Well, first I wanna apologize if my life and subsequent blogging have been less than amusing. It's not that I'm not happy... on the contrary, things are going really well in general. It's just a quiet kind of happiness, is all.
Sunday, Mi Sun and I went to Yeoju. We had a lot of fun, and learned some stuff about Korean history while we were at it. Yes, I did say "we"... she'd never been to these places either, it turned out. First, we went and visited the birthplace of Korea's last empress, Empress Myeongseong. There's a little museum and a park there, and a bunch of buildings. Although, as it turns out, only one of the buildings is original -- the rest are reconstructions in the style of the period etc... But still, kinda cool. It's a pretty big compound, with lots of different houses for different generations, servants, separate ones for men and women even. And, even better, most of the captions and explanations are in both Korean and English. And this Korean family came up to ask us to get a picture of them... and, for some reason, they asked me. In English. And Mi Sun kinda looked at me, like... really?! Awesome. Maybe I just look friendlier. =)
Next we went to the tomb of King Sejong the Great. He's famous here; he invented their alphabet. Which is one of the UNESCO Heritage Great Accomplishments of the History of Mankind or some such -- anyway, suffice to say that Koreans are very proud and patriotic when it comes to this guy. Again, park, museums, and a garden with replicas of some of his other inventions. For example: a scientifically accurate rain-gauge, several different kinds of sundials, and some astronomical-type doohickies that allow you to measure the movements of the sun and moon and planets. Very cool, I gotta say. I think the coolest one was a sundial that sits in a shallow pool of water and uses magnets to align itself. You know, a sundial won't really work unless you turn it to the absolutely correct angle, which is probably a pain in the ass to figure out if you're travelling and want to say... watch reruns of the Drew Carey Show at 4:00 on TBS. Well, setting aside your obvious lack of taste, you could absolutely do that with Sejong's watery sundial. You just set it up somewhere flat and the magnets turn the whole thing to the right angle for you, and there you go! Bam -- instant comedy. Unintentional, sometimes, but whatever. We did walk through the park, past a lake, up a hill and up a few flights of stairs to see his actual tomb. Well, it's just a huge burial mound set way up high overlooking his hometown, but pretty neat. It reminded me of Cahokia Mounds; if you grew up in Marion you probably took a field trip there at some point. So, yeah, it's like that. But, you know... Korean.
Oh, another cool thing -- the first book written in Hangeul was there... well, no. These are copies, but still -- it's pretty awesome to see the birth of a new alphabet taking over an established language. There was an early dictionary too, with the new Hangeul letters and then explanations of their pronunciation and usage in Hanja (Chinese characters). It struck me kinda funny to think of Koreans having to explain how to write and say their letters using way more complicated and difficult letters to do it, but I guess they got their point across.
Next, we went to the Riverside Carnival. It actually is called that, but in Korean, you know. But yeah -- they had an archery range, bumper cars, cotton candy, little spinny and swingy and bumpy rides for the kids, and a Viking Ship -- you know, the giant ship that hangs from a center bar, and rotates back and forth, and so you go up and then freefall back down and around the other side, then fall backwards, rinse repeat. That was like, the worst explanation ever. Good thing it's the same in the States as it is here. So we did that, got some ice cream, and sat in a little park and watched the kids running around and playing badminton and whatnot. We walked down by the river, I tried to show her how to skip stones but it wasn't working too well (for either of us, actually) so we bailed and drove over to Silleuksa Temple. I guess she figured our funtime intermission was over, and back to the history lesson. Now, unfortunately, the World Ceramic Exposition is still going on, in both Yeoju and Icheon. You may remember that this is the most boring festival ever. Well, crap. And of course this is happening right next to the Temple she wanted to show me. We actually found a really close parking spot, I think because it was getting late and a lot of people were leaving. So we walked for a ways, down the street, through some trees and gardens, past a lake (yes, for the second time -- there are lots of little lakes around here, apparently), and we come to the gate of the temple. Now, at this point, Mi Sun says, "Oh! We have to pay to get in!" (Like, all surprised! I guess she didn't expect that.) "But there's really nothing to see in there... let's just leave." So... um, yeah. We left. Haha... it was probably for the best though, cause we were both pretty hungry by that time. We stopped at Mr. Pizza and ate some tacos and chimichangas, then headed back to Janghowon. I read for a while and went to bed early, cause I had to teach today.
For those of you who are wondering if that's a typo or some kind of Freudian slip up there... well, I's just seein if ya'll are payin attention. Of course we had pizza at Mr. Pizza. Duh...
And for those of you who just glossed over it without going "Wha-wha-what?!?" while your eyes bugged out a la Looney Tunes, well... haha! Gotcha! =Þ
Coming up next time, by request, some cultural phenomena and oddities and such. Come on back now, ya hear?