Thursday, May 21, 2009

"You will look back later and see this as a joyous day"

That was an intense trip to Wonju. I could barely get myself out of bed b/c I am now officially on the late-to-bed schedule, but ended up 30 min early at the bus terminal. Then my two teachers and I proceeded to miss two buses for stupid reasons, and finally got on the road at 10:30am. I slept a bit on the way there, which was key to being able to survive the day ahead. My dyeing teacher's friends picked us up at the terminal in Wonju, and we drove out to meet a couple who does paper weaving and lacquer.

We saw some amazing pieces, which included a 1.2 x 2 meter double-sided mat that took a year to weave. They make Korean percussion instruments out of paper! Since it was a rainy day, we had the traditional fare: veggie pancakes and home-brewed makgeolli poured out of a lacquered woven jug. I was given a lacquered woven cup to drink out of, too, since I was the hanji student. That's when it went into chatty overload: drunk men. This used to be the scene I'd witness as a child, the one that convinced me that I never wanted to be involved with Korean men, but today I was at the center of it and had to humor everyone while trying not to fall over from all the alcohol.

We then all drove over to a big market (in Korea, the markets rotate days and travels to different cities, so one day it will be in X town, and the next in Y town, and eventually by the next Monday it will be back in X town). There were big umbrellas and plastic tarps rigged everywhere for the rain, and all sorts of crazy things that I was too tipsy to photograph: roasted whole sparrows that looked like tiny rubber duckies only they were real roasted birds sitting on the grill, all sorts of sea life being hacked to bits, roasted seaweed, toe socks, herbs, and the worst: eggs that were filled with dead chicks. The ones that didn't hatch. You eat them, baby fluff and all. We went for a noodle dish traditional to that province, but were sorely disappointed - they were so bad that NO one finished their servings, and everyone said it was no good.

We then headed over to the home of the other couple: he is a musician, and she makes ceramic dolls clothed in hanji. It was in the mountains, and they farm some, in a rustic home - super country style. The lacquer guy went out back and hacked apart lacquer trees to cook with a chicken. I was a little freaked out about this b/c I still wasn't sure if I am allergic to lacquer or not. But we all ate a ton and it was super good and I'm okay (so far).

But the true adventure was after we arrived and before dinner: the one single guy there (the whole time I thought he was married to someone else but I had the couples mixed up), who had fallen for me from the first hour there, drove me and the musician out to the back field to harvest some herbs. Actually, he was trying to show off and we didn't do any work - I just moved the plastic bag and followed the musician as HE hacked everything down w/his folding sickle. When we were leaving, the first guy didn't take the musician's advice to turn around or back up at the right place, and ended up backing into a huge ditch and getting his SUV stuck b/c the front wheels were no longer on the ground. It wasn't moving in either direction. There was a whole lot of putting rocks in front and back of the tires, pushing (I got to get behind the wheel at this point), and yelling in the rain. Finally, calls were made to a neighbor and to the lacquer guy, who came w/a van and a shovel respectively. The van was then replaced w/a tractor and a "wire" to tow the car out. I was kind of horrified and bemused all at once at the stupidity of men, and ran into the house when we got back.

Dinner was fantastic, but I got all stressy b/c we were getting close to the time of the last bus back to Seoul, and they kept pressuring us to stay overnight, but I was NOT interested in that AT ALL. They managed to force me to play their son's 3/4-size violin as entertainment, and then we just barely made the last bus home. I then fell victim to drunk dialing (I can't disclose who b/c it's a professional relationship), and somehow the phone was handed over to an American ceramicist, who marveled at my English abilities. I didn't get to sleep the whole ride home b/c my weaving teacher went on and on about how drinking makes good men do stupid things, and so on. It was another 45 minutes to get home from THAT terminal.

I swear - the adventures only get more ridiculous as I near the finish line. And the closer I get, the more people I meet who insist that I see them again. On Ben's advice, I did a "final" to do list, and I'm in that phase where I wonder what I can get away w/o doing. Unfortunately, the list is not getting much shorter.

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