Children’s Day

Today is Children’s Day, a day when Koreans stop work and……..celebrate children, I guess. All the kids get taken out on nice trips by their parents, usually to a theme park or the cinema or for a picnic. As such I shall most likely not be venturing out, because everywhere will be closed or gridlocked.

Yesterday we took our kids to the Children’s Grand Park in Seoul, which contains lots of pavilions and open space and a “Zoo”, or as it literally translates into English, “Animal School”. When I first heard we were going to a zoo in Seoul I was instantly put on edge, knowing full well that Seoul didn’t have enough free space to house a zoo with enough room for it’s occupants. I wasn’t wrong, all the animals were cooped up in concrete cells which had been sort of “themed” according to the animal (The seal’s cell was blue, the lion’s cell was orange etc.).

The process of getting there involved the usual amount of disorganisation that regular readers will be familiar with. The highlight this time was the fact that we were departing at 9.20, a fact that nobody had told me or seemingly half the other teachers, so as we busied ourselves making sure all the kids had their lunch and everybody had their name tags on, our director suddenly bustled down the corridor yelling “Let’s go!”, then looked into my classroom with incredulity, puzzled as to why I had not assumed we were leaving 40 minutes before we usually do.

From Childrens Grand Park 04.05.2010

The most notable thing I achieved all day was getting in the way of the Mayor of Seoul and being jostled out of the way by one of his goons as he arrived to deliver a speech at the opening of the zoo’s new Big Cat and Elephant enclosure. Two of our kids got chosen to help unveil it, which was nice, and we got to walk around it with the Mayor’s entourage before the unwashed masses were allowed in.

From Childrens Grand Park 04.05.2010

Although the animal pens were woefully small, they did include some nice touches, for instance the Lion pen had a rope protruding through a hole in the wall with the severed leg of some nondescript animal tied to the other end, so Dave and I had a tug-of-war with a Lioness as she tried to eat the thing. It also had a shute down which people could toss food. A zoo worker was busying himself teasing the biggest lion with a chicken dangling from a fishing rod.

From Childrens Grand Park 04.05.2010

After walking around this area we moved inside for a little talk given by two of the zoo’s staff. First they produced a small macaque monkey which performed some acrobatics, next was an albino python which scared the hell out of our principal and director respectively, but which the children were strangely taken with, lots of them describing it as ‘beautiful’. While the snake was being draped over the shoulders of various children for photos, I felt a small furry hand on my shoulder, and a silver monkey clambered over my shoulder and clung to my chest, apparently quite taken with me according to her handler. She was paraded around for photos – emitting a sad little scream when her handler put a collar on her to lead her around. According to the handler it’s buttcheeks were shaped like a heart, and she wasn’t shy about showing it to the kids. After the required stroking and photo, the handler would proclaim “엉덩이!” (which just means “Arse!” in English) and flip the poor primate round and prod at it’s bum for a bit.

From Childrens Grand Park 04.05.2010
From Childrens Grand Park 04.05.2010
From Childrens Grand Park 04.05.2010

Next we got a re-enactment of the tortoise and the hare which was less than successful, although the tortoise eventually won out after some encouragement from her handler, and then the zoo staff bought in their grand finale – a leopard cub. Sometimes the Englishman in me worries about the children’s safety even though they’re probably in no immediate danger – this was one of those times. The handler put this little screaming bundle – small by leopard standards but still bigger than most of the kids – onto the table not 3 feet from the kids faces and let it feed on a bottle of milk while she talked about it. After it finished the milk it became restless and jumped off the table, resulting in every child in the front 3 rows standing on their chairs and screaming.

From Childrens Grand Park 04.05.2010

Next was lunch, after which we left, which was naturally accompanied by utter, unbridled chaos, during which I got a child’s medicine spilt down me, so I’m now sporting a nice pink stain on the front of my white shirt.

I tried my best to enjoy this field trip as it will be my last one before I depart these fair shores in 3 weeks time, which I did, but between the usual miscommunication, easily-fixable organisation problems, and shoddily-treated animals I returned feeling a profound sense of ennui.

5 thoughts on “Children’s Day

    1. WIESO mache ich überhaupt ein Link zum 1. Teil hiervon?! WIESO?! Mehr sag ich jetzt nicht mehr. Kommentare wie diese habe ich schon mehr als 30x gekriegt und immer war die Antwort die Selbe: &#82S0;2CHAUT DEN 1. TEIL!”, dann fügte ich eine Annotation hinzu, liest die Jemand?! NEIN!!So was tut mir echt weh. Im Hirn….

  1. Também fiquei chateada com o fim do renoaiancmelto da Bailey com o Eli, achava os dois super fofos juntos! Prefiro ela com ele do que com o Ben. Fiquei com dó do Owen tendo que ver a Yang paparicar a Zola daquela maneira.A cena da Mer e do Derek cantando pra Zola no celular foi uma das cenas mais lindas que eu já vi na série.

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