Saturday, September 23, 2006

Tongyeong: The Naples of Korea

While Gohyeon is a a reasonably sized town, it has only one movie theatres, no megastore(yet), and I was beginning to feel a little stuck here. I was looking forward seeing an American movie, buying a jar of peanut butter that was less than $10, and get some beautiful pictures of the harbors. So, I got up my courage to leave the island and visit Geoje's connection to the Korean peninsula, a place the Koreans call the "Napoli of Korea."

I was a little apprehensive because I couldn't find a sign for a direct bus to Tongyeong. However, I knew that the highway to both Masan and Busan passes through Tongyeong, so I figured that there would probably be a stop. I got a ticket and made the short ride to Tongyeong with no problems.
Upon arrival, I dropped off my backpack at a locker at the Lottemart. There are three main megastores in Korea: Lottemart, Homeplus, and Emart. These stores are like a combination of a Wal-mart or Target supercenter and a department store like Sears. Up until July, Wal-mart had a large presence in Korea, but pulled out because they were losing too much money. I am excited to report that Gohyeon is getting a Homeplus, that is supposed to open this coming week. I have heard that it will also include a movie theatre.

So I set out from Lotte Mart to find my beautiful views, and maybe an American movie. After walking for about a half hour, I realized that I much have been going away from the sea. So I turned back and wandered my way back to Lottemart. Along the way, I found an Italian restaurant called Pastoli. I haven't had Italian food since I was considering transferring to a theater in Illinois--before I decided to come to Korea. It was quite good, and a welcome relief from the still foreign Korean food.

I headed back in to Lottemart, but was unable to find my peanut butter, couldn't find an alarm clock, but I did find some microwavable popcorn, so my trip wasn't completely a waste. I explored the store some more and found that a parking garage made up the top two floors. I took the escalator up and from the top, I was able to find the ocean. I headed out to take a few pictures.
Then, on the way back to the bus station, I ran into a some of guy students from Jisepo Middle School. They were in town for the wedding of one of their teachers. They were heading back at the same time I was, so we went together. It was nice to see them out of class and in street clothes--I still haven't gotten use to the school uniforms. All of the students where uniforms pretty much all day during the week, and then every other week when they have classes on Saturday. After school, students usually stay out on the town with their friends and don't change. So, it really is rare to see students in street clothes ever.
I have to say that overall, was a little disappointed. I remember when I came through Tongyeon three weeks ago on my way to Geoje, I saw a breathtaking view that did remind me of Naples. However, on foot, I was unable to find this view. I also was unable to find the movie theater--although the one advertisement I found showed the same Korean movies that are here in Gohyeon. However, knowing that I can get off the island and find my way back by myself gives me the feeling of a little more freedom. I think next time, I will return to Tongyeong as a tourist and not a peanut butter-movie seeker.

My gallery of pictures from Tongyong
Tongyeong at Wikipedia
Tongyeong Government Website (in English)

1 comment:

  1. josh sounds like you are having a wonderful time. send me your address and i can send you some peanut butter. dad


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