November 29, 2012

Conversations with K-girls: Not on the Menu

The conversation with a Korean beauty began normally enough with the questions of where I come from and why do I look the way I do. Things looked promising when she reached for the menu from the bar counter. I thought she was looking for a drink to order, but several minutes passed by uneventfully. I asked what she was looking for, and she replied that she was just reading the menu.

The minute hand on the clock moved several more times. I was unsure of what was happening. Was she pretending to read the menu to avoid further interaction? Or was she just an excruciatingly slow reader since English was not her first language? The answer was made crystal clear when she put down the menu and walked away without even a goodbye.


"Rejection doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough; it means the other person failed to notice what you have to offer." - Mark Amend

November 26, 2012

Sailing to Byzantium

On our first full day in Istanbul a tout sold us a ticket to a Bosphorus cruise, guiding us to the vessel and telling us that it would leave within a few minutes. Over an hour and a half later we were on our way, sailing through the straight that divides one city and unites two continents. On one end of the Bosphorus is the Black Sea, and on the other is the Sea of Marmara. On one side is Europe, and on the other is Asia.

As the only waterway connecting the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, the straight has always played a strategic role in the region. The Byzantine and Ottoman Empires came and went, temporarily centring themselves here while ruling over significant portions of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Byzantium gave way to Constantinople and then to Istanbul. Through it all the Bosphorus retained its importance, its blue waters beautifying the city materially and spiritually.

As we sailed along the Bosphorus, loud Turkish pop music blared from the ship's speakers. It was momentarily turned off as the muezzins call for prayers echoed through the straight from the many mosques dotting both sides of the Bosphorus. We sailed under a bridge connecting Asia to Europe and vice versa, constructed fifty years after the founding of the Republic of Turkey yet dreamed of since antiquity. Along the banks, groups of fat old men enjoyed a dip in the waters.

Layer upon layer of history and happenstance was visible in the high density neighbourhoods we sailed past. As we drifted further from the centre of Istanbul, we saw many palatial residences adorning the water way. Some residences were restored and opened to tourists. Others had been converted into elaborate wedding halls or luxurious hideaways for the rich and famous.


And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.
~ William Butler Yeats

November 23, 2012

Turkish Delights

I had wanted to visit Turkey for a long time, its transcontinental allure appealing to my East-meets-West lifestyle. I landed in Istanbul on a late August night, taking a ten day break from my work in Seoul to make my Turkish dream come true. My parents flew in from Vancouver, and we enjoyed some family time together. The hotel I had reserved in Istanbul was overbooked, so without having set a foot in its lobby we were shuffled onto a black van and dropped off at another pension. 

The next day we enjoyed the life and beauty of Istanbul, before heading off for a few days to see some of the natural and historic wonders of the land - Ephesus, Pamukkale, and Cappadocia. None of them disappointed. We returned to a flag-covered Istanbul on the Turkish independence day Zafer Bayrami and capped off the trip here several days later. We traveled between towns mostly via overnight buses. The in-bus service was exceptional, with regular snacks and refreshments brought to passengers by the attendant.

As far as negative aspects are concerned, the travel infrastructure was sound but far from spectacular. Signage was poor and maps were hard to come by. The only people happily giving directions were shopkeepers or touts. The English level was surprisingly poor, although not at the cringe worthy levels of China and South Korea. The food, at least in the tourist areas, was nothing special. The tea was lovely though.

Traveling around was not too cheap, as the cost of goods and services leaned more towards the European side of the ledger than to the Asian side. Among the womenfolk there were a few stunners, but Turkey does not boast the across the board talent level of South Korean girls nor the Miss Worlds and Miss Universes found in the upper end of the Indian spectrum. People who have just met me often assume I am a Turkish man, so it is safe to say they are rather good looking. 


"I don't like Turkish type man. They are too agressive with Asian face women." - Taiwanese girl I met in China

November 20, 2012

You Don't Know Girls Still

Some people turn to their friends and family when they need help. Many search the Internet for answers. A few write letters to newspaper columnists. Others approach subject matter experts directly.  In my case this would mean Korean men. I explained my unfortunate situation to them:

"K-girls do not appreciate my jokes. Sarcasm flies over their beautifully sculpted heads. Teasing offends them. Regular conversation bores them. What should I talk to them about?"

The first Korean man I asked provided a weak response, greatly underestimating the brilliant minds to be found within their ravishing frames:

"Talk to them about something simple… like kimchi. Before making a joke, warn them that you are about to tell a joke."

The second Korean man I asked turned the question on its head, revealing his silent strategy for success:

"You don't know about girls still. Just hear what she say and drink a lot. Save your word. Just show your smile and generous emotion. Then she want to lean to you. Girls like to talk everything, so just hear what she say and understand her and hug her and kiss and go to motel. Game end!"


"Challenges are what makes life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful" - J. Marine

November 16, 2012

The Superficial

Korean man: Was it just your opinion?

Me: What was my opinion?

Korean man: That you are best guy in the room.

Me: No, it's a fact... but if you can show me a Korean guy who is my age with 8 years work experience  spread across 4 different countries, who can understand parts of 6 languages, has been to 30 countries, has helped children in India, is technically gifted, a brilliant writer, smart, handsome, funny, responsible, doesn't smoke, doesn't drink much, doesn't visit prostitutes, cooks, doesn't beat girls, and with high earning potential, then you can get back to me.

Korean man: Kekeke*. I already knew that how smart you are, but you always ignore about that style is very important to Korean girls.

Me: They should look at the substance and character of a man.

Korean man: But you are same. At that first meet, you always check girls appearance. That is same.

* The onomatopoeic representation of Korean laughter (ㅋㅋㅋ)