Up the Bung-hole at the throw of a dice


But to para-phrase Fred Dagg, “Not only down a hole, but at the very far end of a hole.” This particular hole was Bongwhasan was at the end of line number six, of the Seoul metro line. I called Ben a few expletives for rolling such a distant location. Bongwhasan was closer to Gangwon-do than it was to Seoul, or in our case, Bupyeong in Incheon, which is where we had meet. Travelling to this place might take longer than the actual walk itself, though I don’t remember what time we arrived at Bongwhasan station itself.

Leaving the subway underground we found that the city was surprisingly modern, albeit with an obsession with oddly shaped air-conditioning ducts. Some of them looked quite contemporary, even novelle. But from odd looking a/c ducts to just an unfortunate array of initals. SNUT,which I suppose means Seoul National University of Technology. Maybe.

Having walked from the station of arrival to the next stop in what felt like a few minutes we arrived at the next stop, Hwarangdae, and according to the thumbprint map in the subway, the home of the tombs for the Chuseon royal family. Though significant, they couldn’t be found, and were not evident in the cityscape. Quite possibly a bus ride away. Ben and I didn’t bother, but after a short discussion decided to follow the minor stream that ran more or less along the same route as the expressway that loomed overhead.

The stream is a place to recreate for many Koreans, and geese alike. Spotted along the way were some informational signs warning of falling objects. In walking through it also showed the almost compulsary graffiti under the bridge. Despite Korea’s straight-laced reputation, you can find signs of anarchy in the form of graffiti if you know where to look. Ecclectic messages ranging from ‘dong’ to cryptic references to game over to faces on a wall. It must have amounted to a fair investment of time for the graffitists involved.

As our walk along the stream progressed the actual stream turned into a river, with anglers, some casual and some simply out for their dinner sitting side by side.

A stop by the river for a rest was taken, but the visual entertainment didn’t stop there. While trying to take a photograph of a crane sitting mid-stream, this pre-schooler wandered into view. He was all class. First chasing the pigeons here and there, while almost tripping up on his own feet. To finish his ensemble, he decided to take a piss into the river he was standing adjacent. Ben and I were hoping for some miracle that he might find his way into the river or that a random heavy object would fall from the sky in a similar style of the information signs seen before.

The final lap, or perhaps the last straw was trying to find a way to cross the river, hopefully by bridge, which seemed to not to exist to accomidate pedestrians though. Instead the solution was to find a bus stop and ride the bus to the nearest subway station, which our case was Cheonganyi.

From annoying to really to just plain bothersome, we sat in our wooden panned chairs at Yongsan station when what turned out to be a Mormon. She began trying to win us over to Mormonism, but the sales pitch was falling on deaf ears. A conversation ensued between her and Ben while I say beside Ben, half grinning, half ignoring what was going on. A hard sell both of us, but she was presistent, and found to be lacking the vocabulary of refusal and denial. She finished and went back to her older supervisor. A perfect end to long slog through the bunghole.


Flash new camera, shooting for the stars

Possibly Jupiter and it's moons

The difference between my new camera, and my older camera is almost light years.

Coupled with my also newly acquired super-snooper lens, it produces clear, bright and colourful pictures. Good for when I’m taking photos for the cricket team. I’ve always considered getting the photo right then and there in-situ. It saves me a lot of time, because all of the photos have come out. No need for editing. Less angst when there’s 100 or more photos to doctor.

With a better sensor, I can set the camera on semi-automatic mode and literally fire away.

It makes an unbettable combination.

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Demolitions and erections, life and death of a building

Things often happen very fast in in Korean. Given Koreas ‘go-fast’ culture, everything from buses to trains to taxis. Even the demolitions of buildings in Korea goes fast, if not dangerously fast.

Knocking down a building (especially a single story building) can be done in one day. To do this, they must cut alot of corners to achieve this. Maybe they don’t worry about asbestos as much as the rest of the world.

To have seen a building there when I left early in the morning and to have come back to where it was only to find nothing more than a muddy crater leads to a number of responses. Curiosity and relief.  Or elation. This muddy crater was a house/ super owned by a woman who was just old and difficult.

But this slideshow features the progress of the construction of a 3 storey building. They don’t seem to build them as fast as they knock them down.

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One Bhuddist rite that I did witness was upon demolition, a ceremony to satisfy the ancestors and spirits that had dwelt in the building. Respect, a pigs head and alcohol spread about the place to appease the soon-to-be evicted spirits.

Flying solo between the lazy and uninterested

1st graders, right after lunch

3rd grade high schools are probably the worst of the lot. Whenever students ascend to the last grade of any school they always have the feeling that education is now unnecessary. You get the same effect from sixth grade elementary schoolers too. But these guys at my high school are just lazy, unmotivated, and refused to be motivated to study at any means.

It’s probably what got them to what technically is a ‘technical high school’. Pardon the pun. Teaching the third grade class I had all of two students that were engaged in the task. All the rest just could not be fucked to do anything but indulge themselves in their own conversations, preen their hair and basically do nothing. From my perspective they’ve got an uncertain future with prospects of little money or jobs. Even if you’re a girl in Korea you still need money to get married, right? And even before they meet some unfortunate sap, they need money to dress themselves up to the nines and tens. Even looking at some of even the disinterested students I see some sort of spark, some internal drive that sets them apart, but most them I don’t see anything. The lights are on, but no-ones home. Not smart enough to draw the threads of causality together, education equals money and a future.

I should have been riled up, but knowing that if I got ticked off, it means nothing to them. Well okay, the lesson means nothing to them, just the same way that they mean nothing to me. Here to do a job, get in, get out with my karma intact.

Pigs dream of money, good fortune to the new building

As explained to me, Go sa (고사) is a ritual to the ancestors pertaining to luck and good fortune. The ritual also involves a pig’s head too, which is a Buddhist rite. Compare this to Chae sa (체사), which is a prayer to your ancestors during Chuseok (추석).

In the case of a building being demolished, Go sa is performed in the hope that the effigy (the pig’s head) will bestow good fotune and happiness to the new building after being  treated to food, alcohol and, apparently every pigs dream,  money. In return, the pig will bestow good fortune (운수) and happiness (복).

It was the first time I’d taken pictures of Go-sa. Taken in Guro digital, an older part of Seoul, the people there are probably a bit more superstitious. The house that was demolished is now a multi-storey appartment building.