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Monday, March 08, 2004
Adventure in Korea - Part 1: My plane got struck by friggin lightning!!!

Well, I've arrived in Korea, but not after taking the scenic route.

Okay, the truth is, I didn't get struck by lightning (but it sure sounds exciting doesn't it?). What actually happened is that while we were making our descent to Incheon Airport, there was a static discharge or something from the plane. It was kind of surprising (I almost said shocking, but that would be a bad choice of words) - there was a big flash and a fairly large sound.. it did seem like we were struck by lightning. Soon after, the captain came on to say that it was just a static discharge, no problems, don't worry, etc etc. So, we continued our descent towards Seoul. Now, it should be mentioned that at the time Seoul was experiencing one of the worst snowfalls for this time of year in about a hundred years or so.
So anyways, we descended until below 100 metres or so, and suddenly started climbing back up. That sudden change combined with the previously experienced turbulence during our decent caused the lady beside me to lose her in-flight meal. I felt badly for her, yet I was glad that the seat between us was vacant..

At first I just figured that due to the weather or whatever we had to get up, and circle around until we were cleared to land again. Then the captain came on again, and told us that the previous "lightning, or static charge, or whatever it was" actually fried some of the plane's navigational computers. Normally, the pilot could make a landing manually, but given the adverse weather conditions, the long and short of it was that we weren't going to be landing in Seoul that night. Next destination: Jeju, on an island in the southern part of Korea... with clear weather.

When we finally arrived in Jeju, it was another hour or two before we could leave the plane. For one reason, the immigration officers had all gone home for the night; Cheju's airport is quite small. Also, the airline company was busy trying to find accomodations for 250-or-so passengers. Surprisingly, the passengers weren't as restless as one could expect them to be. I ended up spending most of the time chatting to a Korean fellow who was just coming back from Japan to visit home for a few days. We hung out in the back of the plane and pilfered sandwiches and cans of pop when the flight attendants weren't looking. I should add here that I was quite impressed with the demeanor of the flight attendants throughout the whole ordeal. They did a great job keeping the passengers relaxed even despite the language barriers that existed between many of them.

Eventually, we were allowed off the plane, and went through customs/immigration, collected our baggage, and headed to the hotel, which was actually quite nice. We were also given a voucher for breakfast in the morning, and it wasn't one of those "continental breakfasts" that consist of some week-old fruit and a case of Cosco muffins. It was a nice all-you-can-eat (your favorite words, Dad) with the usual things that might be expected: eggs, sausage, pancakes, broiled fish, seaweed, etc. Then pile on the buses and back to Jeju airport to catch a 20-minute flight back up to Seoul.

So, I ended up having an interesting time getting over here, eh? It's all worked out fine though. Since then, I've been to Busan and back, and have done a bit of sight-seeing in Seoul. Lotsa pictures to share, but since I forgot the cord for my camera, I'll have to wait until I get back to Japan to share them with everyone.

Expect updates soon! I'll be back this weekend, but may post before then if something interesting happens.

Posted at 11:33 pm by TheDrew
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Thursday, March 04, 2004
Waiting anxiously...

Just a little entry here to kill some time. I'm gonna be heading off to Korea for a little more than a week in about an hour or so. All my packing is done (I hope)... I've got my passport, tickets... dang, I hope I don't forget something important! At least I don't have as many documents to keep track of as when I came to Japan a few months ago.

Of course, when I come back, I'll have gads of pictures to share with everyone (I say that as if there's lots of people actually checking up on this page...). Expect an update of some sort when I get back, and if you're lucky, I may even put in a short entry while I'm there.. perhaps written while sitting in one of Seoul's many PC-rooms, during an intermission at a Warcraft 3 tournament or whatever's popular there now.

Also, I was pleasantly surprised to find a comment in one of my entries from a complete stranger (who seems to have her own blog on this site). Quite pleasantly unexpected to have someone drop by and say hello. Which reminds me to remind you - feel free to write comments! Ask questions! If there's something that you're curious about or interested in that you wanna know more about, let me know!

Posted at 11:30 am by TheDrew
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Friday, February 27, 2004
Ski Trip to Nagano!

Well, I just got back yesterday from my ski-trip to Nagano. I went with about 12 friends from the in-line hockey club I've joined at my university here. We left on Monday evening by bus at about 11pm, and travelled through the night, arriving at our accomodations by sunrise (I honestly don't remember what time it was... just that I got to see the sun rise over the mountains through the bus.. I should've taken a picture..)

I really didn't sleep much at all on the way over. Maybe 15 minutes or so altogether, so obviously I was quite tired the whole day, plus I was kinda hungry. But, I sucked it up, got my rental gear, and hit the slopes. The snow conditions on the first day were beautiful. It had snowed the night before, so it was soft and powdery, though towards the end of the day it got a little-bit icy. Here's the view from the top of one of the slopes, looking down towards the various other ski-resorts in the area.

As you can see, there was not a cloud in the sky.. really a beautiful day for snowboarding. Quite a few of my friends were just going for their first time, so I tried to help them out a bit at first to get them going, but as the day went on, we all just went our own ways, crossing paths often. The mountain was really not that big, with just a couple chairs, but it was well-kept.

Our lodgings were what might be called a Japanese-style inn. Basically, we had two rooms - one for the girls and one for the guys, where we laid out our own futons (note: a futon is not a piece of furniture that changes between a bed and couch, as you might see in Ikea). We pretty much just chilled in our rooms for an hour or two after boarding, then went down for dinner. We all ate in one room with the other lodgers, and the managers of the inn made and brought out the food for us to eat, which was quite tasty I must add. After that, we'd head back up to the rooms and hang out a bit more until we felt like going down for our baths. Japanese bathing deserves an entry of it's own, so I'll tell you more about it another time.

Really my only complaint about the lodgings had to do with the fact that a couple of the guys were pretty much chain-smokers - my clothes stank when I got back. My face had a generous dosage of sun throughout the days and got a little burnt, and coming back to a smoky room just didn't feel so nice on my skin. But overall a good time.

From a language-learning perspective, I find that outings like this give me a kick in the pants to work harder. Often times I could follow the conversation, and know generally what's being talked about, but it's the details that make things interesting.. and it's the details that I can't pick out. On top of that, often when I have something I want to add to the conversation, I find that I don't have an adequate vocabulary to express it. Basically, it's a good motivater for me to work harder so that I can be an active participant in such casual conversations, rather than an observer.

Well, to finish off, here's a couple pictures for ya. The ones that are of a little lower quality are the ones taken with my cell-phone camera. I didn't really feel like packing my digi-cam around with me while snowboarding.. for reasons that I hope are obvious.

Here's a few friends eating the food in the cafeteria (not the one at our lodgings). It seems that over-priced, bad-tasting food on the ski-resort is a world-wide constant. Here's some other friends at the same place.

This picture is just a bunch of us at the top of a run.

Here's two more pics taken while I was taking a small rest on one of the runs, facing uphill and downhill.

Posted at 01:01 pm by TheDrew
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A little housekeeping...

Alright, here's the deal. I intend (which does not necessarily mean that it *will* happen) to add some updates in the near future looking back on some of my experiences here in Japan. I've got several pictures and whatnot, just that I haven't written anything about them, and so I'm sure that family and friends who may come here don't know a lot about them. Plus I'm horrible in keeping in touch with people. So, that being said, I'm hoping that over my vacation, I can tell you about some things that have already happened, while still keeping you updated with what's going on presently.

Posted at 12:17 pm by TheDrew
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Sunday, January 25, 2004
Disneyland Pic

Mickey Burger
This post is more to test posting an image than anything else.. but anyways, I ate this at DisneyLand. Yep, I had to go all the way to Tokyo to go to Disneyland for the first time. Some people might think that the burger is "cute" but I'm kind of worried about what kind of meat is in the Mickey Burger...

Unfortunately it seems I can't upload my pictures, but can only link to ones stored elsewhere, unlike my friend's site at which she can upload basically as much as she wants. Cheap bastards. Ah well, at least my school has some webspace I can use.

Posted at 06:40 pm by TheDrew
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It's a sad day, folks....

... I now have a blog. To all my friends and family who have been waiting patiently for me to get around to creating a website to chronicle my adventures in Japan, that day has finally arrived. Sort of. Indeed, I found myself to be too busy (read: lazy) to get around to learning how to make my own website. Learning Japanese and C is enough for languages at the moment. So, inspired by a handy site that my friend uses, I searched for a similar one I could use. We'll see how this turns out for me. (By the way, I couldn't really use the site my friend uses since it's all in Korean..)

So, I'm gonna be playing around with this, trying to make it look decent and usable, and hopefully have some interesting content. I'll try to update it more often than I e-mail everyone...

So, until next time, enjoy reading this one post over and over again.

Posted at 06:23 pm by TheDrew
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