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Trip Start Oct 29, 2012
Trip End Oct 31, 2012

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Flag of Korea Rep.  , South Chungcheong,
Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I tried to get some rest and reset my attitude to have a better day than the day before. After all, I would be back in Shin Pyeong before sun down. So I got up, showered and went down to eat my breakfast in the cafeteria. After that we packed our bags and headed out to the bus. I settled in, hoping for a long bus ride to relax and read some of my Kindle. All too soon we were stopping and vacating the bus in what appeared to be just a parking lot of a dried fish market. 
I looked around, unsure about what we could possibly be doing here. After the students were all lined up we headed out of the parking lot towards tidy dirt path that led into the woods nearby. Eventually one of the teachers passed by and mentioned that we were headed to Naksansa temple. Oh! Cool, I love Buddhist temples. 
So we hiked up the trail and eventually the temple came into view at the top of a hill. We went through the gates and wandered through the complex of buildings. In the distance I could see a giant statue and I got excited. This was gonna be good. I trailed after the teachers, trying to stay close enough to be a part of a group, but not do anything that would draw too much attention. Soon we got up to the beautiful statue of Avalokiteshvara (Gwan Yin) that looked out over the East Sea. I gladly snapped pictures as the students listened to what was probably a lecture about the temple or the statue. As we made our way back down the hill the principle brought the teachers (and myself) down to another, smaller temple that overlooked the sea. They chatted about, well about who knows what, but all I could hear was the sea. I listened to the waves and allowed the crashing white noise to fill my head and drive out the stress of being a foreigner. But, too soon we continued to on our way, back down the hill and back on to the bus.
The bus took off once again and I, once again, settled in to read my Kindle in the quiet of the front seat of the bus. After a bit we stopped again and I wandered off the bus with the students, having absolutely no idea where we were. I'm still not exactly sure where we went, but my guess is that it was one of the recreated traditional villages that Korea is so proud of. We walked through the nearly abandoned village to a little outdoor theater in the back corner. We sat on rough stone steps and waited. Soon cymbals started to ring out and a drum troupe skipped their way into the circle. The drummers and dancers appeared to be telling some kind of story with their movements and I struggled to pay attention as the cold seeped through my jeans and froze my tush. The dancers went on and on and unfortunately many of them looked as bored by their dance as we were. 
After about 45 minutes of the dancing and drumming the dancers skipped away around the side of a building to a smattering of applause. But we weren't finished yet, a woman with a microphone came out to give some sort of explanation or lecture about... I have no idea what. She droned on for a while as the students all checked their phones and before too long we were back on the bus. 
More bus riding, a pathetic lunch at a rest stop off the high way, and then even more bus driving. At this point, I was really pretty ready to be done with the field trip. We rolled up to Shin Pyeong middle school right on schedule at 5 pm. I was eager to get back to my little apartment to get some rest, but then I saw that a number of other staff members were waiting for me to get off of the bus. I exited the bus, said some "hellos" and tried to make my exit as swiftly as possible. I had made it halfway across the parking lot before one of the English teachers caught up to me, telling me that the faculty wanted me to go out to dinner. 
Fine. Yes. Yes I will go out to dinner. Yep. 
So we piled into cars and drove a few blocks to the fish soup restaurant and I sat on the floor with the same people I had spent the last 3 days with. I picked quietly at my fish soup, eating my rice and my sides, but mostly just looking at my own reflection in my bowl. Fortunately for me one of the English teachers (who actually speaks English!) joined us and was seated beside me so he was able to make small talk briefly. 
Finally. Finallyfinallyfinally we were finished eating and I was dropped off at my apartment to do my laundry and prepare myself for the classes that I would need to teach in a few hours. Oh man, I was ready to go home. 
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Carlo on

You needed a vacation from your vacation! :D

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