When I move to a new town, I make it a priority to get some perspective as quickly as possible by climbing the hills surrounding the place. When I moved to Boulder and climbed the beautiful red rocks above Settlers Park, I remember thinking I can't imagine living on flatland where you couldn't climb above and look down on town. Since 2000, I've lived in California, Colorado and Korea and those have suited me just fine.
So last weekend, our first in this town, I looked out my window and found the biggest hill beside town, found a valley next to and started walking up it. I ran into several groups of students on the way to the hike, and then one with his family on the trail. It feels great to be living in the same place we're working, to be (in some few ways) part of a community. On the other hand, when I went to buy water at the convenience store under our apartment after work in my sweats and ran into two students in the store, I was a little less excited about community and more worried about privacy. Similarly yesterday when we ran into a student 50 meters from our apartment and he followed us like a lost puppy into our building, the concerns trumped the satisfaction.
Anyway, here are some pictures from the hike, of our new home, Dogye Village of Samcheok County of Gangwon Province of the Republic of Korea. If it's a bit hazy, that's because there was a fire just a valley over two days before. Helicopters overhead all day, but no serious damage done.
Dogye from above. Our apartment is on the left, the highest of the cluster of six large buildings. That valley that we back up to is this weekend.
This is the industry that keeps this region breathing (and warm during the winter... there are actual bricks of coal all over the place. They get them delivered to burn for heat).
Here are some dogs that I can only assume are being kept for food. To be honest, I feel only marginally worse for these creatures than I do for the millions of pics and cows kept all over the world for food, in the United States usually in much worse conditions than these dogs.
Persimmons are everywhere this time of year, a dime a dozen, if you will. When the leaves blow off the trees, leaving the orange bulbs alone with the dark brown branches, it's really quite a site. I'll have to work on getting a better shot of it than this.
And a reflexology footpath, in the shape of a foot, at the bottom of the valley. They're huge on reflexology here (it's a Traditional Chinese Medicine thing). The idea, as best I understand it, is that you walk on the stone paths barefoot to stimulate the points on the bottom of your feet to enhance the flow of qi. We just got a path in front of our school, which we've taken to using after lunch, until we're dragged away by the raucous group of second grade girls that kidnaps us to the playground everyday.