Thursday, April 30, 2009


I just read the beginning of the last post on this blog, that said I intended to update it every other day or some nonsense like that. Well, that was in NOVEMBER, and now it's almost May.

But I think that now after living for over 14 months in Asia, I'm allowed to have a few things to say about my experiences. So don't believe my intention now to start regularly updating this blog for the first time since its creation, but believe the posts that follow this one, which I hope to be a massive amount.

The image above is one that I made while walking on this road on the way to see the two largest waterfalls in Vietnam. What interested me most about those three trees is that the dead one in the middle was the one that looked most alive. There's so much moisture in the air in that place that everything can grow on everything. And this is a pattern that presents itself often in areas of similar humid climate -- nature thrives most when it's allowed to eat itself alive, and eat its dead: self-cannibalism. Perhaps with this in mind, similar human inclinations for this self-cannibalistic behavior seem more natural.

So as far as interesting things that have happened in the last week or so, I visited a Korean dentist for the first time ever, badly in need of a cleaning, but apparently they don't call them cleanings here. I chose a place called 이 사랑 치과 or "Ee Sarang Chi Gwa" which literally translates to "Teeth Love Dentist". Elvis, the accountant at my school, said that the place was famous for being very detailed and good and whatnot, so that's what I needed and I wanted to try it. When I walked in the girls at the front desk didn't understand my words. They didn't understand "cleaning" and they didn't understand "scraping", but when I made a gesture they said "scaling" in unison. I said sure let's do it. So they whisked me into the room , sat me down and within seconds the dentist came in apparently not planning on even saying hello to me. So out of sheer awkwardness I said hello to him, and he just nodded and asked me in Korean when i had my last scaling. Immediately after my answer he instructed the teeth love nurses to secure a green fabric medical mask over my face, with only my mouth and nose exposed. I could only see green. I didn't really have that much time to be confused and terrified that maybe a scaling was nowhere near the simple cleaning procedure that I wanted, but instead, some strange and cruel form of Korean mouth and teeth torture they offer only to strange foreigners who randomly walk in, and then walk out with mouths full of blood.

There was a lot of pain. He used some electric drill type device that I never got to see because of the mask, along with fire-fighter hose caliber water pressure to blast through my teeth and gums, leaving no area unpunished. The only consolation was that it was over within 10 or 15 minutes, and the dude didn't pull any punches, didn't even let up for my sounds of anguish or sudden movements. And it was only afterwards that it dawned on me that the mask was not so much for my benefit, but only so that the nurses wouldn't be distracted by my expressions of pure agony while they worked.

I had to ask if I had any cavities because he wasn't going to say anything before i left after i dished out 60 thousand won, and I went out the door realizing that I still had a mouth full of blood and not even a goddamn free tooth brush. Bloody savages at that place. I felt like I'd been punched multiple times in the face and kicked out the door. Why does "love" have anything to do with the name? And after I bought a bottle of water and took a sip, I realized there was no way I could drink this water. I still had a mouth full of blood and this was blood water. But I was in public, in downtown Taebaek, and the only foreigner walking around. But I was just going to spit anyways, no matter the spectacle, and then I saw one of my students walking into a flower shop with her father. Man, I knew I couldn't have this 3rd grade girl watch the only foreign English teacher she's ever had spit a mouthful of blood out onto a public street, it just would probably never leave her mind, throughout adulthood. So I had to walk with my blood water still in my mouth until I found a public bathroom at Hwangi Pond. And when I looked in the mirror after rinsing my damaged mouth out, I saw that nearly every area of my gums between my teeth had scabs.

Then while I was drying my hands, this crazy drunk old man shouted something at me, and for absolutely no reason, clenched his fist and gestured suddenly and aggresively like he was about to hit me. Well, I thought that would be the only thing I needed at that point was to get punched in the face for real, after feeling like I already had from the dental barbarians. Luckily he just back handed my bottle of water across the restroom and this younger korean dude helped push him out the door and gave me the gesture of drinking and said "sul" to me, which means alcohol. But I already knew the guy was drunk.

Okay, I have to leave school because they're going to lock it up, so I'll write on more things in a little while later.

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