So here we are, flashbacking/flashing back to a generally unhappy period of my life again. Why? Perspective is a funny thing. I’m way more miserable lately, but at least my Korean prediament was alleviated by the promise of something exciting to live for at the end of it. It’s weird, but putting together these little collections, even when they’re not exactly uplifting, is distracting from the occasionally bleak present I occupy right now. Enough of that — there’s enough misery in this post, but it’s not mine, and just maybe it’s leavened here and there by glimpses of something else in the eyes of my charismatic assemblage of subjects. I did a Korean Flashback — which is my way of breaking from the regular seaside-wandering stuff I’m sharing of late, while mining some of the thousands of un-shared shots and stories from my two years in that country — a little while back about cats, and it’s easily the most-viewed, most commented-upon post I’ve ever done. That post, Where the Kitties Get No Pity, was featured on Freshly …
The Korean War of 1950-1953 is probably more obscure for most non-Koreans — especially younger ones — than the older but far crazier, bigger, badder war of 1939-1945, and definitely than the more recent and oft-Hollywoodised Vietnam conflict. And what many westerners do “know” about Korea, they probably gleaned from eternal repeats of the M.A.S.H. sitcom. I never liked M.A.S.H. and anyway, it always seemed to me to be more about the Vietnam War than the Korean — I would even guess that many viewers thought they were watching yet another Vietnam show. The only time during my stint in Korea (as a teacher, not a soldier, although there were similarities) I was reminded of the sitcom war was one hot afternoon midway through my 13-day “Goat Killer Trail” death march up the roads of the Korean east coast. Passing this beautiful little ridge beyond some paddies as the sun-baked road hooked mercifully back towards the sea… ..I was reminded of those scrubby, arid hills stretching away beneath the dusty bubbles of those M.A.S.H. helicopters. In other words, it looked like a …
Lately a few fellow early birds I run into as I make my rounds between seaside sunrise and coffee shop have asked how the morning’s snapping went and then hit me with “So, what do you with the pictures?” And I always mumble something about the blog, and personal satisfaction, and more tangible options along the line when I have some money — but mostly what I do with them is edit. Delete and edit. Pretty sad, I know. But they give me a reason to walk, I guess… A plus side of all this downtime is the progress I’ve made with a ton of shots from my two years in Korea, which was when and where I really buckled down and tried to improve as a photographer, largely as an attempt at therapy, self-medication and diversion. And it would be a shame if I didn’t share some of them, so I’m going to do periodic Korean Flashbacks built around a certain theme — and this inaugural episode is about cats. Cats are on my mind of late, and Kate’s …
Hey, all. Hope you had a good TTHOD-25 (Thing-That-Happens-on-December-25). Mine was abysmal, even worse than last year’s; the highlight was going back to bed in the early afternoon. But I was too caffeinated to sleep soundly, so even that pleasure was short-lived. There was no option but to drink (German) beer, but I did manage to pack a few boxes while the euphoria lasted — why wait till Boxing Day? Let’s move on to happier things. Christmas just brings everybody down.
It dawned on me last night that I only had one more Saturday and two Sundays left in Korea. Now there’s just one more weekend and 10 full days. And I intend to cram six more posts into that space, starting with this one. I think it’s now officially Winter. I’ve had the odd case of numb, near-paralysed fingers with the Raynaud’s Syndrome playing up a bit on early-morning hikes, particularly in my camera hand — but really, who’s complaining when over in New York, Kate’s needed her brother with a snow plough so she could move her car? It’s been amazing walking weather. Someone told me today that this area had a mere 30% of its normal rainfall this year — and Jeju Island only 20%. Autumn was far sunnier and more pleasant than last year’s, and I’ve scarcely had a weekend walk over the last couple of months that didn’t occur under clear blue skies.
So I left my eyrie above the temple…
Funny how I always seem to be walking north. Well, until I reach the end and turn around… Exams from Thursday till yesterday meant a nice, relaxing few days at work — for me. Exams over, student motivation plummets even lower than usual — and mine with it. My goal is to do nothing in class but play movies for the next month, and little between lessons but read, write, edit and post. Prepare for a Goat that Wrote tsunami! Meanwhile, in the real world, I am beginning to wind up my affairs here in the Orient. Part of that is saying goodbye to my favourite local landmarks and paths. On Sunday I did a nice farewell hike up Big Ass Mountain. The golden autumnal weather just goes on and on, unbeatable rambling conditions. Let’s hope it hangs in there. Another part is dusting out the archives of unpublished Korean material while there’s still time, starting with the weekend before last, one of the top three or four in Korea for me. Really delightful weather, walking …
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.
Please clean the plates, dear The Lord above can see ya Don’t you know people are starving in Korea? ~ Alice Cooper, ‘Generation Landslide’ Schools of rotting fruit bobbing cheerfully at the ocean’s edge. Dozens of half-melted candles in paper cups dumped in the sand or abandoned on rock ledges for the tide to claim…
Although I don’t have a religious bone in my body, I do enjoy a good temple, as regular readers might have guessed. I don’t go to them in search of anything profound. I just enjoy their architecture and landscaping, and the glimpses they provide of an older Korea (or Japan, for that matter).
I woke, for the third or fourth time — even at home, that’s a good night for me — and poked my head over the wall. Cloud obscured everything more than a few metres down the ridge; I could have been thousands of metres up, somewhere remote and alpine, not a measly 600 or so above bustling Busan. All was silent.
Hi, all. Well, it’s Friday night in the big city — and here in Jangyu as well — and here I am at home typing a blog entry. I might have to prepare a cup of chamomile tea soon to stave off the wildness before I annoy the neighbours.
G’day and good evening to you all. Well, it was back at “work” yesterday, where I spent the whole day in my chair catching up on blogs — no students till Monday. I did enjoy the looks of horror on the faces of the vice principal and other staff as I cheerfully described my holiday fun and had it all translated. My ravaged feet were regarded with delicious horror, and the first aid kit was duly placed on my desk. Spray-on antiseptic, local anaesthetic and Band Aids were generously applied. Life was good.
A popular legend describes the governor in charge of [Dongnae] fortress, Song Sang-hyeon. When Konishi Yukinaga [leader of 7,000 Japanese invaders] again demanded before the battle that the Koreans allow the Japanese to travel through the peninsula, the governor was said to have replied, “It is easy for me to die, but difficult to let you pass.”
I suppose it says something about my tastes that on my very first journey into Busan, second-largest metropolis in Korea, I bypassed the city itself without a second thought and headed straight for the mountains behind the city.
People often say that Brisbane, despite the 3 million people living in its greater conurbation, is still a small country town. You run into people who know people you know — Brisbane people — in the oddest places. You know?
For a while there I was spending part of every weekend in Busan, improvising fascinating little journeys through the alleys, the crowded street markets and up the slopes of the ubiquitous small mountains sprouting out of just about every district. Early Spring in particular was a great time for these jaunts. All of those little peaks were ablaze with cherry and camellia blossom; the parks and patches of half-wild woodland were green and fresh and moist.
It was all happening down at the Jagalchi Fish Market that day. The purveyors of fish, shellfish, crustacea and as-yet-unnamed marine invertebrates were doing a brisk trade, this being the Independence Movement Day holiday:
A bit of fun today, and perhaps sporadically from now on: a favourite single image from one of my rambles. You’ve earned a break from my whiny wordage! This one comes with a question. Who or what are these gentlemen in downtown Busan gazing at so intently? And no, they’re not extras from a Korean version of Goodfellas!
“BLEUUURRRGGHHHHH!” It seemed I’d stuck my big western nose, and my camera lens, into one too many shipyard doorways.