Story

Gnarly Dude: A paddleboard lesson in Busan!

I walked to the back of the shop to meet Dylan, my Korean surf guru for the day. When the general greetings were out the way, Dylan pulled out his phone, stared at the screen, and behind a grimace he said, “I checked the weather. The water is totally flat. Not good for surfing. Do you want to try stand-up paddle boarding?” I had no idea what paddle boarding was, but it sounded cool.

Plan B

Dylan led me upstairs and out onto the roof of his shop, where I somehow managed to cram my fat arse into a skintight wetsuit… only after putting it on backwards twice! Dylan’s tanned muscular body meant he looked like a Korean adonis in his, whereas I resembled vanilla ice cream dripping from a plastic carrier bag.


The Bangkok Shuffle

Bangkok can fuck right off! I hope the military junta obliterates this overflowing shithole…

… At least that was my first impression of the capital city.

First Impressions are lasting

It took us ages and ages to reach Bangkok. Kyeonghwa and I jumped on a crowded ferry early in the morning from Ko Pha Ngan and trundled across the Gulf of Thailand for three hours, waited another two hours for a bus to arrive, then rode that bastard for another seven and a half glorious hours.


A Big Bang in Bangkok

For my first full day in Bangkok I booked a bicycle tour with SpiceRoads Cycle Tours. The plan was to first hit Damneonsudak Floating Market, then ride around in the nearby palm tree farms for 30km or so, which is exactly what we did! …eventually.


The Big Chunky Charlie: Tourist Guilt in Maya Bay

I’D HEARD that the place was going to be busy. The weird moronic western dude behind the desk at our hotel told us as much when we enquired about the place. “It’s even busy during the rainy season,” the words stumbled in slow motion out of his mouth. “We went there in October during the rainy season and there were still, like, 40 boats in the bay.” It was probably his thick birth-control glasses, nervous demeanour, monk-like bald patch, and slow, slightly scouse – but also kinda german – accent that, at least for me, rendered his opinions worthless.

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The Hindu Times

A couple of things struck me right away upon exiting Kuala Lumpur International Airport. One: The unbearable humidity; and two: The multiculturalism.

Having spent more time than I’d like to admit knee-deep in the rigid homogeneity of South Korea, I found the intermingling of Malay, Indian, Chinese and European people / food / architecture / culture in the capital fascinating.

Untouchable

Escaping the capital for a day trip to the Batu Caves (more on that place soon), I found myself enraptured by KL’s Indian / Hindu culture. I’d gone there mainly to see our cheeky simian cousins cause all kinds of mayhem to the tourists, but came away intrigued with the sub-continents religion of choice.


Historically Disreputable: Oncheonjang at Night

The entire neighbourhood of Oncheonjang stretches out from the wall-to-ceiling window of my 9th floor flat. It would be a glorious view of Mt. Geumjeong, if it weren’t for the three manky love motels across the street. Each night as the sun dips behind the mountain, my apartment is basked in their salacious pinky-purpley neon glow.

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Cycling the Urban Jungle: The Oncheon Stream

Freddie Mercury never made it to Busan. Though I’m sure if he did (ignoring the impossibilities of time travel and necromancy), he’d want to get on his bike and ride… along the Oncheon stream! So with spring in the air, it’s about time you too got your fat bottom on a bicycle and cycled through Busan’s urban jungle.

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The Maoul Bus*

I walked up and down the street looking for the bus stop on the opposite side of the street. Where I was going was only four stops away in that direction, but I soon realised that the bus only went in the opposite direction, which left me a good fifteen stops away. I bit the […]

Yasukuni Shrine: My Grandfather Died For This Country

Yasukuni Shrine, located in the centre of Tokyo is undeniably beautiful and rather serene, at least from the outside. Why then, does this place of quiet worship enrage so many in northeast Asia whenever Japanese dignitaries visit the shrine? What is it about Yasukuni that causes South Korea to cancel its foreign minister’s trip to Japan and China to whip yet more shit up about uninhabited rocks in the sea?

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A Fortress in Jinju

It was late in the autumn of 1592; the gravely outnumbered and perilously outgunned defenders ran out of bullets, cannonballs and arrows to fire at the battle-scarred enemy below. As humongous siege towers approached the high walls of Jinju fortress, the ragtag group of warrior monks, undisciplined guerrillas and disgraced generals that made up the city garrison, began to hurl stones (or anything remotely hefty) over the beleaguered walls. With only a tenth of the numbers opposing them, this seemingly futile resistance, amazingly forced 30,000 invading Samurai warriors to flee. Spirits in the Joseon Kingdom were lifted… for all to brief unfortunately.

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