Inspire me and I'll inspire you
One random afternoon my co-teacher called me into the English classroom and said,
“I have some good news for you. You can go on a field trip with the other native teachers in Gyeongsangbukdo to Ulleungdo and Dokdo. You will have to miss school on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Do you want to go?”
“uhh, yea. How do I sign up?”
My trip to Ulleungdo was a “cultural experience” trip set up by the Gyeongsangbukdo Office of education for the native English teachers. A total of 60 of us teachers went on the trip. It was pretty nice to see some old faces that I haven’t seen since orientation and meet some of the other teachers that some have been there for four years.
The travel process for the entire trip when a little like this: Waegwan (train) –> Daegu (bus) –> Pohang (ferry) –>Ulleungdo (ferry) –> Dokdo (ferry) –> Ulleungdo (ferry) –>Pohang (bus) –> Daegu (train) –> Weagwan (taxi). Did that make sense?
The official meeting place was in Pohang for all the teachers where we would board the ferry for a 3-ish hour ride. I was able to catch a few z’s on the ferry before we got to Ulleungdo. We exited the ferry and we were greeted by a KBS news crew who was there to film the entire trip. I had flash backs to when I was a kid when we went to Thailand with the temple and the Thai news showed up to film us.
After the news crew finished with us, of course the next thing was lunch! The food on the trip was a little disappointing but nerveless who am I to complain about free food. The first real activity that we did was hiking. The hiking set for the first day was suppose to be pretty light and easy. But it was switched at the last moment with the hiking schedule set for the third day, and I’m kind of glad that they did. But it was a bitch because no one was prepared for it. People were going thought their bags to change their outfits and shoes, this including me.
Once we finally made our way to our resort. We were told that some of the rooms were further then the rest. And of course, I was placed into one of those rooms at the VERY top. So instead of going to our rooms first and them coming back down for the lecture, We had the lecture first and would be able to make our ways to our rooms. The lecture felt like my EPIK orientation all over again. It was find of nostalgic. The lecture was a little awkward, because the speaker didn’t speak very much English so there was a translator translating the speech back to us.
The say started out with me being about to take in the true beauty of the resort that we were staying at. Since we arrived at the night before no one was really able to take in beautiful it really was. First stop of the day was the Dokdo museum. The bus driver dropped us off and told us it was a little hike up the hill. Omgosh that was one big lie. It was the steepest hike of the entire trip. When we finally got museum hoffing and puffing that wanted to take a group picture, of course we just wanted to die instead. After the museum was a cable car ride up to another observation point of the island were we actually would be able to see Dokdo on a clear day. Then off to lunch before boarding the ferry once again for Dokdo.
Lucky us that the weather was good and it allowed us to actually travel to Dokdo. The ferry ride there was an hour and a half-ish. The ferry was full of us foreigners along with Koreans that was nothing but excited to be taking this trip. When the island came into our sights, people started getting anxiety. Everyone wanted a glimpse of the island. We were greeted by salutes on the island by the young Korean guards who are station there. Cheers and applause rang though the ferry by the Koreans and many of the EPIK teachers. They told us 30 minutes, we were allowed to be on the island for 30 minutes. 30 minutes for me honestly was enough for me. I took my pictures and then watched. I watched the Korean people, as they beamed with pride. Taking pictures with the Korean flag, smiles on everyone’s face. “Dokdo is ours.” I imagine them saying to one of another. Our 30 minutes finished and we boarded back onto the ferry, once again the young Korean guard saluted us as cheers and applause came from inside the ferry. As the ferry left the port, the guard happily waved goodbye to us, and continued to wave until they could no longer be seen.
Free time, dinner, and one last lecture. What a day it was.
Our last day was dedicated to us touring Ulleungdo. From one sight to another. Not much to explain but to take in how amazing my pictures are.
location#3 (the only flat land on the island)
pumpkin makkoli for everyone!
last stop before boarding the ferry back!
so here’s my two cents. I’ve always known that there was a big conflict over who gets to claim Dokdo as their territory, the Korean or the Japanese. But I never knew about the long history that goes along with it or any of the claims from either side. After hearing the lectures, and reading the material about the island. It’s my belief that Dokdo belongs to the Korean people.
**Special shout out to the Gyeongsangbukdo Office of education for organization this free trip. It’ll be one that I’ll be telling people about for many years.**
so much more next time,