Another thing that has been interesting to me is the country of Morocco. I chose to teach about Morocco to my students, and I am discovering so much about this place tucked away at the Northern tip of Africa. I have found so many pictures that have inspired me, especially bright doors and pots, but then a monotone element to keep it subtle. I absolutely love these pictures, especially the Casablancan de javu that they arouse.
Last night we caught a bus into town and found the best coffee shop I have ever been to in South Korea. It is called Cafe ID and I had an incredible latte with a perfect leaf edged into the foam…mmmm. And the coffee shop played Coldplay and Madelaine Peroux. I felt like I was in a litle part of heaven, but wished my love had been there to ‘dance me to the end of love’. We then went stationery shopping when I desperately needed to tinkle…but discovered that I cannot ask for the restroom in Korean! After being guided to the glove section and a hilarious attempt at cherades, I was led to a traditional toilet. No comment. Today I found this funny toilet sign, Korea has the widest selection of signs for ‘mens’ and ‘ladies’. No peeking though!
I was happily surprised this weekend, after saying goodbye to my one-week students, to have a wonderful siesta and wake up to be taken into town to Bukbu beach, where Posco, the second biggest steel factory in the world, is situated. We were treated to a four course dinner on the sixth floor of a building, which meant we overlooked the beach which was filling up with Koreans as fast as ants head for spilt syrup. Everyone comes to Pohang once a year for the biggest fireworks display in South Korea, hosted by Posco. We watched from a dark restaurant, the most abundant and dramatic show I have ever seen…first from the silence which the glass windows provided above, then from below, packed in with thousands of South Koreans. I was so happy share the experience with two of my closest friends, Andrew and T’Neal (I’ll have to take a photo of Andrew without any lasses beside him for you to appreciate his impressive beard). The music, the people, the smells and the sounds were overwhelming and a treat. We headed to Fun Street in a swarm of people, which is a 30 minute walk away from the beach to eat a donut, drink a beer on the pavement, and sing karaoke for two hours before heading home at 3am on Saturday night. Karaoke is the strangest pastime. People in a dark, closed room singing (or abolishing) songs and bashing tambourines…hmmm….but it was such good fun.
On Sunday after little sleep and lots of waiting around for a taxi, we caught a bus to Busan, the second biggest city in South Korea. We walked markets, streets, shops, ate Big Macs for lunch which goes against every single grain in my body (it was between that or a cuttlefish on a skewer sitting on a plastic chair with an old Korean woman…maybe that would have been better come to think of it?), and then shopped some more. We had fun on the metro, meeting local people, admiring goldfish and hedgehogs in a tiny pet shop, browsing, noticing the sweetest murals and stickers on every corner or window shop, and laughing at Koreanisms. After a long evening walk in the beautiful evening cool breeze, we caught a bus ‘home’ and said goodbye to the second biggest weekend we have had in South Korea in Summer.
Seen as I haven’t blogged in 12 days, I have decided to make it up in Pohang, the town where I am visiting for two more weeks, from now. After Seoul we caught a luxurious, sleepy train into the night to Pohang. The passing scenery was green, sometimes stretching, sometimes squeezed and all in all, a treat. Since then however, has been a flurry of running through wet rice paddies, schedules,lessons, children, trips to the market in town, meetings and strange food. I could not bring myself to send an email to anyone except for my lovely husband (and he is patient and kind too) as I would sit with tears in my eyes and the news wouldn’t have been very encouraging or happy. I have found that teaching English to second language little children is the most challenging vocation anyone could take on and have been stretched, frustrated and exhausted (not a lifestyle I aspire to lead). The last 12 days have had sensational lows, and the few intimate and heart-warming highs. Some of the latter would be a little hand at the nape of my neck, a little girl admiring the auburn, and stroking the stray hairs from my plait. Or a little boy singing in a raspy sweet voice in broken English. Children really are beautiful and bright outside of the classroom. Which is why, I had the most amazing fun at the ice rink on Friday. I am apalling on any mobile with two blades, so when the smallest girl out of all of the students took my hand and led me (eventually sped me) around the rink about 30 times, I laughed so hard and felt true delight for the first time in Pohang. It was so humbling that she could teach me something too.
I have started sorting through my travel photos and really wanted to share these with you from Seoul. As I mentioned, we spent a night sleeping on the floor in a tradtional guest house. The simplicity overwhelmed me, and I took plenty of photos for home inspiration in the future. I loved In-sa-dong in Seoul, an area of the city which we walked through after a delicious breakfast. It is an arty, boutiquey part of Seoul with many art galleries and decor shops. I loved the ceramics and the two galleries which we visited. One was of an older female artist named Chung Hyung-Kang…I feel in love with her lush, fresh and feminine oils of orchids and plants. The second gallery was an exhibition for a young, beautiful artist called Byun Jung Hyun. She uses wire, tape and pencils on handmade paper to create sculptures and pencil drawings. I have looked everywhere for a site to show her art to you, but it turns out that it was her first exhibition. The photo here depicts her artwork made with different coloured tapes…it was fascintating! I have an exhibition portfolio which will be planted firmly on the coffee table when you come to visit so that you can see. I loved the jewelery shops, the boutiques, this quaint and vintage hat shop and then the variety of graffiti, signs and wall decorations. I felt alive in this part of Seoul, as South Korea can be quite repetitive in scenery (albeit beautiful) and markets (as fun and fishy as they are). Seoul really is stunning in the Summer.
I stumbled upon some photos by Colin Pantall at A Cup of Jo and these photos of his daughter, Isabel, intrigued me. She must watch a lot of television. Isn’t she beautiful?