The collected writings of a Renegade Tourist

Month December 2010

Hairdresser on Guang fu road, 9:15 pm

All I can see is the ceiling, a corner of the air-condition and a wreath saying Merry Christmas, it smells rather much of mint and someone is rubbing what I can only assume is shampoo into my hair. On top of it all they have glued, or perhaps taped a piece of cardboard to my forehead, apparently as some sort of splash protection. Lying back in a recliner having my hair washed is an odd feeling, not bad, not particularly comfortable since the woman is rubbing my scalp with vigor, just… odd.… Read the rest

Cheap movie theatre, Hsinchu 9:03 pm

I am sitting here at the start of the second film of a two films for the price of one deal but, the pictures on the screen in front of me and the sounds coming out of the speakers hold little interest to me. It is just a stream of sensory impressions, light, color and vibrations impinging my eyes and ears. I find it interesting that when I’m stuck here in the salon, with no option to flip the channel or turn off the TV you start taking an interest in sounds and images you would otherwise avoid. Just because … Read the rest

Mountain just outside Seoul 3:15 pm

I am definitely on the edge of the city now. I am walking on a small dirt path on the forest clad mountain. The nearest civilisation can be seen some way below. I am forced to walk on the outside of the wall now, the reason being that some soldiers stopped me, apparently there is a base or something up here. The battlements look really impressive from below so I can sort of understand that they still use the wall for some purpose. So, I keep walking along as the wall as it winds further up in the mountains.… Read the rest

Near Dongdaemun 1:54 pm

I am walking along the ancient city wall as it climbs a mountain ridge at the edge of down town Seoul. I am walking through a sort of residential park with a playground and some benches, to the right and behind me is the city sprawl with its busy streets and skyscrapers, to the left an area of small, dilapidated houses. If I stop to take a photo it gets cold quickly but since it’s up hill I warm up just as quickly.  Standing here writing this is making me cold, got to keep walking.… Read the rest

Top of Namsan mountain 5:40 pm

I am on the top of the mountain, leaning on the wall of what must have been a fortress looking out over the city in the dwindling sunset. The darkening sky overhead shifts to a paler blue close to the horizon where it meets a band of yellow then one of orange. Below, the city lies in a sort of shadowy dusk. Some skeletal trees stretches their black fingers upwards, contrasting the colorful sky. The big group of women who were with me on the way up seem to have disappeared except for a few vainly trying to catch some … Read the rest

Thai restaurant near Hongik University 12:22 pm

In front of me is a bowl of red-orange soup. I have only managed to finish about one-fourth of the fiery liquid. I’ve fished out enough noodles to fill up my belly but now I can eat no more, it is far too spicy. My lips are burning, my tongue is numb, there is sweat on my forehead and I feel slightly nauseated. All the while the staff is just standing there, each of them engrossed in his own mobile phone, not noticing the foreigner greatly needing something to alleviate the spiciness. That’s it! I’ve had enough, I need to … Read the rest

Gyeonbokgung palace 1:54 pm

I am skirting a horseshoe shaped pond to the west of the main palace. Due to coming directly from Taiwan my clothing is insufficient for the Korean winter so I have to keep walking to keep warm. In the pond are two rectangular islands with some kind of pine trees growing on them and in the center of the horseshoe shape is a gigantic two story pavilion. Big wet flakes of snow fall slowly but the absolutely still surface of the pond is still unfrozen. The surroundings are rather barren, sand, yellow grass and a few pines, and the palaces … Read the rest

Over Incheon 5:03 pm

We are flying at the same height as the setting sun. It paints an orange strip on the shadowy surface of the sea beneath us and lights my face in a warm glow. The sky above is still a light blue and right in the center of the sun is a horizontal yellow line dividing the dusk below and the brightness above. It is perhaps the most beautiful landing I have ever experienced, I just wished they could turn off the jazzed up Christmas melody in the background. Except for that, it is almost nice. At least the beauty distracts … Read the rest

Cafe bathroom 9:23 pm

I am in the most incredible bathroom I have ever seen. The toilet is situated in the middle of a small platform of grey stone with an assortment of plants, bamboo rods and yellowish lights all around. Sitting on the toilet seat, my feet are only a few centimeters from the wooden edge of the platform and a small pond. In the pond rises three small pillars supporting slate stepping-stones leading to the sink and then the door. The pond is filled with small fish and plants and is lit from below with a turquoise luster. A hidden pump is … Read the rest

Cafe in Taoyuan 8:56 pm

I’m sitting at a table in a garden drinking tea, it is dark, the ambient light from the nearby cafe building spilling out on the people sitting here combined with a small oil lamp is the only thing that illuminates us. The early december air is verging on cool and in the background I can hear the noise of the nearby motorway as the walls around the garden do not block it out completely. Three women are sitting around me having a lively discussion is Chinese and one of the women’s son sits in front of me fiddling with a … Read the rest

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