Friday, October 30, 2009

Autumn in Andong!!

I t's been one hellava week (month, year), and it's only by the grace of God you and I have lived to see this Friday night. And finally, I have some photos that might be of interest to you--In high-def!

As much as my ego would love you to come here to read my brilliant thoughts and ideas about an endless variety of subjects, “Subisu” is a picture-based blog; an electronic scrapbook; a small glimpse of Korea through my eyes. It's inappropriate to stray too far too long off-topic.

But if there's nothing good on TV, your friends are out of town, the kids are sleeping over at Grandma's, the wife's not “in the mood”, you've checked your e-mail twice, and you've said your prayers, you can bookmark and stay tuned to a woman who bears the burden of always being right!

 So, the N1H1 virus keeps rolling on. Here in Ulsan, the Onggi (pottery) Festival, and the World Music Festival have both been canceled. Many events have been canceled nationwide because (I've heard) the government feels an event for more than 1,000 people (especially international visitors) poses too much of a health risk.

A couple weeks ago, my school was closed early for one day so it could be disinfected after one of the 6th grade students was a confirmed case, and I'm told, some other students have recently tested positive as well.

The head teacher of my school advised me today to be careful to stay healthy, and to call her and go to the hospital immediately if I have a fever.

Today made me think that perhaps I have taken too much of a laissez-faire attitude about N1H1, though, I did buy a couple bottles of the hand sanitizer thats' been doing brisk business around here. Also, the hypochondriac in me blitzkriegs even the suspicion of illness with meds, water, and vitamins. I can't afford to get sick. I'm a foreigner who lives all alone with no Mother to nurse me, and it's an inconvenient pain in the a$$ to get an appointment with an English-speaking doctor in the best of times. We're not in Seoul anymore, folks.

My semi-quarantine of social anxiety is pulling its weight at last.

So...last weekend, I finally went on another TaLK program culture tour. This time to experience the scenic autumn beauty of Andong. Wanna see?

No great journey can begin properly without meat--and you've got good odds when you begin your journey with some high-grade Korean beef. 

"Eat me!"

Next, we were taken to a hanji (traditional Korean paper) factory.  The secrets of how to make it may be lost soon, as the people who know are an aging, shrinking community.   

The paper on the left is a letter that was found in an ancient tomb.  It's a sad letter a young wife wrote to her husband after his untimely death; leaving her with a young child and pregnant with another!  Our guide told us that in part of the letter she says "You told me we were going to live together until our hair turned gray.  Why did you leave me first?"  

The paper on the right is a chart for learning Chinese characters.

Apparently, Queen Elizabeth II visited this factory and this part of the country last year.  In the photo below she politely accepts local hospitality.  She doesn't look too thrilled, although; lets face it, she was never known for her warmth. 

Next, we went to a traditional village theatre, where there was an outdoor play.  The place was packed, so I gave up trying to watch, and waited outside.   

More kimchi than you know what to do with!

"Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves"

Later, after settling into Hotel Punggi, some of us took in some local color (some old guy making derrogetory comments about foreigners), and went to the norae yeonseubjang (Karaoke parlor).   I got a perfect score for "Gettin' Jiggy with it." 

I got a kick out of the nightshift guy's lego Jack Sparrow sweatshirt, so I took a picture.  He was as bashful as any young maiden I've ever met!

Next day we went to the grounds of an old college, and nearby museum.

Here there was a row of statues, each representing the different years in the Chinese zodiac.  I'm with my doggie.  Why couldn't I have been born in a cooler year like "tiger" or "dragon?"  But I suppose "year of the dog" is preferable to "year of the rat" or "pig". 

Later, we were taken to a park.  Our tour guide explained the history of the park, and it's treasures, but I've mostly forgotten. 


For some reason, these apple here remind me of the apple trees in "Farm Town" on Facebook. 

Andong apples are famous for their sweetness and juiciness.  We were allowed to pick some from an orchard to take home.  And I did, but I gave most of them to my coworkers at school.

Lastly, we were taken back to Ulsan, and had dinner at a restaurant called "Tofu Village".  It was a good tour.  We got to see a lot of the beautiful Korean countryside in autumn, and got to take in some experiences which would be unlikely otherwise.  You'll never hear me complain about a tour.  Free travel, food, and sometimes lodging is not something to complain about!!  The fresh air did me good, I think--for I had not been feeling too well the previous week, but felt a lot better by Monday after this culture tour.  Cheers!!      

During the tour, I will add, it was painfully obvious how most of the people I knew and loved from last year have since returned to their own countries and their separate lives. Now, I've gotta be nice to a new group of people made up largely of strangers. Times were better when I could subject the old group of people to my abuse and neglect.

“Make new memories.” you say? Why reinvent the wheel??!!!


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