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JESUS BLESSES LITTLE CHILDREN

Okay enough with the kiddy-pics, you’re starting to creep me out.
But I couldn’t let this one slide – that kid is holding a case with the above-titled phrase on it, and inside it is all the stockpiled snax that’d been doled out to each kid. But not this kid – she’s giving hers to her parents.
And you thought christianity was bad in your country — what I’m told is that it took off after the war in the 50s – because it was the victor’s religion – is the only reason folks here took it up — emulating the want-money thing. All the churches are the same functional architecture, capped with a red neon cross.

I thought it was supposed to be a peace sign. Before I came I saw numerous photos of kids like this doing the peace sign and I thought — wow, they’re really freaked into consciousness by the possibility of being slaughtered by their brothers n sisters across the DMZ annd nukes and what ever.
But it seems there’s no meaning behind the finger hold – they just do it. I’ve asked lots of people if they had any idea of the origins, but so far with out answer. My tenous present theory is it’s also a war throw-over.

Another weird thing about this place is how they count age — everyone gets a starting bonus of one year when they come out — I don’t understand that bit — plus also there’s this horse-like thing where they add an additional year at the beginning of each calendar year, regardless of when in the year your actual birthday is. You still celebrate your birthday where it falls, but – so theoretically, you could be born on Dec. 25 and be 2 years old a week and a bit later. Highly illogical.

YS @ 11:56 pm, January 31, 2005

mor hapiSnapz frm wintawundaland

It snowed yesterday morning so we got to skip class and go out into the carpark and play. yay! Really only the third time I’d been in snow, after two ski excursions – 15 years ago.
The boys, who normally do what I say, formed an unspoken alliance and totally pummelled me with snowballs. I fought back a little bit but was hopelessly outgunned.
The boy in this foto, Tam, (again – no real name supplied) is a real poindexter. When I ask him a hard question, he’ll look up (they all sit on the floor) and twitch his nose so that the glasses move around too. It’s fuggin hilarious. A high proportion of the boys here are nerds.
The character Dexter Poindexter was visually modelled on Penfold from Dangermouse (who grudnuk erronously, I think, compares to the current poliitical leader of australia) but now I have a dozen dozen live models getting under my feet daily.

Looking at the weather thing on the net now, it says it’s 0degs centigrade – but it doesn’t feel anything like that — it feels more like 10degs, geelong style — and who in their right mind could complain about weather where you get 2cms of snow one morning, then it be sunny as, the next? There isn’t a trace of the light-deprivation that the folks in Northern US seem to suffer either – the sun’s basically up by 8am and down around 5 to 5:30pm.

YS @ 12:50 pm, January 30, 2005

HOT KOREAN MOMS

It’s an Amon Tobin and P-Love track title, but it’s so spammy I love it.

I’m now convinced there’s no such thing as postmodernism — there’s just the transfer of ideas between cultures and the inevitable mutations that come from it. Lead by things like cheese flavoured shortbread, kiddy stationery sets called ‘Happy Virus’, funeral marches lead by a woman in a bright yellow marching band costume complete with twirling baton, and a guy with a sliced accent saying in all earnest seriousness, “Hmm, something strangey”.

The follow portion is dedicated to Sydney’s own ESL Sisters. I don’t know If I said, but it’s weird being somewhere without water conservation consciousness. The toilet bowls are shallowish and wide. Nary a ploppy bombing sound’d be heard here. I had to check and recheck the information I was receiving, when told that folks here don’t use deodourant.
But then I found out why it’s not a problem. Not all, but a lot of people have this habit of :: scenario :: You’ve just wiped your arse and have the paper still in hand. You’re vaguely swiveled back around looking into the bowl, then your eyes flick to a basket beside it … and you think, “hey what the heck! I don’t need to flush this bit of paper, I’ll just stick it in that bin.”
:: and pretty soon the not-so faint odour of shit is permeating not through the cubicle, not through the whole public toilet, but right down the whole motherfucking corridor.
The toilet paper is of a desperately poor standard too. It’s like sticking a piece of super-absorbant toweling up your crack.
There’s a tendency for doors of public toilets (men’s is the only variety I’ve experience with) to be wide open — which ain’t a good thing for a guy like me who gets urinal stagefright with even the thought of there being one other person in the place. I just get distracted.
The public toilets have a little plaque at the door with the name and photo of the cleaner responsible for the joint.

The can we have here at Love Hotel has so many controls on it, it looks like it should be on the space shuttle. I don’t know what they do – maybe warm the seat — which I find counter-intuitive — I’ll take a naturally cool/cold/room temp seat than a warmed artificially or by another’s cheeks anyday.

YS @ 1:00 am, January 29, 2005

non-specific observations

I’ve started teaching – it’s good fun but kind of full on. Lots of noise and light and movement. They’re a good bunch of kids, I was lucky not to get any truly bad apples. The boys are a tad rambunctous and more of a challenge to get interested — but what can you expect from a bunch of bart simpsons? They’re around that age – 10 or 11. The girls are more into it as fitting with the generalisation that females are better communicators.

My crew, and the young woman helping me with them. She’s an absolute saint — I’ve never met a person of her age/sex as selfless and polite.

Some self-portraits they put together, which look great, I think. The kid that did the bottom left, green on green – I asked him about it, mentioning that he didn’t have a long goatee beard. A bunch of them started talking the local language (which they’re not supposed to do) and I couldn’t understand them. Eventually they got it through that Mark (not his real name) had done the guy on the 10,000Won bill, King Sajong.

Went to the waterpark bit of that giant amusement park I mentioned we were going to, today. It was pretty good considering a lot of it was closed for winter. Water slides, various oddly haped, indoor heated pools, saunas and, most importantly, different flavoured spa baths with high-powered water jets to knead my buttocks.

As a lanky canadian pointed out to me, it’s interesting that here, the women wear more bathing clothes than the guys — these relatively conservative one-piece suits with a skirty bit and the guys mainly in speedos. Compared to the other way around in most western locales.
There’s a lot of aussies here, a couple of kiwis, a handful of Irish (who win the award for being funniest), a buch of canadians and only a few yankees. One pom.

I went to a supermarket the other night and it was ace. There’s all kinds of weird shit here.

YS @ 11:48 pm, January 27, 2005

“Morning” “Morning, Pedro” “Take my mule Pedro” “Oh si Senor”

I realise this thing is taking on a bit of a theme and if it’s not interesting, there might be a bit of a wait for a change of style. We’re going live jouirnal for a bit. I didn’t think I’d be able to get on the net much at all, but it’s everywhere, and it’s the only thing to do in short breaks with no ghetto blaster and no good things on telly and I can’t get slow enough to read.

Changed locations today, and will again tomorrow night. There seems to be a bit of disorganisation but as far as language camps go, this is the biggest one attempted in the country — 400 kids. They’re not here yet. This whole thing is mostly govt sponsored, which a new thing. They want to give middling kids a chance at these things instead of just the devil-spawn sprog and ill-got of the elite.

I was supposed to be making arty shit; decorations for wall most of yesterday and today, but just didn’t feel like it. So I did a bit and that’s it.

Everything is small here. Small softdrink cans, small coffee, small flavoured milk tetrapaks. Packets of chips (crisps) are the same size but they put less in them. Packets of lollies — the whole enchilada and I think we’d be hard pressed to find the standard sized family block of chocky. It’s all a hell of a lot cheaper but it just means extra packaging. Oddly, I haven’t given much of a thought to recycling or any of that jazz since I got here. It’s like that whole side of me went on holiday. Maybe all the small stuff is a factor in why there’s a lot less fat-arses on the street. Other factors may include the absurd amount of hills, stairs and walking up thereof. And rice still being a major component of each meal.

The coffee is shocking. These small (200ml) cans – hot or cold, of crap american instant brands like maxwell house, some other one and Taster’s Choice — what the heck is that? I only know what that is because Samuel L Jackson mentions it in Pulp Fiction.
And vending machines! Ug, You put the equivelent of 20cents into a machine and it dribbles this cup of instant into a little paper cup — less than a mouthful; you’re lucky to find a machine that’ll have a without sugar option. It’s like some comedic farcical joke on the discerning australian coffee imbiber. There’s a can brand called “Let’s be Mild” which I’d like to show you a picture of sometime.

Got a very brief look at Everland, the Disneyland equiv., today. Boy is that going to be a journey into the super/sur and hyper-real.

Each of us whiteys has been assigned a korean assistant (to translate (when needed) and stuff like look after the little buggers when we need a break) and most of them are young women — university student who want to practice their own english, or get some brownie points on their resume. They’re all adorable, polite and eager. They’re like 19, 20 or 24 and they hold hands with eachother. It’s shocking that they’re getting paid a third or a quarter of what we are, and they have to look after the brats once we’ve split for the evening back to our ‘love hotel’. Some of the more seasoned guys, american asshols, stood around watching and cracking furtive jokes while the assistants did all this heavy lifting this morning.

We’re (us whiteys) are stayng in this off-ramp hotel whose main clientele is couples having affairs. I haven’t seen it yet – that’s tomorrow.

Everytime someone says “Morning” to me, I still think of the People Like Us track, ‘Morning’ — and the Wide Open Spaces album — and get the giggles. Take my mule, Pedro.

YS @ 11:56 pm, January 23, 2005

friday

People do my washing. I’m wearing my tattered old 1988 Ballad of the streets – Simple Minds t-shirt and it hasn’t looked as in good condition as this in ages. There’s this old couple in the basement who run the laundry. There’s three options in the phrase book for thankyou. Thankyou was the first thing i remembered how to say, and said. I’m going to have to start practising the thankyou profusely option.
We’re currently staying at a uni campus and eventhough there’s no students, some of the employees are still here, like the laundry.
It’s an intimate thing, letting someone else wash your clothes, smell you smells, learn your mistakes and slip-ups. They came back all folded up and i never fold my stuff.

YS @ 8:49 pm, January 22, 2005

time-delay catch-up like sucking on whipped cream bulbs.

[excuse the postmodernist jumpcutz back and forth] : copied from the stories ideas paper notebook

18/1/2005 12:41am Incheon airport, s.korea

I’ve been a bit reluctant to journals in here because of wasting the space but i don’t want to write on the computer either. There’s a (closed) starbucks clone up here on the 2nd floor and I almost thought I had the wireless working on the clamshell for a moment — such is the dodginess of yellowdog linux that I don’t know f it’s that or that they just shut their wireless at night. It came up as active though.

If they are cops, that keep patrolling past, they’re the most unthreatening cops I’ve ever seen. saw a whole squad of army-fatigues dressed young guys sitting in a waiting area about to transit somewhere – they also looked thoroughly unexcited about whatever it was they were about to do. (two years military service is mandatory for each young bloke)

They have Xylitol gum here! Sadly it doesn’t harden up the way hubba-bubba does. Xylitol is a sugar substitute invented by the Finnish – which is actually good for you and your teeth compared to refined sugar which is a toxin.

The airport is so ordered, clean, new with a min. of advertising, quiet, and clearly signed. I can only imagine things’ll slide down a bit once I get out of here.

After all the media hoopla on tightening of personal international movement I was surprised with how easy its all been. I was expecting the arse-probe for sure. I thought they made you go into a little room, taqke your clothes off then they go through all your personal stuff in front of you and comment on it; “Large plastic nose and glasses eh? bit of a funny man are you?” “No.”
Apart from the deafness-induced long queues in Melbourne there hasn’t even been any second looks. I’m always going for the ‘nothing to declare’ line because what the heck does that mean anyway?
The customs people here, a man and a woman, wtopped my trolley and asked “what’s in there?” of my large sports bag. I didn’t quite catch what she said, looked a bit nervous and resigned to sphinctal tampering. “What’s in here? Clothes?”, she repeated. I said yes because it’s true and they let me on my way.
I declare this to be the international year of Me Being Whitey.

YS @ 9:08 pm, January 21, 2005

thursday

I ur oh… I uh , er.
I’m going to teach at this camp, see and I’m here now. I think it’ll be fun. There’s not much teaching, but a lot of amusement park rides and stuff, since it’s at an amusement park.

I freak out occasionally in the last two days when realising I’m in a land where I don’t know how to speak or read or write. Some places there’s signs in English.
I’ve mentioned this guy I know here — well, he was a little help — but frankly he’s turned out to be a bit of a feeb, stuck in his crappy liottle rut, probably talking a lot of bs. I ask, You’ve been here a year and a half but not bothered to learn the language?“ It’s not a priority. ”You don’t go out and eat in the (absolute fucking) plethora of restaurants?” I find korean food boring. We took me to the trainstation to get to seoul this morning, and he was freaking out more than me. Anyway.

I was hoping to get a foto or two up – but no possible connection yet. By the way the train I caught was pretty cool. What I saw of seuol was very nice. It’s cold but not ridiculously cold. About 0 degrees.

YS @ 9:07 pm, January 20, 2005

made in taiwan

I tell ya baby, Latifah’s had it up to here (From Monday/Tuesday 17 and 18th)

After scrambling the whole day I’m finally here in Taipei, at the Miramar golf country club which is a hotel that China Air paid for. Golf club sounds swanky – I can’t tell – it’s dark. Like setting up a tent, arriving somewhere new – in the dark is never choice one.

I feel like an imposing whitey westerner already – I go ask for things and all I can do to show my heartfelt appreciation is say “thankyou” which dosn’t seem enough, so I say it louder THANKYOU! I should’ve learnt thank youo in taiwanese. I know sweet FA about taiwan, since it was only the stopover country I didn’t do much besides check the weather and get some currency.

Man air travel is strange. Btwn Melb and Syd I was thinking I’m never in this much of a rush to do anything – when examining 1000km in an hour. Usually it’s an all day hitch-hike. The land looks so ordered from up in the sky – patches.

I let undue amounts of stress get the better of me when scrambling to terminals in the morning and between terminals at midday. All the extreme conditions had me responding to the emotional cues in the inflight movie, Wimbeldon, and also Taxi — just because Queen Latifah is so cool. The China Air style blurb for it got me – ‘A new york cop teams up with a zen-like woman taxi driver to solve a string of bank robberies’.

I have tried being talkative and making friends with some of the people who were running the same set of stops/transferrals, but they’ve mostly ended up being dickheads trying to be blase eventhough they’re no more knowledgable about all the procedures than me. may be picking the wrong people.

I couldn’t really see Taipei much from the minibus window, but what I did see looked kinda trashy, like Sydney.

My buddy Obs has been a gawdamn saint putting up with me these last couple days, and amazing me with all kinds of information and things.

I can’t believe I’m not in australia, and that I’m doing this.

Tues 18th – 10:30am
Like Sydney, the weather’s pretty filthy. I put deodourant on and a minute later am skanky. Turns out this place is pretty swanky in its own way. It’s owned by china airlines, which explains why we’re here. Roughly guessing, it might’ve been built in the 1930s or 40s. The golf course is big, the caddies are women and they have to dress like environmentally aware ewoks. There are guys but they get to drive the buggies, and all of whom have the asian mullet hairstyle in affect and look like they’re about to bust out some die-nasty martial-arts gangsta moves on us whiteys any minute. The whole thing reminds me of a scene from a James Bond Movie. There are no vending machines here. Pan-pipes renditions of Beatles tunes pipe right through the joint. There’s no floor four. I read it’s the same in s.korea — the words for four and death sound the same so they avoid it, either subbing ‘F’ or like this, it just ain’t there.

I think it’s a fair way into Taipei and they’re not exactly offering chairlifts there. So it’s hanging around here for the day until time to bus on back to Chang Kai Shek international airport. The ol’ Shek.

Watched some taiwanese telly last night. There’s over 80 channels although it included american cable stations. From memory, The Man and western cultural imperialism uses taiwan as the injection point to China, so maybe a lot of these stations are being bankrolled. Strange game/talk shows with liberal helpings of cartoon-style sound effects. Bad drama, the ubiquitous Jackie Chan movie, home shopping to the power of 3.

YS @ 6:55 pm, January 19, 2005

…and boy are my arms sore

Just flew into south korea. The plan is to hang out at the airport all night and catch a bus to sunnybreaks’ man on the grounds place tomorrow morning.
am on a coin operated computer — feel a little hurried.
Got a whole bunch of stuff to be added that’s on the laptop – I need one of tose usb keyring thingos.

My first contact with the korean people was a good one — back at taipei – ‘ol chang kai shek memorial airport – I was checking in yet again with China Airlines – and found out I had to go to another desk to pay a leaving tax – so did – but was feeling rushed and the cue at the CI desk was backing up. I decided to jump it and go straight back to the same check-out chick, who still had my passport which was making me edgy — basically cut right in on the young korean couple being served — they actually smiled and moved their troleey out of the way incase I wanted to deposit some luggage.
The airport here is big and impressive. But that’s really only in comparrison to Taipei. I got a Vladimir Putin fanboy book. I’m no fan of him, but there’s some great pictures in there.

YS @ 1:14 am,

where do you see yourself in 5 years?

You’d think I’d have a bit more to say but by the time I get around to sitting here I’m phased out – or I think of these elaborate things thru the day then are gone later — or almost gone.
If any sydney people wants to come see me I’ll be at theat sydney airport, Kingsford smith I believe they call it, btwn 11 and one on Monday day. I’ll be signing copies of my book.
Man – what a terrible place – that city sydney has been nuthin’ but trouble for me. Every time I go there something bad happens. I get thrown out of conferences, break up with girlfriends, have fights with girlfriends, get lost while tripped out, forget my PIN number … and those are just the ones I can remember. I don’t know how anyone can live there.

I don’t have much to say. Go read Zellar, he does. It struck me last night that a couple of bloggers before their time are Dylan Thomas and Bill Burroughs. The collections of letters written by them where they continued on spining fantastic shit eventhough they knew the audience for such endevours would be extremely small = sounds familiar. In a different vein but kind of similar is things like ‘Letters from Afar’ – by V.I. Lenin. The old Vlad’s a bit drier, of course.

Since I’m not doing it now it doesn’t matter and I can tell you that for the last five years or so I’ve kept all the money that I at anytime posessed in a copy of the pamphlet, Letters from Afar in a drawer by my bed. every time I went to filch a 50 to break on a bar of chocolate, V.I. would be there, looking at me siliently asking ‘Is this good for The Plan?’. “Shove it, comrade!” I’d reply, “I want chocolate.”

YS @ 10:28 pm, January 15, 2005
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