Korea: Day Three Wednesday 14 April
Wednesday, 14 April 2010
Today’s report is a joint effort by Brett, Louise and Alpha.
It was Sarah’s birthday today and the choristers planned to meet at her door at 7:00am to start her day with sung Happy Birthday wishes. Mrs G, in an effort to be part of the festivities, set her alarm for 6:00am, had her shower, dressed and made her way down to the fifth floor to meet the others…..no one was there. A Korean man walked the corridor and inspected her with curiosity. Where was Louise? At least SHE should have been on time? Hmph! Four minutes later and still no one there and at last the penny dropped! The alarm clock was on Canberra time and it was actually 6:00am. #$%^!!
Sarah had a lovely awakening at 6:58am....as did the rest of the corridor! But it was a nice start to the day for everyone….except perhaps for Mrs G!
We had an Eastern style breakfast in the restaurant attached to the Seoul Youth Hostel. It was an interesting mix of bean curd, soup, meat, kimchi and rice. While most choristers might not choose to have it a second time, it was very filling and kept us all going during the morning.
The choristers had a wonderful time doing the shopping they had been looking forward to at the Namdaemun markets today. We arrived at the markets at 9:30am, having walked past the remains of Korea’s Number 1 National Treasure, Namdaemun Gate, which was burned down by a protester recently. The choristers went from there in all directions with their family groups. We were happy to find the markets were not as crowded as anticipated though they did become more congested as the morning went on. All the family leaders were pleased with their family members with regard to listening and being patient, as everyone had an interest in different stalls.
And what a market it was! There was a vast array of goods and items from the more common fruits and vegetables to souvenir type items to handicraft to more traditional clothes, shoes and the usual sort of shopping items. And of course, there were lots of different food items to tempt the choristers. There were food stalls that served doughnuts and egg muffins and “dragons eggs” to different types of meat on skewers and even small fried beetles! We're happy to report that not a single chorister was lost - though a couple of leaders got side-tracked with their shopping and forgot about their group members! ☺
After much searching, all but one group, found the flower market that Mrs G had mentioned they must visit. It was worth the search. The perfume on the third floor of the building was fabulous! To find so many flowers of so many kinds and colours all in the same spot was marvellous. Flowers were purchased for the staff and when we received them it was very touching.
From there we went to the bank across the road and this time we had success – a big worry off the shoulders of Mrs G.
We walked from the bank to Deoksung Palace and strolled the grounds for fifteen minutes. While there the choristers really felt that they wanted to sing, so we sang Doraji to the tourists and a wonderful group of nuns who really appreciated the music….until the security men showed up. They were concerned that there was a ‘gathering’ so we were quick to move on. We then made our way to the front entrance just in time to view the changing of the guard ceremony. Many of the choristers enjoyed the spectacle of costume and sound. Sarah and Shannon chose to try on the Korean traditional costume.
It was sunny but cold and a decision was made that only fleeces need be worn. The sun disappeared later and it turned out to be a bad decision for the wind grew and the temperature dropped considerably. In future, we will take both jackets just to be sure. For this day however, while several people were cold at various times, no one complained and everyone coped.
Because of the cold we changed our schedule and called the bus to collect us a bit earlier than originally planned. Both the owner of the bus and the driver of the day had no worries about accommodating our wishes. They have been exceedingly helpful, flexible and cheerful at all times. And speaking of helpfulness, Dae Young, who was not with us today, rang on more than one occasion to make sure that everything was all right. Fabulous friends!
With time up our sleeve it was decided to have a show and tell session about the day because everyone was so excited about their market experiences. Many of the choristers wanted to show their purchases for themselves and family members. We won’t reveal the surprises that are in store for you! Others wanted to tell about different experiences they had at the markets. The overall impression was of friendly, helpful shopkeepers who were very interested in who we were, where we came from and why we were here. They made the choristers feel comfortable and the lime green hats were the starting point for most conversations. The Koreans were generous – giving discounts to already low prices and giving bonus items as a special thank you for shopping in their stall.
The other topic of conversation during the show and tell concerned lunches. The best story was Georgina’s. Apparently her group asked at the information booth, where they should go for lunch and they were sent to an area that had plastic curtained booths. They asked if they could enter, but were waved away, so they turned to go and found themselves DRAGGED into the booth and zipped up! Then food began to appear and it just kept coming. They hadn’t ordered anything so were bewildered about what was going on. The women serving ORDERED them to eat, stirred the soup vigourously and almost force fed them, according to the version Georgina tells! The table was so covered with dishes there was no more room so they had to stop bringing food – probably a good thing!
When we heard this story, the staff were concerned that the end of the tale was going to be a disasterously high bill. Apparently it was only a mere 4,000 won (AUS $4.00) per person.
The choristers were asked to have at least a 30 minute lie down during the afternoon rest period, but some managed to email home and some did washing.
The evening meal had been booked for us in a Ginseng Chicken Soup restaurant. A whole little chicken, stuffed with rice, one date and a small turnip was served in a bowl of broth. It was a lot of work to eat that meal with two small chopsticks and a spoon, but everyone demolished it. The two vegetarians had fried rice with egg.
Back at the youth hostel, we commandeered a conference room for a quick rehearsal. Having seen the professionalism of the World Vision Korea Children’s Choir, everyone wanted to feel confident about the performance tomorrow, so we touched up some of the sticky points.
We leave Seoul Youth Hostel to move to Bundang tomorrow. The choristers will experience their first homestay and while there may be some nerves, no one is showing any signs of worry. The welcome we’ve received by our host choir, WVKCC, and by Koreans in general has helped to allay any fears.
Tomorrow is our first proper concert and we look forward to telling you all about it after the event.
Everyone is well and very happy tonight and we all send our love,
Brett, Louise, Alpha et al
Day Three photos can be found at
No username or password required.