510 minutes of Justin

Published: October 26th 2010
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Just to state who "Justin" is, is just not stating enough! However, since we don't have the time to write everything about "Justin" I'll just be brief about who he is and why he came to visit us during our 2nd week in Paju City...

Justin met Shauna while studying in Brisbane, Australia during their Master's Degree Program at the Queensland College of Art. Eventually, I bumped into Justin several times while using the "Master's Degree Computer Lab" even though I wasn't in the program but at the time he didn't know this. After some time, Shauna introduced Justin and myself to each other... From this point on Justin enjoyed talking to Shauna but wasn't fond of me (the feeling was semi-mutual). At some point in our distraught adventures in Brisbane, we all became friends...

Then, in October 2005, I decided to pack my things and head for Thailand to go Scuba Diving but because I had to fly through Japan to reach Thailand, I decided to meet up with Shauna. Shauna suggested a side trip to Busan, South Korea, to visit Justin, who had been teaching there since departing Brisbane via his own stint in Thailand.

Over the long haul, we all stayed friends from our various parts of the world. While Shauna and I, were in our 2nd year of living in Calgary, Justin returned to upstate New York to visit family and friends. We tried to arrange a mutual meeting location either in Canada or America but it just didn't pan out.

So, when we began thinking about teaching in South Korea, we began emailing and picking Justin's brains about companies, locations and job descriptions. He continually told us to try and land University jobs but the deadlines we were working with wouldn't allow us the leisure to obtain University jobs.

In due course, we landed our jobs here in Paju, eventually making the trip across the Pacific Ocean. Because Justin works for a cushy University in the city of Yeosu and was meeting a friend in Seoul, he decided we should once again try to meet up. Uncertain of how long he was staying in Seoul, we picked our 2nd weekend in Paju to meet up but with him. However a chronic pain in the arse began acting up again within his lower back and we postponed our reuniting until the weekend after...

After a week of acupuncture, Chinese medicine and lounging around on his friends floor, Justin said "I'm feeling better and would like to make the trip out to see the both of you." We concurred this feeling of visitation rights then on Saturday the 21st of August, after a 45-minute bus ride from Hapjeong Station exit #2... he the man, myth and legend wandered back into our lives to enrich our presence with five-hundred and ten minutes of pure comedy, rhetoric, tales, achievements and ooooh so, much more!

Knowing Justin, should be appearing pretty quickly because he was slightly off on the time gauge of Shauna's super-dupe time sensitiveness, I peeked out the front window spotting the man of the moment in his khaki green camoflage shorts and hawaiian print shirt standing fifteen feet east of the clock tower facing a pair of garbage cans slurping back a water bottle. As he turned on his heels,

I spoke out through the screen on our window "Justin?"
Justin "God? Is that you? Are you talking directly to me?" His facial features broadening...
me "Justin? You are looking very good today!"
Justin "God, you approve of my clothes?"
me "No, but I still admire your clothing style"
Justin - points towards the set of stairs leading up to our apartment... "I'm coming God... I think?"
me "that's correct, those are the stairs you want"

Thirty six and a half seconds later... Justin was at our door shrugging off his shoes, entering our apartment
dropping his bag on the floor and falling effortlessly onto our couch. I was sitting on this very chair typing on my computer and Shauna was finishing up with the dishes. All at once we just started talking about... life... the world below, GEV, the bus ride from Hapjeong station, the trip over, our visas, his work...

We didn't stop the conversation for a hug, we didn't stop talking for a breath or a beverage or the two kiss cheek hello. We all just naturally laughed, smiled and broke out into a three way conversation.

It was like we had seen him yesterday.

Truly... It was about time we spent time together in person...
Our last sighting of Justin had been roughly fifty-eight months ago...
But still it felt like yesterday!

We just hung out in the apartment for forty minutes or so, finishing up lunch, and feeding Justin.
At some point he took his own mini-tour of the apartment congratulating us on our finding of this interesting campus of English teaching. He quizzed our knowledge about the village and how we even found this job in the first place? Eventually, Justin became restless and wanted to go outside as we all did. Grabbing cameras, wallets and purses, we took Justin for a tour of English Village.

The tour went out our door, to the Sports Complex around the soccer fields, pictures were taken, steps were climbed, strange insects were photographed. We left the sports complex walking back through the village along the high-path down past the One Day Program classrooms, past teacher housing, past the Exhibition Center, down around City Hall, out behind it to the dirty pond and Outdoor Theater. We pointed this way and that, towards the fountains, trolley cars and main street. In time we went past the Cafeteria, Safari Building and down to the Concert Hall where we found an in-progress weekend showing of "Who Stole the Egg?". We sat down, watching the show for about twenty minutes until Justin leaned over to me asking, "how involved in this show are you?" Whispering back I stated the obvious that this was merely a pit stop and we could leave whenever we had our fill... Then I leaned towards Shauna telling her it was time to exit the Concert Hall before Justin exploded into a tirade of frustrated outbursts!

Escaping the darkness of the Concert Hall, we headed for the rear gate. "Are we going to Heyri now or do you have some sort of cruel punishment planned for me still?" the sarcasm seeping out of Justin's mouth. "I was thinking the same thing. Cruel punishment! ha ha ha. No Way! We are off to Heyri, I have just the place in mind." Shauna piped in with "your thinking what I am thinking aren't you?" "I have no idea what you are talking about but I'm thinking we are all in need of a sugar rush!" the smile breaking out across my face!

Walking across the road we decided to skip up the road to the round house and take the walking path. Shauna and Justin were intently into a conversation as I lagged behind screwing around with my camera when I spotted a couple of dragonflies perched upon a couple of strange looking flowers on a very small manmade pond in the yard of the round house. I stopped, switching the camera into digital macro mode and began sizing up the dragonflies. Snapping off a couple more pictures then I proceeded down around to the corner to find Justin in the middle of the road petting a cat while Shauna took pictures!

Once together again, I asked where the pussy had come from... everyone began laughing! Around the next corner we staggered down the roadway once Shauna had finished her pussy-photo shoot. Ambling down the road we stayed close talking about the different structures and the few cafe and galleries we have been to. Justin turned facing us talking about the extremely interesting house off to our left with the wrap around 1/4" post facade! "This is incredible! Are all the houses like this?" he asked full of delight. "You'll soon find out," we both began, smiling and laughing at the double stereo voice.

Following the path down through a couple of open space galleries pointing out the art work in the windows, Shauna pulled Justin over to the building on our left showing him the line of thin aspen trees growing inside the cafe! We began pointing out various different architectural feats between the three buildings standing in front of us. One had a door which lead out about three feet into a glass enclosure. Another had rebar jutting out from its simple wood deck bending in various directions becoming a twisted mass of structural beauty. The other building had various edging around the upper sides of the building jutting out a few inches then receding flat against the outer wall. Each building customized in its own absurd qualities, uniquely different from one to the other through various materials being used.

Turning to our left we walked around the tree-house cafe moving down the lane, looking back Shauna pointed out their extremely large patio umbrellas to Justin who agreed they looked extremely comfortable but we both knew this wasn't our destination. Walking further down the lane both Justin and I spotted a rather large, stocky yellow lab attached to a rather large chain on the ground but who had a very friendly smile breaking across his face. As we approached him he jumped up ready to play! Justin began petting him as we noticed other strange features like his enormous fat snout and head, how far apart his eyes were and the beefiness of his chest. He was definitely not just a yellow lab. He was strong for his size but oh so playful and filled with energy. Justin eventually learned just how playful the lab was when he ended up tangled within the dog's large chain scraping his leg. Immediately Justin stepped back stating he was going to look for a water tap to clean himself up, as Justin left the dog, I began petting him as he began to lay down. I started giving him belly rubs and rubbing under his chin. This sparked an unusual new surge of energy and he bounded forward jumping on my side knocking me sideways when he decided this was the "mounting-alpha" move he was aiming for. He then jumped up my back scraping with his paws and began trying to hump me! Grabbing his hind legs, I turned him to his left and came out from under him as Shauna stood laughing at the hilarity in front of her, along with several other passersby. As I moved away from the dog, laughing myself, I said "Fido, you freak, I'm a boy not a girl and I'm not willing to go this far with you, we just met!" I heard laughter coming from behind me as Justin reappeared from the cafe. "How'd your cleanup go?" It was almost as exciting as you being humped by the lab! "Great, where's the bathroom so I can wash dog, off my hands?" He pointed behind him as I disappeared into the cafe.

When I came back out, Fido was laying over near his dog dish. Justin and Shauna had begun to cross over the bridge across the street when Shauna turned around "Am I going the right way?" I nodded in agreement as I pointed out the slinky sculptures to her. In front of us twenty people and their screaming children were running amuck in front of the next building, which houses the reptiles and dinosaur exhibits. Passing by them Justin peaked at the pictures on the side of the building, wishing we had the patience and time to venture indoors to view the reptiles but knowing none of us wanted to deal with other peoples children today!

Twenty-two steps more, I looked to the left noticing a very LARGE chair. Abruptly, I stopped and walked to the left, Justin and Shauna following me. "Aaron, what are you doing? I thought you said it was this direction?" Shauna inquired perplexed by the sudden change in the route. "Don't you see it. It's a Gigantic Chair! I read about it in the Korea travel guide, or maybe it was that website about Heyri I found that one day? I don't know but I do know we can walk either direction around this purple building and reach our destination. Plus I want a picture on that Gigantic chair... don't you?" Reaching the chair, Justin began climbing one chair and I the other. Eventually, the chair was a much larger challenge then a quick couple of steps. These were enormous and a bit of a struggle to get onto but once you were on the sitting platform, they had great views across the open space around us! Shauna took a couple of pictures of both Justin and myself. We then jumped down off the chairs asking Shauna if she wanted her picture. Justin offering insight to her about climbing in a long dress. That was all it took to prompt her into the challenge of climbing the gigantic chair in a dress. Because of all the possibilities of something happening while she climbed the chair, I began snapping pictures of her ascent. Once up on the chair a couple more snaps and then her descent back to the ground. Without tearing the dress, or falling into the mud puddles around she made it safely back to the two of us.

Once again, we began our journey towards our destination. Down the path, around the Purple Gallery, past the stuffed animal gallery, beyond Yo-Yo Cafe heading up a short hill towards the Chocolate Design Gallery. Thankfully, there weren't any people sitting outside enjoying the beautiful desert treats made here. We didn't want to spoil Justin's surprise before we entered the shop. As we filed in the door Justin's face turned to look at Shauna and I, with eyes full of glee and a sense of pleasure already on his face! As his eyes wondered through the delightful menu and perused the display case, he said "we need to get more than one thing, I can already see that. So, what shall it be?" "First we need to get a Chocolate Shaver, then I'd like to try a green tea truffle, what about you Shauna?" "I agree on the Chocolate Shaver, and I'd like to try the coffee truffle, no, espresso, no, mocha truffle and this lemon slice looks really tasty too!" "Okay, so we will have the Chocolate Shaver, a Lemon Slice, a green tea truffle, a mocha truffle and this walnut truffle, too, gum-sum-knee-da (thank you)." Handing over his card Justin paid for the chocolate delights, we were handed a number and walked down the steps to the outdoor seating area. Knowing we wouldn't fit on the short end nearest the shop, I walked to the very end because Justin has a couple of inches on me.

As we secured our end of the long wood table, I began moving my large square-like seat to the proper spacing between table and chair. The chair as well as the table was carved from a very large tree. Every chair was proportional height to the end of the table it was on. Each of our chairs were approximately thirty-six inches tall by fourteen inches wide. But the closer to the shop you were sitting the shorter the chairs became because the shop sat on a hill. Therefore the tables height near the shop is eighteen inches high, barely enough room to sit next too and at the far end the table stood around fifty-six inches tall.

As Justin was admiring the craftsmanship of the table Shauna watched the server bringing out trays of delicious looking deserts to the other customers around us. As always I had my camera in my hand shooting pictures of random things I was curiously seeing. At the moment I had my lens trained on the sun as it was washed out by clouds and sitting directly in position with a leafless tree giving it an ultra-moon like atmosphere. Two pictures into my collection of tree and hidden sun cloud images, the server set our tray down in front of us... Justin grabbed his spoon and was about to stuff it into the side of the ice cream when I stopped his delightful movement stating I need a picture for my ever growing collection of Korean food supplements. Shauna said, "sorry, Justin, I am just use to this now. He does this everywhere we go, taking pictures of all our food." But after a couple of quick pictures of the deserts, spoons in hand, lemon cake resting near us, we began stuffing mouthfuls of ice cream into ourselves. Smiles broke out with the harmony of flavors pushing up onto our tongues. Justin's wordless expressions made us all eager to continue into the other deserts. The chocolate truffles, the lemon cake and the molten lava souffle which turned out to be a muffin like quality bread with a delicious blend of chocolate fondue sauce in the middle! Amazing every bite went down into us. About halfway through the ice cream chocolate thing before us, Justin jumped up exclaiming, "we need more! We cannot leave here unless we have tried something else! I am going to get us something else! This is tremendously exquisite!" And with this he left us sitting at the table scooping up bits of the remaining ice cream treat in front of us. "Guess he really likes it? huh," stating the obvious. Shauna just smiled then said "let's treat Justin to dinner." I nodded in agreement.

Returning a few minutes later, we asked him what he decided upon with closed lips he mumbled something about chocolate, a smile breaking out across his face! We were all excited about the surprise coming when he placed a small chocolate brown box in front of us with a golden ribbon and shinning gold sticker. I took a picture of the bottom then the top. We let Shauna open the box, as she pulled out a small bag of chocolate treats. They looked like chocolate covered raisins or peanuts covered with powdered sugar. Each of us popped a couple into our mouths holding the flavors against our tongues when Shauna exclaimed, "espresso beans! Oh this is just what we all need!" Laughing the next tray arrived with a large chocolate brownie, smothered in chocolate ice cream, with slivered almonds falling around its sides, chocolate syrup drizzled over the top and on its edges with a chocolate bit sticking out of the top. Once again, I grabbed my camera, took a couple of pictures and we began to dig into the deliciousness sitting in front of us. We smothered ourselves in chocolate and conversations. Halfway done with round two, we agreed upon returning to the apartment to get Justin's bag, before heading to dinner, so that on the way back he could catch the bus for his return to Seoul.

Although, none of us wanted to leave the Chocolate Design Gallery, we decided we didn't need more sugar but need something with substance instead. As we wandered through another section of Heyri, back towards our apartment, we thanked Justin for the delicious treats and began discussing the quantum physics and laws of gravity to which the sugar had taken upon our bodies! Laughing some more, we all continued with our conversations about Korea, life and what was next on our plates.

Arriving at the apartment, we grabbed Justin's bag then headed out the front gates bumping into Kurt who was returning from a trip on the cruiser bike. We introduced Justin to Kurt as Justin asked if Kurt had been to the Chocolate Design Gallery before? Kurt instantly understood all our expressions of glee, knowing the chocolate high we were all standing on. We invited Kurt along with us to dinner but he had other plans stating some other time. Leaving Kurt we walked out the main gate, over the hill, across the street down to the lights turning right down the walkway we began our fifteen minute stroll down to were one of the entertainment areas of our town is. When we reached the next set of lights we pointed across the street to the soybean place, stating the obvious but telling Justin there were a few other restaurants in that direction or we could head to our left across the street towards the other restaurants that we know of. We decided to go left in search of food. Walking past each mom and pop place Justin described what each place was known for dog, seafood, soybean, pork belly, Korean BBQ, Bibimbap, so on and so forth. When we reached the bar that Kurt had taken us to, I stated so, and I pointed down the road to the Mandu (dumpling) spot we went to. Justin asked if that is where we wanted to eat? I said, "I'd rather try that little place next to the Soybean restaurant." Shauna thinking about it, asked "which was that again?" Then I pointed it out across a small parking lot receding from the road. Justin smiled. "Let's do it. It says its a noodle place. I'm up for noodles. Shauna?" She nodded in agreement.

As we entered into the restaurant two tables were occupied by people engaged in conversation as well as their food sprawled out across their tables. Taking our seats as the host sat us down with three menus, I glanced over my shoulder seeking the restroom. Justin was in between sentences with Shauna as he interpreted the menu items for her explaining that the cold buckwheat noodle soup mul naengmyeon describing its contents as egg, seaweed, sliced carrot, sliced cucumber and hot pepper past gochujang. Standing as the other two were deep into the menu, I escaped narrowly missing the ajumma bringing a cart full of dishes, and water in our direction. Escaping to the bathroom for a moment to wash up my hands and snap a couple of pictures on the way back to the table of the restaurant and its kitchen.

Rejoining the table, Justin looked up asking me "what are you interested in eating?" "Honestly, I could really use some seafood. I haven't had any fresh fish or seafood in months! And it's starting to effect my behavior!" "Not a problem, they have a seafood pancake and if your hungry after that we can always order more." Then Justin called the ajumma back over to the table, placed our order of "hannah twigim, dool mul naengmyeon, hannah dun dun jue, je say yo," ever the gentleman smiling as he delivered our order of 1-Seafood Pancake, 2-Cold Noodle Soups and a craft of Traditional Korean alcohol. As the ajumma left our table with the order another expat sitting behind us asked if we were from English Village. Just replied that he wasn't from the village but that we were and we had just arrived in South Korea. The expat asked how we liked South Korea and I stated "they have great seafood and a beautiful countryside, what else could you ask for?" Shauna just smiled hoping we could return to our own conversation but being polite added, "we've been to Korea before and taught in Japan. We are interested in the cultural differences and are looking forward to working at the English Village." The expat raised up out of his seat stating the food around here is excellent and we should enjoy as much of Korea as possible. We thanked him and they left the restaurant about the same time as the ajumma returned with our kettle of dun-dun jeo and three glasses. Pouring the light brown liquid into our cups, we smiled, thanked her and said "here's to another adventure in another foreign land. Here's to seeing you in good health. And here's to enjoying our time in Paju. May our travels be well deserved as we meet up with Justin again in the near future." Three happy smiling faces stating cheers in Korean; kombei.

The conversation arose out of each of us as we spoke about our travels getting to South Korea, the journey here, the laughter we achieved once we had the E2-visa, the exasperation of flying over the Pacific for the ninth time as well as our blinding stories about the last three weeks in South Korea. Justin's laughter continuously filled the restaurant, thankfully being the only people in the place we weren't disturbing anyone else from enjoying their cuisine. Ten minutes later the food arrived piping hot and looking delicious the seafood pancake was set down in front of me along with the six side dishes ban chans consisting of kimchi, pickled radish, seaweed gimchi, pickled onions & garlic, soft tofu with soysauce and egg-omelette. She then set down in front of Shauna and Justin two very large stainless steel bowls with a piling of buckwheat noodles. Everyone's face again lit up with joy. Ready for the pleasures of eating. Five minutes into eating, the ajumma was at our table typically Koreans leave you alone to enjoy your meal and rarely come back to the table until you are finished eating or want a refill on your ban chans or beverages. But she politely told Justin we had fifteen minutes to eat up and get the heck out of her restaurant because they closed at nine o'clock! "Wow! Really... we need to eat all this in fifteen minutes or less?" Shauna said the smile leaving her face!

"No problem. We can do this?" I belt out as I stuffed a large chunk of pancake into my mouth Shauna looked over in utter dismay as I chewed several times before swallowing! Justin continued to laugh and slurp noodles between gasps for air. Realizing her dinner had turned into a contest Shauna began slurping noodles at an unfathomable rate while drinking dun-dun-ju at the same time! Without thinking or talking, we began to glance around at one another... smiles breaking out across each of our faces as we poured the last of the dun-dun-ju with three and a half minutes to spare on the clock! Laughing we gathered up our things and approached the counter to pay for our fabulously deliciously dine-&-dash experience!

Paying the tab, we headed out the door for the fifteen minute walk back to the Village so that Justin could catch the bus back into Hapjeong. Along the way we turned a corner and ran smack dab into a four-foot tall light brown Great Dane tied to a six inch tree! The humor in all of us came rushing out of our mouths one after the other as I approached the gentle beast to have a look at him. He was beautiful but with his tiny brain didn't realize he could literally pull this tree out of the ground had he even tried. Obviously he was well taken care of and didn't want to escape. Petting this gentle giant, we named him Bubba and with a shake of his paw, we bound across the street, up the hill and around the corner to the bus stop to await the 2200 bus with Justin.

Twelve minutes later, a bus crested the hill, coming towards us, we waved our arms at him as the bus gained speed, instead of slowing down the engine roared to life, gears sputtered and the bus went whipping past us as if he had just lost his mind, the breaks and the ability to care! Determination streamed across my brow as I vowed the next driver would stop or I was going to chuck my shoes at the side of the bus! Laughing we all stood around chatting in monotones about the beautiful day, the colors of trees, the warmth of our ice cream advenutes and the possibilities to meet up in the future again! As we finished talking about future plans to meet up in Seoul, another 2200 bus crested the hill, this time all three of us bound to our feet, running out into the street, I started stripping my shoes off my feet just as the driver noticed all of us approaching the bus with evil grins on our faces! He slammed on the breaks, the engince coughing to a sudden halt jerking every passenger forward opening his doors just saluted us, said a wild hello to the driver and the doors closed behind him all in one motion... Justin was again gone off in his own direction...


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