This last weekend the school’s staff took a 3 hour road trip out to Sorak San (mountain). It was cold but, a great time to go as the sun was shining and being on the coast, the wind did not blow too hard. Unfortunately my Korean buddy didn’t go and I can’t blame him as his new girlfriend was having her birthday party. I would skip out on the staff trip as well. However, the rest of us let the kids leave the school Saturday and then got on a private bus and started out on the road trip to the East coast.
I sat in the back with my co-teacher and the other younger teachers who want to speak English with me. It was fine with me as they are all single and female. We spoke for a while before the ride took them all to nighty night land. Koreans have an affinity for being able to sleep in any type of moving vehicle. It is impressive. Nontheless, I do not have that ability and so I hung out in the back of the (short) bus and read while my co-teacher used me as a pillow. We stopped to have lunch at a city that is famous for couples and a restaurant. I don’t recall the city or the restaurant as it was not something that I would eat. Red spicy sauce and whole fish boiling in a soup. I hate soup so I sat Indian style and took in the scenery. We then proceeded to head to our resort.
We checked into our resort/condo/amusement park sleeping quarters and then the male teachers and I sat and watched the latest Korean television sensation IRIS. Meanwhile, my co-teacher and the rest of the female teachers prepared our goodie bags. After about an hour we got back on the (short) bus and headed into town to have dinner. They know I am not too fond of most raw fish so they bought me some beef to cook up. It was damn delicious. A great meal and the booze was flowing too which didn’t hurt things at all. I was then asked to speak to the staff. I am often asked to speak to the staff by the principal so I guess I should be prepared for something along those lines. However, I never am and make up stuff on the fly. It helps that my c0-teacher likes to help me out and lays it on thick by covering my ass. I really love her for that. She makes me look good in front of everyone. I do my best to return the favor but as a bumbling Yankee nom I don’t feel I do her justice. For instance, when I was giving my ‘speech’ I was asked to say something about my co-teacher. I said something along the lines of the fact that she is very good to me and that she is a very, very lovely person. That drew oohs and aahs. I guess lovely has a stronger meaning to Koreans than it does to Americans. Regardless, I meant every word.
After dinner we went to a noraebang, or karaoke room where I was asked to perform a song. In all my time in Korea, this was the first time I had been to a singing room. I chose Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash because I can’t sing and that is basically reading to music. I like Cash, don’t get me wrong but its a song hard to screw up. I did my official duty and did what the principal asked. I was scared, nervous, and a little excited (booze is to thank for that last one). As we were leaving one of our staff members had a little more to drink than the rest of us and decided to rest on the couch until we were done. In truth, he passed out. He was dead to the world and no one knew what do to do to get him back to our rooms.
I am not a big guy, at least in the US but here I am ‘big.’ I think that is Korean code for fat. I don’t mind, it makes walking the streets easier as they steer away and avoid me when possible. Being the big guy and with a few drinks in me and cute single Korean teachers surrounding me, I picked him up and carried him over my shoulder up the two flights of stairs and then into the van that the room provides for these occasions. I shocked everyone with the simple ease of carrying our math teacher. Truth be told when we got in the van I was winded but, a heart attack was not going to be an issue, after all I had a few greens with dinner.
When we arrived at the resort I picked his limp form up again and proceeded to carry him through the lobby to the shocked or more accurately frightened guests. Got him in the elevator and into the room where an hour later he let it all go onto our floor. Thank god I had done my duty or I may have had to help with the clean up. Instead, I was invited into the girls room for yet more drinking but, my heart wasn’t in it and I just ate some apples and other snacks to soak up the booze. I then sacked out for some shut eye.
Morning came and we went for breakfast which looked very similar to yesterday’s lunch. I declined to eat and had some Ritz crackers on the way to our destination and lunch.
Lunch was BBQ’d fish. Normally I would have tried it but my heart wasn’t in it. I think I disappointed my co-teacher but I wasn’t liking what I was seeing and the restaurant was not exactly the cleanest dining experiences. So we then got back on the bus so we could go see the giant Buddha at the top of the mountain.
The statue and temples are built into the cliff face on the coast and along the way to the summit of the mountain. Several years ago the area was destroyed in a massive fire. Many of the structures have since been replaced or are in various stages of being reconstructed. The original bell was on display and showed how it was ruined by the heat and wood from the temple. Many of the temples had their doors open and you could pray with the monks or have them pray for you. It reminded me of Tibetan Monks in the movies. The temples were all decked out in gilded gold and had fresh fruit to give to the various Buddhist deities. It was impressive but, didn’t leave me with any great sense of awe.
We came to a spiked structure where the remains of the most pious monks were kept and then we walked a path were if we walked along it and wished for something our wish would come true. I won’t tell you what I wished for as it may not come true. When we finished our walk we encountered a very large 20-35 foot Korean Buddhist statue (a slender version of Buddha). We took pictures and the entire group regrouped.
We then made our way out of the temple area and headed back to the bus. We stopped once for coffee and to get out of the bus and then resumed our trip back home. Most of us slept for the majority of the way back.
Overall, it was a great time and I got closer to my co-workers. I don’t know why we don’t do this at work back home. It certainly would help and I know it wouldn’t hurt.