Hey, all. I’m tapping this up in my favourite local cafe, after a Monday that began less than ideally with a student collapsing, distraught, onto the floor after I pretended to award his (evidently much-cherished) Rubik’s Cube as a prize to another student. My humour does not always settle comfortably into the Korean classroom.
Things picked up after that, but not much, and the day’s highlight until I got here was still the afternoon nap in the teachers’ room, during which I have a feeling I was snoring. I got up at 4:00am, as I did yesterday, and the day was as long as it was draining.
Then I got here to the So Pung (it means “picnic”!) and thought I was ordering a latte and muffin as a reward for surviving another Monday. The latte was predictably superb, but the “muffin” came in a gigantic glass bowl and consisted of a mountain of shaved ice smothered in sliced fruit, sweetened red bean paste and a sprinkling of…cornflakes?
My first sampling of patbingsu, even better for being consumed alone and not as the object of a Korean-style group feeding frenzy. Dipping one’s spoon into a communal bowl is a custom I will never warm to.
So I thought I’d share a few pictures from that little misadventure of two weekends ago (crudely summarised in the previous post) when I attempted to circumambulate Big Ass Mountain by road and got my own posterior in a spot of bother. I’m obviously running out of challenges here, but I’ve got a birthday approaching, so will try to come up with something cool…
* * * * *
A cool and cloudy dawn. After stumbling around the Yulha rice paddies for a bit, frolicking with the indigenous arachnids in the shadow of Big Ass, I settled down near the Red Bridge and chatted to Kate, long distance, over (a can of) coffee…
..before inspiration struck and I decided to give a circular road-walk a shot.
The roads cooperated, at first, and the paddies were a vivid, refreshing green:
I even discovered a tiny, slumbering village squeezed between new highway and mountainside, where a farmer, grinning wide and toothless, passed on a motorbike with two little kids on the back:
Road-workers were out enjoying a Sunday excursion of their own, and at times I walked a sleek new road still off limits to the vehicular masses:
And then I reached the Nakdong River, briefly considered walking its bank, held off, briefly considered the sensible option of following a marked trail up the tip of my mountain, held off, briefly considered studying this map…
..but decided to keep things interesting (the Blogger’s Code), and kept on walking…
..to find myself skirting a racecourse, keeping my mountain on my right, hoping to join another road around it.
With some trepidation, I entered a nightmare zone of dust clouds, pile-drivers, cranes, trucks and scaffolding that stood between me and the security of my sweet Big Ass.
I was sure I would be hollered at, and chased out, but I had my orders, so tried to make myself as small and inconspicuous as a camera-totin’ westerner in sunglasses (R.I.P.) and a camo-print Buff can be on a Korean worksite.
Miraculously, I made it through the emerging industrial estate, past this now-anachronistic temple…
..to find no road — at least no completed road — but a wall straight out of Kafka that I was fortunately able to bypass:
And then, with no great pleasure, since I was not in a climbing mood, I began climbing.
I cleared the rubble and the freshly upturned earth…
..and a brand-new dam above the estate…
..and was in dense, scratchy undergrowth with only rudimentary tracks or worse.
Some unpleasantness ensued, and a fair bit of sighing and grumbling. I reached a ridge — an unknown ridge, where I literally gasped with astonishment at what I saw. I’d seen that rising tower complex twice before, but never from this angle – from near that second pylon way along the ridge:
And for a while now I was at a loss as to how to proceed. My little road-stroll was unravelling in an upwards direction, but I was committed, so up I went, despite a lack of path…
..to leave the jungle, sporting several jaunty new cuts and scratches, on the ridge I knew — a subsidiary of Big Ass proper.
Being hot and tired and hungry, and kinda fed up, and with such a long path still between me and the paddies below, I opted to go straight over the side just past this glimpse of the way ahead, with the spot my adventure had started at centre-right:
And then a wearisome skid down the slippery-slidey slopes, till I reached, quite literally, rock bottom, sans very expensive sunglasses and my last rations of enthusiasm.
It was hot out there on the rice-paddy plain at Yulha, where I paused to drain a beer and tend my cuts, and then bypassed the coffee emporia and the weekend strollers and finally made it to my tiny refuge — where I am now — never more welcome than as the prize at journey’s end.
And that’s how I spent my Sunday.
~ And that’s all the Goat wrote