Saturday, November 12, 2022

the unexpected post-postmortem

Surprise! I wasn't expecting to write another post here, either, but I thought it'd be better to place this post here instead of on my main blog. Think of it as an epilogue: I was finally able to do the thing I'd wanted to do three weeks earlier.

I took a bus out to the Andong Dam again to see if I could get to the top of the dam this time. Once I got to Andong Bus Terminal, I jumped into a cab, which took me the remainder of the way across town. I asked the cabbie to let me off at the Andong Dam Bike Path Certification Center, which happens to be right next to the Weolyeong-gyo, the Moonlight Bridge that featured so prominently in my Andong Dam excursion post. I paid more attention during the taxi ride across town this time, and it was disappointing to see that, while Andong has some truly gorgeous areas, it also has some ugly, citified areas as well. The urban section we drove through was drab and a bit depressing—quite unlike the bright, happy areas next to the Nakdong River.

The express bus from Seoul to Andong left at 6:50 a.m. and arrived at Andong Terminal at close to 9:50 a.m.—a nearly three-hour ride. I slept on the bus, so I was a bit bleary when I stepped off, but I was coherent enough to get into a cab and tell the cabbie where I needed to go. The Moonlight Bridge was there to greet me:


You can see it was foggy at around 10 a.m.

looking downriver, away from the dam

met my old friend Dewey Webb

ol' Dewey followed me around everywhere

looking right and west after crossing the bridge—lovely fall colors

looking left and east (dam-ward), with more fall colors

heading east, now, with this pond to my right

the pond's eternally spitting dragons

Since the northern approach to the dam was a bust last time, I decided to approach from the south this time. Instead of heading up a combination of stairs and trail, I instead had to trudge up a steep sidewalk next to a road. I had to laugh at how easy it is to detrain after a month of walking. I've been trying to stay off my feet in the weeks since I finished the Jeju/Andong trip, so my lung capacity is now all shot. I heaved and sweated my way up the hillside, and I'm ashamed to admit that I did have to stop a few times to catch my breath. As I've said elsewhere, fitness is a hamster wheel that you can never leave: if you do leave it, you detrain right away. Just maintaining a certain level of fitness means having the drive to do at least as much as you did the previous day—and that has to be true every day. So I was definitely feeling the effects of leaving the hamster wheel. Ugh. Look at that damn hill:

But, partway up the hill, I was rewarded with this impressive sight:

panning left from the previous shot

panning left again

spider + Dewey Webb

near the hilltop

By this point, I'm at the top of that hill. In the pic below is a banner for some sort of calligraphy exhibition. Far off in that direction, visible in the distance, is a glass-walled café that eventually became one of my post-dam destinations. More on that in a bit.

By the time I reached the hilltop, I was technically past the dam. I had to duck onto a side road that took me back toward the dam and the south gate. Would the gate be open or closed?

first view of Andong Lake (안동호/Andong-ho)

Keeping the water to my right, I walked back toward the dam and its gate.

The title says "Andong All-purpose Dam."

a map of the local sights near Andong Dam

huge structures like these always wow me

approaching the dam

looking out to the lake

some sort of commemorative tree

So the gate turned out to be open! I was relieved and delighted.

The sign below may explain what happened last time, i.e., when I saw the lone dude walking the dam while I was prevented from doing the same by a locked gate. This is only a guess, but I think that the dude I saw last time was some sort of staffer, not a tourist or hiker. I also looked back at the pictures from my previous trip to the dam, and the time stamps said I was at the dam's top by about 8:50 a.m. The sign below says that the dam's top is open to tourists starting at 10 a.m. This is why I think the dude I saw was a staffer: only a worker could be on that stretch at 8:50 a.m. Today, though, I arrived in Andong at close to 10 a.m., and it was nearly 11 a.m. by the time I reached this point. So the dam had been open to tourists for about an hour. Upshot: last time, I'd arrived too early. That's my theory, anyway.

Dam Topside Opening Information
- Exit/Entry Time -
Colder Months (Nov-Feb): 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Warmer Months (Mar-Oct): 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

on top of the dam!

You really need to look at these pictures full-size to understand how huge all of this was. Gave me the willies, as if I were standing atop an Olympic ski jump.

another shot of the lake

At this point, I'm approaching some kind of commemorative tower.

Andong All-purpose Dam Completion Commemoration Tower
The Korean word I'm translating as "tower" here is 탑/tap, the same word used for everything from full-sized temple pagodas to little cairns made of stones. Tap is a versatile word in Korean. I guess it refers to anything man-made that is rocky or rocklike, vertical, and serving some commemorative or votive purpose.

The tower is surrounded by these sculptures that look a bit like what my buddy Mike would call Totalitarian Gothic, but not quite in this case: Mike was referencing the kinds of super-muscular sculptures found in, say, the former East Germany—tributes to the Working Man. These Korean sculptures aren't nearly as bulky-looking.

triumphant Korean lady who looks as if she has a bloody face


Swang dat hamma', joonyuh!

getting closer to the spot I wanted to be at

I believe these are huge winches for massive sluice gates.

Trying to imagine the engineering just staggers me.

I still feel as if I should strap on some skis.

a good look at the sloping wall that faces lakeward

I wonder what purpose this structure serves.

closer, still, to my goal

looking down toward the Nakdong River and the park I was at last time

I'm only just noticing the eerily straight jet contrail.

It was right about this moment when I really noticed the bare, exposed earth beneath the treeline, and it occurred to me that this meant the lake's water was low—maybe by 5-8 meters.

focusing more exclusively on the parkland now

a shot down the length of the river valley

This sign interested me because it's mostly English. The only real Korean is the term 실시간/shilshigan, which means "real time." Everything else is English: "Dam Real-time Smart Monitoring System."

a familiar sight: the jeonmangdae/observation deck from last time

a closer look (but I didn't descend that way)

I wanted to see whether I could get a shot of both the Nakdong River (R) and Andong Lake (L).

In Korean, Andong Lake is called Andong-ho. That what the sign above says.

first of two stupid selfies (note the lack of a bandanna and the pale forehead)

the café I decided to head toward

digital zoom

moving away from the dam and toward this park/café/museum/exhibition space

And this is where I got distracted by all the sculpture.

I'm reminded of flamingoes, or that myth about birds looking skyward in the rain and drowning.

From this angle, the sculpture looks like a woman crying next to a giant, disembodied phallus.

As you see, though, I wasn't far off: it turns out to be some kind of uterus! Not a dick, but it serves a reproductive function. The picture's title is 삶/salm, i.e., Life.

There's the title.

Imagine a planet where these things walked the surface.

title: Andong—Life—Dream

just a bro and sis, sitting on what appears to be a horny pencil

title: Big Sis's Face

artist's name: Choi Mallin, or maybe Choi Man-rin, or even Choi Man-nin
The general rule is that, if the previous syllable ends with "n," and the next syllable begins with "l," the "n" and the "l" produce a double-L sound. But I've seen plenty of exceptions to this rule, so I have no idea how the above name should be pronounced.

I guess it's supposed to be viewed from this angle.

title: Moonlight

Looks like a bird on a paper boat that's armed with a cannon. Our last hope for freedom.

title: Paper Boat

Guardian of Forever? No.
Title: Wind

I think the title is From Far, From Near.

I didn't like this one too much.
Title: Meeting

title: 축제-농자 천하지대본/chukjae-nongja cheonhajidaebon
What that means, I couldn't say. Festival-farmer something.

Here's that mysterious title up close.

title: Life's Harmony

title: Cloudsong

This one really fascinated me. And I didn't notice at first that there's a human figure leaping out.

title: Birth 
(easily one of my favorite sculptures here—a baby energetically bursting out of a cosmic drop of water)

I was sure that this would have a boring title like Family. I was wrong.
Title: Rest

obvious title: Person Smelling Flower's Scent

I can't read the title here. Sorry. Maybe one of you can.

And what's the title? you ask.

title: Jeok-eui (積/적/jeok + 意/의/eui)
Near as I can figure, the jeok means any number of things from "stack/pile up" to "many/multiply" to "get sick." The eui means "meaning" (as in 의미/euimi, "meaning"). Maybe the title is Stacked-up Meaning, or Piles of Significance. I don't know.

explanation for the cup-and-straw sculpture (below) that doesn't seem to match the sculpture at all

tacky, yet weirdly cool

There would be no water garden if this were Arrakis.

cup and straw, in all their glory

finally moving toward that café

I imagine this is filled with water during the warmer months.

one of the weirdest shwimteo I've seen

stairs up to the café (which turned out to be closed)

the White Tree of Gondor peeking out of the glass

moving over to the lake view

not a bad shot from this vantage

backing up for the wide shot

moving over to the path leading to a more old-school shwimteo

up we go, no hurry, no worry

You're invited to remove your shoes before stepping onto the shwimteo.

second and last stupid selfie with the lake behind me (to prove I was there)

looking toward the distant dam and that commemorative tower

a closer look

So I walked back down and considered myself mostly done with photographing for the day. I descended the same way I came up. This presented me with a dilemma because, as I went down, I saw a huge sign for a place called Goshen Pizzeria (Gojen Pijeria/고젠피제리아), and damn did I suddenly want a pizza. But I knew I'd be eating dinner at my place, and I didn't want to have an intestinal crisis while on the bus, so I fought down the urge to storm the pizzeria and demand a gigantic pie for myself. Back at the river's edge again, I took another photo of that little monument saying the motherland's future is the responsibility of its children:

I believe the children are our future.

crossing back to the north bank of the Nakdong

While corny, it seems fitting to end my photo essay on this note:

I didn't take any photos during that disappointing taxi ride through the parts of Andong City that lay between the bus terminal and the river. But despite that urban ugliness, I still feel Andong, taken as a whole, has a lot to offer. It's got incredibly huge riverside parklands as well as urban areas that are obviously well planned out, spic and span, and begging to be explored. So I'll be back—again and again, even if I find the local accent fucking annoying. I'm glad I was able to visit the dam the way I'd wanted to last time; I'm happy I took a bunch of photos, and I can only hope I've managed to convey at least a fraction of how lovely this region is. There's plenty more to do and see in Andong—food to eat, museums to take in, and events to experience. It's nice to know the place is only a bus ride away.