Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Day In Town - Saturday, April 10, 2010

We awoke at 05:30 this morning, hearing the cocks crowing as the window began to lighten up the room. We didn't linger trying to get back to sleep, but got up straight away.

Even though we got up early, we didn't do much with our morning except get breakfast and take our showers. We are on vacation, after all. I had big plans to hike back up to Yongyeon Temple today, making a video of the trip. That plan fell by the wayside. Maybe I'll do it tomorrow. Yesterday evening I found another trail up the mountainside leading to a more extensive system of burial sites. I halfway thought I might make a video of the hike up this trail, also, time permitting. That one will have to wait, too.

We headed out the door to catch the bus at 10:00, and he was waiting for us there at the stop. Being Saturday, the ride into town was a little different than before. There were more young school aged children aboard because they weren't in school. When we got to our usual stop in town, the streets were more crowded than usual, with lots of young people out of school and out on the town.

We had no plan for the day, so we wandered far and wide through the central shopping district. There are a great number of very trendy clothing boutiques there which we'd never seen before. Lots of great clothes, shoes, and accessories at reasonable prices. We also ran across many tailor shops of many sizes, from full size shops to small stalls in the crowded shopping alleyways. One tailor shop we found was a small hut down what looked like a service alley. There was nothing else down this alley except this hut, and when we looked inside there were two women working, and two customers waiting.

One of our best finds was the D/C Store, the Korean equivalent of the dollar store. There was most everything you'd need for your household at super low prices. We picked up a few small essentials for the toiletry kit, and I found a great set of beautiful ceramic sake cups, which will be a gift. I also found some different, more rustic ceramic sake cups that I liked a lot. Those will be coming home with me. Ok Hwa found a beautiful red leather wallet for her mom, as well as a few other small things for herself. We'll probably find our way back to this store a few more times in the near future.

We headed back over to the Jungang Market next. There are more things than food there. There are stalls selling house wares, luggage, hats, socks, scarves, hair clips, and many other things. I picked up several pairs of beautiful multi-colored woven and embroidered house slippers for another gift. Ok Hwa found a great pair of casual pants for her mom for only ten dollars.

We were getting hungry, and went looking for something to eat. There were many little lunch counter stalls in the food market area, selling Korean food. I had in mind something a little more upscale, though. Maybe a nice sit down Korean restaurant, or one of those fried chicken specialty restaurants. What we ended up with, though, was the trendy Lotteria fast food burger chain out on the main avenue. This is similar to, but nicer than the McDonald's that we ate at yesterday. The food was a bit better than the McDonald's, also. The burgers at all these chain burger places in Korea are pretty puny by American standards, though. If someone were to open up a Whataburger over here, and show these folks what a real hamburger is, they'd make a killing. Then again, the obesity rates in America from eating this kind of rich diet are pretty high. I've seen exactly five overweight Koreans on this trip, and out of the many thousands of people we've seen, that is an extremely small percentage. Even for all these trendy western style restaurants in town, I suspect that most Koreans eat a pretty traditional rice and vegetable based diet at home. Also, they lead a more active lifestyle than most Americans do. Not every family here owns a car. There is a lot more walking and bicycling, and even those who ride the bus end up walking a ways on either end of the bus ride. Up here in Sacheon Valley where we're staying, I see a tremendous amount of good old fashioned manual labor being done out in the fields every day. None of it is being done by a lower paid, lower class, immigrant workforce either, but by ordinary home grown Koreans. I'll get off my soap box now.

After lunch and some more window shopping, we headed back towards the bus stop by the railroad overpass. Along the way, we picked up some apples and some strawberries from street vendors. Street vendors are conveniently located almost everywhere along the main avenues downtown. We got lucky at the bus stop, only waiting about five minutes 'till the 308 came along. The ride back home was a bit busy, as there was a lot of traffic out for a Saturday afternoon.

Back at the house, the front door was locked. This meant that both Ma and Pa were out. Mrs. Kim had a doctor's appointment today, and I guess Pa was out visiting friends in the neighborhood. Ok Hwa had a key that Mrs. Kim had given her yesterday, figuring that we might need it. We let ourselves in and started putting away our packages.

A short while later Mrs. Kim showed up. Ok Hwa gave her the gifts she'd bought, and they were well received. Mrs. Kim really liked the pants, and put them right on and wore them the rest of the day. At first she thought the red wallet was too much, and gave it back to Ok Hwa. Ok Hwa was fine with this, because she'd told me earlier that she really wanted the wallet for herself, and would keep it in case her mom didn't like it. She gave it one more try with Mrs. Kim, though, showing her all the many compartments and cool features. Mrs. Kim decided that she really liked it, and would take it after all. Ok Hwa was very happy about this. She has a good heart, and really enjoys doing for others, especially her mom.

A little while later Pa showed up from where ever he'd been. The ladies started making dinner then, and I took a nap 'till dinner was ready. A neighbor had stopped by earlier, dropping off some kimchi, which was on the dinner table when I was called to eat. This kimchi was quite a bit different from Mrs. Kim's. I took one bite and realized that it was not for me. There is a wide variety of styles in the world of kimchi, and lots of individual preferences. I could well imagine that almost every family here has a slightly different way to prepare it. There must be regional differences, also. I like Ok Hwa's best, followed closely by Mrs. Kim's. Is there any wonder?

Click the image below to start a slide show of todays pictures:

A Day In Town

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