Monday, February 14, 2011

Tales from the Korean Peninsula

by Pa Rock
International Vagabond

Friends dropped me off at the Naha Airport this morning at 0630 hours, a wee bit early since my plane for Incheon, Korea, didn't leave until 1240 hours.  They had to dump me before the sun came up so that they could get back and put in a full day of pulling the oars in our slave galley.  I brought a good book to read to keep myself entertained - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson - and I have read over half of it today - a great read!

So it is now Monday evening and I am safely settled in at the Dragon Hill Lodge at Youngsan Army Garrison in Seoul, Korea.  I had a few interesting encounters getting here.  First there was Leon the Limo Driver.  Leon and his friend, both limo drivers for Korea Air Lines, were sitting down near the USO counter at Incheon Airport in the area where Americans tend to congregate.  They were practicing their English.  Leon explained to me that they were going to drive taxis and make big money when they retired from KAL.  He asked me if I had been to Korea before, and I told him about my first trip last November.  A few minutes later he approached me with a tablet and a pen and asked if I could write what I had just told him - in big letters.  My printed response was as follows.

"I came to Korea for the first time last November of 2010 with two friends from Okinawa.  We arrived on the same day that Kim Jong Il attacked South Korea with his missiles. 
"Korea is a beautiful country."  
I wrote my name at the end of the note along with my email address and the web address for this blog.  Leon carefully read the note aloud.  He did a good job, but had to learn how to say "missiles."

So Leon, if you are reading this - "Zup, dude?"

Leon and his friend and I visited several times during the two hours that I waited at the airport for the shuttle bus.  Between our visits I was approached by a little old Oriental lady who asked me if I was American.  When I told her that I was, she informed me that she was from Shanghai, China.  Then she gave me a copy of The Watchtower.   They're everywhere!  They're everywhere!

I haven't had time to read The Watchtower yet, but I did thumb through it.  This latest issue has a cover story entitled, "The Garden of Eden, Myth or Fact?"  Again, I haven't had time to read the text, but from looking at the illustrations I now definitely know that both Adam and Eve were Caucasians, as was Jesus, Gabriel (the angel), Daniel, and Samuel.  In fact, the only person of color appeared to be a criminal holding a gun to someone's head.  He wore a bandanna and had a mustache and goatee, and looked very, very Mexican.  Saint Joe Arpaio would have smote that sucker good - you betcha he would!

Thank you, Shanghai Lil, for the great reading material.  I learned so much!

This evening I had dinner at the bar and struck up a conversation with a six-foot-eight Sergeant Major who has just arrived for a long tour in Korea.  We talked about the lack of infrastructure for families in Korea, what each of us have learned from international travel, the old Operation Reforgers in Germany, the Iraq War, relationship issues resulting from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, PTSD,  and the current scandals involving WTUs - Warrior Transition Units.  He was very interesting, and a really nice guy.  He was also one of the largest human beings that I have ever encountered.  The Sergeant Major had a ring the size of a Missouri walnut on his hand - and I was fairly certain that it must be a Super Bowl ring - so finally I asked.  It turns out it was a Masonic ring, but it was made by the same company that makes Super Bowl rings.  It was huge - but then again, so was he!

That's about it for today.  I am fixing to crawl into bed and finish reading The Watchtower - or maybe The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  Decisions, decisions!

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