Risk Taking in Life – A random Note

Don’t be lame. Please.

Take the risk that you think might not be a good idea. That guy/girl you met at the bar? Go on a date with them – what the Hell. Stay out past your bed time on a school night. Paint your nails blue. Run in the rain. Keep those people that make you laugh in your life.

You live overseas? Well that’s cool. While traveling, why not stay somewhere unconventional – say a treehouse or on the beach. How about trying to meet people that don’t have your same culture and ideals. Interesting? How about traveling to an undeveloped country? Live on the wild side – take the dirt road to work. Hell why don’t you walk it.

Life has all sorts of interesting twists and turns, especially for those of you who can afford to tune into this blog every once in a while. Please! Don’t waste it! I don’t care who you are, what age or what point in life you are in – don’t waste life being conservative, practical and safe (well too safe). By far the worst thing a person can do is waste an opportunity. And let’s face it, Life is the biggest opportunity yet.

Two hands Please

A little known cultural fact (for those who have not been to Korea) – it is polite to always use two hands when handing or receiving anything from a credit card to a drink.

Why you may ask?It is funny how customs translate cultures.

The traditional garment worn, 한복 or Hanbok, had long sleeves that would dip into the table’s food if one did not hold their sleeve.


So naturally, it was polite to hold your sleeve so it did not drop into the contents of the table.

Even as the robes disappeared and South Korea has become one of the most modern countries in the world, Koreans still use two hands to pass items at the table or receive a glass of beer.

So do yourself a favor next time you travel to the far east and use two hands.

No Americans Served Here


Last night was a typical Gunsan night – some hooch hoping full with Cheers, Metro and TLC – local ‘western’ catered bars. Which means that nearly everyone in the bar is military, not Korean.

However, next to TLC is a wine bar that is significantly more classy. Well we walked into this classy place and were told ‘No American’. What!? Seriously?! All I could do was make a sad face and walk out. I have never been kicked out of a bar for being American! I love wine! Plus the name of the place was written in English! Really? You aren’t going to let me have a glass of wine here, but you are going to write your menu in English!

Needless to say I was a little baffled. Clearly some rowdy bar goers from next door had caused a scene at TLC and were now banned from the place. Sure we are loud but really?! We are at least fun!

A sweep

No I am not talking about sports or a broom. This is very Kunsan specific.

Kunsan is known as the last ‘real’ fighter base. ‘The wild wild west of the Air Force,’ to quote my old boss. With that comes lots of habitual drinking, working 12+ hours a day, curfew and the concept of a sweep.

A sweep is for any ‘named’ person, pilot or friend, that is leaving Korea. Sweeps, as with most traditions, have a varying set of events. A schedule, if you will:

Event 1: Everyone rally at the squadron bar

Event 2: Tell embarrassing stories about the person that is leaving. Note – 1. you must put your hand in a bowl of ice water to ensure that you don’t talk for too long (fighter pilots like to talk, especially in front of a crowd) Note – 2. Women are excused from this rule, as from most rules w/ fighter squadrons, like paying fees to the bar. The youngest pilot instead puts his hand in for her

Event 3: We roll to A-town. Note – A-town deserves a post of its own so I will spare the details of this Korean area. Just know it means “America town” (now recently renamed to ‘international village’ to be PC…however noone buys it and still calls it A-town)

Take me to A-town

Event 4: Eat bulgogi, drink Hite beer, say individual goodbyes, have a wrestling match in the middle of the bar and crowd surf

Even the squadron mascot drinks Hite

Event 5: Have punk breakfast – at 2am.

Event 6: Keep drinking until you are forced to sleep

Sunday = sunday, funday. Mimosa’s at the squadron bar to talk about the festivities of the night before and recover before the 12 hour work week starts up again.

Yes, sweeps. A Kunsan tradition and just one of the few memorable events of being stationed at the Kun.

You wouldn’t expect this in Korea

South Korea itself is an extremely honest, friendly and polite country. Save for some areas of Seoul, there is no need for bouncers outside clubs, a present police force or single living. Taxi drivers are honest about their fare and tipping is considered rude. It is with this backdrop of a fairly safe, conservative nation that shuns divorce, gays and bright clothing, that something wondrously unique takes place yearly off the shores of Daecheon Beach: the Boryeong Mud Festival.

Squashed into a bus with standing room only, young Korean locals, military folk and English teachers travel to the beaches of Daecheon to see what the fuss about mud is all about. Travelers soon learn that not only are there health benefits involved, but pure carnival antics.

Conducted primarily for the purpose of marketing the health benefits of the local mud, the festival offers everything from mud massages to mud wrestling. Set up in tents along the shoreline, massage tables and mud products over a quick relief from the American youth holding bottles of Soju (liquor tasting similar to rubbing alcohol). Next to these items line tents full of five main options: fried corndogs, fried fish, Hite beer (the local favorite), Makgeolli (a yoghurty, fermented rice wine) or Soju. Enclosed around this crowd of tents and muddy people are a series blown-up arenas that can only be described as a mudpark.

Participants have the opportunity to get splashed with a bucket of mud in the ‘jail’ enclosure, slip n’ slide down an inflatable shoot, and race their friends through a course designed to make you take a face plant. Shoes are left at the entrance with little thought and friends are easily made through mud bucket throwing or mud hugs.  To clean off this life-giving mud, the beach is an option, but so is the 30 meter pool full of sprinklers and other muddy customers.

As this was my first weekend in the country…there was no way I was going to miss out on all the fun.

If you are also intrigued about mud, here is the official site: http://www.mudfestival.or.kr/english/festival/festival1.php

Let me start at the Beginning

If you catch the about section, you know that my purpose is to simply share the life stories that make you smile, cry or simply think. It is with this backdrop that I share the perspective of my current conditions.

I am currently in Asia; South Korea specifically. I have one year in this interesting country and much of that will be tainted by my job. If you are a random follower, (one that has stumbled upon this by interest rather than by default of association) you should know that I am in the military – the Air Force to be exact. This should strike you as quite strange when reviewing my posts as you will see stories that encompass all. I envision this to be a collection of stories from my short past, while also including new ones as they follow.

It is also interesting, that I am both a traveler and an LT – but that I struggle to retain the first description rather than the second. Every bit of travel that I share has been an escape from reality. Yet, here in Korea, my reality is mixed with the escape. This provides an interesting struggle that is extremely difficult. How is it that your dream is mixed with the reality of life?

It is with this question that I leave you and encourage you to add posts, comments and follow as I share the interesting ups and downs that make life just that. Life.