Saturday, March 29, 2008

A Saturday in Yangdong

After the week I've had, I knew I needed some fun today. So when my friend Clare suggested a trip to Yangdong Folk Village, I eagerly agreed. It's a really neat village about forty minutes from here by bus, still technically in Gyeongju. Many of the buildings are from the eighteenth century, there is a national treasure to see, and there are cute thatched roof houses. Perfect fodder for the eager eyes of a history major!

The day did not get off to the greatest of starts. Owing to a marathon that was being run today, I got to the bus terminal (where I was to meet Clare) almost ten minutes late. I looked around, and couldn't find Clare anywhere. I waited and waited as twenty minutes slipped by, convinced that something had gone wrong and I would be spending the day alone back at my apartment. Then Clare came breathlessly running over, also having been delayed by the marathon. Boy was I relieved to see her!

We took the bus to Yangdong for 1,000 won (less than one dollar). It was a scenic ride through countryside, surrounded by mountains. I don't know how I'll ever be happy living elsewhere after being so thoroughly spoiled by all this Korean beauty!

The village was fascinating to walk around. There are over 160 homes and buildings built amongst a beautiful forest, about sixty of which are well over two hundred years old. It was like stepping back in time into the Joseon Dynasty! We ate lunch in an adorable little restaurant being run out of someone's home. We walked all over the place, enjoying the fascinating architecture, lovely flowers, and stunning views, and even had the opportunity to hike on some rather steep "trails" (the jury is still out on whether they were actually meant to be trails). Click here to see pictures of Yangdong.

After spending the day in Yangdong, we decided to hitch-hike home rather than wait for the bus. We got lucky on our first attempt, and the very friendly driver took us all the way back to Dongchundong, which is exactly where we wanted to be. On the way back we passed by our friend Nina, so we called and invited her to join us for bing soo (the yummiest food in the world). It had started to rain a little, so we took a cab downtown and then went to Dark Black Chocolate, a fantastic coffee cafe. There I indulged in the best mochaccino ever, followed by fruit bing soo, which was even better than I had remembered. Afterwards, the three of us did some shopping downtown before finally parting ways at about 10:00.
My bing soo
My mochaccino, complete with a tiger face made out of cream on top.

When I got home, I called my dad and told him of an important decision I have made regarding my future. I asked him to go ahead and sell my car, because I have no intention of living in the US again for at least a few more years. I don't know if I'll stay in Korea that long (although the idea is really appealing), but certainly I am going to stay abroad. This world is just too big and too full of wonderful places for me to move back to America any time soon.

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"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"