Who knows how this Buddha lost his face? Accident, overzealous Confucians, a natural crack in the stone that finally came apart after a thousand years, or just ordinary vandalism. Some stone statues of Buddha have no noses because it was once believed that scratching off a bit and eating it would give you a son. That doesn’t seem to be the case here, since the face appears to have come off at once.
A large temple once stood at this site but all that remains now are this statue, banner poles, and a few small pagodas. I sometimes wonder what relics will remain of our time after a thousand or more years. Maybe the shells of high-rise apartment buildings, though I don’t know how long concrete lasts.
It’s been a month since I wrote or posted anything here. All my photos seemed very dull and I had nothing to say about them or anything else . . . .
But it’s a good idea to practise my writing, and showing my words to the public will force me to be more careful than I am when writing for myself in a journal. Also, when I look through folders of photos on my computer trying to decide what to share, the boring photos suddenly look extremely boring, and it’s a bit easier to choose the good ones. Amazing what the threat of public shame can do.
Anyway, here a couple of photos I made last month at the birthplace of Heogyun. These are photos of one building’s interior, carefully composed with tripod, some patience, and a little bit of cursing when I couldn’t get the tripod legs set up just right.
I’ve been visiting the buildings at this site for quite a few years, but every time I go I still see things in a different way. Creating beautiful pictures is nice, but one of the nicest things about photography is how it teaches you to see the world and its details from so many perspectives.
I live in a part of Gangneung that is still mostly farmland, but the city is expanding deeper and deeper into rural areas. Apartment buildings are going up at an incredible rate, even though the population is shrinking. Second homes for Seoulites and investments for speculators, perhaps. I make photos of the construction now and then, just because I pass the sites every day and I always have a camera in my hand. It’s decent composition practice as well. Getting the tower cranes aligned well is a challenge.
Despite this awful fire being just across the road from my apartment complex, people here are still parking in the fire lanes.
Let me know if you have a fascination for apartment construction photos and I’ll get you some more. 🙂
The Olympics are in town. Or two towns, rather. Officially, the Olympics are in the tiny town of Pyeongchang up in the mountains. A nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there. Actually, you probably can’t live there because rich speculators bought up every bit of land they could find when the Olympics were announced and the prices have gone mad. Snow events like skiing are being held in Pyeongchang (which already had some ski resorts), but ice events such as hockey and curling are being held in Gangneung, where I live. The Olympic Village and other important infrastructure are here in the city as well.
As far as I can tell, the city has done a good job of preparing for the games and everything is very organised. The city has spent some money on Olympic themed decorations for the streets, including these Olympic circles above Culture Street in the central Gangneung area.
This probably looks very impressive at night when the circles are lit up, but I’m not interested enough to go downtown with camera and tripod in freezing weather.
Some local businesses are also doing their bit to welcome the world to Gangneung for the games. A café on Culture Street put this lettering in their door:
The name of the café is “Welcoming” but it looks odd to say ‘Welcome to Welcoming’. A ‘fereigner’ might be someone from another country who doesn’t speak English well. Gangneung, which shouldn’t be two words, is capitalised for some reason. ‘Jok-Bal’ is ham hock. ‘Horid’? Maybe it’s not that good here? ‘Pok Cops’ might be pork chops. Or a chance to jab law-enforcement officials. Oh ho ho.
Good luck to the athletes, the organisers, and local businesses getting some extra custom during the games. As for me, I’m going to avoid any Olympic areas for the next few weeks. It’s all a bit too hectic for me. I’ll just stay home and cook up some pok cops for myself.
One fine day in January I decided to make some black and white photographs with my digital camera. I was frustrated with using film because of the expense, the difficulty, and what I thought would be poor results. Rolls of film were piling up on my shelf and I didn’t want to send them off for development for fear of disappointment. So I took the 50mm off my F6, attached it to the D810, and headed downtown.
I have made photos of this truck parked by the riverside before but from the other side and including most of the vehicle. The strong line of the shadow attracted me on this day and I shifted about until I came up with this minimalist (?) composition.
I think I can call this another minimalist composition. The top of a building, the tips of some trees, and a few wisps of cloud.
And my third simple composition. The poem has nothing to do with the scooter. It’s something like, “While rambling across the winter field, I decided not to thoughtlessly say that I had not gained a thing.” Once a month or so the building management puts up a new poetry quote on the outside wall. Quite nice, I think.
The camera was in black and white mode when I made this photo but I switched it to colour after I got home. The green bus is barely visible in the monochrome version but it’s supposed to be the main point of the photo.
I eventually sent off the film for developing and got the slides back a couple of days ago. Not quite the disaster I was expecting . . . .
I got up at 9:30 in the morning on Wednesday and drank some of the complementary 3-in-1 instant coffee in the room. Then I went out to look for a new pair of shoes because mine developed leaks in the soles. By the time I found a shoe shop my socks were wet so I gave up.
Strangely, I couldn’t see any tall apartment buildings anywhere. Maybe the main tourist area is a no-development zone? In most cities and even small towns you can see high-rise apartments all over the place. It’s quite nice not to see them, actually.
I headed to the famous royal tomb park and made some photos there, despite the constant and slightly heavy rain. The park is quite nice, and I wish I could have visited in better weather.
I really enjoyed my time in this park and I think with a spot of good weather and a full set of photo equipment I could be happy for a whole week just photographing this one park.
It was getting close to dinnertime when I exited the park but it was hard to see anything except shops selling Gyeongju Bread. But off to the left was this small restaurant that sells traditional Korean meals. The sign says it’s been in business for seventy years.
A lot of the menu items had seafood but I was able to order a set menu featuring a kind of hamburger patty. I told the employees I can’t eat fish but they gave me five seafood dishes anyway.
On the tourist map there was a village made of traditional Korean houses and I wanted to see that. It wasn’t far from the coffee shop so I set off after finishing my jasmine tea. I found the village easily enough and I was hoping to make a lot of photographs, but I was quite disappointed. All the houses had high walls around them and the houses that were open were converted to restaurants and coffee shops. I didn’t stay there long.
I felt knackered after walking so much, so I jumped in a taxi and went back to the hotel, even though it was just 2:30. I bought a convenience store lunch box to have for supper because I didn’t want to go out any more that day. I showered, took a nap, and spent the rest of the day in my hotel room reading, writing, and watching TV and movies until late at night. That was quite relaxing.
The next day I left Gyeongju and went to Daegu to visit a friend. I enjoyed my trip to Gyeongu, but two full days in bad weather was enough. I would really like to go back again some spring or autumn to photograph those tombs and maybe some temples.
I hope you enjoyed my little travel diary, and if you ever come to Korea I highly recommend Gyeongju. Bring an umbrella and some good shoes . . . .