The present was hard enough to deal with so that you couldn’t very well handle the notion of the future. He had noticed that it arrived in daily increments without any effort ~ Jim Harrison, Brown Dog Hi, all. It’s been a while since my last Scene from a Stroll — three years, in fact, way back in deepest, darkest South Korea! This shot, taken yesterday morning… ..is a way of buying me a little more time while I finish my almost-ready “real” post — and of introducing you to my new camera, which I’d only received two days before. I’ll tell you more about it soon — at the moment I’ve still got a long way to go till I know what it can do. The Sony, er, “manual” was typically woeful, and what I have learned has come from a lot of internet trawling, plus a fair bit of walking around with it, pressing buttons, twisting dials, and pointing it anything that moves or, more helpfully, doesn’t. But I can already feel the …
I’ve had a bad cold the last few days — think I pushed myself a little too hard in Tokyo for an old guy — and enjoyed Tuesday and yesterday at home. (And in a bakery — my second home.) And then today, as I was trudging to school, I became aware of an eerie silence, a delicious feeling of calm. My pulse quickened but I told myself to hold my fantasies in check — and then I entered the school grounds to find the place deserted.
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!
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 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.
I don’t know, some people say he can be cantankerous and a tad obstinate, but I really enjoy my wise old neighbour’s company.
Lunchtimes Monday to Wednesday I escape N1 and stroll to a park five minutes away with a sandwich, a coffee and the Kindle. I didn’t think much of this scrappy little patch of green at first, but with Summer it’s grown on me, like much of Korea — an oasis of respite from the chaotic din of the corridors and the depressing chimes that divide the school day. It’s even better when the two old men who enjoy staring at me from the opposite bench are absent.
Thursday and Friday mornings find me trudging towards N______ Middle School, a walk of about 45 minutes, a few minutes less if I’m in a good mood. It’s almost always 45.
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.
MARCH 11, 2012 I was utterly depressed. Weekends are sacred to me, and I’d just squandered my Saturday on my worst hike in Korea — hell, my only bad hike in Korea so far.
I was all set to write an angry post, but it’s proving more time-consuming that I’d anticipated — I have a lot of anger in me right now. Instead, how about some pretty flowers? These are on a shrub near my apartment, and when I saw them on my way to hell work a couple of days ago, I almost kneeled down in the street and broke into some worship:
Just back from a great spontaneous weekend trip to the old capital of Gyeongju, my second visit and one of my favourite walks in Korea so far. I really needed a good weekend after the last two were ruined by less-than-satisfactory hikes with other people. I’ve learned my lesson now and I walk alone once more. No time for a detailed post tonight, so here’s a picture I took a little while ago, to tide you over:
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!