Jeju, Pansori

This place is an hour away from Seoul, if you fly. I got to visit this place and also get paid for it, thanx to a conference. The bonus was that the conference organisers also arranged a tour for the delegates. They took us to the Lava Tunnel. As the name implies this is tunnel-cave formed by lava. The island Jeju is of volcanic origin. It was drizzling all through. the tunnel to was leaking here and there. It was dimly lit, that helped in retaining the cave effect (imagine entering a fully lit tunnel-cave). It was about 90 meters long. We went all the way to the end hoping there would be something at the end of it. I imagined a Buddha statue or a local God but it ended in a fence. There was way ahead but it seemed to narrow down.
I had planned to skip a day in the conference and go trekking the Halla mountain. The Halla mountain can be easily spotted from most places in Jeju.  One could see the crater there. The trek, according to the book, takes 9 hours (up and down if i remember correct). However, i had to abort my plan because of a heavy downpour.
On the night before the conference closed there was a cultural program. The first part, the one i liked was Pansori. Pansori is traditional korean folk music. A lady with a drum (more like the Indian dholak) sang with a voice, man-like, close to Usha Utup, but husky. The song was a story about an old man and his grand daughter. The music and the manner in which she sang reminded me of the Malayali folk song ‘dhidhi tara dhidhi tai dhittai daga daga tom’. Then on way back when i told this to my host. He gave me a bit of information to speculate. It seems one of the kings of Korea was married to an Indian princess. And my host Dr. Kim happens to be in his lineage!

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