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Dammit Yim

Somewhere in the distance there was a phone ringing. I rolled around in the luxury of my bed, coaxing myself back towards slumber. I knew if I awoke now, there would be no returning to dreamland, and I was really digging dreamland. Or was the phone in dreamland? Where was I? Was I on a train? I think so, but I couldn’t quite place myself. What city was I in? Too many cities… Then that phone… who’s was that? The conductor must have some system in his little room. So they can communicate with other cars. And of course the higher ups, you know.

Then the door was opened and knocked on at the same time and Yim himself was standing in our hotel room at Yim’s house in Seoul, South Korea. I was suddenly quite awake, sprawled awkwardly in my underpants. Ann had left early to go teach children, or something noble like that. Scott was rolling around searching for up. I sat up and locked eyes with Yim. “The money, oh you want us to pay for the room. I’m sorry we didn’t do that last night…” I began. Yim interrupted: “You have violated the rules of Yim’s house! You have brought a third person into this room! You must leave now; check out by 12pm!” Then he was gone. He did not slam the door. Instead he just left it wide open.

We began to scramble around. it was 11:30 am and we had only retired some 5 hours ago. We scrambled to assemble ourselves. I didn’t know of this rule. Yim’s was so nice too. If only I could just return to the bed. I might be able to get back on that train. “Should we fight this battle?” Scott said from underneath a pillow. “Ah, I don’t have the energy. Lets just get the hell out of here.”

And so we did. The sky grumbled with sympathetic disgruntled humidity. And we checked into a hostel across the street. By then we were up more or less and we struck out in search of coffee. This proved not to be a problem. Coffee is pretty easy to find in Seoul and it’s good stuff too. We wandered around, letting the coffee do its work and soon we were pretty hungry.

Scott Eats

We stopped at a local noodle place and had a succulent bowl of noodles with kimchee and oysters in the shell. We drank plenty of this ice cold barley tea, which is s most splendid and ubiquitous in this city. And then we continued our stroll. Well, first thing’s… like farther down on the list in this case, as we began to look for bicycles. For the next 2 and a half hours, we followed long cold trails from Google and searched for streets which it seems didn’t exist. Then it began to rain. Not just a little rain. Giant monsoon rain. Rain that drenched you in less than 10 seconds. We walked through this waterfall back to the hostel. Fine, Seoul Wheeling. You’ll just have to wait until AsiaWheeling 2.0.

As we were walking, earlier that day, an old man, sitting on the side of one of the small Korea hutongs had called forth to us in English. “What Country?” he said. When we told him that we were Americans, he stood up and shook our hands. He introduced himself as a veteran of the Korean war. He began to recite for us some phrases in English, talking repetitiously about LBJ. His phases were no geared towards usability in communications, rather they were bits of propaganda-like phraseology, most likely designed to endear him to Americans from the 1950s. When he reached the end of the alley we began to turn and he stopped. He then puffed out his chest and yelled something at us. At first we were unable to discern the words. So he yelled it again, louder. Finally we realized what he was saying. And for some reason, it kept ringing through our heads for the entirety of that rainy day in Seoul.

“Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.”


  1. Chief Snakecharmer | August 1st, 2008 | 12:14 am

    “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.”

    Good one!

  2. Richard Voos | August 4th, 2008 | 7:25 am

    The quote is from General Douglas MacArthur, who was removed from command of American forces in Korea by President Truman, after MacArthur refused to acknowledge (essentially) the President as Commander-in-Chief.

    He spoke (to great acclaim – Truman’s decision was very unpopular) to a joint session of Congress and that quote – “old soldiers…” – is from that speech.

    (MacArthur is also the source of the line “I shall return” spoken in WWII when the U.S. Army left the Phillipines when the Japanese invaded.)

  3. Woody | August 4th, 2008 | 10:17 pm

    Thanks Butchie. The entire experience is made the more relevant…

  4. AsiaWheeling » Blog Archive » A Jimjilban a Day… | March 2nd, 2012 | 10:21 am

    […] sign), and I went to town with the Syrian adjustable wrench. As I worked, I thought about the last time we broke the rules in Korea… Back on the road, we made short work of the downhill segment which put us back into the […]

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