Published: October 21st 2008October 21st 2008
I enrolled on to a Korean course just a couple of weeks ago and already I'm reaping the rewards. Not only are my lessons completely free but last Sunday I got to go on the first of many 'all expenses paid' day trips organised by the academy. It turned out to be quite a treat.
There were about 90 people on the trip but only about 7 or 8 foreigners, few of whom I would regard as normal or worth speaking to. If you had seen one chap you could have been forgiven for believing that Freddie Mercury never died and that he simply moved to Korea and started wearing roll neck t-shirts.
As a new foreigner in the Talk House group who hadn’t been seen on previous trips, I was quite the flavour of the month. I’ve never felt quite so popular and it was a little embarrassing at times but that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the attention. Everybody seemed to want to know me and have me in their pictures.
We set off from school at 8.30am and had a 1 hour bus journey to the island Sungamdo. It’s not very big and
doesn’t even make the Lonely Planet but it is famous for clams. When we arrived we had an ‘ice-breaker’ in a field with traditional Korean dancing, games, shouting competitions and an ‘entertainer’ who clearly thought he was funnier than he actually was. All good fun but a bit much that early on a Sunday morning!
Next was lunch and unsurprisingly we had clams. It was very nice but I struggled, as I have the previous few times, with the tradition of sitting on the floor cross legged while you eat. Normally when I do this I can’t feel my legs by the end of the meal and my groins ache for about 3 days.
The main event of the day followed as we boarded tractor trailers and for a bumpy ride out to the middle of what can only be described as a sea of mud. Luckily we’d been provided with some really nice wellies; they were the second best pair of wellies I’ve ever worn, bettered only by the frog ones with eyes on the feet. We got a bucket and a trowel each and started digging for clams. I don’t know how long I spent collecting
my dozen or so crap ones but I was having fun just digging when one of the farmers came to help me. It was pretty impressive to watch him unearth enough to fill about three buckets in the space of 2 minutes and it made me feel like I’d had a successful dig.
Whilst there were lots of people to speak to throughout the day, I spent much of the time chatting to one Korean family in particular. They are a really lovely family and the parents both speak excellent English considering that they’ve never been abroad. They have taught some phrases to their 6 year old daughter who astounded me by asking ‘can I take a picture with you’. She became something of a shadow for the rest of the day, constantly wanting to follow me around and hold my hand. Extremely cute she was too. The family have invited me to their home for dinner to teach me about Korean culture so I look forward to that sometime soon. It’s the ultimate compliment to be invited to a Korean household, especially if you are foreign.
It was a long bus ride back but all in all
I’d had a really great day. There was a certain sense of achievement in knowing that without the language school I would never have known that this place existed, let alone been able to organise a trip there. I’m happy to say there are even some pictures for you to look at, even if most of them are just mud.
I seem to be able to write so much about so little but luckily there’s nothing else of note to report so I’ll close there for now and thank you for visiting once again!
There are more photos below