Monday, November 12, 2012

Rainy Days

It's warmer when it's raining than when it's just windy (and/or sunny). Why is that?

The halls of the school are cold again, like when I first started working here. However, I have to remind myself that the temperatures I thought were cold were actually those of winter's end. If winter has even begun here (I think it's still fall. The leaves haven't completely fallen off yet), this is only the beginning. Here in the mountains, it will only get colder. I should bring a blanket.

I have to reconsider letting the first graders use the candy box I made. They just discovered how to use it (answer an English-related question, get a candy). I can imagine the whole class discovering the box, and me spending 40 mins trying to help everyone answer a question. Maybe for them I'll just have them work in groups to answer questions.... On top of that, 5th graders, who aren't even in my English class, have been coming to use the candy box quite often. I'll have to buy some more candy tonight. I can feel the bottom of the box. I don't mind though, because it's probably the only time I'll get to mini-teach every student in the school.

Last weekend was the second culture trip (one every semester, since I'm here for a year). I went with my MT, her husband, Leanne, and her MT. We went up to Gangneun, where the coast is, and enjoyed "sushi" (more like sashimi), a Thomas Edison museum, and a museum about a famous Korean scholar and his mother.

After a forty-minute bus ride to Wonju, three of us were picked up by my MT and her husband at the bus terminal. From there, we drove towards Gangneun, stopping at one rest stop along the way. The Korean scholar (something.. Yi Yi) is featured on the 5,000 won note. His mother's face is on the 50,000 won note. We visited an estate where they lived. Most of it had been turned into public grounds (complete with statues), while most of the houses has been converted into museums and gift shops. We didn't go in all the buildings, but we did take pictures, look at artwork, and buy some souvenirs.

After the estate, we got back in the car and drove up to the Thomas Edison museum. The building is actually privately owned, and features a massive collection of inventions and newspaper articles. One man dedicated his time to collecting all these items, and houses them there. There were tons of gramophones, and millions of other trinkets (lightbulbs, phones, washing machines, an old electric car, etc.) inside the building. Many school children get taken to this museum for educational field trips. It was actually cool seeing all the stuff. There was a waffle iron with (what looked like) real waffles inside. My friend and I wondered how long they'd been in there, behind the glass. The entrance was decorated with movie posters, and ads that featured some of Edison's inventions and improvements. Outside the building, old (old!) music played on loud speakers. My friend and I started waltzing with ourselves.

After the museum, we drove up to Jumunjin, a seaside town with a famous harbor. We ate lunch (well, we tried. Honestly, I have to stop getting into situations where I have to consume raw fish.). They brought out heaps of various raw fish, and the elders in the group were concerned that Leanne and I didn't eagerly wolf down the food. I managed a few bites here and there. I tried at least one of everything, to be fair. After lunch, we walked across the street and gawked at the huge turbulent waves that crashed into the shore. One particularly giant wave jumped across the huge concrete jacks (barriers in the shape of jacks... you know, the game with the bouncy ball?) that line the shore. It soaked my MT's husband's leg, and got a few of us wet as well. It was so random and funny, but we decided to move away from the water and continued up the street.

Up the street was a large fish market. The area was packed and bustling with people conducting business. Occasionally, a car would try and drive through the swarms of people in the larger alleys of the market. Our group walked up and down all the aisles, scouting. I didn't know it at the time, but my MT's husband was planning on buying something. One thing I noticed was the lack of fishy smell. I mean, it was there, the smell, but it wasn't strong like I expected it to be. I wondered if it was because it was raining. Even though seeing all the fish and busy, yelling people was exciting, Leanne and I found ourselves waiting beside a tank of barely moving fish, waiting for purchases to be made so we could go home. After awhile, we became "road blocks" to all the people trying to get by. We moved a bit. Then, we were in the way of one lady's fish. She kept telling us "chamshi manyo" (excuse me) and pausing in between scooping up various fish to stare at us. If we weren't there to buy her fish, why were we standing there?

I asked my MT if Leanne and I could go walk around outside the tents. She agreed, and we walked outside, seeing what else there was to look at. Not much. Just the harbor and seagulls, and hot street food that we weren't allowed to buy (on the culture trip, everything bought must fit within the budget).  We walked under an overpass near the harbor and watched lines of cars drive here and there. We were hungry, a bit cold, and slightly wet. Rather than stay in one place, we moved on, walking among the crowds, until we made it to the car. Near the parking lot entrance, one of the traffic directors built a fire in a barrel, and we moved over to it while he was directing traffic. We overstayed our welcome by his fire, because he soon shooed us away (we were kind of in the way of cars, as well), and we walked away from the warmth. By now, the sun had gone down and it was still raining. Leanne suggested we call my MT in 5 minutes if she didn't call us. When the 5th minute struck, I reached for my phone and it began to ring. About 10 minutes later, my MT arrived at the car and we sat inside, waiting for the men to show up. Maybe 20 minutes later, they showed up, and we headed back to Wonju. Overall, it was a long day.

Another stop at a rest stop to eat dinner, and we finally arrived in Wonju. Another 40 minute bus ride, and three of us arrived at the Jecheon bus terminal. The trip had taken all day. It was a good, but tiring trip.

'Til next time,

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