The weekend before last we took a teachers trip to the windswept west coast of SK. En-route we stopped off in Gongju (an old Capital) for an excellent Bulgogi lunch before visiting the local boys high school for a short seminar. A few hours later we arrived at the Muchangpo Beaché Palace Spa our residence for the night. Quite why its spelled Beaché one will never know but the English used in SK is often bizarre so the faux French was quite amusing.
The hotel whilst functional is not quite as glamorous as the name suggests; 4 teachers, one room and a double bed: I took the sofa. The monolithic hotel dominates the whole beach and somehow I don’t believe planning permission would have been granted in the UK. It was -4 outside and -8 in the reception area and as I’d visited the beach before I watched Thor on the 50″ TV whilst the teachers had a 90 minute planning forum. It transpired that the spa wasn’t included in our itinerary and neither was the buffet breakfast though a Korean alternative was on offer for the following morning.
After the meeting and a quick jolly onto the beach for sunset we headed out to another resort hotel for dinner, seafood of course, just to enhance my libido! It was the usual fare with a humongous supply of raw fish, still wriggling live octopus and cooked crab followed by a tasty soup. In between I thought I’d attained nirvana as sweet and sour prawns landed on the table, excellent. Stage 2 was the noraebang (Karaoke), with fresh fruit and beer, I did my usual Dancing Queen and Somebody to love as I don’t need the lyrics. Stage 3 involved more sea creatures all with the texture of latex but the kind teacher opposite ordered me some fried chicken; what a star! Stage 4 was a beach party in temperatures around -10 and so I retired to my sofa.
The morning saw snowfall but undeterred I showered around 7am and headed towards the beach for a wild stroll. Returning at 8am with stalactites forming on my nether regions I rejected the Korean breakfast in favour of coffee and pastries. I managed to ascertain we were leaving at 11am and so spend the next few hours reading the the antarctic reception. area.
Next on the agenda was Gaehwa Art Park which I’m sure in summer is an attractive place nestled as it is in a valley surrounded by mountains. We waited for what seemed an eternity to be driven around a sculpture park. Our transportation was a lorry disguised as a bug and it took around 25 minutes to trundle around the unattractive sculptures and uninhabited lake.
Herb Land, in a large greenhouse, is home to a wide array of foliage plants, aquatic plants, freshwater fish, amphibians, insects and a learning centre for children. A walking trail enveloping park, stretching over 2.5km, is flanked by endless monuments displaying famous Chinese poems. The park, in addition, offers various programs through which to make herbal soap, wooden crafts, or ceramics, ride a banana boat, or go rowing.
We took our buffet lunch before climbing aboard our coach for the journey back to Chungers; Myanmar was 8,500km away but not a million miles as I felt that day.