Finding my bearings


An-nyung-haseyo, on Saturday (Day 5) I decided to get to grips with the geography of Chungju centre, it is a smallish city of 200,000 but the central streets wind and twist and a river/open sewer slinks through as well, it is quite disorientating and I’m usually good at getting my bearings. I hadn’t quite realised how extensive the central market is with masses of fresh veggies, fish, poultry, bakers, ironmongers and too many food vendors to mention. I went early to suss it out so the shop owners were stocking up and it wash’t too busy, later it got packed.  I need to pick out what look like the best stalls and ditch the supermarket.  The prices in E-mart and Lottemart are the same as, if not higher than the UK.
I then passed over to Seonseo-dong which is known as “Youth Street”, a mass of colourful shopping including Western brand shops such as Diadora and Lacoste.  It doesn’t really get going until after midday because the shops stay open really late. It’s another example, side by side with the traditional market how the culture is becoming homogenised parallel with development. The area is also known as city square and it is spreading to the north around the department of education, behind I found a very old temple (Gwana Pagoda). I believe this was an original centre for education of Buddhist teachings and was a centre of government in the Joseon Dynasty. Most of what I am saying is deduction as there is no real grasp of tourism here, the maps are crap with no street names, the information books lack detail and any tourism at all is essentially domestic. Even when looking for maps online there is nothing written in English for westerners. Apparently estimates range from 20-40 for the number of us in the city, not necessarily a bad thing!
From here I looked for the New Library, which is a modern greeny blue building similar to the universally junk public architecture being churned out in the UK by local authorities with no taste. I hiked up the street towards the City Stadium which isn’t even locked, people just wander in and out.  I suspect it holds a bout 20,000 but there is no soccer team and it seems it is just used by the university.  It has a pretty good soccer pitch surface wise and the running track is excellent (did I mention we have a full Astroturf soccer pitch at my school and tartan running areas alongside).  I will check out the schedules and try and get to the college soccer matches.
From here I discovered another little Buddhist gem near the Beopwan Intesection, the temple has a 50ft statue  and two pavilions, the third building in the complex is a nursery which I thought was great in such a peaceful place, though it was Saturday and the temple is probably not too peaceful when the kids are there.  Another ting I cannot believe the amount of Christian churches in SK, I don’t think they are big on religion but the most visible is the catholic church. From here I walked back hem through the markets and headed to E-mart for some hardware, a cafetiere and a spreader, not a knife as I am trying to learn chopsticks! I then managed to get the washer working even though the instructions are all in Korean, only downside is the need now to iron! I tried then to listen to Arsenal Vs Liverpool on radio 5 Live but it cuts out as the commentary starts and switches to pre-recorded programmes (distribution rights). I think this happens in France as well, Susan and Paul can confirm.  I should have a TV service next week on the proviso that my ARC (Alien Registration Card) arrives.
Today (Day 6) I went to Homaji Park and Lake (reservoir) which is my nearest feu countryside (10 minutes walk up the hill). I passed yet another French bakery (a Korean obsession) on the way. It was pretty desolate but should be lovely in Spring and Summer. They have tannoys’ on every lamp post playing what I think is soap opera but as I crossed the dam Nat King Cole blasted out, they tried to tell us we’re too young, no one batted an eyelid, they just kept on power walking. Also the lamp stands have signs stating at various points how many calories you have lost which is not fair if you have been on the gyms which are located at various points, I think I counted 6 areas for exercise. The park is 254 hectares and holds a million tons of water held back by the 255m, 10m high dam. There are also a number of restaurants alongside the park so it will be a great place to go in Summer for eating out. From there I headed home to write this blog.  I have added new pictures for yesterday and today though I need to start naming them before uploading them which takes forever.
I think I now know my way round so I can start to venture further afield at weekends but I am hoping that I am given a bloody timetable next week so that I can start some lesson planning. In the meantime I will continue to turn up early, smile a lot and offer my usual enthusiasm.
By the way if you got to the end of this…did you know if you click on a picture on the photography page it automatically goes into a slide format for you to click-through.  I apologise if this sounds patronising!
An-nyeong-hee ga-seo-yo