August 5th 2007 - Geoje

August 5th 2007

Short vacation and a bit of diving

I have been struggling all night with my diving website, but can't get it to work as I want to. So status now is that it is very late and I still haven't achieved anything. I will hopefully (!?) be able to finish this weeks entry tomorrow night. In the meantime, feel free to visit my small diving webpage for an account of this Saturdays dive trip.

Monday 6th:

So, back online. I think I finally got my dive site to work. I don't use the same host and have some problems with the setup. But now I'll concentrate on something for those of you who are non-divers .... These last two weeks have been holiday season here in Korea. HHI (Hyundai Heavy Industries - the main yard(s) in town) have been off for two weeks whereas our small shipyard only shut down for 3-4 days from Wednesday to Saturday. Our plan was to go to Seoul last week, but our friend there (Youngae) told us that the temperature reached 40 degrees during the day, so we decided do a road trip to the south of the country instead. That way we always had the option of escaping to the AC-cooled confines of the car when we were overheating. So Wednesday we packed the car and headed into the country, taking the slow road. Crossing the mountains we were able to avoid the worst traffic, but the first major town we reached swallowed us up instantly. As it turned out, this was only the beginning. It soon dawned on us that half of Korea had decided to make a roadtrip to the south ! Anyway, more on that later. We made it to Gyheon on the island Geoje, Korea's second largest island and home to Samsung and Daewoo shipyards. Just before reaching Geoje Island, we managed a 10-minute visit to a pearl museum in Tongyeong. The museum was at the brink of closing for the day, but at least we learned that pearl farming was a big thing in the local area. This explained all the white floats we could see in the water.

Next day we planned a trip along the coast of the island. But first we made our way to the Historic POW Camp. This was the interim home of up to 173.000 POWs during the Korean war. Now all that was left was this park or should I say educational display. Again it felt like half of Korea had decided to be educated on this very day, but it was still a good learning experience. Not least because of the heat we experienced - how had it not been for the prisoners in their canvas tents ?

Still early on the day we headed out of town again. The north of the island wasn't too crowded. In fact there were hardly any people at all. The scenery was amazing - very green and mountainous with loads of small beautiful coves and bays. The beaches always seemed to lack that little something though. As the island is very hilly and at the same time destined to be the next big tourist attraction for Korea, a huge investment in infrastructure was made obvious by the amount of unfinished bridges and highways we came across. As we edged our way south, the traffic got denser. Especially near the beaches, where it had stopped completely. In the end we gave up ! We cut the tour short, cut through the island instead of taking the coastal road, and returned to Tongyeong on the mainland. The traffic here wasn't much better !! In the end we decided to park the car and continue on foot, in the search of a place to stay. Finding a hotel is not always easy. First we need a hotel with a bed - that eliminates about half of the hotels we see. Then we need to be able to communicate a tiny little bit with the owners - we are now down to about 10% of the hotels we find. So, needless to say, we can't have to high standards regarding beds, AC and bathrooms. In short we paid good money for poor quality ! And started to miss our own bed ... So in the end we decided to do a bit of sightseeing in the morning of the third day and then head home to Ulsan, Peo and our beds again. We got up early and drove out to the boat excursion terminal, where we somehow managed to buy a ticket to Hanansa (Hanan Island) and the former headquartes of General Yi, who, we were constantly reminded, defeated the Japanese several times though severely outnumbered. Apparently he was able to knock out the Japanese forces partly due to his turtle ships - the worlds first iron clad ships. Replicas of these ships are now on display on every southern harbor with any respect of themselves ! Every August the battle of Hanansa is reenacted. I think it now is clear to you that Korea is very proud of their General Yi.

The trip back to Ulsan was pretty uneventful. The only distraction was the truck who had lost its load of WC's all over the freeway ! It's always a good idea to stay well clear of the trucks here as they don't always put much attention to the lashings of their cargo. I'm not sure we would have survived having a water closet thrown through the windshield ! And it's not really a glamorous way to go either .... "How did they die ??" "They got caught in a cloud of flying water closets ...... !" Well, we made it back to Ulsan in any case. Just in time to join a group of friends for their Friday night out. We don't normally go out on Fridays due to me working on Saturdays, and this Friday was also an early night for us. This time because of a 7 am dive trip Saturday morning. Read about how this went here. Sunday was a day for exercise. First 1½ hours of tennis followed by 1½-2 hours of squash. And then a huge lunch and a few games of Maj hong with Chris and Hannah. They were heading home to England after 6 weeks of vacations here. I think I'll miss having my new brother around !! I got used to having my "family" here, but now they are all back in England...

At night we went out once more - this time with some of my colleagues. It a hard life here!! hehe !!!


Despues de varios dias Peder logro poner su pagina de buseo al dia , asique ya pueden ver las fotos que saco en su buseo del sabado aqui en Corea.

Bueno el miercoles partimos a un paseo al sur de Corea. La idea inicial era ir a Seul , pero estaba super caluroso y humedo asique decidimos dejar ese viaje pendiente para mas adelante y partimos al sur de Corea. El pais entero sale de vacaciones, es genial . HHI ( hyundai heave industries ) sale de vacaciones los 5 primeros dias de agosto, con lo que es casi todo el pais o por lo menos el sur de corea . Hyundai no solo fabrica autos, sino barcos, supermercados, malls , etc. Aqui es una industria imnensa e increible , asique para que se den una idea solo en el astillero hyundai de ulsan trabajan 35 MIL personas ! . Pero bueno volviendo al viaje partimos al sur a la isla de Gyheon en la isla de Geoje donde estan los astilleros de Samsung y Daewoo . Al cruzar a la isla fuimos al museo de Perlas, super interesante y con explicaciones en ingles....lo que nos puso contentos !

Despues fuimos al POW ( campo de prisioneros de guerra ) que era un campo de concentracion de la guerra entre las Coreas . Habia 173 mil personas viviendo ahi , la verdad fue bien impresionante , el lugar no era mas grande que dos canchas de futbol y vivia toda esa gente . Lo que mas me llamo la atencion fue ver el museo LLENO de gente , nosotros eramos los unicos extranjeros , los coreanos son muy de visitar sus museos , templos , etc. y aqui queda demostrado que la gente quiere enseñar a las futuras generaciones lo que paso entre las Coreas para no repetirlo.

Al otro dia partimos a otra cuidad, no habia tanta gente en el camino hasta que me toco manejar a mi...y los tacos eran impresionantes ! nunca vi tanta gente en una calle, pero lo bueno era el paisaje con lo que nos contentabamos mirando las altas montanas llenas de arboles, las playas llenas de gente y los niños bañandose . Muy lindo y MUY caluroso , 37 grados y mas......yo casi me derrito .

El ultimo dia nos levantamos temprano y partimos en un ferry a la isla de Hanansa , una isla a 30 minutos de la cuidad en que estabamos. Aqui estaba el general Yi que defendio Corea de Japon . Aqui usaron el primer barco de fierro .

El viernes volvimos a Ulsan en la tarde y en la noche nos juntamos con un grupo de amigos a comer , nos fuimos temprano porque Peder tenia buseo al otro dia . El sabado Peder buseo y yome quede en la casa regaloneando a la Peolita y luego en la tarde comimos con Peder y vimos una pelicula.

El domingo Peder jugo squash con su "hermano ingles" Chris y luego fuimos a almorzar con el y Hanna su novia, jugamos el ultimo partido de Mahjong y en la tarde partieron a Inglaterra .

This is a map of Geoje Island. It is as pretty as it looks on the map!

Aqui una foto del mapa de la isla de Geoje.

Unfortunately we were not the only ones to have vacation and definitely not the only ones to spend it in the south. We hit the first traffic jam long before reaching Geoje.

Asi empezamos el viaje , unos tacos increibles, pero las montañas nos hacian el viaje entretenido.

Which meant that I could have a short siesta...

Mientras yo manejaba Peder se quedo dormido , el pobre estaba medio chato de los tacos ....

The scenery was spectacular most of the trip southwards. Only around Masan was the view a bit bland. This photo is from the mountains about one hour west of Ulsan.

Asi es el paisaje a 1 hora de Ulsan, Increible . Solo cerca de Masan es mas plano pero en general el sur es asi .

This is just before crossing over to Geoje we stopped at a small pearl museum/jewelery shop, which gave us the explanation for all the white floats you see in this picture.

Aqui entrando a la isla de Geoje paramos para ver el museo/tienda de perlas. Con lo de que despues de la visita supimos que eran esas bollas blancas flotando en el mar .

This one is from Geoje Island. The pearl oysters are exposed during low tide.

Aqui en la Isla de Geoje . Las perlas de ostras se pueden ver cuando esta la marea baja.

It was hot outside ....

Y asi era el calor....yo si no manejaba me iba mirando el termometro que tiene el auto para ver la temperatura ambiental. No bajo de 35 grados y la humedad era bastante alta tambien.

... and the beaches were crowded ... (notice the rocks on the beach)

Las playas bien llenas como pueden ver en la foto y nada de arena....Tienen piedras !

... as were the villages ....

Y las cuidades igual de llenas de gente.

... and the roads.

las calles con bastantes tacos ( atascos para los no chilenos ! )

But it was all worth it - especially the north of the island which seemed a bit more relaxed and less "discovered" compared to the southern beach towns.

Aqui se puede ver el norte de la isla; al parecer con menos gente . Es muy lindo .

In Gyheon we found this bar. I find it one of the stranger names for a bar.

En Gyheon encontramos este bar....nunca entendimos el nombre, "Ella"

But then again, I had never before seen a shop for worshipers either. This town had some strange shops. The above shop catered to your daily praying needs.

Y aqui una tienda que vende articulos para monjes budistas , para Peder era super raro ver este timpo de tiendas....para mi era como estar en la gruta de lourdes en Santiago y ver las figuritas, rosarios, etc.

These mannequins were always ready for a photo, displaying the Asian pose (- why is it that Koreans always have to show the V-sign when they have their photo taken?)

Aqui una tienda con los maniquies estilo coreano. Aqui la gente siempre pone los dedos asi en forma de V cuando le sacan fotos.

The POW historic park was well visited. Paula was amazed by the amount of Koreans who do tourism in their own country - many more than in Chile and Denmark, but then again, there are a lot more Koreans all told. The display of the park was good and well laid out, giving a bit of a M.A.S.H. feel. Take away all the propaganda and it was still interesting ! The North Koreans only missed conquering a relative small area in the south when they were on a winning streak during the war, so this camp, which was located within that small area, was the biggest POW camp in South Korea.

Aqui el Campo de prisioneros de guerra. A mi me impresiona como los coreanos siempre visitan sus museos , monumentos , etc. Siempre esta lleno de gente y nosotros como unicos o casi unicos extranjeros visitando.

Here is Paula on Hanan island. We took a cruise boat to go see the old naval headquarters under General Yi.

Aqui yo en la Isla de Hanan. Muy caluroso y humedo. Aqui estaba el cuartel principal del general Yi.

It was located in a small cove, close to the area where our hero Gen. Yi defeated the overwhelming Japanese fleet in 1500-something.

And this is the man. I am not sure if it is only on the south coast that he is celebrated or if he is a true national hero, but I saw a few people praying in front of this painting, much the same way they do at the temples.

Y aqui esta el general Yi. Alli es considerado el heroe maximo.

This is the archery pavilion used by General Yi's soldiers.

Aqui el pavellon de arqueros usado por el general y sus soldados.

And these are the targets. This is the only archery training ground in Korea where you have to shoot your arrows across the sea (or bay). It was a good long distance, I thought.

Aqui los targets. Aqui es el unico lugar en corea que se tiene que tirar la flecha cruzando el mar . Era bien larga la distancia yo creo.

Geoje island is not all beaches and pearl oysters. It's also rice fields, of course.

La Isla de Geoje no es solo perlas y playas , aqui una de las plantaciones de Arroz, a mi me encantan.

We got home just in time for a night out with our friends. Here is a photo of me and my "brother" Chris, before he left us for wet and soggy England !

El dia que volvimos nos juntamos con algunos amigos para comer. Aqui Peder y su "hermano" Chris , antes que este volara a la lluviosa y nublada Inglaterra !

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