Thursday, November 02, 2006


Yesterday was long.

My school district gathered all of the English teachers together at 8AM. We soon met up with another group of teachers from a different district and were whisked onto a bus towards some mountains that sprout really expensive mushrooms.

Three and a half hours later we reached our initial destination, a place called Dosansewon, or Dosan Academy for all the English dummies like myself.

Here's the low down on this place according to my good friend Wikipedia.

Dosan Seowon (alternatively, Tosansowon) was established in 1574 in what is present day Andong, South Korea, in memory of and four years after the death of Confucian scholar Yi Hwang by some of his disciples and other Confucian authorities. Yi Hwang had retired to the location in 1549 and begun construction on the facility, a private Confucian academy offering instruction in the classics and honouring the sages with regular memorial rites.

Like other Confucian academies, Dosan Seowon serves two purposes: education and commemoration. The site was well known in Korea as one of the leading academies and was home to the Toegye School of Thought for over 400 years. Although the educational function of the facility has long since ceased, the commemorative ceremonies have been and are still held twice a year.

This place is also pictured on the back of the Korean 1000 Won bill ($1).

Next we went to some restaurant that serves special mushrooms that are picked from the nearby mountains. Apparently the natural mountain mushrooms tastes much different than ones that people grow elsewhere, even though they are the same breed or species or something.

The food was good and with it they served some traditional Korean alcoholic beverage. Just what one needs before hiking up a mountain.

Then it was back on the bus and we headed to Mount Cheongryang Provincial Park to climb up a mountain and check out a temple. The fall weather was perfect for hiking and the leaves on the trees were awesome, although the colors of the leaves back home in the Humber Valley are much more vibrant. But there's no temple on the side of a mountain back home so I guess everything's even.

I can't tell you anything about this temple but some Buddhists still live there, or at least they hang out there in the day.

Ya know, it must get kinda annoying having hundreds of people come by your pad everyday taking pictures and then taking off when they're had their fill.

By now we're about three hours behind schedule and the next event on our agenda is a seminar about teaching. We get back on the bus and one of the district supervisors tells us we're just gonna connect the seminar on the bus on our way back to Seoul. A few of the second year teachers said a few words, talked about a couple of lessons (and they kept it extremely brief!), and then we had our usual bitch-fest.

Every time us English teachers get together on official business, our "seminars" and "discussions" always turn into one big criticism of the Korean education system and the way things are done at our respective schools. The topic of discipline and teacher's expectations of students is another hot one. Thankfully, I don't' have much to complain about at my school so I didn't get myself involved. It's just the same ol' bullshit each time.

We finally arrive back in Seoul at about 9:30PM, ninety minutes behind schedule, and we go to a kalbi restaurant. Dong-sik, my co-teacher went home, and he told me today that he threw up last night. He did have a bad flu all week, but I think he couldn't handle the mountain mushrooms.

With the meal comes a few bottles of soju, then a few bottles of beer. By this time I was simply ready to go home and sleep so when a few of the guys (and the district supervisors) said they were heading across the street to a bar, I declined. I wouldn't usually do this but the night before the hike I was out drinking with the "Young Men's and Women's Club" from my school and I needed half a night's rest at least.

Although the hike was yesterday, I'm dead tired again tonight but I made the stupid choice of washing a load of laundry and I'm waiting for the dumb machine to stop.

It really takes about 1.5-2 hours to wash one load of clothes.

But I suppose that's a lot faster than it takes to dry by hanging it on some rack...

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