Gwangju Blog

The Crooked Trail: Stall Out

It’s the rainy season. To say it any other way would lack the necessary gravitas these words must command. There exists no embellishment in the English language able to present this idea any more concisely or capably. Without living through it, without being in this city at this moment in time, it is too daunting a task linguistically to construct a combination of words that would more succinctly or accurately convey what the initial four words are so thoroughly able to express. I am at a loss to say it any other way and the truth here bears repeating: it’s the rainy season.

Warehouse 4

Redundant dramatic prose aside, the days are not conducive to spending a great deal of time outside. Between the buckets of rain and the unforgiving humidity, even the sturdiest folks may think twice before stepping out of doors. Following that logic, finding a spot to venture felt like more of a task than usual until the solution slapped me in the face: an expedition taken for the sake of discovery can often lead to greater bounty than the hurried journey undertaken for naught but a half-hoped after conquest. If you’ll indulge me, this week, we’re going to take our time in finding the end of the rainbow.

Warehouse 3

Being at a loss for the first time in a long time more due to lack of decisiveness than lack of options, I determined to let my mind wander in a new way by standing before a local bus stop and letting the destinations wash over me until something broke out with a half mumbled,” Interesting…” After settling on a conundrum of a location, a bus stop with an intriguing title, my companion and I were off, vaguely aiming at the promise of finding the conspicuously named Floricultural Complex. The number 59 bus rolled up, opened its doors, and with a mix of trepidation, anticipation, and that host of childlike sensations that border on the ecstatic, we stepped on and started forward.
As a regular patron of public transit, I will readily admit there is little romance about getting to ‘where you’re going’. Work, home, downtown, dinners, and the like: the buses and subways that draw streams of people into individually counterintuitive patterns are as much means to an end as they are frustrating obstacles along the path of those same riders’ destinations. Speculating on the stop to time ratio says more about the degree of desire on behalf of the person to arrive than it does about the objective efficiency or lack thereof regarding the chosen mode of transport. When entering into an objective independent jaunt though, that freedom pervades every aspect of the ride. The watch gets less attention, the stops roll along more easily as the need to count loses its authority, and the world outside takes on that hue of a realm undiscovered instead of mundane filler.

Warehouse 1

After a long but pleasant excursion south of Pung Am, passing along narrow streets, expansive lanes, some lovely children’s parks, and a horizon thick with vegetation, we arrived at our sought after stop and explored the vastness of what turned out to be the Seobu Wholesale Agricultural Market. Originally expecting maybe a garden due to the name of our stop, what we found instead was a thriving, bustling hub of trade and distribution that was overwhelming while also fantastic. Along the southern edge of a multi warehouse complex, the variety of flowers and gardening equipment is impressive to say the least. Most decorative plants capable of surviving in the local climate are represented along a small strip of sidewalk that invites any inclined to test their hand at trying a little growing of their own. Further in is where this area truly earns the term ‘complex’.

Along opposite sides of a parking lot sizable enough to accommodate its own town, people purposefully wind their way amidst stalls of vegetables and fruit respectively. One warehouse, dedicated exclusively to selling fruit in quantities reasonable for a small family or a group sharing their purchases, kept my mouth watering with the scents of fresh cantaloupe and plums as well as watermelons that would make even strong folks wonder whether it would be too taxing to carry it off without some assistance. The vegetable stores were no less impressive, with some harder to find legumes at bargain prices including broccoli and Asian pea pods that sent me immediately from sated to nearly blind with desire for all this fresh produce.

Though impressive, I stayed out of the northern warehouse, dedicated primarily to only the freshest seafood which, however delicious, does not settle as pleasantly upon the nose on a hot summer day as the earth born delights discovered elsewhere. A surprising number of buses arrive at this complex, which goes by a host of names but is immediately discernible upon arrival. Those buses include the 6, 16, 26, 28, 59, 71, 77, 78, and 270. For folks who love to cook or are looking for a reason to, give the Seobu Merchandise Complex a walkthrough because even after a short stroll through this immense space tucked amidst the hills south of World Cup Stadium, you’ll have a head spinning with ideas for what to cook up next.

Even with the weather being a bit uncooperative for the usual adventure, there’s still a lot of amazing possibilities all over this city we share. When it comes to spontaneous journeys, there is no such thing as failure whether the end of the rainbow is ripe with gold or green grass; what we find is never so consequential as how we find ourselves looking at the world into which we arrive. The highest water and the driest roads are only bumps along the way accenting the wonder attainable on the crooked trail.

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