in Life

Dentists in South Korea

According to Wikipedia, a dental cavity “is a disease wherein bacterial processes damage hard tooth structure”.  Just call it what it is, a pain in the ass, and I was stuck with one — and the one place besides jail I really wanted to avoid visiting in Korea was the Dentist. In retrospect, four cups a day of vending-machine caffeine was probably a bad idea. So rather than continue chewing with just the right side of my mouth, I walked into the silent office above a PC lounge with no waiting room. “Korean speak”? the receptionist asked as she handed me some paperwork. Here we go again. Whatever the form was, it was in Korean, so I just wrote my name on the first line. She got the hint, and fetched the doctor, who thankfully spoke English.

“I have a cavity. Please help”.

“Do you have public insurance?” he asked.

“Probably not, but I have money”.

“Follow me,” he waved.

Not two minutes later, I was in the dreadful chair while the doctor charged up a needle of Novocain, and the nurse decided what drill bit to use. Seems like it should have been the other way around. The light went on as the chair leaned back, and it was all over in 15 minutes. Then came the fun part, paying. “Ee ship man wan,” the receptionist said. With both hands, I held out a pile of cash. Please don’t screw me over… Please don’t screw me over… The doctor waved with his hands and shook his head with displeasure.

“You are an English Teacher?”

“Yep, at <insert school name here>”.

“My son is <insert Korean name here>, he goes to that school”.

“Really? That is one of my students. What a small world”.

“Just give me 10,000 Won,” he said smiling.

No appointments, no paperwork, no waiting room, and quality service at an 80% discount. What sort of operation are these dentists running over here?

Relieved that the dentist did not give me (or my wallet) a root canal, we went out with a Korean friend to a “traditional restaurant”.

As morning light arrived in 1958, my eyes automatically turned to the top of Mudeung-san. It gave me the weather report for the day. Aloft in my underpowered aircraft, the top of Mudeung-san told me that I was nearly home, my makeshift, abandoned stucco cottage left by the Japanese Imperial Army. Looking for the sole grass airstrip, I knew that the winds of Mt. Mudeung-san cast confusing streams of air current. Hence, I had to get low enough to see flag directions. Over the tents of the Republic of Korea, 1st Corp army my L-19 plane allowed me to escape the ardurous gravel road trip from Taejon by Jeep. That small detachment of 26 Americans surrounded by 4,000 Korean troops was home through parts of two winters. More than a half century later, Korea has changed immensely. But, Mudeung-san stands as ever, symbolic in the heart of an old warrior.

— Vernon J. Hendrix, M. D.. Mableton, Georgia. United States.

Taking it way back

Travel More.

When you’re on a bus like this, the tendency is to forget where you are. All of the ambient non-sense, and unnecessary dialogue, will scramble your brain. Next time, get your own car first. Then roll down your window all the way before lighting a cigarette.

Blogapathy

You’ve heard it before. Studies have been released which conclude that people don’t actually read online… They scan. Things online should be interesting to read in order to capture one’s attention quickly. So what the fuck are you doing here then? There’s definitely some funny shit buried in the archives, I think, but given the 71% bounce rate, it seems that most of you visitors are just looking for a map. Get a fucking smart phone. Be like everyone else and look down while you masturbate with the technicolor warming lube. Seriously though, thanks to all the 7,139 unique visitors. There have been some amazing comments from Teachers, travelers, Korean War vets, Kick ass Burlingtonians, and fellow K-Bloggers. It’s been totally organic, and I love it!

Thank. you. so. much.

Reflections

Been out of commission for a little while here now doing a lot more consulting, and a lot less Korea. Too often does work get in the way of anything we’d rather be spending time with. Just to recap for anyone looking at this blog for the first time, Screw War Let’s Teach has been home from the Land of Morning Calm since August 28th, 2010. Reactions one year later? Still one of the greatest things we’ve ever done. Korea was great. And the whole teaching English thing? You’ll just to read more to find out.

What will you do for work when you return home from Korea? Oh, you don’t have a job yet? Yeah…. you’ll be back. No, seriously; everyone who says that ends up coming back. This is my third year, and I can’t imagine going back right now.

What’s interesting now is hearing what fellow ESL teachers have gone and done since fulfilling their teaching commitments. Some are still abroad– a few even at the same school– and others have returned home to the doom and gloom of US economic news. For us here in the Northeast Kingdom, more has changed in the last year than perhaps even during our stay in the R.O.K. For the better. For sure. But looking forward to an epic return to those glorious orange tents.