Life in the ROK

West goes East: The lives and adventures of a Californian couple living in Seoul

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

At the start of May I went out for the Expert Field Medical Badge (EFMB) and got to play in the dirt for about 10 days. The training included the backstroke under barbed wire. They hosed it down pretty good for the actual testing day.

I didn't earn the badge this year, sadly, but it was tough: only 3% of the candidates earned it. The grading criteria is rigid and, once they started shooting (blanks) at me with "arty" shells going off around, I reverted to my clinical experience and not "EFMB standard". It was pretty fun running around anyway and good training for if I am ever in a real combat situation and need to give medical aid.

In this picture, you can practically hear the First Sergeant thinking, "You got to pull the casualty out of fire and around the corner BEFORE you drop your aid bag and start saving lives, sir!"
I'll get the badge next time.

At EFMB they sent me out to do land navigation for a couple of days, also called orienteering. It was a pleasure to wander the Korean countryside. Korea is a hilly country and pretty much every little draw has a few rice paddies aesthetically arranged in a stepped terrace. White herons are ubiquitous and I saw a few Korean musk deer that are barely larger than a German Shepherd. I even learned how to find my points, although the one I was looking for in the bottom photo was really 5E6.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Last week I visited my friend Cara in Okinawa, an island off the southern tip of Japan. She is living there with her pilot husband who is stationed at Kadena Air Force Base. Thanks to her guidance I was able to travel there for free on a military plane, this system is called Space A, for space available. I was very lucky to make it on a flight on my first try, and it only took me 2 days to make it back to Korea a week later....this is pretty good by space a standards, where people can wait for a week to get on a flight they want. In this picture Cara and I were hiking to Hiji Falls in the North part of the island. It was beautiful and a nice change of pace to be out of the rush of Seoul.

This strange looking vegetable is called Goya and is in the melon family. Its strong and bitter flavor is much loved by Okinawan's who eat it stir fried with tofu and spam, in a dish called champuru. Many foreigners don't like it but I thought it was delicious!!!

Cara and I met these two Okinawan girls when we were out one night. They told us that they wanted to improve their English so that they could marry Canadians, or maybe Americans....I guess the jury is still out on that one.