I’ve spent the last four days acquainting myself with Pohang, a city in North Gyeongsang Province that Therese calls home. She’s been living here for the past year teaching English in two near by fishing towns and I was excited to see a snapshot of what her life has been like.
Therese’s apartment is on a little side street in downtown Pohang. It’s a modern, clean building walking distance to the grocery store and local restaurants. The apartment itself is modest but cozy with bamboo floors that are heated. There is a small kitchen with stove top, a laundry room, washroom and main area where she has her bed, a television, a comfy chair and now my mat on the floor that we use as a couch by day and bed by night.
Pohang’s main industry is steel, manufacturing the metal for companies like Hyundai (who along with Samsung own everything it seems over here.) The city is also fueled by its proximity to the ocean (it is a coastal area) and the fisheries are a major source of revenue as well.
Although it has been chilly Therese and I have taken some strolls on the board walk that runs along the Hyeongsan River out to the ocean and a beautiful white-sand beach. Walking this path you pass countless fishing boats of all sizes and if you catch them at the right time on the right day you may see some of their haul from the salty waters.
Pohang is a bustling city of over 400 000 but it’s easy to get away from the crowds in the nearby foothills. That’s one thing that has struck me about South Korea, particularly compared to Ontario, the landscape is so varied. Whether in the urban or rural centers of the country you are constantly surrounded by mountains or hills
in the distance and if you make an effort to get to them you’ll find some solitude on their trails.
Since being in Pohang I have spent a few afternoons wandering and exploring, ending up in the hills on some of the paths. It is peaceful and if you climb to the top provides a beautiful view of the city.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of accompanying Therese to school. It is winter holidays for her students so no children are around but she still needs to be in her classroom planning lessons (or killing time) until they return. Visiting on such a day was a perfect introduction to her school and work environment for the past year although I plan to come back and meet some of the students before we leave for South East Asia.
The school is a bumpy 45 minute bus ride away to a neighbooring town that smells of fish. The streets are narrow and people have the day’s catch stung up in the alleys drying in the sun. The school is made up of four buildings (the gym, the administration building and classrooms.)
Therese has her own wing in one of the buildings with bright new classroom equipped with a massive touch screen television and whiteboards.
While I was visiting she had received a shipment of English books for her students so we had fun flipping through our childhood favourites like Dr. Seus and Roald Dahl as we unpacked the new books.
Today we are leaving for the Golgulsa temple in Gyeongiu where we will spend Saturday and Sunday following the teachings and meditations of Buddhist monks.
I’m very excited and will post about the experience when we return.