Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Green Tea, Bugs and Bus Drivers

Carrie and I headed to Boseong and Gwangju last weekend, something we had been saying we'd do for approximately 18 months. There's a beautiful Green Tea plantation in Boseong that we wanted to visit. I searched online quite a bit and figured out we'd stay in Gwangju, explore Saturday, then go to Boseong on Sunday.

We took the bus to Gwangju. We arrived and followed the unclear directions to our hostel nearby. The "ten minutes" walk was a bit longer than they said. But that's ok.

We figured out our plans and followed directions by our hostel owner to head to a couple museums.

This first thing we saw were these birds.

Quite literally in the middle of the road.
We decided to take the bus, thinking it wouldn't take very long. Well, that was based on the time it should have taken in Seoul. Apparently, Gwangju buses only come every 25-30 minutes. That is not an exaggeration. I looked at the signs. The one that came the most frequently came every 23 minutes. We also had to transfer buses.
On the first bus, our bus driver was texting and driving, which is still not as bad as the taxi drivers who watch TV on their GPS systems and drive, but still.

We then waited for 25 minutes for the next bus, which never showed up, so we decided to just take a taxi because it was late and getting ridiculous.

Our first stop was the National Museum of Gwangju, which was very interesting.

The little boy in this picture ran up to me (before I took this creeper picture) and said in Korean, "Who are you taking pictures of?!" in a very excited voice. I think he would have gotten everyone to pose if I'd asked.

The museum had a lot of ancient to medieval Korean artifacts, which provided a great range of things to look at.

Like this fishing hooks.
This urn.

Yes, it's an urn.

These back massagers. Or, you know, as it says in the picture, eight armed bronzed rattles???

These arrows in a very distracting, out of place, leopard print holder.
These tiny pots that could never have had a real purpose.

This urn replica that was hanging on a wall, complete with fake person inside it.
This dragon pitcher.

This guy.
A lot of Buddha statues.

These happy guys.

I have no idea what this is, but it's a bit bug-eyed.
This falcon

The crazy-eyed animal

This horse.
The butterfly on top of the glass you could see through to the floor below.
This smug cat.
We then headed to the next museum. We got directions and a map, which were completely wrong and did not seem to factor in that the next museum was not directly across the street, but rather around the corner several blocks and in a completely different neighborhood.

We did not learn that until after we'd crossed an overpass.

passed these farmers farming on the side of the road

Hit a dead end and realized our map was wrong.

Once again we took a taxi, who said in Korean, "you know that's really close" and I said, "I know but we can't find it"

We paid base fare, which luckily in Korean is 2 dollars.
By the time we finally made it to this museum, it was closed.

But, as you can see, there were ping pong tables.

Carrie and I played Ping Pong for 5 minutes, until they announced they were closed and took away our paddles.

We tried to go to the folk museum here, which was also closed. It was very early.

Kimchi Pots

So we wandered around the grounds for a while, then decided to find a restaurant.

There were no restaurants anywhere nearby.

But we did find this cafe: Walking Seattle. A little shout out to my hometown, even though the picture on their cards was of New York and not Seattle.

We saw this poor Pomeranian who was terrified of the other dogs and trying to blend into the glass.
We finally found a samgyeopsal place, which was more expensive than other places I've been, but still delicious.

Then we went to the Walking Seattle, because nothing else was open at 7PM. We hung out for a while, then headed to the hostel and went to sleep.

A slightly unexciting day, but the purpose of the trip was to see Boseong, so it was ok.

We woke up bright and early at 6AM to head to Boseong. We walked to the Bus Station and took the bus for an hour.

Here's the bus station in Boseong. It was very small.

Carrie and I had waited a year to come to Boseong, so obviously it was raining. They have these bags in Korea that you can put over your wet umbrellas, so you don't get everything you own wet, which is a great idea, even if it is bad for the environment. I noticed there was a green thing in my bag, so obviously I thought it was a leaf.

Then I looked closer.

As you can see, it was a giant bug.

I don't know if it was in the bag and I squished the bug with my umbrella, or if it was on my umbrella and I smashed it into the tiny bag.

It was still twitching a little when I took my umbrella out. Horrifying.

We arrived in Boseong extremely early. Around 8AM, which is apparently before anything opens. The information desk, the convenience store, everything. It was still raining. So we looked around the parking lot, then sat down on the benches outside the convenience store waiting for the museum to open.

This is the museum. It is a History of Tea museum, which I can tell you, is about as interesting as the History of Tea sounds.

That is, not interesting AT ALL. I mean, I'm a history major, but I did not care about the different classifications of tea.

Or the pictures of what colors of tea their are. Or people who drank tea publicly in Korea. We got out of their quickly and headed to the plantations.

It was still raining a lot.

Not before passing this court in the middle of the parking lot.

This is on the walk to the plantation from the parking lot.

It was still raining.

But it's beautiful!

I was freezing, but it was beautiful!

Those mounds in the middle are graves.

We met a random girl from Hong Kong, Pauline, who we wandered around with for the rest of the day all the way to Seoul, since she was staying near where I live.

And it was still raining.

We hiked up the mountain in the rain. It was a bit treacherous, especially considering on top of the mountain was about the time that the typhoon hit.

Why yes, we waited an entire year to see Boseong and a typhoon hits in the middle of our tour!

Luckily, we were not blown off the mountain.

Almost drowned, but not blown off.

These are the steps we climbed up in a typhoon. My blue and white tennis shoes turned a bit brown.

But the view from the top was worth it, as it always is. I always say, "If I'm here I am climbing up it!" Even if it's the Parthenon, Epidauras or the wall around Dubrovnik in 112 degrees or Boseong in a Typhoon.

Carrie was a bit more reluctant, but she was a trooper. Her shoes (wedge heels=bad idea) were not troopers.
The clouds lowering into the mountains.

And my umbrella broke.

So we headed back down the mountain. I hid my camera inside my backpack. We got lunch. I had green tea rice bibimbop. We got green tea ice cream, which I immediately got on my shirt in an undisclosed manner. And a green tea latte, which I immediately knocked over onto my shirt in an undisclosed manner. It burned my stomach. Carrie said it was like the hole made a spout that poured it directly onto just one spot of my shirt, which was true. We then bought some gifts/souvenirs and headed back to Seoul, which took approximately 3 days. Not really, but it definitely took 9 hours when it should have taken 5. There was a ton of traffic. And there was a typhoon.

Overall, it was actually a great trip, even if it seems I am complaining. It was a lot of fun. It just would have been a bit more comfortable in clear weather, so I wouldn't have to spend 9 hours on a bus in my wet clothes and shoes. As one of said at the bus station before getting on the bus, "I just want to change my socks!"

No comments:

Post a Comment