Jul 1, 2007

done gone

Sunny breaks mean temporary relief from the heavy rains and an opportunity to hit the road (decide where you're going later).

OMG. I am a traffic cop (linked to a slightly less pulling-you-over version).

I'm not out of gas, swear. The gas gage just doesn't work.
Gas-a-plenty, the scenery makes the ride.

I realized after taking this picture that the gorgeous view behind me I was going for is partially obscured by a middle-of-nowhere outhouse. At least if this was about me having to pee, Korean outhouses are male/female (linked to big res). Canada doesn't even have random outhouses. We have to learn by example here.

This isn't the only cow I saw.

Here's the other cow.
I know. They look identical. I promise they're two different cows.

Self portrait with cow.

Don't think I've never seen cows before. I've just never had the chance to hang with Korean cows before. FYI: they're the same. Or as is universally understood by my students, "same same."

In Korea, you can get around in the latest in newfangled European autos, on Vespas or motorcycles. Or on this ride-on Korean plow.

It's cool though, I want one.

Gangwon-do is thick with mountains, and the only passable roads are laid across intersecting river valleys. The valleys are fertile, desirable land for a farming family that's willing to cultivate upward. Deep mountain crevasses are hollowed out as Gangwon fields spread upslope where they can, natural vegetation on the mountain rocks eradicated as plows take to the sunny broadsides of the valleys.

I mostly wonder how the farming equipment gets all the way up there.

Families with farms are subsidized 500 Won (about 50 cents!) per 1.8 meter plot of farmland as long as each plot is devoted to the cultivation of certain product - rice, cabbage and other vegetables often get star treatment.

Because of the incentive, farms in Gangwon cleave to the heavens where they can find more land, but always at a cost. The monsoon season brings river water to a standard high, excessive rainfall means damage, while catastrophic rainfall can mean.. well, catastrophic damage. Flooding leads to landslides.

While the family farm in this image [above] isn't building upwards toward a mountain peak in the extreme I've seen (they haven't actually got one), they're still taking a risk. The only access road to their plot is already flooded to the standard level for monsoon weather and it's only early July (monsoons abate in September). I saw two SUVs fly by me, negotiating this water-laden expanse in the span of just five minutes. But so far they're getting off easy - their problem's just a puddle. Excessive damage means this road will be impassable. Catastrophic damage means it won't be there at all.

A traditional Korean family burial site.
Usually large burial mounds accompany shrines, but I couldn't see more than one obvious one here. The site was by the side of the road with no visible entrance in or out.
I really don't know... serene though.

Every, and I do mean every, kid is riding one of these skateboard-surfboard-in-line-skate type dealios that I can't name and can only liken to the culturally ill-fated xlider. In this pic however, an full grown man is riding his xlider-by-any-other-name down a hill that also happens to be a highway.

Then he fell off.

This shit went down in the span of two minutes while I was talking a picture of the burial ground. Lucky there wasn't your typical dwarfish Korean transport truck rumbling up shortly behind to cream him.

Look closely at the sign. Pyeongchang lost out to Van City by only three votes last run, so they've got what some consider the leading bid for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
I'm in the area. If they get it, you can be sure I'll be filled with 'I was there' statements for everyone. The vote goes down just days from now.

Steeped in river valleys and surrounded by mountains, national highways either go in, around or through. I shoved the camera down my shirt on a timer to get this shot for you.

Your rear-view will never be the same.


lisa said...

Those photos are awesome. I especially loved the one taken in the tunnel, but I think it's because I can picture you shoving it down your shirt and hiting the timer.

Sorry I missed your call this morning. 9 a.m. is early when you get home at 4.


Hope you enjoyed it.

tania said...

Awesome pics!!! Hope you had a great Canada Day!!!
It rained like crazy here all day! So you didn't miss out on too much.