29.07.2009 25 °C
Last weekend I went away for 3 days with a few teachers from my school and their husbands. We headed off to explore an area in South-West Korea called Jeollabuk-Do. On the Tuesday before we left I was given our 3 page, typed out itinerary where I saw the daily festivities started at 8am. I will admit I did grimace when I saw this. It was at this stage I thought, hmmmm, do I really want to go but I told myself to wise up, packed my bag and prepared myself for a weekend full of culture. Luckily I had Val was coming to and I knew we could escape.
On the Friday we visited a few temples and saw a lot of the countryside which was very beautiful. The first temple we visited, Haesin, was a working temple and we were lucky enough to arrive just in time for lunch which was right up Val’s street as monks are vegetarian. We feasted on tofu, kimchi, rice and some other veg which I don’t know the name of. The only strange thing about lunch was that everyone sat in silence but the food was good and filled a hole.
After exploring the countryside for a few more hours and visited another temple, we arrived at our accommodation which I knew would involve sleeping on the floor as it was a ‘Minbak’. Luckily the bedding in this minbak was clean compared to what we had to use at Mudfest and all 7 of us didn’t have to sleep in the same room. After some dinner and a few drinks we all went to bed as we knew we had to be up bright and breezy the next day. Anyway, after a not so good night’s sleep due to some very very loud snoring in the next room Val and I were awoken at 5:30am by the sound of someone chopping vegetables – breakfast was being prepared – a fine feast of curry and rice and of course kimchi which was served at 7:30am. I did manage to eat some curry but resisted the rice and kimchi. How can people eat rice 3 times a day, 7 days a week??
Anyhoo, it seems that Val and I weren’t the only ones kept awake by the snoring on Friday night as everyone was much more subdued on Saturday. Again we saw more temples and visited a traditional Korean folk village which is where we stayed in thatched cottages. Val and I were very pleased to have our own cottage so we were far away from the phantom snorer – lol.
Whilst at the village we were able to try on some traditional warrior style clothing (photos are on my blog) and listen to Korean music. Now, I tried my very best to appreciate the music but I just can’t see how people listen to it. In the words of my Dad, think of a cat squealing and you come close to what I had to endure for an hour. That was a long hour I tell you, no wonder we were dying for a drink later on. However, there were no bars to be found in the area so Val and I ended up sneaking out of the village to a local store to buy beer which we drank in a small park (oh how it brought back memories of days gone by). However, while we were walking back through the village at 9:30pm which you would hardly call the wee hours, an old Korean woman came running towards us shouting in Korean. I assume she was telling us to get back to our cottage. OK lady, calm your jets, it’s only 9:30.
What I forgot to mention about this trip was the number of times my name was called ‘Julia’, ‘Julia’, ‘Julia’. I think my name was still echoing in my ears when I got home. My teachers and their friends called upon me for translations, for explanations, for general chit chat, to ‘order’ me to try different food or to come with them to see something. I was also told/ordered to hop on the back of the scooter of a local man in the folk village. I thought I was just getting on so my teachers could take a photo but as soon as I got on he took off much to my amusement. I didn’t know what to think but I did find it hysterical. I knew I was safe - we were only going about 10 mph. He took me for a spin around the village and dropped me off at the place my teachers wanted to have lunch. Unfortunately I didn’t get a pic.
We eventually got home around 3pm which was much earlier than what was on the ‘itinerary’. I think after Friday it was clear that too much was crammed into the 3 days as all of us where drained. Although it was a rather intense weekend it was good to get the chance to see some of the less touristy parts of Korea, however I think a 1 day trip will be long enough next time.