Up in the Valley

A VERY PARTICULAR darkness envelops Guinsa at night. Arriving after sunset, one is greeted by a vast parking lot beside something smaller than a village—a splatter of homes and restaurants, maybe 30 in all, mostly closed up by 8 p.m. The temple complex itself lies one kilometer uphill, wedged within a valley surrounded by mountains on the eastern border of North Chungcheong, the landlocked province.

“Do they pray all day?” I asked, incredulous. “No, no,” the sweet-faced girl replied. “Maybe… 10 hours a day?”

My latest clip from Busan Hapsto be found in the physical thing wherever the physical thing is held. Photo taken from my flickr photo album recording that four-day trek, if you’re the type to actually click these links.

FIVE THINGS TO SIMULTANEOUSLY LOVE & HATE ABOUT LIFE IN SOUTH KOREA

OH, KOREA! Land of Miracles, Land of Mountains, Land of Superficiality and Antiquated Women’s Rights and Dirt-Cheap Liquor and and and… Where a proud, moving story of democratic triumph in the face of repeated military coups exists snugly south of the creepiest totalitarian regime in the world; where drivers constantly run red lights but I’d never trust another country’s motorist to pass within 3cm of my person; where software development is at a world-class high and yet every website is designed for Internet Explorer. South Korea is where they use spoons for rice and chopsticks for chicken wings, and where the two most valuable qualities in a man are respect and politeness, until, inevitably, your boss demands that you join him in drinking dangerously cheap alcohol and singing the Korean equivalent of Bon Jovi together until you stumble into a taxi at 2 A.M. like drunken teenagers.

… there is no distinction between “stylish” and “hipster”. One Saturday night, I saw a man walk casually into a bar wearing a picture frame around his shoulder, as a prom queen might wear a sash; that is to say, as an accessory.

My latest piece for UK-based TravelMag; in truth just a melange of observations I’ve collected in my six short months here. Here’s to the next six [at least?]!