Yearly Culture Trip 2016 – Tongyeong/ Geoje
One of the best things about working in Miryang for the GOE is that the Miryang Education Office organizes a yearly culture “workshop” for the Guest English Teachers (GET). “Workshop” is a code word for an excuse to get together, drink, and have a good time. This takes place during the week and lasts for 2 days and 1 night. Tourist attractions, meals, transportation, and accommodation is paid for by the MOE. You are also paid your regular work pay. Pretty sweet deal, right? This year we went to Tonyeong and Geoje.
We took a large charter bus to Tongyeong where we were to take the Hallyeo Waterway Observation Cable Car. Unfortunately, the wind was too strong and we had to postpone that part of our trip. Next, we went to Dara Park to watch the sunset… only the sky was hazy and the sun was nowhere to be seen. It didn’t stop us from taking in the scenery and snapping a million selfies. We ate dinner at a Korean BBQ restaurant where we were served pork ribs (galbi) and beer. On our way to the hotel, we stopped at a convenience store to buy more beer and snacks.
Our accommodation was a nice hotel. It was traditional Korean style so there were mats and pillows. Not the most comfortable bedding by Western standards. There was a little kitchenette and an amazing view. We all decided to gather in one room so we could play games, drink, and chat before going to bed.
We started the day with a buffet breakfast at the hotel. Breakfast was Western style with scrambled eggs, sausage, cereal, toast, etc. After stuffing our faces, we loaded on to a “Pleasure Boat” that took us to Hallyeohaesang National Park on Jangsado Island. It was rainy, but once again, didn’t ruin our party. The island was beautiful and led to many goofy photos and some inappropriate conversations.
Since our coordinator felt bad about us missing out on the cable car experience, we were rushed to see it. Up we went where we saw… nothing. It was so foggy that you couldn’t see anything but fog. At the top, the wind broke our umbrellas and our pictures showed nothing but blurry faces.
Lunch was a traditional Korean lunch that’s famous in the Tongyeong region. It’s basically a broth soup, seaweed wrapped rice, and seafood in red sauce. As tasty as it was, we were all dying for something hearty to eat and rice wasn’t cutting it.
We ended the trip at the Geoje POW Camp Historical Park. To me, this was a little odd for an attraction. It featured a lot of history, but it was also a bit insensitive if you ask me. There was an area where you could zip line to experience the terror and bravery of the prisoners who escaped and a trick eye mural where you would pretend to throw a bucket of water on to POWs that were bathing in a river. Top that off with a healthy dose of Korean propaganda (POWs were treated within the rights as set forth in the Geneva Convention. POWs had better meals than the active Korean soldiers.) and you have a tourist attraction.
The weather might not have cooperated with us for this trip, but because our group of GETs are awesome people, we still managed to have a great time. We are all really grateful to our coordinator for putting on this “workshop” for us.