Category: Guryongpo Beach


Gaya-san summer camps

Work, work and more work.  I returned home from my two-week trip to Turkey on Wednesday night, August 4, close to midnight, exhausted and dirty. By the time I unpacked and got organized, it was 2 a.m.  At 6, I got up and went to work.  And I worked the rest of the summer, teaching summer camps: 1) a 2-day camp at Chojeon Elementary School, where I teach during the regular year; 2) two 3-day camps at the Seongju English Village; and 3) two camps at Gaya Mountain ~ one 2-day middle school camp and one 4-day elementary camp.  On the 3 days not booked with camps, I reported to Chojeon to put in my 8-hour days doing “lesson planning” (i.e. writing my blog and goofing off on Facebook).

Arrival at Gaya-san

Arrival at Gaya-san for the 2-day middle school camp

Rock gardens at Gaya-san

Rock gardens at Gaya-san

Funny thing this.  Regular teachers in South Korea get only a 6-week summer vacation – a lot less than our 2 1/2 months in the U.S.  However, many of the teachers are required to work for all or a good portion of this “vacation.”  I surveyed different Korean co-teachers after the “holiday”; some had off a month, others not a single day!  As a native English teacher, my contract specifies I get a total of 18 days in a year: 8 in summer and 10 in winter.  I took my 10 in summer, so I only have 8 remaining. We also get a couple of national holidays, but those don’t amount to much.  Yes, WORK is the order of the day in the Korean school system.

the gaya hotel

the gaya hotel

The Gaya Mountain camps were overnight camps; we stayed and taught in the classy Gaya-san Hotel.  It was definitely not “camping!” The middle school camp was supposed to be 3 days, but one day was cancelled because of heavy rain.  A nice reprieve, to get a totally unexpected day off!  Rare.

Overall, the camps were high jinx and a gave me a different lens through which to see the students.  I don’t normally teach middle school;  my “comic strips” camp lesson was a little over the kids’ heads.  I thought they would be more advanced.

one of my middle school students draws a comic strip

one of my middle school students draws a comic strip

Students drawing comic strips

Students drawing comic strips

what one of my students produced in the comic strip lesson

what one of my students produced in the comic strip lesson

In the elementary camps, I taught the song California Dreamin’; I played a Power Point Jeopardy Game I made up, simplified Boggle games and another 5×5 word game.  In one camp, I read the book Balloonia, about an imaginary land where balloons live above the clouds, then I had the kids make up a travel brochure for a land they made up themselves.  Finally, I played a drawing game where I reviewed body parts & descriptive adjectives and said sentences like: He is a tall boy with three eyes, big ears, and short curly hair.  Two teams competed to draw pictures incorporating every item in the sentence.

balloonia and the kids' travel brochures

balloonia and the kids’ travel brochures

My class's performance

My class’s performance

All the students & teachers at the camp

All the students & teachers at the camp

The best thing about the camps was this: I wasn’t the sole English teacher.  Usually, during the regular school year, I’m the only native English teacher in my school.  Except for Tuesdays and Thursdays, when the Korean English teacher, my friend Julie, shows up, I have no one in my schools with whom I can just hang out and shoot the breeze (except Kim, who I talk about below).  I am always the lone “native.”  But here, at these camps, we bonded.  I got to know the other English teachers in Seongju who I barely knew before.  The teachers at the English Village were great: Suzanne and Manny from South Africa and Danny from the U.S.  I already know Anna, Seth and Kathy of course, but it was nice to work and hang out with them in a different setting.

After our two-day middle school camp, we also worked at a 4-day elementary school camp.

arrival at gaya-san summer camp for the second set of camps

arrival at gaya-san summer camp for the second set of camps

Kathy, Suzanne, Anna and Seth

Kathy, Suzanne, Anna and Seth

me, Suzanne, Anna and Seth

me, Suzanne, Anna and Seth

me with most of my students from Byeokjin Elementary

me with most of my students from Byeokjin Elementary

my students hamming it up

my students hamming it up

We ate breakfast, lunch and dinner together (all the while complaining about the Korean food and wishing in vain for a western breakfast with coffee); we hung out and played poker and drank beer at night.  I loved and valued this camaraderie with my fellow teachers and native-English-speaking friends more than anything else.

playing poker at night to kill the time

playing poker at night to kill the time

at the teacher party the last night of camp: my fellow native english teachers: kathy, seth, anna, me & suzanne

at the teacher party the last night of camp: my fellow native english teachers: kathy, seth, anna, me & suzanne

Anna, me and Suzanne

Anna, me and Suzanne

our Korean co-teachers

our Korean co-teachers

We also had some free time in the afternoons to take mini-hikes on the grounds of the Gaya-san Hotel and on Gaya Mountain.

on the grounds of the Gaya-san hotel

on the grounds of the Gaya-san hotel

rock sculptures on the hotel grounds

rock sculptures on the hotel grounds

rock sculptures and bonsai trees

rock sculptures and bonsai trees

more rock sculptures

more rock sculptures

waterfall on the mountain

waterfall on the mountain

Anna and Kathy

Anna and Kathy

me by the waterfall

me by the waterfall

a narrow passageway at the museum

a narrow passageway at the museum

a little pond

a little pond

pretty greenery

pretty greenery

delicate flowers

delicate flowers

snow white flowers

snow white flowers

blossoms and fog

blossoms and fog

more delicate flowers

more delicate flowers

Actually, now that I’m back in my own schools to begin the second semester, I’m feeling kinda lonely and blue. 😦

my korean friend kim

Thursday, August 5: I do have one other close Korean friend besides Julie in one of my schools.  Her name is Kim and she teaches the first-graders at Byeokjin, the ones with the animal names.  Her English is excellent and she’s one of the nicest people I know in this world.  She is deep-thinking, intelligent, kind, soft-spoken and shy, but also worldly (she’s traveled a number of places outside of Korea, which is almost unheard of!)  She always tells me she loves talking to me because she likes older people, for one, and because I always teach her something new.  She says I encourage her to be more adventurous, because lately, in her life, she feels she’s in a rut and doesn’t much step out of her boundaries.  I am always happy to meet her for dinner every couple of Fridays or so.  She loves to eat pasta, and we end up going most often to VIVA where we have a glass of wine.   I’ve also dragged her along to Sydney Street, where she doesn’t feel too overwhelmed because there are never many people in there.

me & kim at sydney street cafe

me & kim at sydney street cafe on August 5

Kim is 42 and unmarried; this causes her great consternation.  Mr. O pronounced once that Kim is “old” and “not married.”  In Korean eyes, this is a bad combination.  She dated someone she loved very much for 15 years, off and on, but no longer speaks to him.  I know she would love to meet him again, or to meet someone new and kind-hearted and loving.  I wish this for her as well.

She always listens patiently to all my crazy or sad stories, my dreams,  my disappointments and my irritations. She’s always there to listen when I am struggling.  She never judges; she just listens and speaks her wisdom.  I like her so much.  When I leave Korea, I will carry her with me always, close to my heart.

hanging out with friends

Friday, August 6: Tonight, Myrna, Anna, Ben and I went out for pizza at our neighborhood pizza place after a week of teaching summer camps.

Anna

Anna

Ben, Anna, Myrna and me

Ben, Anna, Myrna and me

Myrna, me and Anna

Myrna, me and Anna

hangin’ & chillin’ with movies & games

Tuesday, August 24: Anna & Seth provide the house, games & movies for our entertainment nights.  As a married couple, they have the biggest apartment of all of us, with couches and chairs and even a coffee table!  We singles lack these simple things.  Always generous, they open their home to us and we congregate and play games, watch movies, or just hang out and eat dinner.  They also host our Bible studies.

anna & seth, the perfect hosts always

anna & seth, the perfect hosts always

It’s so funny, when they came to Korea, Anna & Seth paid an exorbitant sum for all the games, movies, books, etc. that they brought in their extra luggage.  But thank goodness for their foresight in bringing all this entertainment.  These things have given us many hours of pleasant companionship as well as some hearty competition.   Our favorites are: a cool railroad strategy game called Ticket to Ride (that Seth always wins!), Wii, Scrabble, poker with chips, and most recently, Spades.

Anna making steak fajitas

Anna making steak fajitas

I had Mike mail me some of my movies from home, including the 5-hour 1995 PBS version of Pride & Prejudice (starring Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennett and Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy), which we started watching in June, and will just finish watching this Friday.  And we’ve watched the 2002 Catch Me if You Can with Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks.

Marice and Shihwan play Wii

Marice and Shihwan play Wii

We’ve had a couple of taco nights and just last week, Anna wanted to treat our Korean friends to some American food.  We worked together to make steak and potato fajitas…. delicious!  Shihwan was so funny; Koreans love their food spicy and he said, after eating half of his fajita, Do you have any spice to put on this? He looked a little bored with the whole fajita….

the makings for steak fajitas

the makings for steak fajitas

Maurice & Shihwan

Maurice & Shihwan

hot fun in the summertime

Here is summer in Daegu.  Unrelenting heat & humidity, sticky air.  Huge cicadas screeching at all times of day and night.  Swarms of huge dragonflies in pockets. A never-changing 90+ degree temperature, day and night.  Clothes sticking to your skin.   All I can say is I can’t wait till it ends and the cool crisp air of fall arrives. 🙂  Ahh, cool relief, where are you??

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Saturday, August 21:  Today, Kathy & I went on a quest.  I came across an article online titled: “Twelve Beaches Worth Visiting in the Summer.”  I have only been to one of these, Haeundae Beach in Busan, and I’ve been dreaming of exploring the other 11.  However, most weekends this summer have either been raining or threatening rain, so I’ve been waylaid on my intended expeditions.

guryong-po beach

guryong-po beach

Koreans decked out at the beach

Koreans decked out at the beach

Finally, Kathy and I drove in her little Matiz to Guryongpo beach in south Pohang. Wow!  This place made the top 12 beaches??  I don’t know where they got their criteria for this article, but this was a pretty pathetic excuse for a beach.  Earlier this summer, Kathy and I went to the MUCH nicer Chilpo Beach, just north of Pohang.  Why isn’t Chilpo listed in this article?

Koreans must keep themselves protected from the sun at all costs!

Koreans must keep themselves protected from the sun at all costs!

Guryongpo is small, crowded, tacky & commercial, and has only waist deep water at its furthest-out point.  We were both disappointed in it but decided that we’d stick it out since it seemed very “Korean.”  Chilpo is more like a nature reserve, not much commercialism, and has a wide swath of beach.  Granted, it’s covered in trash, but all beaches in Korea are covered in trash.  As a matter of fact, most Koreans just throw their trash on the street everywhere.  Trashcans are few and far between; being the anti-litter American I am, if I have a piece of garbage to throw away, I will carry it for blocks rather than toss it on the street.  Sometimes I think, maybe I should just toss it; everyone else does.  But I cannot bring myself to do it.  All those anti-litter campaigns by the U.S. government in the 1970s really got ingrained in this person’s head.  🙂

guryong-po beach

guryong-po beach

As soon as we parked, an ajuma approached us and wanted 10,000 won for a “parasol,” which we gave her.  I wanted an inner tube so gave her another 5,000 won.  Kathy and I chilled, floated in the inner tube, read, waded in the knee-deep water, sunbathed, walked along the beach, talked. We got a hoot out of watching the Koreans at the beach.  No one wears a bathing suit.  They wear t-shirts and shorts/long pants, hats and sunglasses.  Many of them wear these detached sleeves (yes, they’re NOT attached to anything!) on their arms and some wear masks over their faces.  A lot of them wear life-vests in the knee-deep water.  Very strange.  I’m sure I was quite shocking to them with my white hair and my bikini.  Of course, in a bikini, I’m shocking anywhere!

So much tackiness on the beach

So much tackiness on the beach

an ajuma at the beach

an ajuma at the beach

inner tubes for rent

inner tubes for rent

When it was time for lunch, Kathy and I walked along the road, looking for a place to eat.  We couldn’t find a place that served lunch; most people sat on these platforms under tents and ate meals they cooked and prepared themselves right there.  Or meals they prepared at home and brought along.  They sat Korean style and ate these feasts on the wooden platforms.

Koreans eating lunch on platforms at the beach

Koreans eating lunch on platforms at the beach

We stopped at a little roadside shop to check out the goods and take some pictures.  The ajuma put her hats on our heads and handed us a snorkel for the photo.  I guess she figured she may as well get some free advertising.

Kathy with the hat & snorkel saleslady

Kathy with the hat & snorkel saleslady

me with a hat and snorkel in the little roadside shop

me with a hat and snorkel in the little roadside shop

Later, we found a restaurant with live fish in a tank.  To order one of the fresh fish would have cost about 30,000 won, so we ate a simple lunch of rice and some Korean vegetables of seaweed, roots and kimchi.  Washed down with a slightly cooled beer….Simply delish.

Kathy at the little roadside restaurant

Kathy at the little roadside restaurant

Still,  fun times.  I don’t know how this beach got in the Top 12 list….I guess it’s all in how someone defines a “top beach.”  Do Koreans see this type of beach as better than a more natural, deserted and quiet beach such as Chilpo?  I guess they do.  I better check my sources next time.

How can they fit so much STUFF on such a small beach?

How can they fit so much STUFF on such a small beach?

After we got back from Guryongpo, we showered and changed and went downtown to meet Anna and Seth at Bocciaccio, a restaurant on the ground floor of the Hotel Ariana.  Ben and Carly joined us as well.  We ordered delicious formaggio and margherita pizzas & tall cold beers (this place is a brew pub) and listened to some live “easy listening” American music.

Anna and Seth at Bocciaccio

Anna and Seth at Bocciaccio

Kathy and me at Bocciaccio

Kathy and me at Bocciaccio

the "easy listening" singers

the “easy listening” singers

Seth, Ben, Carly, Kathy and me at Bocciaccio

Seth, Ben, Carly, Kathy and me at Bocciaccio

After, we went to noraebang for Anna, Seth, and Carly’s first experience.  Crazy times all around!  Since I’d been teaching California Dreamin’ at all my summer camps, I had to sing that, as well as Gwen Stefani’s Ain’t No Hollaback Girl, Ain’t No Hollaback Girl…..I never knew this song had so many nasty words in it. 🙂  (ooh, ooh, this my sh*%, this my sh*%…..)

seth singing at noraebang

seth singing at noraebang

Carly & Anna sing a tune at noraebang

Carly & Anna sing a tune at noraebang

the video screen in the noraebang

the video screen in the noraebang

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