Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Walk Thoughts #62.5: weird numbering of my posts

Sorry if some of my posts are appearing seemingly out of order. This is the price I pay for trying to post while out in the boonies. Apparently, my phone and LTE service can handle only so much data (which shouldn't be that much, really), so there are times when the Blogger app on my phone gets caught in an eternal loop, especially when trying to publish a large batch of photos—say, 15 or more. In such cases, the app will get stuck on saying "Publishing... publishing... publishing..."—and nothing will happen. When post #99 gets stuck in a loop, but post #100 successfully appears, then you see #100 first, and you either won't see #99, ever, or #99 will appear after #100 once the post has processed through.

Again, sorry about that. Whenever I have access to a desktop (like now), I'll do my best to fix the problem as quickly as I can. (Or as Koreans say: "as possible as I can.")


"Guardians of the Galaxy 2" is out, and here I am, stuck on the road for a few weeks. Balls. Guess I'll wait until it's on video.

Walk Thoughts #63: after meeting Mr. Park

Walk Thoughts #62: before meeting Mr. Park (2)

I passed by Ipo Dam without actually traversing it. Here are some photos.

I liked the landscaping here:

This structure ought to be a fancy restaurant, but I'm pretty sure it isn't:

I believe the above building is some sort of watchtower. It's called a jeonmangdae, which normally means "observatory."

A bunch of young bikers gather around and munch on snacks:

A sideways shot of the dam and the jeonmangdae:

Another damn dam shot:

Walk Thoughts #61: before meeting Mr. Park

While walking away from the Ipo Dam/Weir, I encountered some of my favorite Korean folk art: the jangseung! Traditionally, these trailhead guardians appear in pairs—one male, one female. The male pole normally reads Cheon-ha Dae Jang-gun, which I suppose is "The Great General Under Heaven." The female pole normally reads Ji-ha Yeo-janggun, i.e., "The Female General Beneath the Earth." I don't know the significance of these titles (and I'm sure Charles will swoop in with a better translation plus an explanation), but it's something I'd like to look into. One day, I'd like to craft my own pair of loony-eyed jangseung.

What's strange about these jangseung is seeing them all—and they're mostly male—jumbled together en masse. Even stranger is seeing them with Korean writing on them instead of Chinese. Curiouser and curiouser.

I'm hesitant to use the term "totem pole" to describe jangseung. The term "totem" has both a technical meaning and a cultural significance, neither of which maps well onto Korean culture. Totems are normally symbolic representations of clans and certain tightly knit groups. More than mere symbols in the modern sense of "a sign that points beyond itself," a totem is a symbol in the older, deeper sense that it participates in the reality it represents (this is close to the Catholic understanding of "symbol" as a mediator of divine reality, the shape and form of the symbol determining the mode of mediation). While Korean art can reflect something akin to clan or tribal affiliation, I don't think that's what jangseung are at all. I have no deep knowledge of these fascinating and often comical figures, but my impression is that, more than anything else, they are the direct personal expression of their creator's élan. This makes sense to me because there are simply so many different jangseung out there. You can find cookie-cutter jangseung in the art/tourist district of Insa-dong, but outside of that context, when you meet jangseung in the wild, no pair is the same as any other. I could spend my whole life studying these bizarre and compelling figures. But my point is: I really don't think they're totem poles, so I try not to use that term to describe them (although I've been guilty of doing so in the past, but—in my defense—with scare quotes).

That said, look at the jangseung below:

I'm guessing the artist's work shows some outside influence, possibly from North American totem poles.

I immediately liked this fellow:

And it seemed apropos for this one to be lying drunkenly in the grass:

The quiet dignity—very un-jangseung-like—of the one in the middle:

A feminine pole here... then there's the curious case of the pole on the right, which doesn't look to be a true jangseung at all: those faces are the classic mask faces associated with Korean mask dancing (tal-chum):

The crazier they are, the more I love them. I'd love to buy this guy, but he'd need an equally insane feminine counterpart:

The rocks, at least, seem happy:

And I have never, ever seen a cyclopean jangseung. Ever.

Am still trying to figure out what this is:

Even though these are made of stone, I kind of dig their interplanetary look:

The more tongue, the better:

Walk Thoughts #60: rest break

The Gwangju-Weonju Express Bridge, near as I can figure.

Walk Thoughts #59: passing a bike store

I met Mr. Park of the NSR (Never Stop Riding) bike store. Purchased those toshi sleeves and a hat. Sunburn shouldn't be as much of a problem now.

Walk Thoughts #58: first checkpoint

I've made it to Ipo Dam. In another 14 km, or about 3-4 hours' walking, I'll be at my destination for today, Yeoju Dam, which also has a certification center. There's a guest house there called Yeongneung. Ought to be comfy for a night.

Here are some pics from this segment of the walk. No more hills: is all been a flat riverbank walk since this morning.

Along a lonely part of the path, I met a chipper 29-year-old dude named Benjamin. He had lived in New York, and he's now working as part of a special firefighting team. We exchanged information, and we may meet up later this year: he comes up once a month to visit Itaewon, and he likes Turkish food. Benjamin's English is impeccable.

Righto-- back on the trail

The Benster himself:

A very, very small and intriguing house:

Another case of a sign with enough English to tell anglophones what the sign is about without conveying any essential information (same goes for Chinese and Japanese):

You spelled "weir" wrong, idiot!

Two kilometers to go. As slowly as I walk, that's a long distance.

1.7 km to go to the dam and the certification center.

Hangari (항아리):

More hangari:

A closeup of some hangari:

A sign indicating that I'm on the Han River bike path:

1.2 km to go:

I think I'm entering the city of Yeoju, with the Ipo Dam (weir) in the distance:

Ipo looms ever closer:

Even closer... and the path now slopes upward, dammit:

ARRIVED! Praise Cthulhu!

I wonder what little elves maintain the rubber stamps, the ink pads, and those pads of paper so that you can practice your stamping technique before marking your passbook:

I surely hope this feels as sexual as it looks:


The nose-bridge crinkle of grim victory:

Did I mention I'm not shaving this entire trip? The facial hair is only going to get worse.