Part 3: Boseong Green Tea Plantation
As the bus slowly backed into the parking stall, everyone's eyes gleemed with delight that this portion of the trip was complete. A few people still perched over their personal trashbags were cleaning up after themselves due to the erratic driving skills up the steep twisting mountain turns. The organizer climbed on board the bus to give this announcement:
"Welcome everyone to the Green Tea Plantation. Here you will have two hours to explore, learn and take pictures about Green Tea. Please enjoy and be back on the bus at 9:30 am. Thank You." Aaron
Wow, there must be all sorts of things to see and do here? Two whole hours! Shauna
Sounds good to me! Do you think there is information given in English? Probably not... but It sure would be nice. Aaron
Are you going to bring your bag or leave it here? Shauna
It's not that heavy, so I am just going to bring it along, this way there is no discrepencies. Aaron
Then we pulled on our bags, waited our turn and climbed
popping up over green tea rows
off the bus stepping down into the fresh morning air. We looked left and right up a long path of huge trees. The trees must have been thrity meters (90 ft) tall, their canopies starting around twenty meters (60 ft) they were amazing to look at with their lush brown bark and the lime green leaves set against the light blue and white sky. We walked up a short hill to the entrance way, presenting our Korail buttons (entrance ticket) and walked through the turnstyles. As soon as we were inside people began spreading out towards the creek running down the serene landscape. People moved left and began climbing a short hillside covered with underbrush until someone asked them to come back down. I paused momentarily to take a couple of pictures of vines climbing up the side of the bark. The leaves were an impressive emerald green color each one growing in size starting around the size of my thumbnail one after the other until stopping its growth pattern nearly the same size as my palm!
As I stood and stretched looking to my right, I noticed Koreans climbing through the water to the other side and most
of my group had wondered up stream in search of what lay behind the first building on our path. Reaching the building, half the people went around front the other half behind. I ventured off behind the buildind nearest the creek, taking random photographs here and there. Eventually making my way back to Shauna's side at the pond where every single person seemed to have their camera pointed and ready to snap away a picture or two. Passing on this opportunity, I turend around hearing a loud shrieking sound just over my right shoulder. At this very moment, Nadine, was stooped over something moving inbetween the rocks. A Korean woman, fainted and nearly split open her head on the concrete below her feet. Nadine, proud of whatever she had spotted while she was stooping, opened up her cupped hands to revel the mysterious thing. The Koreans gave a slow shrieking sound of approval or disappointment, I could not tell until Monica stated "Isn't this the cutiest little frog you've ever seen!" Laughing, I nearly tripped over my own feet and landed in the pond with its three ugly brown-grey goldfish staring back in my direction.
Picking myself up off
the ground I sauntered farther up the pathway connecting into a driveway to my right as I watched the hordes of tourists being moved in unison further up the single pathway nearing the cafe and shops at the base of the green tea rows. As I observed the amount of people climbing the hillside, I knew I would go stir crazy being in the crowd and might end up tossing people left and right as my anger grew within the congested numbers of people instead of enjoying the plantation grounds! Opting out of this option, I glanced left then right and back to the left, a small creek with a kazeboo stood a hundred feet away persuading me to linger in its direction, one step, two steps, three and I was gone from the base of the hill... reaching the kazeboo, I realized the tranquil peace opening up in front of me stretching up the side of the creek. Taking short strides and looking all around, I continued following the quiet into the tall trees watching the sun peak through the tree tops landing on the green tea rows above my head. The peacefulness relaxed inside me and I continued
my quiet sauntering up the hill reaching the edge of the grounds I turned staring up a 55-degree pitch with dug out stairs into the earth. Peering to my right, I couldn't see anyone near my position but could vaguely see heads popping up over the tops of green tea plants off in the distance. Knowing my options were retreating to the start or climbing these stairs, I began with the first step up, then the second until by the seventh step my forehead broke out into a vast pouring stream of sweat! With every step, a drip of sweat protrude from my body, spilling out onto the plantation grounds. Although, dripping with sweat, climbing up the steep incline, there was not a sound around except for the swallows chirpping in the breeze off to my left in the deep shadows of the tall Korean pine trees. Finally reaching the top, I turned back to see the grounds below, setting down my bag, I pulled out my camera snapping off a couple of quick pictures. Turning to my right I walked another six steps until I reached a break within the row. Setting down my bag, I took a step
forward into the green tea leaves disappearing within the row and sat down for sip of water and to look deeper into the plants.
Upon setting down my water bottle, I noticed the clouds breaking and the sun gleaming off the plants in every direction then the silence was broken by Koreans shouting back and forth to each other on the other side of the hedge. Standing up, I spooked six small Korean people on the other side of the hedge. The commotion began because one of them spotted my bag, just lazily sitting next to the entrance to the hedge row, I had just stood up within. Walking back to the split in the hedge, I grabbed my bag and wandered off in the direction they had come from. As I wandered down the path way, I ran into Abby, then Shauna, then Tom, David and Mark O. With each person I stopped briefly to speak to them about what they had seen thus far. No one seemed thoroughly into the green tea plantation by this point because there wasn't any information being explained to anyone about the process of the green tea nor its origins. With an
Steep steps leading up
to the very top of the plantation
earnest smile, I waved good-bye and continued wandering through the first quarter of the tea plantation. Spotting to my left up the hill another fifty yards three burial mounds protruding in the middle of the next rows above me, I moved further around the path trying to find a good spot to stop and take my next picture. As I moved left then right and climbed up a small row in front of me for a better position, I saw a small group of people hiking further up the far right side of the plantation. Finally with a good position, I snapped off a couple of pics. Putting away my camera I continued to the right, looking down the long winding driveway where several vans drove by heading back down the hill. Turning around, I walked another two hundred meters to the edge of a three way intersection.
To my right was a smaller plot of green tea and a vegetable garden, to my left was the beginning of a path leading up another steep incline to the top of the plantation rows and straight ahead of me was another driveway leading off into the tall pine trees. Opting
for the hike up the hill, I began my ascent. At this point I noticed the amount of people dwindling every fifty feet but also realized the farther I hiked up the hill the more the valley below opened upon a spectacular green valley. As I made my way to the very top of the hike a small platform was dug into the side complete with railing. Looking around I saw three people climb over a rope and continue hiking up the hill. The steps became sharper, more defined and far steeper then what I had just climbed. Sucking back on the water bottles last three drops, I pulled out the camera took a picture, looked up the hill and watched an adjema (grandma) begin to climb up the steep incline thinking to myself, if this 75 year old woman can climb this hill, then so can I. This set the fire and I jumped the rope, starting to climb, I passed the adjema, then her daughter, and eventually spotted the husband and child another thirty feet in front of me up the steep section of slope. My body already dripping with sweat poured out streams of water thanks to
View of East China Sea
East China Sea is also known as South Sea which is directly below South Korea
the humidity and the strenuous workout I had just set forth on.
With every step up, the valley behind me opened up, with every step up, another person down below stopped coming because the ascent went from 35-degrees to 65-degrees in six steps. The idea of one miss step and I would tumble down to the bottom didn't frieghten me as much as the adjema behind me climbing past me as I winced and weezed for breath with every step up the sharp sides of this slope! Another thirty steps and I'll stop to see the view but then the view disappeared within the trees around me and I continued up the hill, finally reaching the top of the slope, I noticed another pathway heading off into the brush possibly taking you further up the hill to the extreme top of the slope another five-hundred feet above my current position. Slowly moving to the roped off edge, I pulled out my camera taking a couple of pics down over the plantation, then out over the valley of rolling hills impeding and breaking away into the ocean below. The view was incredible, the sweat continued down my forehead and the
people below disappeared altogether. Without a watch and knowing we were on a time schedule, I snapped off another couple pictures of the steep incline I had just hiked up.
About the time I decided to head back down, the adjema crested the last step. Smiling, and nodding my head to her for the accomplishment, I began bounding down the steep steps two at a time until I nearly missed the second step on the eighth leg and sent myself into a full out run down the 60-degree descent with a bit of luck a firm tree sprouting out in the middle of the path came out of nowhere attaching itself to my arms and securing me back on the ground. Smiling at my own clumsiness, I settled my thoughts and began to descend once again, slower this time until I reached the crossing rope and the steps opened up into large flat spaces. This is when I looked down the plantation and realized no one was down below! Images of Shauna trying to persuade the bus tour driver from leaving me behind flashed into my head. Once again, I began double timing the steps running past those trying
to come up the hill, with each leap, I surpassed six feet until I reached the end of the hill, turning back to my right, I began jogging down the concrete driveway heading back to the cafe and shops. Every person I passed on my jog, I tried reading their watch without success. Seven minutes later, I reached the shop turning the corner I spotted Shauna with Dom, David, Nadine, Mark O and Tom, enjoying beverages and chatting each other up. Waving a sweaty hand in their direction, I walked over slowing my breaths until I reached them asking if there was water around here? "Yep, there are vending machines with drinks over there," Tom stated pointing to the right past a few trees. "Thanks. I could use a drop or two," smiling I stated and walked away leaving a pile of sweat behind.
Returning to the group after retrieving two bottles of water, I inquired how much time we had before we needed to be back on the bus? The group said we had twenty minutes. Thanking the group, I walked over to the shop, going through the doors I realized I could purchase about a thousand different
on plantation grounds
products all with the main ingredient being 'green tea leaves' which is when I walked back outside around the corner to the cafe. Standing in line, I began speaking to random people about their time at the plantation the consensus being everyone had far too much time without receiving any information about the plantation, the green tea plants or its processes but they were making the most of the cafe and random gifts you could purchase. By the time I reached the counter, my hunger had subsided so I went with a green tea milkshake for 2,500 won ($2.50 CAD). With the first spoonful in my mouth before reaching the table where the others sat, my lips gleamed with the pride put into the processing of this delightful plant! The milkshake was a hundred times better than I was expecting it to be. Shauna asked, "what did you get?" "Milkshake! And it is sure delightful, good thing they don't sell it in buckets here!" Stating with a gigantic smile on my face! With my ear to ear grin everyone stood up, grabbing their bags and began the five minute walk back to the bus.
As we reached the gate of the tea plantation their was a camera crew setting up for a commercial take with the same actress everyone told me when we met up on the tea plantation slope. Not being all that concerned with the commercial people I wandered down the pathway towards the bus talking to Shauna about the next leg of our trip; The Lotus Festival. Everyone seemd truly interested in the lotus festival since it was a traditional event and there should be information for us to learn about the origins of the festival or at least someone to inquire about it. Boarding the bus, we counted up our people and started to back away. Then the organizer jumped out of his seat, talking quickly to the driver. They spoke quickly and the bus stopped. After five minutes of watching the absurd jestures between the two the organizer bound off the bus into the parking lot. Then another organizer appeared screaming and flailing their arms. Everyone looked to Rick, but he wasn't sure what was going on? Everyone sat awaiting the bus to get out of the parking lot. The original organizer entered the bus grabbing six people and pulling them off the bus, then they yelled at each other in the parking lot. The second organizer came over and a third. Everyone was up in arms about something to do with these six people and what they were doing. It took another fifteen minutes before the organizer climbed back on the bus. Once the bus began to go again, the organizer spoke to Rick quickly in Korean about the delay letting him know there would be a change in the itinerary but did not really state what the "change" would be or even why? Rick thanked him, and told us there was a small change in the itinerary but they weren't sure of what the change would be. Then the busses wheels screeched forward and speed off out of the parking lot down to the highway entrance and finally onto the road way. I looked over at Shauna whose face was stuffed into a pillow sleeping. Smiling, I looked out the window as the landscape peeled away before my eyes while the bus absorbed more speed rushing faster down the ever steepening hillside billowing its way into the Boseong valley below.
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