Is that jingle bells I hear?
Is that jingle bells I hear?

Is that jingle bells I hear?

No you twit, it’s just the phone…Rudolf has arrived! And is waiting at the port for collection, along with a rather hefty price tag.

Huseong takes me to the port, helps me first find crowbars, then unpack the bike from its crate and then demolish the crate, which an irate Korean man keeps shouting in my face about. I assume that he assumes that I will not be taking the remnants of pallet with me and that I will leave it in a pile next to his bored and angry chained-up dog, if my assumption is correct, his certainly is.

Pouring with sweat I pump up the tires with my hand pump so that I resemble Rudolfs nose, only sweatier. The man continues to shout in my face until I ask Huseong “How much is it going to cost for him to shut up?”. I consider that perhaps I’ve been in Africa too long, but £5.00 later, the man is quiet.

The ignition slot has been meddled with and the key takes some persuasion to fit in, the battery is flat, so I kick the engine over. Nothing. I continue to kick. And there continues to be nothing. I push the bike through the liquid atmosphere of humidity and try to jump start it, there’s maybe a glimmer. Huseong looks on nervously. I push again, and again and again.

Then, Huseong shouts in excitement “I saw the light!”. Signs of life. I give a big smile and take a deeper breath to try again.

The excitement was short lived, the engine would run but there was clearly somethign afoot and though I try with all my will, I dejectedly have to push it over to the side of the road, in the dark night in Seoul, just about with my life intact. Huseong is unbeleivable: organises a garage to come out, pick up the bike and take it to my house in Munsan, for a fee of such remarkable cheapness that I wonder if something has been lost in translation, like a zero, or the word “dollar”.

It turns out after all is finalised that the bike is not bound for my apartment, or even Munsan, but a town “7-10km” away.

We pick the bike up a couple of days later and I find a way to ride it that seems to keep it moving, just. If I ride flat out for the few seconds that I seem to have power, put the indicator on – which seems to give a momentary turbo boost mode, then de-clutch as the engine dies, let it die, then drop to first gear, re-ingage the clutch and jump start it on the move, and repeat! This only fails on hills where despite usage of the turbo button, I can’t keep the momentum up and have to push.

The problem I discover is the stator, burnt out. I spend a long time trying to find a new one or find someone to fix it but the closest I get is a retard who tells me it must be the spark plug, the injector or the oil and not the burnt-out stator in my hand. So I manage to find the necessary wire – obtained for free including a free coffee – and start wrapping the 20m of it onto 18 small spools. After several days and with a few severed fingers it is finally finished! I thank an imaginary character some people call God, though on this occassion I chose to call him something begininng with ‘F’.

The stator is replaced and after initial doubts it is tested to be working! The bike is then brought into the apartment, ready for stage two of repairs. Over the coming weeks I fit a new head gasket, clean out the oil pump, fit new fork seals, strip and clean the rear end, new rear-view mirror, new headlight switch and all the other normal maintenance stuff, it is most fun! I found a few other things in need of attention and I eventually, after much searching, found the Yamaha dealer in Seoul. So now I wait for pricey parts from Japan, they have been most helpful. In meeting the staff at the shop, they tell me of their interest in my trip and want to introduce me to the Korean magazines and newspapers!

I meet again with friends in Gimpo for a night out, maybe thirty people, though I am sick and proceeding this night; sleep almost non-stop for 24 hours, getting up only to for bouts of sickness!

Huseong has enrolled in an open-class competition, where most anyone can show up and watch you teach. I have no choice in the matter but to participate. You are judged and awarded points, useful for Huseong if he wants to be principle. He can earn a possible 0.3 points for first place. He needs 16 to even be eligble to become a principle.

All other lessons are essentially ignored whilst preparation goes on for this open class and every spare minute is given to writing the plan. That said Huseong seems to listen to all of my thoughts and ideas and I am surprised by how much input I have in the end result. The lesson, in front of a video camera and two judges goes pretty well, and though I feel a bit stifled by the camera I am pleased that I remember the lesson plan well and am able to prompt and help a nervous Huseong along.
The pressure is even more intense for a staff game of volleyball, my team loses, thanks mainly to me and my nerves. A game of badminton goes a bit better.

School is going quite well. Though I could not be a teacher; as a career. Our open class proves that for a good lesson one needs to spend more time than is available to create an interesting and fun lesson plan and I am not sure I can live with teaching mediocre lessons – which is all that is possible, unless that is, you have no life or interests outside of school!

Already I have been asked to stay longer than one year by some of the parents – who I teach – and I have really grown to love some of the children. Some children just annoy and ruin your day and confidence, but having a child give you a biscuit, giving you a hug, holding your hand, hearing the mremember a word or sentance you have taught or having some enjoy a class despite not wanting to be there at first really are quite special things and I know when I leave I will miss the children. But clearly, I am already thinking of leaving.

I meet again with Bryan and Katy, along with two others Jen and Dave, for a trip to Everland; the worlds second or forth largest theme park. It’s not that big, but it is a great day out, when we eventually arrive, Bryan having gotten lost again; “I’m a total schmuck, what can I say?!” he concedes in his rather glorious New York accent. We have another fantasic day together riding rides, seeing ginormous grizzly bears and lions in the safari section, annoying the quiet Koreans and looking for Bryan’s wallet which he loses, not before breaking his camera.

I leave them in Seoul only to miss the last train out to Munsan. A mammouth storm breaks and I get soaked and deafened with no money and with no ATM’s open. I use the last of the credit on my bus-card to ride somewhere, alighting still in the storm and still with no clue of my whereabouts. I try and try reading bus maps and concede failure and find a rather expensive taxi home via an open ATM. Rolling into Munsan behind a bus I am sure I saw earlier.

Good times :o)

Special thanks to and to Katy and Bryan for putting up with a boring Welsh guy.