Sunday, April 12, 2009

Past Times and Leisure

I know i don't post frequently, but it's certainly not for lack of thought. It may be just the opposite; so many things strike me on a daily basis that it becomes difficult to single out a notion well enough to see it through to a written page...sort of like tracking a thread through a basket of yarn.

Two recent trips to sporting goods stores helped to highlight a concept i've been noticing for a while now; but more on that later.

Koreans do not seem to be a leisurely folk. In fact, one might aptly acknowledge they are quite the opposite. They are BUSY.

Busy working, busy studying, busy playing with little electronic gadgets of myriad function...busy moving: honking, driving, walking, running...Busy-Busy-Busy!

The only two places i see them take their leisure are on public transportation, where napping is immediate and almost universal
and while dining, in which activity they might be described as the Italians of Asia.

Meals take hours, involve hundreds of dishes of varying shape, size, and function...multiple servings, definite drinking (beer/wine/soju) and conversation into the night...

These folks may not take much leisure, but they are SERIOUS about their past times.
Hiking, Fishing, Golf, Cycling, Jogging

I see couples and groups of all ages, decked out in hiking shoes, carrying telescoping hiking poles, with matching hiking jackets and hiking visors...with hiking packs...hiking watches...hiking water bottles, hiking key holding carabiner clips...
they stroll down the street on their way to the nearest wooded path
they jingle and clang and sparkle in the sun...they match outfits and match stride as they proudly display their obvious hiking prowess as evidenced by their superior hiking apparel...

This image, now repeated many many times over, did initially have the desired effect on me. I was immediately struck with a sense of awe to be in the vicinity of hikers whom are clearly of such great import and acclaim.

-And then I actually crossed paths with these battle-ready sojourners... and out of the korean confucian sense of deference to one's elders, I humbly prevented myself from laughing... they plodded along as though on the shaley ledge of some razorback ridgetop...poking with their carbon fiber telescoping hiking poles...tying and retying their space-age microfabric ergonomic hiking boots...

It wasn't until I entered a sporting goods store that I fully understood what it means to be a Korean hobby enthusiast.
A couple days ago I thought i needed a compass

I was in an area known for hiking. I went into a hiking specialty store.
In order of descending plenitude, the store had on offer: Clothing, shoes, hats, sunglasses...a few packs, four variety of hiking poles, one type of water bottle
...and the lady in charge had to take pause in order to remember what a compass is
>and it wasn't my korean that was the culprit, it was spoken through a translator< Likewise, i went for a soccer is very popular in korea, so i knew that i'd be successful. Walked into a very large sporting goods store... There was a section for hiking apparel, rock climbing apparel, fishing apparel, walking, jogging, and running apparel... there was a section for Taekwondo apparel, and even a section of badminton apparel (similar to tennis apparel, but sillier and with funnier names) And waaaaay on the back, past all the the corner...was a small section of equipment. But they did have, all is not lost

At the coast, i watched a gentleman fishing from the rocks Appropriately attired in the fashion of the day I was thrilled to see him hook and retrieve a fish! as it approached the rocks where he stood, a look of apprehension washed the man's face. It quickly became obvious that he was not accustomed to catching fish... eventually he figured a way to catapult the (small) fish using his 15foot surf rod. After a flying tackle, he subdues his quarry and begins the process of removing the hook. After five to ten minutes he forgoes the hook removal and gnaws through the line (forgetting the fishing pliers located conveniently in his fishing plier holster on his hip) He then utilizes a specially designed cooler on a rope to fetch some water...after several minutes he has gained enough water to cover the fish...which lies in a second specially designed cooler he packs the first cooler away into it's specially designed carrying case, and erects a small cooler tent over the cooler containing the fish. Having lost his fishing visor (which is similar to a hiking or golf visor except for the picture on the front) he now pulls out his telescopic landing net and retrieves his now heartily earned fishing accessory... Now I am not knocking this or any one out there. I truly do respect that people stay very active and even more impressive
they honestly enjoy their time and enjoy each other's company. That's a beautiful thing... and if you'd like, you can purchase a specially designed company enjoying jacket t
hat matches the necessary time enjoyment visor.

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