We traveled 4 hours south to Geoje Island (or Geojedo, depending on whom you speak to) - prnounced "go-jay" or "go-jay-doh). Aside from day trips up to Seoul and down to Cheonan we've not really been too many places. The southern part of the peninsula is even more lush than where we live so the drive was fantastic.
|Not my picture.|
Our first stop, aside from rest stops, was the Historic Park of Geoje POW Camp. This camp housed prisoners of war during the Korean War. Built to accommodate up to 170,000 prisoners, it held approximately 20,000 Chinese prisoners and up to 150,000 North Korean prisoners. It was closed in 1953, upon the signing of the armistice. The camp shows visitors what daily life was like, taking extra care to point out how well the prisoners were treated, in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. It gives detailed history and explains that there were often riots among the communist and anti-communist factions of prisoners in addition to those between prisoners and guards. There are still some of the original buildings (or parts of them) still standing as well.
|Geoje-do Historic POW camp|
|Entrance to history tour|
|A look into the life of a POW|
|History of the start of the war|
|Progression of the war|
|Incheon landing operations|
|The Chinese cause trouble|
|Cease-fire...where we still stand today...mostly.|
|Foreign aid and influence|
|Parts of some buildings still remain. This was the entrance|
to the PX.
|What was left of the medical facilities|
|MP station and brig|
It was interesting to tour this site (and to be in Korea in general) as my father served in the Army during the Korean war (as did, if I'm not mistaken, two of my uncles), though he did not serve IN Korea. He, instead, served in Germany at that time. Plus, I am a HUGE fan of M*A*S*H and love to see the history of the war that formed the basis for one of my favorite shows as a kid. I'm surprised there is not a M*A*S*H museum here.
After the POW camp, we headed off to our hotel. We stayed at the Tiffany Pension (i.e. hotel) which was right across the street from Hakdong Pebble Beach (also here). The hotel itself was nothing remarkable - the rooms were clean as were the bathrooms. There is a coffee shop on the 2nd floor and a picnic/BBQ area out back. The staff were incredibly accommodating to our large group, even opening up the coffee house hours early to allow us to eat breakfast (that we brought) and hold worship service on Sunday because it was raining. The rooms were Korean style which meant we slept on the floor. Next time, we will bring an air mattress - I am too old and too American to sleep on the floor. There were several marts and a ton of restaurants within walking distance which made it a perfect place to stay for the weekend. There was a nice boardwalk along the beach as well. The beach itself was a pebble beach, not sand, which was interesting. The sound of the waves on the pebbles is incredibly soothing. We all had a great time looking for sea glass and being by/in the water. The Boy and his friends used debris they found to build a raft (pictures forthcoming).
|The intersection outside of our hotel and the beach.|
We cooked out at the picnic area that evening and then were up early to catch the ferry over to Oedo Botanica - an island that is one giant botanical garden.
|Hibiscus on Oedo - I find pieces of Hawaii everywhere.|
|One of the many amazing views on the island.|
|Wonderful attention to detail.|
|There were many statues (Roman, Greek, among others).|
After traipsing all over Oedo (so many stairs!), we boarded the ferry back to Geoje-do and were able to explore the ferry landing area there.
|Windmill at the top of the hill.|
|One of the many amazing views.|
|I would like to live here. Please and thank you.|
We had lunch and wandered some more and then it was time to catch the bus back to the hotel. We were all exhausted so we laid low for a few hours - some napped, some went to the beach, some explored some more. Dinner was out back once more and then a few of us snuck away to go try a Korean dessert place up the road. I would show you pictures but I was too busy eating! Korea has its own version of Hawaiian shave ice called patbingsu (팥빙수) and it is DELISH.
It is usually made of finely shaved ice (often finer than the shave ice we used to get in Hawaii), sweetened condensed milk, fruit (to include tomatoes sometimes), red beans/paste, and topped with ice cream, Frosted Flakes, marshmallows, etc. There are other versions that are chocolate, coffee, peanut butter, etc. You can make it/top it with whatever your heart desires. It's quite yummy, which is why I have no pictures of my dessert.
We were supposed to have gone to a waterfall area for church the next morning and then on to a bamboo forest but it was raining so we held our worship service in the coffee house and then packed up and headed north. We stopped at the local maritime museum that highlighted the island's fishing and shipping histories - a neat look into the history of the island. We grabbed lunch in the parking lot and then boarded the buses for home.
The pups were so incredibly excited to see us when we picked them up the next morning - I think they missed us. They slept pretty much the entire afternoon after we brought them home so I suspect they played hard and didn't sleep well while they were there. But the kennel staff said they did fine so that's good to know. We missed them though.
All in all, it was a wonderful way to spend our 4th of July weekend and kept us from being too sad that we were missing great fireworks with great friends back home. I can't wait to go back down there again!