This was an awesome vacation, so it's hard to pick some music to fit the bill. But let's go with some some Moon River sung by Audrey Hepburn and then some Frank Sinatra: The Way You Look Tonight.
So what did we do for Chuseok? Yoonseo invited all of us teachers to come to his parent's home in Gangneung for Chuseok and celebrate with him and his family. Sarah did some extra planning for us and we had an awesome trip in the bag. Get ready for a little Captain's Log Style blogging to start (We did this and then we did that, sorry boring!)
After arriving in Gangneung (강릉) late at night, we slept in a bit and had a fantastic brunch, and then made some songpyeon (송편), little dumpling-esque things made with a rice flour dough with beans inside. It was a lot of fun, and something I had really wanted to try doing. Bucket list check! Yoonseo's dad gave us some lessons on how to do it, and then rated our efforts. I think I got a 7 out of ten on one of mine, so...try not to be jealous of my skills.
Later in the day we visited a sheep farm. It reminded me so much of Pennsylvania! The hills with fewer trees on them, the wide sky. Gangneung in general felt more like the U.S. than some of the other places in Korea. It felt like there was more room to breath there. I guess being near the sea helps with that. The sheep were so adorable! The experience was great, barring the speakers blaring music like "Because of You" by Kelly Clarkson...because everyone knows that's what you really want when taking a walk outside in beautiful weather. We fed some sheeps and gave them some head scratches...then went outside and had a mutton kebab. Delicious :-) I also ate a silk worm which was not so great, but worth trying, I suppose. It wasn't terrible actually, just kind of tasted like a weird bean. Hard to get past the fast that it was a bug though.
After resting at home a bit and eating dinner, we played some yootnori (윷놀이) which is this game (click the link for a video explanation). The board was missing, so Yoonseo's dad just drew one for us. People, it was too much fun! Try it some time. It would be easy to make your own version of it. My team was victorious. Huzzah!
That evening we went back to the beach after having gone for a few minutes when we first arrived in Gangneung, and took along some Hite beer and poundcake that Yoonseo's parent's bought us. It was beautiful. The smell of the air took me right back to childhood trips to Cape Henlopen. Strange how smells can do that. Yoonseo bought us all sparklers and fireworks and we set them off after wading in the water and building a sandcastle. We even found a jellyfish!
On Thursday, the actual day of Chuseok, we had family devos in the morning along with an amazing meal (seriously Yoonseo's mom is a champion for cooking all that food for a bunch a foreigners). Afterwards we went biking around Gangpo lake. It was sort of like rail biking in that it was a four-person pedaled bike, but you weren't on a rail so you had to steer. I guess it was kind of like a Flintstone car :-) Me and Sarah and Kate and Anna all rode on one of those, while Heather and Michael rode a tandem bike and Kaia went on a single one. Yoonseo just walked. The lake was gorgeous and there were lotus and cosmo gardens to stop by on our way around. It was small, but really reminded me of Longwood. The leaves were starting to change, and though it was warm, the wind was cool. Fall is coming!
I wish I could really capture moments like that, biking along with good people in beautiful weather. I can't explain it.....just that it was a little piece of what's real.
We played some Settlers in the evening, and then after dinner, me, Sarah, Anna, and Kate said farewell to Yoonseo's family, as we were going to Sokcho (속초) for the night and doing some light hiking at Soraksan the next weekend.
I wished then so much that I had the language skills to say how grateful I was. I wanted to say that they were fantastic hosts, that they made us feel right at home and we really felt their care, that it felt like members of a big family getting along together though we'd never met before. But all I could say was 정말 감사합니다. 그런 때는 아주 답답하다. I want to be able to speak but I can't.
We drove to Sokcho and dropped our luggage off at James Blue, the hostel we were staying at, and then went to look at the sea a bit and see the full moon. And because it's a famous dish in Gangneung and Sokcho, we had Hwe (회), which is basically sashimi. It's rather expensive, but it is really good. I think I prefer it when it's sliced pretty thin because otherwise the texture distracts me from the good flavor, but still delicious.
Well, that's all for now.....look for part 2 coming soon!