Monday, October 12, 2015

Final Ceremonies

Sunday took us to Gongju to visit the ancient site of burial mounds of the Baekje kings (You may remember from a couple of days ago when the last of the Baekje king’s 3000 ladies jumped off the cliff? Same dynasty.) They’ve set up a replica mound for visitors to explore and learn about the construction of the tombs. We strolled through the mounds which are not accessible to keep them well preserved, and through the woods to the Gongju National Museum where the artifacts from the mounds are on display. Those of the Tomb of King Muryeong who reigned from 501-523 are particularly stunning.

Lunch today was probably the best meal we’ve had in Korea. We drove over to what we think is a resort town on the edge of a national park (not everything came through in the translations!) and had lunch at a spot famous for Bibimbap, a rice dish mixed with assorted stuff described as the Korean “lunch-in-a-box” because it was handy for eating when you’re on the go. Even better, we had pa geon, a “pancake” with vegetables, chestnuts (which are abundant in the area) and sometimes shrimp & squid. It was Fabuous! A short walk afterwards took us to a popular Buddhist temple.

Back to Cheonan in the afternoon for an appointment with culture and tradition. We were dressed in traditional Korean outfits called hanbok and provided with a presentation on Korean culture, including a demonstration of the traditional New Year’s offer of respect from children to parents.

From there we were off to dinner with the vice-Mayor ad his wife at a restaurant famous for pork cutlets. Turns out that’s Korean for schnitzel! Yum. We had a lovely time and both the vice-Mayor and his wife spoke fairly good English having worked in New York state for a couple of years. We joined the mayor, vice-mayor and other international guests for the closing ceremonies of the dance festival where we were treated to one last dance by each of the 10 international groups and 8 domestic groups that participated in the competition. The awards ceremony followed – Georgia rules!

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