Wednesday, May 31, 2006

chow ciao

ok, i admit it. I was in italy. yes, last week. yes, when I said that I was just visiting my husband in beijing. Instead of taking flight from seoul to beijing - a mere 1.5 hours, I got on a plane that went to osaka instead. then I got on a plane to milan. this took 40 hours as I had to overnight it in osaka in the airport hotel. not an easy flight. the 12 hours from osaka to milan is an even longer flight than from beijing to san francisco. it's far.

from milan I got on a train, and then i got on another train which got me to perugia, a really small and quaint cobblestone village (from i don't know the 15th century?) on top of a hill. it looks exactly like what you think it looks like. it's so quaint it will make you cry. lush green trees, vibrant red poppies and travertine and stone houses easing in and out of the moutain crevices. from there i got in a car and drove around to some small towns and ended up in milan.

i ate gelato every day for 10 days straight. i ate all kinds of pasta, i ate pizza, i ate mushroom rissoto, i ate an amazing gnocchi. i ate heavenly salads and even had an italian mother feed me spaghetti and meatballs followed by grilled rabbit and potatoes. she insisted on grating cheese over my pasta after every 3 bites. i ate several carpaccios, procuitto, salumi and gulped at least two shot glasses of strong espresso a day. i drank copious amounts of fizzy mineral water and had a plate full of grilled salmon piled high with fresh arugula. i ate a dense chocolate cake that had a sweet and tart apricot puree spread between the layers. there was an apple cake with nutmeg and (maybe?) ginger. i drank red wine out of carafes and never bothered about the brand. oh and i even ate horse meat. it was ground up and and cooked in heavy spices. gamey but good.

but I wasn't completely untruthful. i said I was going to see my husband, and that was true. it just happened that he was in italy, on a photo shoot. so I went there to see him instead.


Monday, May 08, 2006

i got it

I just received an email from my department at the university that was all in Korean. My newest tactic now (instead of just ignoring it) is to translate it through BabelFish, which doesn't get me anywhere near understanding the email, but provides hours of entertainment:

Professor, How are you. There is dissertation subject announcement of the culture technical educational system military merit master 2 year car and the mail which informs it sends and it gives. Temporarily: May 22nd Monday Place: 3229 college 3 tubes (CT big lecture room) Hour: 10:30~14:00 The presenter with afterwords is same. 10:30-10:55 most Tae wheel 10:55-11:20 probably sourest yearly 11:20-11:45 study right 11:45-12:10 really hwi Ryong 12:10-12:45 lunches 12:45-13:10 Andong muscle 13:10-13:35 river circular 13:35-14:00 won wheel Ji The lunch prepares the pizza. It is busy but, inside hour it gives and it wishes. Master 2 year car, probably sour yearly streamer

this is priceless. I could read it over and over again and still discover new things. What more can I say? "It gives and it wishes."

Thursday, May 04, 2006

the buddha man

Last weekend was the parade for Buddha's Birthday in Seoul. Today (May 5) is the actual birthday, but I suppose buddha's birthday is much like the queen's birthday or any other abstract excuse to make huge paper lanterns and walk around on the street shouting and waving at total strangers. It was as kitchy as it sounds, and pretty fun.

Jay and I walked and ate our way through the street fair in front of the Jogyesa Temple during the day and then I went back to see the lanterns at night. some very cool floats at the parade and the effect of the lit lanterns hanging in the temple was amazing. Lots of wacky drum circles, conga lines and hats made of lanterns.

They had a goofy tent for "foreigners to make lanterns." My friend Jun who is korean american and recently moved to seoul for work said that he tried to join one year and they wouldn't let him. the lanterns are for dorky whiteys only, i guess.

I also witnessed a man get wrestled to the ground by plain clothes cops. one minute this guy was standing there watching some singers on a stage, and the next minute, someone had him in a headlock, and another guy was struggling to get cuffs on him. The man being attacked was resisting. Then the guy's head was forced down, and someone put a knee to his back, which put him face down on the floor. A crowd is gathering by now, looking on in shock. The cops (who knows if they were cops, I never saw any badge or anything) finally slam handcuffs on the man, pick him up by his shirt collar and lead him away with his head under one of the cop's arm. It was an intense show of violence, and even more strange was that it happened without any noise. I heard nothing except the shuffling of feet. There wasn't any grunting or shouting from any of the parties involved. An odd silent struggle.

Sensing the end of the drama, the crowd turned back to dancers doing hip-hop moves on the lit-for-television stage. machines mounted on scaffolding started blowing endless streams of pink tissue conffetti into the air. for at least 30 minutes the entire square looked like a snow globe.