Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Feb 26-29. #4 Let's Save Some Money!

Koreans believe that if you dream of pigs, your business will become successful in real life, and there have even been a few cases of people starting one due to having such a dream. That's why it's not hard to find these plastic piggy-banks sold on the street or in toy stores, and honestly they make saving money look like fun! They're a lot like the cheap, plastic soccer balls you find in tiendas in Guatemala, except you don't kick them around. I have many times had to resist the urge to buy one of these because they're probably really easy to break open, which is why I bought a metal one.

Feb 26-29. #3 Bicycle Wheels

This is right outside a trash recycling spot where the poor and hungry take these carts and haul huge amounts of cardboard, plastic, cans and bottles to make a small profit to survive. I saw a small lady later today pulling one of these with at least 10 times here (small) size in recyclable garbage on an uphill.

Feb 26-29. #2 A Factory

A factory near my dorm. Not sure what they make, but I do know that it makes a lot of smoke during certain times of the day.

Feb 26-29. #1 You've Got Mail

A mailbox bearing scars from constant attacks from annoying, polluting advertisers. Small ads for local business are attached to every surface possible, cards stuck in every nick and crook, fliers and local delivery-food menus are even thrown on the floor in high-traffic areas by men on motorcycles with their faces completely covered. Its almost as bad (sometimes worse) than political ads in Guatemala during elections, where the streets are lined with every campaign's eye-burning, brightly colored posters attached one on top of the other resulting in an absurd contest of who can keep their useless trash on top of the rest the most.

I even saw one man here practically throwing cards on people on the subway, then after he's made his round he'd pick up the ones people tossed on the floor and throw them on the next batch of people in the proceeding compartment. I really wanted to punch him.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Feb 24, 2012. Running Like a Madman

Before you go "Subway pictures again?!" I took this picture because it describes my day. Going back and forth from my new university, here and there getting stuff I need and trying to get to places on time, I must've spent half of my day on my feet or in the subway.
But that's life in Korea, everyone's fast moving. Subways are a huge part of my life here since it's rare for students to own cars and buses make me nauseous over long distances. And so in the midst of my rushing chaos I took the time to run up to the end of the station and snap this picture before boarding the train and disappearing again.

Feb 23, 2012. More Than Plucking Strings

Life has led me to many new opportunities and these in turn let me take new photos I otherwise wouldn't have been able to. Today I got to check out a friend's band as they jammed and rehearsed, and they let me take photos too. Though my ears hurt from the volume, it's been a while since I've been exposed to live music, and it's been even longer since I've been exposed to such talented people. The one above, the leader of "The Cen", was an incredibly nice person, but when he played his guitar there was even more character behind him you could feel coming out. From the energy in the stronger songs to the emotion in the slower ones, he was taking you somewhere in a melody. You could tell he was someone who loved his 6 strings and the things they could do together.

Sorry, this is my latest photo so far (already 1am), but I was out until really late with these guys so just had the chance to get this up!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Feb 22, 2012. We Need Not Make Our Own Clouds

The view from my new university, I will be attending next month. Like Kyung Hee, Hongik University is propped on a hill. Back in Guatemala, our house is set at the bottom of one. I've been going up-and-down's all my life!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Feb 21, 2012. A Foggy Day in Seoul

Tried for a classic looking shot today as the weather was very overcast. It didn't create a dramatic sky but it made a nice, evenly lit scenery.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Feb 20, 2012. Street Vendors

A street vendor on the popular tourist road Insa-dong where you can experience and observe much of Korea's artisan culture. The stands on the street always have the most fun things to check out.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Feb 19, 2012. Tough Job

I miss biking. Spring and Fall in Seoul are perfect seasons to bike, the weather is fresh and the view is great. Summer is a bit hot and rainy, but winter is just nuts. I would not bike during most of winter, against icy wind that feels like many tiny knives cutting through your skin. Some people, though, have no choice. You gotta make a living and pedaling those two wheels is part of it. This man stops to clean his tortured nose as he transports trash for recycling, and I'd imagine his skin is probably thick and tough from having to tolerate such harsh conditions.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Feb 18, 2012. Ungrateful Children

The leafless trees stood like dried-up veins of Mother Nature's heart, losing their vitality from trying to support our insatiable cities of consumption.

Just the thoughts that came up upon seeing this contrast between nature and the city.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Feb 17, 2012. Our Spot

It's been almost a year since I came to Korea and there are still so many places within walking distance of my  dorm that I haven't discovered yet. Despite the cold, I decided I should wander a bit farther than the usual today because the every-day main roads were getting boring. After half an hour of cruising randomly down alleys I discovered a small park on the edge of a ravine with a path to walk around it. It's small, but quiet and solemn; far enough from the city's poisonous bustle. You can see the elderly neighbors like it there as I counted many of them going up and down talking in pairs or going on power walks alone. These two stopped for a break, the lady on the right excitedly doing most of the talking on this late, Friday noon.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Feb 16, 2012. Practicality

Because not everyone can afford it; but those who can, live in a world where branding is everything, and the simple fact that it has a logo slapped stylishly on it causes its value to skyrocket irrationally.Caring that your clothing is Armani or that your bag has a primitive pattern of "LV"s on it will end you paying for social status, not product quality. But for those who do not have enough to live in such a world walk on a land where the crops sprout practicality, and the matter is not whether it looks good, it's whether it gets the job done. Hands getting cold? Nothing like some scraps, tape and plastic bags to fashion some quality hand warmers and remain a friend of your pocket!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Feb 15, 2012. View Through A Fence

Have you ever stared longingly through a chain-link fence, hands held against rusted rows of metal that cut you off from what you see ahead? It may be to protect what's inside, or to protect you from what's inside, but just the fact that it's there makes your desire to go beyond it irrationally high.
Have you ever jumped a fence? Or passed through one that once secluded a place you could only stare at for months, or years, and then once you're inside a thrill hits you, a thrill much like the wheels of an airplane landing on a foreign country...
Or did you just think, oh look... there's a fence.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Feb 14, 2012. Classic

Whether it's moles, aliens or happy Korean pirates, this hit-on-the-head-with-a-hammer game is a representation of an old pastime kids used to have just as much fun with as today's videogames. Granted, nobody ever went on a 10-hour gaming marathon on one of these (I hope) but it just goes to show and remind us that it's all about concept. People are easily entertained. They will stare for hours at a fly, or other people's facebook status talking about which restaurant they are in-or the fact that they have been staring at a fly for the past 30 minutes. I was born into a generation of 2D gamers that evolved into some impressive 3D, and with them I've had good times, but some of the must fun I remember having in my life is playing outside with a plastic bag as my parachute or a stick as my sword.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Feb 13, 2012. Just A Market

Take a stroll down the narrow path, crowded on the sides by piles and piles of cheap merchandise you just wish you needed because it's so cheap. Though a lot of it is junk, among the rough lie diamonds if you look carefully enough.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Feb 12, 2012. The Pursuit of Knowledge.

Dr. Kim Tak works at Korea University's hospital as a doctor and a lecturer. He holds a high position, gives lectures around the country and participates in conferences world-wide. A busy man, he's in the office from Monday to Sunday and always in a rush. Nevertheless, he always wants to learn more, as I come in once a week (or so) to chat so he can practice his English. It just shows how important he makes expanding his knowledge at least a little bit between all of the work and responsibilities he has to tend to.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Feb 11, 2012. Portable Fire

These are, literally, "hot pots." Pots of hot coal used in barbecue restaurants here in Korea which don't use gas stoves. Instead when you come in and order, they place this bowl of hot white coals in a whole in the center of the table. This particular restaurant kept theirs at the entrance, and I thought they would make a nice black and white photo.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Feb 10, 2012. If You Didn't Look Up

People are busy. The modern world is fast moving, and the times of sitting back and relaxing are starting to drag behind us. Everyone has their own appointments, responsibilities, vices and goals to tend to, which can start narrowing your vision forward, building walls that limit your eyes. With that, all of those little details that paint the world's bigger picture get blocked by other "more important" issues. That's why I'm here. I'm probably the only nut you would hear today asking "did you check out the sky today?" but you probably didn't have the time. It's Friday, who stares up at the sky on Friday? So in case you missed it, Michelangelo stopped by today and painted the sky.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Feb 9, 2012. They Always Run Away From Me

It was supposed to be another cityscape today, until I was approached by a hungry man. He didn't ask for much, just spare change if I had it. We ended up talking a while. He told me he's homeless and has no family, and has to beg everyday so he can eat. He asked me why I like photos; I told him it's just a hobby. He told me long winded stories involving hospitals and limb injuries, his fellow homeless seeking warmth in subway stations, his injuries from getting thrown out of places. He spoke in a slurred fashion through the few thinning teeth he had left, and his eyes would hesitantly water at times, probably deciding it was better to save what little liquids he had left. Before he left he asked me to not use his photo for any bad purposes, and then ended on a bitter note: "You're handsome, I bet young girls approach you a lot. Women always run from me..."

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Feb 8, 2012. Going Down Fast

Taking a photo is more than composing and pushing a shutter button. Some say you have to be lucky to take a good photo, which is in part true, but luck will land on those who expose themselves to it more often. It's not easy to get a skyline in Seoul, often deeming us with either overcast or crystal clear skies. From early today I had noticed there were clouds, and the schedule in the back of my head immediately listed down taking photos of the sunset. Once the sun goes down, it goes down fast, and getting the photo becomes a race against time. Doing a little "location scouting" after class, I realized the door to the rooftop wasn't locked. At 5:30pm I was sneaking through, not sure whether I'm allowed to be there or not, and got started. I ended up taking a 10-piece panorama to best capture the drama in the sky.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Feb 7, 2012. Me, again.

Just experimenting a little with a new 5-1 reflector I just got from my girlfriend. (: Also tried a new editing style as I thought about my dinner.
Narcissistic much? Well, if you're tired of seeing my face (and you're near me) why not try a bit of modeling?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Feb 6, 2012. Steel Trees

These steel trees make rusted breeze.
And birds cry unfair, we've taken their clean air.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Feb 5, 2012. Ever To Come Back Again

Just like you don't know what you've got until it's gone, you won't know where you are until you leave.
She gives a longing stare before she leaves, and for a moment forgets why she's leaving.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Feb 4, 2012. Let's Go Again!

Tireless, fun things give us more energy like good food enlarges our appetites. It's not until it's over that you suddenly realize you're exhausted, or really full, and just want to pass out from satisfaction. Playing outside, I have no recollection as a kid of ever being tired, until it get's dark and mom says you have to come home, and soon after dinner once you're all cleaned up, you fall asleep like a log.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Feb 3, 2012. Nuclear Nobodies.

Some of them were special. Some of them had a certain resilience they were born with by chance, and after the first few bombs were dropped, they found each other being the only ones still on foot. Groups formed and became organized, housing themselves in the stronger buildings that didn't threaten to come down on their heads and end their already thin luck. Three months have passed since the city was first grazed by fire and radiation, and many had already given up hope to hear news that the war had any victor. It was time to rebuild and embrace the inevitable post-nuclear era; there was no one left to save them.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Feb 2, 2012. Being a Kid Again

Perhaps this only happens to me because I'm still rather young, but have you ever gotten that feeling of longing when you go somewhere that you know would've excited you a lot as a kid? Like a candy shop or a playground, where you're no longer socially allowed to run around with wide eyes and a big smile. So you tell yourself that you don't care for those things anymore, that you're better than that and have grown-up things to enjoy now, but that little corner of your heart just wishes you could feel that simple, unique bliss that doesn't come down the road as much as it used to. Sometimes, I still like to run spontaneously, arms behind me like wings, for 10 brief steps that will let me remember that long-gone childhood sensation.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Feb 1, 2012. Hang Out

Temperature fell too far below 0 for me to want to go out, so I stopped at a friend's house. I didn't do him much justice though, as his room isn't THAT messy; we had enough space. Korea's cramped lifestyle has brought into popularity a housing option called a One Room (or wollum as they pronouce it), and yes it is simply one room. Behind me you will find a sink, stove and washing machine, and to the left a bathroom. Floors are typically heated, which has a perk of not only keeping your butt warm but your pizza too. It's nice to just sit down and hang out when it's too cold to be out and about, relax, exchange some stories, and maybe even learn something new.