Thursday, April 16, 2009

What's Going on in Gohyeon?

Spring is here. We have seen so many beautiful cherry blossoms, rhododendrons, and azaleas. We wanted to send a couple snapshots your way which would give you a better picture of everyday life as we know it. Time seems to fly. We are counting our eighth week in Korea.

Our city is very good about maintaining and landscaping. They have a number of small parks scattered throughout town.

The other side of the story is that there was literally nothing but agriculture and fishing villages here on Geoje island until about 20 years ago. The area expanded rapidly and was built very quickly and efficiently, therefore fancy architecture was not a priority. We are now just beginning to see some interesting buildings spring up.

The cause for this rapid growth on the island is the shipbuilding industry. This is Korea's largest industry and they rank 2nd in the world for production of oil tankers, and container ships. Our town, Gohyeon is the home of the 25,000 employee, Samsung shipyard. Other nearby towns are home to companies such as DSME and STX.

We really enjoy hiking in to the mountains above the city and watching the boats come and go out of the harbor. It is also an excellent view of the shipyards. Jesse is working on getting a tour.

An interesting part of our week is always going to the fish market to buy veggies fruit, fish, eggs, nuts, tofu, rice cakes, plants, and other unexpected items. It is what one would expect a foreign fish market to be like, I guess? Lots of fish splashing in and out of their buckets, lots of weird foods, lots of deals and bartering going down, and the occasional scooter pushing through the people.
Of course there are the items that we don't buy too: giant jars of ginseng, many forms and flavors of kimchi, squid, octopus, mushrooms, shellfish......etc. We have tried many of these but, it's best to let the Koreans barter for and cook the weird stuff.

Its fun to watch the fish jump from bucket to bucket, or out of the bucket. The vendors are always busy putting fish back in the right bucket.

Veggies, Veggies. They seem to be in season all of the time. Many come from greenhouses on the island, and the oranges come from nearby Jeju, the Korean equivalent of Hawaii.

There are many older, local women who sell greens that they raise and clams that they catch. I believe that they all have their own garden behind their house.
Because it is not recommended to drink the tap water, we were buying bottled water. The other day while exploring different trails on the island. We found a developed spring water fill up station. We learned that the city develops mountain springs for people to use. The stainless steel box has a pump which kicks on when you begin to fill your containers, and the water is UV sterilized. There are a number of springs on every hiking trail which people use, but we only use the developed one.
There are many items which we cannot or choose not to purchase in the market and for these we turn to the 8 story Home Plus. If you are up for a chuckle check out their 30 second video which is played throughout the store: Home Plus is much like any other super grocery store, except in Korean. They do have an extraordinary selection of rice, soy sauce, and green tea products.
We have been inspired to do some painting. There are so many cherry trees in bloom right now. Our walls are rather bare as well. We bought some water color supplies at the tiny store nearby and painted one evening. Jesse used some bamboo and fashioned them into wall hangings.

School has been fun lately, we are still enjoying it. We are bracing ourselves for another chunk of monthly tests and evaluations this next week. I think that we finally have all of the Sallys, Charlies, Marys, and Johns straight now. Jesse found this sweet PANDA HAMMER in the teachers room this last week.

The kids love to get hit on the head with it. It squeaks each time a blow is administered.
Easter has come and gone. Although it is not commercialized here we still celebrated it. Chelsie and I still got baskets from the bunny. We received hard boiled Easter eggs at church last weekend too.


Jeff said...

If I were a fish, I'd jump to another bucket. If I were a carp, being the saddest looking blowfish is the only hope for survival and maybe be dumped into the sewer to make my way back to the sea like Nemo.

Nice wallhangings. The HomePlus video is like "pop-ified daytime Green Day for kids."

What's the tree-covered hill right by the shipyards?

Amber said...

Hey Guys! Thanks SO much for letting us know what is going on in your lives. You guys keep me drooling all the time. I wish I could just graduate right now and go see and explore the world just like you:) I love you guys, you are both my role models!!! Miss you so much!

Jeff said...

I just made some good Chinese green tea, and so I thought I'd look at your lovely pictures. I was stunned again by the Alien-like pictures of the fish market, but also fascinated. A friend in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn (NYC), lives in a fast-growing Chinatown. Block after block of what used to be Italian restaurants and Irish pubs is now a seething market. It's been years now since I walked the gauntlet of flying fish heads and buckets of fish water being tossed across the sidewalk to the gutter. One store was nothing but dried stuff: mushrooms, other plant matter, fish, non-fish marine matter, etc. You really had to peer at the things to find the distinguishing features, such as an eyeball. Most everything was the same color. Now, your vegetable stands look wonderful! I would love to shop at them every day. What is bread like there? I was a tad disappointed at bread in Mexico, but it didn't matter much because I LOVED the fresh corn tortillas. I didn't really want bread, except with my morning tea. OK, back to my responsibilities as a public employee ...

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