Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Living in a bamboo house

One thing for sure, from the way bamboo grows around here you would think we were in Asia. Its just that you don't see any panda bears. The bamboo forests are thick and tall. Reaching about 35 to 40 feet in the air they are prone to damage from winds and seaside gusts. A quick bit of research tells me that bamboo is the fastest growing plant on earth. It can average four feet of growth a day. Its incredible ability to grow so fast makes it an excellent resource.
Bamboo was one of the novelties which I was really looking froward to seeing while we are here.
The other day Mike, a friend and fellow English teacher from the states, and I went out to harvest some of this plentiful natural resource. We found a number of canes that had fallen in the last wind storm, cut them up, tied them in bundles, and hiked back to the apartment. We did get some funny looks. Unlike the States, it is legal to harvest off of national and state parks here. With tons of ideas for products in mind we had an "arts and crafts day" on our front porch. We bought all of our tools at the local "made in china store" and begun to saw, sand, and glue.
Here is my workshop on our front porch. Chelsie has been very sweet and has tolerated the mess that I make when construction is under way.

My largest project was a floor lamp. Floor lamps are very expensive here so I decided to make one. It is great for replacing the bright flouresent light with a warmer light.
It has been a challenge, and I wish I had some power tools.

The shade was made out of split bamboo, glue, string, and paper from the paper store across the street.

Drinking mugs were a must. I have had lots of fun experimenting with the handles.


Smaller drinking glasses came as well. I hope to have a nice set when all is said and done.

A soap dish for beside the tub.

Incense holder.

Tiki sounds now come from our new windchime.

One of the most unique creations has been the candle holders which are lashed together by a paper rope material. They add great atmosphere to our living room. The bamboo is initially green and then after a week or two it begins to turn the golden brown that we are more familiar with.


In the mornings while Chelsie is gone to dance class I sometimes go climbing with my friend Zach. Because there is no "Z" sound in Korean and the "J" is similar, he is known also as Jack at school. First by bus, and then by taxi we find our way to the climbing area out by Tongyong.
Its a short hike into the mountains and on the way we walk through a small rural area. All the garlic has just been harvested and so it is piled in huge mounds and hung on fences and cables stretched between trees and houses.

The climbs that we have tackled reciently are rated 5.10a and 5.10b. Zach is a better climber that me and keeps me challenged. There are around 20 to 25 bolted routes that are well maintained at this location. Most are two pitched routes which means that there is a change up in belays before reaching the top.
Zach and I trade off on leading the route. There was a really challenging spot on the route this week that we took a couple cracks at after we had it top-roped.

The view from the top is great. The rice patties are really greening up, and the islands on the horizon peek out of the moring fog. We both really enjoy the fresh air, the rocks, and the wilderness.
I would be happy to admit that the highlight of this past week was the surprise birthday party that Chelsie held for me. Upon arriving home one night I was jumped by a bunch of our friends and co-workers packed in our living room. The evening was filled with brownies, rice crispies, juice, and laughter. Yes I have made it to the ripe age of 24.

5 comments:

Jeff said...

How'd I miss all this? Oh, I was gone. Well, I'm very jealous. I LOVE bamboo. Years ago, friends sent me some high-altitude bamboo, but of course it died here. Too cold. But I tried. You made wonderful things out it. I should import your work to sell downtown. Happy birthday and happy an ... no, I'll go to the next post.

The Moore Family said...

dude...i absolutly love the lamp you made out of that huge bamboo but one question did you put the cord through the banboo or behind it??? anyway's you are crazy talented and creative with that sort of stuff. i'm also exteremly jealous of you guy's being able to go climging like that. -Ethan.

blswitze said...

Jesse - you are so talented !! Will you have to leave your floor lamp behind ?? Love keeping up with your life & tell Chelsey hello from the Switzers.

Jeff said...

First time through, I'd assumed the first photo was of the Red Panda, but now I see that it is that rare climbing primate, the Red-chested Jester. Known for antics that often amuse humans, they are in fact noteworthy tool-makers and adapt to a variety of ecosystems. They can be kept as pets, although they are difficult to house-train. Still, their owners love them and make the necessary compromises. That is a rare photo of one in the wild. Congratulations.

Laura Fry said...

Ok Jesse...those mugs are way cool. I mean we have a set of hand-crafted pottery mugs but man bamboo mugs..now that's pretty sweet!! All of your projects make me laugh...it's totally you!! Glad you guys are having so much fun..looks like you have made lots of friends and are really enjoying life! Keep being creative!!

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