One weekend, I joined other international students at KAIST on a trip to a nearby village named Yeongdong which is not too far from Daejeon. About an hour by bus as I recalled. The trip was organized by OASIS Office. We stayed in the village for 2 days and 1 night with a lot of fun, activities, food, experience, and most importantly, friends.
The life there is really peaceful and really typically rural. Even during the day, everything is just slow, gentle, and calm. There is nothing to be rushed there. Really. If you are there, you will dive in a tranquility of everything. I am a city boy but sometimes, I really love to get away in a whole new place where everything is new and serene. Just a few days is good enough for me to refresh myself. It is really healthy I know. At least for me.
옹기 (Onggi) pots are the traditional ceramic jars used used to store fermented vegatable, one of which is the famous Kimchi (김치). Korean people are so into vegetable. I think, fermented vegetable is to Koreans as fries is to Americans except for the tastier and healthier value of Korean food. Here, they eat Kimchi and other fermented vegetable so much that mostly those dishes have to be mass produced. Still a lot of families and villages keep the traditions and make Kimchi themselves and store them in those Onggi.
Yeongdong Village is famous for its pottery.
Pots, vases, onggi here are very beautiful in shapes, sizes, materials, as well as design.
Cute little men I found along the stone fence
In Korea, wherever you go, one of the most common cultural aspects you would experience is the eating or food culture. It is not about filling our stomach. Instead, it is more about the warm welcome of the host. "Did you eat? Did you have enough?" is a way they ask for well-being here. We arrived in the village after a long trip and we were treated "deliciously" this way by our wonderful host.
Traditionally, Koreans dye their own clothes with a special soil liquid. They mix soil (special kind) with salt and water. Dipping the white t-shirt in, dyeing and squeezing the t-shirt with the brown water for 100 times, the people wash away the dust, sand, and soil in the running stream. They believe that, t-shirt dyed this way can prevent a lot of sickness and make out bodies healthier.
After being dyed, the shirts were washed several times in a small clear cold stream to remove the soil and sand stuck on the shirts.
Besides dyeing shirts, we also had a chance to harvest all of the delicious grapes. Yeongdong village is also famous for its fresh grapes as well as products from the fruit like grapes juice and grape wine. We even tasted the 10-year-old grape wine. I got dizzy with it but still it was worth the try!
I have never wondered how grapes are harvested. I guess I was kind of careless a bit. The feeling of crouching under the grape frames and seeing the sunlight coming to your eyes, shining your face and sparkling eyes was just splendid. You really have to be on the field and pick the grapes yourself. Only then you can understand how hard (but still fun) it is to harvest those grapes. That was the joy of grapes, laughter, sweat, fun, music, and frogs too!
Plenty of grapes. Eating freshly harvested grapes is way better than going to the grocery and buy them.
Eh... we harvested her as well..
Picking chilly pepper
Every single grape has to be hand-picked and washed carefully. They will be used to make grape juice and wine.
Me, lunch time, and Korean pancake with our host. Korean food is generally healthy with a lot of vegetable side dishes. They eat just enough food and have just enough drink every meal. All of the dishes are very colorful, savory, delicious, and healthy. I was getting ready to cook Korean pancake. Everyone was amazed by how much I love cooking when i jumped right on the chair and started to help our teacher in preparing the dishes. I really don't want to miss a chance to learn Korean cuisine, really. To me, besides eating, cooking is a great way for me to appreciate the cuisine.
Afternoon in the village
At night, we had a small party with BBQ, soju and delicious delicacies. We had fun. We enjoyed the food, the talking, the music, the dancing, and the moments during a cold fall night.
Play time: We got a chance to make out own vases and pots from the clay.
Our master showed us how to use the spinning table to make a bowl
The Touch of Clay: Our master is guiding a student in making a cup on a spinning table.
Amazed by the technique
It is really fun to dip our hands in the mud and make our own bowls, cups, etc.
May Thant is making her own cup. Potting was one of the greatest experience we have had so far in Korea. Learning about the history of pottery, experiencing the feel of clay, and absorbing knowledge from our master really brought us to a whole new level of our exchange life here in Korea.
Our cups with help from the master
Decorating a big pot which is a gift from out host
International friendship is one of the biggest parts of my life. Having been an international for two years and coming to KAIST, another international institution, I have a huge chance to reach out to the world, to meet new friends growing up in another culture. Singapore, Azerbaijan, China, Indonesia, Tunisia, Korea, France, Egypt, and so on. It is not just about meeting new people who speak totally different language. It is more about appreciating the diversity of the world through different perspective: internationalism.
At KAIST, all of the students have to get 2 credits on community service. The general idea is to "force" students to reach out to the community to do something good. During our trip to Yeongdong village, we had to clean up the village besides enjoying the beauty and the masterpiece of pottery. It was just simply cleaning up the garbage and rooting up the bad grass even though it took us the whole afternoon to do that. It was fun and indeed helpful. We worked together with the villagers and they appreciated our help a lot.
The journey adjourned…