“Most of the time, beauty lies in the simplest of things.” ~ Winna Efendi, The Journeys
12.20.13 - 12.21.13
For the most part the end of the year has come and gone for my students. They've had their finals and most students have checked out. There are still classes but it's mostly fluff. We have started our winter break which means that all in all the students will only have two weeks of actual classes before the school year officially ends. Yay!
To celebrate the end of the year all the teachers (well most of them all the way) went on an overnight trip to bond and relax together at the close of the year. Bonding I understand but the trip was far from relaxing.
We ended up going Sokcho. It is on the eastern coast of Korea. It has beautiful beaches and a forest that people hike to see. It was a very pretty weekend, despite the freezing temperatures from the snow, and I did enjoy the trip. I would have enjoyed my weekend free from school responsibilities more but you do what you have to. In the world of foreign English teachers in Korea you learn a few things. For instance, if you are offered food, take and eat it. It is incredibly rude not to. If your boss tells you that you "should" do something that actually means, you must do this if you want to stay on their good side. These kinds of teachers' outings fall into the category of "should" events. I was in no way forced to go but without a very good reason I had to go.
We left at 3pm on Friday afternoon. It took about three hours to make it to Sokcho. We didn't have anything except dinner planned as a group so we settled into our hotel rooms and then went down to meet up for dinner. Since we were on a coast and in an area known for their fish every meal we consumed had some sort of fish in it. The first thing? Raw fish. Yup. Sushi style but without the rice and seaweed to make it at least bearable. But my shining moment? I ate raw squid. It was so fresh it was still moving around a bit on the plate when they brought it to us.
It wasn't that bad actually. I can't say I will ever do it again but if you are given the opportunity I suggest taking advantage of any and all cuisine despite how different it seems.
It started to snow while we ate and after dinner I took a short stroll across the street to watch the waves and play a bit in the snow. I am glad I had this time with my fellow teachers though, it was very nice actually getting to know some of the other teachers in my school.
I took a lot of pictures of this boat that was pulled up on the shore. I wish it wasn't as cold as it was because I could have stayed on that shore and listening and watched the enormous waves for hours. I guess it was better that it was cold then... There were a couple of lighthouses and the one directly in front of me had a blinking green light. I felt like Gatsby starring into the distance. Don't know what was supposed to represent Daisy though...
As if my Gatsby moment wasn't enough to show my geeky side I solidified my geeks ranks with my next move. While some other teachers were busy writing their names in the snow I took the time to write a really special message.
You're welcome. If you know why that is geeky we may remain friends... if not we have to re-evaluate our relationship.
The next day we woke up and ate breakfast. Which for these Koreans means a nice bean sprout and fish soup... yumm... just what I like bright and early in the morning...
The view made up for breakfast though.
After breakfast we headed to the ocean to take in the view. It, also, was very much worth waking up so early on a Saturday.
After our quick rendez-vous with the ocean we boarded the bus to head to a nearby mountain for a nice quick hike. And by quick I mean a few hours and by nice I mean 'why oh why are you doing this to me????'
But before our nice quick hike could commence we had to get up to the certain part of the mountain. Thanks to the snow that proved quite difficult. Our bus got stuck and ended up not being able to go forward and couldn't turn around.
We spent a good forty-five minutes as the bus tried to figure out how to turn around or if it could go forward. I took quite a few pictures of the snow and we found some cute puppies but ultimately the bus realized it couldn't do anything. The bus driver ended up reversing down the mountain and we teachers followed on foot. That was definitely interesting because it was a long while before the bus found a place it could turn around.
We just got a pre-hike before our official hike. Now this hike wasn't exactly bad but it was really cold and I don't like hiking. It was about 4 kilometers one way, completely uphill, and cold, did I mention cold?
There were some beautiful trees though.
Apparently the end result, a forest of white (I think) birch trees, is famous in Korea. It was nice but I am not sure I would ever care to do it again.
Well, that's not true, I would maybe go back in the fall. I bet it could be very creepy in the right circumstances, especially around Halloween. One thing I can say with utmost certainty though is I did not get much bonding done on the hike. Apart from trying to keep breathing I wasn't exactly in a chatty mood. Did I mention that it was really cold? I froze during the hike and I froze on the bus ride home. I was cold until I took a shower that night after I got home.
Why a teacher's bonding trip had to be held in the middle of December outside in the snow is beyond me. At least the trip did was it was supposed to and I actually talked with more of my fellow teachers! Huzzah!
Until the next time...