Myeung-dong is the fancypants shopping district in Seoul. You can find just about any high-end brand on its streets. It's a brightly lit, hyperactive grid of shopping bliss. Go capitalism.



Kowloon took me here for my first dinner in Korea. We ordered pajeon (savoury pancakes with green onions and other things), a pitcher of Cass, and a platter of skewered things to grill at our table.

The skewered things included hot peppers wrapped in bacon, mini wieners wrapped in bacon, tiny rolls-ups of pig skin, cloves of garlic, pork, pork and more pork. At some point we realized that this was more of a food-eat-while-you-drink sort of restaurant, and not quite a bona fide dinner. Oh well, bar snacks for everyone!



This is a view from our rooftop in Seo-gu. I have yet to learn the mountain's name. You can see a church spire with a red neon crucifix. Red neon light seems to be the standard for crucifixes atop spires. I think this rooftop has a lot of potential.



Here is a bridge near our place. Faded, kindergarten colours are de rigueur for architectural elements here in Seo-gu. It is difficult to tell in this picture, but this bridge is Christmas themed.



A view of apartments from the bridge. Our own building (not pictured) tops out at 4 floors.



A partial view of Seo-gu from "our" mountain. The housing is dense, and interspersed with farmland and forests. To the left is an expanse of industrial plots, and if you squint you might see a bridge which takes you towards the airport.

Seo-gu, our new home for a year?

Here's a tip for travelling: if you're only allowed in Korea for 180 days, don't book your return flight for longer than 180 days. I knew this, but I did not do this. Luckily, the nice folk at the travel agency set it right with amazing Korean efficiency while I panicked at the check-in counter.

Yes, I am here now. Jetlagged and blogging at 7AM. Hello Korea! Nice to finally meet you.

I've started visiting The Korea Herald and came across the Pentaport Rock Festival.

This annual festival has featured Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Strokes, The Chemical Brothers, Tricky, Underworld and many other acts I'm not hip enough to know. It is also held right in my future city, Incheon, most likely because it is industrial enough to provide a sizable expanse of concrete as a venue.

Hey, maybe next year they'll have, like, Fatboy Slim...

I know that I must be coming off as a big, weepy softie, which I am, but realize that soon I'll be a hardbitten, ungroomed alcoholic in a foreign country. Hug me while you can. Right now I'm a soft-shell crab, but soon I'll be a deep-fried soft-shell crab.

And the sushi-metaphors keep on a-comin'. Can you handle it?

I'm still in Canada. I've moved out of my downtown apartment and back home with my family for three weeks.  The most difficult thing is not my mother (surprise!), it's the suburbs; there is nowhere to walk.  I also work from home, and consequently have been experiencing an unnerving bout of cabin fever.  A recent excursion to my old neighbourhood in downtown Toronto is a great release.  The old houses and streets lined with trees are familiar and comforting.  I see them with fresh eyes, and I haven't even left the country yet!  I take the subway back to Scarborough, again alienated in the suburban landscape, marooned in my own city.

I fight boredom with anticipation for travel.  My passport, ticket, clothes, books, toothbrush and 200,000KW are all packed up. I try to spend as much time as possible with friends here before I go. It is a good distraction, but can also feel forced.  Like that last set of dynamite rolls at all-you-can-eat-sushi, no one necessarily wants it, but you feel you should have it while you can.  Staying in on a Friday (and blogging) feels like a waste of precious Canada-time, but also like a sensible thing to do before a Big Exotic Adventure. 

Are you ready for me Korea?  I have been thinking about you.  Piecing together what you look like from the photos I've seen.  Imagining your personality from the stories I've heard.  All this hullaballo, displacement, primping and preening, for what is really just a big blind date.

I remember reading something espousing the use of ornate and showy ampersands in titles. Glancing back one post, I must observe, that ours is a bit snazzy indeed.

Korea was floated as an idea. Korea, South Korea, was casually mentioned. Korea was talked about, then discussed, then discussed seriously, then for real, then for real for real.

Korea was decided on. Korea loomed. We were about to leave, soon to depart, almost but not quite gone, and nearly on our way. We were preparing, planning, packing, moving, waiting. A summer's half was swallowed up.

And then it happened, half-assed. Kowloon* took off, and Mantos** stayed behind.

Now Kowloon's seeing the big world, diving into new things. Me? My days are largely confined to a living room in a suburb outside of Toronto, semi-squatting in front of my laptop, playing a physics-based online flash game, and compulsively checking my inbox for some strand of transcribed excitement abroad.

It won't be like this for long. This stint begins with a small step, and then a somewhat larger one.

* Not her real name.
** Not my real name.