This is a post from July 18th that got lost in my masses of drafts.  It’s a bit out of date, but entertaining, I think:

As Marc said yesterday, “Life with [me] is always an adventure…”. Yesterday was no exception.

I got off work at 11, because my co-teacher had to go to Gwangju to pick his son up from high school (public schools have small dormitories here for students who don’t live conveniently close), so I came back to the apartment and finished my lesson plans for the camp I work a week from now, and then Marc and I picked something off the tourist map for Jindo and headed there on a bus, after dealing with the stationmaster, who I suspect sees me as a bit of a moron because I can’t read their bus schedule.

We headed to Namdoseokseong, a 13th century fortress that still has all of its walls intact, and a reconstruction of a couple of the buildings inside. The neatest part, to me, is that people still live almost entirely inside the walls, in the village. There were only 3-4 houses that were outside the walls. What was even neater was that the old roads and stone irrigation ditches were still there and still being used, virtually unchanged. I’m pretty sure that none of the houses inside were original, but many of them used the traditional stone/mud/thatch construction that was used for most of Korean history, so it was virtually the same as it would have been. Don’t worry, I will post photos soon.

Where the nuts part starts is actually when we LEFT the fort.

So, we had checked when the next bus left the station before we left, and then figured we’d track how long it took us to get there the first time, and then just add that to the new departure time, to figure out when to catch the bus back. By our calculations, it should have come around 5:15, so we got to the bus stop around 5. A few minutes after we got there, three old women were dropped off at the bus stop by a tractor, so we assumed that was a good sign that we were at least somewhat right about the timing. Nope. 5:15 passed. 5:30 passed. Around 5:30 the women were picked up by a car. That was disheartening. Around 5:50 I tried to talk to some old men who were just sitting around one of the buildings about having them call a taxi. They said, basically, “bus in 10 minutes!”. So I went back to the bus stop, since they seemed to think that it was better just to wait. Around this time, I decided to explore the tidal flats behind the bus stop. While chasing a crab around, I took a wrong step, sunk ankle-deep into the mud, and lost my shoe. I then had to dig around in the mud for my shoe, resulting in one muddy arm and one muddy leg (the other leg wasn’t exactly clean either). I rinsed myself off in an only slightly cleaner stream, and then found a utility sink to rinse off the dirty water. We waited around 20 minutes after I had talked to the old men. No bus. By that time, the men had disappeared. Around 6:30, two cars worth of Koreans pull up, get out of the car with a camera and tripod, and gesture towards us. We assume they want us to take a photo of them in front of the fort, so I agree. As it turns out, they want us IN the picture. Foreigners here are a bit of a spectacle, so this is not the first time I have been grabbed to be in a random photo. It’s a bit demeaning, but whatever. So we let them have us in their weird family/friend photo, and then since we did THEM a favor I asked them to call us a taxi, since their 8 year old son spoke some English. They gladly called, and the taxi finally came around 7:00 and we were back in Jindo around 7:30ish.

I am often entertained by this sort of zaniness that is so pervasive in Korea, though sometimes, such as that day, I do find it more on the frustrating end of the spectrum.  Makes life an adventure though, as Marc found out while he was here.  You have to be very flexible here in Korea, or you’ll go crazy.  It’s something I thought I was good at in the US, but Korea takes it to a whole new level, and I’m still adjusting, two months in.

Here’s a photo from the bus ride there that day:

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July 2008

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