Sunday, 3 October 2010

Between the Acts

What with all the holiday updates we've been putting up recently you'd be forgiven for thinking we don't actually do anything but go on holiday! Of course that's not true, life has been going on much as normal in Gwangju its just we've been so behind with our holiday reports there has been no time to talk about it. So what have we been up to for the last month or so?

Sophie is now the proud owner of a new keyboard. She has decided that she wants to learn the piano and we'd heard from people at our Korean class that there is a massive musical instrument market called Nakwon in Insadong so we went and checked it out. The market is inside a massive old building and spread over three confusing floors that seem to extend forever in all directions. We spent a while browsing and eventually went home with a Yamaha E323 for 260 000 won. On our way home we were going to walk down Insadong-gil, the main shopping street running through Insadong and maybe try some of the delicious tea available around there. But as we got near the streets seemed to be filled with nervous looking riot police and given the Korean reputation for loving a good riot we decided to make ourselves scarce.

Police awaiting the rioters in Insadong, we never saw any rioters, but we didn't wait around for them.

We had a night out in Bundang for an American friend's last night in Korea. It was our first experience of a Korean night club and a pretty good night. We started out with a curry at the Bundang brach of the Agra Taj, it was pretty nice but not a patch on the curry we had in Jeju. After the curry we headed to Travellers bar, a foreigners bar in Bundang, and finally we headed to a club but I was far too drunk by then to remember what it was called.

Reach for the lasers! Me getting my funky thing on in the club in Bundang.

The day after our night out in Bundang we were feeling a little worse for wear so slept until pretty late in the day. Once we finally roused ourselves it was too late to go out anywhere far away so we decided to investigate the nearby fortress in Gwangju. We hopped on the number 15 bus from our local bus stop by the stadium and after a 20 minute scenic bus ride up the hill we found ourselves in a pleasant little tourist village with restaurants, tourist motels and lots of car parks. It was more like something you'd expect to find in the neighbouring province of Gangwon-do than in urbanised Gyeonggi-do. The fortress itself was pretty nice although we only had the chance to walk a little way round the outer wall before we had to go home, but we will definitely return to make a proper day of it before the winter sets in.

The fortress wall. A lot of it was destroyed during the Japanese occupation of Korea and has been rebuilt with rather inauthentic materials.

The east gate of the fortress.

This waterwheel with a little boy weeing on it was in the village just by the bus stop.

We took a trip to Chuncheon with Dean, it was a nice trip although very wet! Chuncheon is a popular place for weekend trips for the university students of Seoul and famous as the home of dak galbi (닭갈비). Dak galbi is a kind of stir fry dish composed of chicken, rice cakes, cabbage and sweet potato in chilli paste cooked in front of you on a big hot plate. It's such a big deal in Chuncheon that there is a whole street of dak galbi restaurants and a dak galbi festival every autumn.

It would be ridiculous to go to Chuncheon and not eat dak galbi so of course we gave it a try, and it was good.

Despite the rain we took a train ride to the adjacent town of Gwacheon where you can do a bit of quad bike/ATV riding and considering all the fun we had on Jeju we had to give it another go.

Sophie down by the river having fun despite having to wear a pink condom style disposable rain coat.

The train station at Gwacheon is one of the few places in Korea where I've seen graffiti. This being low crime Korea it was of course officially sanctioned graffiti.

We stayed the night in a love motel in Chuncheon which had a sex toy vending machine in the corridor!

So as the summer has drawn to an end it has finally stopped raining, the skies are clearer but the temperatures are starting to drop and it seems like that promised Siberian winter is just around the corner. The kids at school are getting crazier and crazier as the year goes on and according to our co-teachers they will just get worse until the new school year starts in March next year. Sophie has started teaching after school classes which she's mostly enjoying. My after school classes are on hold because not enough people signed up which is a shame. We've re-enrolled in Korean classes and it's getting tougher now we're covering some serious grammar. Our English neighbours downstairs are returning to the UK soon which is a shame but we're going to get a Canadian couple in their place so we'll have to see what they're like.

The next post will cover our exciting exploits in Japan where we went for our Chuseok holiday. Chuseok is a traditional Korean holiday, a kind of harvest moon festival, and it means a few days off for us teacher types. Our trip to Japan was only a five day flying visit but it was pretty cool so keep tuned in to read all about it.


  1. Have you just nicked that Quad bike? You always seem to be arsing around on it! Is somebody hunting frantically for their pride and joy as we speak???! :P

  2. We've just discovered that we love riding quad bikes Ed! Sod the environment they're too much fun!