Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A Tour of Geoje Island

The Youngs, the family with whom I was staying until my apartment is ready decided to take me out on a tour of the island on Sunday, the second day I was staying with them. We headed out in the early afternoon and headed south. As much as he could Young-Hee Yun showed me around the DSME site. DSME is the Daewoo dock that builds ships. They used to build warships, but now just build tankers and cargo ships. The main crane is the second biggest in the world—or so Yun says.The scenery of the island is hard to describe. Parts of it remind me of New England maybe—the coasts of Maine—but there are also aspects that remind me of some beaches in California. Geoje island is very mountainous, so much to a degree that they are nicknamed after a large mountain range that lies in North Korea.
We stopped at Hakdong pebble beach. The little boy of the family played in the waves while we watched. It was my first time at the beach in almost two years. We then went further south along the coast to Hallyeo Maritime National Park. The views were simply amazing: small fishing villages scattered along small harbors, bluffs with waves crashing against them, the amazing mountains on one side and the wide open sea on the next.
We ate at a small mom and pop restaurant—literally. Pop was out back watering the garden where they get their greens for the food while mom was in the building killing, filleting, and preparing our meal: raw fish. You know the fish is fresh whe the restaurant is 50 feet from the fishing boat and they are kept alive in an aquarium until dinner time. This could maybe be called the "poor man’s sushi." Although I don’t think the meal was cheap (I was lucky enough to be treated) it was not fancily prepared like sushi, and I was told the fish were common fish and not the more flavorful ones used in the Japanese version of raw fish. Eating was a complicated process:
  1. take a few greens (lettuce and a very aromatic tree leaf)
  2. put a little bit of rice on it
  3. take a piece of fish and dip it in a wasabi/soy sauce blend
  4. put a piece of gimchi on it
  5. apply a the restaurant’s own special sauce
  6. wrap the food with the ends of the leaves and eat.
I could barely taste the fish but something was too much. I had to end up almost swallowing the food whole because the taste was too strong—I think it might have been the tree leave we were eating with the food. As to not offend my hosts I kept eating. During the meal, I also had to plan my drinks. In Korea, it is incredibly rude to pour your own drink. So, I had to wait until one of my hosts noticed my empty glass. Afterward, we enjoyed coffee while my two Korean hosts chatted with the “pop” owner of the place.
When I got back to my hosts’ apartment, I looked for information on Geoje island and found very little. I felt a little like I was one of the few westerners to discover this jewel of Korea. I know that’s not the case, but I guess being the only Caucasian in a sea of Asians will do that do you.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Joshua,

    I've just discovered your blog and am avidly reading it from the beginning up to the present. I am contemplating teaching English in Korea, hence my keen interest.

    Seeing your picture raised a question - was having a beard a problem at all with your recruiter or employers? I've grown a little fond of my own beard but had assumed that it would have to go if I were to apply for such a gig.

    Keep up the good work - I for one am enjoying reading it.


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