It is 102 degrees at ten in the morning; forecast high of 111 today. I'm still jet-lagged, back in Tucson...After 30 hours in transit, I got home in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, and then Wednesday night, after 81 days without measurable precipitation, it finally rained. I got to 'welcome the monsoon' twice this year--first in Korea, and then back in southern Arizona...
Today's seemingly random posting is not random. (Although my time-zone-frazzled trains of thought are indeed susceptible to sudden track-changes...)
I grew up with Legos.
(After I moved out of my parents' house,
my mother, well-intentioned, gave away my Legos
to a neighbor-kid...
Yes...I've forgiven her.)
In Korea last month, I noticed t-shirts with graphic designs such as this:
A Lego-man rushing by a saguaro! Too cool...
And, just before I left Tucson at the end of May,
my wife, (only half-jokingly), got me this keychain-flashlight as a 'travel-companion:'
One cloudy afternoon, two weekends ago at my Uncle's in Sokcho, my wife was napping, my uncle, aunt, and mother were resting, and I was restless...So...Mr. Legoman and I decided to prepare a geography lesson. (Really, I'm not that weird. Really.)
I had just read a column in The Korea Times by an economist who'd gone to spend a couple of years, teaching/researching, in England...and who was suprised to be asked, by educated Britons, questions such as--"So, Korea--where exactly is Korea?"..."Don't you just speak Chinese there?"..."Do you have your own money?" (Incidentally, South Korea's population--48million--is not too far behind England's--51million...According to the World Bank, South Korea is the 14th largest economy in the world...the UK is 6th.)
I've written before about questions I heard when I was in school--"So, Korea, is that, like, a country?"..."Are there trees in Korea?"..."Do you have seasons there?"
So, a geography lesson...with a chopstick as a teaching-tool...
It also recaps where we've been over the last few weeks.
The Korean peninsula, in relation to its NE Asian neighbors, surrounded by China, Siberian Russia, and Japan:
Latitudinally, for Americans--think of going from Massachusetts to the Carolinas,
or, in a European context, from mid-France down to Morocco.
Flying into Korea from abroad, you land at Incheon international airport, built on re-claimed tidal land on an island about an hour's drive west of Seoul:
In relation to Seoul, here is Sokcho, where my Uncle lives, on the coast of the Sea of Japan/East Sea:
You'll note that on the above map, the border betwen North (where Legoman is standing) and South is not overtly marked...But the DMZ is definitely there...
(above map from Wikipedia)
Strangely enough, the world's last, and heavily-fortified, relic of the Cold War is used as a brand-name for bottled mineral water:
It might seem bizarre, at first, using a military acronym as a selling point for mineral water, but it has its own logic--parts of the DMZ run through isolated mountains, full of natural springs, and just 2km inside the South Korean border, this stuff is bottled...the DMZ has even become a wildlife refuge of sorts, after almost six decades of being uninhabited...
...So, there in Sokcho you can relax on the beach or in the nearby mountains:
Toward the center of the country is the mid-size city of Wonju...
...from where we flew to Jeju-do island:
The above map is an inset;
the map below shows the island in relation
to other places in NE Asia:
(above map from here)
Oh...and I almost forgot the small city of Yangju, a northern suburb of Seoul:
This is where S. and I spent the better part of a day at the "Dae Jang Geum Theme Park."
(By the way, one of the corniest things we've ever done--
...and back to the T-shirts that inspired all of this:
Back in Cactus-land.