Day 110

Saturday | June 16th, 2012

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On Saturday, once everyone was up and we decided that Subway was the perfect post drinking meal (I disagree in silence), we wandered about in the Lotte Mall across the street from our hotel. Sure there was a ‘hangover grog’ at play, but the building was like Hotel California. The escalators went not to the first restaurant we sought, but to a children’s playland. The stairs went into the belly of the parking garage and all the signs for the department store, where we expected to locate our sandwich shop, went around in circles and elevators. If we’d been stuck another five or six minutes our stomachs would have demanded we eat each other to quell the booziness. After sandwiches, we parted ways, leaving POD and I free to explore the city and check things out without a beer in hand (although as a drinking location it is an 11).

We walked for quite a while drinking water and joking. The main goal of the day was to hit up the printing museum. Along the way, I kept noticing every little granite marker and his plastic cousin had the work “jikji” branded in them. I grokked this to be a city slogan of sorts somewhat “Beautiful Gyeongju”, “Colorful Daegu”, or “Slytherin Seoul“. We saw some interesting stuff and Cheongju turned out to be an interesting place.

Once through the museum doors, we were accosted by an eager beaver who promptly got English language pamphlets into our hands and ushered us into the media room to what an English language video about stuff. It turns out that that “stuff” was the Jikji I’d been seeing everywhere all day.

The Jikji is a book, the oldest one printed with a moveable type printer. It bests the Gutenburg Bible by at least 200 years (and the video was sure to remind us of that constantly). This bit is strictly from my pamphlet:

Korea has had a well-developed printing technology throughout its history. According to records, the Goryeo government used metal type in documents in the early 1200s. In the late 14th century even local temples were using metal type to print books.

Magically All these printing presses that were everywhere were destroyed lost. The only proof that Korea had this tech before anyone is the Jikji, which a French diplomat found in the 1800s. He wrote on its cover, “This is the oldest book in the world.” and then mailed it to a peep in France. When the peep died, he donated it to the French national museum. Why Koreans get worked up over Japanese textbooks instead of bombing the French to get THE OLDEST BOOK IN THE WORLD (MADE IN KOREA, BY KOREANS, FOR KOREANS, WITH SUPERIOR KOREAN TECH, BEFORE ANYONE ELSE) back was the butt-crust of nearly all jokes for the rest of the weekend.

The museum was pretty badass and I wouldn’t mind visiting it again. Usually, every museum tries to be the Museum of Natural History in New York and stuffs the place with dioramas till you’re ready to barf up your boredom organ and eat it just to stay interested. But the dioramas in this place all had some animatronic twist to them. You pushed a button and robotics would lip-sync the grand story of printing the Jikji. It was compelling enough to take some video (which is now here, here, and here).

POD and I walked around more, heading off to another museum. We passed many things special to Cheongju that were not on his tourist map. Things like this crazy fake waterfall, a street with more than twenty church (the tallest of which had a rooster on its steeple instead of a cross), and more Jikji than one should be allowed to stare at agape in one afternoon. We did stop off a few more times for water. We had some ice cream and I layered on more sunscreen (after his Gyeongju visit and the missing posts due to hangover + mad sunburn, I’m not taking anymore chances—more really is better).

The other museum wasn’t nearly as good. They also didn’t have anything English pamphlets and most of the displays were Korean only. I found a few picture worthy oddities, but most of the time was just spent kicking it outside and enjoying the awesome weather (not that Gyeongju rain I left behind the day before).

POD wanted a nap, so we headed back to the hotel for a few hours before hitting the town again. I dozed off during a CNN special report on immigration policy in the US and how it’s fucking America into the poor house. It was pretty interesting, but all the walking and drinking and not sleeping enough had caught up with me. I was down. POD was down. Some might say age is hitting us, but that’s crap.

We jumped back to the same drinking spot as the previous night before the sun set. Some good meat, some Makgeoli, some great beer (some open-porch, girl watching spot I found everyone at the night before), some bombs (terribly, dangerously cheap bombs), some more good beer (even cheaper than the porch place), and we sauntered up to the roof (again) to drink the night down to the sleeps.

I brazenly climbed the ladder (tippy-top of this post) to the tallest part of the building and took a grand scheme shot before realizing there was no rail and that in another five minutes or so, I would be too drunk to climb down.

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