Monday, January 2, 2012

I Stepped Out of My Hotel and Into a Magazine

Right before I left for Korea a few weeks ago, I picked up the December 2011 issue of National Geographic magazine. I've always liked their articles and photos. I've been working through it, reading a page or two whenever I have a few minutes. (Okay, I'll just come out and say it. I like to read it while sitting on my throne.)

As always, this issue is full of good stuff: tigers, the Magellanic Clouds orbiting our galaxy, the worldwide rise of cities, and the making of the King James Bible, to name a few highlights.

In the meantime, a friend and I had a day off over here, so we went for a drive to show ourselves around the place. On our four hour excursion, we saw mountains and forests, farms and villages, the ocean, bridges, towers and factories. We found out how much we don't know about the Korean toll road system, but somehow got that worked out. 

We took a few pictures. Here's your unintimidated blogger and intrepid world traveler next to the Yellow Sea:

On the 2011 Ugly Americans Tour

Crowded cities were one thing we got more than our fair share of. As a man, I'm genetically predisposed to refuse ever admitting I'm lost, but I'll confess in hindsight that we were really lost for a little while. During that time, I snapped this picture while stopped at a red light:

Every street looks almost exactly like this. Is it any wonder we had trouble navigating?

There's nothing remarkable about this spot. On the contrary, the city we found ourselves wandering through was filled with hundreds of streets just like this. I guess that's why I took the picture--because it's very typical of our location, and it captures the mood here.

Back at the hotel, I picked up my magazine and opened to an article about Japan's nuclear zone, the region abandoned following last year's earthquake, tsunami, and radiation spillage. Here's a photo from that article, by David Guttenfelder:

An empty street in Okuma, Japan, where people have not been allowed since March 2011, but pets and farm animals freely roam

Apparently, these settings are typical not just in Japan, but throughout Asia. Either that, or we drove farther from our hotel than I thought.

Lest you think I'm naive about cultural diversity in this part of the world, I'll acknowledge that Korea and Japan, despite their remarkably similar urban landscapes, are two distinct countries, each with its own laws, customs, language, mythology, history, and national identity. Like the U.S. and Canada. (Do you think the locals will be offended if I refer to their country as the Canada of Japan?)


  1. Your pictures are so good. I don't know how you find what you are looking for on that street. All those signs are distracting not to mention not in English. I would end up trying to check into a grocery probably. :)

    I have a friend in Japan that lives fairly close to that region that has radiation problems. Scary.

  2. Not sure how the Koreans feel about the comparison, but I;m pretty sure the Canadians won't like it (very politely, of course).

    It's great to see parts of the world with your own eyes you thought you'd only see in a magazine.
    But was it a good trip?

  3. You’d better ask these potential Asian Canucks first or they might think you’re a hoser, eh?

  4. Sarah, I'll tell them to take off to the great white north, eh! Oh, wait... that would be a REALLY bad idea here. In the Republic of (South) Korea, "The North" has some intense socially and politically charged connotations. I'll just tell the hosers to take off, and leave it at that.

    Guapo, you're exactly right. I enjoy traveling to see new stuff firsthand, see how things are done in other cultures, and what people are like in places different from my home. (And the more I see outside of the U.S., the more I appreciate how good we have it.)

    Was it a good trip? If you mean last week's driving tour, it was a fun little adventure. If you mean the bigger Korean excursion, it's still ongoing, and going fine.

    By the way, as to Canada's potentially taking offense at my remarks, they can all take off too, eh!

  5. Brian, this is my first look at your Blog Site, or any blog site. I didn't really know what to expect, but admit that your piece on Korea was interesting enough to keep reading. Having never been there, I can see some of it through your eyes, and words. How long have you been doing this? Any blogs in here about Danmark? Hey, I've got something for ya, cooler than before (;

  6. Thanks, Ricky! I'm sure there are blogs from Denmark, it's just a matter of finding them. I've had my blog going for about four months. I don't write as often as I did at first, but I plan to keep posting two or three times a week. I'll meet you when I get home--I'm excited to see your latest creation!