Tractors in Muui-do, South Korea

First specimen was located close to the CU convenience store in the main town area. This one is a Daedong tractor. It has a logo that looks like it came from Star Trek. You know the arrow head that points up. It’s a faded red. A workhorse. This one has what looks like the key to the tractor tied to the left handle. Tempted but I didn’t take it for a joy ride.

 Specimen 1: Daedong Specimen 1: Daedong  Handlebars and control console Handlebars and control console

Second specimen was located parked next to a hut next to the dry pond where some boats are stranded. There is no model but it does look similar to the first to I supposed it’s also a Daedong. In fact I did see the brand on the front lights but this one surely didn’t have the Star Trek logo embellished everywhere like no. 1. I’m guessing this is before Daedong was confident about their brand.

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An Afternoon in Yeouido 여의도, Seoul

 Along Yeouidaero main street
Along Yeouidaero main street

This small urban island is the home of many company headquarters, the seat of the Korean parliament and just about very major TV stations in Korea. Not to forget the occasional mega churches. Situated in a piece of land on the Han river, it is an island because a small stream cuts it off the mainland. So the southern part is just a stones throw to the mainland while the northern section requires a larger medieval catapult to get to land. 

 Plenty of parks by the riverfront, the running and cycling path here goes all the way close to Incheon
Plenty of parks by the riverfront, the running and cycling path here goes all the way close to Incheon
 Pile of trash behind the National Assembly building
Pile of trash behind the National Assembly building
 Food... mmmmm
Food… mmmmm

The western part of Yeouido has tight security, and there is where the National Assembly building is, where the politicians hang out. I don’t even bother to take out my camera as I’m sure security guards don’t like any pictures taken. There’s not really much to take here, mainly drab government building, that box with a dome on it and perhaps KBS station. 

 I'm sure you will not miss the mega church here
I’m sure you will not miss the mega church here
 ... I don't believe they're a group of backup singers
… I don’t believe they’re a group of backup singers
 ... you know, like a mountain... where you pray.
… you know, like a mountain… where you pray.

In the middle of the island is a large park and avenue, and it makes for a nice stroll when the weather is good. Which is the case. There are sculptures in the park and there are areas where you have to look out for cyclists and small kids learning to ride. 

 IFC Towers
IFC Towers
 It is not an impressive set of buildings without the sculpture. @IFC
It is not an impressive set of buildings without the sculpture. @IFC

At the time of my walk, the IFC towers and shopping mall was just opening. As every IFC franchise in this part of the world requires multiple buildings, it’s worth going around looking for the best juxtaposition of sky scrapers for that fine art photo or two. In fact I don’t ever believe I knew that this place was being built at all. There were barriers the last time I was there, but every building looks the same in the 21st century. This one is no exception, except for the photographer looking for shapes to capture and opposing figures and interplay of highlight and shadows. I probably spent most of my frames here walking around the building. 

Just me, walking around with Leica M2 and Nikon S2 rangefinders and two lenses (24mm and 50mm).

Islands off Incheon, South Korea: Muui-do

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Revenge of the killer seagulls. Just lucky timing, on the way across from Jamjin-do to Muui-do.

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Fishing boat at Yeongjong Pier with Incheon City in the background

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Panorama of Incheon City in the horizon from Muui-do

It seems that autumn is finally upon us. Temperature has dropped to 20C on a sunny day like today. Looks like the right time to explore some islands off the city of Incheon. Island hopping is a term I wanted to use, but it is technically not really any hopping at all, since by public transport I would be lucky to even get to one island per day. What more, everything is in Korea here so I will have to guide by chance and by the grace of my GPS. Good light also means I can ditch my big camera and go light with a D300, lunch and plenty of water. Always ready for an adventure.

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Google Earth capture of the entire journey mapped by a GPS. Green path is the actual route taken throughout the day.

Getting to the island is a multi-transport discipline. On my research, it looks like the easiest way to get there is to get out of Seoul and get on the express train to Incheon Airport an then hop onto a bus. The alternative way going through Incheon and then a ferry ride to the Airport island looks to be a longer journey. In most cities, Seoul included, the authorities have this idea that tourists are beings meant to be fleeced, so for example a metro ride to Incheon city proper is less than half of what it cost to go to the airport. Price aside, I’ve said that getting out of the city to the airport by Metro is not an easy task. There are some signs at metro station that looks like you could get a A-REX express train to Incheon Airport at Seoul Station, but don’t make the mistake I did. There’s no train going to the airport as of 2010. The line should be ready in the future, but just not now. I wasted 1 hour looking for that phantom train. Some maps indicate that the line is there, but some doesn’t. Best way seems to be to get to Gimpo Airport using Line 9 and then hopping to the A-REX to Incheon Airport without getting out of the station at Gimpo Airport stop.

Outline for today therefore, to take metro to Incheon Airport and then onto one of the island next to it by bus. End the day with a ferry ride into Incheon city before dark. It doesn’t really matter how it turns out. What is clear is that I will have to take a bus over a causeway to Jamjin-do and then hop onto a ferry to Muui-do. Will make up the itinerary as I go along…

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Incheon City from Yeongjong Pier

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So now at Incheon airport, it takes a little bit of investigation to know where to go next. I used up at least 1 hr here figuring out that it is impossible to walk to the pier (2km away) because of the airport security, so a bus is the best option. Go to departure area on the 3rd floor and take bus 222. Unfortunately there is no way to know whether the bus is going to Jamjin island or to Yeongjong pier for the ride into Incheon city. Just have to take your chance or ask the driver.  Bus fare seems to be 1000W as I didn’t really pay attention to my stored value card as I put it on the sensor.

However I was one of the ones that got on the wrong bus as the first one I took was going to Yeongjong pier on the return trip from Jamjin-do. When I got there, it was time to wait for the next bus to go to the island I wanted to go in the first place. Good time killer is to hang around the pier and look at all the tent-restaurants that sprouted out at the parking lot, full of drunk Koreans munching on BBQ pork and kimchi.

After half and hour, it was time for the bus to start moving again. Somehow I have a feeling that there’s not more than 2 buses that services this route going from one end of the Incheon Airport island (that would be Yeongjong Island) to the other end. The bus goes through the airport to pick up more passengers (or victims) and then darts to the west, where I wanted to go, confirmed by my GPS. Right after the airport the bus turns left into a small lane full of korean restaurants, seemingly built so that patrons can look at the sun setting over the sea. After a while, going through a tight road and avoiding carks parked on both sides of the road, the bus goes over a causeway connecting Jamjin-do with larger Jeongyong-do where the airport is located. The bus stops in the small island just before the ferry point. Roads here are tight, as real estate is not plentiful. A building sells 3000 Won return tickets to Muui-do for pedestrians.

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Ferry connecting Jamjin-do with Muui-do

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Four lanes of cars, they go in on the left then make a u-turn at the end of the ship and get out the same way.

Continue reading “Islands off Incheon, South Korea: Muui-do”

One for the road…


Now that was a quick 7 months and a bit in Hong Kong. Whenever I go over Stone Cutter island bridge, I can never help staring at the hill with colonial houses on it overlooking Hong Kong Island. For me at least, that would be the best location with a view of  Hong Kong Island. I’ve always wanted to go there in the evening and set up my tripod to take a panorama at location (22.31530, 114.14248). On my last weekend there, I found that that place is a Naval base, hence off limits to casual passerbys. Its amazing what a little check on Googlemaps and streetview can tell you. So its time to search for an alternative. I’ve shot quite a number of pictures of Hong Kong, and I have not had a good panorama of the place yet, so this is an obvious last project before leaving.

Finally settled on West Kowloon Waterfront as the second best alternative just above Western Harbour tunnel. Again, best time for me to shoot was between 6:30pm to about 8:00pm. At this time of the year, the sun will start to set at 7pm and there will be two light show. One when the orange glow of the setting sun showers the subject with soft warm light and the second (which I think I like better) when the sun has set below the horizon and the skies in the background are in a dark shade of blue and foreground lighted by orange neon lights. I’m pretty happy with the resulting panorama made up of up to 15 frames of 12 megapix pictures stitched in Photoshop. Heres a sample:

Good way to end my short stay in Hong Kong. Now signing off, soon I will report back in a new location.

Shanghai, China: Hengsha Island

View of Chongming Island Bridge from Hengsha Island
This farming island is not too far away from Shanghai. A fast ferry from Wusong Port in Baoshan will get you there in 1 hour and a bit. A full circumnavigation of the whole island will take more than a day along the coast, but highlights of it can be done in a day. I’ve about had it with long blog posts, so this time for once, only pictures, no words. Enjoy…

Please do not reproduce these pictures without permission. Thanks.

Wusong Port

Fast ferry service between Wusong Port and Hengsha and other islands on the Yangzi River delta

Fishing trawlers on Hengsha Island

Farms

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Shanghai, China: Changxing Island


The term “non-linear” applies especially to this post. I have made 2 trips to Changxing island over a few weeks, both times armed only with black & white film. As usual, I would type out this blog post on my Nokia E71 and then combine and edit them on a Macbook when I’m back in the comforts of my living room. However, somehow I got the post on Hengsha up and I forgot about this one till March 2010. So here I am, working on getting it out of my clogged up draft box.

As I originally wrote: after Hengsha, it is only natural the next island on the Yangzi River Delta to visit would be Changxing island, a lot bigger than Hengsha and slightly to the west. Not the biggest of course, that honour would go to Chongming island, subject of a future trip which I planned but never got to carry out before this post went online. It is not too difficult to get to Changxing. Same bus or metro to Wusong port and a boat to Majiagang, which is the only pier on the island, I was told. There are a lot more boats to Majiagang than to Hengsha, and the same for the return trip, so it shouldn’t be any issue to get there and back and advanced ticket is not necessary.

There are not too much information about Changxing Island on the internet, at least not the English internet that I can search for. I was told that this island contains many orange farms, of the green skinned type. Lokam, some call it. Shanghainese would go there in their car in autumn and pick them, like a novelty item as if reminding them of the agricultural origins of Pudong. As the ferry passes by Changxing Island on the way to Hengsha, all I saw on Changxing was a lot of shipyards, so I have expectations of orchards, four-stroke tractors and shipyards.

Eventually I would spend a total of two weekends to survey two sections of the island, the middle  and the far western end. It would be total nuts to walk the whole island. Changxing is at least 30km long from one end to the other.

First Survey: 15 August 2009

GPS Plot for 16 August hike

Tried to wake up early, as I expect a long long walk on Changxing. Left home at 0700hrs after packing my own lunch, as I don’t expect to waste time to look for a restaurant when on the island. After a quick breakfast, it was the usual bus 952 from People’s Square to Wusong port. At the Baoshan ticketing office, the next fast boat I could find was at 1000hrs. This means I have at least one and a half hours to waste at the waiting room. I plug in my iPod and Fring on my Nokia E71 and tried to get productive going through some podcasts.

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Shanghai, China: Wusong Pier And Hengsha Island

Flower fields blossom at Wusong Park, yes strange way to start a post, but thought starting with a little colour might be appropriate here...
Summer is finally here. While I’d like to think that I have compiled a list of places to go in China, I rarely adhere to such lists anyway, and most destinations are off the seat of my pants. Last winter was reserved mainly for discovering new interesting back streets in Shanghai. Because of the cold, and the fact that most of my trip requires hours outdoors, it is a lot more comfortable to be close to home.

The first one the list, which has been on my want-to-do-list for some time, is a survey trip to Hengsha island. It desn’t really have to be Hengsha, Changxing is fine as well. The former is one of the larger islands on the Yangzi river mouth, where the Yangzi and the smaller Huangpu rivers meet. I’m not a geologist, but it does seem to form part of the Yangzi river delta, the famous Yangzi River Delta! Trip there requires a public bus to one of the ports where the two rivers meet, as I wrote this, I had no idea which port the boats leave, but Google maps does suggest that I start with Wusong pier and so it shall. Taking a taxi there would be the easiest, but since when has adventure about taking the easiest path? Buses are not really that dodgy in Shanghai, but just for the fun of it, why not the bus? There are many places to board buses that goes to Wusong pier, and I settled on the closest one so that I can avoid taxis.

The Yangzi river from Wusong battery park

Port of Shanghai at Pudong

Over the course of weeks I made a few trips to Wusong port and it took till the third trip before I made it to Hengsha Island, but none of the trips were a waste at all.

30 May 2009

Unlike most other trips I have made, I woke up a little late at 10 am this morning. Has to be the latest waking up time for me on a Saturday! After lunch and a little gear tinkering and packing, and just utter time wasting on twitter, I started leaving my apartment at 1 pm, knowing full well I might have missed the last boat to be able to return on the same day. Let’s face it, staying the night on some island I’ve never been to before in China is not exactly part of the plan today.

So what is in the bag today? Plenty of water since it is a hot day today. Took with me a innocent looking tote bag bought in Tokyo, filled with a Nikon D300, 12-24mm DX, 10.5mm DX and of course a 105mm f4 Macro AI in case the opportunity of insects, details and flowers present itself. Since there will be people to shoot as well, packed in my Leica M3 as well, along with a new 5cm Summitar collapsible lens. I just got this one back from a little repair work by John van Stelten from Focal Point in Colorado about a month ago, and it is time to see if this lens is any good for the price you pay (one of the cheapest Leica lens you can buy!). Film is of course, ERA100, and like I always say – chinese film for chinese people. Packed a Garmin GPS as well, and I can already feel that this unit is getting a little creaky old!

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Travels: Hong Kong Outlying Lamma Island, Hong Kong

Fujifilm GA645i
I have been to Hong Kong many times but always to either side of the harbour and whenever the flight circles the islands I would be wondering what it will be like hiking on one of those barren hills. No more wondering. Going this weekend. However, instead of going all rambo this weekend, why not start with the largest and possibly most popular of them all, Lamma island. And thinking if I have time,a to do another one. Getting there seems to be easy enough. in short, MTR to Central, walk to the Central Piers next to Two IFC, and pier 4. I will start at Yung Shue Wan, where apparently everyone will go as well looking at people crowding at the entrance to the pier. One way ticket cost 14.5 HKD and octopus card works here. And it seems the crowd only starts going into the holding area 10 minutes from boarding time and the ferry only holds 370 souls.

Ferry ride takes somewhere between 20 to 30 minutes. I didn’t time it. Feels like the same type of fast ferry that connects hong kong with macau. The boat lands right at Yung Shue Wan village, and although there are normal village shops, most of them are restaurants, shall I say, catering to tourists flooding the village.

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15 minutes hike out of town and the crowd starts to thin down, on the trail to Sok Kwu Wan. It starts in the forests with farmer’s lodges everywhere and before long I start to get to the bald and barren hills with trails along the hill side. There are a couple of pavilions en route, doubling as a rain shelter. I’m now typing this out at one (N22.20922, E114.12299). Today started with heavy cloud cover, and surely as the forecast said it would, periods of sunlight could be seen. And I had to forget my sunblock lotion!

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