I live for Cheonan!

Here’s the “big hill” I mentioned climbing once before. It’s really hard to see, but you might be able to make out some kind of building at the top of the hill. Also, it was an absolutely beautiful day. Mid-60s, light breeze, sunny as hell. I actually expected there to be a ton of people hiking there but I only saw a couple.

This jovial character is right outside a Western bar called Adonis. He always struck me as a cross between Woody Guthrie and John Wayne.

Construction on the street corner. But whatever could they be building?

A giant structure connecting all four corners. It’s a pretty big intersection, and ever mindful of public well-being, Cheonan officials have decided to put a nice fancy walkway above the road.

Near the bottom of the hill, there are lots of these little farms. Old people, generally women, tend them. They own the land. They may be just for their family, or they may sell them on the street. It’s also pretty common to see old women picking wild vegetables.

A Korean scarecrow. Actually, since I’ve been here I haven’t seen a crow. Perhaps they don’t have them here. But my students know what they are.

The first set of stairs up the mountain. They don’t look great, but compared to Taejosan, they’re fantastic. As I was taking this picture, my water bottle fell off the post and started rolling down the hill. It came open and I lost about half my water before I could catch it. Right in front of a mother-daughter pair too. Put it to Benny Hill and it probably would’ve had them in stitches.

A view from the top of the stairs. If you look super, super close you can see a black E on a yellow background in the very center of the picture. That’s E-mart, about a 40 minute walk from my house.

Just a little gazebo atop the hill. It’s what I saw that got me curious enough to climb it in the first place.

Some of the construction going on.

If you peek between the parallel branches in the very center, you can see my school. My apartment building is hiding behind it. The hill is too small and covered with trees to be scenic, like Taejosan, but it’s still a really nice walk.

Once you’re at the top, should you feel the need to go Rocky all over South Korea’s ass, the equipment is provided. Parallel bars, 20kg dumbbell, some chin-up bars, benches on which to do sit ups, and in the very back left, little round things to stand and swivel on to stretch your back.

These are Korean graves. I’d seen them a lot on the sides of mountains on the drives to Daejon and on train trips, so I finally asked Mr. Lee about them. Cemeteries as we know them are literally non-existent here. Only super rich people can afford to be buried on flat ground. However, land on a mountain is much cheaper. Families own this ground and bury people on the sides of mountains. Pretty much every mountain is dotted with at least a couple graves. Lots of people are cremated, too.

The grave marker is all in Chinese. I couldn’t even begin to tell you what it says. Chinese is unintelligible to me. The only worse language I’ve seen is Georgian. It looks like gobbledygook. Interestingly enough, gobbledygook is apparently a dictionary word, according to Firefox. I always thought it was a nonsense word that meant nonsense.

On a hill of predominantly evergreen or dead trees, one refuses to be bland.

These signs are all over the mountain. San bul josim — mountain fire caution. Much like California, wildfires are a problem here too.

Through the trees you can see Y-city. I mentioned it before. It’s a large shopping mall and apartment complex. The buildings are connected on the first four floors for shopping areas and then have the large spires for apartments.

If you’re not the type to go Rocky all over someone’s ass at the top of a mountain, perhaps hula hooping is your prerogative.

Atop the winding stair. Christ, I just referenced a specific chapter of The Lord of the Rings. I feel like such a turbo-nerd. You can’t even see the bottom from the top.

At the bottom, 180 steps later. I’m glad I catch it on the way down, because going up 180 stairs would be a kick in the dick.

The paper lanterns are in preparation for Buddha’s birthday. It’s sometime next month. I’m hoping to go to a traditional temple to check out whatever festivities or ceremonies may be going on. It’s one of the rare days off that I get.

I’m not sure who the bosom-y woman with the lotus is, but this rather drab building is a Buddhist temple, modern style. If you look at the sign it says hanamsa — Hanam Temple.

The nice thing about apartments here is that they always tell you the neighborhood’s name. This is Weolbong. Chang-ki actually lives in this complex. Building 207, I think. He says a lot of new couples and foreigners live there because they’re older and cheaper. Still, they’re nice on the inside, and at least four times the size of my apartment.

About a block away, if you look straight down the street, you can see Nasaretdaehakgyo — Nazareth University. It’s a Christian university. I know one girl that goes there, from the language group. I imagine a lot of the foreigners in Chang-ki’s apartment complex work there.

A much nicer garden area.

An extremely old woman tending the garden with a big ass rake/hoe type thing.

I see these signs all over Cheonan, and I recognized “I” and “Cheonan”, so I used my handy-dandy Korean-English dictionary in my phone to complete the phrase. Salmatnaneun Cheonan — means “I live for Cheonan”. Of all the things to be, it’s a bus advertisement.

Just a couple blocks from home I found this restaurant. It tickles me pink. I suppose here BBQ doesn’t stand for barbeque, or perhaps they’re making a terribly clever pun. However, it’s not even a BBQ place. Everything on the menu is some variety of fried chicken. Still, “Best Believable Quality!!” amuses the hell out of me. I can imagine a conversation between two patrons who’ve just started eating.

Man: How is it?
Woman: It’s okay. Not great, not bad.
Man: Yeah, well it’s only six bucks.
Woman: Yeah, that sounds about right.

Not the best quality, but just about as much as one could expect.

All told, the trip was about an hour and 45 minutes. Maybe a fifteen minute walk there, 45 minutes to climb the mountain and reach the end, then a 45 minute walk home. Maybe next weekend I’ll go to a mountain a little further away. I walked to it once and discovered something completely bizarre, so I want to take some pictures.

I’m saving this and posting it later. Just a ploy to keep views high and boost my ego. Now I’m off to the soccer game for more pictures.

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2 Responses to “I live for Cheonan!”

  1. As a Georgian and Chinese and English speaker, I’ve got to say, Georgian has one of the best alphabets I’ve come across; it’s a perfect representation of the language, always. The bastard love child of Old English and Norman, Modern English, looks schizophrenic in comparison. Even Russian isn’t that great next to Georgian.

    Yet, Chinese is a double shitstorm in comparison to that happy line and circle nonsense you have over there.

  2. Hi, i’m korean who live in choen an, I just looking for person who do martial arts in our gym as a foreiner. Hapkido(martial arts name) if you are interested in learning hapkido when you have time, please e-mail me^^ I’m sorry to leave message here, I know it’s your private blog. i’m really sorry and if you feel not good about my message, please you can remove it. thanks for reading. i’m sorry to write english with wrong grammer.

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