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8 June 2005
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KLB - Ganghwa-do (2)

Ah, the joys of keeping an online journal. You spend hours getting your pictures ready and writing your post, a little excited to share your adventures with everyone, hoping to bring some joy to your readers, only to wind up with comments like "You are gay! --Anonymous" or "Shut up loser! Nobody cares! --No Name Joe." Well, once again I don't have to worry about that anymore, so here we go. Back to the Ganghwa trip.

Oh, some of you were wondering how we decided on Ganghwa-do and where the hell is it, basically. We started by using this famous website among expats for travelling in Korea. Then I stumbled upon the Ganghwa-do page. We discovered it's not that far away and so we then checked the island's homepage. Next we watched the rather over-the-top, almost preposterous "cyber tour video" that you just have to see by going here and clicking on the link to the left. You'd basically think Ganghwa Island is the epicenter of the world after watching that, my favorite lines being, (you have to hear the narrator's dramatic voice and the background music to fully appreciate this): "It is a place full of hope for the future," and, "You can learn about the history of Korea and the origins of mankind!" No way! You got me sold!

Even though their directions to the island are horrible as they have you getting off the bus in the middle of nowhere, it's still a nice place, but man, that video is misleading! There was absolutely no English anywhere on that island. Even the tourist center woman in one of the bus stations couldn't speak a word! And, by sheer luck, we found another bus back to Seoul that made the trip in half the time and departed directly from the ferry terminal!

It wasn't until we left the next day that we had any idea what the hotel looked like. Well, turns out it looked kind of big and creepy. I forgot to mention in the last post that they turned off the power to the air conditioner and water tank during the night, so I woke up at 7 in the morning, sweaty and thirsty and had to drink warm water. I kept thinking maybe we blew a fuse so I went downstairs to complain. After waking up the ajushi, he acted annoyed and told me to open the window. "No air con!" I thought that was petty, but I guess most Koreans don't sleep with any kind of fan running, for fear of the infamous "fan death."

The sun was pouring in on that side of the building and there was no breeze. Fortunately, I did finally get back to sleep, though, and the guy was nice when we were leaving, giving us free maps and telling us where to go.

Walking down the side of the road, we got this picture of one of the many rice paddies. They are nice to look at, but this island must be hell with mosquitoes come August. That water is stagnant. Though, maybe it's all harvested by then, I have no idea.

We found our way to the bus terminal, pointed to one of the islands on our map and ended up on a bus.

Then we ended up on a ferry. The ferries were really cheap and convenient, coming every 15 minutes or so.

Ah, mountains and the ocean, this time up close. It was a really nice ferry ride, albeit short.

It was also hot that day, I was sweating even on the boat. This is kind of a nice shot though, with the mountain and the birds in the background. Hi, Mom!

After arriving in the middle of nowhere again we hopped on another bus and ended up here, in the middle nowhere.

Um, OK, I like fresh seafood and all, this stuff was still alive, but I hope there is more around here than this.

OK, over here: lots of old women selling stuff. Actually, this reminded me a lot of Koje Island.

Let's have a closer look. Hmmm, some dried baby shrimp, anchovies, mushrooms, ginseng and, well, weeds I guess. I decided not to post the picture of hundreds of flies buzzing about. John was telling me that flies poop through their feet...mmm! Fly poop!

What else is around here. Ah, lots of brown jugs. Can't get any more exciting than this...

I had to check. Yeap, all full of dwen jang, rotting in the hot sun. Man that looks good, and I'm not joking. I love dwen jang chigae. I wanted to buy this whole jar!

OK, at last we found the attraction. Lots of steps leading up into who knows where.

It wasn't an easy climb. It seemed to go up forever. That was half the fun, though, not knowing what we were doing or what we would see. So far we didn't do too bad. About halfway up we came across these nice temples.

Lots more pics of this place coming shortly, though I narrowed things down quite a bit. We left the island with a whopping 200 pictures. I think I will post about 15 or so more in the next update and end it there. Lots of other things to come too.

In other news, today was my last day at my elementary school, at least for the time being. It made everything a lot easier since I'm coming back (but you never know). The kids didn't take it too bad. In fact my A class was simply off the wall today. They really need to close the windows and get the air con working. It's just too hot in there for kids to study, not to mention much too noisy with kids playing and screaming outside and a traditional drumming class next door. I swear I couldn't wait for that class to end and I kept thinking I never want to go back there. That was until the next few class, when everything calmed down and the kids were much better. By the time D-class came I was sad. A bunch of the little girls started crying, and then I teered up myself. It would have been a rough day had they thought I wasn't returning - for them and me. Probably more so for me. I'm such a wimp with goodbyes.


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