What I’ve been promising you

I keep saying: “I’ll post pictures soon.” By now I’ve been stringing you along for a good while. Here are some pictures that go back a ways. I have so many that I’m going to need to write two blog posts to fit them all in it… even this one is a bit of a stretch.

Let’s start it off with some garbage I found on a mountain a few weeks ago. This is the package from an army ration of bibimbap. I thought perhaps Dad might get a kick out of seeing another country’s MREs. Bibimbap is actually not that hospitable to being put in a bag—you’re supposed to keep all the ingredients separate inside the bowl so that, until just before you mix it up to eat it, the bowl from above looks like a pie chart (a pie chart with a fried egg in the center). I guess they don’t bother with all that separation in the rations.

Here are a few pictures of Myeongdong, the main shopping district for fashionable tweens in Seoul. It is an amusing place.

(I think this one may actually be in Chuncheon, but it’s in the same spirit.)

This is what the street vendor system looks like. These vendors are everywhere, but in Myeongdong they aren’t too far away from some kind of critical mass. In Itaewon, the foreigners’ neighborhood, they line the sidewalks, and they all seem to be selling the same three things: socks, flat caps, or T-shirts. Either Itaewon is the only place in Seoul where you can get flat caps, or there must be a huge demand for flat caps among the foreigner community in Seoul. Or it’s another example of how Korean economics don’t really make sense.

Some subway advertisements make more sense than others.

Here are pictures from the time we went to Sokcho and Seoraksan—I wrote about this a few posts ago. First here’s what the zipline was like. We were this high up:

And we went over this:

Here’s Natalie.

There goes Natalie.

While looking for a restaurant or a taxi, we accidentally came across this impossible place.

(Sean and Natalie.)

Later on, back in town, I took a walk around and looked at things. I wasn’t surprised to learn that fishing is important to Yangyang.

I was less able to explain this large-balled bull.

The following morning we went to Seoraksan. Here are the other three considering the enormity of this cable car.

As I recounted before, Sean and I decided the cable car was for sissies, so we took the cool way and climbed up to Ulsan Rock. (This is also a part of Seoraksan. As far as we could gather, Seoraksan isn’t one single mountain, but rather a sort of complex of peaks all answering to their own names and also to Seoraksan.) On the way, we passed a giant Buddha that just happened to be there.

To contrast with the serenity of the previous shot, here I demonstrate my ability to look like a total yokel.

Our destination.

When we got closer, it started to dawn on us that this was a serious rock.

I desperately wanted to do this.

I believe I told you that this hike was crowded, but I don’t know if I was able to convey to you the severity of the situation. This is what I meant. This, as I said, is what happens when there are 50 million people in a small country and you convince them all that one mountain is the very best.

But if you can ignore all the humanity for a moment, you can see why the ordeal is worth it. Please click on this one to enlarge it.

Unfortunately, the Korean apathy toward nature stretched even to here.

It puzzles me. They keep the insides of their buildings so clean. Amanda and I have to sweep the classroom every day before the end of school. It’s tiled with tiles that have a picture of carpet on them. We have to sweep each and every tile, even if there’s clearly nothing on it. Last Friday, my co-teacher channeled her perpetual agitation into sweeping: she swept between classes—and she’s not an idiot, so she fully knew that the kids would just mess it up again. She’s not an exception—most Koreans I know of would say it’s extremely important to have a spotless house. But outside, they toss garbage anywhere, even on their national treasures. I guess the outside isn’t worth considering. Or maybe they know that there’ll always be someone along shortly to tidy up. This is true. Wherever there’s garbage, people—usually really old people towing huge carts—come pick it up and lug it away in massive loads. I don’t know where it goes, but I assume they’re getting paid for it somehow, somewhere.

Back at the base, Sean noted that his guidebook had a discrepancy from reality. He’s pointing at it with his thumb, if you enlarge this.

Lastly, here are a few disorganized photos. I think this one is from Seoul Station. Most of the English I see around here is pretty sensible, but every once in a while you see evidence that a lot of Koreans just don’t get it. The C here didn’t fall off, it was just never there. I know because there was another sign identical to this one that also didn’t have the C.

And here’s Sachangni in the fall.

The statue of the Buddha that we have next to the temple overlooking town.

I biked up here the other day to stretch my legs and see a view that wasn’t the one from my window. I met a soldier there, and we each spoke a little of the other’s language, so we had a little conversation. There were two buildings, and he explained that one of them was the soldiers’ temple where they could do ceremonies, and the other was for civilians. He also showed me the little clearing next to the statue, where you can sit and look up at it. There are benches and chestnut trees. Chestnuts are in season right now, and roasted chestnuts also happen to be one of my very favorite foods, so I picked one up, but he told me they were no good for eating, because they have worms and they’re small. Nonetheless, I found a clean, decent-sized one and took it home.

The next day I decided I believed him about the worms.

File under: photos · Places: Korea, Seoul

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O.K. I am impressed. It is a beautiful country. I hope i don't embarrass you but you a a good looking man . You have been hiding it for so long I really didn't
know or at the least remember this. Finally, I really enjoy you adventures. I may live them in a virtual world, but I live them. Grandpa


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