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Monday, May 23, 2005

CISS Trip '05 - The Finale..

20th May 2005
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Second day! After a much anticipated not-so-peaceful-felt-like-never-slept-at-all sleep we all awakened to the tones of Ms. Shin's voice wishing us good morning. Intendedly the itinery of the day were to kick-off at around 8.30am, but we woke up around 7.30am. There's just one bathroom, ten guys...let's just say that nobody had a refreshing shower. Straightly after, we had this nice breakfast set-up by the lodge caretaker. Finishing up all errands and spiffing the place up spot-clean, we took a group photo together at the lodge before leaving for Bulguksa Temple - a brief 20 minutes away.
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Entrance was 4,000won - kinda stiff but still worth it. The temple was HUGE! Think the forbidden temple of China, and you'll get a picture of how astonished we were. And it was filled with KIDS! School kids, mind you. Those cutie-can-i-pinch-your-cheeks kinda kids. They're rather friendly, these schoolkids. I can't find a moment when we're passing by a group of kids where they don't at least wave and say hello, how are you's. We even took a picture with them! Anyways, that wasn't the marlin of the sea here in Bulguksa. The Bulguksa Buddhist Temple was once homage to about three small nearby Gyeong-ju villages at the historic Gyeongju Fire. The monks of the temple catered for these villages for a considerable amount of time so this place kinda falls on top of the respect pyramid for Koreans, especially those living in the vicinity. There were monks everywhere - praying and mumbling prayers in each temple (did I tell you that there were more than one temple?) and it reminded me so much of those Shaolin temples you see in movies.
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Before leaving for lunch all of us shopped for souvenirs at the temple exit. Traveller's tip #1 : Never buy stuff at those souvenir shops because they'll overcharge you; opt for those small kiosks set up at the roadsides - cheaper, but offering the same quality and brand of product. I've spent around 20,000won less than what I'd pay at the souvenir shop. After lunch Zack, me and Cik KB along with a number of Muslim students performed our prayers under the trees of the temple. Yup - just like the plain ol' days; praying where you stand. Kinda a new experience for me, as well as giving me a new perspective on how important prayers are for Muslims.
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Next stop was Pohang Steel Company (POSCO) - I know, what does this have to do us? The fact is, steel governs most of our lives. Hahaha, maybe not in a direct sense anyways. But the tour was interesting. Watching molten hot ore mould being shaped into layers of steel strips is kinda daunting, as well as HOT! We were virtually like in a sauna with all those heat generated by the passing molten steel. Of course, no cameras in the factory so there's no pictures to show.
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Moving on, next was a not-so-familiar destination - POSCO Biotech Center, in the heart of Pohang city. Now this is what I call a state-of-the-art research center. They have all the facilities, all the gadgets and equipment you'd imagine (nope, no ice-cream maker..as well as bbq grills ok!) so it was kinda intimidating for us, coming from a developing university such as UMS. Kinda sets the bar on the current research and development in Korea as compared to in Malaysia. Whatever it is, we still have a LONG, LONG way to go.
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You can tell that my descriptions are getting shorter by each paragraph, this is antagonistically due to the extended length of this post. I'm getting hungry. Especially now when I'm about to tell you guys that before departing back for GIST we had dinner at Pizza Hut!! Now this is something that reminds us so much of home - where the pizzas' always crisp and crunchy, and every cheese is a treat from heaven...*drooling* The salads here in Korea has free refills, and considering that we're mostly refraining from any beef diets so we took full advantage of the situation. You can say that the branch had to close early that day due to the damage we inferred. Well, it's their fault - them tasty mashed tomatoes and macaroni's!
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We departed from Pohang at around 6.30pm, and the journey home brought us on the soils of Gwangju around 11pm. We stopped somewhere in the middle of nowhere to revitalise, get to the toilet (running with hands at crotch and pale red expressions) and of course, to pray. All in all, that night all of us slept quite early, and peacefully. The trip was great, and most of us look forward for more endeavours of such in the future again. Our tour guides, Ms. Shin and Mrs. Min were great sports. Couldn't picture how the trip would end well without their support...
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I'll be posting some eye-candy for you guys somewhere next post. Still figuring which pictures to upload and from who to get it. That's the damage of not having your own camera - the pain of having to get them from everyone else. Hahaha, now thats just sad. Anyways, the following two days was lazying off day for all of us, still shaking off the headaches imflicted by the bus rides. Cik KB was sweet enough to treat me and Zack to a Dunkin' Donuts dinner (after a grueling 30 minutes haggle session) so the week turned out to be good. No complaints here.
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Until next post, more stuff to tell, more stories to share! For now, let me just see how far this Hyundai toy car can go...now how do I get it to move?
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-JeP

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