We had an English department meeting where it was agreed that we would take a trip during final exams to nearby Andong to go to the cinema and eat dinner. Three weeks later, final exams rolled around and the trip had not been mentioned again. I had completely forgotten about it until the day I went into school and my co teachers asked me if I had brought sensible shoes for the trip. I had not. This is unsurprising as I didn’t know when the trip would be and even if I had have known, why do I need sensible shoes to watch a film?
Here comes the twist. We were not going to Andong anymore, instead we were going to head North to Jecheon and take lake and river hikes. I had a moment of panic when I looked at my flip flops and work clothing and imagined hiking in this attire. This fear was only accelerated when I saw all the other teachers carried training shoes in carrier bags. There was no time to change. An enroute, riverside photo shoot was of course built in to the journey. An hour later we were gathered by the edge of a lake or large pond as I preferred to view it. Our ‘hike’ began with rice cakes and a gentle stroll on the landscaped path around the lake. After a stop for patbingsu, a Korean dessert consisting of ice flakes, milk, red beans and fruit I mentally prepared myself for the afternoon to get serious and steep. Korea’s mountains may not be high but they are notoriously steep.
My nervous, work shoe adourned feet had nothing to worry about it as we piled back into the cars and drove to a beautiful restaurant where we took our places for more food. Countless side dishes and culinary oddities later, the day’s activities came to an end and we went back to school and went our separate ways. I was left stood outside school, confused, mentally worn out and too full to get on my bike and cycle home. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great day. The company was wonderful, we were wined and dined and the weather was fantastic. But I would still like to know, what did I need my sensible shoes for?