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by ZweiBieren Korea- July 17-23, 2006  The lawn at the Yangpyeong resort. Boathouse on lake edge.
  Dinner at Prof. Lee's
Korean Folk Village
Trip to Gyeongju

Monday, July 17

Notes for work I planned, but never did:

make a map of campus

map of korean: http://www.aacircle.com.au/images/korea-map.gif

AM: exercise: 45 min 3.5km  111kg
started sorting pictures from museum
    it's pretty easy -- almost all are blurred, misaligned, or too dark

PM: went to Bandung for dinner with Prof. Lee (SH). He took us to visit EMart.  Formerly Walmart, bought out by the folks that run Shinsegae departmetn store. Allegedly the daughter of Samsung founder. So it goes from Sam Walton to Sam Sung.

The to see a neighborhood where rich people lived. Still apartment-ish arrangements, but only two-three stories and only a few units per building.

Dinner at Prof. Lee's
Prof. Lee's apartment was astonishing in its size. Much bigger than the king and queen lived in in the old palace. White and beige. No rugs. His wife, a pediatrician, served a wonderful meal: kalbi beef, candied fruit, zucchini, cellophane noodles, cucumber salad with jellyfish (chewt, not slimy), a marvelous codfish soup, the spinach-like vegetable we had for ourselves then other day, cold fruit soup, and watermelon for dessert.

We saw there kimchi fridge. It also had the remains of the watermelon, so S surmises that it not only keeps cold, but also humidifies to prevent vegetable dryout.

It has continued to rain since the morning I mentioned it. There has been serious flooding. Television coverage is about the same as the US. Inerminable pictures of flowing water and "Ain't it awful, Mabel!" sob stories. Certainly the featured citizens are in a heap of pain, but where is the perspective. Millions of citizens are continuing as usual.

Tuesday, July 18

Spent most of day sorting through the bus tour pictures.

Went shopping.

Korean class after dinner. S liked it much better because we started to get into phrases one might use. She is interested in taqlking to people. I am interested in reading things. We are fundamentally different.

Exercise after class.  45 min; 3.5km. I have exercised at least every other day, but haven't been noting it. So far I am down about 6 kg, although the first three kilos were just a bunch of water loss.

Wednesday, July 19

Went to the Korean Folk Village near Suwon.  Quite nice. Saw farm buildings, city hall, pottery making, wooden wares for sale. I bought a pair of go bowls.

259 more pictures to be gone through. Sigh.

Thusday, July 20

This morning I goofed up. I rewrote a copy of the powerpoint S's lecture for today. That was okay. Telling her I had done it was stupid. She took a brief look, didn't like what she saw, and berated me. Justifiedly. I took a walk around campus and bought a fritter at Dunkin Donuts. That was okay. But then I ate it. Not a good idea. Negated all the benefits of the walk.

Today I'm going to put up the pictures from the museum and days following. My problem has been that I have been trying to invent new technology. My new approach is to use my old technology.

Desiderata for picture pages:
  • The page should show small images and clicking one should show a larger version.
  • The page of small pictures should let me intersperse text between sections of pictures.
  • When viewing large pictures, each should have the caption and buttons for Next and Prev.
  • Screen management should be easy. When a separate window is used, screen management requires shuffling between two windows. On a laptop they overlap awkwardly.
Options for showing large images:
  • separate window used for all large images
  • a new separate window for each large image
  • expand in place
  • have a place above (or below) the little pictures where the big version is shown
What I have done today is to build another tool. I've enhanced genhtml so it can expand values for arbitrary variables; these can be defined either through reading files or on the command line.

Bex called. She is well. Her team had a scrimmage last night and she is psyched. Soon her image will be on www.cincinnatirollergirls.com. Right now she is the only one on her team to strap on an ammo belt during games, but she expects others to follow.

Friday, July 21

In the last few minutes, I have finished the code and template that will put Prev and Next pointers in the picture files.

Now I need to
  • make captions for all recent pictures
  • revise Makefiles to do it all with one 'make' command
  • put out the current status
Now I have finished the captions and written the whole thing to the web. Sadly, the Next and Prev buttons did not work and I haven't time to debug. But all the pictures are out there. I am UP-TO-DATE on the pictures. Hoorah.

We are off now for a weekend in Gyeongju. So pretty soon there will be another big backlog of pictures. And so it goes.

(writing Sunday night) We took the "KTX" express train to Daegu and a local from there to Gyeongju. The express train was amazing. We were in first class and shared amenities almost up to first class air travel. Our seats reclined; music was piped in; beer and snacks were distributed; newspapers were provided; each row had one seat on the left and two on the right. Verrry comfortable. No classical music though. And we had to pay for all snacks. 4kKorean won symbol for a can of mixed nuts.

I started taking pictures of the country-side, expecting most of them to be just a blur. After 30 or so, I realized that I had room for "only" 400 pictures and it had to last through Sunday; so I stopped. As it turned out, I took 435 pictures.

The local train was not quite as good as a Seoul subway. S tripped getting on the car and opened a cut that dropped a lot of blood. She remained in high spirits and suffered no ill-consequences.

The hotel was apparently a far cut above the one the same group had shared the year before. They were pleased to find that there was hot water all the time. Rooms even had free computers and huge TVs. We slept well.

Saturday, July 22

(writing Sunday night) Gyeongju was the capital of the Shilla empire (668-935 CE). So the area is rife with old palaces, tombs, and Buddhist shrines and temples. Although cremation was adopted, following Buddhist practice, tombs and shrines were erected around the remaining remains. Tomb's for the most important people are buried in boulders and dirt. Today they are largely grassy knolls. Much as dot Southern England, especially around Stonehenge.

The group was ten people. For Saturday we went our several ways, agreeing to meet for dinner. S and I opted for a bus tour that took us to five sites and a lunch. The brouchure cited a 10kKorean won symbol fare, with lunch included. Reality turned out to be a 14kKorean won symbol fare with lunch extra, at 10kKorean won symbol each. It was a really good lunch with a fish stew and all the trimmings. Sites visited:
  • Goereung Tomb. This site is a few old statues and a grassy knoll. Nicely situatede, with a fine view across a valley. Many school children were visiting and some gathered round me hoping to have their picture taken. I obliged and they delighted in looking at the result on the back of my camera.
  • Seokguram Grotto. We arrived at this site just before noon, the time for the sounding of the gong. The monk doing the deed did a little dance for each bong. A hanging log was aimed at the striking point on the gong. He swung it back and forth. As it got closer to the gong, be pushed it aside to avoid hitting the gong with a partial impact. For the last back stroke he was literally on one foot with his arm stretched all the way back, ready to begin impelling the log on its final swing. -- After suitably enjoying/photographing the bonging, we walked the half kilometer on a wide path to the grotto. Here we joined a short queue and walked by the glass shielding the Buddha and his sculpted guardians. Despite signs, many were snapping away, so I did, too.
  • King Munmu's Underwater Tomb/lunch. A short bus ride later we were on the coast and settled in for lunch, the aforementioned fish stew. We were seated right on the beach within sight of King Munmu's tomb. As far as we could see, the tomb was just a little rocky outcropping a hundred yards off-shore. It was a beautiful spot to enjoy lunch and some post lunch photo-ing. I even got asked to pose with another bunch of young girls. They were shooting nus with their camera, and I was able to persuade them to shoot us with my camera as well.
  • Gameunsaji Temple Site. Turning back toward Gyeongju, our bus took us to the former site of the Gameunsaji temple. All that remains is two old pagodas, of which one was under maintenance and hidden inside a tent. The temple floor beams were visible and showed that grooves were used to keep one set of beams in line. The site overlooked a bunch of rice paddies. I took many shots of these.
  • Golgulsa temple. Walking up the steep path from the bus someone noticed a glass enclosure on the hillside at least a hundred meters above us. Fred poses in front of the way-up-there BuddhaA Chinese philopsophy scholar from Penn state asked if we were really going up that high. I joked that we were. No joke. We actually were supposed to climb that high if we wanted to see the Buddha. So we did. Spectacular view. Plenty of pictures. I was a tad late getting back to the bus and had to run for it. But I was glad I had gotten all the way up. My exercise program paid off; I wasn't really winded. What I was, however, was sweaty.
In the evening we dined at a small Korean restaurant featuring pork cooked over charcoal right at our table. Delicious, if fattening. Afterward the Pinch family wanted to do Karaoke, so S and I tagged along. The style in Korea is private rooms, so we had a room to ourselves and were able to not drink and to pick whatever songs we wanted. It was fun, even if it seemed to me I was usually singing in a monotone. We slept well again.

Sunday, July 23

Our plan for the day was to visit the National Museum in the morning, pig out at the Hilton buffet in the afternoon, and catch the 3:20 bus to Seoul. And that's what we did.

Everyone else decided to walk to the museum. Not a good idea: over two kilometers. Ten-fifteen minutes in a taxi. S and I rode and spent our stamina wandering around the place. The emphasis was justifiedly the Shilla empire. We saw many of the same srts of artifacts as at the National museum. Though little about Hangul. 

The best part for my money was Anapji Hall. This Hall focuses on one palace, the one at Anapji pond built as a pleasure garden by King Munmu. Indeed, the pond itself was purpose-built at the site as part of the project. Many artifacts were preserved by being underwater and are now on display in Anapji Hall. The focus on one palace gives the artifacts a setting so they are not hit-and-miss as they are in a regular museum exhibit. The building even includes a huge model showing what the palace must have looked like in its heyday.

One plaque stated that: "A historical record of Silla mentions that King Munu (r.661-681) made a pond [in 674] in the royal palace and planted flowers and raised exotic animals and birds. The pond is the Anapji Pond. The current name of Anapji, which means the pond of geezse and ducks, was given in the Joseon  period (1392-1910). During the two year excavation and investigation of the pond in 1975 and 1076, more than 33,000 artifacts including tiles, metal objects, potteries and wooden strips with writing have been retrieved. The artifacts from the Anapji Pond have great significance, as they are items used in daily life during the unified Silla period." Another plaque adds that in 679 "a palace was built for the crown prince and names were given to the gates." A later entry reports that in 881,  "King held a big party in honor of officials in Imhaejon Hall, and at the height of the merriment, the king himself played geomungo (string instrument) and the officials at the right and left sang." Might have been fun to be there.

Among the other exhibits I was struck by one showing weights for a fishing net. These are little rocks with holes in them. I was struck because somewhat similar rocks are on display in Vancouver, where their purpose is announced as being unknown. Perhaps they too were for weighting fishing nets. One argument against this is the fact that the British Columbian artifacts have TWO holes each. A second negative argument is that the net conjectured as being so weighted was quite small. Not really enough to feed any significant number of people.

Horse with harness parts labelled
Other exhibits showed that chopsticks and the 12-animal zodiac go back at least to the Shilla Kingdom (and probably much further). "Don Quixote" even put in an appearance as the model for describing harness parts. In the gift shop I found a reproduction of him, and--surprising even myself--I bought it.

The Hilton buffet was much like a Hilton buffet anywhere else. Fattening. There were a few uniquely Korean dishes like seaweed and little fish. There was also sushi. After lunch Trevor Pinch and his 8-year old daughter and I went bike riding for a half hour. Great fun and enough exercise to work off half of one of my too-many desserts.

The bus ride home was an express with only a single rest stop. Again quite comfortable. The one negative was the television that played constantly throughout the four hour trip.

We traveled through the "plains" of Korean where the food is grown. I was able to appreciate that as undesirable as the rain might be for photographers, it is great for crops. Everywhere was a lush and fertile green. Considerable ingenuity is needed to grow enough food in a country that is forty percent mountainous. The "plains" I mentioned are mostly just five-ten kilometers of valley between mountains. Every available hectare is given over to growing things. There is some question as to the future. Women are reluctant to become farmer's wives and are moving instead to Seoul. So there may come a time when there is no one left to work what farms are left. Presumably big agri-business will move in, as it has done in the States. However, the relatively small size of farms and their constricted nature will make it difficult to reap the benefits of large farm equipment and mass production techniques.
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