Tokyo was a trip. I’m still recovering: my calves are sore, I’m rundown and cranky — and waking from a dream adventure to find yours is the only discernible pulse in a classroom full of dead-eyed rag dolls is the cruelest of reality crashes. What I really need, though, is a post-holiday holiday to grab some sleep. I spent one night in a wet sleeping bag on a 1,364m mountaintop harassed by God’s searchlight, a Chuseok full moon (just as I was a year ago on the third-highest peak in Korea). The following night, my last in Tokyo, was likewise far from restful. Bedding down in the bushes in a buzzing megalopolitan park seldom is. Advertisements
Just before I split from bustling Haeundae Beach (barely a minute after arriving), an older guy approached, asked if I was a photographer, smiled with compassion worthy of the Buddha himself when I confessed my true calling, and proceeded to list all the other westerners he’d befriended. Then he commenced a detailed discourse on the history of Yonggung Temple.
Seoul rocked. Well, the parts I saw before, between classes and after the week of EFL training rocked. That was a hard week, and I was left with the lasting impressions that a) I am a very poor student and b) I may well be the worst teacher in Korea. How “motivating”. But I made some good friends among the 180 teachers present (most from my province and Gangwon, where the adventure in this post is set) and I’ll do my damnedest to keep in touch with them. I’d forgotten how nice it was to talk naturally to other people in our own native language.
Well, it was with some trepidation and a well-stocked Kindle that I boarded my bus in Busan that Saturday. Chuseok is invariably mentioned in the same sentence as “traffic”; the exodus to hometowns and grandparents’ homes would inevitably mean clogged roads and a protracted journey. But we made it to journey’s end in six-and-a-bit hours. The bus drivers here are wizards of an ancient and arcane order. I opened my eyes as we passed the SOKCHO sign that marked the finish line on my previous northbound excursion, and was soon strolling to the coast with a few hours of light to play with.
ON A SOUTHBOUND BUS, WEDNESDAY Greetings, folks. Never blogged from a bus before, but here goes. It’s a wild ride for writer and reader alike here on TGTW, where we explore the uncharted frontiers of the Blogosphere, at least until motion sickness kicks in.
G’day, friends. Let me tell you about my day. I was in such a good mood today, I almost felt like I’d been possessed by really-quite-nice spirits. If you want to know the secret, I’ll spell it out for you: first, get paid for a week of doing nothing. Oh, you have to turn up, but you get to sit in your chair for four hours without any human contact whatsoever. Second, you can go home at lunchtime — or better, you can go climb a mountain and burn off all the fat that just accumulated around your buttocks over those gruelling four hours.
I didn’t take many pictures on this day: harsh, unforgiving light, a wearisome trudge through Ulsan’s industrial zone, torpor in a park during a brutally hot midday, another long slog out of town. In fact this would be one of the lowest daily photo tallies of any walk I’ve ever done. But you can’t force the magic!
Well, I rate the iPhone post experiment as a success, despite its obvious limitations in the photo department, and you can look forward to some highly digestible near-daily Postcards from Wherever during my upcoming ramble. Meanwhile, with the post-hike luxury of cushion, keyboard, light and air-con, here’s the more complete story of my killer weekend: with its killer views, temperatures, insects and a humidity/dehydration double that packed a killer punch.