On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love sent to me –
Twelve drummers drumming.
I bring you drummers from South Korea, which is appropriate. It’s September, and they’re celebrating Chuseok, which is a sort of secular Harvest Festival. But it fills the place in the calendar that Christmas does here. It’s a time to spend with family and friends, to exchange gifts, and generally to have a good time. Bring on the drummers and dancers!
There are moments when you have no fewer, and no more than twelve drummers before you. But you’ll have to keep your wits about you.
And that’s it. The end of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Tonight’s the time to take down the tree, tidy away cards and decorations … till next year. It’s all over unless you’re Spanish, or from a range of Latin American countries, in which case you’ll be celebrating El Dia de los Reyes, or Los Reyes Magos, when the Three Kings visited the infant Jesus. A great excuse for a party!
This is turning into a Sunday Thing. Experimenting with different types of poetry. But with added photos. Always with added photos. This week, as my contribution to Tanka Tuesday‘s task – to write a 4-11 (the clue is in the name: 11 lines of 4 syllables each – last line repeats the first) I thought I’d focus on summer travel.
was always fun.
But now passport
train strikes and queues;
airport queuing –
make journeys long
and so irksome.
Worth it though – for
And to prove that travel’s always worth it, here’s my photo gallery. There’s just one problem. Most of these photos were taken in January, in February, in March … you get the idea – any month but August …
… Should have travelled by elephant …?
PS – the header photo was taken at l’Albufera, near Valencia, Spain.
Every culture throughout the world has its myths about how the earth, and everything that inhabits the earth, came into being. Here in the UK, historically part of the Judeo-Christian tradition, we’re most familiar with the creation story told in The Book of Genesis.
Day 1 – God created light and separated the light from the darkness, calling light ‘day’ and darkness ‘night’. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
Day 2 – God created an expanse of sky to separate the waters. Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters.
Day 3 – God created the dry ground and gathered the waters, calling the dry ground ‘land’, and the gathered waters ‘seas’. Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
On day three, God also created plant life. Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
Day 4 – God created the sun, moon, and the stars to give light to the earth and to govern and separate the day and the night. These would also serve as signs to mark seasons, days, and years. Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.
Day 5 – God created every living creature of the seas and every winged bird, blessing them to multiply and fill the waters and the sky with life. Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven… Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
Day 6 – God created man and woman in his own image. He gave them every creature and the whole earth to rule over, care for, and cultivate. Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. Which is perhaps where it all started to go wrong …
PS. Thanks to your ‘likes’ on this recent post, I’ve been able to donate £28.00 on your behalf to World Central Kitchens, as they feed the dispossessed fleeing from war in Ukraine and other humanitarian catastrophes.
Hands up if you recognise those first seven words. No? Then you’re not as old as me. You didn’t settle down to hear ‘Listen with Mother’ on the radio – sorry – wireless, after lunch every day when you were too young for school.
I’ve chosen this picture to be my first response to Becky’s ‘Squares’ challenge, which this month is Odd. It shows a sofa at a bus stop in Gyeryongsang, South Korea. Koreans don’t do fly-tipping, or litter. They didn’t, until recently, do sofas either. We needed to get used to restaurant meals taken seated cross legged on the floor, though thankfully, many places provided western-friendly chairs and tables too. So this thoughtful addition to the bus stop’s furnishings seemed rather odd, and worthy of a photo.
You’ve got a month of odd photos ahead. So are you sitting comfortably?
Electric light outside – as streetlights, spotlights, making our streets and subways safer: an undeniable blessing. But spotlights, bright and colourful advertising? The featured photo is of a rainy night in Busan South Korea. Cheery colours certainly, but far more than we needed to find out way round. And look at this. These hotels are out in the country, in a small mountain resort, surrounded by forest. The lights went on as dusk fell, and remained on till morning …
All the same, it’s hard not to enjoy streetlights reflected in the water while mooching round a city. Here are a couple of shots near the river Guadalquivir in Seville.
It’s mood-enhancing to see the city become a playground at night. Here are the fountains of La Alameda, also in Seville. And the neighbourhood of la Viña in Cádiz, where post-Christmas groups relax over a meal or a few drinks in the still-decorated street.
But metro stations and subways need lighting too. Here’s Barcelona, and London.
But the other evening, taking a late walk round the village, best of all was the glow surrounding the houses as families wound down for the day. A cosy, comforting and gentle radiance.
Just before winter kicks in and we all hunker down, let’s have a trip to the shops, and spot a few windows.
Are there enough windows here for you, in the featured photo, at the entrance to one of South Korea’s bigger shopping complexes? Once we’ve looked round, it’ll be time for a coffee: who knew that Starbucks had spread its reach so far? Not that we actually went inside here – independent coffee shops for us, every time.
Let’s come back to England now, and stay local, in Ripon. We’ll pop into our favourite bakery, then saunter along to the pie shop. In both cases, reflections will offer us views of the street too.
Let’s go to Kirkgate, and more independent shops: You’ll get a mood-improving slogan at Karma, and if you’re lucky, live music to cheer you along.
A few miles away is Pateley Bridge. I wonder if the shops there still have the displays they had when the Tour de Yorkshire was in town?
We’ll finish off by going to Harrogate. From behind other shop windows, we can get a snapshot of Starlings, the bar where we could finish our day with a drink and a very tasty pizza.
Today I’m taking you to Jagalchi Market, in Busan, South Korea, to one of the largest fish markets in the entire world. We’ll go first into the village-sized hangar where more stalls than you could possibly count are selling single fish, several fish, restaurant loads of fish to buyers who come here knowing that what they choose will have only left the sea a very few hours previously.
More interesting though are the stalls outside. Here are small-time stallholders who come with the family catch, in among larger set-ups who specialise in certain kinds of fish and seafood. I’d like you to meet this woman. She has squid to sell. And I can assure you they’re fresh. I know this because they’re still alive, and they spend their entire time breaking out from their surroundings to lope off down the street, until Our Woman in Pink retrieves them, until the next time … or until they’re sold and become somebody’s supper.
It astonishes me that there are any fish still left in the sea. Look at the header photo. These tiny dried fish are sold in vast quantities by any number of stall-holders, and garnish many of the dishes we ate there.
Everybody but us was there to buy what they needed that day. We contented ourselves with eating what someone else had brought and prepared as our wanderings came to an end, at a neighbourhood restaurant just down the road.
Last Monday in South Korea we went shopping for string, elastic bands and spam – oh, and books.. Today we’ll go instead to one of the large shopping centres – Shinsegae in Seoul maybe (where I was astonished to find a branch of Waitrose) or Lotte Trevi (yes really) in Busan. We could spend the day there, strolling around the sleek and elegant displays. Maybe we’ll stay for lunch in the food hall, and choose from the many outlets featuring foods from around the world, though particularly from the Far East. Out of town shopping centres like these are popular, as in Europe, but the average city shopping street is busy from morning till late into the evening too, with young people toting large carrier bags full of new clothes . ‘Shop till you drop’ seems to be the motto.
You’re young, female and Korean. Perhaps you’re a student, a worker, even a mother. You’re slim, stylish, beautiful, have enviably flawless skin, and shiny long dark straight hair. Just like all your friends.
One night however, you go to bed, and you wake up in the morning as an ajumma, an auntie, an older woman. You’ve shrunk four inches, your hair is shorter, perhaps even curly. You’ll put on nice comfy trousers and no longer remain silent on bus rides: in fact putting the world to rights with your fellow ajummas is what you like best Most importantly, you’ll wear your badge of office. This is a quite enormous visor, worn to protect your skin from damaging rays from the sun. You won’t go out without one.
There is no half way house that I can see. You’re young. Or you’re an ajumma. That’s it.
Who doesn’t enjoy a bit of window shopping? And perhaps particularly in parts of South Korea, which can offer a few differences from the high streets that many of us are used to. Let’s start in Busan. in Bosu-Dong Book Street (보수동 책방골목 문화관). There are books, and only books on offer – but of little use if you’re as slow as me in decoding hangul script.
On our first day in South Korea, in Seoul, jet lagged and in need of a gentle day of orientation, we mooched round the markets area. And we found not only whole shops, but whole streets dedicated to shops selling just one product: it might be string. It might be elastic bands, or electric cables, or empty cardboard boxes to be filled with other products. or even gift-packs of a product beloved of Koreans since American soldiers had been part of their lives during the the Korean War – spam. We arrived in time for Chuseok, the festival that’s the time for families to get together and exchange gifts, as we do at Christmas – though historically, Chuseok was more of a Harvest Festival. Trust me, the perfect present for your granny is some gift-wrapped spam. And jumbled in among these workaday products are streets of jewellers’ shops. Come window shopping with me.
That man making his choices from among the books on offer is Just One Person from around the World, enjoying browsing and deciding whether or not to buy, just as we all do, wherever we live.
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