I just had a thought – whenever and however I have my funeral and then there’s some music of the dead one’s choosing I’d like to cue up Lose This Skin by The Clash off of Sandinista! It’d have to be uncomfortable loud. It has a guest vocalist who I, up until a minute ago deadset thought was a woman but it’s someone called Tymon Dogg.
Being back here in the West, a first world country, I’m starting to see less reasons for me to continue being carnivorous.
First thing I have to say is golly it’s nice to be on holiday. It’s been a long 12 months and when I do take the opportunity to visit somewhere different I usually end up having to go by myself, but this time my sweety is with me.
And we tried flying with Air Asia. It’s a different set up they’ve got going. It’s all online booking, and lots of detail to it. You chose where you want to sit, and there’s different areas—like a no kids ‘quiet zone’, “hot seats” ie. the first row of economy/coach class (you know if I owned my own airline, I would call economy class Riff-raff class) and instead of business/1st they have premium. We went for the No kids section and it worked well.
Meals are not standard either. You can order a meal when you’re doing the online thing, and it costs about 7 bucks. There’s a fair few different choices, and in theory it’s a good idea. In reality, the meals we got were really crappy.
This was my green curry. It was mostly rice. When I say crappy, I mean really cheaply put together, and small. Airline food has never been known as being good but this is a new bottom. J/e’s chicken rice was also regrettable. All part of the learning-curve I guess. The idea is to eat up good before you get to the airport and then bring wholesome munchies for mid-flight—except their rule is you’re not allowed to bring food or beverages (everyone’s saying F&B these days) on board, but how are they going to know if you bend down, stick your head in your backpack and munch away like a horse on chaff. A horse bag.
There’s no screens anywhere, not even a standard one at the front of the section on the wall showing where the plane is in geographical space. I kind of missed that graphic. But really it’s a clever idea. Those back-of-the-headrest things are looking mighty dated now that everyone’s carrying their own tablet/phablet/smartphone around.
There’s no complimentary newspapers, blanket, pillow, there’s no free drinking water (gulp!), the only coffee available is cheap instant stuff – 5 ringgits please, and when we got to KL A.A. have their own budget terminal where the plane just pulls up on the tarmac and you deplane down a set of steps like when the Beatles invaded America. Air Asia’s gone budget in areas that other airline’s wouldn’t think of changing, and it’s working for them. Apparently it’s the fastest growing airline in an era when airlines are going belly-up left, right and centre.
This is an inspiration: the never seconds blog, written by a Scottish primary school girl. I’m a bit late to the party because it looks like that in less than two months it exploded and has been negotiated out of its bite. If you’re not going to click: a girl took fotos of her school lunches, blogged it. Local council freaked out. The kid used the huge media coverage to raise money for school lunches in Africa. The end.
1. It’s great to see that blogging can still make a difference. I guess you have to be a kid to get noticed though.
2. I didn’t have a fine-tooth comb through to see if was disclosed that Dad was proofreading, but the British Education board should be taking credit for the good grammar and spelling there.
What I’m enjoying this week: Bald Guy brand Chinese pickles. Only available: from china. I love tearing open a new packet and getting that limey chinese pickle smell. J-e is in Tsingtao for a few weeks for work and has promised to bring back a big haul of bald guy pickles. There’s four variations. I like them all.
There’s a little nugget of wisdom from the eastern mind. Although what it fails to consider is the anti-carb lobby that has been waging a propaganda war against the potato for some time now, in the west at least. I tell ya though, what the west does take for granted is the price of potatoes. Damn expensive here. I don’t really know why either. The carbohydrate-food lobby needs to get together with the gluten-food lobby and form a united front the way red meat & eggs have, in the west at least. People love gluten here. You can buy star-shaped gluten treats at Dunkin Donuts.
Here we have the South Korean dish, budae chiggae (부대찌개). It translates roughly as army camp stew and dates back to the times of the Korean war, when local folk didn’t have much to eat so they’d go trash-can diving around the back of Uncle Sam’s. Its got some broken up bits of instant noodles (ramen to the americans, and Ramyeon here), sliced up sausage, some sort of bacon/ham stuff, bean sprouts, clear noodles, dokk (unflavoured pulped & compressed rice), a little bit of spring onion and the ever-present kim chi.
The restaurant attendant sticks it on a burner on the table in front of you. With the lid on it boils up and 5-10 mins later, voila!
You’re ready to ladle a bit out into a small dish and eat. It’s spicy. I’ve read that there can be some flexibility to the ingredients included, along the lines of tofu or mushroom. It’s cheap. The meal pictured was KRW12000 for two people which works out to about $10AUD.
My first reaction to this kind of meal (poverty food, as I call it—there are quite a few dishes that fit into this category) is ‘well, the country is a lot more wealthy now, so why not chuck some broccoli, cherry tomatoes in there and standardise the mushrooms while you’re at it. It’d make it healthier’. But then, this would make it that bit more expensive. But then, that would only be until more farmers started growing those things. One thing I do like about the economy of the whole thing is that there doesn’t have to be 40 cooks in the kitchen boiling up everyone’s chiggae; if you do it at the table (and it’s easy) then that keeps the price down a tad.
This is a meal where east and west could benefit from each-other. Some more greens in this really would be good. And people in cities like Melbourne would lose weight if they could get to a budae chiggae restaurant every now and then. The intense spiciness has the effect of making you feel full before the point when you really are. And, an hour and a half later when you feel hungry again, if you can push through those brief pangs without getting on the doughnuts, then you’ve made your first step away from being a fatty.
Shabu shabu is, apparently, originally a Japanese thing. But when it comes something as amorphous as throwing bits of food into boiling liquid then pulling it out and eating it, who can really say where it originated. They have a variation in China, and they do here in Korea too, as seen above. In Japan the liquid is a mild-tasting kind of thin soup stock. You can get that style in Korea too, but spicy is more popular.
There’s lots of minor variations on it. The restaurant I took this foter goes for more of a ‘whatever’s in season’ approach to vegetables, and they don’t have some of the more japanesy bits like tofu. Most places you share a pot, some you get your own separate one. On the left is beef, cut thin and rolled. I don’t know how they do that. It’s been in the fridge.
You can also go for a seafood shabby – that has lots of squid, some muscles, octopus rings, shell fish of various kinds and prawns.
The idea is once the liquid is up to boiling you throw bits of food in then fish them out (with your chopsticks) when cooked, eat, repeat. Most places give some sauces to dip your stuff in; soy sauce and spicy chilli sauce are common. You also normally get a bowl of flat noodles which it is recommended you throw in at the end of the veges/meat. Then after the noodles come out you have a certain amount of liquid, rich in the flavours of what has been boiled there. The last part is using this to make a kind of ricey porridge with. An egg, cooked rice and little bits of green, like chopped chives or something are thrown in, mixed and cooked til they get to a solid-ish state.
Eventhough, on volume, you’re not eating that much it’s very filling, healthy and kind of fun—it keeps you occupied—not the kind of thing you can mindlessly gobble down in 4 minutes. The g/f is crazy about shabu shabu and would eat it every night if she could.
In an effort to provide some sort of world public-service food shall now be talked about here.
Korean food is sometimes a little like Chinese food and sometimes a little like Japanese food and really quite different to western food. After eating the same thing regularly it can get boring but occasionally I come across new kinds of Korean foods that I like.
Last year I came across 등벼헤장국, pronounced deung byo hye jang guk. It’s pork, I think from the back, with the meat still on the bone, in a slightly spicy red soup-water. There’s a restaurant near my place that does it like so.
It doesn’t look that great, but I find it very tasty. After trying a few other places I found that my local place does it best by far. I think their secret ingredient is salt. People who’re totally adept with chopsticks pick the meat off the bone with them. I do a bit too, but mostly I use a spoon. There’s nothing wrong with that. Also with the main bowl comes a small bowl of rice, kimchi that you cut yourself, (it’s all the rage now) radish in a peppery garnish and some green peppers that I never touch because they look way hot. There’s also a small dish with a dipping sauce that’s a mix between a kind of brown vinegar and wasabi. You’re meant to dip the meat in it. I do sometimes.
The deung byo, while it looks hot, isn’t really. I like to get a little bit of the meat off on my spoon, get a little bit of rice on there and then get some of the soup on it too. The owners of the place just put the price of this meal up from 5500won to 6000, which works out as $5.60AUD. It’s still a pretty good deal.
Other places I’ve had it at, like seen below, sometimes put a half a potato in there, or a bit more green vegetable matter (kind of like a weed) or make it a bit hotter (spicier).
How’s this for a lunch? The Indian food here has been totally sweet, and by sweet I mean excellent, and not necessarily sweet. Although one side-dish I had yesterday of, I think pumpkin was sweet. It was sweet~!
What I’ve liked is the staff being totally unphased by tourist of the year walking in with no idea of what the normal way of ordering is. Have I mentioned that basically no-one I’ve talked to in service positions (including checkout-chicks) have had any trouble being understood in English?
Anyway, the Indian people have been totally cool, and obviously word hasn’t got out to the malay-indian community about how terribly racist australians are, because they’ve been totally nice.
Featured in the foot above was some mammoth calamari rings, and one killer-sized prawn. I don’t know what the accepted way is for tackling a prawn like that, but no-one stared when I mostered it with bare hands. Actually, the prawn was a bit mushy. Probably it was supposed to be like that, but the rest was ace. For 18.5 ringgits = 6k KRW = 6 bucks aus. = 5 and a half US.
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I was going to launch in a couple of days ago and say I wasn’t going to watch the winter olympics on principle. Principle being that it’s just a bunch of yuppie-vacation pastimes dressed up as ‘sports’. Having a go at curling is like shooting fish in a barrel though. And I have been watching it because there’s only about two tv channels in the room I’m staying in and one of them is espn honk-kong. winter olds is still rubbish though. The real sports are ones that can be done by people living in any part of the world, and that have a minimal amount of money needed for equipment, like marathon running.
Luge. What’s that all about? How is that related to anything in the real world? You know what the real story is, don’t ay? Worldwide luge is financially backed by the military industrial complex in order to advance the technologies needed to shoot men into outer-space. Human missiles to combat the impending Plutonian invasion.
And I find it amusing that it’s the world’s strongest economic and military powers who are the only ones competing in the couples figure-skating. Russia, Japan, China, USA, and Germany. IN fact, Russia poached one of Japan’s skaters.
Following are some size-minimal fotos (w/catchy captions) to assuage the abuse of bandwidths.
While I’m on lists here are some other things I’m enjoying.
Friendly old people! Folks who don’t scowl, look you in the eye when passing and even say hello sometimes.
Small talk at the counter when purchasing items. I’ve completely forgotten how to do this. Living in a non-english spkng cntry is a form of assbergers all by itself.
Early afternoon scoping the supermarket for Reduced Price items. Some would say I’m spending too much time in the supermarket… But just look at this:
$2.70 for this steak. Funny thing is that I was veggo before going to korea these 5 years ago, but steak is so expensive there I can’t help but buy and eat this.
People from non-english speaking countries who don’t give a rat’s arse about their pronunciation of English. I’ve realised that korean people being self-conscious of their english speaking ability while still in korea is their version of ‘does my bum look big in this?’
People who’ve come here from other countries in general. It was a strange year last year in that I was watching the SBS news online three or four times a week, and while it did produce some raw info, I now am starting to see the slant that they, consciously or not, put on things simply to create tension. Asylum seekers was a constant, and just because of the way they framed it even I -from where I was- was thinking, well gee can australia really take any more refugees? And bless me if it wasn’t malcolm fraser to set my head straight by saying that back in the 70s or whenever, plenty more people were coming here (from places like vietnam) and it doesn’t seem to have done the country any harm—far from it. In fact the pie I just ate for lunch was got from a bakery run by vietnamese people, and it was great!
Looking at attractive women who look like they could be from almost anywhere and not just korea or possibly china.
Having said that, there are two things I am missing.
My sweetie. Whenever I go out I start to imagine how much fun she’d be having if she was here. On the train, her: What’s that? Me: That’s the yarra river. Her: Yuddah!? -she’d say in her chortling, amused but not-in-a-negative way. She’d love it here.
Playing my guitars on my amp. True I have two here, but these are the ones I want to get rid of, and an elctric with no electricity isn’t much use in my opinion.
All up it’s been a really pleasant stint back. Comparing to, a couple of years ago, I was walking around and felt a bit like being haunted by the ghosts of my own past. Seeing places I’d been, remembering things I’d done. I’m still getting that but it’s more mellow now.
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It’s interesting to grok a bit more how the different media channels are used and or not used between here and where I live.
I did find that the local public library has free wifi access. Bring along your laptop and provided you have a library card, there’s no limits on time or MBs. Thank god for that! How the heck else am I supposed to get anything else done here?
I like that the ABC and SBS have a lot of interesting docos on. There’s been some good ones on music, and the thing is, I wouldn’t know these existed while sitting in Korea, even if they were downloadable. And it’s good that SBS and ABC now have an extra channel each, because the commercial stations are doing a lot less well, mainly due to the fact that they have commercials. When I’m watching a d/loaded movie at home I hit the spacebar to pause when I want to refresh my beverage or take a toilet break. If I’m watching commercial telly here, I can use ad breaks for this, but there are way more commercial breaks than there are things to get up for. And basically it’s an insult to the intelligence to be exposed to the same fucking ads over and over.
If there weren’t so many people living in Richmond, I’d be a major proponent for nuking GTV9 from orbit. “Nothing but shit” should be their slogan. Chopping parts out of movies for no other reason than to suit their timetabling, and the fact that they let shows run up to 15 minutes longer than scheduled are two things they do regularly.
It’s amazing how the proliferation of broadband in Korea shapes things compared to the broadband starved Australia. I don’t see (legit) DVDs on sale hardly anywhere there. In Hoju, they’re everywhere.
I’m guessing that the US is somewhere in between these two extremes, but I would say that the future is online. Commercial tv will go down first. There may be a chance for news channels to offer an online-style subscription service provided there were no ads, at least not in their present two-dimensional, 30 second format. I don’t know, but what I do know is that australia is becoming culturally impoverished because only a small few here are able to share in Happy in Paraguay.
I was intending to post something yesterday, since, apparently a decade clicked over. But I was busy packing and now today I’m waiting for a transfer at KLIA which stands for kuala lumpa international airport.
Honestly I wouldn’t mind if it was karachi intl it’s just nice to get out of the insane cold. This morning in seoul while waiting for the bus it was -15 dges centigrade.
Heading back to HOJU, Melbourne for a good 6 week break. Good to be at a job that’ll give that kind of break, again. Then, back here to check out KL for a week.
Anyway, apart from the cold, the solar year started auspiciously in that I got bumped up to bidness class on the plane. Sweet! First time that’s ever happened, and I’m keen to know what the formula is. Was it just that it was a low booked flight—most likely. I’ve been feeling edgy about plane travel—not because of what might be done by insurgents upon me, but what might be done by the authorities to me. I’m anxious to avoid the grilling I received at tullamarine a couple of years back, all because I was wearing an adidas hooded top. So I decided to wear one of my white work shirts, the rest casual. But did this make me look that little bit respectable, and enough to be chosen for bidness? Or was of that I brought the charming, gorgeous J-e with me to the airport? The food is pretty lush in bidness.
Still got a headache though. Probably had the headphones on too long. Been listening to this ‘hardcore history’ series of podcasts on the eastern front of ww2. Google ‘dan carlin’. Fucking horrifying but astounding at the same time. will write more about that later.