Snowmadgedon…ish…n’t.


We were all warned about it (weren’t we?) so we all prepared appropriately. I made sure to put the car in the basement of our apartment complex and dusted down my big ould boots that I reserve for weather like this. Most importantly, I made sure that my phone had a full battery because I knew that this day was going to be a busy day, snowmagedon was on its way.

Last Wednesday Korea got its first real good dose of snow, and by Korea I mean the entire penninsula and not just the east coast and mountains. From around mid-day until six o’clock it snowed pretty heavily, and by the time it had stopped snowing I hadn’t taken half as many photographs as I had hoped I would.

Maybe I’m getting old or something but the idea of stepping out into the cold with no gloves on when I could be indoors drinking warm coffee and avoiding work I should be doing just didn’t appeal to me, so I chose the latter. Granted it didn’t really snow that heavily, but it was enough to make convenience inconvenient.

It’s quite lovely outside now with all its fluffy whiteness after another light fall of snow today and yesterday, but I’m saying this from the perspective of someone who didn’t have to drive to work this morning, and if there’s one thing I like about snow it’s walking around in it.

There’s something about being in the snow, but during and after, that makes the air so much quieter, but maybe it just is quieter; there aren’t that many kids around, the traffic is slower and less hectic, and perhaps the softness brought upon by the snow muffles the noises which would regularly bounce off usually rigid surroundings. Or maybe I’m looking into it too deeply.

Here are some of the pictures I took over the past three days (excluding the inevitable Instagram ones) from around my neighbourhood and workplace here in Suwon.

The snow begins on Wednesday

The snow begins on Wednesday

After one hour of snowfall

After one hour of snowfall

I think they put this pagoda up in work purely for people to take photographs on snowy days - there was even snowed cleared from around the base.

I think they put this pagoda up in work purely for people to take photographs on snowy days – there was even snowed cleared from around the base.

Snowy lamplit trees

Snowy lamplit trees

Yesterday morning, the main street almost looked like a river.

Yesterday morning, the main street almost looked like a river.

The carpark this afternoon

The carpark this afternoon

View of the main Yeongtong drag from the 20th floor

View of the main Yeongtong drag from the 20th floor

Thought this made a nice picture - should have held my camera straight...

Thought this made a nice picture – should have held my camera straight…

Walking into work this afternoon.

Walking into work this afternoon.

Slushy Yeongtong streets

Slushy Yeongtong streets

In Bandal Park

In Bandal Park

Main gate of Kyunghee University

Main gate of Kyunghee University

All photographs taken with my iPhone 4 camera because I’m lazy 😦

For more photographs please visit my flickr page.

 

November


I like November and I always have. The month just sits there, almost Christmas but still far enough away to be still kind of normal, and long enough after any summer holidays so any pining is well gone. Even though it can signal the true beginning of winter, a season I don’t shine too, with all the cold rain, wind, the leaves losing their leaves, I still look forward to November every year.

I think it’s one of those reliable months. I know it will be colder because the wind will suddenly pick up a notch and the temperature must drop a few degrees further. Despite this, I can prepare well. November is a great time for dusting out those heavy jackets, wooly jumpers, thick socks, gloves, scarves, and hats in warm, earthy colours of browns, burgundy, and dark greens to keep me cosy.

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And to keep me satiated it is certainly a most appropriate time for food, with soups and stews and baked root vegetables all coming out of the kitchen. It’s a great time to really roll up my sleeves and rekindle the worthwhile craft of cooking a hearty meal. In Korea as well, there is no shortage of stews, and then of course all-weather barbecue dinners take on a new life as they move indoors. These are particularly special treats, which start as soon as I step inside and the hot air warms me through instantly, and after a feed of beef or pork, not to mention a few – if not several – drinks, stepping back into the icy night air afterwards is the ideal way of encouraging passage to the second round.

If you have a fire there is no better month to first light it than November. The joy of sitting by the warmth of a crackling, or gas flowing hiss, while the television shows a late night movie and my glass is half full with my second decent sized glass of red wine cannot be praised too much. Add to this the company of Herself or friends and I can do little to complain – unless I end up drinking too much wine and wake up with a corkscrew of headache and no memory of the end of that film I was watching.

In Korea, of course, fires are far from common in the home. In fact if I lit a fire I would probably be arrested, that’s if I survived my home burning down as well as the entire building I live in. I don’t think my neighbours would be impressed. As a worthy compromise there is the always reliable underfloor heating which is piped throughout every apartment. While it can be slow to start off, once the heating is primed it doesn’t take long for the house to warm up. Stepping into a room with the floor heating on always feels like I am passing into stove warmed cabin; it is cosy, inviting, and homely, and any memories of firesides with wine are forgotten once a basket of freshly baked sweet potatoes are passed around.

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But for me, the real magic of November waits outside. By the time October has passed the trees are well beyond deciding whether or not they will move on to their winter hibernation. Their leaves are either in the process of their radiant discolouration, or they are tumbling down the street in a series of never-ending somersaults courtesy of the stiff breeze. Ochres, auburns, maroons, mellow yellows, fading greens and coppers are splattered about the trees, while the crunching and scratching of the already deceased come from where my feet meet the street. It is always hypnotic.

The air at this time of year has only began to bite and with each small gust it nibbles away at my ears and cheeks, as I duffle up my jacket fully for the first time and perhaps tie a scarf snuggly under my chin. The sky is as blue as if it has dressed for the occasion of being painted in a landscape, and if there are clouds they do the same, ballooning up in a white lather like bubble bath. At all times the sun shines down down, strong as ever, but warm like an old radiator in a big stone room.

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The buildings stand in sharp relief to this bright blue scape, with their every angle being caught and stretching out in a long straight shadow courtesy of that sun which no longer reaches a central apex. It is undoubtedly as the architect had imagined when the designs were first sketched, with the sun catching in a pinprick sized corner of glass which reflects as beaming spot light upon the riotous Renoir painted scene below.

Getting my Knees Dirty on Korean New Year


On Friday night we boarded a bus in Suwon expecting hours of traffic packed in between tumults of snow. We hoped the journey would take less than five hours and, if we were lucky, the bus driver would at least leave the reading lights on, unlike the last time we took the bus.

We knew what was ahead. Korean New Year is famous for the lines of impregnable traffic on the express-way, and for the previous two days, both the weather forecast and my father-in-law had been warning us about the snow that was going to stop the world that existed around us.

Two hours into our journey along the expressway I awoke with a shudder and snort. The bus was cruising steadily along the expressway at an unfamiliar speed, perhaps over 80 kilometres an hour, and we were passing Munmak, thaat perpetual traffic black spot on the Yeongdong Expressway.

It seemed that the worst traffic we would be encountering along the road would have been in Suwon as we made our way painstakingly through the Friday evening, after-work rush. It was unexplainable, so much so that we found ourselves complaining about the lack of traffic, and the lack of snow.

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The Snow in 4 Danji


In local news, it snowed last night for a few hours. I spent all day watching the weather waiting for it to start, but when it did eventually start I had completely forgotten about it. Of course everyone knew it was going to happen sooner or later, but I suppose it was nice to have it fall just before Christmas. So, I suppose we’ll have a white Christmas.

Here is a collection of photographs I took on my phone this morning walking down to the supermarket. Most are taken from inside or fairly close to the apartment.

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Empty Hooks?


This Friday (January 28) on the drive out to Gangneung myself and herself stopped by Jinbu in Pyeongchang to do a spot of ice fishing. “What”? you ask, as I asked my beloved also. Ice fishing – as in fishing for ice? Surely you can make your own if you’re that desperate for a gin and tonic my dear, I chuckled. This exercise could have potential if one was in a desert or somewhere hot, but travel experts will know that Korea is not hot in the winter, and as we drove through the mountains and saw all the signs for Pyeongchang 2018, I began to realise that there was something else to this ice fishing.

 

A hole in the ice

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