Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Yeosu, Korea - Day 2

A whirlwind of day! We slept in a little bit, but it still was not enough for Grace, and we had to
wake her up by cell phone since we did not have a cardboard tube...

We started with a walking tour of Grace's neighborhood; her street has a bunch of restaurants and bars. We were fascinated by all the tanks of fish and octopus lining the edge of the pavement. Our favorite restaurant name was "Hello Duck!"

We headed down the fairly steep hill to the water's edge to take a look at the bay and all the boats. From there, we headed along the edge of the basin toward a historically significant site on the other side where the famous Turtle Ships were built (more on that later). Along the way, we stopped to examine and poke all the jellyfish floating just at the surface. The coastal exploration continued past the historical site and into undeveloped nature.

As lunch time approached, some friends of Grace's called and wanted to join us, so we headed up
a dirt path to cut through some smaller farms and get back to civilization. Our meeting spot was one of Grace's favorites which specialized in tofu. As you can tell from looking at the photo album, the focus of the trip was food. We tried to take photos of every meal before it was demolished.

All the food was great in Korea! It was interesting, spicy, tasty, and even more. I won't bore you with glowing descriptions; there were just too many. I will put captions with the photos that will help highlight our eating delights. The main thing about Korean eating is that with every dish you order - small or large- you also get a large number of side dishes of kimchii, other pickled vegetables, and numerous other random treats. It is hard to not eat too much, and it keeps on
coming. Eating in Japan is not like that, and I think we would not have lost as much weight if we had moved to Korea.

As Joan had asked Grace about organic farming and vegetables, we decided to take a taxi to the open air market in town and see what was for sale. It reminded us of shopping in Thailand and Kazakhstan: a kaleidoscope of colors, sounds, and smells - especially the smells in the fish section! It was probably good that we had already eaten because we would have bought way too much of all the interesting looking foods.

Grace's first school was just across the road and up the hill, so we walked over and got a tour.
The building and the grounds reminded me a great deal of Kazkakstan, as well as Olivia, the teacher who had been Grace's "Korean mother." She was almost exactly like the friendly, helpful teachers at Joan's school in Kyzylorda.

One funny side note: there were many students running around, probably 11 or so. They were really energetic and noisy. They were also not shy like the Japanese students we have met. In fact, there they were so not shy that when they walked past me, they all reached out and stroked my forearm, commenting in Korean on how I was hairy like a bear or a monkey.

Then it was back to the market for more window shopping. We met up with Jack who had finished classes and sauntered about, ducking into stores and browsing the aisles. We bought a mix cd of Korean dance music that has proven to be a good souvenir.

On the other side of the shopping area was Jinnamkwan, the largest single story wooden
structure in Korean - LSSWK as we called. The current version was built in the 1700s but is originally much older. Wars and accidental fires have destroyed it many times.

Grace then suggested we take a taxi to visit a replica of a famous Korean "Turtle Ship." This was an early form of armored wooden fighting ship that had proved very effective against the
Japanese in ancient times. It is quite an impressive sight with metal spikes everywhere and even a dragon figure head that would have had a smoke and belched clouds of noxious smoke.
From there, we walked up and over a big hill to one of Grace's favorite hangouts, a cafe overlooking Yesosu. Our feet were very tired from sightseeing, so it was a welcome relief to sit in the shade and gaze over the city and have a cold drink. We sat there for about two hours and just talked about life in general. It was really nice to spend some time with Jack and get to know him better. He is a really nice guy, and we told Grace he was a keeper, even if he did dress like a baggy, French mime the whole visit...

Then it was time for more food - a major theme of the trip. We taxied to The Chicken Palace for a feast of BBQ chicken cooked at our table with veggies with the inevitable array of side dishes.
Footsore, tired and full, we staggered home, took showers and went to bed early. The next day's plan was a morning hike up a mountain and an afternoon at the beach.

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