Took the slow train to Busan. Arrived at 4am. Passengers scattered into night, across the station plaza, ducking into taxis or walking. Like us, they were probably eager to get to bed.

Our plan: find a jjimjilbang, maybe take a quick hot tub soak before crashing. No reservations required, open 24 hours a day, cheap as sin -- jjimjilbangs have been our go-to places for overnight accommodations in Korea from the start.

Crossing the main street in search, we found ourselves in a red light district. A couple of Russian prostitutes sauntered by, offering their services very casually -- just talking to the air.

We steered clear of the ajumma pimps and found a jjimjilbang, a bright, blue and white beacon in a nest of gaudy neon and Russian signage. Sure enough, young respectable Koreans were filing in, mostly couples, squeaky clean and clearly not in the neighbourhood for its seedier services. We lined up, happily anticipating sleep, but once we got to the counter we were told "Korea Only."

I was shocked, furious, but talked down from any rash actions. We walked away; nothing to be done. Luckily, we had friends staying in a nearby motel.

My anger is gone. In that city block, a woman looking remotely foreign spells "SEX FOR SALE", a consequence of the nature of the business thriving there. We avoided it the rest of the weekend, happily returning to a Korea where our appearance usually incites a much more welcoming special treatment.

You Are Here

Yep, I'm still here in Korea, hanging out in our small neighbourhood outside of Seoul. Doing the work thing, doing the weekend thing, doing the summer thing, but man, it's almost time to go, almost time to leave this place and what have I learned? I don't know and I'm trying not to think about it and departing and the good things waiting and those to be left behind and just keeping my eyes on what's in front of me. I can draw grand conclusions later or better yet not at all, but damn, that exit-date is looming.

PS. Watermelons are delicious right now.

We went to Cheongju on a pretty summer day and had some hoddeok in a park with a Ginkgo tree over 900 years old as the seniors played games or gambled or just sat and we walked some more and took photos and ended a nice day looking at fluffy clouds thinking hey Cheongju is nice.

Cheongju

Cheongju

Cheongju

Cheongju

Cheongju

Cheongju

Cheongju

Cheongju

Cheongju

Cheongju

Cheongju

Cheongju

Cheongju

I had my first boiled silkworm pupae. I've passed many stalls on the street deferring my first encounter to another day, the distinct aroma unsettling my confidence.

Well here they were in a dish in a cozy restaurant, ready to eat, free of charge, without the smell in the air.

I ate just one. It had a crunch like an undercooked kidney bean, a similar mealy texture and I might have decided I enjoy them when halfway through it turned sour and astringent.

Maybe they're better fried?

Bundaegi

Pottery

We visited a friend at his pottery studio. Aside from making beautiful things, he also hosts tea ceremonies. We took part in what amounted to a tea marathon. Teas from China, Korea and Japan were carefully steeped and poured one after another and we drank while being regaled by our host until we brimmed with caffeine and stories.

Tea Ceremony


The studio kitchen is also kind of awesome.

Kitchen

And has a resident slug.

Slug

Pooh

Our neighbourhood bar has some Winnie the Pooh decor going on. I hear the ladies have Tiny Toons.

Oh yes, smoking is often allowed in washrooms here. In the toilet stalls, ashtrays are often mounted at sitting level. Must be great for smokers.

Doors

A Women's University building near Hyehwa.

Two more videos of machines making food. (Because, just because.)



Words

Mailbox

Eggs

Bird

Lilypads

I'm still snapping away with the point-and-shoot. The last photo of the lilypads is from the park that Changdeokgung is in. We just wanted to relax in a park, got our locations confused, paid to see this palace only to discover that a 1.5 hour guided tour was mandatory to enter. Eek!

Luckily, we managed to sneak off and enjoy the park without the megaphone commentary. Stealthy!

Mirror

In an old library in Seoul.

Making Kimchi

A lady whipping up some kimchi in a backstreet near Insadong.

Wood

Wood

Dead Neon

Dog Island

Bird

Hey, bird. How'd you get so cute, and what are you doing in this park in Seoul all by yourself?

Muuido is an island not too far from our neighbourhood in Incheon. It was foggy on the beach, and sunny in the hills.

Muuido

Muuido

Muuido

Muuido

Muuido

Muuido

Muuido

Muuido

Muuido

Muuido

Muuido

Muuido

Muuido

Muuido

Muuido

Muuido

Muuido

Muuido

Muuido

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