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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Poetry with Dried Fish

SOUTH KOREA | Saturday, 14 November 2015 | Views [556]

Poetry, fish markets, and open sewers would be the story of my day. None of them go together but the last two sure smell. As I left Carlsen's flat with he and a Dane named David, I had difficulty deciding what I wanted to do today. David hitchhiked from Seoul yesterday. Upon hearing David talking about the fish market I thought that's what I'll do! Thanks to Carlsen I have my hands on a transport card. Korea has really impressed me but at the same time it can be a pretty tough place to travel. Koreans on the whole are very pushy and I've had several times where people have cut in front of me in line. Of the 34 countries I've been, Korea is the most difficult place I've been in terms of a language barrier. Despite the plethora of English teachers living here, very few Koreans speak English. Even when using hand gestures it's difficult to get people to get the gist of what you want. Where's there's wifi I can use an English-Korean translator on my phone. Koreans tend to be pushy but there are some very welcome exceptions to the rule. The few English-speaking Koreans I've met have been very helpful. Stepping off the subway at Nampo Station the fish made its presence known straight away. I smelled the fish market before I saw it. On the train I met a lovely couple named James and Bethany. She's in the navy and both work here. Bethany can't visit the DPRK due to being in the military. I have a very strong opinion when it comes to the military. The best way to prevent war is to not go to war in the first place. The other day there was an attack in Paris in which 129 people were killed and it deeply saddens me. Why can't we live in a world where we all get along? At the end of the day it really doesn't matter what God we deify or what colour we are or what uniform we wear. We are one! Before wandering into the main market I checked out the dried fish section. Here I am having a perouse at stuff that both looks and tastes vile.


Just before we entered the fish market I spotted this local woman selling dried fish.

Inside the market, every type of sea creature can be found for sale. Hagfish, eel, octopus, and giant crabs are some of the many things waiting to become somebody's dinner. Wandering through the market is a pleasant albeit smelly experience. There are creatures for sale so disgusting they look like they could live inside you! Bethany acted as my videographer as I talked a bit about the market and some of the many creatures. Last year I didn't visit the fish market in Tokyo so today was a great opportunity! The giant crabs are my favourite. I wouldn't want to stick my finger in there! 

Tonight I'd take my skills and my camera from the fish to the mic. Tim's friend Josh invited me to a poetry reading tonight. It may seem odd that I'm reciting poetry in Korea but it's a gathering of English teachers from various places. Sitting outside before the reading I indulged in some soju. It's a strong drink similar to sake. Soju comes in various flavours including peach, orange, berry, and other varieties. Enjoying the tipple was difficult as I got a powerful whiff of the open sewers that are ubiquitous in Korea. It was like a volcano ready to go off! With a t-shirt tied round my nose I got my butt to the poetry reading and took the mic with much enthusiasm. Sharing my story I entertained the crowd with 44 Lines About Kiwi. Phil, the host enjoyed my act so much he passed round a cup so that people could make a contribution if they wish toward my journey. In all I received more than 40,000 won (about $40)! After wine and a few glasses of soju I got on the metro with the plan of sleeping at the library tonight at Inje University on Carlsen's recommendation. In an unbelievable coincidence I ran into a CouchSurfing couple whom I had requested to stay with last week. Josh and Victoria have been together for more than nine years and they said "do you have a place tonight?" I took up their offer and stayed with them. Hungry tonight I indulged in a bowl of instant noodles which Josh helped me make. He and I are going around tomorrow in search of a shirt, tie, and pants for my visit to Kim Il-sung's mausoleum in the next few days. Another great day it was in Korea, and on a day like today it fit well with poetry and a side of dried fish. 

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