I never used to read the news. I got bored very quickly by it all. Economics was above me, world news slipped right past me. In fact, I could time a news bulletin perfectly when I was younger to find myself entering the room just as the sports headlines were being read out. It's about 22 minutes into the 6 o'clock news, if you're wondering.

As I got a bit older, I'd flick through the papers in my house, only really pausing on the Sports pages long enough to check that United's dominance was continuing and checking the Sunday supplement for any problem pages. I love problem pages. I'd like to take Dear Deirdre out for a meal.

I don't know if it's because I'm getting older or because I've been living abroad and have a greater desire to feel connected to events in the West, but I now peruse the news websites on a daily basis and devour every item I can get my clicking finger on. I love it. But, at the same time, I really really hate it. It's depressing, it exacerbates fear and dread, and it's not to be trusted due to certain networks following a strict political agenda.

However, you can worry about that no longer. Because I, Smithy, have come to the rescue. Don't bother clicking on BBC or CNN or any of that nonsense. I'll bring the news to you live and regular, on a semi weekly basis, with my own unique slant on things. If it's uninformed and ill-researched satire you are after, then look no further.

After all, my site is ranked 27,626,402 in the world. You can't argue with those figures now, can you?

So, let's look at what's going on today, shall we?

The most shocking story of the day is the French supporting the US in their push to force the UN to take sanctions against Iran. This is part of the West's global plan to arm ourselves whilst disarming others and is, as far as I can tell, the equivalent of cutting off your enemy's willy so he can't sleep with your girlfriend. Shock, bloody horror that the French are supporting the Americans. In fact I can't remember a single other time in history when that has happened. Ever. To be fair though, Ahmadinejad is a maniac and it is in the planet's best interest to keep nuclear weapons out of his hands. It would just be nice if we had something more powerful than the UN to make that happen. We might as well throw daisies at him.

Sometimes, I'll read something in the news that will make me so happy that my kids actually learn some English that day. This happened last week when I saw the report about the US retired General John Sheehan claiming that the Sreberenica massacre in Bosnia in 1995 was caused because some of the Dutch army "were gay". Now, I don't know what the Sreberenica massacre is. I only know that Bosnia was somewhere that Blue Peter cared about in the 90s. But the fact that a former American soldier can make such a ludicrous statement to a senate discussion on homosexuality in the Army made me smile for the rest of the day. Unbelievable. Anyway, he's apologised today. Justified? Yes. Believable? No. If he said it in such a high-profile setting then he obviously meant it. Anyway, an American Army General making homophobic comments? Shocking! I'd be more surprised if he hadn't.

On a related note, Ricky Martin has announced he is gay. Err...what? Did I miss a meeting here? Ricky Martin makes Prince Charles look straight! Miss Canadia and I were discussing Ricky Martin's love of golden showers the other day (it was in Q, okay?), before this groundbreaking announcement on his sexual preference, and I was explaining to her that it isn't that weird because he's gay and they're a kinky bunch. Miss Canadia said that Ricky Martin was not gay but, if he was, that would make it more perverted.

What say you, dear reader? Is a gay golden shower more perverted than a straight golden shower?

Anyway, Ricky Martin's gay. And, in other news, the Pope's Catholic, bears do shit in the woods and the French support the US.

Oh, and speaking of the Pope. How about you perpetuate a stereotype Popey? As if Catholic priests don't have a bad enough rap, why not cover up years of abuse of poor little German boys? Scary.

Finally, and on a more serious note, the bombings in Moscow this week and the sinking of a South Korean naval ship were the biggest stories over here due to Korea's proximity to Russia and the mysterious circumstances and tragic deaths of the Korean navymen. 46 men are still missing from the ship that appears to have been blown in two and, despite South Korea's assertions that they may have survived in pockets of oxygen under the water, things are starting to look bleak. The press are playing down the idea that it may have been an attack by the North (despite the explosion taking place almost directly south of the maritime border) and suggesting it could have been a mine left over from the Korean War or even an explosion from within the ship. Personally, I would be worried if it did turn out to be an attack from the North as retaliation would almost certainly be expected but we'll have to wait and see. The two sides have been bumping chests together for years and, despite frequent threats from the North, nothing ever seems to happen. This would be the first time that such a high number of lives had been lost, however. If it were the North, it would be an act so bold that it would border on stupidity to fire unprovoked on a South Korean ship, protected so strongly as the South are by the US. I doubt it was them. But, then again, what do I know? If there was the slightest hint of violence between the two countries, I'd be on a plane so fast I'd leave dust in my wake. Dirty, nasty, yellow dust.

So, that's it for the first edition of Smithy's news. In fact, it was so poor, it may well be the last.

Love, Smithy x


A Disappointment

I had a mild hangover this morning. A dinner of Ouae (essentially, Korean sushi) was rinsed down by more than a couple bottles of Baeksaeju (a cheap and not-particularly-cheerful rice wine) and I had a headache of around a 6.3/10 this morning as a result. I overslept and missed breakfast and subsequently found myself on the bus, swaying, and fantasising about what I'd eat if I was in the Real World.

When I find myself doing this of a morning, two words begin to bounce randomly around my brain, interrupting my every thought.


I can get bacon here. I could even get it last year. It's not the same though. It's not even nearly the same. I can also get sausages here, but they are expensive, bland and simply not thick enough. I like a bit of girth on my sausage. That's right, you heard it here first -

Korea simply does not have enough girth on it's sausage.

I found myself thinking about the fry-ups I'd make back home. I am something of a cooked-breakfast King. Ask my boy, Teh. I cook up a mean one.

You have to think in advance before you start on a fry-up, because everything becomes just the right amount of greasy at different times. Get everything that you require on the table in front of you. Turn the radio on.

You should bang your hash browns in the oven first, as they take the longest. From the moment the oven door shuts, you have 18-20 minutes to make it right.

You should have more bread than you know what to do with. This is important. A minimum of 3 slices should be prepared (2 to be toasted, 1 to be fried) but more can be added at will. Stack your bread by the toaster. Timing here is crucial.

Bang a couple* of sausages in a frying pan and get them going nice and slowly. Don't be a prick and prick them. Let those bangers be. Personally, I'll throw my quartered (button) or whole (baby) mushrooms into the pan with the sausages and pepper them like a sex-attacker. Mushrooms soak up moisture (i.e. fat) and if your mushrooms taste of bacon and sausage then this is no bad thing.

Give the bangers 5 minutes before you flip your hash browns and get started on your bacon. If it's in a red packet, indicating it to be smoked, then throw it out of the window and kill yourself. If it's in a nice blue packet, tear it open with a fork and bang a couple** of rashers in a different pan. This pan should be hotter than the sausage pan to get the rashers cooked nice and quickly. We want the fat out of these bad boys. What else would we cook our eggs in?

Put the kettle on. Choose your TV channel. Acquire both brown and red sauce. Prepare your cutlery. Remove the butter from the fridge and stick a knife in it. And if you insist on having beans with it, then drain that juice off. It makes my bread go soggy. No no no no NO!

We're getting to the business end of proceedings. Your kitchen should be smoky and smelling of grease. If it doesn't, you're doing it wrong, and you should add more meat. When the bacon is cooked, pick the rashers out of the pan and lay them on top of the mushrooms in the sausages' pan. To the sensually-brown bacon fat, add a little knob of butter and get the heat back down. In this, you shall cook your eggs. Crack 'em and leave 'em. Treat them like you would your kids. They have to make their own mistakes. Let the whites go where they will. Trust them to do right. But don't crack the yolk. You might as well throw everything else away if you do that.

Bang the toast down.

Grab the largest plate you can find and start stacking food onto it. Sausages first, bacon to the side of them, mushrooms scattered around them like Durex wrappers at an orgy. When the egg yolks only slightly wobble, slide them carefully onto your plate and slap your bread into the pan to fry in all that fat. The toast will jump up into your hand for the buttering. Do it instantly. Ensure it melts into the bread. Cut into triangles. Stick rectangles up your arse.

Add the hash browns at the end and carry it carefully to the battlefield.

Add sauce.


Oh, baby...

It was with these thoughts that I completed my teaching day and meandered down to the lunch-room for my daily dose of heartbreak.

There was a fucking fish-head in my soup.

Love, Smithy x

* For 'couple' read 3
** For 'couple' read 4


What is there to do in Wales, anyway? Shepherd?

I'm moving to Wales in 5 months. La Canadiana wants to be a teacher and, despite my warnings that she'll have to wear a suit of armour to do so in the UK, she still has ambitions beyond the Korean classroom.

We'll be well and truly done with the Republic of Kimchi by the time moving day comes along. We're well and truly done already, truth be told. But we have to squeeze this Won-soaked sponge for as much as we can muster before fleeing from this peninsula like the Japanese warriors before us.

I know nothing about Wales. Ryan Giggs - that is where my give-a-shit starts and bloody ends. I may have been to Llandudno a couple of times when I was a kid, and I've certainly been to that place with the world's longest Train station name (Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch - thanks, Google) but I've no idea what it's going to be like to live there. Maybe it won't be any different. Maybe it will be full of Welsh people.

It's a bilingual country (English and Gibberish) meaning the signs will be in 2 languages and the people will speak with an accent that is sort of normal but not quite, so my Canadian girlfriend should feel right at home. They use the Pound, of course, so everything will be 3 times as expensive as it should be. It rains all the time but fuck it. I'm from Bury, I'm sure I'll cope.

God knows what I'm going to do when I get there. I'll be fairly keen not to throw away every single penny I've saved in Korea so employment will be in order. I'll want to acclimatise myself and get in the good books with the locals, so I'll probably start out dealing smack. You know, supply and demand and all that. After that, who knows? Car salesman? Pimp? Or a shepherd, like the gay one from Glee suggested? The sky's the limit.

Realistically, I'll be trying to get work experience in Journalism, paid or unpaid, in whatever field I can get in at and try and earn some money making pornos on the side. Big money in Ginger-porn, so I've heard.

So, family, don't be concerned. I've chosen my next exit on the endless round-a-bout of life. I'm going to be a smack-selling porn star in Cardiff with a sideline in unpaid Journalism.


Love, Smithy x


Obama Drama, Veetle and My Favourite Korean

So, Obamacare was passed. Give a shit, right? I don't know, some of the Americans on my facebook have been going up in arms about it. A friend of a friend was posting comments about the Democrats having the Consitution being re-printed on toilet paper as that is clearly the amount of respect they have for it yada yada yada. I don't even know how this bill is unconstitutional. Can somebody explain that to me? It is clearly an attempt by the President of the United States to make life better for the residents of his country. Isn't that his job? I'm glad that it went through. But what the hell will Fox News talk about now? I'm sure they'll think of something.

My cable-lady offered me an alternative cable package in order to provide me with SBS Sports, the only channel that carries the live Premier League games in Korea. And what was the alternative package? A ₩100,000 dish installed onto the apartment and my signature on a 3-year subscription to QOOK TV.

"Is that ok, Mr Andrew?"
"You can QOOK off darling, if you'll pardon my French".

Anyway, my good friend Wareing was telling me the other day about Veetle, a website he uses to stream snuff movies and hidden cameras.

"Can this be used to watch football as well, Wareing?" I asked.
"I don't know mate, worth a try," he said.

I recently purchased an S-video cable to link my laptop to the TV which, after a little twiddling, was working fine, so I could see the potential for something great, providing I could find the stream.

Fast forward to Sunday evening. It's United v Liverpool in the Premier League. A shitty cold has left me unable to go to the bar to watch the game. Time to give Veetle a try.

Within 5 minutes I was lay on my sofa, bottle of beer in hand watching a glorious Sky Sports montage of past United v Liverpool games. It was wonderful. I watched the build-up with that cockney wide-boy Jamie Redknapp, then sat back and let Andy Gray's biased commentary wash all over me. It was like being at home. The stream stayed clear throughout the whole game, the colour was near-perfect, the audio superb. I was in heaven. The fact that I am now paying ₩50,000 a month, for cable that I only purchased in order to watch a channel that I can't receive, no longer mattered.

It was a rubbish game, though. A blistering first 15 minutes saw Britney Spears head Liverpool into the lead and Javier Mascherano escape a blatant red card whilst giving away a penalty that Wayne Rooney converted at the second attempt. The rest of the game was a scrappy affair. Liverpool created nothing, nor did they try to, and the purported threat of Steven Gerrard and Britney Spears was nullified by the unsung heroes of Darren Fletcher and Ji Sung Park. Then, around the hour mark, these two combined to put United in the lead. It was a great goal and deserved from Park who had arguably been United's best player. Alex Ferguson once said that if Park could score goals he would be one of the best players in the world and he's right. He's a legend. He never stops running, he can tackle and pass with the best of them and is continually making dangerous runs into the box. He just can't shoot. Yesterday though, he stepped up in a big game as he always does and threw himself at the ball to score the winner, getting kicked in the face by Snoop Dogg's gay cousin in the process.


I crept into the bedroom, careful not to wake Miss Canadia but doing so anyway, and lay awake for a good half hour still buzzing from the performance. I've got some bad nights' sleep to get through in the coming months, starting with a couple of 3:45 am get-ups for the Champions League quarter-finals next week. I'll cope though. I can't wait, in fact. Because I can already feel history being made.

4 Premier League titles in a row. 3 Champions League finals in a row.

And more League titles than the Scousers.

I can feel it.

Love, Smithy x


National Health, Surely?

This 'Obamacare' issue has them in a right tizzy over at Fox News. I tuned in to catch the end of Bret Baier's interview with Ol' Barry-Oh this morning. I am becoming a bigger and bigger fan of this news network. Bret Baier is hilarious. He actually looks like Ron Burgundy. He acted like a student Journalist who had been told to go in to the White House, ask some questions and give the President a hard time. And Obama gives him the amount of respect that situation would deserve. You can see it in his eyes, "You, my friend, are an idiot. But your network has a lot of viewers so I have to answer your stupid questions". I find it hard to be objective here because whenever I watch Barack Obama I find myself swooning at how damn cool he is, but he comes across just as eloquent and intelligent as Baier comes across uninformed and ignorant. Give it a watch.

I've tried very hard to get my head around this health care bill. It baffles me. I find the whole thing very interesting because it is a cultural difference between the US and the UK that I have never truly understood - how can a person possibly go untreated for an illness simply because they can't afford it? How can that be allowed to happen? Or, if they are able to scrape the money together somehow, how can the Government sit back and allow their residents to go bankrupt or lose their homes because they got sick. Getting sick is just something that happens isn't it? People get sick and need treating. So they should be treated. Regardless of how much they earn.

I know it isn't as simple as that. America has a health care system that has been in place for years and works to a large extent. Your ability to get affordable health care comes down to your ability to maintain employment and there is a logic to it. Hard-working Americans get health insurance for their families and if you don't have a job, well, why should you be subsidised by the people that do? There is a logic to this way of thinking, I'll admit. I disagree with it, but what does my limey arse know? It has been working for a long time. Why change it?

Obama's health care plan would put control into the hands of the Government and make it a legal requirement for an American citizen to possess health insurance. It would take power away from the corporations who currently control (literally) people's lives, and put it into the hands of those kindly fellows in Washington. A lot of opposition to the Bill has come from people raising issues of trust and asking why Washington should have the power to decide what is covered and what isn't. My (American) mate Matt put it rather eloquently by saying that he trusts the Government a heck of a lot more than he trusts corporations who have a clear agenda when it comes to paying out for health care. I would whole-heartedly concur.

I was speaking to my old high school friend Stacey who left England for the States after meeting and marrying a Marine and now currently resides, with her husband and daughter in the glorious sunshine of San Diego, making her very easy to hate. We were discussing this Bill from the perspective of people brought up on the good ol' NHS and who found the concept of paying for medical care alien (I think Stacey put it rather nicely with the phrase, 'DUH! Sick person: treat them'). She was saying to me that to really get your head around Obamacare you'd have to have a better understanding of the American health care system as it is currently and, even after living Stateside for a number of year, she couldn't admit to comprehending it fully. She also told me how, being US military as she is, Americans expected her to object to the idea of paying for other people's treatment as she would be required to under Obama's Bill. This simply isn't the case. As an American citizen, her opinion is totally valid, although swayed as it is by her youth in the UK. I wonder how many of her neighbours share her views.

A major argument for the opponents of the Bill is that it will cost money the country simply cannot afford. $971 billion over 10 years. Or more. 1/6 of America's economy, in fact. Hey, guess how much has been spent or approved to be spent by America on the illegal Iraq War, up to and including September of this year? $900 billion.

So...let me work this out...

$971 billion - $900 billion = $71 billion! For new health care? That's a bargain!

In fact, I reckon Obama could probably get it done for a clean $70 billion. That'll leave an extra billion to keep this dickhead in doughnuts for another year.

As I've said, I've tried very hard to understand the new proposals and I really, really don't. I understand enough, though, to realise that any country's health care system that is allowing legal residents to die of treatable diseases needs changing up. I hope the Bill gets passed. And Barry, with his big brown eyes, says it will be. So I believe him.

Love, Smithy x


It's a Cultural Thing

My mate Steve was having a good old whinge at lunch today about his co-teacher and the lack of communication between them. He gave as an example a time when he asked to learn the dates of his upcoming vacation and he was told that he would be informed of it 'the month of'. Another time, after he had asked his co-teacher for information and she had been unforthcoming, he had contacted his parent company for the same information and received for his trouble a bollocking for going over his co-teacher's head.

In his troubles, he is not alone.

I'd say the most common complaint I hear from other expats in this country is the piss-poor communication within the workplace and the huge lack of productivity that occurs as a result of it. If we consider for the sake of argument that not one of the people who comes to teach on this peninsula will learn enough Korean to get by, then there are clearly going to be communication problems due to language. This is unavoidable. However, it goes much further than that. It runs much deeper. It descends into the realms of the dreaded cultural difference.

Korea isn't a particularly religious country, split pretty much 50/50 between Christianity and Buddhism as it is, because no God could ever be as important as Grandpa. Let's have a look at the social pecking order in Korea -
  1. Old Korean males
  2. Old Korean females
  3. Middle-aged Korean males
  4. Middle-aged Korean females
  5. Young Korean males
  6. Young Korean females
  7. White males
  8. White females
  9. Dogs
  10. Black males
  11. Black females
  12. Belly-button fluff
  13. The Japanese
This social ordering is based on Confucian beliefs of which I understand too little to explain in any great detail. It essentially comes down to your social status determining everything from the way in which you are spoken to to the order in which you get to eat your food. Men are deferred to in almost all situations and, when two Koreans meet (or even when a Korean meets a foreigner) the first item on the agenda will be to establish age. They might do this discreetly (by asking for their year of graduation, for example) but more often will just ask outright, 'How old are you?' By getting this information, they are establishing who has the social status and will thenceforth act accordingly.

There is also the hugely important 'face-saving' to be taken into consideration and the way this effects your life in Korea is very hard to explain. Let me try.

It is annoying as fuck.

No, I can do better than that. Okay, essentially, you should never ever cause another person to 'lose face'. You should never embarrass another individual, cause them to look stupid or at all inferior and you should never embarrass yourself by losing your temper or going out of your way to question authority. I mean, it sounds easy because most nice people don't do these things anyway, but when this way of thinking manifests itself in the workplace, problems occur. Often.

In my first year of teaching it was mainly the case that I would never be told if I was doing anything wrong. My boss would hide complaints from me and never criticise my style. When I asked for help with my teaching I was told I was perfect. Prior to this my teaching experience amounted to 2 weeks in a Grade 1 class when I was 13 years old on work experience so a bit of feedback about where I was going wrong would have been extremely helpful. But this is not the way it works. To tell me I was making a mistake would have caused me to lose face. So I couldn't improve.

This year, the situation is slightly different. The new rule seems to be that giving us information would cause us to lose face. We don't get any. Honestly, I think it must be that to acknowledge myself and Matt (our school's other native teacher)'s inability to speak Korean would be to cause us to lose face and so they don't go to the effort to translate things for us. Or maybe they don't realise that we don't understand what's going on and need it translating. Or maybe they don't give a shit if we don't know stuff. Either way, it is becoming increasingly common that we are kept out of the loop, and sometimes about very important stuff. We've not been told that classes are cancelled until the point we should be in the class teaching them. We are constantly asked to sign papers without knowing what they are for. Just today, in fact, Matt and I were thrown into a classroom full of kids and their bloody parents and asked to help their home-room teacher with the lesson. Half an hour earlier we had been given a couple of sheets of A4 with something masquerading as English on it. That was our prep. It is a good job me and Matt are gifted improvisers otherwise the whole thing could have been a disaster.

We have to sit through a staff meeting every Monday even though it is all in Korean. We have to go out of our way to the Vice-Principal's office every morning in order to bow at her and collect a newsletter that we can't read. I've even heard of native teachers arriving at an empty school on a Monday or Wednesday or whatever, only to realise that it is a school holiday and that nobody informed them of it.

There are a million frustrating things about being an expat in Korea and the level of annoyance, for me, tends to go through peaks and troughs. Since I returned from Thailand, the land of eternal smiles, the little things that I previously dismissed as cultural differences have really started to grate on my fucking nerves. I am starting to wonder how much longer I can last in this country.

But, I know that in a short time it will be Spring, the cherry blossoms will be out, some complete stranger will do something kind for me and I will start to love this country again. I'm also sure that, come the Autumn, I will miss it when I'm gone.

But, if I do miss Korea once I've left, I certainly won't be telling anyone about it.

Wouldn't want to lose face now, would I?

Love, Smithy x


Bill Oh Really??

I recently spent a lot of my precious Wii-playing time attempting to upgrade our cable and internet packagee so that I have the required football channels in time for the business end of the season and the World Cup in the summer.

"Yes, Mr Andrew, you certainly have all the soccer channels," said my new best friend.
"Premier League and Champions League? I've heard they're on different channels?"
"Yes, Mr Andrew."
"Do you know my surname is Smith?"
"Yes, Mr Andrew."

Like a kid with a new toy, I woke myself at 4.45am last Wednesday to watch United demolish AC Milan at home, thanking my lucky stars that the cable lady's parents decided to pay for their daughter's glorious Hagwon education so that waegooks like me can watch the footy. At midnight on Sunday, however, I was surprised to see United's opponents Fulham being represented by an orange kit-wearing group of fellas calling themselves Wolves. Well, 왈브스 (Wol-be-suh). They were showing the previous game's highlights. The next day I made a phone call.

"I don't think I have the right channels on my cable packagee," I said.
"왜? I mean, why Mr Andrew?" she said.
"Well, I couldn't watch the game last night. They had the Wolves highlights on."
"The Wolves game. The Wol-be-suh game."
"The wrong game. It was on SBS. I don't have SBS."
"But Mr Andrew, you do have S-uh B S-uh. It the basic channel."
"My Turkish friend had the game. I didn't have the game. He's a Liverpool fan. That's not fair."
"I'll call you back."

I've still not got it sorted. It might have to be that I go to the bar for the League games and watch the Champions League games at home. Fine by me.

One of the other benefits of my new packagee is the addition of some English language news channels - CNN, BBC World News and the incredible Fox News. This has caused me a great deal of delight. I don't even click on BBC any more. It's Fox News all the way.

Now, I'm English. I was brought up on Trevor McDonald and Peter Sissons. The most outrageous thing to ever happen on a British news channel was letting a Welshman read it. This is why I find myself staring at the Fox News bulletins with my mouth hanging open, wondering if what I am witnessing is actually real.

It's all so dramatic! The news is reported like its a fucking action movie. It's all crazy graphics, amped-up reporters and horrific descriptions.
"And to confirm Janie, the victim's brains were leaking from her ear-hole, is that right?"
"Yes Kevin, that is correct I am standing here, inside the victim's living room and as you can see, on the table in front of me, is the residue from when the bullet exploded through the victim's skull. I guess you could say their mind is on other things, right Kevin? Back to you in the studio."
It's incredible, it really is.

And then, every now and then, I manage to catch one of the political commentators on the network like Glenn Beck or, if I'm really lucky, Bill O'Reilly. Ah, Bill O'Reilly. I've only really been aware of him through rappers mentioning him in songs but one night, after a late-night drinking session in Thailand, I happened to come across his O'Reilly Factor on the hotel's TV.

"Miss Canadia, look it's Bill O'Reilly!"
"You know, fuck Chuck Phillips and Bill O'Reilly if they try to stop hip-hop we all gon' rally! You know?"
"Shut up. I'm trying to sleep."

I truly love the guy. I mean, I disagree with every single word that comes out of his mouth, but that doesn't mean I can't love him. It's incredible television. Once, in a discussion about the problems medical marijuana patients might suffer when required to take a drug test at work, he said -

"But how would they be able to identify themselves? I mean, they'd have their little ID card but, you know..."

- and then carried on! Woah there, Bill! Slow down a moment! You just answered your own question there, sunshine.

Q: How would they be able to identify themselves?
A: Their little ID card.

He's the kind of guy that believes rap music is a threat to American children, if you need a reference point on him. He won't accept any kind of discussion on Obama's health care bill (or Obama in general, to be honest) and then somehow has the balls to declare himself an Independent.

But people lap it up. The man earns over $10m a year. He is - by some, I believe they are called racists - a respected journalist. Incredible.

In England he'd be hosting the Generation Game.

Love, Smithy x



I've said it before and I'll say it again. Old Korean women can fuck off.

Old Korean men are annoying. They are racist, they are rude, they are functioning alcoholics. But I quite like them. They fart loudly in the street. They make me laugh.

Old Korean women, on the other hand, are nasty. They are sly. An old Korean man will stare at your girlfriend's chest and smile to himself. An old Korean woman will stare at the same chest, hiss like a cat and mutter expletives to herself. She will slap with her hand any skin that contains tattoo ink. And she will move away from you on the subway if you try and sit next to her.

These are all true stories by the way.

They wear the most ridiculous clothes, almost always travel in groups and have absolutely no respect for your personal space. This is true of all Koreans in Seoul, but the Ajumma will simply push past you and use their diminutive size to squeeze through gaps that you would not think possible. They will take your place on the bus and force their way onto the subway before you have chance to get off (which just so happens to be one of my biggest bugbears. The other is the expression 'A tad bit...').

And they look ridiculous. They look like Doink The Clown, in fact. They put make up on with a trowel, have ridiculous permed hair that they spray paint daily to match their ludicrous cardigans and carry huge handbags in which they can only keep the severed heads of their victims.

In Korea, the phrase 'respect your elders' takes on a whole new meaning. I once heard a Korean say 'your parents are like royalty, your grandparents are like Gods'. This is very true. And I am all for respecting my elders. I would happily give up my seat to anybody older than me, I'm all about holding doors open and I am particularly polite when it comes to elderly people. But this shouldn't be expected to the point of having complete disregard for those around you. Because the older generations in Korea know that society is based around looking up to them, they go around treating people like shit just because they can. And if you are white and younger than them then you have no chance whatsoever of getting any respect from them. They are nasty, selfish bigots.

So, to conclude. Old Korean women - not for me.

Love, Smithy x


K-Blog Warfare

I started this blog as a way to keep in touch with my friends and family, that's all. I gave the URL out to my facebook friends and waited to see who came to read. They started trickling through. I still receive next to no numbers that are worth shouting about but hey, I have a big ego, I want people to read. Therefore, like the sniffly little wretch that I am, I went to the Godfather of Korean blogging, Mr. Wonderful.

"Please Mr. Wonderful, sir, can you please tell people my blog address so I might get more than 3 hits a day Mr. Wonderful, sir?"

And he did, god bless him. He 'pimped my blog' as it were. I'd be flattered if I thought he'd done it on merit (he'll do it to anyone who asks) but that's beside the point. It's been done. I just have to sit back and wait for the stats to pile up, right?

Well, wrong. There a plethora of bloggers on this god-forsaken peninsula, largely because there's fuck all else to do when you get here and largely because this lifestyle attracts the kind of person that thinks other people should be interested in what they have to say. ANd you end up with a lot of spare time on your hands.

There seems to be 3 different kinds of bloggers. There are the ones that think that they are providing an irreplaceable service, that they are being used as a fountain of all knowledge on Korea (these people might insist on calling it the Republic of Korea) and react very badly when their authority is called into question. Poor ol' Crissy Snowflake, for example. We'll call these the ROKkers.

The other side to this coin are the Mr Wonderfuls and the KRDs of this world, who write for their readers but don't seemingly give a shit if they are of help to other people. They write to entertain, not educate. These people have an interesting relationship with the ROKkers, entering into wars of words with them and taking the piss whilst simultaneously keeping a close tab on them and helping to push up their numbers. Lets call these the FUKkers.

And then there are people like me. We started blogging to let our mothers know that we're still alive, and got sucked in by receiving more than 1000 hits in a month. Measly numbers when compared to the Idiot's Tale, but enough to pump up our egos. Lets call us SUKkers.

Anyway, these ROKkers, FUKkers and SUKkers have all been pitted against each other by a seemingly innocuous survey over at the little-read 10 Magazine. What probably started out as an after-thought has now turned into all-out warfare with back-biting, accusations of treachery and campaigns of hate coming from all angles. There are only a handful of possible winners, realistically, or so I thought until I checked the listing today.

Who the hell is Trish?

Did I miss a meeting? Is it suddenly the done thing for a country full of expat English-teachers in their 20's to read a blog about drapes, car washes and bloody framing companies? I mean, all respect to Trish, she can blog about what she likes, but is it not obvious that it's a fix? 10 magazine does not want a blog that employs the vernacular of an Idiot to be seen as the most popular blog in Korea, hence why it wasn't even included in the voting section to begin with.

Do you know what the problem is though, 10 magazine? It clearly is the most popular.

So I implore all of you - go vote for Mr. Wonderful. Let justice prevail. Before the 15th comes and goes, voting closes and we all realise that it doesn't mean fuck all anyway.

Love, Smithy x

Gay For Rooney

There aren't many things that will get me out of bed at 5am on a Thursday morning. Certainly not my job. But this Shrek-faced Scouser will have me rising early on any day of the week. Manchester United v AC Milan. Champions League knock-out stages and the chance to work out whether getting the cable installed was worth it. It was. 4-0 to the Reds, an absolute pasting for Milan, and 2 more goals for young Wayne here taking his tally to 30 for the season. And on the same night, Cristiano cheat-to-get-Rooney-sent-off-in-the-world-Cup Ronaldo and his big-spending employers got knocked out by Lyon! Oh the delicious irony.

Big David Beckham turned out for the last 15 minutes and made a vague attempt to pretend he wasn't happy at the result. What does he give a shit about Milan? The guy's United through and through. No wonder he only came on when we were 3 up, there's no way he was going to try and score if it'd mattered. It was genuinely touching to see him at the end though, responding to the incredible reception he got from the Old Trafford fans and draping himself in green and gold. You don't see enough of that from players now - a genuine love for a team. Apart from John Terry at Stamford Bridge I suppose, but only because that bunch of cockneys are the only ones who can stand the bastard.

Anyway, it's early afternoon and I'm only surviving on the ridiculous amount of coffee I've consumed today. I'll probably crash soon enough and it won't be pretty. But I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

4 bloody nil.

Love, Smithy x


In Defense of John Terry

It has come to my attention recently that Mr John Terry has been receiving some bad press. There are some people out there that think that shagging the mother of your team-mate's son is a bad thing for a captain to do. On top of that shocking consideration, some people believe that Fabio Capello was justified in stripping him of the England captaincy for this behaviour. I say, NO! I say that on this indiscretion alone, a captain cannot be judged!

I mean, it's not like he's ever been banned from the England team while on an assault charge. Or that he's ever been fined by his club for taking the piss out of Americans on September 12th 2001. Or that he's ever been caught on camera spitting on an opposing player in a Champions League final. Or that he's ever been caught giving illegal tours of Chelsea's training ground and pocketing 10 grand in payment. Or that he is the biggest culprit in the Premiership for harassing referees. Or that he once attempted to pull a red card out of the ref's hand as he was showing it. Or that he's got the world's most annoying face/voice/attitude to life.

Don't take the captaincy from him for shagging his team-mate's ex!

Take it because he's a c**t.

Love, Smithy x


Malaysia Pt. 1 - Teh Teh Teh Teh t-t-t-t-t Teh Teh

I hate turbulence on aeroplanes. I know that there aren't many people who jump from the seats when the plane starts jerking up and down in that horrific way and go 'Wahoo! Yeah! Turbulence!' but I mean I really hate turbulence. I become convinced that my death is imminent. I find myself deciding which is the best way to try and survive a fall into water from over 30,000 feet (legs first) and whether Fight Club was telling the truth that the oxygen masks get you high (probably, yes). Pretty annoying then that I found myself on my 3rd flight of an annoyingly long journey from Incheon, South Korea to Kuantan, Malaysia being shaken around like Louise Woodward's baby, holding onto the Canadian's hand until I crushed her fingers.

"This pilot is shit," I observed.
"I don't think the pilot controls the weather", mumbled my Canadian girlfriend, finishing her 4th sudoko puzzle of the flight.
"Will you pray with me?" I cried.

By some miracle we landed a few minutes later and disembarked with wobbly legs onto the tarmac. The airport was small and surrounded on all sides by palm trees and the pitch black night sky. We didn't know what to do. We had a hotel booked but no taxi to get there and our hotel wasn't happy that we'd be arriving at midnight. During a very short and time-delayed phone call during our stopover in Kuala Lumpur, I knew that my mate Teh had 'sorted something out' and that I should 'keep my eyes open'. Knowing him as I do, this could have meant a stretch limo or a horse and carriage was coming to meet us. It could also have meant that nothing was.

After nipping to the bathroom to change my underwear, we walked through the tiny terminal towards the exit. I scanned the crowd outside the doors and from some distance away I saw a little monkey in a red t-shirt jumping around behind a pillar.

"There's Teh", I said.

I started walking faster out of the door to grip him in a headlock but I scanned the crowd and couldn't see him. Instead we were met by a man we didn't know holding a sign that said 'Ginger Smith and Boobs'. Now, some people have been known to call me ginger in my time (they're wrong though, my hair is rusty blonde) and I knew that my Canadian girlfriend had made quite an impression on boy-Teh when they first met, so I was able to deduce that this man was here to meet us. I shook his hand and introduced myself but I could see from his poorly attempted straight face that something was going on...

At that moment two Tehs, one male and one female, jumped out from behind a pillar and we dived into hugs. It was great to see them, despite them looking tanned and healthy and me looking like Casper's Jewish cousin, and they quickly introduced me to the man with the sign who turned out to be their cousin, Jay. Jay is a very cool dude, a property developer in his early 30's and handsome. He went out of his way to make us welcome, driving us this way and that in his pimp wagon and at one point loading us up with a bin-bag full of beer. A top, top geezer.

We drank beers that girl-Teh had brought with her in the truck as we drove the 10 miles or so from the airport to our accommodation which, as boy-Teh explained to me, had been changed ever-so-slightly. We had been booked into the Classic Hotel (short for A Classic Example of a Shitty Hotel) in the centre of Kuantan but, being the smooth bastard that he is, boy-Teh had cancelled it and booked us into a suite in their complex. This meant that the little box with a fan that we had reserved was being replaced with an air-conditioned apartment with a balcony and a pool view. Sweet.

By this time we'd been travelling for about 18 hours and I didn't even know who I was any more never mind what country I was in. It was still stupidly warm even though it was past midnight and on the way to the room we saw more lizards than I can count and a moth the size of a hawk. Me and boy-Teh both hate creepy-crawlies and we were outdoing each other for girl-ish screams as we ran away from a 2 inch Gecko. After such a long day and the 4 or 5 beers I'd thrown back in the space of an hour I was more than ready to crash out and prepare for the big couple of days ahead of us. There was talk of dancing lions...

We awoke to a sky as blue as any I'd seen before, dotted hither and thither with the kind of wispy white cloud that simply provide decoration to the horizon rather than any threat of precipitation. The heat outside was offset by the chills throughout my body I was experiencing as a consequence of leaving the A/C on all through the night. Miss Canadia and I prepared ourselves for the day ahead, excited but also a little nervous as we didn't really know what to expect. I knew that there would be a lot of people for us to meet, a lot of food for us to eat and a lot of beer for us to drink. The Canadian wore red as we were advised to - red being a lucky colour for the Chinese - but I abstained. One of the many downsides to being a Ginger is the inability to wear red due to clashing. Except when it's my United shirt. Then it's okay.

We were picked up by Jay in his truck and drove the short distance into the centre of Kuantan. I always enjoy the morning after arriving in a foreign country at night, as the landmarks and features that seemed rather gloomy and intimidating under the night sky are revealed to be nothing of the sort in the daylight. We could see for the first time quite how close to the ocean we were which was something of a treat for us as we didn't expect to see the sea until we reached Thailand for the second week of our trip.

We rode and chatted and enjoyed the view for 20 minutes or so before we pulled up outside the house of the Tehs' Grandmother, referred to by everybody in the family as Ah-Ma. The building was a 2-storey with white-walls and large front doors that were already wide open onto a small front patio. We could hear the occupants before we could see them as laughter and foreign languages drifted out from inside, along with sweet-smelling incense from the Buddhist shrine at the entrance of the house. Leaving our shoes outside, we padded onto the smooth granite floors of the living room and were swarmed upon by Teh upon Teh upon Teh. They were everywhere. Boy and girl-Teh's father is one of 6, so there were Auntie Tehs and Uncle Tehs and cousin Tehs all over the place. Each and every one came over and shook our hands or gave us hugs and kisses and had the same friendly and welcoming smile that I'd be treated to at every Teh residence I'd ever visited. A few people grabbed me and told me how much I'd grown which was rather disconcerting before I realised that I had, in fact, met a couple of Aunties and Ah-Ma round at Teh Towers when I was a little younger. As well as the hugs and handshakes we were also given little red envelopes called Ang Pow. We were first asked if we were married and, after I'd scoffed loudly at the idea and the Canadian had punched me on the arm, we were each handed some Ang Pow. The envelopes, we would discover later, were filled with money and were given at Chinese New Year by the older married people to the younger ones. Even as guests in our mid-20's who were complete strangers to over 90% of these people, we qualified for these gifts and they continued to be thrust into our hands throughout the day. It was a fantastic welcome and it honestly took less than 5 minutes to go from being quite nervous to feeling right at home. After kung-ha-hae-choi'ing around the room, we were sat down, given a bowl of long noodles (for long life) topped with garlic Chinese mushrooms and a hot chilli sauce and a glistening can of Tiger beer. I relaxed.

We sat and ate with Mum and Dad Teh and had a good catch up about what we'd be doing over the previous six months. Dad Teh explained to us who everybody at the party was and explained the significance and meaning behind the Ang Pow and the various customs. It was fascinating stuff and it was also fascinating to see him switch effortlessly between English and Chinese. Malaysia is a cultural hotbed with many different languages spoken and the air was alive with a mix of Cantonese, Mandarin, Malay and English. The beers kept coming and boy-Teh and I were putting them back as fast as they arrived. I'd have to slow down. It wasn't midday yet.

After a couple of hours we were interrupted by the sound of drumming from outside the front doors and an announcement that the lion dance had arrived. This was a part of the trip that I'd been looking forward to for a long time as it would be a genuine dose of the local culture that I probably wouldn't be able to experience again. I raced outside to get prime position and wait for it to start. Although I didn't get the full details on how it worked, it seemed to go something like this. There are teams of young lads who do this sort of thing, and they join teams that compete. There are different colours and styles of lions that represent different philosophies and different areas of China. These teams then hire themselves out at New Year to come round to people's houses and perform. This particular team was made up 8-10 lads of around my age and younger, 4 of which were inside the 2 lions and the others assisting or playing the drums to accompany the dance. My 'prime' position placed me directly next to the drummer which was so loud my ears are still ringing 2 weeks later. The 2 lions danced energetically for a while which, for the lads performing in the costumes and in 30+ degrees heat, must have been exhausting. I was sweating balls and I was just watching. The owner of the house (in this case Ah-Ma) had to provide an offering for the lions and place it at the highest possible point. The climax of the dance would show the lion managing to get to this impossible-to-reach offering by the dancers clambering onto each others shoulders beneath the lion costume. After they reached it (and it really was quite impressive) the lions lay down for about 5 minutes and, using the peel from some oranges that were given as part of the offering, made the Chinese symbol for prosperity on the ground. It was a fantastic show and I felt really lucky to have seen it in such an authentic setting. It was also lovely to see some kids from the poorer end of town, all tatty clothes and bare feet, standing shyly outside the gates of the house trying to catch a peak of the dance. Seeing this, one of the Auntie Tehs took out an envelope of Ang Pow for each of the children and gave them all one of the huge, juicy and delicious oranges that the lions were feasting on. Just another example of the generosity we experienced from the Teh family.

We retired back to the relative coolness of the air-conditioned interior of the house where more beers were handed out and cards were dealt for an impromptu game of Blackjack led by the very charismatic cousin Jason. This was 'Malaysian Blackjack', explained Jason as he dealt, although the only difference that I could establish was that there was a much greater chance of winning. And I did. Combining my Ang Pow and my Blackjack winning meant that I'd had a rather profitable morning at Ah-Ma's house. We said our good-byes and our kung-hae-fat-chois and loaded back into the cars for the short drive to another Uncle's house for lunch.

We stumbled in heavy of Tiger and noodles and were introduced to more of the family who hadn't been at Ah-Ma's house. The house was a similar size and style to the first one and had the same inside-outside living feel to it that I enjoyed so much. The weather was so warm that doors and windows were always open and people could just spill out onto the porch where people were grouped and chatting and laughing. We were ushered over to the dining table and pushed into our seats, where we were to experience home-cooking Malaysian style. Plates all over the table were over-loaded with 2 types of noodles which had been stir-fried with different vegetables and mushrooms. There were tiny shrimp in a spicy sauce to go with them and the piece-de-resistance was a small plate stacked high with sticks of satay chicken. Now, I'd eaten satay chicken before and not thought it to be too impressive, but this was another story. They were to be drizzled with a peanut sauce and consumed right off the stick. And consume we did. Conversation dropped to a minmum as we shovelled spoonful after forkful after stick of chicken into our faces and washed it all down with more Tiger. It was fantastic and a mere taster of what we had to look forward to.

Not surprisingly, as it reached mid-afternoon, the combination of the food and the beer and the previous day of travelling had started to take its toll and we were all in need of some rest. We said our goodbyes and made our way back to the resort to lounge the afternoon away by the pool. My Canadian girlfriend and I took a stroll down to a tiny little beach and watched a couple of locals fish lazily in the ocean. We lay on a rock as the sun sank a little lower in the sky and I was finally able to relax. The hustle and bustle of Seoul and the intense boredom of the previous few weeks at school seemed a long, long way away. I squeezed my girlfriend's hand and told her we should go get ready. We had a date with a Prince.

I'd love to start this paragraph with 'So I walked up to the Prince, high-fived him and pretended to steal his nose' but I am unable to. He didn't turn up. But the fact that one of the sons of the Sultan of Malaysia was rumoured to be turning up at the event is quite a gold-stamp on the party's stature. I'd prepared my outfit (realising at the last minute that it made me look like a member of Boyzone) and the Canadian looked beautiful in a long, flowing dress. We'd been told that it wasn't strictly a formal event but certainly not casual and we wanted to look nice. When we arrived I was glad that we'd dressed up. The house was of the same inside-outside style but on a much larger scale. Inside the huge, black gates we were met by the host of the party (a friend of the Tehs' Uncle Alex) and his adult children, including 2 stunning young ladies that boy-Teh immediately had his eye on. We posed for pictures with the obligatory lion costume and the hosts and were then ushered towards a large, outdoor dining table by the swimming pool. The evening was catered and we dined on Indian food which was beyond beautiful. We drank red wine from bottles that never emptied and then, after dinner, we retired to the marble-floored living-room to drink Martell Cordon Bleu from the bar. The guests included the manager of the Hyatt, a doctor smoking the biggest cigar I've ever seen and numerous beautiful people of all ages and races. It was quite surreal to be in this stunning setting in Malaysia with my best mate and my girlfriend and I tried my best to soak it all in.

As the party began to wind down, arrangements were made to take us into town. I rode with boy-Teh and cousin Jason in his 5-Series while the girls went with Jay in his truck. We pulled up, parked right outside the club and swaggered inside. By this time I had been drinking for about 12 hours and, dressed like Nick Carter as I was, I was ready to do some dancing. Bottles of Absolut were brought to our table with a couple of jugs of mixer and we proceeded to get through them at a rate of knots. The music went from dancefloor hip-hop into mainstream dance and I was soon pulling shapes with my new, arse-willing Indian friend who shouted into my ear 'just friends, just friends' and then proceeded to grind his cock against my leg. He was harmless though and I managed to fob him off onto girl-Teh soon enough anyway. Surreal moment number two came along when the music was interrupted by the traditional drumming we'd heard twice already that day, and through the doors of the club came another lion dance. The DJ announced that it was 'out with the old skool and in with the nu' and the traditional music was replaced by a trance remix of 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight'. The lions continued dancing and the club went crazy and I found myself, as I do quite often in my life, wondering how the fuck I got here.

I awoke the next morning with a hangover that could climb mountains. I felt as if Keith Moon was performing a solo in my head and using my eyes as symbols. I didn't have a clue where I was, who I was, or who what that awful noise was. It sounded like Greensleeves. Keith Moon drumming to Greensleeves? I buried my head under the pillow. I identified the girl as the Canadian and myself as an idiot, but still the Greensleeves kept playing.

"Mmeughhh ammannnn mmeughhhh," I said.
"I think it's the doorbell," she replied.

I rolled out of bed and made my way to the door, still very drunk and showing all signs of morning glory. I swung the door open ready to tell boy-Teh to fuck off but it wasn't him. It was mum and dad Teh, looking smart, healthy and ready to face the day. I looked like Gonzo with a semi.

"Hi!" they said simultaneously.
"Mmeeugh?" I replied, shielding my lower half from view and feeling self conscious in boxers and Kendra's t-shirt.
"You remember that you're checking out today, right?"
"Okay, we'll be back in half an hour."

Boy-Teh, bless his heart, is completely useless and had failed to mention this little nugget of information. We were to move into the apartment with the rest of the young-un's for the last night. Obviously this was no problem, apart from the fact that we had half an hour to pack our stuff and I was feeling as nimble as a lead-footed paraplegic. I let the door fall shut and passed the news on to Ken-deezy. We packed of a fashion, and headed over to the apartment. The rest of the guys seemed slightly more fresh-faced than I, and I got some fresh air on the balcony with boy-Teh while we tried to piece the night together. He reminded me of the power going out in the club, the second bottle of Absolut, the flirty KFC girls in head-scarves, poorly-performed card tricks and the futile pursuit of Geckos. My headache was starting to wane thanks to the fistfuls of Advil I'd thrown down myself and I was starting to get hungry.

Handy then that we were heading out to another family get-together at the home of Uncle Alex, Jay's father, and the head of the Teh family. We made our way over and found our way almost instantly to the buffet table, laden as we expected with tray upon tray of delicious spicy food. Ignoring the Canadian's suggestions of taking it easy on my delicate stomach, I piled my plate high and, after a little persuasion accepted a Tiger to wash it all down. I was feeling a lot better.

There was a more low-key feel to this gathering, I think partly because of the celebrations the night previously and the fact that pretty soon everyone would be going their separate ways. Myself and my Canadian girlfriend would be off on a quick tour of Malaysia before heading to Thailand while boy-Teh, girl-Teh and their little buddies were heading off to South-East Asia (although precisely where was yet to be determined) and Mum and Dad Teh were off to Langkawi for some well-deserved R&R after acting as our personal chauffeurs for a few days. The young Tehs spent much of the afternoon holed up in one of the bedrooms of the house trying to book flights while having to deal with the over-zealous fraud departments of UK banks and other annoyance factors of which the list is too long to mention. We felt terrible for them as there was problem after problem piling up and that's the last thing you need when you're starting a 4-month trip as the girls were. I occasionally popped my head in to see how it was going to find 3 stressed girls and one boy-Teh casually browsing through Facebook and caring little as he was only tagging along for a 2 week break from work.

We came to a slight road-block ourselves when it came to planning the next stage of our trip. A cousin Teh very kindly took us to the bus terminal after lunch to buy our ticket for the next day. Unfortunately we found ourselves unable to take a bus directly to Melaka as we'd hoped due to Chinese New Year and the unusually high number of people wishing to get around the country. We had to settle instead for a bus to Kuala Lumpur and then hope that we'd be able to take one from there to Melaka. It was a little frustrating, but nothing compared to what the girls had to go through. We returned to the party and wiled away the afternoon playing cards, chatting and drinking beer and tried not to get caught up in the chaos that was going on in the bedrooms.

Our final meal in Kuantan was to be held back at Ah-Ma's house where we had our first one. We were told it would be steamed fish and I was excited for a change from what had been a chicken and beef based couple of days. I wasn't disappointed. We sat in groups around 2 tables and in the centre of each was placed a huge steamed grouper covered in herbs and vegetables in an outrageous-smelling broth. This was then surrounded by plates of rice, chicken wings, duck, prawns and different vegetables which made the description of 'steamed fish' sound like the dinner was being slightly undersold. We ate and drank and chatted and I began to feel that awkward, unsaid sadness that comes before a long goodbye. I'd gone 6 months without seeing my best friend and the two days that I'd been with him had gone all-too-quickly. To prevent any emotions coming to the fore, we drank, and after saying our goodbyes to all of the Kuantan-based Tehs, cousin Jay drove us back to the apartment, stopping off at his house to load us up with a huge sack of beer. We sat up for a few hours playing Bullshit and laughing, but the fatigue of the last few days caught up with us all. The Canadian and I had a long day ahead of us, having to be up early to catch our bus to KL, and the others still hadn't got their flights sorted for the next stage of the trip. A fantastic two days had come to an end and we couldn't delay the inevitable any longer. We said our good nights and went to bed.

I didn't sleep for a long time, my head filled with sadness at having to leave the Teh's, and missing my other friends back in the UK who I hadn't had to chance to see and wouldn't be able to until I got home. I was nervous for the next day but excited to see more of a country that I was very quickly falling in love with. We hadn't met a single person who wasn't incredibly friendly, eaten a plate of food that wasn't delicious or experienced weather that wasn't perfect. It would be hard to tear myself away from Kuantan, but it must be done. We had some buses to catch.

Love, Smithy x