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Monday, 25 March 2013

Brace Yourselves: Spring is Coming

Spring has arrived in the town I'm at now.

The dreary winter is the price you pay for the glorious spring.

1.

Spring has arrived here in Jeonju. The weather is still cold - not any warmer, in fact, than some of the more merciful days of midwinter. But somehow the flowers and the new leaves know that spring is indeed coming. 

They have sprinkled the streets and parks with their fragile little green and white and magenta buds. A sight that would be truly wonderful, if the wind wasn't so bloody cold. 

I was surrounded by Asian men with massive cameras molesting the same tree.
As much time as I spend outdoors, I confess that I'm no botanist, and I have no idea when different flowers bloom. I also have no idea by how much they vary from year to year. In Korea, though, the variance is measured within a few days. So much is easy to know because the news people tend to go on about it at some length.

2.

I have no photographic proof of what I'm about to say yet: but I have noticed that in many Korean city streets, the building and the streets tend to be covered in signs - so much so that, in many cases, the architecture is almost completely lost.

The structure of the roof is the centrepiece of the traditional Korean architecture. Massive blocks of wood and very few nails.

Every fa├žade of every building, every awning and doorway is covered with shop signs that are full-width and about half a meter tall. Every bit of the building that is not the glass door or windows is often wrapped up completely with fluorescent and LED signs.
Not that a church would be covered in signs anyway..
And, you know, I care about these streets just as much as I care about those signs and what they represent. What's even more insidious is that, until they were gone, I didn't even realise that they were there. Thankfully, though, they are gone, for the time being. This is a town that is not ashamed to show its architecture.


The down jacket is new! She bought it last week :D


3.

The southern market of the town.
 Pity the part with the interesting roof was the deadest part of the market.


Once a good friend of mine complained about Auckland and how everything looks so temporary there. How everything looked as though they were built yesterday, and they won't be there tomorrow. Well, in Europe, he said, the buildings looked as permanent as the streets themselves.

These spray printed words advertise furniture removal services, back from the days when local phone number was 6 digits long. I think that was 1992. That makes these marking at least 21 years old. 
And over the years, I have come to appreciate his comment. It is nice to know a place that feels like it will outlast you. A neighbourhood that will be around after you have left the town, to come back to in a decade or two.

Market streets.
4.

Coffee. What's the deal here? I have never had a bad coffee in Jeonju.

A rooftop cafe, a pretty warm afternoon. 

5. 

And that's it. This is so far my favourite place in Korea, by far. Here are some extra photos from this beautiful and blissful place.

Some new leaves.

Some green buds.

Room full of mirrors, randomly at a random museum-y place.

This is the 70's theme cafe.

My only photograph from a place with great historic significance - that I can't be bothered explaining. It'll bore all of yous anyway. :)

.J

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