Anonymous of Holland            -A Dutchman in Korea-

    Helo welcom 2 my websight

A Trip to Gwangju

A few weeks ago, we could choose to either go to class, or go with the kindergarten kids on a picnic.
As you’d expect, our choice was made rather quickly. Samonim had been riding us all week and there was no way we’d prefer another day of that abuse over a day of taking care of some kids and eating. The only downside was that we would be leaving at 8, but no sleep was a small sacrifice to make for a day off.

That morning, I read on the Korean Tourism Agency’s facebook page that it would rain all day, all over Korea.
You should know that Koreans are very….sensitive?…about their weather. As soon as the calendar says it’s autumn, they will force themselves into believing it’s cold and start wearing their sweaters and jackets. They also like to exaggerate anything that has to do with the weather.
> It’s 22 degrees instead of 26
> “Oh my God it’s so cold today, dress warmly!!”
So when I heard it’d rain ‘all day’, I assumed it would be like the ‘rain’ I’d seen here before, which was pretty much like 20 drops falling randomly somewhere in the city.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case.
I guess Korea does have actual bad weather every now and then after all.
When I opened the window on the morning of the picnic, everything was grey and rain was pouring down by the bucket load.

For a second, we were worried the picnic would be canceled and we’d have to teach after all, even in spite of waking up crazy early. But I was told that the plans would just go on as usual. I guess Korean toddlers are pretty hardcore.
As usual, we arrived late, but as usual it wasn’t much of a problem since it seemed they were still thinking of what exactly they’d be doing now that it was raining so hard. After an hour of just sitting in the back of a van (cool detail; even when everyone is riding a tour bus, we get to sit in the church van with the important people, fuck yeah!) we finally started moving.

We were heading for Gwangju, the nearest big city in this part of the country. It’s about a two hour drive away from Wando. This is how lucky the people living here are; if they want to go to a decent sized city, they have to work for it!
We had been in Gwangju before for the weekend, and I’m glad I decided to go shopping with Norma instead of going with the others to see the Bienale and other museums, because we saw all of them this weekend.
Today, we were visiting the ‘Trick Art’ museum near the Bienale with the kids.
When we got there around 12:00, we first had our lunch. Which was good, because by now I’ve become so Korean that I’m hungry at all times of the day and can eat a full dinner three times. Which is exactly what we do every day, of course.
The kindergarten teachers just threw down some plastic sheets in a sheltered area outside the museum and started unpacking their stuff. In true traditional style, there was craploads of food, including some delicious bulgogi <3

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So we ate deliciously and played with the kids afterwards. I love playing with the kindergarten kids, because unlike the elementary school students, they don’t hate boys yet, so it’s much less hard to have fun with them. They’re also quite easily entertained; a weird face and some jerky body movements go a long way. On top of that, they’re also deadly cute as you have seen in my previous videos.
After lunch (I keep writing (and saying) dinner because every meal here is big as a dinner..) we visited the trick art museum, where we took a bunch of badass pictures:

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When everyone piled into the van again, I asked where we were going next.
“We are going to the jew.”
“The…jew?”
“Uhn, the jew.”
Maybe there’s like this one really famous jew in Gwangju or something? I dunno.
After some time though, we arrived at Family Land, which looked a lot more like a Theme Park than a jew’s house.

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Did you figure out what it meant yet?
They were going to the Zoo in Family Land.
The jew was kind of scabby though, and we could see the small Theme Park across from the Zoo, and our young hearts REALLY felt like riding some attractions instead of looking at caged jews.

Thankfully, the kindergarten director didn’t mind, so she paid our entrance tickets. The park is rather small, and the rollercoaster was closed because of the rain, but we only had about an hour and a half anyway, so it was okay.

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We bought tickets (you have to pay per ride, wtf?) for the Log Flume, Pirate Ship and some crazy rotating bobsled thing.
The park was full of young people, which was nice since that’s one of the things we are severely lacking in Wando. This also meant I could finally enjoy some compliments again. So far, only ajummas and one old guy had called me handsome, but today I could finally hear these words from the mouth of a pretty girl <3 Waiting in line for the Log Flume took a surprisingly long time, but it was very fun because there were lots of young people to talk to who were very interested in us.
You know, when you’re in Seoul, no one looks at you for being a foreigner, but in the more distant areas of Korea, you’re somewhat of a rarity, so it makes you feel like a rockstar. People are staring at you, taking pictures of you and trying to talk to you because you are something new and different. I really, really love this kind of attention, even though I don’t know how to deal with it.

The Log Flume was pretty fancy, it was pretty fast and even had a part that was all dark and stuff. And it didn’t really matter that we got wet, since it was raining anyway.
After that, we went to the Pirate Ship (which was a Viking Ship here, actually) and met some of the girls we had been in line with previously. We had some more awkward conversations before we got on and could enjoy our stomachs being so delightfully weird.
After that, it was kind of time to head back and meet with the kids, but we still had one ticket left and we really wanted to try the crazy bobsled thing because it looked friggin’ RADICAL. So we decided we’d just pretend we’d gotten lost or something and come 20 minutes late. Whoops.
The bobsled thing was worth it though. It sucks that I didn’t take a picture, but it was one of these things that have little cabins hanging from an arm and the central hub rotates like a mofo while the arms swing up and down and make the cabin rock and roll.
….
You know?

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Anyway, after we got out of that, we managed to stumble down to the Family Land entrance to meet with the kids. Luckily no one even noticed we were late, as everyone had been busy buying souvenirs (and, of course, food (we are in Korea after all)). These souvenirs were interesting in itself, especially since one of the kids kept freaking poking me in the ass with one of them.

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[I assure you, it isn’t funny anymore after 10 minutes.]

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[What these rides are supposed to be used for: to make children happy]

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[What these rides are not supposed to be used for: to scare the shit out of children]

The day was coming to a close, but Koreans wouldn’t be Koreans if there wasn’t some chicken to properly end the day. So even though we were in the middle of nowhere, suddenly the kindergarten teachers pulled out their blue plastic sheets, threw them down in the parking lot and whipped out like a dozen boxes of fried chicken.

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I love this country so much.

We started our drive home around 17:00.
When we were almost back in Wando, we got a  phonecall.
Now this happens a lot, and it isn’t usually something bad, but this time it was.
It was Samonim telling us to go do the 19:00 class.
Fu-
cking
Hell.
We were super tired from playing with the kids all day and walking around, and all we wanted to do was sit down on a blanket and do nothing, but of course we had no choice but to comply. So we went to class. And we taught some kids….sort of…
We went to bed early, because the next morning there would be another trip, this time with the youth from the Church!

 

Honestly, I expected there to be more than the 5 people we already knew coming, but I guess they are the only youth population on this wonderful island. The kindergarten teacher was there, the girl who plays the keyboard in church, the guy who sometimes makes me carry stuff, another kindergarten teacher and a new guy I didn’t know.
We all piled into the famous yellow van and headed off to Gwangju again. The ride there was pretty nice, since the guy I didn’t know was very talkative and everyone was in a good mood.

First, we went to this street which name I forgot, but it’s very famous. They even went there on 2 Days 1 Night. I don’t really get it though, since it’s just a dirt road with really tall trees on both sides surrounded by highways. It’s not even peaceful to walk there since there’s a car driving by every .5 seconds. Looks nice on pictures though:

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We spent a whopping 15 minutes there, I think, before everyone balli balli’d back into the van, on our way to eat lunch!

It was 11:30 in the morning, but we were so hungry since we didn’t have breakfast and we’d been up since 7:00. So the bigass dinner-like lunch went down like DELICIOUS MEAT AND RICE. Because, well, it was delicious meat and rice.

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Everyone kept dumping the bones of the steak on my plate because ‘it’s the best part’ and the guest of honor should ‘mani mogo’. It was funny when they cut up even more meat just to dump the bones on my plate, creating a giant heap.
To be honest I’m not a great fan of eating stuff off of bones, but of course I ate all of it to not be impolite.
Lunch was so good that I almost exploded, but there was no time to go to the toilet because we had to balli balli into the van to go to the bamboo forest.

 

The Bamboo Forest is…well…a forest of bamboo.
It’s pretty big, and the bamboo is pretty tall.
It was actually the first time I’ve seen real, growing, bamboo, especially such tall ones, so it was cool.
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We even had a bamboo icecream there, and it didn’t taste like shit! So amazing. I was so stuffed from lunch, but my hyungnim forced me to eat the icecream. “Aniyo, kwinchanayo” “Ahhhh kwinchanayo kwinchanayo!!” (No, I’m okay! -Ahhh it’s okay, it’s okay!!) I was kind of glad he did, because it was a very interesting taste.
Another interesting thing was that apparently some scenes in the Korean horror movie R-Point were shot in this forest. I just watched R-Point like 2 weeks before I came to Korea, so of course I had to take a picture with the sign:

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After the bamboo forest, we went to see the Gwangju Bienale, a huge museum full of modern art.
Of course I didn’t know it would be modern art when we went there though. So when some guy asked me to fill out a survey about the Bienale, I didn’t really know what to comment in the “What do you hope to see at the Bienale?” box. I was kind of pressured too, since the two girls who were with him and also worked for the Bienale started filming me while I was filling out the questionnaire, just because I was white, I guess? He was very thankful I filled it out after I finished, even though he couldn’t even read my answers, so that’s good I guess?

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Anyway, so as I said the Bienale was really, really big, and full of modern art.
We first thought there was only the one hall (the one we entered in) so we took our time, but then it turned out there were FOUR MORE! The group had balli balli’d their ass through it, so we had to hurry up as well. That wasn’t so bad though, because we both couldn’t really appreciate modern art.
I just don’t get it. I’m sure it’s ‘too deep’ for me or whatever, but to me it’s just stupid shit and a lazy way of making ‘art’. Learn to paint or something, asshats.

We did take a lot of pictures though of course, and it was very interesting walking around there, some of it was legitimately cool!

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[Anonymous is even popular in Korea!]

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[Kinda creepy..I felt like she could turn her head around 180 degrees at any moment]

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[Yup, that’s Korean spelling for Netherlands]

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[This is only art because it’s in a museum and not in Myeongdong]

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[This is what I think of your modern ‘art’!]

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[United Schoolgirls]

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[I’m sure there was something very deep and interesting to see/hear inside these cabins..but I’m also sure it would’ve been in Korean so I couldn’t understand it anyway.]

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[A big room where visitors could write on the wall. I am now part of an international exhibition! And I could write it higher than most everyone else because I’m not a tiny korean ㅋㅋㅋ]

After spending a lot of time at the Bienale, we had some time to check out the Gwangju Kimchi Festival that was in the huge park behind the museum. There were dozens of kimchi stands with all kinds of different kimchi there, and you could taste at every one.
Needless to say, I couldn’t feel my tongue or lips anymore after like the third stand, but it was so good!

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In the middle, there was a large stage (but no performances at that time, boo!) and a sort of ‘event tent’, which was filled to the brim with foreigners. I hate to say it, because it is so hypocrite, but I hate seeing foreigners in Korea. Hearing Americunt accents especially pisses me off for some reason. It’s not like I want to be the only white person in Korea, but it just makes me feel stupid when there’s so many at one place, you know?
You don’t know?
It’s okay, it might just be me being weird.
Anyway, in the event tent, there was a tree where visitors could put their messages, so of course we had to leave one.

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Then we went to taste some more kimchi.
This was the first time I had ACTUAL, REAL Korean kimchi that wasn’t crappy old soggy stuff like at church or gentle-for-foreign-customers stuff like in restaurants. This was the real deal, and it was spicy as hell. But so, so good, especially since it was freshly prepared.

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I’m not sure what we did for dinner, but I’m pretty sure we were exhausted by the time we got back home.

The next morning though, we were of course expected in church, so we had to get up early again. We were so tired from getting up early 3 days in a row, but we neatly went to church as was expected of us. Some of our children were there, playing the violin.

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[Hyun Bin on the left, then Yoo Bin and Gun Ha (ajusshi) on the right. Oh man, I miss ajusshi…his mom pulled him out of our class because his grades weren’t improving enough, but he was one of the coolest students there. Always talking about bugs and making jokes and playing interesting games. His English isn’t half bad either.]

 

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This entry was posted on 8 November 2011 by in Korea, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , .

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@emuartspace was probably the most 'homely' (#gezellig) venue I've ever visited, @bowhang_smacksoft was as impressive as expected, @imhyeonjeong enchanted me with her beautiful voice and the duet of @musicsollee (거꾸로도 #이솔이) and #조현정 made me wish they'd spend more time together.

It might be a bit more work trying to find concerts here, but it's definitely worth it. 
#Korean #Seoul #concert #Koreanindie #acoustic #band #guitar #indie #music #indiemusic #Emu #emuartspace #PantaGarage #콘서트 #서울 #황보령 #임현정 #인디 #인디음악 #어쿠스틱 #에무 #에무팡타개라지 #음악 I once heard a tale of a man
who split himself in two.
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