Monday, September 23, 2013

The Walking City

I feel lucky being placed where I am. It's a stereotypical feeling, but I think the city of Icheon and Doam Elementary itself serves my personality and needs well. It's true that Icheon has proved to be quite the walking city. I love that I'm seven minutes away from downtown Icheon, near the shopping district, as well as Icheon's biggest park, Seolbong Park. 

One view of Seolbongho Lake in Seolbong Park

Roughly the size of Madison, Wisconsin (200,000), Icheon is known for its ceramics, to-die-for rice, and hot springs. I could potentially spend a day at the spa and then hit the potter's wheel and throw a pot (I've actually read about such day-packages). My kind of day, my kind of life. 

Arriving right before the holiday worked out wonderfully. I got a little lonely because the city (at least where I was) cleared out for Chuseok. Moonee said that all the teachers were extremely worried about me -- there just weren't a lot of people around if I needed help. And food. As I was finishing my first meal in Korea at a traditional Korean Restaurant on my arrival day, the co-teacher said, "This is your last supper." He was making a joke. Many restaurants and shops were closed over the holiday, which started the day after.

My first-last supper. Intense in the best way.

But I survived, and I explored. Taking everything in and absorbing all the landmarks to help my navigation system was important. Putting myself in those horribly impossible but somehow workable language barrier situations - ordering coffee, explaining to the Koreans who assume I speak Korean that I don't (Mee ah hahm nee dah. Ah nyoe Korean. American **points to chest**), asking bus drivers about their stops, and buying T-money (a bus pass essentially) - was a good way to forget inhibitions and simply go about my days. The language can only get easier and boy, can Korea get any prettier?

My first view of Korea outside the airport, through the car window.
Not looking my best and brightened in post -- Outside the Korean restaurant where I ate my first Korean meal.

A look down Walking Street -- I like the circle made by the sewer top, entrance, lid (?)
Landscape art -- It took me getting closer to figure out what "they" were...
Potter's wheel and really beautiful ceramic pots

View of the city from Seolbong Park -- I really liked all the blue roofs.

Near the entrance of Ceramia (Seolbong Park) -- Where the mountain and water meet.

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