Sunday, April 01, 2007

Yellow Dust

We were warned about yellow dust earlier in the year, but in the end nothing happened, and while Seoul has suffered on occasion in the meantime, Busan's atmosphere has been relatively breathable, normal levels of pollution notwithstanding. All that changed today, when, after warnings from the Korean Meteorological Association, we awoke to find the atmosphere distinctly murky.

We have days that look like this back home, when it's raining or foggy, though this was neither, and I suppose that lulled me into a false sense of security even though people were being warned not to go out. So when we did venture outside, it didn't take me long to discover just how insidious these conditions really are. It starts to creep up on you, but gradually you realise that you just can't breathe very well and your mouth ends up dry and tasting like you've spent the day at a particularly sandy beach.

We grabbed pizza and went to Korean Mother's high-rise apartment to eat lunch, where I took photographs from the balcony. In itself this proved to be unwise, since higher-up the atmosphere was even worse and I couldn't breathe it easily for very long at all before I needed to go back inside.

It started raining and treated us to the next consequence of having all this dirt in the atmosphere - sand rain, or mud rain as it's sometimes called. And indeed, muddy is how all the cars ended up looking. Everyone in Busan is going to have to wash their car after this - or maybe it's not worth the effort because according to KBS these conditions are likely to persist over the next few days (although I've seen another forecast that has it clearing tomorrow).

Speaking of KBS, they have a video of the conditions today on their website, and it's really worth watching just to see how bad things are, even if you don't understand the Korean.

So the streets were fairly deserted today - there wasn't even that much traffic - and it's certainly the quietest I've seen Busan since the New Year when almost everything shut down. I don't think I'll be in such a hurry to venture out next time either, and I think we need to buy masks because an hour later I still can't get rid of the dusty taste from my throat.

1 comment:

Gary said...

Wow, the dust was just as bad in Seoul too. It was my first "real" taste of the dust. It's pretty nasty stuff I must say...I don't know how effective a mask really is though!

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