A Canadian writer teaches English and finds out what it's like to be a foreigner.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A Peek at the Environs

Here are some photos from a Sunday afternoon of wandering idly through the neighbourhood:

Here is my apartment building– tucked away on a small street, and directly in front of a music school which seems to teach children to imitate the dulcet tones of nails on a chalkboard in song. The bottom floor seems to house the offices of some kind of water cooler dealership. They keep very unusual hours, so I have my suspicions it's a front for something shady.

Virtually every commercial building I've seen is like this— the ads and signage creep up the storefront like shameless ivy urging you to buy things. The white and orange sign in the middle reads (in Korean) "Shoes & Shoes." In case the point wasn't hammered home, in the corner it says in English: "Total shoes shop."

Here's the sign in front of the restaurant I'd dubbed "The Bashful Pig." Is that knowing smile a little more sinister than I thought?

I had absolutely no idea this strange temple-looking building was like a block away from my apartment. I just went for a walk today and stumbled onto it. You really have no idea what you might find down a backstreet in Korea. That said, this is the view if you turn your head to the left:

The irrepressibly crass high-rise apartments take up much of the horizon here (there, and everywhere). With property costs at a ridiculous premium, the only way to go is up I suppose. Still, I wish there was a more attractive way to go about it.

Fighting frost, the last gochu of the season dangles in one of the many sidewalk gardens in Hajungdong. I don't quite know how to feel about all the gardens peppering (pardon the pun) the city streets. On one hand, it's nice to see a little greenery between all the garish architecture, but at the same time, am I really crazy about eating veggies which are grown in clouds of car exhaust?

More to come...

1 comment:

paul said...

I always wondered about the same thing in southern Ontario. Just outside of (now) smog-shrouded Toronto lie huge, treeless subdivisions, cheek-to-jowl with fast-disappearing cornfields along highway 400.
I would ponder if that corn was less healthy than an ear grown a mile inland, or ten miles away, or in sparse Nova Scotia? And have any studies been done involving people who almost exclusively eat local, then compared to the health and longevity of those in rural vs. suburban (almost crossover into near
urban) environment?