An English teacher's blog about his travels and his digital art.

Tag: history

New Dolsan Bridge and Hamel Light

Continuing from the previous post, I walked down out of the park and toward the harbor, to the new Jongpo Ocean Park Walkway, also being built for Expo 2012. At the far end of the walkway stands one of the massive towers of the new Dolsan Bridge.


Here’s another shot of the other part of the bridge under construction, reaching out from Dolsan Island.


Have you ever heard of the 17th century Dutch explorer Hendrick Hamel? Neither had I. In this area is a small red lighthouse named, appropriately, Hamel Light.


Walking a bit further, you can see this statue of Hamel.


Engraved on a marble memorial near the statue is Hamel’s story. It reads:

Hamel and Yeosu

In January 1653, a Netherlands merchant ship, De Sperwer, set out from Texel and headed for its final destination of Nagasaki, Japan, after passing Batavia (Jakarta) in July. However, on August 16, 1653, they encountered a storm off Jeju Island and arrived on the shore of Jeju.

There were 36 survivors out of 64 crew members after the storm, and one of them was Hendrick Hamel. In May, 1654, the survivors were sent to Seoul for custody under the royal decree of the king (King HyoJong). In 1656 they were sent to the barracks of Gangjin, Jeonnam Province, and they spent seven years in captivity. Due to a food shortage caused by draught (sic), in February, 1663, 22 survivors were separately placed under custody: 12 people to Yeosu, 5 people to Suncheon, and 5 people to Namwon.

Among the 12 men sent to Yeosu, Hamel was one of the men. And they were given the duty of gate guards for Yeosu Jeolla Fortress. In early 1664, a commanding officer, Lee Do-bin, of the naval forces, was inaugurated, and he was a man of generosity. He allowed Hamel and others to live comfortably with limited freedom, and the survivors earned money by selling wool in the market to buy a ship to escape from Korea. However, in 1666, the successor of Lee, Jeong Yeong, came to command the fortress and he made it hard for the survivors to live, so the survivors decided to escape.

On September 4, 1666, they mingled with the inhabitants as every thing was going as usual. At night, they made their escape by crawling over the wall of the fortress and went to the pier. They gathered drinking water and ran toward the southern tip after passing the military vessel as the low tide started. Around the next evening, the saw the tip of Busan and finally escaped from the territory of Korea.

This is the starting place of Hamel and others for navigating toward their freedom.

An interesting story, and Hamel pops up in other sites in Korea. If you do a Google search, you can find out more about him. Here’s a close up of the light.


Next post: Jongpo Ocean Park Walkway.

The Admiral and the Busy Port

In a previous post titled Boats and Churches, I made reference to Yeosu’s historic past with a photo of a turtle ship replica. High atop Jasan Park overlooking Odongdo Island is a statue honoring Korea’s famous Admiral Yi Sun-shin, inventor of the turtle ship.


Here’s a closer view of the admiral, who stands as if guarding the busy harbor below.


He has a lot to stand watch over, for the harbor is a lot busier than I thought. The ocean surrounding Yeosu is often laden with cargo and container ships and tankers. It often seems that it’s rather a lot of shipping for Yeosu, and indeed, north of the peninsula, just 18 kilometers across the bay, lies Gwangyang, one of the world’s top 15 busiest ports, according to this source, among others. One of Korea’s industrial giants, Posco Steel, has a steel works facility there that is the largest in the world. Most of the ships in the photo below, taken near Sindeok Beach, are probably heading to Gwangyang.


The small foreground object that looks like a submarine is actually a rocky islet topped with a small lighthouse.

I don’t know how often I’ll be able to post in the next few weeks because we’re nearing the end of the semester, so I’ll be busy with final testing, grading, paperwork and what not. Hopefully I can maintain my recent frenetic activity. 🙂 More later.

School, Holiday and Bloody Sun

Finally, the CPR classes begin this coming week, sometime, uhhhmm . . . we’re pretty sure. Probably Tuesday or Wednesday, “automatic,” as Mohammed told me. He and I went to the CPR on Tuesday and the grounds were bustling with teachers, admin people and staff. The director wasn’t there, so we didn’t get to talk to him to confirm the opening date. I don’t think anyone really knows the EXACT day yet, but next week does seem to be firm. Mohammed and I discussed what I will teach this first term. We settled on Methods and Approaches, How to Teach Listening, and Language Proficiency and Development, this last course being for the benefit of the teachers, to increase THEIR English language skills. There are 40 students enrolled this year and they are broken into 2 groups, each group taking 2 hours in each of my classes each week. Thus, I have 12 contact hours (3 classes X 2 groups X 2hours) each week, but I will also be involved with some extracurricular activities, like Drama Club or, perhaps, a culture club. So, that’s how it stacks up for now. The details could change, of course, but at least I’ll finally get to work. More on this as more information becomes available.

Mohammed also told me on Tuesday that the following three days were a holiday. I asked him why and he said that the King was generous to his people. Hmmmm, that sounded plausible, but I thought there must be more to it than mere monarchical benificence. Indeed, it is Independence Day today, the celebratation of the 50th Anniversary of King Mohammed V‘s return from exile. Interesting that the French exiled him to Corsica, the birthplace of Napoleon. So, all government entities have been closed for the last three days, but, except for the proliferation of Moroccan flags along the main avenues, you’d hardly know that anything was happening. I guess there’s a big shindig tonight in the medinah, near Mohammed’s house, with a big outdoor screen set up to show the festivities from Rabat.

Luckily, La Bel Vie is open, and walking back this afternoon from buying a few things I was able to witness one of the most crimson-colored sunsets I’ve ever seen. The sun was deep blood-red as it lowered to the horizon, and it cast a beautiful rosy limelight around the edges of the several puffy cumulus clouds in the vicinity. Pretty spectacular; unluckily, I wasn’t carrying my camera. [sigh] More later.

Volubilis, Peace Corps Training

First off, I noticed just a moment ago that my home page was reflecting only entries through the month of September. Hmmmmm. So, I had to change, temporarily, back to the old page. I’ll try to set it up later so that the blog works ok as the “front door.”

Last Sunday, John, Evelyn and I went to Volubilis, site of the ancient Roman provincial capital. The ruins are located somewhat above a fertile valley, offering sweeping views of the surrounding farmland. It was an overcast day, lending a colorless sameness to the ruins and the surrounding area, especially now during the dry season. In spring, when everything around here greens up, the site is supposed to be very beautiful. I can imagine that during Roman times, with a few more trees than there are now, the city must have been lovely. There is actually a lot to see–the remains of bakeries and wine and olive presses, the baths, the capitol building, the marketplace, the sacrificial altar in front of the basilica and many houses with their tiled, mosaic floors still relatively intact. Some of the houses have been given quaint or evocative names, like The House of the Labors of Hercules, House of the Athlete, House of the Dog, House of the Golden Coins, House of the Bathing Nymphs, House of the Columns and House of Dionysus and the Four Seasons. All in all, it’s an interesting site.

There weren’t a multitude of other tourists here, though there were a couple of tour buses that left shortly after we arrived. Volubilis is only about 30 km (18 miles) from Meknes and could be a nice day trip by bicycle. Except that it is 1/2 downhill and 1/2 very much uphill! Maybe in the spring I will give it a try.

For larger photos, just click on the image.

In the mountains to the south clings the small town of Moulay Idriss, one of Morocco’s holiest sites. John tells me that it was only recently that it was opened to non-Muslims. According to one of my guide books, Idriss I fled the caliph in Baghdad in the 8th Century and came here. He founded the first Arab-Muslim dynasty in Baghdad and is buried in the town that took his name.

Last Friday, the 14th, John, Nabila Moussamin (the other Fellow in Morocco, based in Tangiers) and I went to the Peace Corps training site at Imouzzer, an hour and a half drive south-east of Meknes. There we trained the volunteers in the use of “Books in a Box,” literally boxes that come with 32 English Language-Teaching books packed inside them. It was great fun working with the PCVs, since I’m a former volunteer myself. They were very enthusiastic about having the books and the workshop was very well received. Imouzzer, over 4,000 feet up in the Middle Atlas mountains, is a smaller version of the nearby resort town of Ifrane. We started the workshop around 12:30 p.m., and as the afternoon progressed, it started to get a bit chilly. Being from Montana, I wore only a short-sleeved shirt, but it wasn’t too bad. I also met a fellow Montanan there, a volunteer named Brian (sorry, Brian, I forgot your last name) from Denton. He also attended the U of M, so we had a lot in common to talk about. It wasn’t all that surprising to meet another Montanan, since the U of M always ranks high nationally in the number of PCVs it recruits.

Let’s see. What else is happening . . .?
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