Jun-sang and Yoo-jin finally kiss to the end of their happy relationship by getting married, made babies, had fights everyday about credit card bills, and finally filed for divorce in year 2006.

But REALLY... I didn't watch the movie, couldn't care less. Just thought it'd be a good idea to give the movie's sad grand finale a better makeover.

That's why I'm not a movie producer/director. Anyway...

Geoje is a nice place if you like laid back and scenic views of fishing villages around the island. One thing that was in abundance around the island was seafood and oyster beds. Have a go at the grilled Oysters (굴구이) and Oyster Rice (굴국밥) if you ever get out there. *Watch this blog!

There are a number of ports that have boats going to Oedo Island. We chose randomly by plucking daisy petals (yeah rite!), and head for Haegeumgang port town in the South East of Geoje. There we bought tickets for ferries and a 1.5-hour pass to explore the island. We were designated a boat on which we will travel to, and back from the island. Costs: 16,000 Won/person.

After 20 minutes worth of good ol' rocking boat action to get to the island, we finally had to bribe the gate attendants with ANOTHER 5,000 Won each (Read: T.I.C.K.E.T.S) to start our wee adventure on the island.

Lee Chang-Ho and his wife settled into Oedo Island in 1969. It is a privately owned island, which was subsequently opened to the public in 1995. Having
nurtured the surroundings for over 30 years, the couple's island boasts some 1,000 sub-tropical plants, sculpture parks ~ including the Venus Garden, as well as a prayer chapel on the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea North of the island.

1.5-hours was definitely enough to explore the football field-sized island on foot.

Strolling through gardens with multitudes of flora, and sipping on tea from verandas overlooking the crystal-blue ocean was relaxing.

Then there was also the pristine chapel on the Northern-Eastern cliffs. I could only imagine speaking to God (if that's your thing), with golden rays of sun peeping through the horizon at the break of dawn.

20 minutes short of boarding the boat back to Geoje Island, we warmed ourselves up with a hot cuppa at Otea's Room by the docks.

Perfect ending to a tour of the island...

From there, we drove back and had dinner in the town of Tongyeong on the North-West of Geoje Island.

So to end the day on a high note, we caught the sunset. Gorgeous ~

Have a look at the other pictures we took on our trip over the weekend 'HERE'

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Announcement: My Valentine's Day

OK, so I lied on Monday about posting about our trip to Geoje and Oedo islands over the weekend... Valentine's was so nice, I now have to BRAG about it!

I mentioned yesterday that men shouldn't do squat, as that would totally violate the whole Valentine etiquette... OK, I admit! I did give her a small (like REALLY small) bar of Swiss chocolate.

Hey ~ You can't just cut a guy off a bad habit rite? Weaning takes time. A small bar of chocolate for the girl... Seriously, that should be acceptable?

Back to the topic of what I got for Valentine's ~ She gave me a box of Ferrero Rocher, and a PUMA cap.

Coming back from work, we skipped the whole commercial propaganda, and beelined for the supermarket. She made dinner, and even though there weren't any candlelight, steak or sparkling wine... it was beautiful.

The company was, that is.

All in all, to top off the day, THIS cracked me up as I flipped open the tags on the new cap for a read.

Bloody geniuses... I would buy the cap just for the laugh! Well-done PUMA.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Culture: Happy Valentine's from Korea

Since it is Valentine's Day all over the world today, let me take the chance to wish everyone a:

Happy Valentine's Day

Living in such a male-chauvinistic society, surely you jester that Korean men must spend phenomenal amounts during this commercialized holiday?

On the contrary... it is the women who do all the work on Valentine's Day.

In Korea, the year's calendar has been infested with so much commercialization that it's not even funny. A special day is created oh-so-often, concurrently with clever marketing plans to take over the world. Playing on the theme of Valentine's, a 'special day' (Ehem!) has been created for the 14th day of each month, each to it's own bullshit story. Note that even the Koreans I know dismiss most of these days without even a whim.

Read on about what people coin to be COMMERCIAL holidays in Korea if you want to find out why MEN should do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING on Valentine's Day!

  • 14th January ~ Diary Day:
    Lovers exchange fresh new diaries, signifying the start of a new year. If you two have been together for a while, hopefully your lover will FINALLY remember your birthday this year by writing it down in the diary.

    *D'uh... Buy a PDA!

  • 14th February ~ Valentine's Day:
    In 496 A.D., Pope Gelasius set aside February 14 to honor St. Valentine who was martyred in 269 A.D. for holding on to Christianity.

    Back in those days, lives of young boys and girls were strictly separate. On the eve of the Roman festival of Lupercalia however, which is Valentine’s, would be the only day that girls are allowed to show their feelings. Over time, February 14th became the date for exchanging love messages and St. Valentine became the patron saint of lovers.

    Following that tradition, it is the day when Korean women GIVE men chocolates as an embodiment of their intention to shag admiration. A gift would also be appropriate. The male has a ONE-month period to decide whether he accepts her invitation to shag heart.

    *Guys: Don't do ANYTHING today, unless you want to ruin her efforts! ;)

  • 14th March ~ White Day:
    So the deadline is up, and White Day is the day for the men (only) to take action.

    On this day, if a man accepts the heart of the woman who confessed her love for him on Valentine’s Day, he will present her/his lover with candy. Otherwise, he will have to return her gift.

    *Wake up! She'll expect more than JUST chocolates...

  • 14th April ~ Black Day:

    Black day is the day commemorated by either single men or women who have been disappointed with the passing of Valentine's and White days without a partner. On this day, participants will be dressed from head to toe in black EVERYTHING, including clothes, shoes, socks and accessories.

    Lest we forget, black coffee and black sauce noodles ~ Jajangmyeon (자장면) are also consumed as an act of solidarity. To me, wearing black is just another excuse to spot out the single chicks so guys can hit on them.

    *Getting hitched on this day is allowed!

  • 14th May ~ Yellow and Rose Day:
    Since Black Day is a day where single people mourn their sad lonely singlehood, Yellow day is the day you pray to get OUT of it.

    As the name implies, you wear everything yellow, and eat curry, which is also (almost) Yellow. Since May is also the season where Roses flourish, this day is also called ‘Rose Day’. As the atmosphere is supposedly good, it will be a day where couples give each other roses, as a sign of a developing relationship.

    *How bout praying for an upgrade?

  • 14th June ~ Kiss Day:
    In the event that things have been working out great between a couple up until Yellow day, a first kiss will be in the works on this day.

    After the nice and fuzzy feelings have worn off, either from getting your tongue stuck in the other's braces, or basically from bad technique... this is ALSO the day in the year when couples sit down and CONFESS.

    They are supposed to talk about everybody they’ve ever been with, kissed, or felt up. Since traditionally, rain is supposed to fall annually on this day, it will be coupled with the tears of joy couples share upon receiving painfully detailed accounts of each other’s sexual exploits.

    *Oh sorry honey... got to go out of country for a project from the 13th ~ 15th!

  • 14th July ~ Silver Day:
    This is the day where the lover is introduced for the first time to one’s seniors, including those at school, the work place, as well as the parents. On this day, the seniors will have to present the lovers with money, or silver. Lovers may also exchange gifts made of silver.

    *Only introducing her 5 months after she proposed in Feb 14th... is she THAT ugly?

  • 14th August ~ Green Day:
    Days of summer will be hot and unforgiving in this month. Lovers will hence seek out cooler environs, to go hand in hand for a walk in the forests. People with no lovers, will drink hard liquor with a Green theme to cheer up.

    *I bet you the XXX Soju Co. invented this one!

  • 14th September ~ Music and Photo Day:
    Having introduced the lover to your family and seniors, it's probably time to introduce her to your mates. Have a party, crank the music up, and get the girl to come over and see how the boys get sloshed on Soju. Take incriminating evidence on film if you'd like.

    *You'd be pretty lucky if she'd still hang around.

  • 14th October ~ Wine Day:
    It's the day to get serious and sit down to talk about whether you two were meant for each other. Choose a nice restaurant, have a wine, get tipsy... then maybe she'll agree to marrying you and still let you spend your salary at your discretion after marriage.

    *In some Korean families I know, women manage ALL of the $$. Ouch!

  • 14th November ~ Orange and Movie Day:
    As if selling I Love You Day Pepero sticks on the 11th of November wasn't enough for the corporate thugs... they now insist that we watch movies, and buy more orange juice?!


    Consuming the slightly sour orange juice is supposed to be a reminder to couples of the 'sour' times they promise to share together in the days ahead.

    *Are the theatrics really necessary?

  • 14th December ~ Hug Day:
    Baby it's cold outside... gimme a hug!

    *I wonder if love motel businesses are also better during that day...

Since I am living in Korea now, it'd be best that I follow the local practices... Alright ladies, show me the money!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Travel: Suncheon Film Village

For my readers out there who watch Korean dramas, the new serial Love and Ambition (사랑과 야망) by SBS, is filmed in our fair city of Suncheon.

For the drama, the Suncheon 'Film Village' (순천 드라마 촬영장) was built with partial sponsorship from Suncheon's local governance. Since it's just two spits away from where I live in Wangji (왕지), we decided to pay the place a visit on Saturday.
Film village: An entire village built from scratch as a film set. Not all buildings in the village are functional, as most of them are facades of plywood and styrofoam.

If you were sharp enough, you could check out the filming schedule, pay the entrance fee of 3,000 Won (USD$3) per person, and possibly spot some of your favorite Korean movie stars working on the set.
It was a fun day out. Since I was puppy-sitting Gizmo while Rob was away for the weekend. What better way to raise girlie eyebrows than to take cute pictures, make silly sounds with the puppy, and having him sniff skirts isn't it?

I mean, who doesn't do it these days right? :P

Back on the village... It was an insightful tour.

Since the story line is set in the 1960's, many of the shops and houses supposedly depict what it was like in that era. If the houses are anything like what they had in real-life, then gosh ~ the living spaces they had to deal with were pretty darn small!

Being a foreigner visiting the set, I must say that they've paid pretty good attention to detail.

Then again, it's not all perfect, since I do have my doubts about a signboard that says "담배 ~ Cigarettes" outside a supposed 60's convenience store.

Seriously, what are the chances of any village folk, in a nation of predominantly rice farmers, know what a white man looks like back in the days, let alone speak the language?

Check out these bottles I spotted in the medicine shop.

People back then actually believe in drinking that stuff? "Life Revival Water" (literal translation of 活命水) sounds kinda shoddy don't you think? It almost reeks of packaged sewer water!

I can just imagine the advertising back then... "Not planning to die anytime soon? Have a Life Riviving Water!"

All in all, it was an awesome day out. Excellent weather, and great company. For more pictures, click 'HERE'.

More on a travel post about our trip on Sunday should be up by 15th February. Tomorrow, there will be a special post about Valentine's... stay tuned!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

PMS: Do you think this will sell?

Let's just stray away from the somewhat intense post from yesterday about Prophet Mohammed, and get back on-track to what Muses... is all about: Quirks!

I think I would've walked into THIS restaurant while in Seoul two weekends ago

... if it weren't for THIS sign

... to me, the words "Tourist Restaurant" equates to saying:
"Welcome! For your dinner tonight, we will be serving YOUR stretched out
platinum VISA card, topped with YOUR wallet, shaved into Sashimi-thin slices.
Lest we forget... there's the tip, service charges, and GST
*Drip sweats and retreats with fear and trepidation...

Pretty Much Senseless (PMS)!!

OK, so maybe tourists who come round to these parts of the world aren't exactly the smartest... The restaurant looks like it's in pretty good shape.