Samchoek

Trip Start May 09, 2007
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Trip End Jun 15, 2007


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Monday, May 14, 2007

We left Donghae this morning and traveled to  Samchoek.  Our new driver is President Kim.  Amy, Susan and I will stay with him and his family for two nights.  The men are staying nearby in another apartment. 

Our first stop was a beautiful ancient pavilion that was renovated in two dynasties.  There was a famous rock here called the Dragon Hole where we posed for photos.  Speaking of photos, I only have a little less than half an hour to update this so the photos will have to wait for another time. 

Next stop was the Cave Expo.  Samchoek is known for many caves and they have an excellent museum, IMAX and informational exhibits in a complex in the downtown area.  We toured through these and watched the movie - in Korean - but the photos were beautiful.  Next stop was near a manmade waterfall for a drink break and then on to our host's home.  His son, age 5, was a carbon copy of his father - they both had perms - and clung to his father for some time.  Eventually he warmed up to us.  Their condo/apartment is on the 10th floor and they have a beautiful view of the surrounding valley.  Mrs. Kim graciously offered to do our laundry, so we left it with her and went off to dinner at one of the Rotary members restaurants.  We ate traditional style - on the floor and other Rotarians joined us.  Afterward, we went upstairs to her tea room and had coffee and tea.  I tried ginseng tea; the others tried a persimmon tea which is good for digestion.  Paul had coffee which is used like dessert here.  It comes out of a machine in little paper cups with cream and sugar already added. 

When we returned home, our host pulled out a little low card table and beer and snacks.  We all sat around and talked through Susan.  It was a nice end to the evening.

Tuesday, we woke to have a Western breakfast of fried egg and jelly sandwiches, tossed salad with thousand island dressing and juice and milk.  It was nice to have bread for the first time in a week.  Then we were off to a new museum, which houses many treasures from around the world.  We had the Kim's 8 year old daughter with us as well as two other young people.  They ended up as our personal tour guides and gave them a chance to use their English.  Korean children begin to learn English at the age of six and study it all through school.  They are not as shy as adults about trying to speak with us.

We ate lunch at the museum and then headed off to the largest cave in the area.  Since I've been having  trouble with steps the Rotarians arranged to drive some of us up part way - the young people hiked up.  Then we had many steep steps up to the cave.  It was very cool in the cave but slippery.  Mr. Kim stayed with me and one of the teens - Hee - she carried a book in with her (reminded me of Kelly).  She didn't want to go in the cave but her mother was along so she had no choice. 

When we left the cave we watched a video at the welcome center and then we headed off to a jinjilban, or sauna.  It felt really good after the day in the cave.  There is whole ritual to the sauna which Amy and I figured out.  Susan started us out and then disappeared to have a massage.  That left us with the 8 year old.  First you wash yourself, then progress through a number of hot pools and a cold pool and a number of dry heat saunas.  I think you wash in between but we were on our own after the first washing so it's still a mystery to me.  Up to this point both sexes are in separate rooms.  Then you go back to your locker and put on a short outfit and go to the unisex hot and cold rooms.  Needless to say, my short outfit didn't fit so I stayed in the upstairs area until they came to get me for dinner.  You can actually stay at this sauna overnight!  We ate traditional style - I had curry - and then the group went to try the ovens and cold room.  I went back upstairs and watched some Korean television. 

When we got home - we were really tired.  Amy and I found that our alarm clocks were missing (we shared the five year old's room).  His parents went on a hunt for them and found them eventually in the living room.  Susan shared the daughter's bed.  The children both had beds but the parent's slept on the floor. 

Wednesday started with a hike for the young folks while I wrote thank-you notes.  When they returned we headed off for our last day in Samchoek.  This night we would spend in the country at President Lee's new home where he was planning a pig roast in our honor.  All the clubs from Donghae and Samchoek were coming.  We toured President Lee's pig pens first and then moved into his brand new empty home.  Soon people started coming.  It was raining by now so the picnic was moved inside.  It was nice to see our friends from the first few days of our trip.  After dinner and singing by us and our hosts, the young team members went off to a singing room.  I was tired and wanted to sleep.  Our hosts however, didn't want me to be alone so I entertained three Korean men who spoke barely any English.  I drank some beer with them and finally went to bed.  It had been a long day.  Tomorrow we move to Taebaek - the highest city in South Korea. 
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Comments

isir0502
isir0502 on

Let me taste it !!!!
Finally, I found your photos and diaries today. What an amazing and entertaining story!! You are experiencing much more than what I said right? Enjoy and try every Korean thing as many as you can. Then, let me feel and taste them via the Internet. I will visit this place again. See you.

Jin Kim

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