For the past three years, pictures of friends against a vibrant green backdrop have filled up my Facebook news feed sparking a slight pang of jealousy, so, this year, Soo and I decided it was about time for us to go ourselves.
We left from our respective cities on Saturday morning, and spent the evening in Gwangju, where we decided to sea a movie. This morning, we left Gwangju for Boseong, arriving late in the morning. Already by that time the traffic into the tea fields was horrendous, and the taxi there took longer than we expected. However, it was worth the drive.
The tea fields were quite beautiful, and the smell of tea leaves warmed by the sun floated in the air like perfume. We walked around enjoying the scented mountain air and taking pictures of the scenery. On our way out of the fields, we had some green tea ice cream, and green tea samgyeopsal, both of which were quite delicious (and overpriced).
Outside of the fields in what is normally a parking lot, there was the "festival:" a bunch of white tents set up for vendors to sell their wares. One of the vendors was a father and his daughter from South America. Soo was very excited to practice Spanish with them, and we left having bought a pair of friendship bracelets to remember our trip.
Back in Gwangju, we ate dinner near our hotel, and we'll head back to Cheongju and Daejeon tomorrow morning.
Thursday and Friday, the students at CBHS participated in the annual Sports Day competition. The boys were especially excited for this year's sports day because the previous year, due to the Sewol Ferry Tragedy, Sports Day was postponed until the fall, along with the school field trips to Jeju Island and Seoraksan, and the school festival.
Sports Day is essentially Track and Field Day, but for students of all ages. Students compete in their homeroom classes in various sporting activities, such as a three-legged-race, team jump rope (with one of those climbing ropes), soccer games, etc. After the two days, one homeroom class from each grade receives a prize, and everyone leaves with a bit of a sunburn (or tan) and several minor injuries.
The next day, I showed her around my neighborhood, including Toad Park. We wanted to visit the Mural Village on the other side of town, but my mother's knees weren't doing so well, so we just stayed in Sannam-dong. For lunch, I introduced my mom to naengmyeon (냉면, a noodle dish in a cold broth), which she quite enjoyed. Afterwards, I showed her Sannam High School where I had worked my first year in Cheongju, and we had coffee and bingsu (빙수; a shaved ice dessert, often with fruit or chocolate) at a cafe near Sannam High School which offers a beautiful view of the city on a sunny day. Cafe Bom is one of my favorite cafes in Cheongju, and there are many good cafes in the city.
Although my mother had already had jjimdalk, naengmyeon, and bingsu, we thought she should try some more Korean food, especially at a restaurant that served the meal at a more traditional table setting with many pancheon (side dishes). So, we headed to Samcheong-dong, a neighborhood right next to the palace. We had galbijjim (갈비찜; marinated steamed pork ribs) for lunch and followed it up with a more traditional bingsu at a nearby cafe. Both the restaurant and the cafe were built in the hanok, or traditional Korean architectural, style. My mother really liked this lunch!
After resting in Samcheong-dong, we walked to Insa-dong where my mother bought a few gifts for family and friends back in the States. Along the way, we stopped to watch some street performers and admire the first Columbine flowers I have ever seen in Korea.
Unfortunately, her wonderful visit came to an end this morning. We woke up very early and took the bus to Incheon Airport. I was sad saying goodbye to her, but also so glad that she was able to visit. I hope in the future more family members can visit.
After completing my undergraduate studies, I accepted a chance to teach in Korea through the Fulbright Scholarship. Originally intending to stay just one year, it soon turned into three. I taught in Cheongju as an ETA from 2012 - 2015.