Saturday, November 10, 2012

Pyongtaek-City Tour

Saturday I went on a tour of Pyongteak-City.  That's the city that surrounds the base.  We have an Honorary Commander who is a business owner in town.  They organize things for us to do and we invite them onto base for certain functions.  It keeps the relations up between the US and RoK.  He organized this free tour for is and it was pretty fun. 

We are about 30 miles south of Seoul here and Pyongteak-City is the end of the solid urbanization.  We are at the northern edge of the farm land for rice and other crops.  Pyonteak-City according to our guide is the Rice and Korean Pear center for Korea.  He explained how Pyoongteak-City Rice is known throughout the country.

We started out at the based and here is a video of our Tour Guide explaining how he's family with President Obama!
 

Next we went Samulnori (A Korean Traditional Percussion Quarter).  The group will do their music and dance for a better harvest.  You can see the strings on their heads, they kept their heads spinning the entire time to keep the strings flying.
Here I am in front of one of two versions of Totem Polls.  They are both the same height but the female one (The one you can't see on the right) is buried in the ground a little bit.  She protects from evil spirits from below.  The Male one stands taller and protects from above.
This is a series of buildings built for "Sambong" which is the Pen Name for Jung, Do Jun who was a founding thinker for the Joseon Dynasty.  If you think of the Ming Dynasty in China, Same Same.  This guy invented Democracy in the East and wrote a lot of works and they are saved in this building and others on this site.  He was from the 1300s.
This is some of the writings from Sambong.  You can see the date of 1396. Didn't really understand when the guy wrote this stuff but it's at least that old. I tried reloading this picture a bunch of times and it keeps turning it on it's end.  Sorry.
This is the entrance at the Sambong gate to the shrine to him.  The Korean's do this three door entrance.  You enter on your right and exit on your right. The middle door is always locked and is for spirits to enter and exit.
After the Sambong History Tour we went to this Confucian Temple.  It was called Jinwi Hyanggyo.  It was a place for Confucian teachings.  You can see the three doors again. T he building above the door is for teaching.  There is dorm on each side one for younger kids and one for older kids.  Beyond that was the masters house and class room.  This was also from the Joseon Dynasty.  It was built on the edge of this mountain.  On our backs was a river.  It was pretty cold but while we were in the temple the mountains blocked the wind and it was really nice.
This is inside the Master's Classroom.  This painting on the wood was on all of the Joseon buildings here and at Sambong's shrine.
For lunch we had a traditional meal.  The rice and spicy pork is called Bulgogi (bo-go-ge).  The roles on the bottom right are eggs rolled out and stuffed.  Very similar to a plain omelet.  Then standard noodles with Chicken.  The two things on the bottom left are Kim-chi or pickled Cabbage.  The right one was HOT and the other was okay.  Then a bowl of cabbage soup.  It was pretty good. 
After lunch we went to the Culture Center and on the left you can see the petting zoo (Pigs, Goats, Rabbits, Turkey's).  In the center were families camping out.  They explained they will go there if they don't want to drive to a campground and since almost everyone lives in highrises, this is the only way for them to BBQ.  This thing in the front is a plant that in the spring/summer should actually look nice but here it was just creepy.
This is me getting ready to make Rice Cakes.  You beat the crap out of the rice and then it's rolled in some flavor and you eat it.  It's actually really warm from being beaten to crap by the wood mallets.
Here's (L-R) Chris, Dan and Danny Boy.  After we made the rice cakes we had to make our own totem poles.  It was cool playing in kindergarten again.  We had snacks (the rice cakes) and then craft time.  We got a little glue stuck to our fingers but we didn't eat it since it was crazy glue and not Elmers School Glue!
Here is my finished Totem in my window warding off evil spirits from the football field!
We also went to a goat farm and enjoyed goat milk, made goat butter and milked a goat.  However, I hadn't cleared the memory from the camera at the beginning of the day so I don't have any pictures.  Some others do and I will try and get those loaded up here!

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