June 17, 2008
On Sunday, we went with my (Simonâ€™s) co-teacher to Ganghwa-Do, a mountain with many Buddhist Temples, and Aegisbon, which is a mountain in South Korea that overlooks North Korea. It was a great follow up to our highly disappointing Saturday, in which we were supposed to meet our friend Jen in Seoul but didnâ€™t. We were picked up at around 9AM and then were driven north for about an hour. When we finally arrived at our destination, we had to climb up many stairs on a steep hill until we finally reached the temples. They were impressive. They didnâ€™t have the breathtaking splendor that I expected, but after I rid myself of my romanticized and unrealistic idea of Buddhist temples I was really able to appreciate what I saw. We would have liked to stay longer, but my co-teacher and family were pushing ahead. Theyâ€™ve been here a few times already, and have seen this all before.
Afterwards we drove around for nearly an hour trying to find a place to eat. We settled for a place that served a new kind of Soon-doo-boo (or, at least, new to us). It was a big communal pot of soup, as opposed to the personal sized bowls we usually get, and it was really, really delicious. Martina liked it more than the usual soon-doo-boo, while I still preferred the original.
Finally, we went to a place called Aegisbon (or something very similar to that spelling). Before we went there, we were stopped by army men with big rifles in their arms and huge knives on their chests. They directed us to a place (just by pointing, rather than personally escorting us) where we had to fill out forms. We personally didnâ€™t fill them out – my co-teacherâ€™s husband did. The sheets were all in Korean, so we couldnâ€™t fill them out anyway. Once these sheets were filled out we handed them back to the knife- and gun-wielding soldiers who let us pass. We parked our car shortly up ahead, then walked up the longest and steepest hill we have ever been on to make it to the top of a mountain. This mountain was the northernmost point of South Korea. From it, we could see North Korea. We put a coin in those coin-operated bincoculars to see what it was like. The picture you see above is what we saw. Looks like a quaint little village, right? WRONG! Itâ€™s a deserted village, built by the government to trick South Koreans into believing that life in North Korea is good. How shady!