The title says it all. Stay tuned for reflections in the coming week.
Our full day in Tongyeong started with a hike up Mount Mireuksan. Mireuk Island is the biggest of 140 islands off of the coast of Tongyeong, and also where Parky was born and raised. Not everyone was brave enough for the hike, but a merry band of travelers braved the mountain and were rewarded with spectacular views from the top of the island mountain. The rest of the crew braved the cable car and were also rewarded with spectacular mountain views, but we like to think they didn't enjoy it as much as the ones who really worked hard for them ;-)
We then took a ferry out to Hansando, where the famous battle of Hansando took place in 1595. In 1595, Admiral Yi Sun-shin too on a Japanese navy of hundreds of longships with a fleet of just 12 Geobukseon (turtle ships) and through a mixture of good planning, good luck and a bit of home ground advantage, sunk the whole lot and put paid to Japanese aggression on the Korean peninsula for about 400 years. Admiral Yi stands in probably the top half-dozen most revered people in Korea's 5000 year history for this remarkable effort. One that he didn't live to see as he copped an arrow through the shoulder during the battle and died from his wounds before victory had been declared.
After all this, bowling ensued, followed by fried chicken and accidentally stumbling upon yet another free, outdoor K-Pop concert. These students must be the luckiest students in the world, it seems everywhere we go they are accidentally bumping into free K-pop stuff. I'm not much for it, to be honest. But I do have a new found respect for the level of skill required, kind of like opera, or dressage.
On our first afternoon in Tongyeong we went for a stroll around the Dongpirang. Dongpirang is "Mural Village'. It was historically a very poor and run down part of Tongyeong until about 10 years ago when the City Hall invited artists from all over Korea to come and paint the walls of the suburb. It became such a hit that they now every year paint the whole suburb white again and invite the artists to come and repaint with new designs. It is now a real cultural event in Tongyeong and one of the most well known aspects of the city. After Dongpirang, students had some free time to explore the city and then meet back for 'chicken-in-a-pot', a perennial favourite on the Korean culinary scene.
On the one day of the tour on which we do not meet the students, Parky and I teamed up with Mi-hwa and Sang-suk (our co-teachers from our sister schools) and hiked Yongji-bong. It was a pretty steep 2-hour hike up, and much shorter on the way down. It was topped off with chilli-soy pollack and soaking our feet in the icy mountain stream. Amazing. It was everything I could have wanted on our "day-off".
The temple we visited (Jangyu-sa) was founded in 48AD (no, that is not a misprint). It was founded by Queen Ha, wife of the first King if Gaya. Queen Ha was from India and one of the original figures in the history of Buddhism in Korea. Sadly, none of the original temple remains.
Yesterday was the last day with the homestay families and it appears that everyone was having a blast. Here are the photos (sorry for the brevity, time crunch ahead)
All of the students are out in their homestays for the weekend and having a great time by the looks of it. We have all survived the typhoon and now have another experience under our collective belt. Parky and I have asked the students to send us photos of their Saturday and this is what we received.
Hi Guys. If anyone is worried about us in relation to Typhoon Kong-Rae barreling down on South Korea at the moment, please don't be. We have all been properly warned, we are all inside, healthy and happy, and it should be over by just after lunch. And the kids will have a typhoon story to add to their ever-growing collection :-) In the meantime we are getting some well-deserved rest.
There On our last day in Seoul we went to school as usual and finished up with a birthday cake for Jesse and certificates for all. That was followed up with a trip to a traditional Korean village (Hanok). To get the authentic experience in full, we decided to rent traditional Korean clothes (hanboks). These are, of course, traditional formal wear. Not your getting-about-the-house type clothes. As luck would have it, there was also a Samulnori group and a taekwondo demonstration going on at the same time. They were both excellent. Check it out ...
Eat, sleep, K-Pop. That's what we do apparently, and that's what we did today (and 3 hours of language classes)