In the land of 15-ish story apartment blocks and 40-odd floor office buildings, there are few instances of design flair. In a sea of sameness, this one certainly stands out.


An end to eye jokes

Although Lee feels he has a good seven or eight more days worth of eye jokes, I'll spare you, loyal readers, by commandeering the blog while he is in the shower. Forget any wisecracks about x-ray vision, lengthy jokes featuring duels between me and a laser-wielding opthamologist, or obscure references to Teiresias the blind soothsayer of Thebes. Rest assured that in my days of recovery, when my usual reading time was extremely limited, Lee kept me well-entertained with all of the above and more.
And so today marks the return of a more traditional blog post, featuring the view of World Cup Stadium from our backyard (more commonly known as the Han river path).


The Deluxe Package

With the optical lasers working nicely and the x-ray vision finely tuned, Deanna is well on her way to full recovery. But it is the hindsight I find most impressively keen - apparently, back in '98, it would have been faster to have taken Preston to Circle Drive because of the construction at Cumberland and Taylor.


Pardon my French

I have to say, this witness protection plan disguise is the most fun I've had since Deanna got her suitcase wedged in the turnstile of the Paris Metro, bringing the flow of morning commuters to a resounding standstill. And they say humour is the hardest thing to translate.


Sorry Goose, but it's time to buzz a tower

Deanna's post-op check-up went off without a hitch this morning. The doctor's orders are for continued and constant wearing of sunglasses to protect her rapidly healing corneas from the sun's harmful UV rays. But what's with the flight suit and the repeated requests to buzz the tower? That's a negative, Ghost rider, the pattern is full.


At first sight

We have been back from the Eye Clinic for a few hours and Deanna is resting comfortably. All went well, maybe too well - she said my wrinkles stand out more clearly than they did yesterday.


From four eyes to two

Paul Gauguin once said "I shut my eyes in order to see." I've decided to take more drastic measures, and am headed to an eye clinic in the morning for LASEK eye surgery. Korea is at the forefront of the technology, so I'm feeling secure. Lee is talking of stopping off at the local veterinary clinic to buy a plastic post-surgery cone, rendering me unable to scratch my eyeballs in my sleep. He has also mentioned taking photos of me in the funny goggles and posting them for your viewing entertainment, so stay tuned.


Little Arthur wants to play

Never one to complain about the weather (even that horrendously mind-numbing cold of a Saskatchewan February, or the oppressive and soul-destroying heat of a Korean August), I've got to say that enough is enough. Into each life a little rain must fall, I get it, but this is getting silly. July was pegged by the meteorologists as the "rainy season", and we were sprinkled but thrice. Rainy season ends on July 29th they claim, which led to 20-odd soggy days in August. And now, on our fourth consecutive day of downpour, and tenth for the month, the lustre is lost. On the upside, the trees smell really nice.


Then and Now

This photo, from the War Memorial in Itaewon, shows Seoul as it was after being recaptured by the North during the war. In three years, 90% of the buildings in Seoul were destroyed, which led to 40 years of rebuilding on a massive scale.
Seoul 2007


A View to a Hill

Glass-half-empty folks would see a busy freeway and listen to the constant stream of vehicle noise. We prefer to think of the view out our front door as an opportunity to observe metropolitan traffic patterns from an altitude-assisted perch. Plus, there's the river, the breeze, and on clear days, the hills of northern Seoul.


Youth in Asia

With this group in Hongdae, one of Seoul's bustling university areas, the level of disaffectedness was so high that even our camera couldn't focus properly. Once they had acted disinterested long enough for the photo, however, they quickly got back to their chatting and giggling.


The Transformation

From Sunday to Friday, the parking lot of our apartment complex is just that, a parking lot. Saturday it changes into a bustling farmer's market, with fresh vegetables, fruit, and fish for sale mere steps away from our front door. The vendors also sell assorted household goods, because you never know when you might have the urge to buy a plunger, scale, plastic basin, or rice cooker. There's no need for Canadian Tire and Safeway in our neighbourhood.


What we miss

Most of all, it's getting a chance to watch these little gaffers grow. We miss all of you old gaffers too. And wine gums.


Top Ten Signs a Major Korean Holiday is Nigh

4. The Spam gift sets dominate the display aisles of every supermarket.
Now, I'm no mathematician, and I can certainly understand the aesthetic of novelty packaging, but I'm thinking that tins of Spam on a regular day retail for about two bucks per, which means that this is one expensive, albeit pretty, blue box.


Good for a giggle

One grateful girl

A Saturday night in Seoul is full of light and energy. Thanks to Lavina, Valerie, Amber, Angie, Kari, Kit, Brian, Karli, Sean, Mike, and Lee for coming out for a birthday celebration last night. And a big thank you for the phone calls, emails, and Facebook messages from friends and family. You sure know how to make me feel loved!


Many happy returns

Sharing the special day with such luminaries as the painter Grandma Moses, the monarch Queen Elizabeth I, the Prussian economist Hermann Heinrich Gossen, and her friends Matt, Natasha, and Kari, my wonderful wife celebrates the anniversary of her birth. Happy Birthday, my love.


They un-paved paradise

In the previous few decades, this area near City Hall had become a slum, a shantytown built under an expressway. But to begin a massive urban renewal project, the expressway was knocked down and a dessicated stream made into the Cheonggye canal. Although the beautification plan is not without its critics (maddening traffic, the loss of "the real Seoul"), Seoulites flock here by the hundreds of thousands to loll and gag.


Subway Artists

Daily commutes are made more interesting by these local university students, who were spending Saturday night painting on the bare white walls of a pedestrian underpass.


Sleight of hand, twist of fate

Lee's idea of a perfect night out? Mexican food in Hongdae, followed by a trip to the magic bar. Started by Korea's top magician, Alexander's has been in business for ten years, wowing locals and expatriates alike with card effects and sleight of hand. The servers performed as they served our drinks, and for a small cost we sat at a private bar, where we were treated to an hour-long private show. Each customer is given a membership card on which the evening's tricks are recorded, so upon returning the magicians will put on a different show. The capper to the evening was the exciting news for Lee and Sean (a fellow magic-geek) that the magician offers a private magic camp, with one-to-one tutorials at a fraction of the price of magic camp in Calgary.