“It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. . .” ~ Charles Darwin You meet the best folk when you rise early. Advertisements
Hey, all. I’m typing this on the terrace of one of my favourite weekend haunts, Cafe 7gram in Yulha, 20 minutes’ walk from home. It’s late afternoon on Korean Memorial Day and I spent the day in my patented weekend Goat-walking style. Let me tell you how I get the mileage and some photography in during the merciless heat and light of almost-Summer.
Around the middle of last week we got some decent rain, and Daecheong Creek, down here in Jangyu where it widens and levels out after its carefree tumble down the gullies of Bulmo-San, roared with an uncharacteristic wildness.
Just before I split from bustling Haeundae Beach (barely a minute after arriving), an older guy approached, asked if I was a photographer, smiled with compassion worthy of the Buddha himself when I confessed my true calling, and proceeded to list all the other westerners he’d befriended. Then he commenced a detailed discourse on the history of Yonggung Temple.
Did you ever have one of those jobs where entering the office some mornings was like sailing a cursed clipper ship into a fog of doom? Actually, just about every job I’ve ever had has been like that.
Back to Japan this post, folks: freezing Hokkaido and the beginning of my ill-fated and immediately disastrous attempt to walk the length of Japan from top to bottom in 2008 (my friend Chris was down in the tropical south, walking north).
I wouldn’t want to be born a dog in Korea. After sixteen months in the country and with at least a thousand miles on foot behind me, I’ve seen and been yapped at by enough mutts to conclude that you can broadly segregate them into three groups.
Hey, all. Just to show that there’s more to the mean streets of Jangyu than the trash and decay I highlighted in the last post, I thought I’d balance things out today with a bit of urban beauty. This is the first of my Scenes from a Stroll to feature more than one picture, but I think this lot work together as a series. And to tell the truth, I couldn’t bear to break up the set!
Their roofs, doors, windows and other useful parts were cannibalised long ago. Only their cinder-block-and-concrete shells remain, and perhaps the faded cheer of their pastel overcoats. Spring seedlings advance to their rubble-littered edges…
A few minutes’ walk from my place, the frisky ponies frolicking down Daecheong Creek that I described in the last post are corralled in concrete, broken in and tamed into prancing show ponies. The Daecheong from that point is a sad and languid canal that slumps obediently towards the ocean near Busan, its sides and banks liberally strewn with trash, its momentum disrupted with spillovers and channels and detours through pipes. Hard to believe it’s the same waterway.
“God damn it!” I was taking a hard-earned morning nap in the storeroom next to my Fortress of Solitude when that godawful bell ruined everything, announcing the conclusion of the day’s midterm exams. 12:15. I slumped grumpily to the window and watched the students escaping, free for the rest of their Friday. My Friday was free only of classes. I still had to turn up, to sit in the empty room with its broken computer for eight hours. I had seen no other teachers all morning. I flicked through a book — one of those paper ones they used to make last century — and stared out the window, itching for my own escape.
The conclusion of yesterday’s tale. Two posts in 24 hours = two consecutive days of doing something useful at work! This could be habit-forming… So back I went along the ridge, down the foggy ruins of time (Bob Dylan), umbrella swishing nice cold raindrops into my eyes from low-hanging boughs. I dug my main camera back out of my pack, slung it round my neck and resumed my struggle against the forces of darkness — I mean the forces of moisture. I’m pretty reckless with that little machine, but I’d rather have it handy and risk a few raindrops than have to keep stopping and retrieving it.
Hey, people, thanks for dropping by as always. I’ve split this post, about last Saturday’s unexpectedly interesting little walk, into two parts, carefully calculated to allow uninhibited digestion over two consecutive bowls of cereal. Expect the next installment in 24 hours or so.
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.
The first nickname I gave it was Mount (-ing) Devastation, applied after a dispiriting walk to its base last year. It’s the most impressive bump on the spectacularly bumpy perimeter of the rice-paddy country nudging up to Daecheong Creek and the dirty streets of Jangyu. My gaze repeatedly strays to its stern pyramidal eminence as I limp home from Hell Skool on Thursdays and Fridays. Looking at it always cheers me up.
Bow down to her on Sunday Salute her when her birthday comes ~ Bob Dylan It’s my gal Kate’s birthday, and we’re a few thousand miles apart, which is damned inconvenient, but on tonight’s birthday Skype (it’s the evening of the 13th here; in New York she’d just gotten up but looked a lot hotter than I do at 6:30am, if you can believe that) I promised her a birthday treat, and here it is: her very own tribute post on TGTW!
The nest of the Korean magpie, known as the ggachi, is a ubiquitous addition to the skyline in the farmland fringes and right into the apartment tower heartland. Though the birds themselves are difficult to photograph with my prime lens since they never stop in one place for very long and are wary about intrusive weigookin (foreigners) like me getting too close, their nests — enormous and unkempt assemblages of sticks — can be spotted from a great distance.
..a queasy, disorienting feeling came over me. Something was missing. I stood there on the roadside, checked for wallet, sunglasses, lens cap, glasses: all present. I clicked on the camera, reviewed the last shots from my Sineo-San walk, trying to spark a memory, saw this one of the cherry-bordered mountain road I’d just descended…
[Folks, this post, published earlier this month, recently disappeared from my site. Like, utterly — it’s not even in my WordPress trash folder. How is this possible? Thanks to Kate, my diligent blog monitor and number-one fan, for alerting me — I had no idea! Don’t understand how this could happen but am CERTAIN it wasn’t me. Anyway I’ve recovered it from Google Cache and backdated it to the original date. Apologies if I can’t get the original comments back as well…let’s see…] * * * * * The wreckage looked like shredded pieces of paper. The plane’s broken tail and nose came to rest near the top of the mountain, where a lack of access roads slowed rescuers’ efforts to reach the scene of the disaster… The plane hit one side of the mountain and then plowed toward the peak, catching fire and cutting a trail of fallen trees 100 yards long and 30 yards wide ~ CBS News, April 15, 2002
On Thursday he was uncharacteristically buoyant as he walked to school. The sun and birds and flowers and coffee were doing what they’re supposed to in early Spring. He texted his girlfriend in America and declared his love for her, the planet, its coffee, its blooms. He got to school early, ready to prep. He was characteristically un-prepped.