Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Steve and Sue's Visit, Part II

Happy New Year, everyone!  I guess this will be my last blog post for 2008.  If 2009 is anything near as interesting, there should be lots of posts to come.  For now, I want to finish updating about Steve and Sue's visit, which is now two weeks ago!

On Tuesday, Keegan had to go to work, and Glenda and I had planned a Christmas party for our students.  We spent most of the morning preparing for the party and the whole afternoon relaxing in Glenda's house on the hill with our multi-national crowd.  

Glenda, Ellen, Alla, Gloria, Joy, Aline, Andrea, and Rafaela at the Christmas party.

Only two of my students were still in Korea at that point.  My Ukrainian student, Elena, made me really proud - she seems to be really coming into her own and was much more willing to speak English in the group.  She's amazing.  My newest Brazilian student was a bit more shy, but considering that she's only had a grand total of eight English lessons, she comported herself well.  She's a natural with pronunciation, and negotiated greetings and introductions with aplomb.  After the party, we went back down to the apartment and started on a stir fry for dinner.  Asian cooking is a staple of our diet, and so easy to do here, where all the markets are Asian.

Wednesday was a fun day.  We went to Jinju to visit Yoon's sister and her family.  I had a really great time practicing my Korean.  This mostly entailed pointing at various objects and naming them, but there were a few more fruitful exchanges.  Yoon's sister let Sue and I try on some of her traditional Korean clothing, and it was such a cool experience.

Ellen, Sue, Yoon's mother, and Yoon's sister in traditional Korean dress.

In the afternoon, we visited a silk factory outlet, where Sue and I bought scarves and Steve bought silk pajamas.  We also went back to the Jinju fortress and enjoyed the winter scenery before returning to Yoon's sister's apartment and having a huge and delicious Korean dinner, complete with both of my favorites:  Korean noodles and seafood pancake.  Mmmm!

On Thursday, Keegan had to work again, so we decided to return to the botanical garden that Keegan and I visited last month.  It was an absolutely stunning clear day, and from the observation deck in the gardens, we could see Japan!  I am itching to visit there for real.  We had just enough time to enjoy some coffee and tea while looking out over the beautiful view of the ocean and the distant, barely visible, mountains of Japan.  

Steve and Sue enjoy coffee and a beautiful view at Oedo Botania.

We also sampled some fish-shaped waffles, filled with red bean paste filling.  They weren't the best I've had, but they were warm, and I enjoyed mine!  In the evening, we whipped up some pasta with vodka sauce.  I think a little more simmering was called for, as the vodka flavor in the finished dish quite strong.  Sorry, guys.  We'll try it again next time you visit!

Friday was the day for a visit to Gohyeon, where Keegan's shipyard is.  We had a chance to visit HomePlus, our favorite superstore, which is chock full of Korean oddities.  As usual, we managed to fill up a cart in no time.  After lunch in the food court, we went over the P.O.W. camp museum and memorial.  Geoje Island was used as a P.O.W. camp during the Korean war, and it was interesting to see old pictures and some information about the camp and its inhabitants.  A lot of the signs had a very, very clear South Korean slant, talking about how wonderful life was for the P.O.W.s and such.  I thought it would have made a great focus for a project in my sociolinguistics class a few years ago, where I had to visit a museum and comment on the narrative that the museum presented - what themes they highlighted and what details they glossed over or spun to fit in with the overall story.  

Tackiest possible exhibit at an old P.O.W. camp?

Anyway, we were a little disappointed with the museum, but we did enjoy the Geoje gift shop nearby, where Steve and Sue found some more souvenirs, and I bought a great silk purse.  We got home fairly early and had time to rest up before dinner out with John and Glenda, followed by a trip to the Lounge, a bar we've visited before, where we played pool and darts and spent some time "singing" karaoke.  

Saturday was our last full day on Geoje Island.  We got a late start and then headed to the nearby memorial of a Korean Naval victory.  We can actually see the monument from our apartment, so I had some idea of what to expect, but there's actually quite a nice park surrounding the memorial as well.  It would be a perfect place for a picnic with a great view when the weather gets warmer again.  There were two Korean toddlers there with their mothers, and we had a great time watching them run around.  We also had a chance to show Steve and Sue the Buddha park that's the destination of my runs these days.  I think they enjoyed the peaceful park and its location in the countryside.

On Sunday, we took a morning ferry to Busan to drop Steve and Sue off at the hotel.  They had a very early flight on Monday morning, so we let them settle in and get organized, and we took the subway back to the ferry terminal area to do some shopping.  It was cold, rainy day (the first of the trip - how's that for luck!), and we had a great time walking around under my umbrella, especially when we discovered the little market stalls tucked back in the streets off of the main shopping drag.  We made it back to the ferry with plenty of time to spare (yes, this is a noteworthy event for us), and arrived home tired but happy with how our first visitors' stay had turned out.  Bring on the masses! 


Jamie said...

I can't believe you SAW JAPAN! That's so neat! I can't wait to come visit you!

KIM! said...

that POW camp picture is CLASSY! I need to take my photo there! Is summer time a good time to visit Korea? I may have to look into flight prices... my feet are getting itchy to go somewhere exciting. :) happy new year!

chrissy said...

It sounds like you guys had a great time! I'm looking forward to reading more of your adventures in 2009! Happy New Year!

spp said...

Great Work Ellen. I really enjoyed reading your account of our visit. I can't believe it has taken me until 01/02/09 to read about our December visit. Thanks for providing such great detail. It is like reliving the trip as I read your daily records. SPP

Emily said...

It's so good to read your posts, Ellen! I realized when you commented on my blog how good it felt, and then immediately felt a pang of guilt that I lurk here instead of posting. I love coming to read your adventures. And I have to agree with Jamie, being able to see Japan just somehow blew my mind. What adventures you are having!!