Spring seems to be fully here, with the cherry blossoms beginning to bloom, and azaleas, camellias and other flowers brightening the landscape. As a matter of fact, there’s an annual azalea festival at Yeongchuisan (san = mountain) this coming weekend that I’m going to visit.
So, despite 3 inches of rain last Friday, I decided to take a bicycle trip Saturday down to Jang-deung beach here on the Yeosu Peninsula. My riding companions were a couple of the new teachers, Rob, a Scotsman, and Trevor, from Canada. Now, both of these guys are much younger than I (who isn’t?) and in much better shape (insert another rhetorical question here). Trevor, especially, is quite the athlete; he’s a dedicated football (soccer) player, rides his bicycle all over the place, jogs, plays tennis and who knows what else. Rob’s no slouch either. When they suggested the ride, I was all gung-ho. Even though it looked like a fairly long trek and that it would be my first time out on my bike in almost 6 months, I thought I’d be ok. Wrong! It turned out to be a 36-mile (60 km) round trip. I haven’t ridden that far in about 20 years. Plus, it was mostly up and down hills, hills which I mostly pushed my bike up (or maybe it was pushing me). I probably spent more time pushing than riding. And, as I said, it was the first time on the bike in quite a while, so my muscles were sorely taxed by the end of the ride. I’m still recuperating.
However, it was fun for the most part and the scenery was pretty nice. We made it to the beach and stopped at a small restaurant on the way back and had some delicious fish stew. By that time, though, anything would have tasted wonderful. I just wanna thank the young studs for waiting for me at the top of all those hills. At least they didn’t have to carry me back! Here are some photos of the ride.
First, here’s a map of the peninsula. The university, from where we started, is circled in red at the upper right and the beach is at the left center. Click for a larger image.
Here we’re getting prepared to start the trip from our dormitory. That’s Trevor on the left and Rob, already on his bike. My trusty steed is in the foreground.
Beginning the bike trip
There are many small fishing towns and harbors sprinkling the coast. We all thought that it would be great to live in one of them as long as we didn’t have far to commute to and from work.
There are, of course, many beautiful spots along the coast. Here’s a small sample.
South Coast View
South Coast Shoreline of Yeosu Peninsula
Yeosu Peninsula South Coast View
Yeosu Peninsula South Coast View
The above photo is actually the beginning of Jang-deung beach, which is out of sight at the bottom of the photo. Here’s a shot of the beach.
And, here’s a view from the end of the beach. As usual, it’s pretty hazy along the coast looking toward the sun.
Another view from Jang-deung Beach
Rob and Trevor, showing no ill effects of the ride, mock my exhaustion. I took this shot just before I was put into the ambulance.
Rob and Trevor
If you take a look at the map again, you can see that just to the east of Jang-deung there’s a small island called Baekyado (pronounced dough = island). Connecting the island to the mainland is this pretty little bridge. Quite a few of the islands are accessible by bridge, though many more require a ferry boat ride. Rob and Trevor are taking one of the ferries to another island this Saturday. I really wanted to go, but, like I stated earlier, I’m still recuperating and the rash I got on my, ummm, . . . well, you can guess where . . . is still bothering me, so no bike ride this weekend. The more sedate azalea festival beckons.
Baegya Island Bridge and Harbor
Our total trip time was about 7 hours, but that include dawdling on the way (the young guys waiting for the old guy to catch up) and stopping at the restaurant. I’m really looking forward to doing some other bike trips, especially later in the year when the bicycle muscles in my legs are in better shape. As always, then, more later.
Here are a few more photos from my recent trip to Laos and Thailand. This is one of my favorite views of Bangkok, looking into the Silom area and taken from the statue of King Rama VI in Lumphini Park. I probably should have tried to take a panoramic shot to give a better sense of the beautiful skyline that surrounds the park, but this small sample will have to suffice for now. Maybe next time.
After a few days in Bangkok, it was on to Phuket and Patong Beach. We spent a week there, lazing away the days on the beach while getting a sunburn and enjoying the nightlife. I’m always tempted to try the para gliding offered at the beach, but the price seems too steep (about $20) for the short ride (about 2 1/2 minutes). It’s kind of fun, though, to watch people taking off and landing.
The beach is usually crowded, but it’s not too bad to sit under an umbrella and read a book or “people watch.” You can’t see the lifeguard station in this shot, but at least one or two people had to be rescued every day due to the strong undercurrent in this area. The guards kept warning people out of the restricted area, but there were always a few people who ignored the warnings or accidentally strayed into the red zone. Fortunately, no one drowned.
Near day’s end.
Ok, that wraps up my vacation shots. I’ll try to get some Yeosu photos up soon, although this week sees the beginning of a 3-week kids’ camp and next week marks the start of a week long camp for children of faculty members, so I’ll be quite a bit busier than I have been.
Except for quite a bit of haze, it was a beautiful day in Yeosu, so I took the motorbike out for one of my infrequent rides, another one along the coast. I’m extremely careful about riding the ‘bike–I don’t want to emulate my friend Nai in Laos, A.K.A., Mr. Accident-Prone. The back roads along the sea are very wide and have very light traffic, so there’s not a big problem with other vehicles. Also, I’m quite wary of any other obstacles, like potholes, wet spots, and other potential disasters-in-waiting. Here are a few photos of my ride today and I’ll post some more soon.
The first one is of what I call Sindeok Beach East. I posted a couple photos of this area on Sept. 27th from one side of the small peninsula that juts out into the sea. This is a smaller, more beautiful beach (in my opinion) that is just a short scramble over the rocks. Along the left side of the photo, near the top, you can see one of the buildings on the other part of the beach.
East Sindeok Beach
A kilometer or so farther along the coast road is the very small fishing village of Soji, if my memory serves me correctly, and if I read the sign, in Korean, correctly. Very lovely, peaceful area only a few kilometers outside of the city.
Soji Fishing Village
I’ll try to get some more shots posted in the next few days, and I hope to get out to a few other areas, so stay tuned. More later.
P.S. Happy Birthday to my mom. Getting younger every day.
It’s been raining off and on all day, at times somewhat heavily, and there’s a bit of a chill in the air–a good day to stay indoors and read or watch the baseball game. I had planned on going out early in the morning to catch the sun rising on one of Yeosu’s beaches, but I’ll have to wait until next weekend for that. I did get out last Sunday and took a few pictures of Sindeok (shin-duck) Beach, one of three beaches that are somewhat nearby. There are quite a few more on the islands and towards the western end of the city, an area I’ve yet to visit.
This was shot from the road that runs along the coast. As you can see, Sindeok is not all that big. I’ve been told that this is the one that attracts the most foreign teachers in Yeosu.
Here’s a photo from the beach itself, looking toward the mainland to the east.
Finally, this is from the road just before reaching the beach, which is to the right, off the photo.
I’ll try to get some shots of the other two beaches, Manseongni and Mosageum, next weekend. All three of them are fairly close together, almost within walking distance of each other. Now that beach season is over, they are fairly empty.
This weekend will probably be a good time to visit them since it’s Chuseok, Korea’s thanksgiving. It’s a 3-day affair, Friday through Sunday, so, it’s a short teaching week, and my nighttime classes on Thursday will probably have a small (or no) turnout, as most people will want to get started on the holiday early. Many people, especially my out-of-town students, will be leaving for their hometowns, and I expect the roads to be crammed on Thursday evening and Friday morning with people coming into and going out of the city. The dorm where my apartment is located should be relatively quiet during the three days. Nice.
I’ll try leaving the comments turned on for this entry, just to see how much spam I’m deluged with.
There was a LOT of confusion among the players and coaches about when everyone would be allowed to go home to vote. The voting age here is 18, so most of the Dominican players are eligible to participate in the elections, but they have to vote in their home districts. The main scuttlebutt was that they had an intra-squad game today (they did) and would be allowed to leave when that was completed, but they would have to be back for Saturday morning practice. That would have been a completely illogical restriction, but the final word was that they were allowed to go home after the game today, and Saturday practice was called off. Good news for all, except the foreign players, who, of course, can’t participate in the election. But, I called off English classes today, so the Venezuelans and others were happy about that.
I went into Boca Chica to see if anything interesting was going on, but the place was completely shut down. Almost all the small, neighborhood grocery stores, bars and restaurants on the main strip were closed, but the beach establishments were open for business as usual. As if it mattered, the beach was pretty empty, too. I’m told that tomorrow will be interesting, to say the least, with celebrations, marches, occasional gunfire (!!!), and general mayhem to commemorate the victory of the winning party. I have been warned to use a bit of caution (and I will) if I planned to leave the camp, but I have to go into Boca Chica to see what happens. Going to Santo Domingo would be much more interesting, but since I have to go there on Monday, I’ll just use some of that caution and stay out of the city tomorrow. Hopefully, Boca Chica will be interesting enough–if so, I’ll try to get some photos while avoiding any gunshots aimed in my direction. (Just kidding).
Lucky me, it was another Friday off (the final one). There’s no practice tomorrow, so the players were again allowed to leave the camp early to return to their homes. The schedule will get back to normal this coming week, when 40 or so more players will be checking in to the camp. All of the new players will be going to Tampa at the end of February, some for a month or so and some to stay and play minor league ball. Most have been to the U.S. before and have decent English language skills, so I’ll be able to do a lot more with them in class, focusing mainly on Content Based Instruction (CBI). In CBI, the focus is on the subject matter, rather than on the language itself. So, for the players with the higher English skills who have been to the U.S. before, I’m going to teach the historical aspects of baseball, including the race issue, the advent of Latin American players into the majors, the history of the Yankees and more.
For those advanced speakers of English who are going to the States at the end of February but who have not been there before, I’m going to emphasize situations, like going through airports, staying in a hotel, using public transportation, etc. For the guys who will be staying here for the Dominican Summer League, the language itself will be a primary concern in the classroom, mainly conversational English.
At any rate, I’ll have my hands full soon, with the occasional Friday off nothing but a remote dream. Not that I’m off today, of course–I did have office hours at the beach in Boca Chica while working on the upcoming week. One of the waiters at the establishment where I hold Weekend Office Hours told me that Robinson Cano, Melky Cabrera and another Major League Yankee player–probably Edwar Ramirez–had ambled down the beach just a few minutes before I arrived. If they had come back, I would have said hello to them and asked them if they knew whether or not the fans in New York City send off their baseball equipment trucks to Tampa with kisses. (For an explanation of this bizarre form of pagan idol worship, read the comments at the end of the previous post. Click on comments. By the way, OGM is one of the few people who post comments on the blog. Forgive her–she’s from Boston and is a very devout baseball and Red Sox fan. (Gag) Feel free to post a comment, though, whoever you are, if the mood strikes you. Just click on “No Comments” or ” 2 Comments” or whatever at the end of any blog entry.)
I’ve finally finished posting the remaining Laos photos to the Gallery, so I should be adding Montana photos soon, as time permits. I’ll let you know.
Speaking of Laos, I read an article this morning about the continuing efforts to clear the country of unexploded bombs (UXO) left over from the Vietnam War. A short quote from the article:
“Laos is one of the most heavily bombed countries in the world, suffering from intense ground battles and aerial bombardment during the Indochina War.
More than 580,000 bombing missions resulted in more than two million tonnes of bombs being dropped during the 10 year period of conflict. About 30 percent of these did not explode on impact.”
Read the rest of it here. Very tragic and so completely immoral. More later.
I arrived back at the baseball camp near Boca Chica on Sunday morning, and it felt great to leave all the noise, pollution and chaos of Santo Domingo behind. I dropped my bags off at my room at the camp and took my taxi, which waited for me, into Boca Chica. I had to get a haircut and buy some REAL coffee for the Mr. Coffee machine in my room. (I’d been drinking Nescafe Instant for the last 6 weeks. Of course, I could have done these tasks in S.D., but I needed an excuse to go to the beach!
I was happy to find that the multitude of young shoe-shine boys has doubled or tripled. I don’t wear dress shoes, but they can also clean tennis shoes, so they don’t have a reason to bypass me. I’m gonna have to start wearing flip-flops when I go into B.C., since I’m sure they would insist they could clean sandals, too. They’re cute kids, 7-9 years old, but they can be quite the pests when you’re in the town. I hardly ever see them on the beach; thus, another reason to spend time there, soaking up some sun, writing lesson plans and notes for the blog.
So, it’s back to work. Basically, I goofed off while I was in S.D., except for a couple of workshops I conducted earlier, which was not a problem because I get 20 working days off. The embassy didn’t have anything for me to do; it was holiday time and the schools were out, so I looked at the time as a vacation. Some of you have indicated that I’m on perpetual vacation. (And you know who you are.) Not so! //sarcasm on// I miss the foot-deep snow and sub-freezing temperatures of Montana winters. //sarcasm off//
Below are a couple of photos. As you can see, the view from my apartment in S.D. was less than ideal for photographing sunsets.
And one from the camp just last evening.
I returned to Santo Domingo from Nagua this past Saturday after conducting 12 hours of workshops to about 20 teachers. My focus was Communicative Language Teaching (don’t worry, I won’t go into details here–click on the link if you’re interested.), a methodology meant to be yet another tool in a teacher’s instructional toolbox. About 15 teachers and teachers-in-training attended, and everyone thought the time was well spent, including me. I always seem to learn as much from teachers (and students) as they learn from me. It’s pretty much a two-way street.
Nagua is a small beach town on the northeast coast of the Dominican Republic situated at the neck of the Samana Peninsula. It’s still untouched by tourism and the concomitant all-inclusive resorts that dominate the beautiful beaches here. The day is fast approaching when the sun-seekers and hotels will arrive, and the small town will be altered, for both good and ill.
Christmas lights and Santas and nativity scenes are up all over Santo Domingo, which is a far cry from other countries I’ve spent this time of year–Thailand, South Korea and Morocco. Korea has a sizeable Christian population, but in smallish Andong there just weren’t that many decorations or other signs of the holiday. Of course, in predominantly Buddhist Thailand and Muslim Morocco, Christmas is barely a blip on Santa’s radar screen, except in tourist areas, where the consumer aspect is emphasized over the religious. Anyway, Santo Domingo is aglow with the spirit of the season; all that’s lacking is a foot or so of snow.
Finally, I’ve learned the difference between merengue and bachata music. Bachata features a guitar, whereas merengue has no stringed instruments–only horns, drums, and accordians. I’m sure there are other more subtle differences, but the difference in instruments helps to distinguish the difference in musical styles. Now, if I can only discriminate the sounds of rumba, salsa, reggaeton, mambo, etc.
Again, we had some heavy showers over night and again, for the 5th straight game, the team won’t be playing here today. It looks like the bus is fired up, so perhaps the away game might be played. Now, though, the skies are clear and sunny, so let’s hope good weather is here to stay.
As promised, I finally took some photos of Boca Chica, most of which I’ll post to the Photo Gallery. But, here are some for your perusal.
Here’s a scene along the main road in the town, Avenida Duarte. There’s lots of these places where you can buy a large variety of paintings. I don’t know how much of them are mass produced. I saw a guy painting one once and the canvas had all the outlines of the various elements already drawn in, much like a Paint-by-Number kit. Still, they’re pretty. The canvas rolls up easily for traveling, so if I have enough room in my baggage, I might bring a few back.
Here’s a shot along the beach. It’s unusual in that there are very few people here, even though it’s a Saturday.
Maybe everyone was at the Harley-Davidson festival that day. Here’s one of the bikes–lots of nice looking ones.
Here’s a view from my usual hangout, under the palm trees. This is the best part of the beach, in my opinion. Everything here, food and drink, is a bit expensive, but you’re really paying for the ambience.
Finally, we haven’t had too many good sunrises or sunsets lately, but this one was kind of nice. The white dot in the upper middle of the photo is Venus.
Also, I forgot to mention (and I hope I don’t jinx them) that the Big Club has now won 8 in a row and cut the Red Sox lead to 8 1/2 games.
Ok, it’s not that breathtaking, but since I started writing this, the Diamondbacks bus came to the camp. At first I thought that they were going to try to play a game here, but, looking out my bathroom window, I see that the Yankee team is boarding the bus. Obviously, the Arizona club, which was supposed to play here today, sent their bus to pick up the Yanks and take them to the Diamondback field, which must have missed all the rain. Our bus, in the meantime, is transporting the Bombers to the regularly scheduled away field (haven’t looked to see who they are playing). Obviously, our camp lay right under the path of the bands of rain clouds that have been passing through the area, but some of the other camps were spared.
I finally made it into Boca Chica with a couple of the coaches this past Sunday. It’s not all that impressive, pretty run down, and the beach was extremely crowded and a bit trashy from all the weekend activities–nothing like Thailand, but it wasn’t beach hell, either. Again, the beaches on the east coast of the DR are supposed to be truly spectacular. First, though, we visited a resort just a few miles down the road from Boca at Playa Guayacanes, a hotel that the coaches and players stayed in last summer, courtesy of the Yankees, just before moving onto the new campus. I guess there’s still a fairly close relationship between the hotel and the Yanks, since they gave us some free snacks and drinks. Aniuska, in charge of the day-to-day running of the campus, was also there with her husband, enjoying the swimming pool. It wasn’t too bad, although a bit small, with a nice little beach. I didn’t have my camera, so there are no pictures.
Our tropical wave turned out to be more of a ripple, but there was another spectacular, early-morning light show.
In an earlier post, I mentioned that the Yankees couldn’t legally sign the players that are here. Wrong. They can’t sign them until they’re 16 and they can’t let unsigned players stay at the facility for more than 30 days, so most of these guys have contracts. In fact, a couple of them have signed for sums of $2.5 and $3 million, I’m told. Again, no names.
Classes continue to go well, though I’m very busy designing my own materials. I’ve ordered a bunch of books which, hopefully, will help reduce the workload. I managed to make some time yesterday, however, to watch the first intra-squad game. Thursday sees the start of the action between the different teams based in the area. The players on the Yanks have been split into two teams, with one team going on the road to the other teams’ ballparks and one staying here to play each day. Should be fun. I’m going to work late at night to get my lesson plans done so that I can watch all the games, which run from about 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
I also found out that my apartment is exclusively mine, meaning no roommate. With all the books, clothes, printer, etc. crammed in here, there certainly isn’t much space left for someone else.
Time to go out to the balcony and watch the dew glitter under another golden tropical sunrise before breakfast. However, I’ll leave you with another beautiful sunset below. More later.