Wednesday, May 6, 2009

친목회 at Mungyeong Saejae.

Once again having the free time to do so, I'm studying Korean in full swing, so I'm trying to remember/recognize/recall the words I hear and learn in daily life. I was proud of myself for correctly guessing from context that 전통 (jeon tong) means "traditional." This means my blog will contain more hangeul than it previously did. Our apologies in advance to non-Korean readers. I'll try to make sure I'm still always in English.

Today I went with my co-workers on a 친목회 (chin mok hwoe, a friendship meeting or social gathering) to Mungyeong (문경), a small town north of Daegu, but still in the Gyeongsangbuk province (경상북도).

The town is famous for two things. First, it is the filming location for a historic drama. Second, it contains a historic mountain path with three gates, the 문경새재 과거 길, an important road connecting the province with Seoul by uniting the Han River with the main river in Gyeongsangbukdo. This path is a little less than 7 km from the first to the third gate, and this was our intended destination for a late-spring stroll and staff bonding session.

The third gate. Our first sign of the historic path.


After the students suffered through three finals, we all grabbed a quick lunch in the cafeteria and hopped onto some very luxurious buses for the two hour ride out to the town. Upon arrival, we hiked uphill for about thirty minutes to the third gate, which would be the beginning of our little venture (yes, that's the hike in addition to the 7km walk--my legs hurt). Everything was very green, beautiful, and peaceful.

All along the path, there ran a clear mountain stream. You can see how clear the water is in this picture.


The second gate, tucked away in a shady spot.


Finally we arrived at the fake village that's used as the drama set, only to find a tea bowl festival taking place. While walking for well over 7 km in peaceful serenity may make you want to avoid a crowded, dirty festival, it certainly makes a cup of tea welcoming.

Ladies in hanboks serve us lotus and green tea.


The first gate, through which you can see the festival, looking the worse for the wear--No thanks!


Dinner was at a tofu soup place with awesome pajeon. I stuffed myself silly and other teachers got drunk (inebriated, as I taught the tipsy English teachers, sloshed, tittled, soused, pickled, intoxicated, wasted, trashed... and so on). We did not arrive back home until just as taekwondo would be starting. So although I had planned to make tonight my grand return after the month I took off to complete the grad school stuff, I had to call Kwanjangnim and apologize profusely (much to the entertainment of my fellow teachers who got to listen to my bad phone Korean).

I spent most of the walk with William. It was nice to have a non-work-related conversation with him (though I guess you could say we have those often enough at work anyhow). Check out the rest of my photos in the album for some peace and tranquility:

Mungyeong Saejae


On another note, I've decided to start updating that "Foreigner" Fitness blog I started with Jen a bit ago. Don't know if she'll start, too, but good lord I need somewhere to talk about all the medical/health stuff I'm dealing with right now, but I don't want to get this blog all dirty with irrelevant scatological discussions. Check it out if you want to read about such things, but I highly suggest you don't. I wouldn't want to read about it, and I'm freaking LIVING it.

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