November 30, 2008

Cheongju

One random weekend John and I didn't have any plans so we decided to see a little more of the country. We picked a place called Cheongju, a city in in the middle of Korea, where a martial arts festival was supposed to be going on. When we got there we found out the festival was actually in Cheonju, a place I was deathly afraid we'd end up because the Koreans have such a hard time understanding our mispronunciations. Haha, funny how things work out, eh? Anyway, after spending 2 hours trying to find the city bus terminal so we could get to downtown (it took that long because we were following a map that didn't make any sense....it turns out the city bus terminal doesn't really exist), we finally found some people who told us that there is no bus terminal besides the one where we were and that a taxi ride costs the same as the bus, anyway. HA!

The taxi took us to the major shopping area of the city where we walked around observing all kinds of interesting things on our hunt for a place to eat. (please see "Funny Korea" entry) We didn't find a restaurant, but we DID find some Americans! If you're wondering, often times foreigners will say hello to each other when they see one another here because foreign strangers outside of Seoul are such a rare occurrence. Anyway, it was this really nice girl called Heidi who was showing a newbie around town. Incidentally, they were on their way to dinner.

We ate at a place called Kraze Burgers (aka Expensive Mediocre Burgers) and learned that Heidi only had three weeks left here in Korea. I think it was strange for both parties to meet someone on opposite ends of the journey. Heidi was sort of thrown back to her first few weeks when she was just starting to figure things out but was nowhere near feeling comfortable; whereas we had a glimpse of the future as we listened to someone who'd been here for a year reflect out loud on her time in Korea. We could see ourselves a year from then: comfortable with our situations in Korea, and sad to leave, but incredibly excited to go back.

The four of us (the newbie came with, too) went out for some drinks afterward. Heidi took us to the major foreigner bars where we drank Western beers and played foosball.....what a trip that was! It was our first time in a place that reminded us even remotely of home. It was a good time, and the best part was that Heidi had a place for us to sleep so we saved some money and another experience at the jimjilbang. Plus, she gave us some recommendations for what to do the next day since the martial arts festival was a no-go (and showed us where to pick up the bus!!)

We ended up at a sweet fortress in the outskirts of town and then made a quick stop at nearby low-budget zoo (had to get my tiger fix). It was a gorgeous hike around the ancient wall and in general a really great way to spend a Sunday - maybe even greater than watching the tail end of a martial arts festival.

Check out the pics:

A view of the city. This street is just off the big shopping area. Aren't the lights cool? Look how far down they go!

Here's a part of the cool fortress/wall we walked around. The roof-dealy is one of the gates into the fortress.

The fortress was a short walk from the park entrance. I felt the need to hang on this tree (who wouldn't?) and John thought it was a good photo opp. I don't know, I think I look pretty awkward. Haha.


On the wall...


Different people, same gorgeous view.

Here it is again, just a bit down the trail:


Classic. This is one of my favorite photos ever.




One of the gates. John dramatically opens the doors, and I graciously see you out. (In real life, those doors can't be moved.)


Posted as per John's request. This is a classic Korean canine - itty bitty, dirty, and wearing clothes. haha oh man. love it.

Dad, John thinks you'd like this picture, so it's on here.
I think it's pretty cheesy. I haven't looked this 90s since I was in middle school and it actually was the 90s. But enjoy!



Pure
genius.



I set up that sweet shot above, and John thought of this awesome action shot. Good team effort, I'd say.


We found these plywood cutouts at the gate at the end of our journey and had some fun with them.


The Zoo:

First, we were all excited about getting to see some tigers and stuff. Then, we saw how bad of a zoo it was and it made us sad. We still had no problem enjoying ourselves for a while, though.

(That's me putting on my sad face.)


A big grizzly putting on his grizzly-face.


And then John putting on his ridiculous-face!




Less dignified than a monkey....More intense than a leopard. Bahahaha, I will cherish these photos forever.


Then the way the animals were kept really started to get to me. Those cages aren't very big, and there are FIVE tigers in there. FIVE.
Do you see the expression on my face? Can't even smile properly. That might explain why I nearly exploded on the bus ride back to downtown. The bus was absolutely packed, as in, to the point where the bus couldn't allow any more passengers. So almost everyone was standing up, holding onto the rail up top and trying to be as small as possible. Everyone except this one guy - this one older Korean man who was between me and the rail, and who I was pushed up against. He had both his hands on the rail, spread wide apart, and was standing at arm's length from it not trying to be small at all. Additionally, he actually moved backwards away from the rail and into me at one point in the ride. I was mad enough that he was being so inconsiderate, but when he moved his body up against mine so much that we could have been snuggling had we been horizontal, I nearly lost it. I was angry already, but I got just plain upset when he was touching me so much that I felt violated. Gah. It still makes me angry to think of it. Poor John had to deal with my rather perturbed self all the way back to Yeoju.

1 comment:

Dad said...

Old men, regardless of country of origin, can be like the animals they are watching at the zoo. It is not thier fault. They have fewer brain cells, I think....don't let me get that way.

Once again, Beanie, your writing is fresh and fun to read. You should consider writing a memoir of your Korean experience. One thing is for sure-an experience like this shifts your paradigm. Love, you. Daddy-Beanie.