"Hurry... wake up... get your camera... look outside!!!" a friend breathlessly shouted into the phone. "Where?" I asked, my mind still in a sleepy haze. "In the sky!"
I looked out my window and caught a glimpse of the edges of a large cloud partially obscured by the multitude of apartment developments that have sprung up around my apartment recently.
I grabbed my camera and headed outside for a better view. As I stepped out into the sunshine and blistering heat I looked skyward and there it was: one of the best cloud formations I've ever seen. Saucer shaped with a tornado-like funnel in its center, the cotton candy mass seemed to hover over Halla Mountain.
I quickly got into my car and raced to a cluster of hills near the new government buildings behind Ido Apartments with the hope that I could get a clear view of the cloud and the landscape around it. Bad idea. Too many telephone poles and cables cluttered the scene.
I next rushed up to Halla Library but the view was again obscured, this time by buildings behind the library.
Worried that the cloud would soon lose its amazing shape and disappear, I made one last-ditch effort to get a photo from the roof of Jeju University Hospital. 6 floors... on a hill... should be enough elevation to get a clean photo of the sky, cloud, and some of the natural landscape below.
I squeezed into a small parking space and rushed up to the 6th floor, my excitement building. I reached for the door to the roof and... it was locked! Of course it was. Why wouldn't it be?
Back down to the first floor I went and to the dreaded administration office. I tried to explain my "situation" to the young man at the desk, his response a typical "hmmmm... maybe not possible". But, seeing my disappointment, he said, "Just a minute, I'll make a few calls."
Ten minutes later , as thoughts of a lost photo opportunity filled my head, he said, "come with me!"
Surrounded by 3 security guards (I've never felt so important!), we entered the elevator and made our way back up to the 6th floor. The security lock changed from red to green as we opened the door and made our way onto the roof. Finally!
I ran to the edge and was relieved to see no windows or metal bars blocking my view. And what a view it was! Like something from the skies of the American Midwest, the massive lenticular cloud hovered over Halla mountain, its long shadow spreading over the lush, green "oreums", or hills, below like a scene from the 1996 blockbuster Independence Day.
I clicked the shutter once. Then, I adjusted my angle and took 3 more, including the photo you see here. Finished, I turned around and saw a group of people with arms outstretched behind me, camera phones happily snapping away as they utttered "ooohhhhs and aaaaahhhhs". I knew that I had captured something special.
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