Ruby Ramblings


July Reads
August 5, 2010, 5:29 am
Filed under: Books

Flood
Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

Fantastic follow-up to Oryx and Crake. A book about two friends, one who devises a way to destroy the world, and the one who doesn’t believe he’ll really do it. This is the aftermath, and actually runs concurrently with the events in O&C.


Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl


Heaven’s Keep by William Krueger
Probably the weakest of the month. A simple mystery about a plane that goes missing in Heaven’s Keep mountain pass. It’s a good little mystery, but nothing groundbreaking.


Evolution of Shadows by Jason Quinn


The Underneath by Kathi Appelt
A brilliant and really sad child’s tale about kittens that loose their mother, and each other, and are trying to find their way back to whatever it is they could possibly call home.


The Secret Speech by Tom Robb Smith
Sequel to Child 44. Good, but not outstanding. More violence, less plot than the first.


Nanjing 1937 by Ye Zhaoyan


Life of PI by Yann Martel
This is the second time I’ve read this amazing little tale. It was this months choice for the literature class I’m teaching to a brilliant bunch of middle school girls. I got so much more out of it this time than the first time, and we had a great time hashing it up and finding symbolism in class.


The Lost City of Z by David Grann


The Skull Mantra by Elliot Pattison

This is a fantastic cultural thriller set in Tibet.


The History of Love by Nicole Krauss


Pursuit by Luiz Garcia-Rosa



More Busan
August 4, 2010, 5:05 am
Filed under: Buddhism, Korea, Travel

It was really too hot to be walking around like a mad person trying to see all the sights. I made it to the UN park, which I don’t recommend walking to unless you happen to be in the area, or you are particularly personally interested in the cemetery. The park itself wasn’t that impressive, and was completely uncared for. There were some folks using it to run and walk their dogs. I took advantage of some green grass to take a nap, which I got called out for by another foreigner later, “Hey were you that chick sleeping in the park…..”

The statue park has donated statues from all over the world as a sign of unity. My favorite one was this one from Columbia:

Followed by a close second from the Netherlands. In some fit of humor, this baby was placed right next to the building for the men’s bathroom.

Here is Japan’s contribution, which I’m almost surprised was allowed:

At night I enjoyed some Makali with my friend Val and a real Makali house. Not that disgusting over fermented crap from a bottle. We couldn’t figure out how to order much off the menu, but the waitress was more than accommodating and picked a couple things she thought we’d like, and we did.

Incheon and Seoul don’t really remind me of much. They are their own cities in their own right. But Busan reminded me a lot of Boston. Maybe it’s the ocean, or the feel, but it just felt right at home.

And a little temple I found to the side coming down from the observatory.



The last train to Busan…
August 1, 2010, 5:51 am
Filed under: Buddhism, Korea, Travel

Since I have exactly four weeks of teaching left in Korea, it seemed fitting to take the rare few days off work to travel in the country. I weathered the heat, a little redder and sore, and took a whirlwind tour of Busan, on the southern coast and Gyeongju, one of the historical capitol cities. Sometimes it’s better to travel alone as no one in their right mind would have tried to stuff in all I wanted to see in this kind of heat.

It was pouring rain when I rolled off a five hour bus ride in Busan. In the scheme of life, it’s funny how quickly something can go from disappointing to wanting it back. Although I had to change my plans, for the rest of the weekend, I would have done a rain dance in the street to get a break from the heat and unbearable sun. Winter in Korea is pretty bad. Summer is much, much worse.

Since I was only a few subway stops away, I checked in at Heosimcheong Spa in the Nogshim Hotel (Oncheonjang station exit 1). It claims to be the largest hotspring sauna in Asia. Although it was big, I wouldn’t consider it much more special that most jimjillbangs I’ve been to. It did have a nice outdoor rooftop hottub where you could get steamed, and on this day, rained on at the same time. I got a scrub-down complete with cucumber face treatment.

There were a ton of different pools, some quite large, but I really liked a side room all done in stone that had pools of different medicinal scents. I spent a while in the “philosopher’s pool” with pine and a giant stone carving of an old bearded white man’s face spitting water into the pool.

The rain took a reprieve and I headed to Haeundae Beach, which was gorgeously uncrowded and had huge waves from the storm.

A little jaunt into the aquarium. I don’t remember the last time I’ve been to one. It was worth it, especially the underwater tunnel.

I swear this guy was modeling for me. Notice the teeth.

There’s a gorgeous walking trail along the ocean off the western side of the beach.

The fabulous view from my fabulous friend Val's house.

There is a great train system in Busan. The subway is great, but I had no idea how much I liked trains. For all of 2,500W I took the train from Bukjeon station to Songjeong beach. From there you could take the 181 bus, but, me being the adventurous type, decided it didn’t look too far and walked. The ocean view was great, and then turned into a Korean construction view, and then a, wow, the hill to the temple is steep, why-did-I-decide-to-walk view. It is the only temple in Korea that I know of that is on the ocean, and is stunningly gorgeous and a little crowded and touristy, but well worth it.

Haedong Yonggungsa – Great Seawater Goddess of Mercy – Temple

And that is just the beginning. I’m having a borderline panic attack about how little time I have left, and how much stuff is in the air. I’m considering moving everything into suitcases and living out of them to remind myself how to do it, and also so I know how much stuff I have to get rid of since I need to pare everything down to one suitcase and a guitar once again.

Oh yea, and I also have to read the first third of Watership Down, which I’m not entirely looking forward to. Live of Pi was a challenge for my ESL students, I’m not sure what they’re going to do with this one.




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