Travelling there [in the mainstream] was really boring so I headed for the ditch. It was a rough ride but I met more interesting people there ~ Neil Young
It’s instructional if occasionally depressing to pay attention to the roadside in Korea (Japan too, for that matter) when you’re out walking. The amount of trash that ends up there is phenomenal; in the countryside, farm edges, ditches and embankments, particularly on mountain backroads, often function as useful spots to drive out, haul your old TVs, toasters — damn, even fridges — from the trunk or truck tray, and hurl them into the undergrowth before heading home, job done.
On this late afternoon I was winding up a workday with a stroll in the rice paddies between the rising new suburb of Yulha and Big Ass Mountain (featured in the previous post). Looking down, I was taken aback to see the whole embankment between road and paddies — I’m talking many, many metres — littered with garbage.
What really stood out was the toys, a great heap of brightly coloured plastic: building blocks, cars, dolls, doll houses, water pistols, handguns and machine-guns, all the garish sweat-shop junk kids enjoy for a few months these days before it’s landfill. After gasping, I believe I smiled, sorta.
Imagine the scene. Daddy offers to help out the missus with the spring cleaning. Loads little Minji’s — or Ginsu’s — last-season playroom detritus into a box, throws it into the car, lights a smoke, and drives out into the country. Gets out, looks both ways — or maybe doesn’t — and carries it to the roadside, heaves it all over, wipes his hands, lights up, stands there a few minutes enjoying the quiet and the crisp country air of dusk. Drives home.
I moved on, rounded a bend, looked down, stopped dead in my tracks. A dreadful shock, a What the f…! Then a delicious thrill, as I leapt down into the ditch, already firing up the camera, chuckling, shaking my head.
Imagine the scene…
~ And that’s all the Goat wrote