Asian Rohan?

The Black Temple, or Baan Si Dum, is essentially thrown in as a “well it’s close by so why not look at it anyway?” sort of thing by the tour guide…or at least that’s how it felt…

BUT ACTUALLY I ENDED UP LOVING IT.

Errr…perhaps I even preferred it to its more famous cousin…hmmm…by the way excuse the rant about modern architecture, I don’t really know what got into me – well boring box buildings is the reason, but still. 

www.facebook.com/storytimewithjohn

www.youtube.com/storytimewithjohn101

Please buy my collection of stories! Get it in paperback here – or on Kindle here! ALL proceeds go towards Macmillan Cancer Support!

Chiang Mai…RIDICULOUS Temples

Absolutely blown away by the temples here in Thailand…truly amazing. I feel like all of my dreams as a little boy are just coming to life in these structures (actually I have never changed, but I’m supposed to pretend that dragons and magic aren’t cool now for some reason)…

Well anyway,  here’s a little look of what it has to offer…and trust me, it is definitely cool:

Apologies for the low quality, taken on a phone…sans selfie stick – don’t believe in ’em. 

But hope you enjoyed it all the same! More to come, probably.

www.facebook.com/storytimewithjohn

www.youtube.com/storytimewithjohn101

Please buy my collection of stories! Get it in paperback here – or on Kindle here! ALL proceeds go towards Macmillan Cancer Support!

Elderly Children

The other day I laughed like I haven’t done in months…and it wasn’t from a well-crafted and intelligent political barb either, or an amusing satirical comment on Western society’s culture – or anything else that demands some level of brain activity to “get” – noit was a lot more simple and pure than all of that, but not any less meaningful. Well, maybe a little…

Anyway it was undoubtedly something silly; and it came about by me walking into a classroom, and coming across a rather strange sight – a small hunched character who couldn’t have been more than five or six years old. It was one of those moments where it takes a few seconds to take it all in and process…

Huh GIF

You see this kid had pushed his shoulders up, and his head down – basically eliminating his whole neck…making him look vaguely reminiscent of  both Frankenstein’s monster and a penguin with a spinal problem at the same time. To keep the shoulders in shape he was forced to waddle as he walked to maintain composure…and felt it was necessary to emit a few R2-D2 style “BOOP-BAP-BEEP”s every now and again, which (thanks to his missing front teeth) had an eerie and creepy sound to them…this was all probably necessary though,  just to remind people he was still there circling the table.

I also noted that he would occasionally outstretch his right hand slightly as if reaching for an imaginary walking stick which he had sadly misplaced…which led me to believe this was perhaps an older Frankenstein’s monster penguin model. But that was of course an assumption I am still yet to verify. Either way I felt in my heart of hearts that if I had some spare teeth lying around I wouldn’t hesitate to offer them to this bizarre yet amusing creature, he was just trying to live dammit – and seemed like a pretty nice guy.

Friend GIF

There was just something about the whole spectacle which made me burst out laughing, and as he inevitably began to giggle too the shoulders began to droop slowly but surely…and the beeps turned into baaps, and the baaps quickly turned into “ba-ha-ha-ha”s. Before I knew it we were both in hysterics with laughter, and so the rest of the kids in the class took the baton: copying the same character, busily circling the table with their now neckless bodies.

Such little weirdos, seriously!

But it made me think though…where do we lose this? And when…and WHY?! Because I know I still behave like this – but I’m seen largely as stupid, childish, or immature (there are other words but it’s a family show). However I do feel like if we were all a little more like this, just having fun and amusing both ourselves and each other…then life would be that little bit more enjoyable. In other words if the elderly had as much of a laugh imitating children as these kids had imitating the elderly then this world would be a lot less dreary.

Old Lady GIF

All I know is I’m writing a mental note to do the Frankenstein’s monster penguin shuffle at age 93. Don’t let me forget…okay? Even if I scream at you to get off my lawn and begin a rant about “kids these days”…make me do it.

www.facebook.com/storytimewithjohn

www.youtube.com/storytimewithjohn101

Please buy my collection of stories! Get it in paperback here – or on Kindle here! ALL proceeds go towards Macmillan Cancer Support!

Teaching English Abroad: THE HOW TO VIDEO

After a constant influx of questions surrounding teaching English abroad and all that jazz, I decided at long last to make a brief(ish) and pretty basic video surrounding the subject…I realised as I was doing it that I shouldn’t go too far into detail as it would be a few hours long…so this really is the bare bones.

Here I talk about where you can teach English, the best sites on which to find jobs, and a couple of my own experiences surrounding the field. Will probably do a couple of more detailed videos if people seem interested!

Any questions just get in touch! 

Oh, and if you have a video request you can leave a comment, or send me an email – if it’s a cool/interesting idea then I will get to it as soon as I can!

www.facebook.com/storytimewithjohn

www.youtube.com/storytimewithjohn101

Please buy my collection of stories! Get it in paperback here – or on Kindle here! ALL proceeds go towards Macmillan Cancer Support!

Tokyo Tantrums

Japan ~ Tokyo – 2015

Tokyo has a big city sort of reputation to it, an air of grandeur accompanied with a sense of mystery somewhere within the non-stop luminous glare of the lights and the 24/7 rush…

So many films have painted a picture that has made an impression on me, and because of this it was high on the list of places I wanted to see…so when I realised I had a long weekend coming up I didn’t hesitate and booked it up straight away! Just a couple of hours to get from my home in Korea to the unknown world beyond – armed with nothing but a friend’s recommendations (which proved invaluable) and a feeling I was soon to be in my very own Lost in Translation remake…

Lost Trans GIF

Sidenote: when travelling you really do need to think long and hard about who you will actually travel with. Well maybe not too thorough – nothing too ridiculous, but at the very least you need to see a clean bill of health (both physical and mental), a criminal background check, and dental records. Also check their voice and typical conversation topics as otherwise you may be locked in with the most boring groaner on the planet – which is never going to be fun. With this particular adventure I was meaning to go alone originally, and then at the last minute a lady friend of mine tagged along…which brought some erm, shall we say – complications? 

Anyway I mean this sincerely when I say that Tokyo is a marvel. So much to see and do, a far cry from the more reserved and traditional parts of Japan I had visited earlier in the year.  But oddly I found it manages to retain a fantastic balance between the two often conflicting sides; you see one second I’d be staring up at a 60 foot tall science fiction juggernaut in the form of the powerful Gundam, the next I was wearing a traditional yukata and relaxing in an onsen…then I’d blink and be back to the mad rush of the Shibuya scramble crossing! I was completely in my element, roving around searching for the weird and wonderful, straining my neck to try and see as much as I possibly could…it was everything I had dreamed about for so long, and so much more…

Shibuya GIF

But yeah: the ghost at the feast…the wasp at the picnic…the drunk and slightly creepy uncle at the family reunion. Hmm, that last one was a bit weird, but you get my point – this is the part of the story where I say what didn’t go so smoothly, and most of it had to do with my travel companion: hence my warning earlier. You see I try my utmost to remain as friendly and light hearted as possible during trips, as from experience I understand that it can be a pretty stressful period if you let the small things seep in and truly affect you…if you do that suddenly the foul smell of a certain street, the incessant honking of horns on the road, or perhaps even your friend’s breathing can have you suddenly enraged beyond all comprehension: like smashing an axe into a locked door screaming “heeeeere’s Johnny!”  sort of level rage. So it’s best to take a deep breath instead, and just let most hiccups roll off your back…

However, my lady friend didn’t share this ethos…which meant that any small thing became the reason for a monumental day-ruining mood. Juxtapose that dark rain cloud along with my attempted cheery sense of humour and you had quite a pairing; something like if Voldemort was to meet one of the Teletubbies. Well actually that’s unfair (to he who must not be named): it would only be like that if Voldemort had the emotional range to both grimace and groan about public transport, and literally burst into tears about the levels of salt in Japanese food…as it stands I don’t think he is quite on her level yet.

I can understand the frustration though, Tokyo is huge and it’s far too easy to become dazed and confused by the sprawling subway system: which I honestly think was designed by someone throwing spaghetti at the wall, and saying: “that’ll do just fine.” We took many wrong turns during our days there, and the hours were long and well travelled…but I don’t see how it helps remaining silent or dragging your feet along as if you are a pathetically non-threatening zombie, or almost defunct robot:

Robot GIF

There is an answer to such problems though, and one which I will gladly share with all of you…and that is; beer. Yes, you heard it here first! The golden elixir is the perfect remedy to all sorts of ailments, including the frustration you may feel when a friend (or something more) is becoming more than you can bear. Thankfully there was a so-called “English pub” just off a side street near to the Shibuya crossing…where for three times the normal price I could enjoy beer, ales, and all that good stuff as if I was back amongst the smoke and laughing guffaws of my homeland…“Wait, it’s how much?! Jesus tap-dancing Christ!? It’s not worth that!”

But yeah, that’s how things go! Ups and downs, smiles and frowns…you have to take the good with the bad, and try to carve out memories that will last: and despite all the issues we were still able to do that…pretty much.

However I must now look for an AA meeting in South Korea: so yeah, wish me luck. 

www.facebook.com/storytimewithjohn

www.youtube.com/storytimewithjohn101

Please buy my collection of stories! Get it in paperback here – or on Kindle here! ALL proceeds go towards Macmillan Cancer Support!

Drunk Sign Language

On another seemingly normal day I ran into a new friend…sort of…well, a random stranger who had a rather urgent message for me in an unknown version of sign language. I have actually no idea what was going on – but it takes all sorts to make this weird and wonderful world, right?

Still haven’t got the foggiest clue what was going on…

If you have a video request you can leave a comment, or send me an email – if it’s a cool/interesting idea then I will get to it as soon as I can!

www.facebook.com/storytimewithjohn

www.youtube.com/storytimewithjohn101

Please buy my collection of stories! Get it in paperback here – or on Kindle here! ALL proceeds go towards Macmillan Cancer Support!

Why am I Dying? (냉방병)

I’ve been suffering a little bit recently…and by suffering I mean clinging on for dear life – in fact I even thought about writing out my will, but then realised I don’t own anything of worth so just went back to crying alone instead. 

Dying GIF

Oh, but for the record my brothers can share my socks out on a first come first served basis.

Now I know this sounds a little over the top, and just a smidgen dramatic but I promise you it is (mostly) the truth, and only the truth. You see the thing is these past few days I have felt like the devil himself has clawed himself into my face, rummaged around in my skull, and then worked his way down my entire body before exiting painfully out of my rear end in a fiery burst. He has plagued me with a constantly shivering exterior that would make The Cowardly Lion look broad-shouldered in comparison; he has made sleep a struggling impossibility, and has made food pointless…as whatever happens it will spatter out in some mad acid rain dance moments later. Which actually sounds a lot more entertaining than the reality, might I add.

But what the hell is going on? Is this some sort of old testament punishment or something? I just had to know…or more to the point I had to discover a cure for my ailment! Any more friction down there and I felt I would spontaneously combust – which on second thought would at least provide some respite from the chills…hmm swings and roundabouts…

Hot Chills GIF

I’m as confused and uncomfortable as this image is.

Anyway, WebMD scares me, so I decided to stay away from it this time around…for fear I would misdiagnose myself with trench foot, cholera, pregnancy, or something else completely off base. Instead I just so happened to be moaning to a Korean friend who knew exactly what it was almost instantly! Turns out it’s something known as 냉방병 (naeng-bang-byong) – which put simply is your body freaking out due to going from nice cool air-conditioned rooms to the sweltering humid hell that is the outdoors of the Asian summer…which leads to migraines, high fever, digestive problems, and more…oh joy! Woopee!

So what happens is your body gets sick of this theatrical changing of the temperature dials and tries to keep your body at a regular stable heat…in essence it’s the movie I-Robot playing out inside your body; the struggle between human and the machines, a turbulent and wild fight except there is no Will Smith to save the day. Just you sitting on the pot, shitting yourself to death – or waddling around attempting daily activities wishing you were on said pot. A little less Hollywood-esque some may say, and they’d probably be right.

WIll Shit GIF

Yeah, well I’m sick of shitting by myself too Will!

Well just get some bed-rest, watch a few movies, and paint your toenails for a couple days John!” I hear you scream. Hmm yeah, sure – I’d love to, but I simply can’t because I’m in Korea and for some reason that remains unknown to me time off work is a huge no-no – which means no rest and no medicine for the not even that wicked as I finish work after the health centres close. So instead I have to drag myself in, and do this really quite creepy weird whisper-shout at the children I teach:

please…please…shhh…just please. I have naeng-bang-byong…please. Just shut the f-pleaz.” 

Unsurprisingly they rarely listen, probably can’t even hear me – but I just hope to make it to the weekend so I can go into full on Snorlax mode and rest myself back to good health. Wish me luck, and a less sore bottom dear friends! It’s been a rough ride so far…

p.s. I can’t drink beer and cheesy snacks at this present time. So please do this on my behalf, it would really comfort me to know at least someone else is having a glorious amount of fun as I…well you know what I’m doing by now. 

www.facebook.com/storytimewithjohn

www.youtube.com/storytimewithjohn101

Please buy my collection of stories! Get it in paperback here – or on Kindle here! ALL proceeds go towards Macmillan Cancer Support!

KIDS ARE WEIRDOS!

A spot of unfortunate toilet trouble ended up in me coming to one pretty solid conclusion…that kids are weird, and there’s no two ways around it! I mean what would you have done in this situation I found myself in…

Every day is another lesson in straight up strangeness. I swear. 

If you have a video request you can leave a comment, or send me an email – if it’s a cool/interesting idea then I will get to it as soon as I can!

www.facebook.com/storytimewithjohn

www.youtube.com/storytimewithjohn101

Please buy my collection of stories! Get it in paperback here – or on Kindle here! ALL proceeds go towards Macmillan Cancer Support!

Plastic Surgery (강남 언니)

One thing that makes me a wee bit uncomfortable about South Korea is the whole plastic surgery thing – they are easily ahead with the highest per capita rate of cosmetic plastic surgery in the world. But it’s not really the fact that it is so popular that freaks me out…I mean live, and let live, right? I know I have parts of myself I wouldn’t mind changing (the McDonalds forehead wrinkles, and wonky rugby player looking nose to name two!) The problem I have is that there appears to be only one accepted “style” that people go for…and that because of this it’s simply recreated, again, and again, and again…so much so that the rather offensive stereotype of “every Asian looking the same” – quite literally becomes true when you walk around in Gangnam, Korea. (As bad as I know that sounds.)

In fact things are so uniform on that front that it  takes no imagination for me to envisage an experienced surgeon doing all of the alterations with his eyes closed…just leaning back in a chair, while his hunchbacked assistant throws people on his conveyor belt one after another…shifting the forehead, elongating the nose, widening the eyes, sharpening the jaw…

“That’ll be a gazillion dollars please and thank you – now go and be a star, off you pop!”

Plastic Sameness GIF

I don’t get why you would want to be uniform, and fit in…at least not so much you would alter your entire appearance to do so – these people are beautiful just as they are, so it absolutely baffles me!

That’s why I want to give the message that I  strongly encourage people to stand out, and be different – after all, YOU ARE ALREADY EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU – so it’s simply easier that way! However if you must get surgery than I wish people would get something that differentiates you from your contemporary counterparts…an alteration that truly sets you apart.

Such as (and not limited to):

  • Shifting your eyes to where your cheeks are – so you can look at food more closely as it goes into your mouth. This will no doubt make the eating experience a lot more enjoyable.
  • Moving one ear to the back of your head – so that no one can ever speak behind your back, and if they do you can hear every word.
  • Getting a hand attached to your forehead so you can easily wipe away sweat, or keep your hair in check on a windy day.
  • Attaching extra skin to your chin, so you can use it as a fashionable scarf during casual occasions, or emergency rope when you are in dire need.
  • Putting an extra mouth on your thigh, so when people say “put your money where your mouth is!” you can insult them and make them look dumb. (Great party trick!)

So yeah, I feel these changes serve much more of a purpose, and at the very least no one can ever call you a sheep. So please take it as it is meant  – not as some smear campaign…more as a few words of wise advice.

Korean Gun GIF

UHHHH-OHHHHH…I HAD NO IDEA SHE WAS ANGRY YOUR HONOR, HER EYEBROWS DIDN’T MOVE!!!

www.facebook.com/storytimewithjohn

www.youtube.com/storytimewithjohn101

Please buy my collection of stories! Get it in paperback here – or on Kindle here! ALL proceeds go towards Macmillan Cancer Support!

Stop Thief!

I danced a lot on Saturday night…like A LOT, A LOT! It had been quite some time since I had “went out” in Korea, so I guess that I had just stored all of this boogie energy up, and was releasing it all over the sticky dancefloors of Seoul!

One army-looking guy commented that he “likes the way I move” several times, which sounds creepy in retrospect – but I think it was just an appreciation of all the boogie work I was putting in, and also perhaps he felt sorry for me because my friends were at the bar, and didn’t join me until they had reached an optimum alcohol induced state. But I didn’t really care, I was in the zone…

Lebowski Dance GIF

I really wasn’t aware that I’m a Chris Brown fan (honest!) – but apparently my body is. 

Anyway, the fact that I was so focused on busting moves meant that my mind wasn’t on other things – which is a positive thing, I was just having a good time, and totally living in the joy of the moment. But thankfully I wasn’t so oblivious as to not note every single thing…

You see in the next bar I was doing much of the same, dancing, and just having fun – probably thinking that I look absolutely fantastic, but in reality probably looking more like an oxygen starved flapping fish. But hey, no matter. And I was also chattering away, as I imagine I do after a few lemonades…

…but that’s when I vaguely noticed a tall-ish Korean man standing by the table…in a long coat, and with a highly suspicious look plastered all over his face. I attempted to ignore him, but for some reason it struck me as necessary to keep one eye on him…I turned out to be right…

Hermione Shocked GIF

You see my one spying eyeball caught sight of his outstretched arm…reaching right for my dance-partners purse on the nearby table…he pulled on it once – bringing it closer…I watched in disbelief…he pulled on it again, so close to his pocket now…I was still doubting what was happening, or at least what was about to! 

YOINK! And the purse was in his pocket! And he was heading for the door! GONE, HE’S GONE! I rubbed my eyes, and ran out after him – shaking off my friend who was trying to pull me back, probably thinking I was all danced out, still oblivious to the fact that her keys, cards, and cash were about to turn up missing!

I pushed over a few people in the mad adrenaline fueled burst, but I had no time to pay attention to that, he was getting away, HE WAS GETTING AWAY! 

Chasing GIF

Well he was – but he didn’t get far! It was just outside on the street where I grabbed him – and snatched the purse back out of his hand. “Huh? Whaa?” He began, as I shook my head like a disapproving Grandmother! I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do other than that…it wasn’t exactly a combat scenario, and suddenly he was so nervous all of a sudden – a far cry from the slick chameleon he was attempting to be inside the bar!

I turned back, and returned to the table. 

“Where did you go?” started my friend, until I cut her off – and put the purse into her hands. I was puffing, and panting, which made me recognise that I’m certainly too unfit to be any kind of hero…it’s simply not for me. I’ll just stick to dancing, there’s a lot less danger in that!

www.facebook.coms/storytimewithjohn

www.youtube.com/storytimewithjohn101