Thursday, July 31, 2008

not all by myself / 不是一個人


This was not the first time I traveled by myself, but it was the first time I traveled by myself solely for the sake of traveling. I came across many individual travelers from all over the world on my journey. I like how everyone was not ashamed to hide their loneliness and how everyone shared their personal experiences. However, the next day, everyone went his or her way. There are unwritten rules among us. I am so intrigued by the short relationships with by-passing fellow travelers along the way.


For example, some people seemed to come together, but after I paid attention to their talk, their mutual politeness gave me the doubt that they might have met recently. Every day I saw different groups of people going out. The possibility of combination was even beyond what permutation and combination in math could predict. Well, traveling is one of the big tests for all kinds of relationships, so why not leave some space for each other? When we so desire for company, it is a must not to forget that distance is also indispensable in maintaining a relationship.


At my lonely moments, I saw only couples in front of my eyes. Then I would ask myself the point of traveling alone. Sometimes I was so sure I was not all by myself, but other times I couldn't help thinking that I was all alone.


While I was about to fall for that belief, something fun would pop out of nowhere, and I had not seen it at all the moment before. I would move in the queue with the crowds, totally leaving my despair behind.


As a matter of fact, I'd always known the answer. I traveled with the memory of many people. When I was in the botanical garden, I took photos for her who studied botany. When I was in temples, I prayed for him. When I was in department stores, I bought gifts for them. When I saw something scenic, I wrote them postcards. During the afternoon tea time, I ate waffles with her. After I did everything, I said to myself, "How wonderful it is to travel!"


Then, after I came home and realized that I was so much missed, I was even sure of my own answer...

Monday, July 14, 2008

on the way 3 / 夢想實現中 3

07/12/08, 07/13/08


"If there is something you enjoy doing, it will take you very far and show you a whole new world."--My epiphany on the scaffolds


My wall-painting mission continues, and last weekend there was a long story full of twists and turns. I was rather happy to be the first person that arrived on the scene last Saturday morning, but soon my good mood was challenged by the hostile-looking scaffolds. I thought very hard about how to climb to the top. However, it was really Mission Impossible for me, who is never ever good at sports. I took several deep breaths, trying to make use of the iron ladders as an aid. Since there was no one around, I begged a visitor to hold steady the ladders for me. While I was fighting with my fear, my temporary assistant said, "Do you have to go so far for art? Don't force yourself. Should something happen and you are all alone here, it can be very dangerous." I might have walked away if I had been on the ground. At that moment, my legs were like mashed potatoes. I couldn't agree with him more, so I had the dawning realization that I should come back to the ground, pack my belongings and leave.


When the visitor left, I was all alone with the scaffolds. My heart was filled with fear, but I believed I was more than that. I started to make phone calls to Shaggy, Ya-jun and Hsin-yu. Everyone racked their brain trying to send me up to 4 meters from the ground. In the end, it was Hong-chien, who once painted my part of the wall two years ago, that demonstrated with ease for me how to climb the scaffolds. I was very impressed by his poise. I wasn't that brave, but with their encouragement, I made it to the wooden planks that were closest to the top of the wall. These funny people even said I was good enough to brush walls as a new career option. I suddenly cherished my current job a lot.


It takes not only courage but also a lithe body to get up there. I writhed between the scaffolds and the iron ladders. When I got to the top, one of my hands had to lean firmly on the wall when I stood up, like Spiderman. These were great physical tests. Whenever I had to climb, I would groan to Shaggy, "I can never be immune to fear, even one hundred times after I do it. I have no choice..."


Though I never totally got rid of fear, it felt very different to be in the air than on the ground. When the concert of cicadas began, I felt like surrounded by the most luxurious Hi-Fi stereos. Or when the breeze blew, I felt so much cooler than down there. But when all the mosquitoes swarmed out in the evening for their feast and kissed my skin like crazy, Shaggy, not too far from the ground, could curse like a mad man. I could only smile and think, "Damned..."


In this way, we painted away a sunny afternoon, a starry evening. The second day, I learned a great thing about fear, that is, we tend to dramatize it with our imagination. In the second sunny afternoon, I learned to enjoy the time spent on the scaffolds. At one moment, it even occurred to me that I could accept death without cowering if I could sit like that in the air painting with sunshine and breezes around me after I died.


In the end, I want to say "thank you very much" to Shaggy. You can't see her in the photos, but she is my pillar. Because of her, I could make it to the top, reassured that she would catch me if I fell. I don't think I have ever trusted someone like that in my life apart from my beloved John and Sharon.


It was a superb superb weekend. I can't wait for the next wall-painting session!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

the soul of Seoul / 首爾的靈魂

pictures taken at Namsangol Hanok Village, Cheong Gye Cheon, Gyeong Bok Gung
You can say I am picky or paranoid. I don't mind. What I love is those seemingly ordinary yet terribly beautiful moments because then I see the soul of Seoul.

Where is the soul of Seoul? 2 / 首爾的靈魂呢?2

photos taken at Lotte World, Seoul
The wise man in "Peaceful Warrior" said that things happen every moment. I spent five hours in Lotte World, and some people's lives must have changed within that long period of time.
To calm down and feel the words, I stood fixed away from the carousel, observing people coming and going. A girl caught my eye. I didn't care if she had had plastic surgery because the distance between us made it impossible for me to take a close look at her features.Despite the distance, I could feel how much she liked herself.
I would like to add one more sentence to that of the wise man: every moment is a stage. And Koreans choose to appear in their best looks.

Where is the soul of Seoul? / 首爾的靈魂呢?


photos taken at Lotte World, Seoul


Every time when I traveled to big cities in other countries, I always ended up reminding myself not to repeat the same mistake. What captivates me is natural scenery, rather than artificial architecture or department stores. It was a shame that I was too high to bear that in mind this summer. Besides, with the brain-washing effect of Korean TV series, I found myself in Seoul.


Traveling with a tour group deprived me of the opportunities to interact with local people. On my way, I couldn't help complaining about lack of style of this city. Even though the streets were crowded with all kinds of beautiful women, I did not feel moved at all. Was it really so, or I was too blind?


This morning when I was sorting out the photos, my idea took a U-turn change. I stared at the pictures I had taken randomly, and I found people in this city looked good in black and white. The tour guide said that there aren't many places to go in Seoul, so even a visit to a mere Lotte World makes them happy. The theme park was full of potential photographers carrying large and professional cameras. It seems that such a place, which I do not think very highly of, has much significance for Koreans.

The theme park with all colors of light have a hallucinating effect in my photos. People get away from the strict demands of the real world to shout and laugh out loud for a moment. All the world knows that the economy of Korea has taken a giant leap, that their culture is so traditional that sometimes it can be strangling. However, here, we have forgotten the real Seoul. Still, this place is different from the well-designed romantic set in Korean TV series. The park boils with all kinds of emotion--being lost, low, excited, timid, liberated and so on. It is more than the classical scene in Korean TV series with the perfect-looking hero and heroine skating to melodious music on the vast skating rink.

Compared with icy-cold perfection or lack of feeling, even the momentary longing for such glittering colors is beautiful...

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

vacation time / 夏日旅行


I like to feel that excitement of speed on a trip. As a traveler that has to move from one place to another, there is no time for sentimentality. This month, I am going to leave everything behind and experience the speed again. Please be patient for my return.

2005 法國
2005 France

2006 義大利
2006 Italy

2007 日本
2007 Japan

2008 未知
2008 unknown