With apologies to David Guterson for playing with the title of his superb novel, we’ve hit extremes of weather on the “Sacred Places of Asia” portion of our long trip. From the steamy 100+F degrees and 100% humidity of Java, Vietnam, and Cambodia, to the cool highlands of Lijiang to the snow in South Korea?
Snow? Yes, and ice too. Carumba!
South Korea and Japan are in the grips of a cold snap, and at the first temple we visited in Gyeongju, we literally slid down the pathways on sheets of ice. Thank goodness for the hundreds, no, thousands, of South Korean schoolkids who were on field trips to the same temples, because their little feet churned up the slick sheets of ice on the hillside paths into manageable slush, and nobody from our group took a tumble.
The cherry blossoms were in full bloom and after the snow melted, there were lots of good photo opportunities. I must admit defeat, though, at finding good shots of World Heritage temples like Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple because they were completely overrun with school children in bright outfits.
The kids were really charming and friendly and wanted to practice their English. So I spent a lot of time chatting and posing for their pictures (turnabout being fair play, I reckon).
At first, I couldn’t figure out why, of all the Westerners visiting the temple, the kids were all flocking to have their pictures taken with me. But then, I started hearing what at first I thought was a chant: “senta craws, senta craws”! It quickly became apparent that I look about as much like Santa Claus as any Korean kid has seen in the flesh, so I was extremely busy.
I may have found a possible new income stream too, because if I got myself a red outfit and charged 50 cents a shot for “Pictures with Santa” during South Korean schoolkids’ field trip days, I’d friggin’ clean up.
Who says you can’t make money with travel photography in today’s market? You just might have to think outside the box, and do some traveling, but get on the other side of the camera for a change!
My favorite stop in South Korea, though, was the short walk through of the Jagalchi Fish Market in Pusan, on our way from the airport. Wow, talk about exotic sea creatures and colorful costumes. Great photo ops.
All the fishmonger ladies dress in primary color slickers, and the fish and giant crabs are artfully displayed. It may not be a World Heritage Site, but it sure made for some cool pictures. And the only “Claus” that got photographed were those on the crabs!
Next stop: Japan. I’ll keep you posted!
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