events

Absolutely the wrong time to go to Jeonju

4 May 2014

This weekend, there's the quadruple coincidence of Labour day, the weekend, Children's day and Buddha's birthday this weekend giving most people two weeks of vacation. And in conjunction with an annual Jeonju Film Festival, the whole country seems to converge on a small little town. 

There's no secret that I love Jeonju. The town is small enough, people seem nice but all cars on the street are driven by descendants of Schumacher and the food is just lovely. Not overbearing, and just enough ingredients and the food seems to be made still the artisanal way by uncompromising and luddite old ladies. Sure, charge me a little more for the hand made goodness and 12,000Won bibimbaps, and since I travelled all the way to try something nice, don't skimp on it. 

Taking the bus on this busy weekend. Most parts of major highways in Korea has a dedicated lane for buses and large passenger vans. This will shave some tens of minutes off the trip compared to driving your own little stinky and crammed car smelling synthetic ester-fueled air "fragrance" for 3 hours. Since this is no where like Malaysia, no mid-sized 4 wheel car tries to reason silently that it is a full-fledged express bus. 

There are two types of buses that ply the route. There seems to be a bus leaving every 5 minutes at the peak times of early afternoon from Seoul Express Bus Terminal. Most of them are 3-a-row "business-class" buses, and then there's the odd 4-a-row bus that's cheaper (12,800W this time, compared to 20,500W - I swear the price has gone up year-on-year). For me I can't tell the difference between the two, except for the fact that you're squashed closer to the stranger to the right. If you're taking the bus on a date, perhaps it is a plus. 

The first problem came around on arrival. It was 6pm. My favourite bibimbap restaurant Seungmidang (성미당: 전라북도 전주시 완산구 전라감영5길 19-9) had a long queue outside and they had to cut it short because they ran out of stock. Damn tourists. 

Luckily there was the last batch of bibimbap at 가족회관 (전주시 완산구 중앙동3가 80 2층) just behind Seungmidang. 

But it all was downhill from then on. All hotels and B&B were full for the night, even the small ones. No accommodation, the only other option was spa but even then there was no guarantee it will not be filled. And it was raining, and making walking around a bad experience. 

So. No food. Long queues. Rain. No accommodation. Plenty of people. There was only one thing to do. Since everyone is leaving Seoul, perhaps Seoul is the best place to be for this long holiday. 

And so it was, I took the 10:45pm bus back to Seoul. Arrival was at 2am, but it was great to be sleeping in my own bed again. Home sweet home, as they say. 

Tractors in Muui-do, South Korea

First specimen was located close to the CU convenience store in the main town area. This one is a Daedong tractor. It has a logo that looks like it came from Star Trek. You know the arrow head that points up. It's a faded red. A workhorse. This one has what looks like the key to the tractor tied to the left handle. Tempted but I didn't take it for a joy ride. 

Specimen 1: Daedong

Handlebars and control console

Second specimen was located parked next to a hut next to the dry pond where some boats are stranded. There is no model but it does look similar to the first to I supposed it's also a Daedong. In fact I did see the brand on the front lights but this one surely didn't have the Star Trek logo embellished everywhere like no. 1. I'm guessing this is before Daedong was confident about their brand. 

Specimen 2

Third specimen was found on the way up the hill to the only hotel on the island. This one is a twin. Same model as the second. Daedongs all the way. I just noticed they all have this hook just behind the fuel cap. Guess they overhaul them often. Or airlifted. Who knows. 

Specimen 3: Twin Daedongs

Fourth specimen was found at the main road close to 무의도 주민자치센터. This one is a Star Trek Daedong but the driver doesn't seem to be too careful as seen on the locked up snout. But hey, they all have he same colour so far. Utilitarian machines don't come with choices perhaps. 

Specimen 4: Beat up snout

Next one is not a tractor per se, but I included it because Daedong seems to make asphalt scrapper too. 

The asphalt scrapper

Fifth specimen looks like the second and third but with a more recent lamp that's more transparent and looks newer. Perhaps it's an aftermarket replacement. I just like the small bumper in front. Or perhaps a protector for that starter motor. 

Specimen 5: Upgraded front lamp Daedong

Sixth one is under wraps. But can't hide a Daedong from me. I didn't lift the cover to check the colour. Any guess?

Cached Daedong

Seventh - nah. Ain't no tractor below. Local people in Muui-do have been seen zipping around in these four wheel motor cycle with sand tires. 

...

Here's another four wheeler. No model or brand. I see a Moto and Big Bear.  And another one in the background if you can spot it. 

*End*

Artisan & Artists ACAM-75

I'm a fan of A&A's camera bags and straps since I saw them for the first time in Tokyo perhaps 7 years back. I've been using an ACAM-3000 since then and the worn canvas look and lack of big branding makes it a nice stealthy looking bag. 

Recently I have been drawn to small camera cases when I want to travel with a normal bag and have a small area to store a Leica M with a lens. Or a Sony RX1 with a spare battery. ACAM-61 does that nicely. So it was this one day when I was out looking for another ACAM-61 that I came across a new style case called ACAM-75.  

Its basically a roll top version of a single camera pouch with a firm elastic band to keep not close. I guess there are cases when a zipper too would be more convenient and times when roll top would be better. 

The fabric is canvas. Not as thick as the bags but still feeling strong. As usual A&A's workmanship is impeccable. No complaints there. No loose threads and it is made in Japan. I went with the red colour so it will not go missing inside a larger bag. Padding is not excessive and there doesn't seem to be any rough edges on the inside to scuff up a camera over the long term. 

 

It fits a Leica M snugly. RX1 will move around a bit since it is smaller but the elastic band solves that issue when secured. there are no rubber feet on the bottom, which I guess is more practical than aesthetically pleasing so not a big problem. 

ACAM-75 with a Leica M2 and 35mm Summicron ASPH. To be fair, it also has a Abrahamsson Rapidwinder attached to it and a half case. The elastic band closes ok but it is definitely pushing the boundary of "fit". 

ACAM-75 with a Leica M2 and 35mm Summicron ASPH. To be fair, it also has a Abrahamsson Rapidwinder attached to it and a half case. The elastic band closes ok but it is definitely pushing the boundary of "fit". 

 

With M2 and lens wrapped up. 

With M2 and lens wrapped up. 

 

This time with a Sony RX1. This camera also has a half case on it - by the way JnK in Seoul makes a killer case that rivals Luigi's plus you can choose the leather you want to use!

This time with a Sony RX1. This camera also has a half case on it - by the way JnK in Seoul makes a killer case that rivals Luigi's plus you can choose the leather you want to use!

RX1 wrapped up. Sorry for the inverted photo. This was taken with an iPhone 5s. 

RX1 wrapped up. Sorry for the inverted photo. This was taken with an iPhone 5s. 

Compared to ACAM-61, the 75 is a little smaller. 

Compared to ACAM-61, the 75 is a little smaller. 

 

Stitching detail... 

Stitching detail... 

No complaints over this case. I like the design, though time till tell if it is more practical for me compared to the zippered cases. We shall see.  

Nikon KE-48C

Let me first confess that I'm a fan of the Nikon F. There's something about the build of the camera and the way the mechanics feel in your hand that makes it very interesting camera. Not to mention all the different variations that exist in the roughly 10 years of production. The KE-48C is a militarized version of the Nikon F with an FTn finder. This was in the late 60s and early 70s and I believe that many saw action during the Vietnam War. I doubt that the one I have has seen war - the condition is too good for that. Perhaps it was used in a more docile setting but still military. Who knows. There are no engraving on the camera, unlike the ones I've seen on the web. I believe that this is normal, the US military sometimes machine engrave, sometimes they engrave freehand and sometimes they just didn't bother.  

The business end of this camera is the backplate. Without that sticker, its just a plain old Nikon F. 

The business end of this camera is the backplate. Without that sticker, its just a plain old Nikon F. 


Honestly, its just a standard Nikon F with a sticker on the back stating the model number, contract number, and so on. The sticker is one of those thin metal ones with stamped serial number that matches the body and with adhesive to it. When you put your fingers on the sticker you can feel it move like a piece of thin metal/plastic. 

So how did I get to own this sweet looking specimen? I was having my breakfast one morning and I browsed a Korean online store and came across the fella. Most samples I've seen online were in a much worst shape than this one, and the serial matches plus I trust the shop enough to buy sight unseen. I've bought enough mechanical cameras in my life to know that most mechanical defects could be adjusted and fixed, and the meter is probably dead or losing its sensitivity (something about CdS meters). Nikon F finders are notoriously prone to prism delamination and for me they're acceptable as long as it doesn't interfere with the viewfinder too much. The lure of the KE-48C was so strong I didn't care too much about defects. I wanted one to shoot with. There are only 2 sites that I could find on the English web with any mention of this camera, one on CameraQuest and another one by Matthew Lin. What they both agree was this is one rare camera. 

This serial is 72xxxxx which is towards the end of the run, so well past the Nikon Fs with the Nippon Kogaku logo, which I prefer. This one is so practical it is boring. Note the pre-Apollo frame advance lever. Right after this model is the last one with plastic tip. 

This serial is 72xxxxx which is towards the end of the run, so well past the Nikon Fs with the Nippon Kogaku logo, which I prefer. This one is so practical it is boring. Note the pre-Apollo frame advance lever. Right after this model is the last one with plastic tip. 

This is the general edge wear on the black paint on my KE-48C. I don't know, out of the pictures I've seen online this seems to be the best preserved one I've seen. Then again there could be some mint ones in private collection that is never displayed. Who knows. 

This is the general edge wear on the black paint on my KE-48C. I don't know, out of the pictures I've seen online this seems to be the best preserved one I've seen. Then again there could be some mint ones in private collection that is never displayed. Who knows. 

With FTn finder. One of the final version for the Nikon F. I like this look but too bad mine has a meter that is stuck to "on". I'm sure I can lubricate the switch to have the off button working but since there's no 625 1.3V battery out there, I couldn't' be bothered. I'll just shoot with my brain meter or with an external Sekonic which I think is more accurate than a 40 year old CdS cell anyway. 

With FTn finder. One of the final version for the Nikon F. I like this look but too bad mine has a meter that is stuck to "on". I'm sure I can lubricate the switch to have the off button working but since there's no 625 1.3V battery out there, I couldn't' be bothered. I'll just shoot with my brain meter or with an external Sekonic which I think is more accurate than a 40 year old CdS cell anyway. 

 

What's it like to shoot with a Nikon F? They're not as smooth as a Leica M for sure. The king of butter smooth operation still goes to a Leica M3 as far as I'm concerned. Then again if you wanted a mechanical SLR, I don't believe any come close to an F. I've owned a Canon F1 for a while, and while it felt hefty, it has a clank to it when the shutter is tripped. The F just feels a lot tighter. When you wind the lever, it is mostly smooth with the feel of the gears engaging some cams along the way. It feels like a ratchet. But satisfying. There are not that many controls, just the photographer, aperture, shutter speed and focus to worry about. Of course if you need mirror lockup or DOF preview, the buttons are there. Otherwise its full manual and there's something satisfying about shooting without batteries. Like hunting with a bow and arrow I guess. Or a dagger! The cheapest Nikon F I have cost me just $25. You have to try one to know what it is like. 

Wondaeri Forest, Inje, Gangwon-do, South Korea

This is another one of those destinations that has been on my to-do list in Korea for at least a year. I first heard about it while reading another one Korean Airlines magazine article and I had it snapped and saved on to Evernote. It just says 자작나무 숲을 and thats about it. I know that it is somewhere in Gangwon-do and close to Inje town but there was no map and nothing in the English internet that could point me in the way. 

An adventure into the Korean internet showed a few blog posts with GPS points that are all over the place. Back in 2012, I hatched a plan to take a bus to Inje, and then running about 20km to survey the place to look for this white birch forest. Luckily I didn't do it eventually as it was around winter at that time and it did take some hike - uphill - around 5km one way to get to a location where the trees are a little more dense than usual. 

To get there, first you have to drive all the way to Inje. There are no public buses to the entrance of the park, so don't bother going public. I guess you could hitch hike, but I doubt many cars intentionally take that route unless they were either living there or going to the park. Rent a car. Its worth it. By the way, Avis in Korea is a company called AJ Rental, and they do have a branch close to the Inje Bus Station as I found out while having my lunch in that town. So in theory you could take a bus to the town and rent a car after that. 

Anyway, at Inje, drive down southwest along the only highway through town. I believe it is highway 44. Take the turning towards the east at 38° 1.212', 128° 7.855'. The road leads to a small road that eventually hugs the valley that gets narrower and narrower till it is almost a bottleneck. Keep on going.

Entrance to the park is at 38° 0.554', 128° 11.698'. I had to park by the roadside when I was there. There's a booth, but no fee to pay, you just have to sign in the visitor log. I was there in Winter, around christmas, and I don't know if in other season the road is opened to cars to drive up. 

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Seoul - Dongdaemun on Sunday

Out of the markets in Seoul, the one I like the most is Dongdaemun. You can find anything you want there. I'm not talking about consumer stuff, of course you can find anything you want there if the market is big enough, but parts of this market has industrial stuff as well, and that makes for great photo opportunities. With black & white film, some parts of this market can have that classic vintage look to the photos.  

The area in question is between Euljiro-4 and Euljiro-3 Metro station and south of the small stream on the map

So what happens on Sundays. First of all, in that area that is marked in English as "Sallim-dong" on the map above, most of the shops are closed. There are some workshops that are still open on Sunday - but it looks like the only reason is to catch up on the backlogged work. You can safely say that it is generally closed on Sunday. So there are all these alleyways that are devoid of human beings, but you can still get a sense of the spirit of the market. So over a few Sundays I made my way there, walked around, got lost a few times, and once I do, I just walk straight and eventually I'll hit a metro station and I'll find my bearings again. 

Here is are some of the photos taken during the survey. They're all taken with Leica Ms and I believe a majority of them were with 24mm, which I prefer in tight places and it retains a rectilinear look unlike something wider. Enjoy and leave comments if you wish.  

These shops are close to Euljiro-4 station. Start of my walk. Nothing interesting yet. 

Walking into the small alleys, here's the first workshop, sewing machines. It took me some time to meter this show, trying to balance the strong backlighting with the shadows inside the shop. And this is the reason I prefer film, you can control the contrast by development and prevent blown highlights.  

One of the thing I like about this market (and markets in Korea in general) are all these transport Daelim bikes. 

 ... And sometimes there are the more discrete fuel-saving ones too...

Or these ones that look like those human transporter in smaller towns in China.

Here's a hybrid Daelim.

Or a human powered pull-carts. I guess they just leave them on Sundays since no one will steal them.

Motor envy

Stairway to nowhere

Lets have a look at the alleys. There are the occasional pedestrian or dogs and cats, but otherwise it is quiet as hell

I believe that this restaurant was opened when I passed by. Usually places like these have the best food, but I was not hungry at the time. 

I think I know what they make here...

Here's one area with a jumble of signboards

I took this obligatory bokeh shot. The 24mm Elmarit ASPH does a nice job at it. In the background, some sign of humanity. 

I like machine shops. They bring the feeling of being in the industrial age. That could be the reason I almost always look for them to photograph

Discarded machine parts litter this alley way close to the stream up north of the original map on this post. They could be spare parts. 

More parts...

More parts...

Here's a guy that's working overtime in his workshop.

The deeper you go into the alleys, the more one-man workshop you will find. I don't know what this one does, it looks like a jewellery workbench. 

I think I'll end right here. There are no real order to the photos, I just put them all here. I will probably have enough photos to do an essay one day, but the trickiest part is to think of a topic to write about. Dongdaemun...  

From Seoul Land to Jamsil, the hard way

The route is simple. The easy way is to take the subway, and according to an online calculator, it takes 30mins and 1250Won and you feel lethargic and unhealthy after the trip. Let me show you another way, about 6 hours, free apart from some bananas, powerbars and 2 litres of water and plenty of patience. In return you will get some nice sceneries and fresh air. With all the nice mountains around Seoul, there's no excuse not to do it the old fashion way. ​

​Other more reputable sites will tell you what is in Seoul Land. I've only been to the zoo and only because it was free that day. Will it be a surprise if I said there are animals there? In confined spaces. With plenty of noisy kids. Discovering that there are no birds to fling on catapults. So collect yourself at the carpark, run up Cheonggyesan 청계산 due east, come down where Dallaenae-ro 달래내로 meets the expressway, and then crossing some shops and farms, proceed up the second mountain Inneungsan 인릉산 and end up somewhere in Seongnam, close to the airbase and then run along the river up north to Jamsil. 

For this trip, I took a backpack with some emergency kit and wore a Suunto Ambit. The screenshot above is what was recorded for the trip. The plots are quite rough but it should be able to hack together a plan for the trip. I find that the best map to use if you had a phone with you would be Daum or Naver since they have the map of the trails. Be aware that the maps are not entirely accurate, sometimes there are sub-path along the way that was created recently. Sometimes they are parallel paths and sometimes it looks like a whole mob went for a shit together and created a new path. 

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Finally: Torres del Paine & Held in Puerto Natales

Los Cuernos from Mirador Pehoé

Los Cuernos from Mirador Pehoé

Was more than two years ago since I made the trip to Patagonia, and I've since posted most of the 3 week trip but stopped before I completed all the posts and forgot about it till now. Sorry about that, follow the link below to the post that's dated in the right sequence, but also means that it is hidden behind two years of posts.

This includes the final part, when my group was held in Puerto Natales for 3 days.

Preview for Tromsø, Norway: 1-12 March 2013

Hints of Aurora Borealis in Laksvatn to the east of Tromsø, Norway. 

For a little more than a week in March, I made the trip up north, way up north to Tromsø, Norway to catch the aurora activity during this year's solar max. What a trip it turned out to be. There was no CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) during that two weeks and I spent most of the time caught in a snow storm, but it was a trip to remember for a lifetime, maybe not as I have plans to go back there in the future. Anyway, while I work on my "opus", enjoy this photo. 

Bohyeonsan Observatory, Yeongcheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do

​The idea for this place came about one day while I was browsing the contents of Korean Airline's inflight magazine and I read about a small village north of Yeongcheon very close to the large city of Daegu. This town decided they needed an identity and a signature dish. And it so happens that there is an observatory right on top of Bohyeonsan 부현산 and apparently they nicked-name the village "Star City" for us English-inclined speakers, and since there seems to be quite a number of Korean parsley growers, they started making a fuss out of grilled pork belly 삼겹살 and parsley 미나리. 

And as it always goes with me, time to check it out. Interesting combination. Stars and parsley. I recall the time I was in turkey close to the Syrian border where every meal seems to have a large side serving of parsley and how I loved it. 

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