Concrete Dreams in Luodong

I went wandering through the streets of Luódōng 羅東 on Monday morning after stopping over to catch some rest after Organik, an electronic music festival on the east coast of Taiwan. The previous night’s walkabout was rather tame—and by day Luodong offered no greater thrills.

Just about the only thing that piqued my curiosity was this old market building, a marvel of brutal concrete architecture. Strangely, there were few signs of activity within this building despite the bustling trade on the streets. Perhaps this is nothing more than a storage area for the vendors hawking goods and produce on the busy streets beyond the gate.

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The Timeless Market Streets of Sham Shui Po

The market streets of [Sham Shui Po 深水埗 seem drab and muted compared to those at the southern tip of Kowloon 九龍. Even at night these streets seem uncharacteristically sedate. I don’t mind—this is part of what makes Sham Shui Po feel so authentic. If you look closely at this photograph there isn’t anything in the frame that would allow you to date it to early February 2014. It looks like anytime in the last 20 years or so—apart from the compact fluorescent lightbulb on the left. Just think of the mornings that have passed through here before this particular day arrived. People on the streets, vendors hawking their wares. Every day more or less like this one—but all of them different in some inexplicable way.

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Learning to Love Kimchi

Monday, my third day in Seoul, was a series of accidental misadventures and surprise insights. Despite the intensive scheduling of the previous day, much of what transpired was entirely unplanned. I woke up late and went to cash a bunch of traveller’s cheques that I had originally purchased for emergency use in India. It seemed like a simple enough task but it was anything but. I visited nearby Woori Bank where I was told to wait for a teller in the business section. I languished in a chair for a half hour with only a single person in front of me, a woman. The customers already being served by the tellers were taking their sweet time for no reason that I could discern. I waited patiently, not knowing what to make of it.

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