Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Sparrow, originally uploaded by San Nakji.

I had this idea to start writing a diary.

Why does one write a diary? I guess it's to talk to your inner self. It's a chance to reflect on what you are thinking in words. It seems to me that women are better at diaries than men. Is that just a sexist observation by me or is it true? I guess, if it is true, it is because women tend to be more in touch with themselves. I think that's a really good thing. If you become detatched from what and who you are then you can lose sight of where you need to be.

I started writing my diary and it really only lasted a few days. I just didn't want to talk to myself very much. I mean, I know what I am thinking anyway... Or do I?

When I was a kid I went on a round the world trip with my mum and sister. My friend gave me a travel diary to record where I went and what I saw. I can quote the contents of the diary word for word.

"Today we arrived in Japan"

After that I must have lost interest...

So I am going to try again. This time I am going to write to someone. I will impart the wealth of my knowledge to my son. Then on the second day I will write complete garbage instead. I hope my son appreciated what I will tell him

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Namdaemun - Seoul

Namdaemun - Seoul, originally uploaded by San Nakji.

Namdaemun - Seoul, originally uploaded by San Nakji.

Namdaemun - Seoul, originally uploaded by San Nakji.

Namdaemun - Seoul, originally uploaded by San Nakji.

I had some devastating news yesterday when I found out that this amazing gate, Namdaemun or Sungnemun, in downtown Seoul had been burned to the ground. This place has a special importance to me and is somewhere I seek out each time I return to Korea. It was 600 years old and was one of the few monuments in Seoul to survive Japanese occupation. It turns out that some freak deliberately lit the fire as he was embroiled in a land dispute. Not sure why that gives him the right to destroy a national treasure? Anyway, the news has me very sad...

These ancient monuments are our connection with the past. We should cherish them and protect them. When America was bombing Japan during WWII, academics from across the world demanded that Kyoto and Nara be spared. Thankfully the US Military listened and many amazing buildings were spared.

Without these connections to the past, our cities, our nations, would be colourless and dull. This is why Egypt is such a huge tourist draw. People want to feel apart of the past. To be with history. It is truly one of the joys of life.

Back in 2001, the Taliban of Afghanistan decided with their less than sterling intelligence that they would destroy the Bamyan Buddhas. These huge statues of Buddha carved into cliff walls had stood unmolested for 1500 years. It took only a month for them to be destroyed. This was the last straw for me. To me, this was a crime against humanity. This UNESCO listed treasure was something owned by us all. Yet a small bunch of people decided that they could go ahead and destroy this treasure.

When the US supported the Northern Alliance later on that year in the war against the Taliban I was fully behind this. The total lack of respect the Taliban had shown the people of Bamyan, and the people of the world was too much. I continue to support what is going on in Afghanistan.

It's kind of sad that rather than the outrage of human rights abuses, it was the destruction of ancient structures got me really mad. The way I see it, our lives are but a moment, when we are gone this is what we leave. We need these things to prove our humanity.

RIP Namdaemun

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sky Tower

Sky Tower, originally uploaded by San Nakji.

I'm always on the lookout to do something heroic.

As I walk down the street I look around imagining people in trouble who need my help. Perhaps the passing woman will have her handbag snatched and I will chase the perp (that's what we call them in the biz) down and kick his arse. Maybe that guy walking down that alley will be set upon by thugs and I will rush in and beat them down. Of course, none of that happens. Never does.

On Friday as I got off the bus, I saw a group of 'youths' hanging out at the bus stop who looked like they were up to no good. I started walking slowly looking over my shoulder to see what they would do. They didn't do a damn thing. I was dying to rush over and save someone from them. But I didn't get the chance.

A couple of brushes of actual heroism spring to mind. Both of them took place in Korea.

The first one was one night when I was walking my girlfriend home one night. As we walked through a district filled with bars and restaurants, I heard a scream. I looked towards the scream and saw a guy standing over a woman hitting her with an umbrella. People were standing around watching, but no one was doing anything. I ran over and yelled at him to stop. He swore at me and swung the umbrella at me. Being as drunk as he was, his swing was pathetic. Suddenly the girl sprang up and grabbed her boyfriend and told him to stop. A friend of his who had been watching came over and told me that I should leave. The girl didn't seem to be that happy that I had helped her and I left feeling that my intervening had been a waste of time.

The second time I was on a bus heading home for the afternoon. There was a lot of traffic as it was rush hour. The bus driver was trying to pull into a bus stop, but there was a car blocking it. The driver opened his door and yelled for the guy to move away. Quick as a flash the guy lept out of his car with a tire iron and climbed onto the bus. He started threatening the bus driver with it. He hurled abuse at him and it looked like something bad was going to go down. The bus driver was being all gung ho and yelling at him to go on and hit him. I looked around at the other people on the bus and everyone was trying to look the other way. I couldn't quite believe it. I lept up from my seat and ran over to the guy. I yelled as loud as I could for him to get of the damn bus! He looked at me for a second and then said 'ok' and got off... I couldn't quite believe what I had just done. He could have easily have clobbered me with that thing, but I think I caught him off guard. I went back to my seat and the bus moved off. I don't know what I was expecting from the driver, but when I got off the bus he didn't say anything and I felt quite hollow. Like my little piece of heroism had been for nothing. No appreciation.

I see in the movies that Spiderman has the same problem. No appreciation for the things he does to save the world.

What's my point? Heroism isn't all it's cracked up to be I guess...

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Tapapakanga Regional Park

Tapapakanga Regional Park, originally uploaded by San Nakji.

You act as though

You are a blind man who's crying

Crying `bout all the virgins that are dying

In your habitual dreams

You know, seems you need more sleep

But like a parrot in a flaming tree

I know, it's pretty hard to see

I'm beginning to wonder if it's time for a change

But still you try like a fat boy

Dancing Gershwin's blues

But you'd rather sit at home and watch the news

And I'm beginning to wonder if it's time for a change

I'm beginning to wonder if it's time for a change

Friday, February 01, 2008

Tawharanui Regional Park

Tawharanui Regional Park, originally uploaded by San Nakji.

If it's friday, it's time for another blog post.

I was watching some CI (Crime and Investigation Channel) last night and there was a show about cops in Britain dealing with drunk people. It was really scary to watch people out of control and it made me think a lot about things.

When I was younger I didn't really think about things like this. I didn't worry about being stabbed in the street or getting into a fight in a bar. I just didn't think it would happen. And probably for most people it doesn't.

Obviously NZ isn't like the UK when it comes to violence and drinking. (Why obviously? I don't know...) But we certainly have a really bad drinking culture. I don't know what it's like out there now. I have never really been into drinking at a bar, more into being with friends at home. I guess the idea of being with a bunch of strangers paying too much for a drink is just not what it's about.

But now I have a kid, I have started to think about things like this. One day things like this could happen to my son. He could get attacked in the street. He could be involved in a car crash. I never think these things could happen to me, but I think they could happen to him. How strange. I seem to be more aware of these things. I am not sure if this means that our society (meaning the world in general) is becoming worse; or if it's just that I have more to worry about.

I lean towards the idea that society, specifically developed nations, is becoming more unsafe. I think there seems to be a culture of disrespect to others growing. People don't seem to worry about others so much anymore. I wonder why that is?

As I write this, I realise that this may not make much sense. This is going to be a problem with my new blogging style. It may take some time to get into the swing of things.

Just remember to look at the purty pictures.

Tawharanui Regional Park

Tawharanui Regional Park, originally uploaded by San Nakji.