Finally - Chuncheon
Trip Start May 09, 2007
21Trip End Jun 15, 2007
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We met up with Amy and Susan who had stayed with the owner of an English Academy and waited for our next hosts to arrive. Soon we were meeting Dr. Park and the Rotarians from Division 2. We started out for Chuncheon and stopped at a roadside rest where we met more Rotarians who gave us huge bouquets of flowers. We walked to an overlook to see the city and then continued into town.
Our first stop was the University Hospital where Amy finally saw a doctor for her ear and throat infection while the rest of us toured the facility. It was a relief for Amy and us and she left with prescriptions to be filled. We went to lunch next and finally had duk galbi, a chicken dish specialty of the area. I can say with all certainty that this was the first meal that I truly enjoyed on this trip. It consisted of grilled chicken, cabbage, onion, sweet potatoes and duk - rice cakes and we sat at picnic tables to eat it. I was in heaven!
After lunch, Dr. Park, a pharmacist, took Amy to fill her prescriptions and then we continued with a whirlwind city tour. We drove to the ice rink, baseball park and Kangnung University where we toured a special insect and fungus exhibit with the professor who did the research, the university library and a new Digital Media Center. Soon we found ourselves at a large river, where we stopped at the Rotary Centennial Monument, a stretch of Korean War Memorials and finally, the subject of our Korean song - the maiden waiting for her love at the Soyang River. We took many photos at the statue and sang the song a few times before leaving.
Dinner this evening was a traditional Korean meal which was attended by one of the Past District Governors. He is also on the planning committee for the Rotary International Convention in Seoul in 2009 so he was very interested in whether any of us would be returning for that. We had a pleasant meal and then the men went off to a hotel while the three women were off to stay in an empty apartment owned by one of the Rotarians. The Past District Governor accompanied us and when he saw the shape of the apartment (only one bed) he insisted that two other families take us. I went off with Past President and Mrs. Lee who have two grown children who live away. They had a lovely apartment one floor down.
We met up with everyone again to have coffee at a Rotarian owned Italian restaurant that overlooked the city. It was a beautiful setting although the city was enveloped in clouds and hard to see. The restaurant owner took an immediate liking to us and invited us back to a special dinner on our last evening. After our coffee and home made cookies and perusing the menu, we enthusiastically agreed.
The next morning Mrs. Lee called me for breakfast about 8:30. She offered me scrambled eggs, toast, jelly, cheese, spamlike meat slices and tomato juice. Mr. Lee joined us while keeping an eye on the business news. He owns a concrete and gravel company and kept an eagle eye on the business and stock reports at all times. His laptop computer was set up in the living room and he checked it constantly.
I left with Amy and Susan and we met the guys at City Hall. They had gone to Dunkin' Donuts for breakfast. We were in the big city now! Our first stop today was at the Ethiopian War Memorial where across the street was a beautiful tribute to the Ethiopian soldiers who fought in the Korean War. There was a room dedicated to Ethiopian life and artifacts and another with information on battles and other war memorabilia. We had some Ethiopian coffee (apparently the city imports all of their coffee from Ethiopia) and moved on to do some shopping with a female Rotarian in the underground shopping mall. Susan bought shoes, Paul bought another suitcase and everyone bought special washclothes and scrubbies.
Lunch was at a familiar sounding place, The Olive Garden. We were hosted by the newest and youngest club. A few of their members met us at the door and ushered us in to a room where we sat on chairs and ate steaks and an all-you-want salad bar. The steaks hung off the plate and were rather rare. Unfortunately it wasn't the same as the American Olive Garden but the lunch was a welcome change from our steady Korean diet.
The afternoon was spent at the MBC Broadcasting Studio where we met a reporter who had been on a GSE team that visited Nebraska. He encouraged us to enjoy ourselves and then he was off on assignment. We had a detailed tour of the studios from top to bottom with an English-speaking producer by our side. He had earned a Masters degree in Florida and gave Susan a break from translating. We saw a live gameshow set, the news set (and took turns sitting in the anchor chairs) and the radio studios. We were presented with a DVD set when we left.
We followed a walking path beside the station for about a half hour and then left to go to a Rotarian owned tire store. We had been having problems with the tires wearing badly on the van for the last week and now they took the spare out and replaced one of the front tires with it. The tire shop owner gave us t-shirts and screen cleaners and then accompanied us to dinner.
Dinner was a traditional fish meal with many sides. There were many shots and toasts this night and the tire shop owner waxed poetic about his rise to fortune without a college education. Dr. Park was there with his homemade wine which he brought to each meal. This evening we did loveshots which I'll leave to your imagination. I have some good photos which I'll try to post here too - suffice it to say that you feel like you're at your own wedding!
After dinner we were taken to a Noraebang - a singing room and we found that our hosts like Frank Sinatra as they cued up My Way and asked us to join them. We sand our Korean song and other favorites but this group of Rotarians did like to sing. After the beer and snacks were gone we headed home.
Our last day in Chuncheon was going to be a doozy. We knew we were going on an hour "walk" to a temple and we had our Italian meal to look forward to as well. The day started with breakfast with the Lees and then we were off to see the city museum followed by the city gymnasium where we watched Samsung employees rehearsing for a song and dance event. We had a tour of the city swimming pool and then we were off to lunch. It was duk galbi again and we sat traditional style around little round tables with the grill pan in the middle. The Rotarian owner ate with us.
Soon we were on our way to the Chung Pyeong Temple. We drove for awhile and came to a huge dam. We then boarded a speed boat that took us down to the end of the lake and then we started our "walk". Let me say here for the record, that Koreans never say a walk with be hard or strenuous. They walk everywhere and pretty much everything on this trip has been up hill. That being said, I'm proud of myself for making it to the temple. At one point the "walk" was straight up - thank goodness there was a railing to hold on to!
Part way up we stopped for refreshments across from some grave mounds which belonged to Dr. Park's grandparents. At that point, I figured it was a personal thing for him to have us visit the temple. All in all, I survived the walk and made it back to the boat in one piece. We had a nice young doctor who accompanied us who had studied in New York City. He promised to take good care of me but alas, he was long gone when the going got tough.
After the temple trek, everyone went to a sauna for an hour and I went to Santorini Restaurant where the owner allowed me to use his computer for updating this blog. Soon we were sitting in a private dining room with a variety of Rotarians and an Olympic athlete too. The meal was wonderful and very Italian. We had white wine and red wine and even seafood pizza for an appetizer. We really hated to see the evening end.
We returned to our hosts for our last evening with them. I sat with the Lees for awhile before going to bed. Tomorrow we were off to our last destination - Wonju.