Korea, Road Walking, Urban Walking
Comments 12

A Shambles of a Ramble (& a Scrambled-Up Preamble)

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…


Distant Roadworks Ridge & the Shade-Eater Forest


A Friendly Wave Beneath Big Ass


Are You Bored with My Reflections Yet?


Stacy — or Maybe Sid. I Get Them Mixed Up.


Red Bridge, a Local Celeb


Cemetery Ridge, dotted with countless ancient graves

..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:


Hollyhocks & a Remnant Village

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:


The Road-Walker’s Nightmare

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…


In Retrospect It Seems So Obvious

..but decided to keep things interesting (the Blogger’s Code), and kept on walking…


Grassy Nakdong Bank

..to find myself skirting a racecourse, keeping my mountain on my right, hoping to join another road around it.


Aiming at My Mountain


Fill ‘Er Up


Greenhouse Graveyard


Ghost Greenhouses

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.


Not What I Had in Mind

Miraculously, I made it through the emerging industrial estate, past this now-anachronistic temple…


The Gods’ Last Stand

..to find no road — at least no completed road — but a wall straight out of Kafka that I was fortunately able to bypass:


The Wall of Doom

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…


Looking Back Before the Climb

..and a brand-new dam above the estate…


Dam It

..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:


Mountain Splendour


How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take to Change a Mountain?

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…


The Lost Trail


Now Accepting Reservations

..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:


At Last, the Circle is Almost Complete

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


  1. I am not sure I’d like that kind of substitute for muffin either.Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.

    • Tuesday is just about my favourite day of the working week, and I’ve reached another one, so here’s hoping!

  2. Nope. Not tired of the reflection photos. I’ve been admiring them.

    The sky was certainly moody. I don’t recall the air looking so humid at this time last year. I can feel the relief of arriving home after this circular walk.

    I don’t have any plans to walk the PCT except possible some segments in Washington. Long, sometimes circular, day walks where I arrive back home the same day are my style. I’m not one for carrying a pack or camping out.

    Yes. Will the circle be unbroken. Maybe you would like this version, too:

    Have you heard this interview from 1962?:

    • Thanks, Am. I will have a listen to those this afternoon after my last lesson (if I don’t pass out at my desk as I have been of late!). Yes, the sky was nice and brooding that day, but nothing came of it, worse luck. We need some decent rain here.

      I went back to the Yulha area on Sunday — very early (left home at 4:00) this time! I actually got to see the sun rise above the paddies from a completely new vantage point. It was beautiful, one of my best mornings here yet, and I had a splendid time stalking the local dragonflies. I had no idea they got started so early in the day — maybe the sun plays a role. I’ll put those pictures up very soon; I got some beauties.

      I have a birthday coming up next weekend and am flirting with the idea of a night camping as I did last year. My sleeping bag’s in the States but it’s just about warm enough at night that I could get by…

  3. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear.
    Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.
    Anyhow, just wanted to say wonderful blog!

    • Sorry about the hassle with commenting — happens to me a lot on other people’s sites. Appreciate the nice comment, thanks!

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