Sunday, December 18, 2011

weekend update: DMZ, bulgolgi & a downgraded splash mtn. adventure

whoa, what a busy weekend. all the TaLK teachers in my province got to meet up together for a cultural trip at the DMZ. it was full of delicious food, so many museums, and secret (illegal) picture taking. 

(we stayed at the Peace Life Valley Center. it is a plot of land that is part garden-musuem-hotel-convention center. it's located just miles from the DMZ and tries to promote all forms of peace. peace with yourself, peace with nature, and peace with others. with that kind of motivation, the whole center was solar powered and beautifully designed to coincide with the environment that surrounded it. above is the room that i stayed in. cotton sleeping pads and blankets are pretty common for korean hotels. way nicer than a jimjibang, but still not quite the same as a bed.)

(our fantastic POE, or the guy that is in charge of all the teachers in the province, had a full day planned for us. we ended up going to 4 different museums in one day. holy moly right?)

(pottery discovered in the area from 3,000 BC at at prehistoric ruin museum. double holy moly.)

(persimmon paintings. i don't think i'd ever seen a persimmon in real life before korea. in goseong they grow everywhere. at first i had no idea what the heck they were. but now i have tried them in all forms. raw, dried and smoothied. i didn't like them at first, but they are surely growing on me. also, they're a super bizarre looking fruit. most aren't ripe until late fall, early winter when all the tree's leaves have fallen. they look like alien plants growing fruit on bare branches.)

(museum employee.) 

(another curator. so chic.)

(VIP room at a museum. piiiiiimpin.)

(the bus we drove around in)

(because we were so close to the DMZ, the military presence was strong. we had to stop at checkpoints and ask for permission to pass and soldiers checked out the bus.)

(the food was delicious. 
bulgolgi (korean beef) stew above and bibimbap (rice and mtn vegetables) below.)

 and then we finally made it to the DMZ. it stands for the DeMilitarized Zone. it's the policed border between south korea and north korea. a lot about it reminds me of the berlin wall. so during the korean war and as recently as the 1980's, north korea attempted to attack south korea by bypassing the DMZ with underground tunnels. so far south korea has detected 4 different tunnels before they actually reached south korean soil. we got to visit one and actually go inside the tunnel.

(the entrance to the tunnel)
all photos were forbidden and were policed by soldiers, but luckily i read my camera manual the day before and learned how to turn off all noises and flashes while taking a picture. heh heh.

 (my girl claire dancing in the tunnel entrance)

 (we had to get on this rickety SUPER sketchy baby railroad car (imagine the little trains that babies can ride at the zoo) which took us through the actual tunnel that the north koreans had dug. it was real bumpy, everything was wet and muddy and potentially dangerous. we saw marks from the dynamite used and north korean railroad tracks.)

OVERALL OPINION: the perfect start to jam-packing as much korean culture as i can in my last weeks.

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