So first, let's go back to Saturday morning.
We got up at 7:00am, because we had bought tickets on the 9:40am bus from Gyeongju to Gimcheon. A direct bus only leaves three times per day, so we had bought tickets a day ahead of time to make sure we had seats on that particular bus.
The intercity bus system is really easy to use here. And it sticks to a strict schedule, so if your ticket says that your bus leaves at 9:40am, you better be on the bus by 9:39am!
Saturday's bus ride. About two hours and 124 kms (77 miles). The bus tickets were 9,600 won ($10.50) each.
We were going to Gimcheon to meet some special people! Of course you remember June, and her boyfriend Park who we had spent a lot of time with during our first few days here in South Korea? Well, June's parents live in Gimcheon, and they had invited us to stop in and see them. And June was going to meet us there, along with her brother and his girlfriend!
Sorry, no pictures from the bus. It's difficult to get decent pictures even when the bus window is clean, and so I'd rather not take any than take pics that don't turn out!
When we arrived, I sent June a message but they were held up in traffic leaving Seoul so they were a bit behind schedule. Instead, she tells me that her mother is going to pick us up at the train station, located only a five minute walk from the bus station.
Okay! But one thing...Mom doesn't speak any English!
We're pretty easy to get along with, so when Soon-hee arrived we got along fine even though we couldn't communicate! It wasn't difficult for her to find us...we stand out like a sore thumb, being pretty much the only "westerners" in town.
Soon-hee brought us to their place so that we could drop the bags off and get acquainted. How does one get acquainted when you don't speak the same language?
But we couldn't eat too much because June wanted to bring us for lunch to a place that does Hanjeongsik. Yeah, you might want to google that one!
After about an hour, Soon-hee motioned towards the door, and we were off to the restaurant to meet June.
Ruth, June's brother Kevin, his girlfriend Min Jeong, June's mom Soon-hee, June, and Kevin
The best way to describe the food this restaurant does, is that it only serves appetizers. A lot of them! Can you see the number of different dishes on the table?? So, you simply help yourself to a couple of chopsticks full of each dish!
Yes, we are getting pretty adept at using chopsticks. When you eat in a Korean restaurant, you are supplied with metal chopsticks, and a spoon. Nope, no forks here! If you want, you can request wooden chopsticks which are a little easier to use, but metal ones are a Korean thing. And, practice makes perfect, so we've been trying to use them as much as possible!
Yes, it's difficult sitting for long periods of time on the floor. But, when in Korea... and honestly, we are a lot better at it now than we were three weeks ago. Funny, but I am better at it than Ruth! She is better at chopsticks though.
After a late lunch, we walked to the nearby Jikjisa park and temple.
It's a really beautiful spot, especially at this time of year.
There are a lot of sculptures. Here's Ruth, pretending to pour the water from one of the sculptures.
June is always joking around, and wanted everyone to make a funny face for this pic! She always makes us laugh!
The cultural sculpture park is right beside the Jikjisa Temple. June's mom studies at the temple, so she's very familiar with it. It's also located in one of the best areas for fall colors, but we're a few days early yet. Still, it was a really pretty spot and we're glad we went!
Ruth and June, with one of the trees changing color.
Jikjisa Temple is one of the oldest in Korea. It's origins date back to the year 418, long before Buddhism gained general acceptance in the area. It has been destroyed and rebuilt several times, and the last major rebuilding was between 1610 to 1670.
Soon-hee, June, Min jeong, and Kevin (June's brother).
This is a persimmon tree.
The monks were collecting the persimmons that had fallen.
Can you imagine that the colors will get even better in a couple of days?!
This guy sells hardware from a truck. The "Home Depot-Mobile"!
June's mom wanted to take us up into the mountains where she knows some people who operate a blueberry farm...so off we went! Really pretty area, and we were admiring the mountains and the colors even though it was getting past dusk. We arrived there just in time to get one photo of the place before it got too dark.
A blueberry farm in the country.
Yes, they grow blueberries. But what do they grow them for??
Blueberry wine, among other things!
The blueberry wine is fermenting and it's quite a powerful smell.
Yep, it's a fairly big operation!
They import organic cane sugar from Cuba!
Ruth, having a whiff of the good stuff!
As the special guests from Canada, we were presented with two bottles of blueberry wine, and a bag of freeze dried blueberries. Good stuff, and full of anti-oxidants! June's mom also was given some frozen blueberries.
Back at the house, we had some drinks and a snack!
Wow. It was a busy day, and I've probably skipped half of what we did. Yes, June's father did eventually join us, and we spent some time with him Saturday evening as well.
Okay...enough for now...stay tuned for the next blog post in 8 hours or so....