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My Weekend

 
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The Bobster



Joined: 15 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2003 6:12 am    Post subject: My Weekend Reply with quote

I took a day off work to make it a 4-day weekend, and I had a good time. How was yours? Here's some stuff I did. If you did anything fun, tell me about it. It's called networking, kids ...

Nami-do

Itís on the north fork of the Han River (Bukhangang) not far from the city of Chuncheon. Take the train from Changnyangi Station to Kapyong, then a taxi to the shuttle boat landing - just tell the driver ďNami-do,Ē theyíre all set up for this. Once you are on the island, you will walk to your hotel for about 15 or 20 minutes, so excessive luggage is not recommended. No, there are no taxis on Nami-do, probably no motorized conveyances at all except for a minitrain which seems intended only for childrenís entertainment.

Getting away from noisy modes of transport is probably why you came here, though. Donít worry, itís a small enough place you can walk all around it in the space of a few hours.

The island was the setting for movie a few years back called ďWinter Sonata,Ē a sentimental love story from the look of the posters that can be viewed in a small coffee shop dedicated to its memory. There is also an art gallery, and a special exhibition hall, this month dedicated to a Korean childrenís storybook artist who specializes in Han Christian Andersen. Thereís a gift shop where you can buy souvenirs - not the usual tacky Itaewon-sort-of-thing, pretty nice stuff, really. Nami-do is actually sort of boutiquey, so if you canít handle that, donít go.

There are also animals running around, uncaged. We saw about a dozen ostriches loitering around a covered traditional-style open-air platform and they were not too aloof to start getting obnoxious toward a group of students having a picnic there. Also saw rabbits, big floppy-eared domestics hippety-hopping in tempo with the storybook theme of the place, and while the brochure had pictures of Korean deer, they must have been somewhere else that day Ö there are birds, something Iíve missed by living too long in Seoul, which doesnít even seem to have the right amount of pigeons.

This part of the river is full of resort hotels, and the whole area around Kapyong is a favorite destination for university students because the accomodations are cheaper than elsewhere. Lots of good restaurants all around, many of them featuring the dalk galbi (barbequed chicken) which originated in this region. Lots of young people around and things that appeal to them - the shuttle boat staging area has bungee-jump platform - but families also were in evidence.

Places to eat on the island are surprisingly limited, which is kind of a nice thing. It's only been open a bit more than a year, but one gets the impression that they are trying to keep it pretty undeveloped. The restaurant in the hotel serves Western food, but I didnít clue in on this immediately because the menu is entirely in Korean. Yeah, I can read it, but most Western food places have a bilingual menu. (I sort of doubt it, but itís possible I might have been one of the first waygooks to go there.) There is also a barbeque place that does the chicken I mentioned, but we were in the mood for bulgogi so we didnít try it. There are also several bun shik-style food stalls scattered about, and a drinking place with reasonably priced anju.

We got there pretty late in the day, near sunset of the holiday on Thursday, so more people were leaving the island than arriving. After checking in and relaxing a bit, we went out strolling. Strolling is not a bad idea on Nami-do. You want to see some trees because you are tired of looking at huge high-rises every day, and you want to feel some dirt under your feet because concrete is not what you want all the time. Leaves, grass and water, and air that is almost fit to breathe. And quiet, quiet enough that you can speak to your companion without fear that you didnít speak loud enough to compete with the cars, buses and airplanes that we surround ourselves with in the city.

After the bulgogi, we strolled some more. At the single convenince store (not a FamilyMart or a 7-11, just a plain old kage, really) I bought a deck of cards and we found a table in the nearly-deserted drinking place, ordered some pajeon and ddongddong-ju, and I proceeded to teach the girlfriend the game of blackjack, thinking itís probably easier to explain than poker. Instead of money, we tore the plastic covers from the wooden chopsticks into a couple dozen pieces and used them as chips - she caught on to the game pretty quickly and I had to start tearing mine into smaller and smaller segments in order to generate an occasional trickle of revenue.

(Beginnerís luck, no doubt Ö and this is the lady who disapproves of my rare forays onto the casino floor at Walker Hill Sheraton.)

It might have been the quality of the rice liquor but I slept remarkably well that night. (The young ajosshi assured me that people come to the island specifically for this particular brew so they can take it home with them.) The room was comfortable but not luxurious, which I like - a quirk of mine, maybe, but I seldom enjoy a hotel that is more posh than how I normally live, but I love the fact that someone else is going to make the bed and clean the bathroom the next day, donít you? No telephone, and the TV only receives 2 channels, but again, that is part of why you came here Ö

We checked out and ate something at the drinking place, a non-tchiggae kind of stew that the girlfriend chose, the name of which escapes me now. This time I was denied the use of an ashtray and was told to stand outside in the rain with my cigarette - Iím convinced it was because I had the poor sense to address the kitchen woman as adjuma just because the ajosshi had done so. I figured it out later : sheís older than him, so sheíll put up with that in his case, but younger than me, so she will not in mine Ö ah, the subtleties of life among Koreans.

In fact, it was raining hard enough that I had to buy an umbrella, but before getting on the boat we sat in the shelter of one of the bun-shik places, had some coffee and some fun also.

Judging by clothing, several of the other patrons appeared to be workers on the island rather than tourists like us. When the girlfriend remarked favorably about the apparent quality of the food being prepared I was astounded when the cook chopped off a healthy portion of what she had just placed in front a young man and put it on a plate for us, saying something that included the word ďsubbice,Ē so weíd know it was a gift. If she had given us the food from the skillet before serving the fellow, it would not have been so shocking, even though the young guy didnít seem to mind.

A little later, of course, I came to realize that the food was part of the their compensation package for their jobs, so that mitigated the theft, I guess Ö but still, I was amused and respected the fact that several of these employees were enjoying soju with their lunch. Hey, with the rain like this, they werenít going to be doing a lot of work that day, anyway, and probably nothing that required heavy machinery.

But it occurred to me that since I seemed to have anju in front of me I might as well order some ju, and so I did. When the girlfriend opined that wasnít it a bit early in the day, I reasonably replied that we are on vacation and so we donít need to be sober, and in fact being so might even be breaking a rule, if you looked at it a certain way. To her credit, she not only saw my logic but produced some enthusiasm as well. I asked for another soju tumbler, poured some and offered it to the young man whose food I was eating. We did a one-shot together and he asked the girlfriend if I could speak Korean, to which she replied that I know enough for eating and drinking and thatís about all. Yeah, I was being a dancing bear once again, which is how I feel in a lot of non-classroom and non-Itaewon or Hongdae contexts. (The interest value of the dancing bear at a circus, of course, is not how well he dances but rather just the mere fact that he can dance at all, even a little bit Ö and thatís how good my Korean language skills remain, even after all this time here, Iím afraid.)

The alcohol was my best decision that day. If youíve never sat in the shelter of the rain putting a good buzz together with the smell of trees around you and moving water not far away, then perhaps you donít know what good times are all about.

I made another animal-sighting, a squirrel this time, and asked the girlfriend how to say it in Korean. Darong-ji. I declared that this will be my pet name for her, justifying it with a cute remark about how the tail flicks about with such energy. (Okay, letís not go there.) She claimed to like it, but in retaliation, she decided that I am a bear - though I argued that my arm and body hair is not so terribly unusual where I come from Ö

The total travel expense from Seoul is less than 20,000 won,. Train travel in Korea is both relaxing and cheap, in this case just a bit more than 5000 won, and the ride takes not much more than an hour. Taxi to the shuttle boat was about 3000, and the boat itself was 5000, maybe steep for a 5-minute ride but itís really an entrance fee to the park itself. The hotel was reasonable at 57,000 won, and the prices for food and drink on the island were no more than they would cost elsewhere.

Itís a nice little place. Check it out.
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eamo



Joined: 08 Mar 2003
Location: Shepherd's Bush, 1964.

PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2003 6:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good read Bobster. I'll keep that place in mind.
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Bulsajo



Joined: 16 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2003 7:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

eamo wrote:
Good read Bobster.

ditto
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captain kirk



Joined: 29 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2003 7:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

cool!
me? i took the bike from cheonan, south to daejon, south east to daegu. the next day north east to andong, then west back to cheonan. nine hours driving each day, two days. it only rained around andong, and it was just a spit. the sky sunday (today) was opaque with humidity, but around dinner time with it cooling off that moisture became spit. rain slows travel time, so i didn't stop in andong, though i went there to see all the folk village stuff (heard queen elizabeth visited one place in korea; andong). but there was lots of rural/agricultural/old korea visible along the road. the mountains around andong aren't as big as i figured they'd be, like 'mountains'. but it was up in elevation, could sense the rise from daegu, up, up. there are cliffs around there, sheer bare rock faces and at the base the river going by, very scenic, but i put the camera away under a tarp since it was spitting a bit. lots of quaint farmer dragon-rooved cottages with the fields around and the 'mountains' in background. at one point it was a spread of the river, the opaque atmosphere, and the setting sun shooting a glow through it, like a frosted light bulb the sun being the glare inside. landscape like a white opal. vast and all layed out, in shades of mist, like a kind of ice cream. with little 'ant' people and houses reminding you it's real. cool!
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Avram Iancu



Joined: 05 Jul 2003
Location: Changwon

PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2003 2:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Arranged to meet some lovely South African ladies at "Gecko's" in Itaewon on Saturday afternoon. Moved-on to "66" in Hongdae, followed by a cornucopia of alcohols in a 'club' with some sporadic dancing. Waited for the subway to open, did the 'head-bob' on the subway from sheer exhaustion. Taxi back to Jingeon from Hwarangdae. Bed at 11am.

Total cost = 250,000 Won

Actual cost for memories of various shenanigans with great company while losing my voice = PRICELESS
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Zyzyfer



Joined: 29 Jan 2003
Location: who, what, where, when, why, how?

PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2003 4:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Does it seem reasonable to go there during the winter, Bob?
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The Bobster



Joined: 15 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2003 3:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, Z, it might even be nice in winter. I'm thinking this partly because a good portion of the stills on display from the movie I mentioned featured snow ... recall the title, "Winter Sonata."

Snow is much more beautiful among trees and in a rustic setting than it is here in the city, isn't it? Any neighborhood I've lived in over here, the snow looks nice for almost 10 minutes before it gets filthy with the muck of the city, and either turns to slush and becomes a danger to your clothes or else freezes into a hard shell on the sidewalk and because a danger to your butt from possibly taking a tumble.

Not a wintersports kind of guy, though, so if you're thinking about skis and the like, can't say much there. I'd say it's ideal for a getaway with a romantic partner, or with a group of people, don't see much useful about it for the solitary trekker. What Isaid about the fun to be found from sitting in the shelter of the rain and having a spot of brew with good people around you ... offhand, that would seem to apply at least as much or more so in the context of snow.

Capt Kirk, thanks for the post, and I've been meaning to get down to Andong for the folk village you mentioned. What I've heard is that it's the best of that kind of thing in the country, and - this part is wierd in a sort of cool way - that there are people who live there 24 and 7 in the historical mode, some sort of govt subsidized program that hopes to keep the knowledge of these ways of existence around. Or something. (Anyone who's actually been to that particualr folk village, toss it on the thread, I'm interested.)

What I wrote before about Nami-do was really just the first part of the 4-day weekend. After that we came back to the city and caught another train.


Daejon Science Expo

This might have been a happening place when it was new, but it isn't new any more, and nothing is happening. In fact about half of the pavillions are closed down and the ones that remain feature some sort of film or other non-human spectator activity. I was reminded of the old joke about a restaurant : the food is terrible - yes, and such small portions.

Fortunately, the admission price is low. Our 7000 won per person included three attraction, but I gotta say we were doing some work to find those 3 places we wanted to spend our time.

We were there very early in the day (maybe it picks up later?) and it was tranquil and peaceful - it struck me that peace and tranquility are not what most people look for in a theme park. In fact, I think there were more people on Nami-do on a rainy day after a holiday than there were on this sunny Saturday afternoon, and yet I found myself exactly as relaxed despite the absence of alcohol. The main difference, not so many trees and no squirrels at all.

The only thing I can figure is that it might have once been a destination, but that now it is just old science fiction, and people who live in Daejon have seen it already so they don't need to go there anymore.

The good news for you is that since I've gone there, now you also don't have to go. If you must go, bring a book.
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Zyzyfer



Joined: 29 Jan 2003
Location: who, what, where, when, why, how?

PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2003 5:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Bobster wrote:
Not a wintersports kind of guy, though, so if you're thinking about skis and the like, can't say much there. I'd say it's ideal for a getaway with a romantic partner, or with a group of people, don't see much useful about it for the solitary trekker. What Isaid about the fun to be found from sitting in the shelter of the rain and having a spot of brew with good people around you ... offhand, that would seem to apply at least as much or more so in the context of snow.


I'll remember this, then, and you plan on a winter visit, okay?
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The Bobster



Joined: 15 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2003 5:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, not only not wintersports, I'm not even a winter kinda guy at all - California grown and raised, never liked that single thing about Korea, and ever since I started working and living here I've been trying to latch onto some kind of plan let me teach somewhere tropical before snow falls, then wander back late Feb or early March ... I might even swing it this year as my contract ends in early Nov, with luck I might have enough saved to live cheap in some island locale while y'all are slippin and slidin and freezing the tails off up here.

Tell you what, you check out Nami-do next January, then tell me about it, haha ...
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Zyzyfer



Joined: 29 Jan 2003
Location: who, what, where, when, why, how?

PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2003 6:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Bobster wrote:
Tell you what, you check out Nami-do next January, then tell me about it, haha ...


You bastard! I'll get you next time, Gadget, next tiiiiiiiiiime........
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