ME AND IMMIGRATION
Today is my weekly day off and it started well, lolling about in bed and IMing The Reprobate, the OAF, and MAF at the same time. I felt such a 21st century boy! If only some of you other "friends" and "family" were more certain IMsters. After all, I now have a personal best to beat.
Then it was off to get the last bit of my difficulties with immigration ironed out. Simple things are often good things (explaining why I dated Kim Vickery) and I had a breakfast of Kimbap and Coffee which is both simple and good.
As a bonus, I got to Immigration, got my ticket out of the machine and was called within three minutes. So now, at the cost of 700 dollars, I'm clean with Korea. Looking at the passport I'm not sure that I have the paperwork I need for multiple entry (which reminds me of an experience I once had in a men's room at the bus station in New York, but perhaps that is for another post?) status, but when BKF lands I'll have him look at it.
This has been, as my first lovely picture of Namsan over there indicates, an uphill struggle.
Still, I'm quite happy it is over and despite initially getting on the subway in the direction of outer nowhere (Somewhere between Alameda, California and anywhere in the semi-autonomous English posession of Scotland) I was home by 1:30 or so.
UP THE HILL BACKWARDS (IT'LL BE ALRIGHT)
Since I had purchased some new headphones last week on my trip to Yansang, and wanted to use the mighty Ipod, I thought a trip up towards Seoul Tower would be a darned good thing. I grabbed the camera and headed up.
Spring is very slowly beginning to sprung. I could see some color - those yellow bushes along the road have bloomed in the last week, and when I looked closely at the bushes and trees I could see buds everywhere. The buds were pretty obvious on some of the flowers - the only exception were the Mugungwha (Rose of Sharon) which have been so tightly pruned that they seem to be in a state of shock. That might not be all bad, since although some plants have been fooled by last week's Spring-like weather, it went back to about freezing the last few days and last night, as I went to dinner at a Nepali restaurant, it snowed a bit.
But spring is coming, as even the trees are starting to bud. Most of the hill is still pretty ochre, but some spots have dashes of color and, after Spring last year in Daejeon, I'm looking forward to see what's going to happen on the mountain.
I didn't include pictures here of the lilly pond on the Itaewon side of the mountain, but by change of the season, or by the hands of man, it is starting to get substantially less cloudly and it also looks ready to start blooming into something cool.
BE VEWWY VEWWY QWIET... I'M HUNTING AJUMMA!
The hiking behavior of older Koreans is unlike anything I ran into in The Empire, so I also took a few emblematic snaps of them. The first thing I noticed in Korea (on the trails that is) is that older Koreans have a very characteristic walking style. They either carry a walking stick, in which case their hands are free, or they clasp their hands behind their backs and walk slightly leaned forward. Spookily, this walking style is exactly that of the OAF (this might explain her love for kimchee - shared genetics) and it has always reminded me of old WWII pictures I saw of Hitler reviewing the troops. At any rate, it is very typical.
The second thing, that I think I've mentioned before, is that for people going out "into nature" Koreans do everything they can to cover themselves from it, and many Ajumma look only a plane ticket to Nepal and three Sherpa short of an attempt on Everest.
It was a bit chilly today.. 45 degrees in that savage measurement system that many of you use back in The Empire ... but not that chilly, and this style of dress is as strictly adhered to when it is 90 degrees and 90 percent relative humidity as it is when ice-storms are blowing through. Anyway, I include a snap of each style. That picture of the couple, particularly spooks me out, because .... because... THEY HAVE NO FACES!!!
Ahem, I'm better now.
USE YOUR. TALENT TO DIG ME UNDER
Last week I also went on search of pots for plants, potting soil, and fertilizer. Only one of these things exist in Seoul (pots - a culture so good with ceramics is likely to have a lot of pots about). Some quick confabs with my lovely students returned a uniform response, "you have to go outside Seoul." But all the classes were also uniform in suspecting I was some kind of dangerous retard for wanting to pay for dirt.
I took great pains to explain that while I was some kind of dangerous retard, it was for not this reason. Also, after my explanation of what I needed, a student in each class finally said some version of, "Professor, why pay for dirt? Our school is next to a mountain."
And so it was that today, on my trip to Namsan Mountain, I took a little tupperware container and stole some dirt from beneath a newly planted tree.
This went against everything the Sierra Club ever taught me, but when in Rome, I suppose, I must do as the Romans propose.
Then, maybe 100 meters past the site of my dirt theft, The Universe either taunted me, offered me an answer, or is trying to get me arrested. Maybe all three.
As a dangerous retard I have no way of judging.
But there, to the left of the trail, was a tarped stack of of 20 kilo bags of dirt that the park gardeners apparently use for planting things.
I'm not sure what to do about this, but If I call any of you for bail money, I damned well expect you cough up. Got it?
Ah.. a good day in the land of always tomorrow...
This weekend may be MT, which should be a raft, if not an actual cruise-ship (since who knows where we are going), of entertaining stories.
For now, it may be time to toddle down to the regular and have a delicious Gin and Tonic.
After all, days off only come around three times a week.