Yellow and Red Dust

In the Mediterranean there is a climatic condition whereby at certain times the clouds look like they are boiling red. As they come over the hills the air looks almost as if the oxygen in it had rusted.  This happens because the winds are blowing the desert sand over the Mediterranean from Africa. These clouds usually bring rain with them too and when the wind dies down the rain evaporates and the sky returns to normal leaving all the cars with a coating of red sand. When I saw it most clearly, with a mountainous backdrop, is the time in my life I most regretted not having a camera on me because as the clouds roll over the mountains it is a quite spectacular sight.

That said, the red dust isn’t pleasant and covers your clothes too. However, in South (and presumably North) Korea there is something called the yellow dust which is extremely nasty. I’ll get to explaining what the yellow dust is exactly in a roundabout (or should it be rounders?) sort of way.

Baseball is quite a popular sport in the USA but it is something I had never been able to like. I like to at least give things a try though and several times had tried to watch an entire match from start to finish on TV, always with the result of falling asleep.

Therefore, shortly after I arrived in Korea in March and noticed baseball was a rather popular sport there, I thought I would go along to a match and see if it was any better in the stadium . When April began it was getting warm enough that you could go out basically with just a t-shirt and jeans in the daytime so I was only wearing exactly that . I noticed also in April that people were wearing the face masks that you see so often in pictures from Japan but I didn’t bother to get one.

It must have been about 25 degrees that day, which is not hot but certainly not cold. I was just wearing a t-shirt but all the punters in the crowd were telling me to cover up. I thought they must be telling me this because they were being nice and were worried that I could get burned.  Not so.

You see, the yellow dust (or Hwang Sa as it is called in Korea) is something which  sweeps down from Mongolia, Kazakhstan and China into Korea. The sands from the deserts in those countries are blown down by seasonal winds in March, April and May, sometimes as far as Japan or further.

This is obviously something that has happened for thousands of years. It is worse now though because…

In the last decade or so, it has become a serious problem due to the increase of industrial pollutants contained in the dust and intensified desertification in China causing longer and more frequent occurrences, as well as in the last few decades when the Aral Sea of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan started drying up due to the diversion of the Amu River and Syr River following a Soviet agricultural program to irrigate Central Asian deserts, mainly for cotton plantations.


For the past few years, the dust storms often carry oxides (aluminium, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and silicon) and toxic waste thus increasing the risks of respiratory and skin reactions.

So I think now that the Koreans were trying to tell me to cover up for another reason entirely and

I experienced the double whammy of watching a crap sport and getting a little bit sick for a few days on account of that.

For a few days after I didn’t feel so good but the main thing that annoyed me was that no one at my work bothered to tell me about it until after the event. I explained about my weekend and I that I wasn’t feeling so good and they told me “Oh, that would’ve been the yellow dust”. Kamsa Hamnida for that!

So if you are going there, you have been warned.


As previously intimated I have been on a little spin around Scotland. Over a few posts I will put some nice photos and give some pointers for where you could go and what you could do if you decide to do the same thing.

This is the first one so I suppose we need the song first…

Ok, so to the point.

One nice thing you can do in Scotland is the Ness walk. People tend to think that Inverness is a little village but it is actually quite a large town. There are many brilliant walks you can do in it and around it and the Ness walk goes along the river and over little bridges in the middle of it.

Here are some photos of it…





This is a repost from this time last year but it is that time again and I have lots of new readers and the principle still stands…



The 25th of January is an important day in the Scottish calendar. It is day that the life and works of Robert (Rabbie) Burns are celebrated.

Many of the works of this man have entered the language worldwide but people won’t be sure of their origins. For example, ‘the best laid plans of mice and men’ comes from a Burns poem. ‘Ae Fond Kiss‘ is a Burns poem as was ‘Auld Lang Syne’.

There has been much talk of making St Andrews day -November 30th – into a proper national holiday in Scotland but I would prefer by far if we were to make the 25th of January the national holiday, for several reasons…

Firstly, no one in Scotland really gives a bollocks about St Andrew. There are some legends about what he supposedly did in Scotland but they are certainly not at the forefront of national consciousness and it is not only Scotland. He is a patron saint that is shared by several other countries as well (Greece, Romania and Russia).

Secondly, when it comes to Saints days as national days the Irish have the market cornered.

Third, Burns night already is celebrated all around the world by millions of expats and second, third and fourth generation Scots and others.

Fourth, the works of Burns are absolutely fantastic and have a communitarian and revolutionary air… try the last two verses of ‘Scots Wha Hae‘ for example..

By Oppression’s woes and pains!
By your Sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free!
Lay the proud Usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty’s in every blow!-
Let us Do or Die!
The above poem was an imagined speech given by Robert the Bruce before the battle of Bannockburn when Scotland regained independence from England and was an unofficial national anthem of the country. The full thing is here.
So have a good whisky on the 25th this year – a good one mind ( I shall be having several) and toast your friends and family and then have another one and toast for for Scottish independence and a better society than we have now. Burns would have approved and would happily have devoured several whiskies of his own.
More Burns quotes -some slightly altered…
“Ye hypocrites! are these your pranks? To Murder men, and give God thanks? Desist for same! proceed no further: God won’t accept your thanks for Murther!”

“Suspicion is a heavy armor and with its weight it impedes more than it protects.”

“How wretched is the person who hangs on by the favors of the powerful.”

“Man’s inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn”

“While Europe’s eye is fix’d on mighty things, The fate of empires and the fall of kings; While quacks of State must each produce his plan, And even children lisp the Rights of Man; Amid this mighty fuss just let me mention, The Rights of Woman merit some attention.”

“Their sighing , canting , grace-proud faces, their three-mile prayers, and half-mile graces.”

“Affliction’s sons are brothers in distress; A brother to relieve, how exquisite the bliss!”

“O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us.”
(O would some power the gift to give us to see ourselves as others see us.)


An idea is being proposed – I don’t know how seriously – that the dome building at Dounreay nuclear power station could be turned into a hotel once it has been decommissioned.

A hotel.

Does this mean the Iranians will be accused of having lots of suspicious hotels?

Dounreay is the place that pleaded guilty to four charges of breaching radiation safety legislation. They were convicted of “unauthorised disposals” of waste in drains and landfill. They were also convicted of “failure to prevent fragments of irradiated nuclear fuel being discharged into the environment”.

The Dounreay plant has also previously been in trouble for allegedly exposing workers to contamination – you could be the first guest to be exposed to plutonium. Come back from your holiday with that ready brek glow!

 So my question to you is this….

What other sites of environmental and human catastrophe do you want to see turned into funspots?

We could have a water sports facility where the French did their Nuclear tests.

What about beach volleyball in Tiananmen Square (they really were considering that – follow the link)

What about a rollercoaster on the site of your favourite train crash?

What are your ideas?