06.11.2009 - 08.11.2009 16 °C
Onto other news. We've just had a marvellous weekend. Yesterday, (Saturday) we went to the huge and I mean really HUGE five day market just outside of Seogwipo city where we are living and bought some food and clothes on sale there. It was a buzz with people and the noise of buying and selling and a real treat to experience. It's so called because the market takes place every five days. We got some fresh crayfish which we ate for dinner delicious !
We then went to the Jeju Folk village Museum which was exactly like Seongeup folk village only uninhabited.
Although it was rather tiring to walk around it all (it took three hours) it was very educational ! It taught us about the different types of housing on Jeju and the staus conferred upon them. Hill side villages for example were administrative and cultural centres a hundred and fifty plus years ago and the people who lived there were of higher social status than those inhabiting the fishing villages.
What was interesting was to be able to walk into these houses built in the traitional 'Hanok' style i.e thatched rooves, low ceilinged volanic rock walled small dwellings. The floor was heated using the traditional ondol system by lighting a fire outside the building and guiding the warmth from the flames uder the house to warm its floors, the toilet was next to the pig sty so after doing your business the black pigs native to the island would eat up your doings and fatten themselves this way ! Yuck but efficient ! The fishing nets were died with pigs blood annually for not only esthetic purposes but also to preserve them in good condition. This way they could be used for twenty or more years !
What we also learnt is that before and after WWII Jeju was a matriarchal society where women did all the work and the men just loafed ! You can sense this heritage even now because at the markets for example you'll mostly see women running the stalls !
Today, we went to the SW part for he island for the first time. The landscape reminded me of England. The roads were canopied by trees but what reminded me we were in Jeju was the abundance of tangerine trees which are heavy with dozens if not hundreds of ripe tangerines. In a few weeks time we're going to help out the local famrers and pick them with them the ahrvest starts at the end of November so we're looking forward to that. Barbara has already made some fantastic homemade tangerine jams whcih tastes beyond lingusitic definition ! ha ha
As you can imagine the air is citrus-fragranted and it can sometimes be pungent especially when Barbara might be wearing the tangerine perfume they sell here ! lol !
Our destination today was first the "glass castle" which in fact is a museum dedicated to the art of glassware. We were amazed at the glass and crystal sculptures and of their origins ! Not only were there amazing glassware including extravagant sculptures of life -sized trees or fishes jumping a waterfall made in Korea but also fantastic glass scultpures of life-size horses, birds and of course baroque glasses and other tableware made in Venice or Milan or even the Czech Republic !
The below pictures were taken by Clare who joined us on our outing. Thanks for sharing your photographs.
Afterwards we went to the one and only tea museum and farm on Jeju called O'sulloc Cha (O'sulloc Tea). It was the first time I had seen tea fields which are just above knee-level in height arranged in perfectly horizontal rows rollling as far as the eye could see. Inside the mseum there was a superb collection of tea cups from Royal Doultan china from the Uk to celadon in Korea spanning a period from as early as the 2nd century BC to the present day !
The green tea which is cultivated here is has the benefit of being grown on soil which is mineral rich and due to the soil being pocketed with volcanic rocks the air circulates through the soil enriching it even more and the rain which feeds the soil is filtered through the mineral rich volcanic rocks which combined imbues the tea with a distint flavour ! The tea fields were only planted in the late 1970s and the aim was and is to revive Korean tea drinking culture !
On the subject of the history of Jeju we had the honor of meeting a very interesting man and his daughters travelling in Jeju a few weeks ago. His name is Mr. Edgar Johnson.
We had the delight of his company for a few hours while dingin at one of the local restaurants. He conveyed to us that he ahd lived in South Korea from 1946 to 1948. He told us that what he remembered most about the Korea and the Korean people at that time was the beauty of the countryside, the kindness of the Koreans and the joy they felt being freed from years of Japanaese oppression. What he liked the most was the hardworking nature of the Koreans and what he liked least was the so-called "Honeycarts" which in short were carts on which the Koreans scooped human excrement to be used as fertiliser in the fields ! He described the morals of the Koreans as being very high because they now had hope in making their county their own again after the retreat fo the Japanaes and later the Americans in 1948. He lived in Korea from the age of twelve to fourteen and was schooled in Seoul at the later named Seoul American school where among his peers were the White Russians. He came because his father was appointed senior minsiter of the military government (the equivalent of Prime Minister) who was in charge of training and appointing the new PM and President of Korea to lead the country now Independent after years of being a Japanese colony. His father wrote his memoirs in 1971 in a book entitled "American Imperialism in the image of Peer Gynt: memoirs of a professor -bureacrat. E.A.J Johnso, Minneapolis univeristy of Minnesota Press, 1971." He gave us copies of six chapters from this memoir which I'm currently reading. How lucky we are to have had the honour of his company !