A Wonderful and Wet day in Jeonju (Day 228)
We spent a wonderful and wet day today in Jeonju. To say that it rained cats and dogs is an understatement, however, this certainly didn’t distract us from enjoying the day.
Today Juhwang, who we met yesterday, took us to the Hanok Village which also happens to be one of the 11 “slow cities” in South Korea, designated in 2010. We wandered around some of the 800 traditional Hanok buildings admiring the unique roof edges that slightly raise up to the sky, there is a delightful charm about them. Apparently, the houses are generally divided into two sections, one for men and one for women. Interestingly on the two bus tours, we have been on, we noticed how the men and women sat separately from one another. We must have looked quite different sitting together and walking holding hands. It was lunchtime and so Juhwang took us to a well-known noodle bar which has been running since 1977. We were very lucky to get a table straight away and within seconds our order arrived. Tim had dumplings whereas Juhwang and I went for different noodle bowls. Wow! Mine was spicy. Even Juhwang found it too hot…I thoroughly enjoyed it but could only eat half the bowl. My mouth was on fire luckily only for a little while. We took a short climb up to see a very peaceful area with a large wooden gazebo type building. Under the protection from the rain, people were resting, some looked as if they had eaten a picnic. I sensed that Juhwang really liked coming to this place, away from the hustle and bustle of the town, even if it is known as a slow city. We then crossed over a busy highway and came across tiny alleyways where all the walls of the buildings were painted; flowers, animals, scenery and many cartoon figures. What an interesting place! I can imagine that if new people moved in, one of the conditions would be that they had to some art on their walls. A bit like in Big Green where we used to live, there was an expectation that Christmas lights were put up (some people did go a bit overboard though!). By this time, puddles had disappeared and replaced by streams of water and gutters were looking like open taps. We could not leave Jeonju before having an iconic choco pie or two, renowned in this area. Juhwang found a place where you could make, decorate then eat your own, unfortunately, we were too late to make, to decorate seemed quite a bit of money, so we decided to just to do the eating. There were lots of flavours to choose from and our final decision was chocolate, coffee, blueberry and pumpkin. The waitress kindly cut these for us and we sat, chatting for ages, drinking coffee and eating these rather sweet, yet scrumptious choco pies. And what a chat we had. We talked about Juhwang’s role as a leader of 30 people, what makes a good leader. He shared with us how our mutual friend Shin is a great exemplar and through asking clean questions, Juhwang was able to explore deeper his learning. We discussed how we cannot change people, we can influence and I shared one of my favourite quotes “Be the change you want to see in the word”. Tim spoke about examples of where he has seen people do just that and the powerful impact it had; leading by example. Juhwang is a delight, so keen to learn. His eyes light up with excitement when he “gets it”. He asked about my own change and I shared with him my story of having a veil of insecurity and the moment that I realised that I had made it all up. Such a transformation. We looked out the window and it was still pouring. The weather is such a great metaphor for our own thoughts. The rain was heavy, yet we know it will pass. We don’t need to do anything about it. It is natural and beyond the rain, the sun is still shining, just as our own psychological wellbeing is always shining. We felt we had outstayed our welcome at the café, we had been there a very long time, so left and the rain had stopped, a short interlude before the next downpour. Juhwang wanted to show us one last place. We walked into a building and took the lift to the top floor. There was a bar with a balcony that gave us a fabulous view of Jeonju. During our photo time, I noticed that one of the 800 Hanoks was different. All the others had black roofs, yet this one had a sage green roof with white edging. I wanted to explore further. What kind of building was it? We left (with me and Juhwang feeling guilty that we didn’t buy a drink – and laughing at our own thinking) and went to find this unusual Hanok. After walking through various lanes, we finally found it. Oh – just another small domestic building. Perhaps the builder liked to be different. Time to go, and just then, the heavens opened once more. Tim and I sang “I’m singing in the Rain” and were so tempted to do the dance routine, but refrained. We really didn’t want to sit in a coach dripping through for an hour. A wonderful and wet day and we are so grateful for Juhwang spending the day with us. We really do meet so many wonderful people around the world.