Gareth….the North American.

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I feel the need to write a blog entry on two things; the fantastic weekend I have just had and the noticeable North American influence on my life.

I had an incredibly action packed weekend. I didn’t have any definite plans or anything that stood out as an exceptional event, but just some tentative plans based around the turbulent weather.

On Friday night I trekked to Haeundae for dinner. After some tasty Indian food I went for an eerie walk along the beach. The mist was rolling in from the ocean and engulfing the streets and shoreline. This had the effect of removing a definite horizon from the ocean which was really odd. It was kind of like the water dissipated into nothingness… There was some interesting musical performances along the promenade and a particularly good group of university age lads who were playing guitars, singing, rapping and drumming on some kind of traditional drum.  I went on the long ride home hoping for a good nights sleep and to be woken by sunshine and not monsoon!

Waking to wonderful sunshine on Saturday I headed north again and a little further to Songjeong beach to meet Sam for a bit. I owed Sam the keys to my old apartment and it was a good excuse to catch up on some Changwon gossip. I’ve written about Songjeong beach before and I still rate it as one of the best in Busan. Less crammed, clear and clean-looking water and nice sand. I was supposed to head down to Gwanganli beach later (nice beach, atmosphere but to near the port to have clean water), but I was running short of time as I had to meet the same group of friends for my first baseball game.

I arrived just in time at Sajik Stadium to meet JP, Kyle and Brad. Fortunately they had arrived slightly earlier than myself and had picked up my ticket so I avoided a sweaty queue. the temperature was soaring as we entered the stadium and took up our seats. We loaded up on beers and food and settled down for what turned out to be an engrossing game. Sajik Stadium is home to the Lotte Giants, Busan’s finest (and only major league) team. Their guests were the LG Twins from Seoul. Lotte Giants are having an indifferent season and are a few games back from the playoff positions that they traditionally occupy. As we took photos, drank, ate and sweated Lotte accelerated into a 4-1 lead by the middle innings. The Twins however pulled it back to 4-4 with a big home-run in the 7th or 8th innings. The final innings were tense. Lotte fielded first and restricted the Twins to no further runs. Lotte then gradually loaded up the bases with a single and a couple of walks until a pinch hitter came in and dropped a lofted drive beyond the first baseman and importantly before the outfielders for a game wining single that allowed the man on third base to run home. I definitely enjoyed the game. I’d liken it to the excitement of a good 20/20 cricket game. Kyle’s atrocious attempts to garner TV time by dancing, JP’s chicken thievery from a box on the floor (tramp) and the home fans/teams antics (Inflated orange plastic bags on their heads, pimped out minis driving out new pitchers and the odd 5th inning stretch routines) all added to the occasion. After the baseball we all headed to Kyungsung University district for food, drinks and general revellery.

After waking up in my crappy motel (I was too lazy to get a taxi to go home only to come back to this end of the city in the morning). I went for lunch with my friends and did a bit of emergency shopping for a clean t-shirt. I then went to meet one of my Korean friends on Haeundae beach for some needed chill-out time, catch-up and to tan my pasty English body. We ate some food and looked at a few bikes that I am considering buying (Pedal, not motor! Don’t worry Dad!). I then headed of to Namcheon to play some Ultimate Frisbee for a couple of hours and thus give me a sense of a healthy lifestyle after the weekends numerous indulgences and excesses.

As many people have noticed I am becoming quite American. Korea is heavily influenced by America. The popularity of American fast food chains, brands, style of car, sports and language is noticeable in day-to-day life. There are obvious historical reasons for this; close political and military ties are undoubtedly influential. It is evident the younger generation of Korea’s population are readily embracing the American culture. Starbucks, Baskin’ Robbins and McDonalds are crammed with teenage and twenty something Koreans.

As heavily as Korea influences my life I think North America is also beginning to affect me. Due to the Koreans preference for American “English” i often have to adapt my pronunciation, spelling and vocabulary to effectively teach and communicate. Thankfully, many of my Korean friends enjoy my mumbling English tones, but at school it is definitely easier all round and kind of expected that I drop my u’s, say soccer instead of football and trash/garbage instead of rubbish. Also, I now enjoy and appreciate basketball and baseball and I have started playing Ultimate frisbee which is undoubtedly a North American sport. It wouldn’t even surprise me if their natinal league is called the world championship…..! Fortunately, I am still resisting the Starbucks and Baskin’ Robbins trap!


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