Ganghwa Photoglut: We Will See Mountain Flowers, And Eat Delicious Food

Valley towns

The title is also the description I was given of our staff club day excursion to nearby Ganghwa island. From this, I did not quite decipher that “see flowers” meant “engage in arduous hike” and thus did not come prepared with adequate footwear or clothing. School let out early, and most of the staff piled onto the bus, and we rushed off to the wilderness across the enormous airport island bridge. The extent of my preparation was carrying my bulky camera and the ziploc full of snackfoods that the staff handed to me upon embarking the bus. I wheedled a Korean teacher into using the English he claimed not to know, and off we went into the wilderness.

My principal, apparently, is of the “my dad” school of time estimation, and assured the assembled staff (mostly young people who hated hiking, and older people who wanted to eat dinner and look at things without ascending any inclines) that the entire hike would only last 40 minutes. An hour later, we reached the first major peak. Sprawling out beyond was an unearthly span of pink and purple flowers, swaying in the sloping mountain winds, looking like the oceans by way of the Andromeda galaxy. There seemed to be just one more climb through some mud, and then, bam, we’d be back on a bus en route to some food.

Koreans are pretty into the hierarchy, and it’s interesting to watch how long it’ll take them to break. As someone who enjoys hiking and has come to accept that I’ll never be properly informed of the plan, I was happy to continue wandering on in the forest until nightfall, though my coworkers did not seem nearly as keen. Still they maintained stiff upper lips. But finally, at the three-hour mark, teachers began a-grumbling. They held out for a long time, and still after only mentioned off-handedly that the hike was certainly longer than expected, and that maybe we could get to the promised smorgasbord.

We eventually came to main roads once more, to houses, and country-side, and roadway. I had a chance to bond with some of the teachers, and to impress upon them again that yes, I can actually understand what some of you guys are saying. As we passed by a nearby house, a dog bounded about the yard, lolling playfully in the grass. My co-teacher, a connoisseur of everything that is adorable, breathed “귀엽다!” (cute). The male teacher I sat with on the bus from earlier, hungry and bored, muttered, “맛있겠다” (delicious). The other two teachers chuckled, and at my laughter craned their heads around like I had suddenly begun levitating. “You… understood?” Yes. Dog-eating humour crosses all boundaries and languages.

By the end of the day, the teachers were too tired to bother humouring me with English, and I too tired to try deciphering whole conversations in Korean, and thus I quietly stared down the barrel of big piles of raw fish (yes please) and raw shellfish (barf served inside little chitin bowls of sadness). I was exhausted, and when we finally got back to the school at past 10, I helped the teachers unload the undrunk liquor from the bus. My principal, who had at least drank some of it, found it humorous that I was holding a case of beer, and after a moment’s consideration, felt that the joke could only be more improved if I also took it home with me. If I was not actually living all of this, I would think I was making it up.

On another note: Ganghwa is really pretty, you guys. Check out these pictures.

Mountain flowers

Ganghwa mountainsides







7 thoughts on “Ganghwa Photoglut: We Will See Mountain Flowers, And Eat Delicious Food

  1. Love it! 😀 I have noticed a similar phenomenon with regards to language from the Japanese. Although I have demonstrated my ability to understand and even occasional use some short sentences, they continue to go into hysterics if I so much as say ‘kawaii (cute)’ or ‘do itashimashite (you’re welcome)’. Pictures are beautiful as well!

    • It’s flattering to my ego and also a little worrying at the same time. The stuff I manage in front of them is not hard; I sometimes wish I would get challenged to make better sentences.

  2. Loved the pictures. If you can’t find a teaching job in Canada you have a career in Korean translating and photography.

  3. The purple reminds me of the Scottish heather; a fitting tribute to your grandfather. And while I did chuckle at the dog (delicious) comment, I think I would be more adventurous than you in trying the local delicacies

  4. Your pictures are so beautiful Michael. Please tell me you were kidding about eating live octupus as the thought of it makes me want to chuck. lol

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