Archive for the ‘Korea’ Category

Wandering

Posted: October 5, 2010 in butterflies, Korea, lemmings, wide angle photography
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They say that this is just a fleeting breath on a wide stage of play-acting little worlds.

What was here before, who were you after, and where did you come from and what are you now.

Heels in haste kick up the dust which shrouds the masterpieces which one thought dear.

What is there to keep, who was here in these arms, can nobody remember?

We all lay brick by brick beside the other in glorious testimony to pyramids of meaning much bigger than ourselves.

Never knowing names outside our lot, or whether we were never any different, while miracles all around us light every side.

Did we have really have fates to trade?  Or do we run over cliffs to a calling and Nature bigger than any short-sighted faith can perceive?

My spanking new Lenovo lappie with the hyped solid state drive and core i7 processor has died. 

Silently… in the middle of the night… without so much as a bleep.

So all my photos of those beautiful Korean butterflies are gone.  Because I’d believed in the stability of a solid state drive and didn’t do back up.

The laptop was only 20 days OLD!  To make things worse, I decided it was time to kick in the warranty but when I keyed in the URL (consumersupport.lenovo.com/go/register), there was no such website.  When I keyed in consumersupport.lenovo.com, the website was down!

When the laptop was dropped off, they refused to help with warranty registration and after much clarification and confusion, they finally took the laptop in and will let me know about the status in 6 working days.  That’s almost as old as the computer is.

During the first few days, the ATI Visual driver kept crashing.  After the first 10 days, it started to crash but I thought it might just be a software glitch.  After that, it went to sleep and never woke up again.

Those Korea pics were once in a lifetime.  Who knows when I’ll ever go back there again?  I don’t think I can trust another Lenovo laptop ever again!

Seongsan Sunrise Peak

I just found out that my itinerary in Korea is the same as just about everybody else’s who have gone package deal with the travel agents in Singapore.  

That kinda makes any kind of introduction of the places in Korea somewhat redundant.  But then I bet not many people have photos of these beauties!    

Common butterfly in Korea: The Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) can be found even amongst small strips of green in the city. As long as there are flowers around.

I was whisked away from the talkative tour guide (would you believe it?  He spent almost 25 min hanging around a few straw huts talking non stop and left us 11 min to walk around the huge area… which needless to say, none on tour managed to do so!) by the butterflies in Jeju Village.       

Polygonia c-aureum on purple flowers. Very common butterfly

This butterfly was especially hard to resist, no matter how irritated the tour guide was with my running away.  Purple flowers contrasting against the vibrant orange wings, it was every butterfly lover’s best photographic moment.  This particular Nymphalid is popularly known as the Asian Comma butterfly and is common in South Korea.  It could be easily spotted flitting everywhere from hilltops to amongst roadside flowers and backyards.   

 

Papilio dehaanii

If my travels around South Korea were anything to go by, it almost seems that Korea has more larger species of butterflies than smaller species like the Lycaenidae.  After all the running away from the tour group and grovelling on my hands and knees begging for the bushes to give me some teeny blues, all I got were big Papilios winging around my head.  Not that I mind.  The Papilio dehaani was accompanied by other members of its family such as what looked like the macilentus which never stopped for me (and my blurry posts are too embarassing to post). 

Artogeia melete

This little Pieridae however is a theme park butterfly.  Hanging out on a flower amongst shrieking rollercoasters and hordes of tourists milling around, the butterfly showed no fear of having its personal space invaded repeatedly. Sitting in the Everland park butterfly enclosure, I’m horrified to say that it was the only butterfly I could find behind the chain curtain.  Instead they have information boards hanging around empty host plants showing life cycles of butterflies that are not there.  It was nothing short of ironic.      

Argyronome laodice

Enjoying more freedom than its imprisoned cousin, the laodice was found squatting patiently on a flower just at the entrance to Everland waiting to stick its proboscis out at silly hordes of people jostling to get into the theme park.  Taking this shot earned me an earful from the tour guide who had just had enough of my hyperactivity around butterflies (he was running short on time and I was using that time to snipe away at passing butterflies.  Tsk, he said, anybody who doesn’t listen to me doesn’t get to eat lunch! And I have your lunch coupons!).  I’d only seen this butterfly once during the entire time I was in Korea.     

Argyronome laodice

Ignoring the angry cries from the tour guide, the butterfly also obliged me with an open winged shot.  (I did however grab a lunch coupon from my guide anyway and had lunch. ) 

Zizeria maha: Butterfly found at the tomato farm

On the short-lived excursion to the tomato farm, this small butterfly was found milling in hordes around the tomato plants.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out that the tomato plants were its host plant.  So instead of picking cherry tomatoes, I spent the excursion time crawling amongst the plants looking for fat caterpillars.  Before I hit catepillar jackpot however, it was time to go and I shuffled out of the tomato rows into the wild grasslands around the farm incorrigibly shooting away at myraids of excitingly different butterflies and forgetting myself.  Again.  

Artogeia rapae

 It took me ages to find any information on Korean butterflies but since I’d found it, I’d like to share the links (however, there is a chance you might not understand anything you read on them): 

http://www.ataxus.com/ (Fantastic photograph checklist of Korean butterflies, complete with life history and videos) 

http://www.nature.go.kr:9001/insect/insect_list.do?param(field)=&param(value)=&param(field2)=&param(value2)=&param(field3)=&param(value3)=&page=4251 (photographic checklist for bugs and butterflies in Korea)

So why exactly are these guys looking between their knees (thanks for pointing that one out, Raymond. LOL!)?

It all starts with this strange phenomenon: when a vehicle is put into free gear, it starts rolling “uphill” like a bus possessed (if that were possible).

Various explanations about for this:

–         Said hill is haunted!!! YAAAA~~!!!

–         There used to be a massacre here and now this hill is haunted!!! YAAAA~~!!!

–         The ghost is pushing the bus! The hill is haunted! YAAAA~!!!

Apparently, all the rumours centre around haunting spirits.

But the answer to this mystery lies in the eye.  No no… not The Eye, your eye!

These guys are actually standing at the bottom of the hill instead of the top.  But the environment around the road makes it look as if we are standing at the top of the hill. But that’s not the fun part. 

The fun part is this apparent collaboration between all the tour guides to wreak happy revenge on us demanding tourists by telling us:

“To overcome the trick of the eye and see that we are at the bottom of the hill, all you need to do is stick your head in between your legs (yes Raymond, that’s what he said too… LOL!) and look at the road from there!”

Apparently that didn’t work as you can see from these exhausted faces.
Anyhoo, enough of those repeated photos.  South Korea has a number of temples.  I’m no Buddhist but the surroundings around the temples are occasionally quite breathtaking.  Maisan Provincial Park in Jeonju is one such area which has the Tapsa Temple nestled in the foot of the mountain.

Korean Buddhists have a belief that they put the fates and well-beings of their loved ones and families in the hands of their god and pray over them by piling little stones one on top of the other, forming a multitude of stone statues all over the area, tucked in the most inconspicuous places. 

We were told that we musn’t touch these stone statues as they were supposed to be sacred.  It was hard to ignore that instruction with the sombre atmosphere.  Nothing felt like it could be touched.

And in case you’re wondering about the name of this Mountain, it’s literally translated as horse-ear-mountain (ma-er-san).  That’s cos the twin peaks of the Mountain look like a pair of horsey ears from far.  I would have shared a pic of the pair of funny looking ears sticking out from the horizon were they not hidden in huge shrouds of rain clouds.

Besides Tapsa Temple, we also visited the Dongwasha Temple which has a 33 metre high Buddha statue.  This particular highlight however, was peculiarly hemmed in by construction when we visited.  The ugly construction aside, the hilly surroundings was ribboned through with pretty gurgling streams eagerly rushing to the foot of the mountain. Dongwasha Temple also has a long flight of steps leading up to the temple which is called “The Steps of Reflection” where Buddhists meditate on their teachings of kind acts and filial piety.  You’re supposed to take a step and reflect on one good act.  But we trundled down the steps and did all of our reflection at one shot looking upwards into the rain.

Next up: Find out who I was chasing feverishly throughout Seongsan Sunrise Peak, Jeju Village and even Dongwasha Temple till I got a massive headache that ruined my outing to the Teddy Bear Museum! All this coming up in a bit!

Streets of South Korea

Posted: September 10, 2010 in holidays, Korea
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Now that poor Vox is dead and gone. this will be my first WordPressed post.  Why is it that WordPress doesn’t allow one large scrolling image background instead of a singular small one and tiles?  I’m not getting the hang of WordPress. 

Anyhoo, I’d just returned from the land of kimchi and … kimchi. 

Ok I’ll admit that their wines are fantastic… if you’ve never tried their raspberry wine from their wine museum, you’re gonna miss something smoother than some of the popular Moscatos.

But I’ve got hundreds of photos of South Korean culture, food and beautiful people to share with you on top of trying to work with frustrating WordPress with a new computer while trying to whip off 60 chapters of part-time study torture.  And yet I’ve got to go to bed now so I can appreciate (and photograph) the sunrise tomorrow. 

I just want it all.

But updates will be coming! So come back soon!