Three Things Thursday

This time, three things…

…that announce the arrival of the spring!

Thing 1 ~ 입춘 (ipchun)

First comes the first official day of spring, ipchun, a little too early to be credible. This year it was February 4th (although this year there are two, just to really confuse us). To be sure, there’s a slight change in the quality of the light, and at this point the mornings are starting to brighten a little earlier, and the evenings begin a fraction later, but overall, this feels like a false start.

This is succeeded around the end of February by the temperatures whiplashing between -12°C and maybe 4 or 5°C within the space of a few days. Again, the rise above 0°C gives the first ray of hope that the arctic chill is receding, but this is swiftly quashed when the sudden plummet puts you back in triple layers.

Yuna awakes

Yuna awakes

Finally, just as everyone starts to grumble about long winters, the myth of global warming, and how, ‘even the weather in’t what it used to be when I were a lass’, tiny buds appear on trees. It’s definitely a good month from cherry blossom season, but the sap starts to rise and it’s finally time to say goodbye to the triple-ply, fleece-lined polar explorer tights for another year. Hello sunshine! Hello trees! Wakey, wakey, houseplants!

Thing 2 ~ Madame’s annual debut

Sadly, I never bought the required winter riding gear to keep Madame on the road during the icier months so she’s been chillin’ (quite literally) on the balcony since mid-November. The weather has really been safe enough to ride in since early February as there has been very little snow or ice this winter. However, the tyres needed attention and I frankly felt too lazy to perform the little checks and maintenance tasks that were necessary to get out on the road again.

That was until the first really beautiful spring weekend a week or so into March. The camera needed some exercise, Wonderboy needed some exercise, Madame needed some exercise, so we all took off to the Han river park together one glorious Monday afternoon. (Don’t judge me: my weekend is Sunday – Monday). Rocky Balboa style, WB jogged

On yer bike!

On yer bike!

while I cycled alongside singing, ‘Eye of the Tiger.’ Since then, there have been no excuses. Madame and I are back on the roads of Seoul; she sporting her eye-popping red rims and white spokes, myself colour coordinating in a white Crayon Pop helmet and eye-popping pink cagoule.

Oh yes, we’re a stylish duo.

Thing 3 ~ 황사, yellow dust

The downside of a spring in East Asia is the phenomenon of yellow dust. Although this triggers lots of grumbling about pollution and has certainly worsened in recent decades, it is an age-old seasonal occurrence whereby sand and dust from the deserts of China are picked up by the spring winds and deposited across the east of the continent as far as the Korean peninsula. These days, it also picks up all the industrial toxins a rapidly expanding China deposits generously across the continent. A number of sources monitor the dust levels and warnings are broadcast that range from the innocuous: “25 ㎍/㎥, yellow dust (황사, yellow sand) level in Seoul low, air quality is normal.” (@yellowdust) To the more ominous, “287 ㎍/㎥, yellow dust (황사, yellow sand) level is very high, air in Seoul is unhealthy.” Or to the exceptional yellow dust storm which kicked off this season where the count went over 1000 ㎍/㎥ and warnings stated that the air was toxic and we should all lock ourselves in our homes with the windows and doors sealed.

The effects of the dust are manifold and all unpleasant, from the tinted haze in the air to the grainy texture in your eyes and mouth. I finally caved and bought myself a hwangsa face mask, but the reaction in the city is varied. On heavier days more people wear them, but by no means everyone. The day I took the photo above was a Runsploring day, and I was the only runner of a group of over 15 who was deterred. The warning system is officially green for anything under 400 ㎍/㎥, but my personal exercise limit is anything over 150. Above that, I feel it in my sinuses and chest, although that may be mostly psychosomatic. I’m not prepared to find out.


I’m going to proudly round off this month’s post with a link to my brand new photo blog, the Parrot Exposed. It’s currently sporting a gallery of recent spring photos from the early part of the month. I’ll be migrating my photography challenges over to that site, which I hope to use as a forum for my photographic journey of discovery, while reserving this one for writing. I hope you continue to enjoy it!

I’ll leave you with today’s glorious view of central Seoul.

Heart and Seoul

Heart and Seoul


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Caroline
    Apr 03, 2015 @ 05:39:46

    I took my hat off today for the first time this year, so it must be spring here too. I mean outdoors, obviously. I don’t sport a hat indoors. Not all the time anyway. Anyway, I considered taking my jumper off too, but I didn’t want to go too far. It’s only April after all. xxx



    • Pieces of 8
      Apr 03, 2015 @ 08:59:14

      I’m still wearing a jacket to travel to work, but I’m aware that in a month’s time we’ll open all the windows and doors in the flat , and we won’t close them again til October!



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