Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year 2009

As you may have noticed, Bond's Blog is going through a revamp to celebrate the New Year and changes in my life (ie: moving from Korea to Canada!) Stay tuned for a new look and feel over the next week.

2008 was an incredible one for me, meeting new people and traveling new places. Here's to 2009 and the new adventures that await. Happy New Year and I hope your 2009 is equally fantastic!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas from a Snowy Vancouver

Hello friends! Merry Christmas to all of you and I hope you have a wonderful day!

I made it home to Vancouver two days ago only to be welcomed by an unusual winter sight - snow. The west doesn't usually get more than a few days of the white stuff a year, so this winter storm is shocking and causing chaos across the city!

Strangely, I feel I brought the snow with me. My final moments in Korea had me in the airport, saying goodbye to friends and to a wonderful country, and as I made my way onto the plane, snow began to fall hard. The flight had already been delayed for two hours, and now we had to wait again as the planes wings were de-iced.

Once away, the flight was very smooth. Even the landing in a sun-drenched Vancouver was smooth. It wasn't until we taxied to the gate that we were delayed again due to the gangway (thing that connects the plane to the gate) was frozen. After an hour and a bit of waiting, we were finally let off the plane.

For me, the delays were no problem, but for passengers connecting to other flights, this turned into a nightmare as flights were missed, delayed or canceled. I hear thousands had to sleep in the airport - I just hope the Torontonian I was sitting beside got home.

And now, I am sitting at Starbucks (no internet at home), staring at the snow seriously coming down. This will mean a smaller Christmas dinner tonight (cousins/aunts/uncles can't make it through the snow) - which is the first time ever I believe. But I am thankful to be home with my family for Christmas, and not stuck in snowed-in travel hell.

Anyway, here I am rambling, when what I really wanted to do in this post was to wish everyone online a MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON!

Be safe in your travels and lets enjoy this rare snow while we have it! Snowman time!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Leaving the Philippines, Leaving Korea

There are PC cafes everywhere in Asia. Korea lives in them, and the Philippines has taken to them with the intensity of an anomalocaris on a trilobite. (For those unsure of the reference, click here.)

So here I am, in a PC room in Cebu, two hours from my flight to Korea and 26 hours from my flight to Canada. Can't write much; it's cheap but there's not enough time - gotta check out of Pacific Pension (great place!) in 10 minutes!

So goodbye Philippines, you were an unexpected child but turned out to be an amazingly surprising and beautiful place. I will come back - for the scuba, to see more whale sharks, for the kindness and happiness of the people, and for the shear tropical island beauty.

And if I don't have time in Seoul while I am there, goodbye Korea - You have been a wonderful companion for the past year. I learned so much from you and had so much fun. I will forever be tied to Asia through you. And I look forward to seeing your influence in Vancouver.


...I'm going home.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Back in Cebu, Leaving Sunday

Geckos, Turtles, Sea Snakes, Parrot Fish, Nemo... I have seen a lot of animals on this trip through the Philippines - but the most amazing has to be the Whale Shark.

Yup, we succeeded in the Seach for the World's Biggest Fish. And they are big. Really big! We saw two - one medium-sized and one huge. I will post a more thorough description of our adventure to Donsol and back, as there seems to be nothing on the net to help travelers coming from Cebu.

But we are now safe and sound in Cebu - which is actually a bit surprising, as we went by sea and there was a typhoon warning (hi, Mom!) In fact, a boat sank the day before, so we were genuenly worried.

Suffice it to say we are still alive! AND we've seen whale sharks!

Two more days in Cebu, and it's back to Seoul, and then back home to Vancouver....

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Whale Sharks: Take Two

Well, I haven't seen a whale shark yet. Arriving back to Cebu from Bohol, Steve and I found that the ferry to Masbate (and on to Donsol) didn't leave until Monday. So we changed our plans and spent the weekend in Moalboal, a beautiful small beach town two-hours south of Cebu, on Cebu Island.

But now the boat leaves today! After postponing the Whale Shark Search, we begin it again! Off to the terminal... and on to the giant fish (and maybe Manta Rays too!)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hi, I'm an Advanced Open Water Scuba Diver!

It has been over a week that I've been in the Philippines, and I'm loving it. A week and a half left here, and then it is home - Vancouver.

One of my goals on this trip was to become certified as a scuba diver. And, one hour ago, I did! I finished my final dive with Philippine Fun Divers (a GREAT scuba shop), and am now certified with not only my open water, but also my advanced open water certification. What that means is that I am trained to dive to 30 meters without a guide, but always with a buddy. More on this when I get home and don't have to pay for each second online!

Other than that, I'm fine and the new adventure begins tomorrow - the Search for the Whale Shark! I will attempt to get up to the small town of Donsol to swim with the mammoth sharks. It will be tough though. Tomorrow brings a 16 hour ferry ride north to Masbate, and then another ferry to Donsol. And there's no guaranty there will be sharks! (But in high season - February - people claim to see 15 in one day!) Wish me luck!

Post soon!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Safe and Sound

Hello from Cebu!

Steve and I arrived in the Philippines safe and sound last night late - 3am. We stayed awake till 5:30am, so we could check into a motel for the day. It is a humid overcast day with 100% chance of perspiration. Need to buy light pants and shirts...

I'll ce-bu later!

Monday, December 01, 2008

The New Plan!

With over 240,000 tourists stranded in Thailand due to the closed airports and the increase in violence between the PAD protesters and the Bangkok police, Steve and I have officially abandoned Thailand as our vacation destination.

The situation's just too dangerous and unpredictable. It sucks, actually.

On the plus side, we used a travel agent (Apple Tours) and they have given us a complete refund, and have helped us decide on where we will go instead...


Today, we bought our $600 return flights Seoul to Cebu, Philippines and travel insurance and are now ready for tomorrow's 10pm flight! Once in Cebu, we will spend a few days acclimatizing to the HUMIDITY and deciding what to do.

So far (after skimming thought the newly purchased Rough Guide), there seems to be plenty to do - a few things I can cross of my Bucket List too! First and foremost is my plan to get my scuba diving open water certificate in Bohol. Comparably priced with Thailand, this is where I will add one more "James Bond skill" to my repertoire! Besides scuba diving, the snorkeling is apparently amazing - warm water, over 7000 islands and 350 species of fish - including (I am so excited) the WHALE SHARK!

Besides the water, Boracay has the expensive tourist island thing down with apparently one of the top 10 beaches in the world. Island hopping, river-cave exploring, San-Miguel drinking, volcano trekking... Sounds great.

So goodbye Thailand massage, Hong Kong, and Angkor Wat (another time)...

... and hello Philippines scuba diving, whale sharks and Jeepnees!

(Be sure to check out Boneyard #26 over at The Tyrannosaur Chronicles!)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thailand Trouble

Korea to Hong Kong - December 2nd
Hong Kong to Bangkok - December 4th ... maybe.

As many of you know, I finish my contract tomorrow - ending a year of teaching English in Seoul (and waking up early for 7am classes!) Vacation time! My plans to return to Canada involve a three-week trip to Hong Kong, Cambodia and Thailand. Then Home for Christmas.

BUT... If you have been following the news, you may have noticed the increasing political unrest in Thailand. Protesters from the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) have been occupying the Thai Government Offices for the past four months, and have now upped their intensity yesterday, storming and closing down Thailand's International and Domestic Airports. Thousands of Thais and tourists are stranded in the capital, with rumors of a military coup occurring tonight.

PAD, composed of royalists, educated middle class, and business people, wants the current government and Prime Minister Somchai to step down, as they say they are too similar and close to the former government that was ousted by military coup in 2006. What will happen next is uncertain. I continue to check cbc, bbc, the ap and Thai News for breaking news. Check back here for updates.

What will I do? Will it all be sorted by December 4th? Steve and I are going to our travel agent tomorrow at the USO (United Service Organization - helps American troops stationed overseas, but also helps all foreigners!) and sort something out. Maybe we will fly direct to Koh Samoi (Thai Island far from the capital) dropping Hong Kong, or fly somewhere else - Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines....

Any suggestions? Isn't life fun?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Vote for my Friends!

My good friends Glendon and Traumador are up for this year's Canadian Blog Awards! Please take a moment and vote for these great sites!

Vote now! (And don't forget to submit your post for the next Boneyard blog-carnival here!)

Boneyard #26: My Favorite Museums

Welcome to my entry to the 26th edition of Boneyard!

Brought to you through The Tyrannosaur Chronicles, this Boneyard focus is on our favourite museums. Having visited natural history museums in North America, Europe and Asia, I have many favourites.

One of my favourite museums in Europe is the Palaontologisches Museum Munchen in Munich, Germany. A wonderful three-leveled museum crammed with loads of mounted skeletons and fascinating fossils, it is famous for having one of the 10 fossils of Archaeopteryx, the first bird!

The Palaontologishes Museum Munich is notoriously difficult to find, as it is hidden down a side road and associated with the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (took me two trips to find it - 2004 and finally in 2007!) Check it out on a map here.

Here is a look inside Munich's Palaeontological Museum:

The main hall. The museum is composed of three floors overlooking a central space. Here is the ground floor. Notice the Gomphotherium in the center.

Allosaurus skull

Triceratops skull

A cast of the AMNH Monoclonius nasicornus (Brown)

The placodont Placodus





Cave Bear


Smilodon (Saber Tooth Cat)


Top view of the Plateosaurus

Pteranodon ingens

Three wicked large ammonites

The Archaeopteryx display case. Notice the two halves of the Munich Specimen (S6), discovered in 1991 and described by Peter Wellnhofer in 1993.

The right side of the Munich Specimen of Archaeopteryx - complete except for the front of it's face.
The left side of the Munich Specimen

A map of the limestone deposits near Solnhofen, Bavaria where Archaeopteryx is found.

A 3D reconstruction of a mounted Archaeopteryx

Archaeopteryx fully reconstructed

A selection of woolly rhino skulls

Looking down through Time

A beautiful Ammonite fountain behind Munich's Palaeontological Museum.

It's a wonderful museum.
Be sure to visit it the next time you are in Munich!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Coming Soon - Boneyard 26 at Traumador's!

Hello everyone! With one week left in Korea, I should be packing - but instead, I'm preparing for the next palaeontological blogging carnival - Boneyard!
Boneyard 26 will be hosted by my friend Traumador at the Tyrannosaur Chronicles on December 2nd. This Boneyard's theme is "My Favorite Museum!"

Click here to see how to participate in this Boneyard - Traumador is hoping for many entries, especially from people who have never entered before!

I am sending in my favorite museum posts right now! Stay tuned...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cold to Hot: Change Coming

Life Update: This weekend was busy with seeing DJ Shadow in Hongdae on Friday, going to my first Korean wedding on Saturday, and meeting Remi from Vancouver on Sunday!

Things are starting to fly by a lot faster. It is officially two weeks from today that I leave Seoul and Korea and move on to the next chapter of my life.

I have finally bought tickets to Hong Kong, Thailand and Cambodia for three weeks before Christmas, so on December 2nd, I say goodbye to Korea and hello to South East Asian travel!

Then, as of December 22nd, I will return home to Vancouver - teaching and looking for an apartment. Fun.

On another more immediate note, it has suddenly and without warning become very cold. The walk to work here in Sinchon was a tough one with the freezing wind and flying ginkgo leaf attacks. Apparently, we may see snow on Thursday!

Thailand beaches sound extra inviting today. I'll keep you posted...

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Quantum of Solace Review

The new James Bond film, Quantum of Solace, was released here in Korea last week - almost two weeks before it's release in North American. I assume this has to do with Asia's rampant movie pirating, and releasing it here first might cut down on this. What that means is that I am able to review the 22 Bond film before people have seen it back home!

Having seen Quantum of Solace, I really enjoyed it. The action is intense and exciting, while the story (which sometimes stumbles in Bond flicks) is quite solid and topical. The film enters new territory with some artistically shot sequences and by delving far into Bond's reaction to the events at the end of Casino Royal. (Highlight for spoilers: The woman Bond loves, Vesper, betrays him and kills herself.)

Of coarse, Casino Royal, the first film in the "reboot" of the Bond film franchise, should be seen first as Quantum is a direct sequel - where Bond does whatever it takes to capture the shadowy Organization responsible for his pain. In traditional Bond style, he globe-hops across Italy, Spain, Bolivia and Haiti. Here he meets up with Camille, a beautiful and feisty Bond Girl with her own plans for revenge.

Daniel Craig is back as 007 and he seems more comfortable in the role. How would I rank him among the past Bonds? I would place him after Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan, then Roger Moore, Dalton and Lazenby. Not to shabby.

There are a few interesting artistic moments in the film which I attribute to the director, Mark Forster. His credits include Monster's Ball (starring Halle Berry, who won an academy award!), Finding Neverland (Johnny Depp) and Stranger than Fiction (Will Farrell and Dustin Hoffman). Not you're usual action films! What Forester brings to his shots is a sense of style. I fully approve.

Besides some unconnected action sequences, Quantum of Solace is a solid and thrilling entry into the James Bond series. Check it out and tell me if you think it's as good as Casino Royal!

5 Things...and my 200th Post

Welcome to my 200th post - a milestone for some, just another day online for others...

I visited Tokyo, Obama was elected president of the US, and I just got back from watching Quantum of Solace (the new James Bond 007 movie - check it out! Review coming soon!) With all this going on, I am going to use my 200th post to answer a "chain-post-meme" that I was tagged by Greg to do.

It's called 5 Things:

5 things I was doing 10 years ago:
1. 1998, eh? Attending Capilano College in North Vancouver. Wasn't sure what I wanted to do, just plugging along on the Science Transfer Program.
2. Was working part-time at Queensdale Market as a bag-boy (soon to graduate to Produce!)
3. Dating my first serious girlfriend (lasted 3 years)
4. Living in my parent's house.
5. Getting very very excited about Star Wars: Episode 1. (Soon to be disappointed.)

5 things on my to do list today:
1. Research shots needed for Thailand (trip in December!)
2. Begin the deconstruction of my house here in Seoul - sell, clean, pack, send...
3. Have a shower and shave.
4. Finish painting the poster for the Delta Patrol film.
5. Finish this 200th post and post it!

5 snacks I love:
1. Snickers - but not those here (from China).
2. Reese Peanut Butter Cups - mmmm....
3. Diget Cookies
4. Peanut-Butter and Jam sandwiches
5. Ramien (noodles)

5 things I would do if I were a millionaire:
1. Buy a house somewhere in Vancouver (getting harder...)
2. Found a kick-ass Palaeontology Museum in Vancouver
3. Travel around America and across Canada by car (a sporty hybrid car!)
4. Through a series of incredible parties in each city around the world I have friends in!
5. Invest, blah blah blah... AND direct and produce films!

5 places I’ve lived:
1. North Vancouver, BC
2. Drumheller, Alberta
3. Birmingham, England
4. Seoul, Korea
5. Edmonton, Alberta

5 jobs I’ve had:
1. Teacher (Elementary and High School, as well as English)
2. Tour Guide
3. Museum Gallery Interpreter and Camp Counselor
4. Movie and TV Extra
5. Grocery Shop bag-boy

5 people I tag:
1. Craig
2. Glendon
3. Traumador
4. Robin
5. Leslie

Friday, November 07, 2008

Seoul's Zombie Walk

Two weeks ago...
... the Dead began to rise from their graves...
... and took a stroll through Seoul.

"It's close to midnight and something evils lurking in the dark,
Under the moonlight you see a sight that almost stops your heart,
You try to scream but terror takes the sound before you make it,
You start to freeze as horror looks you right between the eyes,
You're paralyzed.

Cause this is thriller, thriller night,
And no ones gonna save you from the beast about strike.
You know its thriller, thriller night,
You're fighting for your life inside a killer, thriller tonight.

You hear the door slam and realize there's nowhere left to run,
You feel the cold hand and wonder if you'll ever see the sun,
You close your eyes and hope that this is just imagination,
But all the while you hear the creature creepin up behind,
You're out of time.

Cause this is thriller, thriller night,
There ain't no second chance against the thing with forty eyes.
You know its thriller, thriller night,
You're fighting for your life inside of killer, thriller tonight.

Night creatures call,
And the dead start to walk in their masquerade,
Theres no escapin the jaws of the alien this time
(they're open wide)
This is the end of your life.

They're out to get you, there's demons closing in on every side,
They will possess you unless you change the number on your dial,
Now is the time for you and I to cuddle close together.
All through the night I'll save you from the terror on the screen,
I'll make you see.

That this is thriller, thriller night
cause I can thrill you more than any ghost would dare to try,
Girl, this is thriller, thriller night
So let me hold you tight and share a killer, diller, chiller
Thriller, here tonight.

Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize yawls neighbourhood
And whosoever shall be found
Without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the hounds of hell
And rot inside a corpses shell
The foulest stench is in the air
The funk of forty thousand years
And grizzly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom
And though you fight to stay alive
Your body starts to shiver
For no mere mortal can resist
The evil of the thriller


Micheal Jackson's "Thriller" performed by prison inmates. Increadible...