Mar 17, 2013

How about Jeju? --- Korea (4)

(Christine, our friend from Switzerland writes:)

I found time to read your manuscript [Green Eyes]... It is very interesting and easy to understand. I even can understand more about gay's reactions and sexual practices. Well, the story is captivating and we always want to know more. Important is that you don't get bored with it.

We wonder if you are OK in Jeju and how is the weather and temperature? Are you in a hotel? How does Chang feel?

 We have very cold weather. Lot of snow was falling in France and England. Here in Solothurn we had -6° this morning and 1° during the day. We have almost enough and wait for spring.

How many hours do you have more in Korea?

 (We answer:) 

Thanks, Christine. Yes, we are very OK in Jeju, even though the promises by Der Spiegel haven't materialized yet. How do we mean? Well, Der Spiegel, you know, every reader of Infinite Jest knows it, the German news magazine, they had a recent story on Jeju where they write about

(a) fertility rites with phallic stone statues on which we so far missed out (the rites) and

Jeju haru bang, (local stone statue, judge yourself)

(b) about them not showing their teeth because shiny white teeth are not PC in Korea (people show a lot of unshiny teeth though, and it's interesting to realize how facial expressions are universal (people smile, show surprise, raise their eyebrows when Michael appears mis-clad in the supermarket, whereas their gestures have their own oriental poise (when pointing at Michael, Koreans always use both arms, one to point, the other to support the elbow of the first arm with a flat, stretched hand, it looks somewhat stilted)), and

(c) them swimming in T-shirts and jeans because they (1) hate the sun (skincolor) and (2) cannot swim (both true on our sample of one, Chang himself --- skincolor: the woman are generally over-painted in white, save peasants and the female local pearl-divers).

OK, so Der Spiegel had this recent story, and we thought it would be the first story ever about this lost island in the northern Chinese Sea, but no, there are earlier Jeju-related stories about a "Love-land theme park with educational flavor" (which we haven't visited yet, the theme park, I suggested to Chang we should take his family there but he kindly declined, citing age-and-generation-related issues) and about the football world championship in 2002, one of whose venues is located on Jeju, right behind our hotel.

Fertility rites, one wonders

Competing stories about said statues suggest competing motivations, more feng shui vibed. The feng shui vibe is quite neat, in fact. If you want to build a house in the wrong place (wrong feng-shui), you add two stone-cones as entrance posts that will somehow compensate for the metaphysical mis-allocation of your place and mollify the otherwise displeased ancestors who would then visit misfortune upon you, but they don't, the ancestors, visit misfortune upon you because the stone-cones have mollified them sufficiently re wrong feng shui and everything is OK. 

So Chang's doing great, he already found a morning restaurant for his breakfast (rice-soup with sea weeds), and he's taking me and the rental car to distant places which we are able to finds thanks to an extremely fussy GPS system that warns of every speed bump and starts to sound bells not unlike fire engines of yonder as soon as we exceed the speed limit, plus, Christine, take this, we found the best 


restaurant in the world, right around the corner, where they have a special machine for pressing the meat into paper-thin slices large as pizzas, and the crust is very OK, too, it feels a bit like being in Texas where all steaks always exceed all platters, so the schnitzels are definitely too large, regardless, but otherwise they are great. And they even have potatoes, the Koreans, which you can buy in the supermarket for 2000 won (2 $$$) per piece.

The hotel is great too, you're supposed to shed your shoes when entering the room, Chang is very panicky about it, but I start to understand why because people actually sit and sleep on the floor, so the floor needs to be real-clean. We Westerners joke about Muslims with their clean-unclean thing, but make similar distinctions, even in Switzerland, we are just unconscious about them. For us there's a pollution divide between the floor and the surface of chairs or tables, which the Koreans simply don't have/follow, so the floor is kept clean in Korea, but the flip side is that you have to think about your shoes, and that a vacuum cleaner sits in the corner and reminds you of its business.

Isolde, the vacuum cleaner
Fortunately, we don't have  to sleep on the floor, there's a bed, and we have a lot of space (two large rooms, sparsely furnished) and a balcony. Views are great, too

Love, Cheers, Tjüüs, let me know if you have more questions. Yes, right, the weather. More or less like in Southern France, except that this here is a real ocean with it's own promise of fresh and breezy air; very breezy, in fact, nice if you like that sort of thing which I do, a bit like the German North Sea in the summer. There's a time difference of 8 hours (9 AM here, 1 AM at your place), and the day has roughly the same length because we're in mid-March. From now on, your day will lengthen faster than ours (on March 21, the sun rises at the North Pole and won't set until September 23, it must be Obama's fault). 

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