So I decided to go explore and look for that other branch of river I saw from the road. As I was leaving the school I asked some students if there was anyplace to eat in that direction and I had to use sign language just to get that across. They said no. One of them asked, “alone?” and I said of course, I’m always alone, and they didn’t understand that. I tried to explain that I wanted to eat in that direction, and one of them said they could take me and I could feed them and then they said they had a problem because they didn’t have any money and I said it was okay because I have a little. Then they all started joking about how much the one boy eats and another boy said that he eats and eats and started making pig noises and I looked at the four boys and they were all, um, well-fed so I let them leave thinking I was just joking about feeding them because I was afraid I didn’t have enough. That’s okay I’ll head that way and look for a restaurant still. “The wedding hall?” said the boy with the Spock haircut.
I also asked about the steps leading up the mountain from the school, and asked what’s that? I was told it was hiking and that the mountain was home to many. Church. many lived there. So I don’t know if he meant spirits, or living monks, or what. The stairs beckon me. Next time.
The smell walking along the mountainside is indescribably wonderful. Moist earth mixed with detritus mixed with wildflowers. Today was a cool day, only 75 degrees with 74% humidity and overcast, so I could walk without fear of dehydrating and dozens of sunspots appearing overnight. I passed a lot of those little pagoda things on the way. They’re always nestled in the mountain side in the most hard-to-reach places: little natural alcoves. Stacked boxes with a wooden hat, or hollow logs with a wooden hat. I think they must be beehives, but they’re so far away from crops that it doesn’t make sense, and they’re too un-special to be reliquary or anything sacred. Not long after I passed a Buddhist temple and not much further hit the highway and the river.
I got to the wedding hall and, sure enough, it had a cafeteria and affordable food a single person could order. (what can I say, I live in the country) I pointed to a photo and the woman was smart enough to tell me what it was and where it was on the menu. THANK GOD! Someone who understands when a Korean points mutely to a photo of food then maybe, maybe they just might be a foreigner and need some help. I pulled out my new notebook and wrote the new thing I ordered down. I figure I need to listen to my own advice and record the things I learn that are meaningful to me. Food besides kim bop and bi bim bop and kim chi chiggae IS VERY MEANINGFUL to me. This, my new Korea travel diary will probably mostly end up full of food items. It was jye yook bokkeum. 제육볶음 Pan fried pork, onions, carrots, green onions and pepper which you wrap in lettuce, along with rice and pepper paste. Turns out anything bokkeum so far I like. Turns out I never remember how to romanize my double consonant sounds and had to look up 제.
You know, last week I ran off to the store at lunch to get a coffee and when I got back I sat and watched the kids goofing off . Suddenly I had about six of them trying to have real conversations with me and us almost succeeding. It was fun.
I’m thinking – screw the adults. I’m just going to hang out with these students whenever I can. They’re not casualties yet. They give me hope.
OK. Nap-time, and then I want to write about the corn…