At the beginning of September, I went on a business trip for EPIK teachers in the province of Chungcheongbuk-do. Well, I say business trip, but it was more of an all-inclusive paid vacation sponsored by the kind and generous people at Isabu Academy.
The aim? To learn about the history of Dokdo and the claims Korea has over the islands in the territorial dispute they have with Japan over them. (These islands are known in Japan as “Takeshima”, if you’ve heard it by that name instead).
Imma do this as a photo log since I managed to get in a fair amount of picture taking. Yay pictures!
We headed out a bit late on Monday morning (well, relatively speaking; it was 7:15 am, but we were waiting on a certain someone to show up *cough*Claire*cough*) and missed our strict 7 am departure. The majority of this day was spent by me being tired and antisocial as we were led through various areas on the East coast of Korea near the coastal city of Gangneung.
The guide was super knowledgeable, bringing us to tons of historical sites.
One of these was a banquet hall where, due to the danger of sailing the pirate-infested waters between Korea and the island of Ulleungdo, the sailors would feast as if for their last meal. It would be many months before they could return and family members could know their fate.
The next day was another wake-up-at-the-crack-of-dawn start, but I was feeling a little more rested and sociable. Bought heaps of seasickness medication due to my tendency to be motion sick.
Passed the fuck out, and then awoke in time to play many rounds of charades. Let it be known that this is a great game for identifying people of similar tastes and levels of geekiness.
Arrived at the Ulleungdo port after about three hours. Because of the news of an upcoming typhoon, the itinerary was rearranged to allow us to go to Dokdo that day instead at risk of not being able to go at all (the weather is very fickle this far out in the water; the previous year’s trip couldn’t make it to the Dokdo islands at all due to stormy seas).
Took some more seasickness medication and we were off for another hour and a half ride.
We headed back after only twenty minutes on the island port to continue our educational tour of Ulleungdo.
Spent the evening socializing at the pension getting to know each other. Having spent a very lonely and isolated year in Cheongju, it was amazing to finally meet people of similar personality and interests. We all hit it off swimmingly.
Next day the predicted typhoon made an early appearance.
The next day everything had cleared up rather marvelously though! Sunrise broke through as if nothing had happened.
Unfortunately (for the few who had flights they needed to catch for the upcoming long weekend), because no ferries could get through the day before, Korean holiday traffic congested the ferries for the day. We managed to scrape together enough tickets to get those with dire prior arrangements off the island, but the rest of us were stuck.
Not that we were complaining; Between touring the island, learning valuable educational information, and getting to know all the awesome people on the trip, I couldn’t have had a better time.
We spent the extra day doing performances (part of the educational part of our trip) and choosing between various activities we could occupy ourselves with. I went for a walk to see the island’s famous waterfall with some other friends, but there were also options to go fishing and hiking along the volcanic cone of the island (I’d had enough of hiking volcanoes from Mount Fuji).
After we finished our tour, we got to explore the main port town of Ulleungdo.
After that, we had much delicious pizza and spent the night playing more charades and generally enjoying the company of each other until we passed out.
And since I submitted a reflective write-up about our last day, I shall copy paste that here and make this a two-parter post!
To be continued tomorrow, mes amis.