Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Picnics and Railbikes

So much has happened since I last wrote! I guess I'll just focus on the main things.

On Sunday, we went to church. It's not terribly exciting for me, since I don't understand anything, so I took my Greek bible and tried translating some verses. After church, we all drove to a treeful park for a picnic. They set up picnic mats with small grills (think lidless, round George Foremans) all over. Four to six people would sit around each grill. Older people and families would have thier own mats, but the thirty or so college students all sat together with lots of grills. They would grill this meat that looks like really thick, really fatty bacon that doesn't crisp. When it was cooked, we'd dip it in a red sauce, put it on a leaf, add some rice, and shove it in our mouth. It was pretty tasty.

After eating, they had a bunch of games! I participated in a sack race relay where we had to eat flour-dipped candies at the end! My team lost every game we played until the tug-of-war at the end. We were the smaller team but somehow managed to win! They gave away prizes like tea-pots, kleenex boxes, and giant packages of toilet paper. I won a lunch box.

Then it was time for the married men to play the college guys in "soccer volleyball." It looks really fun! I would like to do that instead of volleyball at my next picnic. I talked to a guy named Sang-no for a long time, which was nice. His English was very good! He wants to be a doctor and maybe go to America, since doctors aren't as respected in Korea. Most of the people don't know very much English. They'll say "hi" and "nice to meet you" and that's about it. A couple of them can say a little more than that, but they're pronunciation is very interesting. I'm not always sure if they're speaking Korean or English, and I have to concentrate very hard.

I'm very impressed with the way the church interacts here. The building seems to be open most of the time, and there's always people running around doing things. A bunch of guys are working on building up the front railing and walkway, and they work all day! We (me, Sarah, and her dad) ate lunch with all the workers one day. They also have a dorm for college guys on the third floor. It's a very active church.

Yesterday (Monday) was a very active day. Sunday night after the picnic we drove two hours to the coast. We went out on the beach that night to take pictures and run around in the sand. A bunch of people were setting off fireworks, and there were several fortune teller booths. We spent the night at Sarah's aunt's house. They are very nice people. For breakfast, they tried to make me special food so they gave me sweet potatoes, apples, milk, and grape juice. I like Korean food, but I don't especially like eating it for breakfast, so I was happy to eat the other stuff.

We first visited a fish market. They have a lot of fish, of course, but my favorites were the octopuses! They have buckets and buckets of octopuses around, ready for sale. I tried to take a picture of one, but the lady stopped me. Sarah didn't know why she wouldn't let me, but another lady did the same thing. Finally, one lady explained that there's a superstition that if someone takes a picture of your products that the store will do badly. She didn't believe in it, so she let me take a picture of her octopi.

After that we drove a couple more hours to this little mountain town. Korea is extremely hilly/mountainy. It reminds me of Colorado sometimes. I haven't seen a single flat place since we've been here. Anyway, a couple that lives there is a friend of Mr. Kim's. They got us a reservation on the Railbike. Apparently you usually have to reserve at least three days in advance, since it's so popular, but the couple called for us and got us tickets.

The railbike was really fun. It runs on an old rail line, and we have to peddle to make the little car go. It winds through the mountains and is pretty great. Just wait for the pictures.

Afterwards we went to a restaurants with the couple and ate some mixed rice wich is a specialty of the region. Mr. Kim and the couple got in a fight over who paid. The old man grabbed Mr. Kim's foot while the old lady ran up to the front to pay. We went down the street to get coffee, and Mr. Kim won that time. Sarah told me that the old lady told her husband that he wasn't being polite because he let Mr. Kim win.

Then it was market time. We drove another forty-five minutes to go to another town where they have a traditional market. Stuff was crammed everywhere, and there were all sorts of interesting things. Dried squid, all sorts of roots, leaves, beans, mandrake roots, fish, etc. We bought some fry-dough with brown sugar in the middle.

After that we went to a free performance. It was a drama about three sisters, and it used the traditional songs to sing a lot of it. The songs are really minor and wailing, and Sarah said that the purpose of them was to help the people forget their sadness or their hunger. Sarah would translate a bit of what was said so I would know what was going on. It was so sad! The main actress was so good that she made me want to cry even though I didn't really know what she was saying. In the end, the two younger sisters were on different sides, North and South Korea. They were fighting each other, and the oldest sister stepped in between them, getting killed in the process. The two sisters hugged each other, and the whole cast sang a song about their longing for reunification. Lots of people were weeping at the end.

Well, that was really long. If you get through all of that, I congratulate you.


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