Cherry blossom viewing...
Trip Start Dec 11, 2008
32Trip End Dec 13, 2009
However, there is a world of difference between seeing cherry blossom at the side of a busy street, and seeing it within the tranquil confines of a temple, with few other people around to spoil the peaceful experience. So with this in mind, I woke up early on Wednesday morning and headed to Changgyeonggung, famous for its vast array of blossom. The weather was stunning, and was forecast to remain so for the rest of the week, which meant that the period of full bloom would last into the weekend - any wind or rain would have brought a premature end to proceedings.
Anyway, Changgyeonggung really lived up to expectations, and it was incredible to see so many colours in peace, with no noise pollution to be heard. The temple's grounds were vast and included a small lake and a huge variety of trees. I wandered around for 2-3 hours, during which time any work-related stress just drifted away - it was definitely my favourite morning in Korea so far.
Work had been getting quieter during this period as the students were beginning to focus on their mid-term exams that were coming up, so a large percentage of them were on a temporary hiatus from the academy. I did have an extra lesson on Thursday night though, as I had to go to another campus and cover someone's lesson. It went well, but it made me appreciate our nokjiwon students more, as these regular middle school students were at a very basic level. I would soon get bored of the book that they were working from as well, whereas we have some degree of freedom, and are able to converse and get to know the students better.
I bumped into some of the elementary teachers on my way home, and they invited me out for a beer. I am sometimes a little jealous of their lifestyle as they have no lesson preparation or marking to do, but as stated above I would prefer to teach our students as they are so well-behaved and motivated (most of the time). Anyway, it turned into a late one as we drank beer after beer, and played darts repeatedly - I was surprised to rediscover the form of my youth! They are a friendly bunch of teachers and it's a shame that we are often too busy to accompany them on nights out, although to be fair I have grown out of the clubbing phase.
I spent the weekend cherry blossom viewing as I knew that it would be my last opportunity, beginning with a jaunt to Kyunghee University on Saturday morning. I'd found out about this place after doing some research on the internet, and it was very picturesque, almost like being in Europe. A trip to Namsan Park followed which was also beautiful, although less enjoyable due to the number of people in attendance. When I perceive there to be too many tourists, I turn up the volume on my mp3 player as I'd prefer to listen to the melodic guitar of the early-Stone Roses, rather than a mouthy ajumma or ajoshi!
Eun ju had been working so I'd not seen that much of her, so we arranged to meet up in Yeoido on Sunday. This is the prime cherry blossom area in Seoul and is infamous for its crowds during the festival, but I still wanted to go as it might be my only chance to experience it. In the event, the crowds didn't detract from it at all, and it was a very pleasant day relaxing in the sun. We even had a picnic in front of the National Assembly building where I could quite happily have gone to sleep - this cherry blossom viewing can be tiring!