Thursday, 10 December 2009

Andeok Teachers' Trip to Namhae-gun

This was going to be my first excursion with the Andeok School teachers. The Principal (whom I probably drew out to be somewhat of a bad guy) happily agreed to have Ken join us on the trip.

After a speedy run through the students’ examination period, all teachers were ready to set forth on the two day, one night trip to Namhae-gun, one of the southernmost islands off of the mainland of South Korea.

Everyone walked out to the blue Cheongsong bus (with an apple smack-dab on the center of it), a bus rented out just for us Andeok teachers.

The inside of our carriage to the south was decorated with royal purple trim, and sparkling-gold garlands. This was a party bus, with enough room to seat forty-six people, but instead, seating only sixteen teachers. We were gonna have some fun.

The four-hour bus ride started off with the trip’s coordinator handing out snacks and cans of Hite beer – probably not a good idea for an extensive trip around many of Korea’s scenic mountains.

Three long pit stops and four hours later, the bus arrived safely in Namhae and all of the teachers were ready to begin the itinerary for the evening.

First, we stopped to hike in the Geumsan Mountains, best known for its watchtower, one of five across South Korea. If lit, the remaining four would be signaled to light in succession, all the way to Seoul (about an eight-hour drive from Namhae). Our second stop was the famous Boriam Temple, built atop one of the highest points of the Geumsan Mountains. We had to take a shuttle bus, halfway up the mountain, and the driver had no problem pushing the bus’ engine to move us forward on the one-lane road. The view from the top of the mountain did not disappoint, as we could take in the 360-degree view of Namhae and the Jinjuman Bay that the island contained.

After some complaints from the female teachers about the laborious walk in the freezing weather, all of us started downwards towards the shuttle, and then to our blue apple-plastered bus, ready to take on a fresh meal of san (live) and cooked nakjee (octopus). Ken was definitely looking forward to that (ref. First Trip to Seoul – Saturday).

We stopped by our hotel to drop off our things, and I took note of the Escape Rope that was contained in a red box on the hotel room’s wall. No fire extinguisher…just an escape rope, in a ruby-enameled, red box. Next time, I’ll have to review my rope-knotting techniques before heading out on a trip like this one.


The restaurant was exquisite, with a main room that was bordered by three large panels of windows. The room would’ve given us a stunning view if it had just been morning. We started off our supper with the spicy octopus (half squirming, and half cooked and gummy…mmm…) and proceeded to end our meal with soju and coke bombs (shots of soju in beer). Of course, the men wanted to drink with Ken, so he had his fair share of alcohol with each man at the table before the evening was out.

What would be a normal teachers’ outing without hours and hours of Karaoke? Arriving back at the hotel, all of us immediately went downstairs to their luxurious Karaoke center, and the Andeok teachers proceeded to sing hundreds of their favourite Korean classics, pushing Ken and I to sing along. Too bad Ken and I hadn’t chosen our No. 18 song beforehand (No. 1 song being the No. 18 song in Korea). We spent the entire night, looking for tunes we could sing with the Korean teachers and ended up choosing Dancing Queen by ABBA (a song I had practiced over and over with my dad’s Karaoke machine), My Heart Will Go On (from Titanic), and Last Christmas. However, it was no match to the Korean teachers. They drank, they ate, and they sang. Bottles of soju and Hite were filling up every table. Ken and I weren’t allowed to have empty hands, and if we did, someone would come up to us and gladly offer us a drink (by offer, I mean that they would push glasses into our hands and overflow them with the vile liquids. Handshakes became arms around the shoulder, and even those persisted to become rubs on our backs and legs. From 9:00pm to 2:00 in the morning, there was no inhibition. Just Hite, soju, and karaoke. Would the teachers feel it the next morning?

They did. What a sight to see. From my point of view, the older ladies completely passed out during the night and the room was silent. From Ken’s point of view, the male teachers took a couple of hours to talk, argue, smoke, etc., and finally went to sleep, orchestrating an masterpiece overture of high- and low-pitched snores, a wide range of nighttime toots, and some overly strange sounds that Ken tried to mimic for me the next morning. He got a sight for sore eyes, when the male teachers freely took their showers and walked around naked (sometimes stationing themselves inches away from Ken), preparing for the trip back home. He was closer to them than I’ll ever be :).


Next on our agenda was a cruise around the Namhae region. Being little larger than a tug boat, the massively hung-over teachers tried to hold themselves together as the boat rocked from side to side, swaying back and forth, and giving the teachers the thrill-ride of a lifetime.

Before we set out for Andeok, everyone got the chance to pickup a souvenir from the area. We stopped at the finest souvenir shop that Namhae had to offer. It was stocked full of dried shrimp, anchovies, raw, spiced squid, seaweed, etc. Despite the shop leaving a distinct fishy odour in my hair and clothes, Ken and I gratefully received two stuffed-to-the-brim boxes of dried anchovies – a specialty of the Namhae region.

This trip has earned its place in my memory. The succulent meals, the mind-numbing alcohol, the deafening karaoke, X-rated nudity…it will never be forgotten.

- Jess

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like quite the trip! Boy can you guys pack a lot of adventure in one weekend! The teachers seem like quite a fun bunch.