Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Day of Boredom

Three flights and thirteen hours of travelling (plus a three hour time difference thrown in for good fun) to get to Vancouver today. Gah.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009

I'm Crunchy

Test here.

Your ideological score is:


This makes you extremely progressive. The average score for Americans is 209.5.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I did intend to wake up early and post at least a bit about the big trip, but I am a lazy ass and I slept until noon instead. Now I have to go get ready to head into Toronto to hash tonight and perhaps first get a haircut, one which I think may well be disasterous, but I'm getting really bored of my hair lately...

So, on that note of doom, I swear to Maude I will find the time to update this soon...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Thank Maude For Mr. Ruddy

I wonder how many mistakes my students could pick out if I set that as an assignment.
A History of the Past:
'Life Reeked With Joy'
by Anders Henriksson

Possibly as an act of vengeance, a history professor--compiling, verbatim, several decades' worth of freshman papers--offers some of his students’ more striking insights into European history from the Middle Ages to the present.

History, as we know, is always bias, because human beings have to be studied by other human beings, not by independent observers of another species.

During the Middle Ages, everybody was middle aged. Church and state were co-operatic. Middle Evil society was made up of monks, lords, and surfs. It is unfortunate that we do not have a medivel European laid out on a table before us, ready for dissection. After a revival of infantile commerce slowly creeped into Europe, merchants appeared. Some were sitters and some were drifters. They roamed from town to town exposing themselves and organized big fairies in the countryside. Mideval people were violent. Murder during this period was nothing. Everybody killed someone. England fought numerously for land in France and ended up wining and losing. The Crusades were a series of military expaditions made by Christians seeking to free the holy land (the “Home Town” of Christ) from the Islams.

In the 1400 hundreds most Englishmen were perpendicular. A class of yeowls arose. Finally, Europe caught the Black Death. The bubonic plague is a social disease in the sense that it can be transmitted by intercourse and other etceteras. It was spread from port to port by inflected rats. Victims of the Black Death grew boobs on their necks. The plague also helped the emergance of the English language as the national language of England, France and Italy.

The Middle Ages slimpared to a halt. The renasence bolted in from the blue. Life reeked with joy. Italy became robust, and more individuals felt the value of their human being. Italy, of course, was much closer to the rest of the world, thanks to northern Europe. Man was determined to civilise himself and his brothers, even if heads had to roll! It became sheik to be educated. Art was on a more associated level. Europe was full of incredable churches with great art bulging out their doors. Renaissance merchants were beautiful and almost lifelike.

The Reformnation happened when German nobles resented the idea that tithes were going to Papal France or the Pope thus enriching Catholic coiffures. Traditions had become oppressive so they too were crushed in the wake of man’s quest for ressurection above the not- just- social beast he had become. An angry Martin Luther nailed 95 theocrats to a church door. Theologically, Luthar was into reorientation mutation. Calvinism was the most convenient religion since the days of the ancients. Anabaptist services tended to be migratory. The Popes, of course, were usually Catholic. Monks went right on seeing themselves as worms. The last Jesuit priest died in the 19th century.

After the refirmation were wars both foreign and infernal. If the Spanish could gain the Netherlands they would have a stronghold throughout northern Europe which would include their posetions in Italy, Burgangy, central Europe and India thus serrounding France. The German Emperor’s lower passage was blocked by the French for years and years.

Louis XIV became King of the Sun. He gave the people food and artillery. If he didn’t like someone, he sent them to the gallows to row for the rest of their lives. Vauban was the royal minister of flirtation. In Russia the 17th century was known as the time of the bounding of the serfs. Russian nobles wore clothes only to humour Peter the Great. Peter filled his government with accidental people and built a new capital near the European boarder. Orthodox priests became government antennae.

The enlightenment was a reasonable time. Voltare wrote a book called Candy that got him into trouble with Frederick the Great. Philosophers were unknown yet, and the fundamental stake was one of religious toleration slightly confused with defeatism. France was in a very serious state. Taxation was a great drain on the state budget. The French revolution was accomplished before it happened. The revolution evolved through monarchial, republican and tolarian phases until it catapulted into Napolean. Napoleon was ill with bladder problems and was very tense and unrestrained.

History, a record of things left behind by past generations, started in 1815. Throughout the comparatively radical years 1815–1870 the western European continent was undergoing a Rampant period of economic modification. Industrialization was precipitating in England. Problems were so complexicated that in Paris, out of a city population of one million people, two million able bodies were on the loose.

Great Brittian, the USA and other European countrys had demicratic leanings. The middle class was tired and needed a rest. The old order could see the lid holding down new ideas beginning to shake. Among the goals of the chartists were universal suferage and an anal parliment. Voting was done by ballad.

A new time zone of national unification roared over the horizon. Founder of the new Italy was Cavour, an intelligent Sardine from the north. Nationalism aided Itally because nationalism is the growth of an army. We can see that nationalism succeeded for Itally because of France’s big army. Napoleon III- IV mounted the French thrown. One thinks of Napoleon III as a live extension of the late, but great, Napoleon. Here too was the new Germany: loud, bold, vulgar and full of reality.

Culture fomented from Europe’s tip to its top. Richard Strauss, who was violent but methodical like his wife made him, plunged into vicious and perverse plays. Dramatized were adventures in seduction and abortion. Music reeked with reality. Wagner was master of music, and people did not forget his contribution. When he died they labled his seat “historical.” Other countries had their own artists. France had Chekhov.

World War I broke out around 1912–1914. Germany was on one side of France and Russia was on the other. At war people get killed, and then they aren’t people any more, but friends. Peace was proclaimed at Versigh, which was attended by George Loid, Primal Minister of England. President Wilson arrived with 14 pointers. In 1937 Lenin revolted Russia. Communism raged among the peasants, and the civil war “team colours” were red and white.

Germany was displaced after WWI. This gave rise to Hitler. Germany was morbidly overexcited and unbalanced. Berlin became the decadent capital, where all forms of sexual deprivations were practised. A huge anti- semantic movement arose. Attractive slogans like”death to all Jews” were used by governmental groups. Hitler remilitarized the Rineland over a squirmish between Germany and France. The appeasers were blinded by the great red of the Soviets. Moosealini rested his foundations on eight million bayonets and invaded Hi Lee Salasy. Germany invaded Poland, France invaded Belgium, and Russia invaded everybody. War screeched to an end when a nukuleer explosion was dropped on Heroshima. A whole generation had been wipe out in two world wars, and their forlorne families were left to pick up the peaces.

According to Fromm, individuation began historically in medieval times. This was a period of small childhood. There is increasing experience as adolescence experiences its life development. The last stage is us.

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Anders Henriksson is assistant Professor of history at Shepherd College. Born in Rochester, New York, he received a B.A. from the University of Rochester (1971), and an M.A.(1972) and a Ph.D. (1978) from the University of Toronto. He is the author of The Tsar’s Loyal Germans: The Riga German Community, Social Change, and the Nationality Question, 1855–1905 (1983).

Reprinted from Spring 1983 Wilson Quarterly

Monday, September 21, 2009

Something I did in Togo & Ghana

lucubration \loo-kyoo-BRAY-shun; loo-kuh-\, noun:

1. The act of studying by candlelight; nocturnal study; meditation.
2. That which is composed by night; that which is produced by meditation in retirement; hence (loosely) any literary composition.

Ghosts of Holidays Past - Canada

The cross Canada train trip! Coffees and camping gear, near hypotermia on trains, the Northern Lights, polar bears, sunrises and sunsets, cold winds in Winterpeg, liking Edmonton and the Mall, asses of animals and a near car "ramming", a trip to try and see Lake Louise's green waters, and first impressions of Vancouver.

We Are Almost Off


Train Ride Through Ontario and Manitoba


Continuation of the Cross Canada Saga - Winnipeg and the Praries

Deadmonton - What's Up With That?

The Rockies Rock

First Impressions of Vancouver and Adding Up the Pennies

Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw

Friday, September 18, 2009

I'm Adding These to My Life List

1. Camping in a futuristic igloo; Torres del Paine: Patagonia
2. Try a traditional yurt; The Grasslands: Mongolia
3. Spend the night on a houseboat; Kuttanad: Kerala
4. Live the high life in a treehouse; Phaselis: Turkey
5. Stay in a thatched mud hut; Long Bay: Jamaica
6. Hot air ballooning; Cappadocia

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Goin' Home

I travel from Accra to New York to Toronto and thanks to the wonders of the date line and time zones, it all happens in just one day.

Bag Check

Monday, September 14, 2009

Haggled Away My Last Day

My last Monday was planned as a possible hashing day, though sadly I couldn't get ahold of the Accra group. Instead, I did something almost as exhausting - I bought souvenirs.

Haggling at the Arts Centre on your own is an experience. I'm finding that I get much better offers for taxis fares alone, but much worse quotes for jewellery and bowls and purses and things made out of wood. However, I bought everything I was looking for (plus rather a lot of jewellery for myself) and only went slightly over budget, which just means I need to pick something cheapish from the Paloma dinner menu tonight, so as to have enough for a taxi to the airport tomorrow. Granted, if there is an exit fee, I'm snookered. I guess that's what plastic is for.

To add to yesterday's list, I also look forward to having clean feet for more than five minutes after I shower and walking down streets that don't have a ton of giant holes and no street lights!

Ghosts of Holidays Past - Korea

Monday before Lunar New Year, we had to teach and I went along with the kindergarten and preschool classes on the sledding field trip in the morning. it was fantastic, fake hills and fake snow alongside the Han river, but the kids were so enthusiastic, we had fun.

i stayed up far too late Monday night cleaning and packing, so getting up at 4.45 am to go to the bus station was difficult. however, the bus ride wasn't bad. we keep hearing horror stories about traffic on holidays here, but it was maybe a half hour longer than usual. going home was fine too-turns out there is a special lane for buses, so we flew by all the stopped cars. we slept and listened to music. six white girls on the bus attracted a fair amount of attention. Kim, kaileen and i went home on a different bus than the others, turns out the only difference between a regular bus and an express bus is how nice the seats are. it wasn't bad at all, but since express buses don't cost much more, i think i will splurge from now on.

when we arrived we just wandered looking for a hotel. we walked into a really nice place, assuming it would be too expensive, but it was so dead we ended up paying half the room rate. on our first excursion into the city, we headed down towards downtown and found a restaurant for lunch. the place we ate was called "Second Choice, but a good choice" and had a beautiful courtyard and good food. yum, pork cutlet. Saw an interesting lingerie store with an English sign that involved the line "yes, yes, yes!" Took a picture, of course. wish i could scan my photos on, but c'est la vie.

We then found Tumuli park, with a bunch of old tombs that are built up like hills. No one had really had much sleep, so we were all pretty giddy. We went into a coffee house and then went back to the hotel for a nap. two hours later, we ordered pizza, bought some soju and stayed in playing cards. auction 45 is a fun game, next time i am together with 6 friends at the same time, I'll be teaching you all!

Wednesday we took a tour bus around the main sites, again the only white girls in sight. the tour was entirely in Korean. Bulguksa Temple was beautiful, and at one point we saw a group of monks putting on their robes on their way to pray-one of those moments that will live in my memory forever. We are all obsessed with taking photos and each seem to have taken all the same shots. I'm the only old schooler, still using film. once someone else puts their photos on the web, I'll send everyone the link.

We went to a bunch of tombs, temples, pagodas, the Gyeongju Museum, a drinking palace archaeological site (took us a long time to figure out what that one was, considering the Korean commentary), and had a traditional Korean lunch (galbi). We met a family and the father was a Korean high school English teacher, so we chatted with him and played with his adorable 3 year old daughter.

We had intended to go to a Korean restaurant for dinner but found most things closed for the new year, so we had another evening of pizza, soju and cards in our room. Then Thursday morning we took forever to get ready, before heading out to Seokguram Grotto to see a Buddha statue. It was my favourite part of the trip, we had a bus ride up a very windy road and had a great view of the hills, then had to walk up a path bordered by lanterns before seeing the Buddha. We wrote a quote on a tile and signed our names- I came up with the quote, a bastardization of this from the Little Prince: "One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes."-it's for good luck in the new year, i think. The monk was sweet and gave us all a banana. Then we had lunch, bulgogi, and headed to Schuman and Clara, a coffee shop popular with university students. the cheesecake there was fabulous.

i really needed this break. sadly we don't have another 3 days off in a row until June.

here's a travel story to tell the grandkids...

our trip to jeju has been one craziness after another. i got to daejeon to meet Kendra easily enough, and she and i walked to a mall to have a neb and see catwoman (not a very good film). we got back to her place, only to have her director call at 10pm and say that her sister had now decided to go away for chuseok, so we couldn't stay with her. considering we had to leave for our flight at 8am the next day, short
notice is putting it mildly.

so, we made it okay to the airport and met up with a guy named chancy, who lives right near Kendra (though she didn't know him). chatted with him as our plane
was delayed. on the plane we chatted with our seat mate, a Korean guy in the air force. when we arrive, he offered to call the car hire people for us and
translate. then we discover that someone has accidentally taken Kendra's bag at the airport. so we wander over to see if we can rent a car-nope, because Kendra doesn't have an international license. the air force guy rents the car for us (yep, way dodgy, as he ought to be the only driver but we were sooooo grateful.) we go back to the luggage place and the guy who took Kendra's bag has returned it.

so, since air force guy has been so nice, we offer to drive him to meet up with his family in the south part of the island. we are supposed to be meeting up with
some girls Kendra knows, but can't get ahold of them. air force guy drives and we go to the teddy bear museum with him and meet his family briefly. then we go to
see some famous waterfalls, and four Korean girls are really sweet, wishing us a good stay on jejudo in English and they end up giving us a coconut (with a
straw, so you can drink the milk). yes, we are having a wee bit of an odd day. then we bump into air force guy and his family again.

now, we have managed to get in contact with Kendra's friends and find out their hotel, cause it's evening and we still have nowhere to stay. however, we've got
a car, so we figure if everything really is as booked up as we've been told, we'll just sleep in it. we don't have a clue where the hotel might be, so we drive back to the airport to the tourist information. we end up driving pretty much up and over mount halla, the highest peak on jeju, rather than taking the highway. so, after a few turns around the block, we find the other girls' hotel. we call them, they are
lost on the island somewhere having rented scooters, and when we ask about a room is it far too expensive. however, we had parked the car in the lot of the motel
across the street, so we ask there. it's 15,000 won a night each and it's so nice here-free Internet too, which I'm using right now.

so, to sum up-everything that could go wrong, pretty much has. at one point today we were homeless, without Kendra's luggage and without a form of transport. now we're awesome. it has all worked out better than we ever could have planned. and to top it
off, we are navigating around Korea in a car like pros, i am so proud of us. and we get BBC world on the telly :)

the island is beautiful, the falls are incredible. not the best ever weather, but it isn't that bad.

it turns out we're staying in a love motel... very amusing.

Kendra annoyed me a bit, she's driving the car so i think she thinks that she gets to do only what she wants. i have only suggested one place so far, and she didn't want to go, though we did. i liked it.

anyway, I've got one day left on the island. it's really fun here. today we visited the manjanggul lava tube, a hedge maze, udo island, a folk village and a crater. Kendra is very, very weird about food, she won't eat anything Korean and she's on some weird diet, so she won't eat most western food either. she barely eats before dinner time.

The trip back involved a ferry ride where everyone else puked due to the rough waters and a long bus ride, with beautiful scenery and lots of naps. and some free food, from my very kind Korean fellow-passengers.

Busan Part 1
So, if you were exhausted after not getting enough sleep the night before and walked through the door at 9.30 pm the night before going away on a trip that you'd have to be up at 5 am for, AND you needed to do dishes and pack still, what would you do? Because, of course, the best answer to that question is that you'd go and drink a bottle of Black Tower until 3 am right? Right? Anyone?

I was feeling a little tender when I woke up this morning. Tired. Dehydrated. A bit silly. Because, upon consideration, perhaps a bottle of wine wasn't really the way to go. I managed to get out the door in my allotted half hour, with the dishes washed, the bag packed, and the garbage taken out. And I did it all just in time to... miss the bloody bus. The problem with buses isn't so much with them per se, but my amazing ability to miss them by mere seconds, to be able on such a regular basis to watch them slowly drive away from my bloody bus stop. So, I waited. I had a big debate with myself about perhaps taking the subway instead. See, I only had 75 minutes then to get to the train station and the one and only time I've ever taken this bus there (to buy the tickets) it took a bit over an hour. and I couldn't remember how much that bit was. but i hate taking the subway and having to make all those transfers, when i could be sitting on my lazy ass listening to my Walkman and eating the bananas that Kim gave me for breakfast. So I waited. And then as soon as I got on the bloody bus, lo and behold, the discman's batteries die. which left me plenty of time to contemplate all of the important things I left behind, due to my five minutes of packing time. like an alarm clock, or my Korean phrasebook. perhaps you are all thinking to yourselves, why didn't she pack earlier??? why didn't she wake up in time to at least have more than five rushed minutes to pack??? perhaps you read the above paragraph?

The funny thing about the wine drinking last night, in a totally unrelated to Busan ramble, is that it made me feel really drunk. I was staring at the vines on my jeans, which have been there since I bought them, and getting all weirded out by them. kinda like i was doing pot, rather than cheap European red. And I've noticed that while i can pound back the sojus like there's no tomorrow, other alcohol, especially beer, makes me plastered fairly quickly. and soju just leaves me feeling sober, or mostly sober, right up until that critical moment when i suddenly feel that i have lost complete control of my ability to move my legs and arms in intentional ways. soju is weird. and sometimes they make it out of cats. i don't know how, god knows i don't want to know, but there you are. at least the British readers of this blog can rest easy knowing that both dogs and cats are equally treated in non-pet ways over here.

so, back to getting to Busan. So, it's monsoon season. I get off the bus, and it is pouring, but for whatever reason, my thought pattern has come up with the terribly stupid and illogical conclusion that it will be more pleasant to get wet than to have to deal with a wet umbrella later (don't ask, i have no idea where this piece of idiocy came from - perhaps i should refer you back to that first paragraph again?) And in my enthusiasm to get to the underground crossing area, i somehow ended up in an underground feeding area. I am not sure what exactly was going on, but there were lots of men sitting around eating and i was in the wrong underground thingy. back out to the monsoon again, finally i am in the right place, heading to the train station. and looking for a family mart to try to buy some batteries. normally, you can't swing a cat (or even a bottle of cat soju) in Seoul without coming across a family mart or its like. today however, i was getting no love. finally one appeared, and i grabbed a coffee too. the neurons weren't exactly firing all at once at that point in the day.

After all that worry about making it in time, i of course manage to arrive a half hour early. taking a train in Korea is a bit like taking a plane - you have to wait until you are called to board the train. of course, to me these announcements sound like "blah blah blah hamida, blah blah blah blah blah hamida." They could be wishing us all a nice morning; they could be telling my fat white ass to get on the train. who knows really?

So I got on, and yes, the KTX trains are nice. Not as nice as some people's gushing would have you believe, but nice all the same. I like the Korean countryside, and I find it very amusing that every city outside of Seoul, even rather little town like ones, all have the exact same apartment buildings, just less of them. it's a bit freaky really. like, in Canada or Scotland, you'd have houses, or cottages, or smaller building at least, but not here. and the buildings all seem to be set against beautiful green mountains. reminds me a bit of Ireland-very lush green, what with all this lovely monsoon rain. I'm sure you'll all be unsurprised to hear that i slept through a considerable portion of the ride.

Busan has a train station that is eerily similar to Seoul's. And then there are all those identikit buildings... However, I like Busan. I suspect I could live here quite happily. The buildings are all nicely against the mountains, which today are all covered in mist, and there are only two subway lines, so it must be smallish, but it feels big enough. I have a hotel room, a bit on the pricey side for a hostel-lover like myself, but it is nice. And about five minutes from the train station, which will be handy when I have to leave for my 8 am train (with no alarm clock, but concerned about that one.) After sorting out accommodation, I hopped on the subway.

My first trip was to Beomeousa temple. It was quite a distance by subway, and then I got off, with no idea where to actually find bus 90, which I knew I needed to take. I no sooner had my map out, than a nice man asked where I needed to go and walked me up the street to the bus terminal. And that is why I love Korea. People may be a bit pushy, they may spit on the ground constantly, but they also go far more out of their way for a visitor than any other country I have ever been to. The bus went up into the hills, getting more and more surrounded by fog, and then we arrived. It was a bit of a hike up, and I was given a wee English map to keep me in the touristy areas and away from the monks' personal space. The mist made the whole thing amazing-felt like being in a dream, or in the clouds, with the monks chanting and bells and drums in the background and the smell of smoke from a fire near the food offering. It is a beautiful temple and had far more personality to any other I've been too-lots more Korean Buddhists there to worship, more activity, and perhaps also the fact that I was on my own and the only non-Korean in the crowd. I went into a wee museum after and had a look at old Buddhist books and printing techniques and then bought myself some postcards and hightailed it back down to grab a bus.

Back at the terminal, it occured to me that I was starving. I had some good kimchee mandu at a little restaurant, while reading Michael Moore's "Dude, Where's my Country?" It's okay, though I think I am less interested than I might be because the information is old and I heard most of his arguments in the movie. It was left behind by one of the other teachers though, and I do want to read it. Back to the subway, and I was off to visit the Jagalchi Fish Market. It wasn't as exciting as I had thought it might be-not especially crowded either. However, I got an interesting photos of some squid/octopus thingies and then ended up completely by chance on Youth Street.

I decided, due to the fact that I'm rather tired and the weather is rather dreary, to go and see Mr. and Mrs. Smith. I thought it was very good, but having seen all of 5 movies in the theatre in the past year, I might not be the best judge. But, even if I am a totally crap movie reviewer, I will say that I thought it was very funny and I liked that Mrs. Smith totally kicked Mr. Smith's ass. The shoot out at the end was cool-together they also apparently kicked the asses of something like 50 people. I didn't see the whole plot coming, which is funny. I never seem to do while watching movies, but I often do when reading books (especially of the airport variety of book). After the film ended I wandered around Youth Street, which is packed with shops and restaurants, bars and PC rooms, tons of food stalls and everything else you might want. I even was thinking to myself that what I really miss is walking into a HMV and browsing through the CDs and not five minutes later I found a CD store. I am now the proud owner of the best of Guns and Roses. There are always lots of English selection, it's just that the English selection is always so odd. And since I have been totally out of the loop musically, I haven't a clue what I might want to buy anyway. Picked up a few t-shirts too, which is starting to become some sort of addiction.

after i post this, i am off to my hotel, a five minute walk across the train station square, and i might just check out my TV for English channels before i hit the sack. I'm hoping, though without much actual real sense of hope, that it might be nicer weather tomorrow. I'd like to take the cable car up to the fortress, see one of the beaches, and perhaps finally get over my fear of saunas, and just go and be naked with a room full of Korean people. we'll see what tomorrow brings i guess.

Busan Pt. 2
Sunday morning I woke up early-I wanted to have time to do something in the morning before going to the beach in the afternoon. I decided that looking at the tiny tourist map (which didn’t have a scale) that climbing up and around Geumgang Fortress would take maybe 3 hours, especially if I took the cable car up at the beginning. Well, it was a great hike, with lots of little peaks to climb up and some fortress gates, but three hours it was not. It took me more like 7.5, because I was an idiot and decided to walk down instead of taking the cable car. Because the genius mind that decided that a tourist map would provide an adequate idea of the scale of a mountain hike, apparently also decided that if the cable car only took five minutes, it couldn’t possibly take long to hike down. Apparently there is a reason they built that cable car there. However, on a Sunday morning, going hiking means that you get to see tons of people-hiking is very popular here. As is shopping, and even at the top of the mountain you can buy clothes, food, and of course, soju.

At the bottom, back in Geumgang Park, I blundered into a presentation of traditional Korean dance, songs, and music. It was nice to sit down and rest for a bit. To say that I was too tired to get all the way across the city to see the beaches was putting it mildly. I feel a bit silly having visited a city known for its beaches, only to never see them, but all I wanted was to relax. So, I went to Asia’s biggest bathhouse, and relaxed. There are warm pools, cold pools, hot tubs, saunas of various temperatures, salt water pools, rose water pools-you name it, they’ve got it. I had an exfoliation and massage, which included having a woman walk on my back. And all I can say is that massages here are… very thorough. Read into that what you will. I was there for about three hours, my massage was an hour at least, and all for $50. Even cheaper than Seoul.

I went and watched crappy TV that night and got the hotel guy to arrange a wake-up call for me, as I had forgotten my alarm clock. However, the next morning I dreamed that I got my wake-up call, so I got out of bed and got ready two hours too early. Watched more crappy TV and then headed to Busan station for a coffee before my 8am train ride back to Seoul. I got back to my apartment with fifteen minutes to change into work clothes and grab something to eat.

All in all, a great trip. Can’t say my mind was working at high speed, in fact I didn’t appear to have two neurons rubbing together at the same time ever, but I had fun. It was good to get out of Seoul for a bit.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Accra Again

After the chaos of the border crossing at Lome/Aflao and two police checks on the road, I'm back in Accra. My driver kindly dropped me off at my hotel, so I ended up with quite a deal (and an entire seat to myself!)

Things I Look Forward to Upon Arriving in Canada:

-Solid shits, without the help of Imodium (those people should get a Nobel)
-a seat to myself every time I travel!
-timetables for transport
-not having to dehydrate myself whenever I go anywhere because there is no such thing as a pee stop (well, whatever, I was going on the side of the road with all the passengers watching by the end)
-boneless, skinless meat
-no more latrines at night with giant spiders and cockroaches and snakes to watch out for
-washing machines
-washing my hair in a shower that doesn't involve buckets
-no more haggling!

That said, I've loved this trip! Ortencia is amazing to travel with, as always. This corner of West Africa is beautiful and the people are so friendly. Pictures and more details when I arrive in Canada on Tuesday.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Je suis en Togo!

Bonjour mes aimees! J,etait en Togo pour deux jours et demain je quitte Lome de voyage a un petite village ou ma copine Ortencia traviller pour les Corps de Paix.

Ok, it is hard enough to type on a French keyboard so I am going to have to give up trying to dredge words from high school French (over ten years ago!) to do this. As it is I can not find the apostrophe and can not use contractions.

Ghana was great - I have heard it refered to as §Africa for beginners and based on my short stay in Togo I would have to agree. I have had my usual trip bad luck - a mystery illness, sand fleas feasting on my feet (over 30 bites per foot), a scrape I can not seem to keep clean on my ankle, several torn articles of clothing, one minor visa issue, and one run in with a soldier looking for a bribe.

Ortencia and I have seen several forts and castles involved in the slave trade along the Ghanaian coast, been to several markets, spent four days at an eco beach resort (while I recovered from my mystery illness) and eaten a great deal of food that she normally finds it impossible to get in her village in Togo, which is where we are going tomorrow.

Ghosts of Holidays Past - Europe

London at Christmas, London/York/Edinburgh trip, excavating in Greece, backpacking around Rome. It's too bad I wasn't blogging back when I did most of my travelling around Europe - though I have a journal of the trip, it's in Canada.

A room with a view
I am at a cafe in Pompeii with not much time. The keyboard is really annoying, you really have to hit the keys so if this message ends up being a bunch of nonsense, you'll have to bear with me. This computer keeps talking to me in Italian-very odd.

Well, I am having a wonderful time, it is very hot and sunny though my first day in Milan it was miserable-tons of rain and I wandered about lost looking for my hostel. I had a bit of a time getting to Milan. I thought I was flying there directly, but ended up in Bergamo instead-I will have to pay more attention when flying cheap airlines. In Milan I really only went to see Da Vinci's last supper and then went to Venice to escape the rain where I had to get a hotel room as the hostel was full by 10 am. It was two minutes walk from the grand canal, not particularly nice or anything, but I loved Venice, especially the islands around it. The gellatto is very, very good. I got very lost at one point trying to find a church, but even that was fun.

I headed down to Florence, where I learned to walk across the street in front of cars, since there aren't any lights. It was a bit of a shock after Venice, so after seeing David at the Academia I escaped to Cortona. I ended up meeting one of the uni of Georgia students (they have a summer programme in art) and so stayed a couple of days to hang out eating and drinking late into the night. I bumped into Jenny's friend Gwenyth-small world. When I went back to Florence, I fell for a scam-quite literally actually. One man knocked me over on the steps of the train station, while the other helped me up while pickpocketing my money belt-but all he got was a credit card and my passport. Not much of a big deal, and I got the opportunity to have a cultural exchange at the police station, where an officer didn't even see me at all, they just stamped my handwritten report.

I went to the Uffizi-wow!!! However, as wonderful as it is, I must admit to an exhaustion with gold medieval art. They are all just in about four different poses and I must say that it gets a bit much eventually. I also went to the Bargello, which I loved.

I came down to Naples, though I am staying in a hostel at Pompeii. I saw the excavations there yesterday and then went into Naples to see the museum, including the erotic secret room, for which you must book a special tour. Pan certainly does some interesting things with those goats! However, it was half closed, so I missed the Egyptian stuff entirely. It was a long day, and while walking back to the hostel (a half hour walk) I was stalked by a middle aged Italian man on a moped who kept offering me a ride. Up until Naples, I hadn't really encountered the dodgy male Italian phenomenon, but here they are. This city is full of them!

Today I went to Herculaneum, which was spectacular. Possibly better than Pompeii itself, since I didn't get so tired! However, I could not drag myself to yet another touristy thingy, so today I am going to just read in the hostel courtyard, instead of madly wandering about. This is the first day I have stopped being touristy at 4, and it's a nice feeling. Tomorrow I think I am going to take the train down to Paestum and then I have to catch an evening train to Rome, to meet Alan at "the store that sells only water"-we'll have to hope that works out, cause I lost my little notebook with addresses, phone numbers (including his mobile number) when my passport got stolen. So, if you haven't received a postcard yet, you'll have to wait until I get back to Scotland.

Rome & Other Adventures
So, I skipped Paestum, because the day I wanted to go there was a train strike. I was worried about meeting up with Alan, as it was a sketchy meeting to begin with, and I had lost all of his contact numbers. I spent a day getting to Rome, had time to pop into the Capitaline Museums, and then went to meet him. But he didn't arrive.

The next day I was really worried. I did do some touristy stuff during the day (Colliseum) and went back at the same time we were supposed to meet the day before and ta-da! he was there. Seems he had gotten the days mixed up - which caused my near heart attack!

We had fun in Rome together. Ate a lot of really good food.

Then we did a bus tour in London and headed back to Edinburgh. The train was delayed several hours as the result of someone committing suicide by jumping in front of a train.

Stymphalia, Greece
I am in Kiato right now, which is an hour away by very rickety bus from Stymphalia. Email is a bit dodgy, since I probably won't be trekking out here regularly. The dig is ok, but the heat is insane and I have a cold. I share a tent with two other
girls and it is so small, you would not believe how crowded it is.

Stymphalia is great-one payphone, a shop that sells crisps and cokes, 5 tavernas, and a fish farm that turns into a "disco" on weekends. Oh, and the 25 campers share two toilets and a shower in the alleyway behind the hotel which is walled in but has no roof. The next village is a 30 min walk and has a post office, bank, and a very small grocery store. I am in the middle of nowhere!!!

Athens was experiencing a heat wave when I arrived (two hours late due to plane delays-it was still in London!) and I only went to the National Museum before collapsing in a heap. We did a few stops on the way up to the dig, but with a prof acting as tour guide who spoke in a monotone voice.

York has Authentic Viking Smells!
My trip to York & London was fun-it was nice seeing Jenny again, and finally I have been to Trafalgar square-though I didn't actually feed the pigeons. I also went to the Tate Modern (very trendy) and to the British Museum. Jenny and I went to Portobello Rd market in Notting Hill and then shopping on King's Rd, Sloane Square-so some of the best known bohemian and classy shopping all in one day. That evening we had dinner at her cousins' flat and had drinks at a pub along the river Thames. WE also went to a trendy Italian restaurant in the West End and then had a drink at a pub-or in front of it, as most London pubs are too small, and you have to just stand around on the pavement in front of them. York had two really cool museums-the Viking one and one where you had to walk through the whole thing in one direction, which had a bit of everything, including a working mill, recreated streets and a history of chocolate.

The tattoo this evening was really good-lots of pipe bands. The Canadian Mounties were there, as were both the Scottish and Canadian Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. There were also displays by the Maoris, the calypso band from the Dominican, the Australian police band (that did the can-can), the Zulus, etc. It's a special year to celebrate the Commonwealth.

How to kill the British Government with Peanut Butter
My email to C:

> Hi,
> Yes, still waiting around on the home office. very annoying and very
> boring.
> > Want to come to London and kill some time waiting for your reply from
> > the British government?
> perhaps, yes. could i come and stay with you early next week? i
> realise you leave on the 15th, but i would maybe come for the 12/13th?
> or perhaps the end of this week, but i would have to get my arse in
> gear and organise!
> > Would you like
> > me to bring anything back for you from Canada? Like peanut butter (I
> > find the peanut butter so strange here...or maybe it's me!).
> yes, peanut butter would be lovely :) I hate British peanut butter,
> but used to be able to buy skippy in edinburgh. now, it is not around
> and i had resigned myself to no peanut butter until vanessa's wedding
> (and the trip to it).

C's response:

my junk mail keeps picking up this email saying that something in it is "offensive", I am trying to think of what was offensive.

Could it be saying "kill" and "british government" in the same sentence? Or Arse?
Or maybe even "peanut butter"

I dunno.

Only Two Photos
Having gotten very, very annoyed with everything breaking in our flat and receiving an email from Christina about visiting London, it took about five seconds to decide to go. Without a visa, I had to take the train, and after a bit of examination of various dates and times, I managed to get a ticket for £40 round trip-not bad for only one day's advance purchase.

The trip down was uneventful, and as I've taken this train trip many times, the looking out the window thing has lost it's appeal. I mostly listened to music and it is such a pain to still own a Discman and have to carry around all those CDs. Lady Sovereign's "9 to 5" kept me amused.

Upon arriving in London there was the mad dash to meet up with Chritina, Louise and friends, to go see a one man show. Of course, I queued up to buy a ticket for the Tube, only to find that the machine only took English notes (bills for the North Americans). The Northern Line was confusing, so I found an alternate route and ended up in Leicester Square. We had dinner at Wagamana's, an amazing Asian chain restuarant. Then... A Christmas Carol, staring Patrick Stewart, of Star Trek fame. It was really well done. At one point he played a doorknob-just picture the shiny, bald head lit up by a spotlight.

One odd thing: we were asked at the beginning not to use cell phones, camcorders or CANDY WRAPPERS! But the only candy they sold there was Minstrels. Just try eating them quietly, I dare you.

The next day, I wandered off to Trafalgar Square to go to the National Gallery. It took me 5 hours to look at everything because I started off reading all the descriptions. The 1400s to 1600s rooms, mostly be religious subjects, were about the same ten subjects, by different painters, so eventually the process sped up as I was able to recognise Jesus leaving Mary, Saint Sebastian with the arrows, pictures of John the Baptist, etc. Then I just got a bit arted-out, so started only reading the names of the artists and perhaps the titles of the paintings.

Those are the only two photos I took in London. I know, I know, ME! ONLY TWO PHOTOS! However, I seem to have spent my time in London eating. That night Christina and I went to Brick Lane for an Indian meal-very yummy.

Friday, I met up with J. outside of the British Museum and went again to Wagamama's. We ended up spending the whole day eating lunch and drinking coffee, with a brief break to find a little Korean shop, where I bought some red pepper paste. Some day, I intend to make my own bibimbap. I think the Korean owner was surprised to hear me speaking Korean, though not much of it ;)

That evening I watched Christina make gingerbread men and Saturday morning watched her and her friends start to make a turkey dinner, before heading out on the train again.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

I Got This

Be Late For Something Day - September 5th

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Wednesday, September 02, 2009