Snapshots: Swallow Village

I live at the edge of Gangneung in a high-rise apartment complex. High-rises are never very homey but I live on the third floor and the view from all my windows is of hills and trees. I can’t see any other apartment buildings at all. Even better, turning left instead of right when I exit the complex puts me on a road through the countryside with farms, hills, and pine trees.

It hasn’t been long since my wife and I moved into this apartment so this morning I decided to explore the area a bit with my camera. I took a side road that leads to Swallow Village. Or, more precisely, Swallow Village #2. The purpose of my walk was to explore, so I left my tripod and home, set the camera’s ISO to 400, and didn’t worry too much about getting everything perfect. The pictures I made today are photographic notes to share with others and to be used as a reference on later walks.


On the way downstairs I noticed that the owners of this apartment had posted a notice of the arrival of spring that people traditionally pasted to their front gates. The people who live in this apartment are probably older people or their parents or grandparents gave the notices to them. Yesterday was the first day of spring according to the lunar calendar.


This rusted sign may have once had something written on it. You can see that the field in the distance already has some green in it while the distant mountains are still covered with snow. The elevated highway in the distance runs from Gangneung to the more southern city of Donghae. It also connects to the highway that goes to Seoul from here.


Another photo of the same fields. This time you can see the transmission towers that run across the countryside. It’s sometimes challenging to do landscape photography in Korea because of all the signs of civilisation, although these towers have a gracefulness if you get the right angle.


Spring is still a ways off for some plants.


Wouldn’t you like to live in a house on a hill? You can’t see it in this photo, but there was a BMW parked in the driveway.


These people can only afford to live on an incline.


Gangneung has more coffee shops per capita than any other city in Korea. They’ve filled up the city centre and spilled out into the countryside.


Many small towns erect large stones with their village name or the name of some important place on it. This one has ‘Chungjeong Shrine’ engraved on it. I didn’t see a shrine but I did see a small Confucian school up a hill. Perhaps the shrine is inside there.


The farmer who owns this tractor must have had a good year. It looks brand new and the plastic wrap is still on the seat and some of the controls.


When you live in the countryside, you have to time your trips to town carefully if you don’t own a vehicle. Many of the country buses only pass by four or five times a day.


Hung up inside the bus stop was a straw broom and a notice looking for people willing to share rides to schools in Gangneung. Schools here don’t offer bus service.


The back side of a stone sign with the date of erection and ‘All Villagers’. I guess they took up a collection.


I started following a road up a hill to see if I could get into the next valley but it ended rather abruptly at the tree line. On the way back down the hill I made this photo of a shed.


Many people outside the city and some poorer people in the city use coal for heating because it’s cheap. Farmers collect the ashes to fertilise their fields. Later in the year this ash and the rice plant stubs will be turned over before flooding and planting of new seedlings.


The same sign that was in the bus stop. Maybe someone has a van and they’re looking to make a little bit of money.


Plastic left over from the farming season blows around all winter. Sometimes it gets caught in trees and twists about like weird birds.


Doggy house, but no doggy. No people houses nearby, either. What poor mutt gets tied up here and left alone all day?


Lots of people moved into the apartment complex today. This company is called Happy Movers.

No art made today, which is why the title is ‘Snapshots’, but I enjoyed walking about and using the camera. I bought it not too long ago and it’s a good idea to familiarise myself with the controls. When the weather gets a bit warmer I’ll go out with a tripod and extra lenses to make some good photographs of the area. In five years the whole valley might become a strip of coffee shops and apartment buildings and I’d like to document it as it is now.

4 thoughts on “Snapshots: Swallow Village”

  1. I noticed that the coffee shop and the bus stop has English on its sign, is that a common thing in Korea, and do the people that own the coffee shop speak English?

    1. Things like bus stops and street signs have English on them as a service to tourists. Lots of street signs now have Korean, English, and Chinese. The coffee shops have English on their signs to be fashionable. You’re unlikely to get English service in them.

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