At home. Germany. For quite a while already. I am. And really. I don´t think i´ve really adjusted yet. Especially after what happened afterwards. I mean. Most of you watch the news i suppose. Two weeks after I left Japan. The place goes up in pieces. Ok. Ok. Do not worry. I am not gonna talk about nuclear power plants now. Or tell you heartbraking stories of lost and found. I won´t tell you anything about Japan at all. If you wanna know what´s really going on there. Read Gaijin Seb´s blog of deepest insight.
Meanwhile. I while tell you about my time. Because. Japan is far and one has to go home somehow. And if you don´t go by plane. And there is no road home. You have to cross the water. And there it is. A peninsula. Tiny it is, indeed. No picture i had in my mind. But. Let me tell you. That trip was wicked!
Aaah please! No boring travel stories now!
Mmm. Let´s see. Travel stories? Yes somehow. Boring? I do not think so. Well if you do not want. Just stop reading. But if you continue. Be prepared that your next travel destination might be... Korea!
Honestly. Working myself through guidebooks and watching stuff about the country. I immediately wanted to go to the northern part. Of Korea. Some call it North Korea. Seeing Kim Jong Il looking at things could have been my once in a lifetime experience. Only. It is so expensive to pay two guides watching you 24 hours a day. I had to skip it. And I expected nothing. Of South Korea. It seemed to me more than boring.
So I took the ferry. And then. The kresiness began.
Day 1. Encounter and Reflection:
Leaving Japan I had thought. Hoped. Hoped that I had left him behind. The famous space invader that had followed me all my time in Japan. But. Arriving there. In Busan. Southern South Korea. He was greeting me after three steps down from the ferry.
I freaked out. This couldn´t be. My only thought was. Outta here! Leave this place. Flee as fast as public transport can take you. Leave civilization behind. Hide in a ... Hide in a buddhist monastery!
So I did. Nestled in some beautiful mountainous scenery. The Haein-sa. Most famous korean place for buddhism. Home of the Tripitaka Koreana. THE oldest. THE most comprehensive. THE wooden incarnation of Buddhas words. THE place there Korea invented printing. THE something.
But i have to admit. Even with all those annoying THE´s. It is beautiful.
So I immersed myself. They gave me a room. All in gold. They told me to attend to three ceremonies a day. They told me to bow 108 times at each ceremony. They told me to wake up at 3.30 am. They told me to reflect. They told me to listen to the drums. And I? I obeyed.
Day 2. Repelled Spirituality:
I couldn´t stand it. Not for more than 24 hours. I had to leave. I mean. I admire the architecture. I admire the surroundings. I admire the peacefulness and beauty. But if one gives me to many "Om" a day. I run.
So I ran. Hopping on the next bus. "Just bring me far away" I told the driver. He nodded. Even though he didn´t understand anything. By the time the night fell. I had changed busses three times. I was wound from sitting. And I hadn´t arrived, where I wanted to arrive. But hey! That is what guidebooks are for! Every place is a good place. Even Uljin! So let me quote you from the Lonely Planet Korea: "There´s not much to see in this sea-coast town - it´s claim to fame is as the home of four of Korea´s nuclear power plants."
Great. I mean. By that time. The word Fukushima hadn´t reached world fame. Japan hadn´t been struck by an earthquake. But still. Fuck that!
Two hours later. I had been walking the 2 km long main road up and down twice. I had entered three different places that looked more or less like hotels. Three times I had been kicked out by ladies in their middle years. Not allowing me to have a quick look in the smoke filled rooms. Only imagining what those male laughters and female moans in those worn down places were all about. So I went back. To the bus "station". I remembered a Motel there. Finally I could check in. A small family did the same with me. So I thought. Ok. This time it´s the normal thing. A room, a bed, a shower. Only to find myself. Five minutes later. In. A love hotel room.
It was great fun. I had internet. Television. A huge bathroom. And loads of other things. Things you do not need, when you come to a Love Hotel all by yourself. But still. Surprisingly clean. And a tiny bit of a change from the monastery atmosphere.
Though the golden room in the temple had been almost as pimpy. And the writings in the corridor of the hotel. They also show this deep sense of spirituality...
Day 3. Encounter and Comparison
On the bus again. Only away from this city. But I kept my eyes open. Where were those promised powerplants? Nobody would believe it. Unless I managed to take some pictures! The bus went through green valleys. Somewhere in the distance I could finally catch a glimpse on big concrete breasts rising behind the hills. The nuclear power plants. And even though the camera shows only an explosion of light. It was there. The Uljin nuclear center.
My day was already made. What better could this day bring? What better than giant grey breasts rising from the green surface of mother earth?
That was until I reached my destination for the day. The "Haesindang Park". Also informally known as the "Penis Park". Before you can ask any questions. Look at the pictures. A whole park filled with anything. As long as it resembles a phallus. Wind chimes. Fences. Benches. Sculptures. A Lighthouse. And lots more...
After I managed to stop laughing. For a second. One screaming thought came into my mind:
Why? Who? How? What the ...?
Well. Korea. You might guess. Is a sexually open place then. Free love, public sex and stuff. No, no. Sorry. It isn´t. I mean. A country that needs Love Hotels. Are you kidding?
The story is much better. And has some kind of logic. Logic that I haven´t really penetrated yet. Though it has to do with penetration.
But start from the beginning. Sinnam. A small fishing village on the east coast of South Korea. Somewhere far back in time. There was a young fisherman. And his fiancée. As it was back then. The women had to do the shit work. So. Mr. Fisherman took his girl out to a rock in the sea. She was supposed to pick seaweed there. Well. Mr. Fisherman somehow did some other stuff (I guess he got drunk or sth.). And he didn´t notice a storm coming up. So. Fucking coward as he was. He didn´t dare picking up his girl again from that rock. So. So she drowned. Easy as that.
The story. Very beautifully illustrated by two statues mounted in the same park as a reminder. I wonder what he is shouting... "Huhu, you are gonna drown soon!", or "Hey, why don´t you try to swim!", or "Bitch, who´s gonna cook me food now?". We will never find out.
The year after the incident the fishing was really bad. So they blaimed it all on the restless soul of the poor girl. So they thought. What can we do to appease the poor soul? Difficult eh. I guess. I would have proposed to drown that fucking coward. So the poor soul won´t be so alone. But no! No!
Now. Here comes the logic:
What means fiancée? Not married!
What means not married? Never had sex before!
What does the restless soul need? A penis!
Apparently that was discovered by some altruistic fishermen. They would throw in all they had to rescue the village. To calm the poor soul. Wank on dude!
And from that on, they held a Penis Sculpture Festival each year. The set up sculptures of all kind (so they wouldn´t have to wank off in fresh air all the time). And the poor soul was placated.
With a big smile in my face I took the bus. Back into the civilized world. Heading towards Seoul.
Day 4. Show and Compare:
One thing everybody tells you to do. In Korea. Is probably the most strange thing. Even stranger than a Penis Park. Especially strange when coming with a japanese tourist group. It is the Demilitarized Zone at the border between North and South Korea. This area of intense feelings is the center for propaganda. Of both sides. It is hard to imagine. This country was not divided before WW II. And it is hard. Hard to explain. So I won´t even try.
Though. One thing. I will show. I has to do with phallic comparisons again. Take it out and compare it. Show it everybody. Who´s is bigger? But as people of the north and the south do neither meet nor talk. It has to be done otherwise.
So. First. Build a flag post. Not a normal one. A huge one. Over 100m. Ha! You North Koreans! Look at the pride of the South Korean flag! Take that:
So North Korea stroke back. Kim Jong Il took his out. And everybody watched. And prayed. And finally saw! Oh god! It is even bigger! Not only bigger! The biggest! The biggest flag post in the world! An amazing 160m! Unfortunately it is sooo big, that most of the time. He won´t get it up. It is so heavy that it lolls. But hey! Who cares! It is bigger! And here. You see. On the picture! Up it is! Hurray! Hurray North Korea!
By the time we left the DMZ. I was freaked out. That nasty grin in my face. It had been digging hard into my cheeks. No way I could get rid of it. I mean. Whatever could top that? And I will anticipate that now. Nothing was able to top that. But that does not mean, it was over. In terms of ambiguity. This country has to offer lots, lots more. And my trip through Korea. It was not over yet.
Next stop. "Heyri Art Village". On the way. Easy stop over. Architectural interest takes you there. A village. Houses only designed by architects. Some say: utopian. Some say: not working really well.
One third of the plots still empty. One third still under construction. And one third of the village already falling apart. But still. It was. I´d say. Interesting. Weird. Both. Everything.
Especially interesting. And weird. When you looked at the backside of the village. Or looking in the wrong direction. Next to all those modern buildings something else would appear. The "English village". Another utopian dream! Bring England to Korea! How much more crazy shit can you people combine on such small space? And could someone please explain. What is the connection between a sort of roman capitol and England?
Day 5-6: Time to say good bye.
One last thing. Even though there would be much more to tell. Only Seoul. Seoul is a great place. I had a great time. And I was welcome by amazing people. But still. It is a big city. With big buildings. And big international flair. So it is just very similar to other big cities. And if you wanna see more pics of Korea. Just look at them yourself.
Looking down on it. I was already reminded of what was lying in front of me. Though sometimes "Future" might look a bit more scary, than it actually is...
So what about more Curiosities?
Hey. Sure. Not only in Japan. But also in Korea. But hey. I mean. All the stuff I wrote so far, was crazy enough, wasn´t it? But ok ok. Still. Some things I wasn´t able to merge into the bigger picture:
The ginseng man. Found on the herbal medicine market.
A whole octopus made of sweets.
And last but not least. "Safety equipment to be used in case of fire"????