Month: January 2015

A Korean Flashback #2: I Was a Rice-Paddy Spider Man

The spiders were everywhere over there. When westerners talk about Korea as a destination or somewhere they lived and taught for a year or two, they often lose me pretty fast as they rave about the food or K-pop or the high-tech wonderlands to be found in the big cities. Well, I disliked the food, and Busan, the second-biggest city, just an hour or so from where I lived, will stay with me more for its decaying maze of hillside alleys and the really rather squalid seafood markets on its waterfront than any technological buzz it might have had. (Don’t get me started on the music.) Flashy, cutting-edge, Korea undoubtedly exists, but it was the half-made Korea, the good-enough Korea of the countryside, coast and city fringes that I spent most of my time in. Sometimes I wonder if I would have loved the country more if I’d been stationed in bustling Seoul with its mix of the gleaming-new and the mothball-antiquated, its countless options for diversion on weekends, holidays and before and after work. Certainly I would have been …

The Great Sandgate Blue Blubber Invasion

Yesterday afternoon I was wading through an incoming tide, recalling that it’s best to shuffle your feet when walking in stingray country. A few giveaway clouds of swirling sand just ahead reminded me that I really need to get some appropriate wading footwear. Then in just a few inches of water I stopped, startled, mid-step before a great brown, mottled, slightly convex disc that I took for a dead or floundering sea turtle. But nope, it was a stingray, and man, what a commotion it made as it panicked and thrashed its way to deeper water and safety. A not-so-clean getaway. It’s great witnessing mysterious visitations like these on such a well-trod shore — but this post isn’t about stingrays. Instead I thought I’d share some recent shots of some less lucky visitors, a plague of them in fact — or perhaps a swarm or a bloom, which are the accepted terms. For the last few weeks Sandgate and other stretches of the east coast have been invaded by jellyfish in their millions: If you’re a visitor, you …

Beyond the Smout, Where the Pelicans Play

Apologies to subscribers who received this post twice, or weren’t able to access it the first time. After publishing, I realised a random date had been added to the post. I deleted it and am trying again! *          *          *          *          * Can we name bridges here in Brisbane or what? The first bridge linking Greater Brisbane with Redcliffe across the mouth of the Pine River and Hay’s Inlet was the Hornibrook (“horny brook“) Highway, which opened in 1935 and at almost 1.7 miles was the second-longest bridge in the world. After closing to cars in 1979, the structure remained as the world’s longest footbridge till 2010. Meanwhile the Houghton (“whore-tun” — that’s how I say it, anyway) Highway had been constructed and when it proved unable to cope with the increased traffic, a companion, the Ted Smout (that’s it in the featured image above), was opened in 2010 to carry Brisbane-bound traffic. A clever writer of limericks or dirty verse could …

Casuarina Abstractions

Something a little lighter this time, folks, in both mood and word count, than the tale of The Shadow* — also a rather more pleasant view of the Boondall Wetlands than I presented last time. This little group of shots was taken on the return leg of a photo-run to the Wetlands a few days before Christmas. I’d had some muddy fun wading off-trail (well, there really isn’t much trail where I go apart from this) and finally made it back to the bike/walking path for the hour’s walk home. Yes, this is the same lonesome path I had to walk in the dark a few nights ago — in some ways it was a safer walk last time as there was no danger of becoming roadkill under the wheels of a speeding cyclist! All of these effects were done “in camera”, just playing with camera movement and shutter speed — well, except for the last one, in which the camera was stationary and so was I: I had to hold that pose for 20 seconds! Oh: the casuarina (cass-uh-REE-nuh). I’ve …

An Eerie Encounter in the Mangroves

What’s the weirdest place you’ve ever bedded down in the outdoors? (Don’t answer if you’d be incriminating yourself.) I’ve laid down my bedroll in some pretty cool spots, not even counting the multitude of stealth-camps on or along the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails. Here’s a few that come to mind: Under bridges, foot-, local and highway, in Japan and Korea Numerous beaches and river banks Atop a rickety New Hampshire fire-tower Two Korean roadside bus shelters In the bushes in a Tokyo park A complete stranger’s front driveway (oops) in southern California A roadside shrine in Shikoku, Japan Second-highest summit in mainland Korea A hammock hung over a gushing stream near a Queensland mountain top A derelict bikers’ guesthouse in central Hokkaido, Japan A WWII bunker on Moreton Island A closed-for-Winter tourist park next to a frozen Hokkaido lake, underneath a giant fibreglass tyrannosaurus A building site on the steep side of a gorge in central Shikoku So when the chance came to add another interesting locale to the list, I was pretty excited. If …