Celebrating Buddha on Geoje Island

June 11, 2013

Buddha's birthday made its way around the calendar again and this time we were off to Geoje Island, the second largest island in Korea which is located off the south-east coast. We headed out late on a Thursday to arrive around midnight. 

The view from the pension we rented.


A nearby beach.
We stopped for a view before having brunch in town.


For our first full day we decided to go for the main attraction, Oe Island, a nearby island which hosts nothing but a botanical garden. (Yes, an island off an island. Island-ception).

What ended up being a highlight of our trip was the 20 minute ferry ride over to the island. Sounds pleasant enough until the captain compares the impending ride to The Viking. He wasn't lying:



Once on the island, we had an hour and a half to peruse the gardens. I realized that risking my life on the ferry was totally worth it as I suddenly felt like I was somewhere in Europe. I'm not usually one for gardens but this one was something to see. Our timing could not have been more perfect; as we made our way through the garden, we were able to enjoy blue skies followed by a sunset at the top of the garden.












Once back on the mainland/main-island, we sought out an Indian restaurant. Chai for dessert. This area was great for foreign restaurants because the local ship-building industry brought in people from other countries.



For our second day, we went to the Geoje Prisoner of War camp. POWs were held there for the duration of the Korean War (mostly North Korean and Chinese). It was emphasized throughout the park that these prisoners enjoyed standards of living which complied with the Genova Convention. Which was next to a diorama of people getting beat down. Which was next to an explanation about anti-communist training. To each their own.
Overall I found the atmosphere of this place to be counter-intuitive; usually places like this exist to elicit some feelings of empathy or deepen understandings of history, but the endless props and photo ops didn't do that. Near the end of our visit, we stumbled upon some rubble and rundown cement structures which turned out to be legitimate remnants of the POW camp. This area, the part with the real history, was away from the main area and totally free of people.





Our last stop of the day was at a pebble beach. It still wasn't really warm enough for swimming, but that didn't stop the kids from splashing around and heaving rocks at each other.




Once back at the pension, we decided it was steak night. Circumstances brought me to be the griller, a rarity which ended up to be quite a success! 


After grabbing a Western brunch on Sunday morning, we headed back to Mokpo.

***

How quickly time flies. First semester is basically over. Next week is my final week of teaching, which will be followed by a week of speaking tests, a week of studying, then final exams. After another few weeks of summer camp classes, I'll be off to Canada for 2 weeks!

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