I thought it might be time to talk a little more about the place that I am in. Pohang isn't one of Korea's biggest cities, but that doesn't mean it's small. There's a good sized downtown and quite a number of busy residential neighbourhoods around it. I live in the neighbourhood of Jang-seong Dong, which is in the northern part of the city. It is a developing neighbourhood with a lot of apartment buildings being built and also lots of empty lots in the meanwhile. So far, the hangout places in Pohang (at least for foreign teachers) are a couple of specific bars around town, and the beach. Pohang has a really nice large beach called Bukbu beach which is only about a 5 minute drive from my apartment. It's great except the second largest steel factory in the world, Posco, is right across the bay and mostly everyone I've met (including a Posco worker) says the water isn't safe to swim in. But that's ok - there are other nice beaches outside of the city.
Maybe the biggest differences about living here are the drivers and the roads. First of all, none of the streets here have names (crazy eh?). Some of them have numbers but they're all mostly known by the landmarks/important buildings that are on them and the neighbourhoods that they go through. And then there's the drivers. In Pohang, and elsewhere in East Asia I'm told, red lights, much of the time, are regarded as yield sign suggestions. This means that if you come to a red light on a not-so-important-road it's possibly even assumed that instead of stopping, you'll slow down a little, look both ways, and drive right through. I'm told that this liberal stance on red lights has, as you might assume, led to an increase in accidents compared to the more-conservative-driving-parts-of-the-world, but I haven't seen any yet, and I'm quite surprised by how well it works. But then you also have to factor in the abundance of scooters. It seems widely accepted here that the scooter (the smaller and less powerful cousin of the moterbike) is the quickest way to get around, and to deliver food. There are lots of them here and they obey the rules of the road even less than bigger vehicles - just because they can. But don't knock them until you've tried them. Natasha, a co-teacher at my school, who's also been somewhat of an awesome guide to me, has a scooter and she has let me ride on it and even drive it once; if I could choose a hightlight of my time so far, that would probably be it. So I've convinced myself that a scooter will be my first major investment here (if you don't count a phone - which I just bought [here's the number: 010-2893-0319]).
So that's a little bit about Pohang.
I also have to write about the trip I took to the Bogyeongsa Waterfalls last weekend (full pictures are on facebook). Four other great people and I drove the 40 minutes (if you don't take the short/long cut) to these waterfalls which include a really great Buddhist temple complex, a small tourist-run town, and around 14 waterfalls (at least that's what people say. We only made it to 2 or 3). It was my first time outside of Pohang into the tree filled mountainous area and it was really beautiful. We swam in the small pools at bottom of the waterfalls, jumped off some of the rocks, and had a great time. But then at the last waterfall we went to, something happened. There was a bit of a natural rock slide at the bottom of the waterfall and afte we'd been there for a little while, a Korean woman decided to try sliding down it. Micah, one of the members of our cool group, had tried it earlier and it seemed harmless enough as long as you could swim. So, assuming that that was the case for this woman, we watched her slide. But instead of keeping herself up in the water (swimming) she kept going down (sinking). Micah and I were on the other side of the pool and when we realized the woman certainly was not able to swim we got there as soon as we could and pulled/pushed her out onto the rock. She seemed to be fine afterwards (maybe a little bit shocked) and she was very grateful of course, but it was a wierd feeling to realize that I had possibly helped save someone's life. I didn't feel any different, but it made me think a bit about how easy it is to die (to put it bluntly). I haven't thought too much about the event since then, but it is sort of nice to have been in a heroic sitiation - for me at least, maybe not for the girl).
|This is one of the places we swam|
|This is one of the pictures of the temple.|
|This is the fountain at Bukbu beach - complete with a rainbow.|
|This is a sign that has been up at the school for a couple of days. I don't know what it says but it has my name on it - pretty sweet.|
|The rest of the pictures are of some of my super kindergarteners. I think they're great.|
Thank you for reading to the end.