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… Advertisements
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.
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.
It sure been a hard, hard winter My feet been draggin’ ‘cross the ground And I hope it’s gonna be a long, hot summer And a lotta love will be burnin’ bright… ~ Rolling Stones, ‘Winter’ Happy Vernal Equinox, everyone! Well, everyone in the Northern Hemisphere; Merry Autumnal Equinox to the rest of you. Depending on your position on this half of our beautiful blue blob, in this neglected corner of the galaxy, at some point on March 21 day and night achieve a much-coveted equilibrium and we can officially kiss the Winter Blues goodbye.
Howdy, strangers. For the second time in Korea I’ve been knocked horizontal by something nastier than a common cold. Everything ached; party season at Club Mountaingoat was reluctantly curtailed. My malaise was exacerbated by an injured rib from a fall a few weeks back: every cough was a blade through my chest. Then just as the rib seemed to be mending, I coughed so hard I threw out my lower back, an old injury that flares up once or twice a year to transform me overnight from Bear Grylls to Grandpa Simpson. As you know, I’m not the complaining type, so I withdrew from the world and stewed in anonymity.
Last week I walked home from Hell Skool the long way, away from the cars and greasy chopsticks of the main drag and “inland”, via the quiet paddies and the bank of the trickling Daecheongcheon. Hadn’t done it in a month or so — it was dusk this time, with the days shrinking, and the air crisp and wintery.