I love bicycles

Fall back

We still live in Korea. I have pictures to prove it. Really.

We're sort of on the other side of the mountain now. Not an actual mountain. A figurative one. We've been here for eight months and almost three seasons, and now it's like a countdown. We're coming down the mountain. Not that it's been some sort of mountainous obstacle - quite the opposite. And there's no threat of Grizzly Bears. But I'm guessing when you climb a mountain there are easy parts and hard parts, but once you start your descent things seem less challenging. That's how we feel now. All the challenges we've faced being in a foreign country seemed exacerbated by the idea that we'll be here - away from family and friends, and people who speak English - for a long time. But time flies, man.

October has been a good month. One of the things I miss most is Fall in Lethbridge. But the weather has been beautiful here in Daegu and the colors have lasted all month. Nothing beats a brisk walk through a concrete jungle.

I bought a membership to a gym. For the last eight months I've been relying on the exercise equipment in local parks and schoolyards, but as fun as endless pull-ups and chin-ups on cold metal bars sounds, it's not very motivating. So I decided to take my game indoors. I found a nice fitness centre in Seongseo and I'm trying it out for a month. But the experience has been a bit different from the YMCA at home. At my first visit, I bought my membership and the friendly assistant behind the desk showed me around. She brought me to a table outside the men's changeroom and gave me a towel, as well as a shirt and shorts. I looked at the tiny outfit and said, "Oh, you want me to wear this?" She nodded. I looked around and noticed everyone was wearing the same thing - and everyone was three to ten inches shorter than me. I convinced her it wouldn't work and she said it'd be fine if I wore my own clothes. So I did. I put on my iPod and stepped on a treadmill. JT was pumpin' and I was pumped. Ready to run. Just as I took my first step, a guy taps me on the back and says, "Come this way." I followed over him to the front desk. He pointed at the scale, which looked like it was made in 2050, and told me to get on. There were two handles on the front and he told me to squeeze. The little computer did some computing and then printed off a couple sheets of paper. So we headed over to a table to discuss my fitness level and the state of my life in general. With what little English he knew and what little Korean I know, we talked about what this computer said about me. Not only did this scale measure my weight, it measured my strength, my body mass index, my body fat percentage and, apparently, it knew where most of the fat on my body is and what I should do about it. Huh? Well that was fun. But I just wanted a treadmill, really.

Other than all that, it's business as usual in the Guenther home. I've stopped updating my Flickr account because I've reached my limit on uploads, so now if I want to add more, my earlier photos won't be displayed. Of course I can get a larger account for $20 or something like that. But come on, this is the internet. Do people actually pay to display their photogs? So you can expect to see more here, along with more frequent posts. Seriously.


My brush with fame and how I lived to tell about it

What do you get when you take a famous Korean actor, thousands of screaming fans and utterly unprepared security, and put them all in one place? This:

This was Yoo Ji-Tae arriving at a public press conference in downtown Busan on Saturday, as part of the PIFF (as mentioned previously). We had no idea what was going on, but it seemed like word was spreading that he'd be arriving, and the crowd grew quickly behind the massive stage set up in the middle of a small intersection of the city's biggest shopping district. We rushed Cate away from the scene and made sure everyone was safe. Then . . . I headed back in.

With camera in hand, I braved the mass of school uniforms and trendy haircuts, determined to get a glimpse of whichever massive, important star was about to arrive. As two black vans rounded the corner about a block away, all hell broke loose. Elbows, kicks, screams. It was all fair game. As Yoo fought his way through the crowd I thought, "Okay, who is that? Seriously guys, where's Gwyneth? Or Brad? Or even Pauly Shore . . . don't tell me that's the guy we've been waiting for." I panned frantically, waiting for something more - but - to no avail. That was it.

In the video, notice the guy with the baby in the middle of the crowd. He's clearly thinking, "how the bloody hell did I get myself into the situation?!" For the record, he made it out alive - with his son.


Screaming School Girls and Ladies of the Night - 'All in a day'

Busan, Busan, Busan. Where do I start?

The only words I can think of to describe our day in the coastal city are high octane. We went to Gukje Market, the main shopping district of Busan, straight from Busan Station, and realized when we got there that we were in the middle of the Busan International Film Festival (contrary to what the website says, in English it's Busan). In case you haven't heard of it, it's a pretty big deal, which means all the big Korean film stars were there. I don't know any of their names or what movies they're in, but they draw a big crowd. And I was in the middle of it. Thousands of screaming girls awaiting the arrival of one (apparently) sexy male movie star. Who was he? I don't know. But he was nearly the cause of my death. I captured the whole experience on video which will be posted to this very blog shortly, along with more details.

We went from downtown to Taejongdae, an area along the coast consisting of islands and some monuments. We spent most of the time searching for a beach, only to find a dumpy little waterfront road behind some old shacks. An amusement park popped up out of nowhere and we ate some cold sweet potato fries. Not a bad afternoon.

We headed back to Busan Station where there was an annual Chinese Festival. While checking this out, we stumbled upon the Russian Red Light District of Busan. Did you follow all that? Let me sum it up: A Chinese festival in Busan which is home to Russian prostitutes. There was enough culture to last a lifetime.

After a long, high octane day, we headed back to Daegu in the comfort of a bullet train.