Archive for December 2010

Adventures in Tokyo

tokyoIt was almost 2am and I had just finished my shift at the language school where I was teaching English. I had come here just over 3 months ago through a teaching agency that found me a good school to teach in. The students are great – mostly they are adults who are learning English for their work and i get along very well with them.

Well anyway, I was walking home at 2am – tonight I had vowed to politely refuse the karaoke bar offer from colleagues – I really needed sleep. The language school is in the Sumida district downtown and I live in Minato. The bus was late for some reason so i started walking keeping an eye out for a taxi on the road to hail.

I had barely taken 15 steps when I heard a barely audible voice say “Kane!”, while I felt something sharp pricking up against my back. I tried to turn around by now a hand grabbed my shoulder and shook me while poking harder with the sharp object, urgently saying: “Kane! Kane!”

It was obvious the man wanted my money. I knew that much in Japanese even though I’d only been here a few months. I was extremely nervous, but I slowly reached into my jacket while saying “ok” and turned around.

It was a kid just a bit younger than me with a Justin Bieber style hairdo. He looked really uncomfortable with his stanley knife in hand and gave me a shy grin. I looked at him and asked him: “You want a drink?”

He nodded. I walked with him to a bar across the street, got him a cocktail, ordered a beer and then we started to talk.

Basic Korean Phrases for Dummies

koreaIf you’re traveling to Korea, you’ll need to know how to say some basic things as it’s not guaranteed that everyone you meet will be able to speak English. Korean is itself not too difficult a language to learn. The biggest barrier for most people seems to be the script, but that’s not an issue once you sit down to learn it. It’s all very logical and is based on easy to remember syllable sounds that are a combination of a consonant and a vowel. You can learn the script literally in a few days, then it’s just a matter of practice to read it and write it.

Another difficult part of Korean is that it uses several thousand Chinese characters, commonly known as kanji. These are of course more difficult to learn, but they’re not impossible. They’re much harder to write though. They are often used in Korean to represent ideas or concepts, such as ‘love’, ‘hate’, ‘happiness’ and so on.


Some common greetings in Korean:

good morning/afternoon        annyong haseyo
good evening                annyong hashimnikka

goodbye                    annyonghi kasayo

good night                annyonghi jumushipsiyo


How are you?                Ch’oum poepgetsumnida.

My name is___                Chonun ______ imnida.

How are you? (informal)        Ottoshimnikka?

Hello? (phone)                Yoboseyo?

Common Phrases

Do you speak English?        Yeongeorul malsum halsu isseoyo?

Yes                        Ne

No                        Aniyo

Thank you                Kamsahaimnida

Sorry                    Mianhamnida


1        hana            11        yol-hana

2        tul            12        yol-tul

3        set            13        yol-set

4        net            14        yol-net

5        tasot            15        yol-tasot

6        yosot        16        yol-yosot

7        ilgop            17        yol-ilgop

8        yodolp        18        yol-yodolp

9        ahop            19        yol-ahop

10        yol            20        sumul

30        sorun        40        mahun

50        shween        60        yesun

70        irun            80        yodun

90        ahun            100        baek

200        ee-baek        1000        ch’eon

10,000    man            100,000    ship-man

1,000,000        baek-man

This is just a few of the most important words and vocabulary to get you started in Korean. There are many resources available online to learn the language properly for your trip to Korea.

Traveling to India

delhiI love travelling. I have toured South America, Europe and now I want to discover Asia. There is only one problem. I’m not keen on flying. Perhaps that sounds strange given that I have travelled so much. However, I just can’t help but worry every time I step on an aeroplane for a long-haul flight.

Last January I decided that this would be the year I visit Asia. So I went online and managed to find cheap flights to Delhi with a number of different airlines. Normally I fly with well known companies, but I had never heard of Kingfisher, Gulf Air, Jet Airways and Emirates before, so I was a bit concerned about the service and credibility. This is something which I think is very important when choosing an airline and especially for long-haul flights. To help me decide, I spent an hour reading travel reviews. By searching online you can find reviews on booking, check in, the in-flight service etc. written by other passengers who have travelled with the airline. This was crucial in helping me decide which to choose. Emirates got the best appraisal and so I decided to book with this company. There was only $40 difference between the cheapest airfare and the Emirates flight so I was happy to pay this in the hope of a better service.

I am just back from my trip to Delhi. The flight was absolutely fine and I have no complaints….and now I am even more enthusiastic than ever about visiting other countries in Asia. Delhi is crazy and a city of contrasts. Here you can compare the striking poverty and chaotic traffic with the beauty of its sacred buildings and elaborate monuments. With tourist attractions as famous as Red Fort and the Taj Mahal, I highly recommend visiting Delhi.