Thursday, February 23, 2012

Land of the morning sun

How often do you watch the sun rise?

In a promotional interview for morally questionable canonical goth film The Crow, Brandon Lee muses with eloquence and accidental foreboding about the infrequent experience of watching the full moon rise - a monthly occurrence, but one that most people lack the time, interest or vantage point to see for themselves.

The sunrise is less of a rarity, occurring every single day, but I still doubt there are many people who make a point of waking up early to witness this spectacle, which acts more like a bat signal to binge drinkers that it's probably time to head home and sleep it off until that painfully bright orb goes away again, or at least to head to The Penny Black for a daycap (a reference for Edinburgh-based alcoholics there - you know who you are).

As for the rest of you, how many times do you actually bother to watch the sun come up? If the tedious rotation of the Earth around the sun just doesn't interest you, when there are things like Twitter and The Octonauts demanding your early morning attention, that's fine. But worst are the lazy people who say they 'wish they could' make the time to fit it into their schedules, like waking up an hour earlier in winter is too much of a stretch. These are the same people who've never visited their neighbouring country that's just a couple of hours' travel by ferry, but 'would love to go.' Less platitudes, more action, cretins! This is coming from someone who lived in Britain for 25 years and never visited Ireland, incidentally. But I'd love to go.

Luxor, Egypt

The only people who have an excuse to be jaded by the sunrise are people who live in the North or South Pole and experience six months of constant daylight, eagerly awaiting the return of the dark, eternal night so they can pretend they don't live in ice. And Nosferatu, he's off the hook. As for me, I try to see the sunrise as often as I can, but only when there are some local mountains or monuments that the low-lying sun can make look pretty. I hypocritically don't bother the rest of the time. Searching this blog for the keyword 'sunrise' only brought up one result before this one, and even looking through my fastidious travel photos it seems I've only documented 4 out of the 525 sunrises that have taken place since I started. Lazy.

Sokcho, South Korea - someone else's photo
(Source: Knock the World)

I decided to get active and check out the sunrise while staying for a couple of weeks in Sokcho, a pleasantly dull city on Korea's east coast with reasonably cheap accommodation where I wasn't doing much else apart from working and writing blogs of questionable sanity. I'm not quite as east as it's possible to get yet, but I'm getting easter all the time. Although I've just remembered the world is round and the International Date Line isn't actually any closer to the sun than the rest of it. I have problems with things like that.

My alarm woke me up at the ungodly hour of 7AM (who am I, Postman Pat?) and I headed through the light drizzle to the east-facing pavilion I'd scoped out the previous afternoon, then waited patiently to get me some sunrise photos. For about 90 minutes, until it became clear that this was as bright as the day was going to get, and the clouds had no intention of letting me see the actual sun, now presumably too high over the invisible horizon to make for a captivating image. What a waste of time. The sunrise can sod off. Ignore everything I said. Here's more stuff from cloudy Sokcho:


Yeonggumjeong Observatory in the boring light of day

So nemesis, we meet again. I went up the lighthouse, but received no pathetically minor short-term injuries to whine about this time

My early rising wasn't for nothing - at least I proved this thing works

Sokcho beach: where dirt meets water

Abei beach: even more disappointing

Hand-drawn Gaetbae boat to Abei Village, where there is nothing

Don't you hate it when your friends all show up wearing the same outfit? This is either some sort of school/group trip or Korean social conformity gone into overdrive.
(I liked to imagine that was what Captain Picard might wear when it rains)

Tsunami evacuation route. This photo's here so my mum doesn't get worried

Seafood medley.
Pretty unpleasant, but it's no 멍게


  1. I've personally never seen the appeal of sunrise. I've seen it loads, because I have a stupid 9-5:30 job which means I have to get up early. But it's not so much pretty as a horrific reminder that I'm having to get on a Lothian Bus at the BREAK OF DAWN to sit in an office and pretend I care. Maybe when I finally manage to leave this stupid job and become a "lazy thoughtless hobo" (YOUR WORDS NOT MINE) writing about business broadband for a living I'll appreciate the beauty of it more.

    1. If I worked freelance 9-5:30 for a few months I'd probably never have to work again. Unfortunately, I'm incapable of working more than about 3 hours max on a good day, and those hours need to be at least 2 hours apart due to the lazy thoughtless hobo thing.

    2. Oh don't get me wrong, I don't actually WORK between 9 and 5:30. I think in a given week I probably do an hour and a half of work for my job. The rest of the time I'm reading Cracked, writing my blog, generally fannying about, and playing Angry Birds. I'm possibly more of a lazy thoughtless hobo than you! In fact, I've given up dressing properly for work and some mornings I don't even shower!

    3. On a really tenuously shower-related note mostly related to guest house living, what is it with some guys taking 30 minutes to shower? They don't even have long hair to wash, what are they doing in... oh, I think I just solved it. Now I wish I could get my Prelapsarian innocence back.

      Or those people who casually walk around with their toothbrush in their mouth, loudly scratching away. STAND BY THE SINK UNTIL YOU ARE FINISHED.

  2. I live on the most easterly point of Australia, where the sun hits our continent first. I've spent many a morning (and by many, I mean more like 3) watching the sunrise from the light house knowing we are the first people to see it in Australia... or at least thats the thought anyway....

    1. I'm going to pretend this means you live in a lighthouse, like Jonathan Creek. Let me have my fantasy.

    2. Wait a minute, he lives in a windmill - what the hell am I talking about?

    3. How about the people from Round the Twist? They lived in a lighthouse, I think. They at least had one nearby. And they were Australian, although a different kind of Australian.