I watch TV at 4pm. I freeze time at 5pm.


I like the economy and my sister too.


What is the sound of a knife fight?



The market had used clothes piled so densely it was difficult to browse through them. Vendors, mostly ajummas, idled by their goods, chit-chatting through the mothball fumes, peeling chestnuts, or otherwise passing time. No pressure peddling here.

I found a stall stocked mostly with men's clothes, manned by an ajoshi. As usual, I pointed, shrugged, and used facial expressions to communicate. The old man eyeballed me briefly and in seconds pulled from a wall of clothes a jacket that fit me. He then repeated this trick with a pair of jeans. An extra-large pair of jeans was strung up as a divider and I changed amidst the piles. After haggling and completing the transaction, he handed me his business card.

My denim guy has a calling card featuring Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.



We went to Wolmido in October, or was it November? In any case, watching the video now feels like summer: boardwalks, amusement rides, corn on the cob, squid on a stick. I've never been to Coney Island, but something gives me the feeling that Wolmido is the Korean parallel.

It wasn't quite the lively, bustling, thriving place described in our guidebook, however. The promenade was shorter than imagined, establishments were closed down and facades sinking into disrepair. There was a slight atmosphere of desolation mixed in with the carnival fun. A little ghost-town feeling creeping in. Maybe it was just the October air.

Nevertheless, we will take our lowered expectations, visit again, and maybe even take a low-safety-standard amusement ride. Oh hey, there's also a Chinatown, and a park that we have yet to explore. And it looks pretty fun in the video, no?

If you're in Seoul, it's just a subway or two away.

Wolmido

Wolmido

Wolmido

Wolmido

Wolmido

Wolmido

Wolmido

Cross a border and Friday the 13th loses its malevolent magic and chocolate only goes one-way on Valentine's.

My social constructs are tumblin' down!

In other news, I'm working my way through the corner store's instant curry catalogue, and whipping up lemon-sugar crepes from jeon flour mix. Fine cuisine!

I've set my times in the Philippines and Japan on the shelf. Neat capsules of experience, sharply delineated in memory, bookended by flights and train rides. Along with the first two months here in South Korea, they are periods convoluted with new sights, sounds and ideas. An extended highlight reel.

What begins now is that amorphous thing. That fuzzy, glossed-over, grey, mundane thing: daily routine. After the initial wide-eyed romp and gallop in a new city, I now take a deep breath and immerse myself in the cycle.

There's value in this, too. I have a chance now -- a slim shot -- at graduating beyond mere tourist-status. Hang on to your bonnets! Here come that real boring stuff!

Yeah, okay, there might be some fun things. I'll try to steer clear. Disillusionment here I come! Ennui go!

PS. Camera still broken. New one coming? Future = Pictures? Probably?

I'm back in Korea. It feels good to be home. Travelling has emphasized my familiarity with this place; Korea is less alien to me than Japan was. Are there degrees of "home"?

Three days earlier -- I'm on a shinkansen to Fukuoka. At night, Himeji, Kobe, Hiroshima and the rest all look the same as they speed past. On arrival, I take a quick walk to the hostel and read the letter taped up to the front door for me. Another letter containing the room key is taped to the front desk. It is as cordial as the first. Entering the dorm I find a third letter on my pillow, taped to the alarm clock I had requested. I couldn't have felt more welcome.

Three days earlier -- I'm dangling from a ski-lift at Mt.Yeti at the foot of Mt.Fuji. To the South the land zigzags in and out of the Pacific. To the North rests Mt.Fuji. To the East a Ferris wheel stands like a mirage in a plain edged by mountains. Ferris wheels seem to be everywhere in Japan. Big circular anachronisms radiating grandeur, quaintness, whimsy and romance all at once. I am snowboarding. The sun is warm. The snow is grainy and icy. The resort's sound system rotates through acoustic guitar ballads, Japanese reggae, and modern R&B.

Lunch is "fujiyama" rice. It is shaped to resemble Mt.Fuji with curry dripped down the side giving it the appearance of having a white snowcap. I am Godzilla and this mountain is delicious.

Riding home I try to capture a Japanese sunset. But it eludes me, sidestepping my aim like a boxer beyond the windows and ducking behind trees as the bus winds down the mountain.

Earlier still -- Sake. Onsen. Yuzu. The small town of Shizenju. Talk of Super Mario's tanooki suit. MOS Burger. Someone playing a shamisen in the distance.

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