Stuff I Know

Just stuff by me about me and my life, such as it is.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The hills are alive.

I took a walk in the hills the other day.
Bob's Big Boy in all his rotound glory. Borrowed from the Internet and  Hosted by
I haven't been riding my bike because my back has been bugging me. A walk is a lot less jarring than the bumps on a bike can be, and I have to get some kind of exercise, or I will end up looking like Bob's Big Boy (minus the burger and the checkered overalls, and plus some gray hair). Granted, I don't have the fancy pompadour, I am more proportioned in stature, and my eyes are brown instead of blue, but you get the idea. If I don't get out and do something semi-regularly, my stomach will look like the guy's above in not too long a time.

And for the record, as far as I know, there are no Bob's Big Boy restaurants in Korea.

Anyway, I decided to climb the hills near where I live. First off, let me mention that Koreans seem to have a different mindset when it comes to trail making than westerners do. When approached with a hill, the western hiking mind will usually think of a way to make things easier, generally by making a series of switchbacks back and forth up the side of the hill eventually leading you to the top. It may take a little longer, but it is a lot easier.

Quite to the contrary, it appears as if the Korean hiking mind considers the hill more of an obstacle than just part of the journey to the top. Korean trails generally seem to take the path of greatest resistance. Straight up the hill. The quicker you can get to the ridge or peak, the better. Yes, it is quicker, but damn it can be tiring.

I do make it up the hill though and the walk is nice. Everything is green and growing. Most of the flowers are gone by now, but the spring rains have given all the plants a growth spurt. This was amply evidenced at the end of the day by the scratches across my shins from all the branches, thorn-bearing vines and the like which had grown across the path. Yes, I could have worn pants, but it was humid, so shorts were legging of choice. Besides, my legs desperately need to get some summer color back. Even my sandal tan has almost completely faded.

There is actually a lot happening in the hills in Korea besides just the growing forest plants. Here in this area there seem to be a fair amount of pheasants, at least a heck of a lot more than I have seen elsewhere in Korea. Every now and then you will hear them scratching through the brush or clucking away, and occasionally you'll flush one out and watch it fly away, wishing you had brought your shotgun, if you are the hunting type that is.

In addition to the animal life, there is an abundance of human life. Koreans do love to walk the hills around their cities, at least the older Koreans do that is. You'll (I) rarely come across anyone under the age of 25 out walking unless they happen to be with the family. I guess Koreans take to the hills as maybe their way of getting back to nature. Seeing as a very large percentage of the population lives in apartment blocks and don't have yards, this might be their only option. Unfortunately it is not much of an option for getting away from the rest of the world since there are so many others out there doing the same thing. Still sometimes you can be alone for a sort while.

Another thing prevalent in the hills in Korea is fields or gardens. It seems that almost anywhere there may be a patch of open ground, someone has decided to grow a crop on it. You'll be walking along and coming up to what looks like might be a meadow, only to see a field of red peppers, soy beans, corn, or some other commodity lain out with plastic, stakes and anything else needed to make it grow healthy. I don't begrudge the locals their gardens. There is not a lot of free space for individual use. It's just that, it seems there would be a more appropriate place for the gardens than in the forest.

There were other things growing in the forest, too. I found a couple blackberry trees. I guess they were planted, but they have seem to have gone wild. It is a little late for blackberries, but there were still some nice ones to eat. There were a lot of raspberry canes, but no raspberries yet. Maybe in a few weeks there will be some to try. There was also an old field of strawberries that had gone wild with a few tasty morsels remaining.

I also came across some other interesting plants. It seems someone was growing their own crop of wacky tobacco. Mary Jane! Weed! Pot! Dope! Ganja! It was just a few plants, so I expect it is for personal use. Yes it is illegal in Korea, but that has never stopped most of the rest of the world from using. As I don't smoke the stuff my self, (honest!) it is up for grabs if you want to try and take it. Just let me know, and I'll give you approximate directions. I didn't have my GPS with me.

There are too many words on this post so let me give you another picture.
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This is a picture (not mine) of the village of Hahoe. If you click on it you can go to my photo blog and see some of my photos of the village and the surrounding area. Go ahead, give my photo blog a look and tell me what you think.



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