Eco-tour part 2, Korea House performance
We were up at 8:30 again to meet Victor at 9:30am for a half-day eco tour before heading to the airport. We drove right to an area of seaside volcanic rocks that formed in a peculiar way. When you look at them from above, they are hexagonal shape and look like monkey bread, and from the side they look almost crystalline in shape. They were lined up next to each other, forming a cliff that was quite a sight, and looked like a bunch of totem poles smashed together.
We then drove around the huge volcano on Jeju and back towards the sea where we drove up the side of a different volcano, and got out of the van to climb the rest of the way up to the crater. Inside the crater we heard a strange sound and Victor told us that it was a goat. Sure enough, we could see the little black goat on the other side of the mountain, stumbling around and apparently looking for its mother. We had to watch our step up there because there were a ton of goat feces and some horse dung as well. The crater was pretty bare, but there were some patches of trees where apparently the goats hide, and we could see another crater from where we were standing and it was used as a horse ranch.
Jeju horses are protected by the Korean government and are quite special. They are much smaller than regular horses, and the ones we saw were pretty skinny, but I think they’re normally fairly stocky. They are ancestors of horses that the Mongols brought when they conquered the area.
Our last stop of the tour was Hallim Park, which was quite a sight. If you had told us that we were at Disneyland in California, we would have believed you. We walked down a long palm-tree lined sidewalk, saw a lot of Asian tourists, statues, flowers, well-groomed bushes, and kids running around. Apparently it was all the work of a wealthy Korean man who turned his barren land into this gorgeous green wonderland, and all by hand. At the park, we walked through caves that contained volcanic rock as well as limestone. Most volcanic caves don’t have stalactites, but these did due to the limestone content and water dripping in. There is quite a cave system underground in Jeju, but a lot of them are filled with sand. We walked by a bonsai exhibit and a bird aviary, and got some lunch at a Korean restaurant in the park. After lunch it was getting late, so Victor put us in a cab to the airport for our flight to Seoul.
Mr. Cho picked us up at the airport, and we were early getting into Seoul so we stopped by his church to look around. His pastor was there, and let us in to see the sanctuary, which was built to look like a catacomb. It was beautiful inside, and had a nice organ and huge area for the choir. Mr. Cho said that their choir is excellent. We then had tea with his pastor in his office. He spoke good English and German, and Mr. Cho says that he is very famous in Korea. He got his PhD in Germany and also went to Yonsei for college, which is Nathan’s dad’s alma mater. He was an impressive man, and Mr. Cho says that he gives very good sermons, which is easy to believe.
After leaving the church we went to a place called Korea House for a traditional dinner followed by a Korean cultural performance. The performance included many short acts, including traditional dances, a solo opera (it was a very different type of singing!), women playing drums, and the finale was called Samul-nori. At first, four men came out and seemed to be playing their instruments frantically at random times. We couldn’t sense the rhythm or any melody. It reminded Susan of her and the Dobson kids running around in her backyard banging on things. One guy had a flute-type instrument, a couple guys had zithers, and the lead guy had a loud, small, shrill gong. After a while the clanging stopped, and they started dancing to a quieter beat, whipping the ropes on their heads around and around. They did some impressive solo dances, and it seemed a fitting finale. We really enjoyed the show despite our lack of understanding, and plan to look into each performance more to learn the significance.
After the performance we felt brave, and saw a subway sign so we maneuvered our way through the Seoul underground onto a couple of different lines, and eventually surfaced about fifty meters from our hotel! We were pretty proud of ourselves, even though some nice people helped us a little.
Back in our room, we watched a little CSI, Nathan faxed his revised offer letter to GE, and we tried some drinks from the mini-bar. After some Hennessy on the rocks and a rough sip of Chivas Regal we decided to stick to wine, which we opened up and sipped before falling asleep to a 1:00 AM CSI on our favorite station, OCN.