Friday, May 06, 2011

Seonyudos and Seonyudonts! Being part uno...

Last weekend the lovely wife and I both had Friday off as a result of a class-switching (I became toff) binge with another foreign instructor who wanted to go visit China to attempt to procure a mail-order husband.

So we decided we'd head down to the Gunsan and then catch a ferry to Seonyudo, which is one of three very small linked islands off the southwest coast of Korea. It's sort of an expat "todo" and by getting there on Friday we'd be in advance of any other tourists, which was likely to be a small number as this is not "island visiting time of year" (Koreans work to internal and unknown clocks that would be the envy of the Borg).

Consequently, we got up early on a day off and headed to Yongsan station to catch the Saemaul to Gunsan. This was good for me as I love the Saemaul ("New Village") and had work to do. The Saemaul has a totally cool club-car and I went in, grabbed a delicious sammich and coffee and worked on sound edits for all the way down. Yvonne, as is her wont, napped. As we crossed the river to the north of Gunsan I noticed a sign that said "Ch'ae Manshik Literary Museum" (Except, like the cool dude I am, I noticed it in Korean). Manshik is one of my favorite short-story writers and I put this away in my head in case I ever got back to Gunsan.

At Gunsan sation, while waiting for the bus, got bored and grabbed a taxi to the wharf. Probably a good move as it turned out, since it was a pretty long haul and the bus would have been even more boring.

When we got there, Yvonne talked to the ticket office which immediately put her on a cell-phone with an English speaker.

Drats and confounderation! Bad weather had stopped the ferries from running.

About 15 minutes later we headed out of the terminal and to the exact same cabbie who had brought us from the train station. He asked if the time had been bad ("shigan" something or other that was clear enough to me to answer in my shit Korea.... I answered the weather was bad and then sat sulking in the cab as I realized I should have said the sea was bad. I suck at Korean).

This time, since we had nought all else to do, we headed over to the Ch'ae Manshik Literary Museum where I got that treatment I sometimes get - Korean docent going mad that foreigner gives a crap at all about Korean literature.

The man, the legend!

This was wildly exacerbated by the fact that I accidentally had "My Innocent Uncle" (A work by Manshik) in my backpack. I spoke what little Korean I have and the docent went mad, chattering at me like a chihuahua with an amphetamine suppository in its ass. All, good... I got a bit of it and she was super happy to lecture, particularly about the museum's kind of cool map of Korea and regional authors.

The joint (on the river, so kind of nice)

Finally, we went out to catch a cab, but as we were in the middle of nowhere, had to hike back into town. Probably only an hour overall, but because we had supposed to have been at a beautiful island, I was dragging my laptop and all my camera gear in a backpack with only one strap. Then there was the shitty weather - which had halted our amphibious assault on Seonyudo. It sprinkled ever so lightly, but threatened consistently. I loudly, repetitively, and without much imagination, blamed Yvonne!

Once in town, we caught a cab from a cabdriver who couldn't understand anything I said in Korean or read a map (In Korean!). He left us on the bayline of Gunsan which is, to be fair, an absolute asshole of an area.

It is slated for urban renewal (apparently) and walking around it was spooky as all the stores are closed.. the houses broken. We could see no restaurants, and it took us a very long time to find a yeogwan. This was partly because when we were in an area with restaurants, Yvonne insisted we keep walking until we find a galbi joint.

Said "find" never happened.

Walking into the yeogwan the proprietors were on the stoop (all of a sudden this area is reminding me of bombed out areas of New York...well, you know.. minus crime, vandalism, or graffiti) and immediately ask me, in Korean, "do you speak Korean well?"

I laughed and said I spoke very little, but wondered what would have happened if I couldn't respond in Korean? What a weird question to ask in Korean.

Didn't matter.. for 30,000 won we got a very simple (large) but adequate room with a big TV and no computer. Also, it didn't have the usual "love pack" of condoms, lube, and whatnot, although we did get toothbrushes and a razor I wouldn't use on the corpse of Osama bin-Laden. Shortly, Yvonne got on the iPhone and hassled the help enough so we got directions to a galbi restaurant that was only about 10 minutes cab drive away.

To cool down we went to a "coffee/drinks" place across the street that was probably nice once. It was spacious and had big booths with couches, but also had no customers, plenty of flies, a weird smell, and a staff consisting of a completely bombed (but quite understandable?) Korean man and his wife who, once we were served, went back to their business of fighting with each other. One drink and we were out.

So we headed up to the galbi place, ate well, and came back for sleep.

Big slabs o' Tuegi Galbi

During the morning the promised storms came through.. rattling the metal rooftops of the surrounding buildings and with thunder crashing....

Yvonne, of course, slept through all that bit.^^

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