Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Tree Grows in Korea

Last weekend I got some fresh air in Andong, a folk village where my friend Youngji grew up. Her parents have a summer house there and we ate our way through the eastern part of Korea all the way to the coast. Here are some pictures from the trip...including this first one at the subway station in Jamsil. This is funny for several reasons but most specifically because it conjures images of Lord of the Rings instead of mismatched Korean fashion...and considering the fact that every piece of clothing in the store has sparkles, bows and some misspelled english words on it, GRACEFUL isn't the word I would use. But I digress...behold the glory of the roadtrip!!!!!!Did you think I would forget to chronicle the reststop bathroom? I think this bathroom was so interesting to me because it FELT so weird and open like the creepy kind of bathroom you find yourself in during a crazy nightmare where clowns chase you through the halls...At the beginning of the trip the bathrooms looked like this...a veritable oasis of peeing with toilets of BOTH kinds (squat on the ground and western) and a lovely gardenesque display in the middle. By the end of the trip, there was not a western toilet to be found and I got really good at not peeing on myself. Youngji wearing her mother's driving sleeve. I'm not kidding. It's to cover her arm so she doesn't get that one arm tan.
Evidently if you wear flowers in your hair in Korea, they call you crazy here we are, 4 wild and crazy girls. haha.

basking in grass that I'm allowed (and not afraid) to lay in...these pictures remind me a bit of that little park in SLC where I used to lay in grass on my lunch break back before grass signaled something sinister and untouchable.

Rice paddy. First time I had seen one. Kind of cool. These next pics are of a traditional Korean family house...The Shin family owned this house built in the 1800's. The compound has 99 rooms which is supposed to signal wealth. The oldest son would live here and his wife would keep the house and make the food for anyone in the extended family who came to visit. That's a lot of food.
This is how they heated the floors back in the stove, fire under the house that would heat up a large slab of stone. The stone stayed warm for a night and you slept directly on it. The modern derivitive is the stone bed that I now sleep on. Pretty inventive if you ask me. A little smelly maybe and definitely HARD but inventive!

We found a little stream in the mountain after eating our "energy chicken" soup (each region is known for a specific food item and Andong is famous for salty makerel fish (yum) and this ricey chicken soup that you're supposed to eat when it's hot to combat the heat with more heat???) and we dipped our feet in and lounged around like lizards on the rocks...eventually it degenerated into singing the songs on our cell phone hold music and that's when we decided to go to the east coast of the ocean...

Rocky, pebbly, not sandy...this ocean was deep blue and angry..the stuff of poetry. I spent quite a bit of time contemplating life and lost love on the rocks while the surf pounded in with the coming tide. I wanted to write something sad and purposeful like the waves but I didn't bring my journal so I sent the poem out to the cloudless sky to be translated to the language of water someday when I return.

I loved being there especially because I can now say that I've been to the ocean on three continents. I think I will spend my 30th birthday in August at the Korean Coast (a follow up to 29 on the South Australian coast!) but maybe down south a bit more where the waves won't make me cry.

Andong was nice...a perfect escape from the city and a needed reconnection with my own fragility. Nature is so amazing.


Sara McOllie said...

Cool photos. Can I just say that I like that you are attempting to be a long haired girl? I like your hair in the pics. Now, I used to be a long haired girl once upon a time so I don't have to try it again.

Tamara said...

kaRyn... you wear korea well. i miss your smiling face!!! :)

Angie said...

I went to the Arts Festival today and I thought of you (remember last year?). I miss you.