Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Bus to Somewhere

When we accepted an invite from a Korean teacher at our school to go to a “flower and strawberry festival”, we were completely in the dark about what that meant.  We were even more reluctant once she broke the news that we needed to meet her at 6:50.  As in 6:50 AM.  On a SATURDAY.  But, in the spirit of being adventurous, we agreed.  Of course our alarm didn’t get properly set, “ahem”, and we awoke at the exact time we were to leave the house.  Needless to say the morning was a bit rushed, but we made it.  We met our co-worker and her friends, and soon we were aboard a bus.  

After a two-hour ride, we began to wonder where we were going.  The woman in charge of the tour made sporadic announcements, but Ryan and I had no understanding of what she was saying.  Our co-worker translated some, informing us that the first stop on what was actually a bus tour, was a cherry blossom field.  
They were everywhere.

Trees of light pink, white and magenta blossoms.  It was gorgeous.   
We walked up a hill, and took in rows and rows of pots presumably for fermenting kimchi.
There were even a few Bonsai trees.  

More blossoms....

And a walk through a bamboo forest…

But on the way out we realized we were late for the bus!  We hurried back and were the last ones to board before it took off.  Due to our tardiness, at each of the subsequent stops the tour bus staff woman attempted to hurry us back to the bus wherever she found us exploring.

The second stop was a large outdoor market.  We strolled around to look at the various pottery, produce, herbs and dry goods for sale.

For lunch it was chicken and coleslaw kebab (minus chicken for me) wrapped in a tortilla.  The tortilla was a tease for the Mexican food we are craving!

We also tasted some fresh rice cakes that were delicious. We watched the man put the rice into the top of the machine, and out they popped.  

They were very sweet, like most things here.  Last month at a new teacher training I helped myself to a glass of tomato juice.  When I brought it back to my seat and took the first sip, I almost gagged.  It tasted like a tablespoon of sugar had been added to it.  The coffee is the same way.  The majority is instant, and served in single use packets.  When you dump the contents into your cup, you’ll notice half is coffee, while the other half is sugar and dry creamer.  Still getting used to that. 

 Anyway.... Among the vendors we saw this…
Apparently something associated with enhancing fertility and stamina.  I’ll pass.

Once our shopping and lunching time was up, we headed back to the bus.

Stop number three was our favorite.

After exiting the bus walked up a slight hill, atop logs making a bridge over water.  I only had a slight heart attack doing this.  Once we were passed the many souvenir and ice cream shops.

We ended up winding our way through a model of a historical Korean farm.  It was the setting for an old novel.  There were twelve model buildings that were very cute.

One housed a few adorable farm animals.  

Between the houses was an open area for some traditional games.

There was also the opportunity for exploring traditional Korean dress...
Meeting new friends…

And being tall :)

Of course, there were even more gorgeous views.

Too soon we were back on the bus and heading to stop four, strawberry picking!

As far back as I can remember, each summer my mom and I would make a trip to Sauvie Island and pick fresh strawberries.  One of the main reasons I had wanted to attend the "flower and strawberry festival" was for the strawberry picking.  I had envisioned the rows and rows of open field that I had always associated with berry picking.

Imagine my surprise when we arrived at the door of a greenhouse.  A man in charge thrust a pint container into our hands, and we were off.   

I had to laugh when I looked around the enclosure and saw everyone animatedly picking and eating the berries.  I realized this was probably the only way they had performed the task of berry picking.  Oh well.  I realized when I saw the infamous “vending machine” that things here in Korea would be a bit different than I was used to.  So I picked and picked and ended up with some very tasty berries.

We boarded the bus a final time.  After a nap we were back where we had started. 

We finished a very long day with some yummy Korean noodles at the top of Lotte, a local department store. 

On either side, Pizza Hut and TGI Friday’s were the neighboring restaurants.  Gotta love it.

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