Monday, November 9, 2009

Awkward Teacher Outings, Pottery and More!

Last Wednesday I was told that today was teacher day! (Fantastic. Why are we still at school?) Well, teacher day in Korea means that school ends early (3pm instead of 10pm) and the school pays for a dinner out.

My co-teacher took me to Jiri Mountain (the mountain that gives Gurye a reason to exist). I thought we'd be hiking. Well, the hike lasted about three minutes. Then we stopped at a vendor and drank a lot Korean wine. I like teacher day.

Anyway, my co-teacher is awkward, so I took a lot of pictures of the damn mountain to avoid conversation. I only posted one here for practicality's sake. It is a tomb of some sort and Korea National Treasure 54. Most of old Korea was destroyed and the remaining artifacts are numbered in order of importance. There are currently 307 National Treasures, five of which are in Gurye.

After the hiking party, we went to dinner. For some reason unknown to me (probably just for the amusement of the entire staff at Gurye High School) I was placed at a table with three teachers I've never spoken to before. I was later informed that they are the three heaviest drinkers on staff. That means that I entertained three gently sloshed men while I had free reign over the food (the men were there to drink, not eat). It's a rarity that I don't have to fight for the non-meat and non-fish dishes at a table of hungry men. So dinner was good. I decided that I like teacher day.

On Thursday I received the most wonderful care package in the world: my clarinet! I nearly cried when I took it out. I never realized how much I would miss it. And Dad's note was the perfect cherry on top. [Hint: the random scribbles on top is "my name" according to Gordon Benes)

Ah. Love you, Dad.

This past weekend I went to Gangjin with another Gurye English teacher, Jason. Gangjin is known for being the birthplace of Celadon pottery. I didn't know what celadon was (I knew it was green), so here's a picture for those of you unsure.

80% of all Celadon pottery found in Korea came from Gangjin. Celadon pottery pieces make up a good chunk of the National Treasures list. We started in the museum.

Pretty standard pottery museum. Beautiful stuff. The detail was amazing. Then we walked around the grounds.

These suckers are how kimchi is made. The cabbage, once slathered in red pepper sauce, is placed in the pot to ferment. Yum.

Next stop: The traditional celadon kiln.
Jason heading into the kiln.
The Kiln
Pretty intense oven. Basically, there are mini doors on the side of the kiln. Some poor soul feeds the oven fire at the mouth (pictured), which heats the length of the oven. The stuff to be cooked is placed inside via the side doors, which are then sealed by bricks. Once the fire goes out and the place cools, another poor soul climbs inside of the oven via a back door/vent to claim the pottery.

We went shopping. Jason found a really cool bowl and I bought a place setting set (2 x rice bowl, lid, soup bowl) for my family. My mom loved it.

Good weekend. Continued with newer post.


  1. For a minute there, I thought the Kimchi went into the kiln. Whew. :0)

    The pottery is lovely.

    thanks for sharing your adventures with us.


  2. There is a children's book called "A Single Shard" by Linda Sue Park. It's a fiction but has a beautiful story around the pottery making. I love that type of pottery - subtly beautiful, never gaudy.

    Just about any gathering/celebrations with colleagues or college friends used to involve some type of alcohol in Korea. Maybe that's still the case. Some of those tended to turn into one to endure and survive rather than enjoy. Hopefully you won't have any of those - awkward and tiresome.

    Glad that you have your clarinet. It must feel like having a friend nearby!?

  3. Hi Amy- Love your blogs. Good Luck on Sanday. we loveyou and miss you. Happy Turkey Day. G & G