September 25, 2013

Night Fishing in Jeju

After jointly devouring a large hamburger that shared the same dimensions as a medium sized pizza somewhere in the middle of Jeju, my two travel companions and I rushed towards the coastline of Korea's favourite island. We squeezed in a visit to see the perfectly hexagonal basalt formations formed by the cooling of liquid lava at Jungmun Beach, before continuing onwards in our rented car at a breakneck pace to a dock where a boat awaited to take us night fishing.

I was traveling with a Korean woman and an American man. The lady was the only one with a valid driving license so she had rented a car. The American and I could only hope for the best as we burned rubber across Jeju. We arrived at the secluded dock with minutes to spare before the launch took off. Prior to stepping onto the deck of our fishing vessel, we loaded up on some supplies to get us through the night - bait, fishing gloves, and some snacks. Several Korean vacationers also joined us on board.

As the sun set and darkness embraced us we sailed out into the open ocean along with a few other fishing vessels. We dropped anchor after we were an adequate distance out into open water and well spaced apart from the other potential night fishermen and women. The floodlights were turned on, illuminating the vessel and a small region around us. Luckily, no one on our boat felt sea sick so we could stay out longer than the other vessels.

A crew member showed me how to take the shrimp we were using as bait and attach it to the fish hook. It was a bit like threading a needle. On my first attempt I hooked my glove instead of the bait, and battled the fishing rod for a while until the crew member prevented me from becoming the first fisherman to catch himself with his own fishing rod. I soon became adept at the process and in no time was catching mackerel like there was no tomorrow. The fish would be yanked on to the ship, disengaged from the hook, and tossed into a bucket.

Mackerels are known for swimming near the surface and for easily being tricked into taking the bait. Their limited intellect makes them the ideal candidate for novice fishermen such as myself. My Korean friend caught the most fish, with the equally inexperienced American and I lagging far behind. The crew kindly cut and cleaned the fish for dinner. They even brought out a portable stove for us foreigners, as they were worried we would not be able to handle raw fish. I tried both the cooked and uncooked varieties, but preferred the raw one.


The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope. ~ John Buchan

September 22, 2013


Korean lady: I have friends who work as fashion models and they are always talking about their Botox injections.

Me: You have friends who are fashion models?

Korean lady: Don't worry. I will never introduce them to you!

September 13, 2013

Compliments of the Arnab

Korean lady: Why are you smiling?

Me: I am looking good.

Korean lady: Thank you!

After she walked away with a big grin on her face, I discussed the incident with a German guy who was in the vicinity.

Me: I said 'I am looking good' but she only heard 'looking good'.

German guy: Yes, I heard the entire conversation... but I didn't mention anything.

Me: Perhaps I should give more compliments.

German guy: Yes, you should.

September 08, 2013

The Alhambra

Quite possibly the premiere tourist attraction in Spain, the Alhambra is a millennium old citadel perched on the hills of Granada. Dramatically layered in between the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountain range and the city of Granada, it is sometimes hard to distinguish a photo of the Alhambra from a painting.

Built in the 9th century as a fort and later converted into a a royal palace by the Sultan of Granada, the complex was crafted according to Arab-Islamic architectural styles. Beautiful Arabesque decorations are inscribed on the walls of the palace, similar to those found etched on the Taj Mahal and other Mughal masterpieces in India.

The Muslim rulers tried to recreate paradise on Earth, with Moorish poets describing the Alhambra as a "pearl set in emeralds". Forests, gardens, mountains, and streams sublimely coexist with the man made structure. My princely figure blended in seamlessly with the environs. When Christians came to power in the Andalusian region of Spain, the fort was augmented with more European style buildings. These take a back seat to the impressive Islamic stylistic elements that dominate the design of the Alhambra grounds.

Heavily damaged over the centuries by man and nature alike, the Alhambra has been restored in modern times. After an uphill climb through the Alhambra Park at dawn, I entered the main square through the Gate of Judgment. Only a limited number of visitors are allowed in each day, with a specific time printed on the ticket specifying when the royal palace can be entered. The extensive Generalife gardens can be enjoyed at leisure afterwards.


Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you traveled. ~ Mohammed

September 04, 2013

Conversations with K-girls: Home Run

Me: Would you like a coffee courtesy of Arnab?

K-girl: Can I go home instead?

September 02, 2013

Arnabian Nights

A cult classic in karaoke rooms across South Asia, the lyrics for the Arnabisized version of the song 'Arabian Nights' from Disney's Aladdin have thus far been passed down from generation to generation only orally. The lyrics are presented here in written form for the first time:

Oh I come from a land, from a faraway place 
Where the caravan camels roam 
Where they cut off your ear 
If they don't like your face 
It's barbaric, but hey, it's home 

When the wind's from the east 
And the sun's from the west 
And the sand in the glass is right 
Come on down 
Stop on by 
Hop a carpet and fly 
To another Arnabian night 

Arnabian nights 
Like Arnabian days 
More often than not 
Are hotter than hot 
In a lot of good ways