All posts tagged: history

kumano kodo kohechi sign

The Backwards 88: The End of the Beginning, Beginning at the End

Hey, folks. How’s that for a mouthful of a post heading? But it’s a pretty good summation of where I am right now on this circular pilgrimage journey — one of the very few circular pilgrimages in the world, by the way. (By the way, I’ve just added a new post category, The Backwards 88, so all forthcoming posts about my Shikoku walk will be accessible from the “Recent Posts” section below.) It’s barely 6:00am and I’m recovering from one of my worst night’s sleep in the month I’ve been in Japan. Ironically, perhaps, it was here at Ryozenji, Temple #1, in a pavilion provided to pilgrims (wow, say that phrase really fast) where I was the lone guest. Unfortunately the bench I lay on closely faces a country road which, despite its narrow width, seems to funnel every speeding truck in Shikoku past the front gate. Also, I was a little drunk on the bad wine I shared with the head monk. Other than that, it was a great kick-off to my Big Walk. In …

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A Korean Flashback #3: At Peace Among the Korean War Dead

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 …

ted smout bridge

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 …

gothic house & christmas lights, night

Steamy Nights, Christmas Lights

Hey, folks. Hope you all had an enjoyable Christmas. Perhaps you noticed the longer-than-usual break between posts — let’s blame the season. I’m not the biggest fan of December. I’ve traditionally associated it with searing temperatures too hot to walk in, lethargy, crass commercialism (I swear there was Christmas product in the stores this year not long after the Easter stuff had been taken down), over-eating, over-drinking, over-sleeping, bad TV, awful music (actually, there was far less of it this time after two Korean Christmases), endless, endless, endless sport and a weird feeling that I just don’t fit in. I always have that feeling, but it’s especially marked when I’m sailing solo through the Sea of Festivity. But it hasn’t been too bad, considering that this isn’t where I really wanted to be at this time. I recently changed my routine from an (insanely) early-morning stroll to a later start and more rambling around sundown. In part this was because I have more photographs of the planet coming to life than I know what to …

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Spiders in the Sky: A Water Dragon Trilogy #2

Hey, folks, so my Korean kitty-kat post a little while back has broken — vaporised, really — all my personal records on TGTW. As this post goes to the presses, the tally of “likes” from other WordPressers stands at 330, way more than 10 times my average number. Unbelievably, comments have reached about 75 and it’s been re-blogged a dozen or so times. Evidently there are a lot of cat people out there in the blog-reading world. If I’d known that, I would have carried a bag of dried fish with me on my Korean rambles. But without a zoom lens it was only due to good old dogged (catt-ed?) persistence (and having nothing better to do with my time) that I got the shots I did. Anyway, as a thank-you for all the nice feedback, here’s yet another picture of a certain devilishly handsome feline: Cheers, 山羊 *          *          *          *          * “I might grow old in Brisbane, but I would never grow up.” ~ …

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New Day, New Beginnings

Hey, people. First off, you’re probably so taken aback by the uncharacteristic optimism in this post’s title that you’re checking whether you’ve strayed onto the wrong blog — a suspicion no doubt reinforced by this site’s BOLD NEW LOOK. Relax, you’re in the right place, and my usual dour outlook (I blame my Scots blood, and the vicissitudes of a weird life) should resume in the next post. Lemme explain. A week or two ago I decided to change T.G.T.W.’s theme — meaning the design and features of the site rather than the subject matter — and spent several days researching the plethora of alternatives offered by WordPress. I loved Linen, my previous theme, but wanted more flexibility with post layout, something that would let me approximate a simple magazine-style look, and also a way to give my pictures more prominence, which seemed fair given the ridiculous amount of time the picture-making consumes these days. Anyway, I looked at 20 or 30 and finally settled on this one, Zuki, a theme so new there’s not much info …

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The Egret has Landed

Just back from a few blissful days of doing nothing much at all in the mountains of northern New South Wales. Alex and I stayed with his brother and his partner at their cozy and evolving home in the gorgeous Border Ranges near Kyogle. I’d forgotten how magical and soothing the Australian bush can be. There’ll be a few posts about our time there coming soon… This is how a typical day begins for me in the coastal suburbs of northern Brisbane.

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Moreton Island, An Alphabetical Adventure: Q-Z

Well, here we are in nether regions of the alphabet, which was always going to be the toughest section of this journey. But by taking a few liberties with semantics and, well, truth, I have successfully completed my mission and can get on with my life… In unrelated news, my birthday gathering has been postponed a week, giving us some extra time to tame and prettify the backyard jungle. Yesterday was a phenomenally beautiful Saturday, appropriately enough for the longest one of the year and the beginning of Summer. The day began with the haunting call of a mourning dove that signals each new dawn lately, and ended the same way as Kate and I sat by the fire pit (we built a good one overlooking our squash-and-corn patch) toasting marshmallows and drinking brown ale: the (presumably same) dove had settled into the enormous old oak in the back corner of our yard, and kept up its mournful refrain until it finally got dark and the fire had withdrawn to a few glowing embers. An all-round …

kate climbing buck mtn

Sitting on a Snowy Ledge, at the Adirondack Edge

BUCK MOUNTAIN, MARCH 7, 2014 Buck Mountain lies on the southeast shore of Lake George, and it is a perfect introduction to the Adirondacks. Pick a bright day in May and start your Adirondack hiking with a great climb. ~ Barbara McMartin, 50 Hikes in the Adirondacks The Buck Mountain hike — and chapter — is #1 in McMartin’s guide, one of a growing collection Kate and I have started amassing. It was also, appropriately enough, our first Adirondack hike as a couple (cue the chorus of Awwws), a nice easy out-and-back (as the American idiom has it) hike of almost seven miles in total. We did make it a little tougher by picking an overcast day in early March, but yes: it was still a great climb.

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A Glimpse of Old China — in Downtown Tokyo

Spider, are you crying, or the Autumn wind? ~ Basho I’ve been in a mental Nowheresville lately. Lou Reed’s passing hit me harder than I can explain or even understand, and of late my day-to-day routine here in south-eastern Korea seems even less meaningful than before. Haven’t felt like blogging or doing anything much at all except listening to old songs, skyping my girlfriend and sighing a lot while I shuffle around. 

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Woodstock: Journey’s End

Time is a jet plane, it moves too fast Oh, but what a shame if all we’ve shared can’t last ~ Bob Dylan, “You’re a Big Girl Now” Time passes slowly up here in the mountains We sit beside bridges and walk beside fountains ~ Bob Dylan, “Time Passes Slowly” Well, which is it, Bob? That first lyric came to me right away as I was starting this; the second followed soon after. There’s a line from Bob for most of the interesting stages, stops and detours on life’s ever-winding highway — more than a few for the inevitable breakdowns and collisions as well.

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Yaddo: Retreat to the Rose Garden!

Hours fly, Flowers die, New days, New ways pass by, Love stays ~ Inscription on the Yaddo sundial by poet Henry Van Dyke, a friend of the Trasks I love gardens, and if I had a won for every hour I’ve spent crawling around in the verges and weedy embankments of Korea trying to shoot flowers (and the critters that choose to hunt, feed or fornicate upon them), I’d be — well, not too well off, ’cause a won is pretty much worthless. In fact I sometimes throw handfuls of them in the trash ’cause what’s the point of ’em? Useless wallet ballast is all. But that’s another blog post.

Life Beneath the Ruins

Heart & Seoul: Walking the Cheonggyecheon

Howdy again. I’ve been a terrible blogger of late — I know it — but I start redeeming myself right here and right now. What’s it been since the last post, a week or so? Unforgivable — I was shooting for two or three posts per week, pre-computer breakdown. The shocking truth is that I can’t even blame the breakdown. Two Fridays ago, after skipping school at lunchtime and enduring one of those bruising trawls through the shabby Busan backstreets that I do so well, just as I was admitting defeat and retreating to the subway, I chanced upon a sign, which led me to an exit, and then a stairway, and finally the nondescript office building housing the approved Apple service joint serving the Southeast. A few minutes with the just-barely English-speaking technician, an arcane configuration of fingers on keys — something out of an I.T. Karma Sutra — and this here laptop was purring like a phlegmatic kitten.

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Woodstock in White

Well I came across a child of God, he was walking along the road And I asked him, tell where are you going, this he told me: Well, I’m going down to Yasgur’s farm, going to join in a rock and roll band. Got to get back to the land, set my soul free  ~ Joni Mitchell (performed by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young), ‘Woodstock’ I’m not goin’ back to Woodstock for a while, Though I long to hear that lonesome hippie smile. I’m a million miles away from that helicopter day No, I don’t believe I’ll be goin’ back that way. ~ Neil Young, ‘Roll Another Number (For the Road)’ Hippies are squares with long hair And they don’t wear no underwear Country rock is on the wane I don’t want music, I want pain! ~ Dictators, ‘Master Race Rock’

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Blood & Blossoms on Sineo-San

[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