Tag Archive: weekend update


Last weekend I went with some co-workers to a Korean baseball game.  It was a total experience.  If you are in Korea, like baseball, and it’s in season I think it’s a total must.

Basically tickets are less than 10usd for the general admin seats.  We sat right outfield front/bottom row like right on the field.  We bought tickets the day of the game and settled in to watch the LG Twins play against the Doosan Bears.  Both teams are Seoul based teams so there were a good amount of fans that came out to support.  Neither team made it to the play-offs so there weren’t as many people as usual.

Korea baseball games are fun for 2 main reasons. First, everything about them is cheap.  We bought beer for cheap, unlike the ridiculously over priced stuff at games in the States.  Then, in Korea there aren’t hotdogs at a baseball game, there is fried chicken.  No one walks around selling during the game, but all of the vendors are set up just outside, so its way less annoying.  Second, they are fun because of the fans.  People love baseball here.  Love it.  Korea also loves entertainment.  This is evident in every facet of their lives.  Therefore, at baseball games there are these cheer dancers that come out for each team when they are up to bat.  Each team has a theme song, and even some individual players.  They all  have these huge clapping sticks and the fans have all kinds of cheers memorized.  There are even cheer wars.  I’m not talking like a small section starting something, I mean the whole freaking stadium.  It was a total experience for sure.

We got there about an hour before the game started.

So my friend/co-worker Joanne played photographer and didn’t realize how light weird my camera can be if you don’t know when/how to change the settings and stuff.  I should have checked it first.  Point is the pictures are reaaaallly bright and stuff so this is the best I could do with them.

LG fans.  You can see the dancers/singer guy on the blue platform thing in the center.

This kid was sooo cute.  He was chanting all the cheers and clapping his sticks for LG hardcore.

Me and Joanne after the game was over. I have no clue how she wasn’t freezing.  It was sooo cold outside.

It was lots of fun, most assuredly.  I wish I had gone to more while I was here.  So it goes.

Seoul Forest

Eek I thought I had this post queued up to post, but apparently I messed that up somehow. oops.

During the last few days Andy was here the weather was beautiful.  On the Sunday before he left we decided to go to Seoul Forest.  Andy had been there on his own one day while I was at work, and he really liked it there.  I was excited to check it out.

We wore our couple shirts out and got a few looks and comments which I thought was super funny.  I got them kind of as pretty much a joke.  Koreans looooove their same-same and I just don’t get it, but these shirts were cute sooo we wore them out for a day in the park.

Seoul Forest is huge. Seriously so much green!

There is also a deer park, butterfly and insect houses, and tons of other things to do.  So we made the most of it, I think. First, we walked around for a while. Then we had been talking about getting a tandem bicycle so we went to the bike rental area and picked one up.  It was a rocky ride at first until we got smart and decided to adjust the seats.  much easier once that happened.

We rode over to the deer park and used the handy-dandy machine to get some food to feed them.

then ta-da deer feeding:

Normally, I am not a fan of caging animals in the middle of a huge city like this, but these guys really had a lot of nice forest land to roam around in.

Then we just rode around for a little half an hour looking at all the different parts of the park. After our bike ride we kept walking and headed to the butterfly house.  There were beautiful butterflies and squishy little caterpillars everywhere.

Sadly, the insect part was closing for the day when we tried to go in.

This place had a water treatment facilitation and eco forests as well.  It is huge. There were play grounds and sculptures.   It was so nice to see so much green.  There were so many people out enjoying the day. Families were camped out for the day playing games and having family time together.  I will say that Sunday is most assuredly still valued as a family day for Koreans and it is usually the day they spend fostering their relationships.

This was one of the huge sculptures and kids could climb inside and hang out.

Andy took me over to a bridge area that he had seen before.  It was really awesome.  It was nice to have the tables turned and have him showing me around.

Lots of pond area.

Also, there was that ever looming juxtaposition of the fact that this park is smack dab in the middle of this humungous city.

Then we headed to the small set of gardens we had seen that were set down at the this slope situation.  The flowers were beautiful and I really liked it…

but then I started noticing them.

looming

and it was not cool.

their spindly legs and huge creepiness. I really hate spiders. fact. and these were really big creepy things. I just imagined they were fast crazy guys and I just was itchy all over.  I made it through though.

ugh.

After this it was dinner time, but we weren’t ready to leave so we went to see if the guy who was selling pizzas he was making on the back of a truck was still there. Alas he totally was.  So we got a pizza for like 6 bucks and went back to the park to eat it while the sun was setting an end on the day.  We watched all the kids playing in the fountain and it was really nice.

 

DMZ

 

Sorry about the length between posts.  I didn’t want to spend hours of my last days with Andy blogging, and then I just spent a few days being really lazy.  No worries though there will be a couple posts showing up over this next week.

Andy and I took a trip to the DMZ.  Unfortunately, we didn’t take the trip with the USO.  We had a good experience but if I have time to go again I will definitely go with them. On this trip it was ridiculously hazy out.  We took the bus with our group.  When we arrived at the barricades we handed over our IDs and were registered.  Then a soldier got on the bus just to match IDs and people to make sure everyone had been cleared.

There were lots

It was a really hazy day.  This was taken at our first stop, Imjingak.  It was built to be a place where civilians that had lost their homes in the North could go and console their sorrows.  It is the farthest point people can go without permission.  It was the first stop that was full of good and somber parts as well as touristy ridiculousness, like the amusement park.

This is the Korean memorial for the United States.  Sadly, we didn’t have time to see it any closer.

This is an alter that is used by the displaced, especially during Lunar New Year and Chuesok, Korean Thanksgiving.

Ribbons hang all over the fencing of the bridge that was built to have an exchange of POWs.  They are messages to family members that were separated into the North.

One of the trains that was abandoned on the tracks when they were destroyed and split up during the war.

There are so many systems in place for security, and of course the most popular being barbed wire EVERYWHERE! Seriously, you couldn’t look in any direction without seeing this somewhere in your line of sight.

This is the Peace Bell that was installed in 2000 to hope for a United Korea during the new millenium.

of course there were these little photo points set up throughout everything.  They really wanted to make this into a place that should be enjoyed and almost celebrated instead of seeing it at a border that kept families apart and was created because a nation was being divided. A border that is still heavily guarded and at all times comes with some level of danger.

But back to the happy go lucky ventures of the day.  After this stop we went to this really good place for lunch.  Had some beanpaste soup and tofu something or another.  It was here that Andy and I tried some North Korean beer, and photographed our reactions.  It wasn’t terrible after the first initial sips, but definitely not something I expect to see on the shelves at a grocery store in NC anytime soon.

awesome sculpture near the third tunnel.  It is supposed to show the divide being bridged by the people and stuff, obviously, of course.

A map of the DMZ.  There is actually a village of people that live within its boundaries.  They farm and go to school and everything.  They have a curfew, and can’t roam freely because of undetonated mines.  I wouldn’t say it is my ideal life, but it’s what they have chosen to do.

and back to the cheesy touristy things like taking pictures with these little guys.

Apparently Andy decided to find himself a new girlfriend, but she was already taken.

These little statues were outside of the Third Tunnel. We weren’t allowed to take any pictures in the area.  It was really hard to navigate this tunnel because it seriously looks like it was built for children.  I hit my head numerous times and was glad for my helmet.  we walked bent over in half most of the time.

This is one of the lookout posts over into North Korea.  It was so hazy and the ‘photo zone’ was so far away that I didn’t really get any pictures…well I got some buuut I took them in a place Iwasn’t supposed to so they deleted them…oops. We also didn’t get to go into the information center because some US high ranking official was there.  I am not sure who, but it was a bummer that we couldn’t see everything, especially since it was hazy. The guards were nice though and answered a bunch of questions some others had.

Last we went to Dorasan Train Station. It is the last train stop in the northern parts of South Korea.  There is a train that runs south from this station every 2 hours through the middle of the day, I think.  There are tracks on both sides but only the one side is ever used.  All around the station is this almost movie set looking set-up.  There are cargo holds and immigration buildings and things that would be necessary during an opening of borders and a slow process reunification time.  It was just so strange to see everything there and waiting but never being used. The tracks were destroyed during the war and the picture above is a wall with names on it of people that donated in the project to rebuild the lines.

This is the front of the station.  It is way nice and clean and modern looking.  It is stationed with guards but they were kind of goofing around and answering questions, and of course posing for pictures.

There was a map showing how the Trans Siberian rail road would look and how if the North were open to the trains that it would take something like 15 days to take a train from Seoul to London.  Personally I would absolutely love to take a trip like that and see the landscapes of Russia.  Maybe one day.

Apparently George Bush did something with the tracks.

We had to pay like $.50 to go out onto the platform.  When we got there there was a train waiting to take people South.

This is the Korean’s main phrase used to describe this station.

Of course since there were no more trains for at least two hours and absolutely none on the other side we got to go down and hang out on the tracks.

and the way to North Korea is blocked and filled with red lights and stop signs.

Overall it was a very interesting experience and I learned a lot, but I also felt like I was in this kind of fun touristy learning spot and not in this kind of scary border that stretched 2km on each side of the border in countries that are still technically at war.  It was informational but hard to take it all as serious as I think we both would have liked to. So it goes. And there you have it, the DMZ trip with Adventure Korea.

War Memorial of Korea

Sunday, Andy and I decided to go check out the War Memorial of Korea and museum. It was raining of course, but we figured that since a majority of everything was inside it would be fine.  We weren’t planning on spending more than a couple of hours there but actually ended up spending the whole day pretty much because there was just so much to look at and see and do.

Outside there are a lot of memorials that represent different things.

This represented the sword and the tree of life…I totally thought it was two sides of a bullet buuuut I was wrong. It was really cool to see.

These face ball fountain pieces did not have any explanation in English.  It was kind of strange though to see all these little faces on several of these throughout the court yard area.

This is a replica of a monument built for a great king.  Sadly, the original stands in China on what was once part of Korea during a heightened and stronger period, but now is Chinese territory.

This was a really awesome piece to see and read about.  The English text explaining the monument called the Statue of Brothers says this:

“The Statue of Brothers is an 18 meter wide and 11-meter high symbol of the Korean War. It consists of the upper part, lower part and inner part. The upper part of the statue depicts a scene where a family’s older brother, an ROK officer, and his younger brother, a North Korean soldier, meet in a battlefield and express reconciliation, love, and forgiveness. The lower tomb-shaped dome was built with pieces of granite collected from nationwide locations symbolizing the sacrifices made by our patriots. The crack in the dome stands for the division of Korea and the hope for reunification. Objects inside the dome include a mosaic wall painting that expresses the spirit of the Korean people to overcome the national tragedy and a map plate of the 16 UN Allied Nations that dispatched troops to the war. The links of iron chain on the ceiling signify the unbreakable bonds of a unified Korea.”

Bronze statues like these that represent all types of people on both sides that were, and still are, effected by the war between North and South Korea.  They were big and detailed and to me that made them powerful.

Also, along the outside of the museum was an area that displayed various planes, vehicles, and artillery used during Korean history.

This ship is an exact replica.  The real one is housed at a different site and unfortunately we weren’t able to see the inside, but it was still cool.

Then to get out of the rain we decided to check out the inside of the museum. There was so much information about Korea’s history as a whole, not just the Korean war that divided the peninsula in two.

One of the interesting, funny little things about Korean museums is that they seriously love using dioramas. Seriously, they love them.

The swords that Korean’s used to fight with were crazy big and scary.

awesome fighting details.

Pretty much hoping I can find one of these awesome outfits around Halloween.

huge boat replicas.

A flag that was signed by a volunteer corps during the war in the 1950s.

Tear drop made of dog tags from the Korean War. It was a really cool piece to see.

On the bottom floor there was a really cool exhibit we didn’t get to see but it was kiiind of like our version of gingerbread houses only they were made out of toothpicks and this puffed Korean cereal and rice cake things.  It was really neat.

I didn’t take many pictures in the museum because there was just soooo much to see, and I was really focused on reading what I could and just trying to keep all the things that have happened in the long history of this country separated. I totally recommend this as a place to see if you ever visit Seoul, just make sure you have a good chunk of time you can spend taking it all in.

 

Yeouido Park

Last weekend the weather of course was overcast and looking like the sky was going to open up and drop rain at any minute.  We have been very persistent about not letting the rain effect our plans if we can help it.

On Saturday we went to Itaewon for brunch.  We had the absolute best breakfast I have had since arriving in Korea.  We went to a place called the Flying Pan-Blue.  It is a little tucked away place that is super cute inside and busy constantly.  I was not surprised once I tasted my food.  It was hands down the best smoked salmon eggs benedict I have ever had anywhere. It was on fresh sourdough bread with sauteed spinach and a grilled tomato on the side. All the flavors and the colors were beautiful on the place. It was superb.  Andy’s pancakes with bananas, walnuts, and a scoop of ice cream were also super tasty.  I might have stolen more than 1 or 2 bites.  Sadly, my camera was acting up annnnd I didn’t get any pictures.

However after walking around the area for a bit we decided to just get on the subway and go somewhere, sooo we headed to Yeouido.  Yeouido is actually a little island in the river.  We went to the river walk and figured we would just see what we could find.  Well, we found some really neat things.

We found this really cool fountain area that is used by children for swimming, splashing, and fun.  The water isn’t more than knee deep at most points and the kids were having a blast.  There were families set up along the edges with picnics and towels while the kids ran around and had fun.  I was kind of surprised considering the weather, but I guess after what has been 2 months of solid rain at this point you just have to go whether the clouds are out or the sun is shining.

And I was totally that weird person sitting on the sides taking pictures of everyone’s kids.  They didn’t seem to mind so I didn’t really feel bad about it.

This is one of the main entrance walkways into the waterfront from the subway.

Awesome weird artsy bench.  There were all styles and cool concept benches all throughout the park.

Andy sitting on the bench while I took pictures from 100000 different angles.  I really liked how it was made.

The part of the fountain park nearest to the river.

There were so many different types of fountains.

Boys being boys.

Floating stage dome thing on the river.

They went all out with their floating rings, goggles, and swimming caps. So funny. Some kids were in their clothes, others were in their swimsuits, didn’t make a difference they were all running around being kids.

I loved this little guy. He was floating his crocs on the water and splashing around with his grandma. The water made him a little anxious but they were having fun.

and of course a photo oh Andy and I.  Apparently we always sit on the same sides in photos. weird. We didn’t go to the 63 Building that is on the island because of the weather and we also didn’t ride the awesome tandem bikes, but we definitely plan on going back or to Seoul Forest before the next week is up!

 

Gettin’ muddy

This past weekend I went with a group to the Boryeong Mud Festival.  The name is pretty much exactly what it is, a festival where everyone just plays in the mud.  It was awesome. so awesome.

We left Nowon at 6:00am and met the Discover Korea group around 7:30am and by 8 we were headed to the coast.  The festival was on the eastern coast and about a 2.5 hour bus ride.

We got there settled in and hit the beach. I didn’t want to take my camera because I had no desire to get it muddy.  Therefore, I kicked it old school and took a Kodak disposable with me for the trip.

This is the view from our pension of the area.

Right before we all got muddy.  There were 11 of us all together in our little group.  We had 5 girls and 6 guys.  We had this little loft split floor room going on and slept 5 upstairs in a row all squished in a space made for 3 at the most and the guys did the same on the bottom floor.  Totally worth it though.  We didn’t sleep much anyway.

At one station there was colored mud.  You walk up and these Korean women just paint you like their very own canvas.  These were our results after telling her to just make us look pretty.

There were stations set up everywhere with paintbrushes in giant things of mud.  Supposedly it is really good for your skin so everyone just walks around coated trying to give their skin a little treat. After we were done with the mud and needed a break we would just jump in the ocean and rinse off and then go back at it when we were ready.

Then things got really dirty.  At one point we ended up in a giant ring that was intended for one thing but became a wrestling pit.  Some army guys jumped in over the side and they had no mercy.  I was take out at the knees sooo many times.  which is why they are bruised and cut up.  Totally worth it.  We had so much fun.

So, even though it was kind of overcast and we were coated in mud I ended up with a pretty awful sunburn.  The kind where my feet are now swollen to about two and a half times their normal size. This apparently is common in bad burns on your legs from fluid retention, but its really annoying. so it goes.  I plan on just putting on sunscreen before I even look at the sun for the rest of the summer. ugh.

There were a few times on the trip where I got really frustrated with the group or with myself or whatever.  I hadn’t slept much and that really has a tendency after a compounding to make me pretty grumpy.

Overall though it was a really fun weekend.  I met some new friends and spent my last weekend with some very dear friends.  We took some pretty epic pictures upon out return Sunday night, but that’s for a post later this week.


Summer is here

Finally. It felt for a  long time like winter would never end and then it did.  Spring was very short lived here and now summer is on in full force.  I am not complaining, but the beautiful weather does have the sneaky effect of making you magically forget how awful winter was so that you fall in love with the city again.

This past weekend I spent as much time outside as possible.  I had a nice long weekend since Monday was Korea’s Memorial Day and I didn’t have to work. yay. Friday night after work I went to the movies with the girls and we walked home.  We have been walking to and from Nowon a lot lately and its really nice.  We have also been spending a lot of time walking down by the river.  It is super nice and they have been planting and painting and just doing some awesome beautification there.

Saturday Rachel and I went to Hangdae to try and catch music in the park and just walk around.  It’s a super nice area and I enjoyed being there and not being in a club with a ton of people.

There was a silent disco in the park so I took some photos.  I have totally always wanted to do one of these and while we couldn’t last Saturday as soon as they schedule another one I am totally in. Basically everyone gets wireless headphones and a DJ is playing music and only the people with headphones can hear it. So you see this sea of people dancing but you don’t hear a sound.  I think its  a really awesome idea.

These guys were awesome.  they were just jamming out in the park.  It reminded me a lot of being  in Asheville which was super nice. Then crazy 80s guy and drum guy went to jam with another drummer.

and crazy 80s guy definitely was playing the whistle…yep …the whistle. it was ridiculous.

 

Saturday I went with Rachel, Sara, and Jessica to watch Jessica’s boyfriend, Jackie, play soccer.  Jackie is such a super awesome guy.  He is a very atypical Korean man.

The park was beautiful that their field was in.

Then after the game we went out with all the guys to this chicken place.  The food and soju were never ending.  We did have these amazingly awful for you just delicious battered and fried french fries.  The guys were all sooo nice and funny.  They had minimal English and we have minimal Korean.  Dennis and Jackie were translating sometimes, but for the most part it was just gesturing and laughing and drinking.  It was soooo much fun.

They wanted to take group shots and I was more than happy to oblige. We are planning on having dinner again with them soon. After dinner, Jackie was even so awesome that he drove us all the way home.  By subway it would have taken us 2 hours, and even driving it took about an hour.

Also, here to get on major highways at major exits there are police stationed at night and before you can enter the highway you have to take a breathalyzer test.  I think its really smart and must cut back on the amount of alcohol related accidents that occur here.

Then on Sunday I spent most of the afternoon up on the roof with Sara chatting about things.  It was a good time, but now I look like a tomato…a sad tomato.

 

Makkoli night

My friend Jessica lives in Mapo and often spends weekends with us in Nowon.  She suggested that since we both share a love of makkoli, a Korean rice wine, that we get together and have a night of it.  I was excited and so Jessica, Rachel, Sara, and I headed to a cute little place to get our makkoli…only the place isn’t there anymore.

One of the hardest parts about living in Korea is that businesses come and go in the blink of an eye and you never know when something will just not work out and then suddenly 3 days later something new is in its place.

So we found a different place to go that also only served tofu.  We got some really delicious food, had some makkoli,  and some good conversation.

Jessica and Sara getting it ready.  One of the awesome things about makkoli is that you get to actually drink it by the bowlful, which is awesome in every way ever.

One of the dishes we ordered was this really good fish.  However, this guy shows up with his head and tail still in tact. He even had teeth!

and last night was also our friend Jun Soo’s 30th (31 Korean)  birthday party.  We went to Met to help him celebrate and play darts…basically the usual routine. It was a really good night.

Saturday morning Eileen and I planned to go for a hike on the local mountain.  One of the neat things about Seoul is that even though it is the ridiculously bustling city that keeps weird hours and is always moving it is still dotted and surrounded by really accessible mountains.  Koreans love to hike. Seriously they all wear matching gear and its just a little almost kiiind of crazy in my book.

Anyway, so I wore my gym shorts, tshirt, zip up, and sneakers so automatically I get looks from people. They wear full body cover suits that I would sweat to death in so I just deal with the weird looks. end tangent and back to the point.  I meet up with Eileen and we are off.

She makes a note that she wants to take an easy path because its her first hike of the season.  I am fine with that I didn’t get much sleep for a variety of reasons and was in no mood to take a very long hike.  I am terrible with directions. that should also be noted, but I do know where I am at.  Then we reach this point where the path splits.  I want to go one way but Eileen thinks we should go another.  Shes Korean and I don’t always trust my directional instinct so we follow her choice.

Then I literally recognize nothing.  I know there are tons of paths all over this mountain and it is really well hiked but we are walking through these wooded areas and climbing up rocks and its proving much more difficult than the usual walking trail we take up.

the easier part.

Spring! It’s here!

someone clearly forgot where they put their mug for safe keeping.

This rock had a face.  I was hoping he would talk to me like the giant rock statue from Legends of the Hidden Temple cause I kiiind felt like I was on that show and just missing my Blue Barracudas shirt or something. Alas, he was just a funny looking non talking rock and had no wise stories or directions to give us.

We found this nice little rock overlook and sat for a few minutes to take a rest and some pictures.  We also had a very interesting discussion about the air. I made a comment about it being so smoggy and she quickly informed me that it wasn’t smog.  No it was moisture because junggye is in a valley basin point geographically so that’s why you can’t see very far.  right….or it’s smog and air pollution. but of course she was taught from a book so I just didn’t argue with her. Plus what do I know about basins and air anyway? not much at all. really.

I am glad I had my camera though because as I realized we really were kiiiind of lost we made the most of it.  We were fine until we decided to take an easier way down.  We just had to find it. We asked a Korean. fail. of course we were told just go up a little further and across then we will see the path to go down. awesome.

sooo we climb up more. Literally up the rock face kiiind of really climbing hoping the trees I’m using for support don’t break so I don’t die kind of climbing. Then we reach a point and there are three paths we can take.  Logically we take the one that looks like it is going to go down.  Logic fails. paths lie. I still think the mountain was trying to eat me because I’m a foreigner…or it just hated me because I wasn’t wearing pants like everyone else.  The jury is still out on that one.  The point is I was seriously starting to think I would not make it home unless I just laid down and rolled straight down hoping not to die or hit anything to sharp on the way down.

So we realize thanks to Koreans around us that we are actually climbing up. Then there is a sign informing us that we are actually only a kilometer away from the very top. We had already made it all that way, even if by accident.  Might as well just keep going, right? soooo we keep on trekking upward.  I am trying not to get to grumpy but I hadn’t eaten and I was seriously exhausted and hiking to the top was not in my plans for the day.  However, that is where I found myself.  One of the things about Korean mountains is that they have a ton of sheer rock face.  I know there are mountains of course like that in the States, but I don’t feel like its all that common in the Appalachian/Blue Ridge areas that I am most familiar with. So, thanks to all the rock the last leg of the trip is up a set of stairs.

Not only am I terrible with directions, I hate heights.  I get so completely wigged out at the idea of falling.  My brain runs a million different terrible scenarios about what could happen because I feel suddenly like I have no control over my own safety and I am leaving it all up to this man made structure that has a gazillion forces working against it. Yes. I have these thoughts. Yes I know they are kind of crazy.

I was fine though until I stepped on a slightly wobbly stair and then the panic hit me right in my stomach and I had to stop to stand on a rock point just to be on something resembling real land.  I keep going up and up and up and finally successfully reach the top where the platform is vibrating with the weight of constantly moving people so I prefer to stand on the mountain whenever possible.

Eileen and I were taking pictures and enjoying our accomplishment when this older man thinks it would be funny if he came up behind me and pushed me just a little in the way you do to scare someone from behind.  Only I had so much anxiety built up inside that when he did this thinking I would find it funny I didn’t.  Instead it scared the breath out of me.  I could not catch my breath to save my life.  I of course cried because I couldn’t breath and all I could see was me slipping in the gravel and sliding right down the ledge and well…dying. I felt so awful and stupid and I knew Eileen felt bad.  I felt worse for making her feel bad and getting upset over something so stupid, but I just couldn’t get air back into my lungs and that was uber scary for me.

Eileen being the amazing friend that she is points out that there is a man selling ice cream from a cart and I was very distracted by trying to figure out how in the world he got the cart up there in the first place.  Then she buys us each an ice cream and I feel a lot better.  I usually don’t eat before a hike because it never takes more than an hour and a half and I hate feeling so full while trying to move around, but after two and a half hours my sugar was dropping and the ice cream was just what I needed.

View from the top

If you look riiiight at the trunk of the tree you can see the bottom half of a guy and his yellow ice cream cart. He just yelling ‘icey cake’ which made me laugh a lot.

 

We found the path down and started towards home.  I slipped on a wet rock and cut my hand on the way down.  I feel like I always slip on something on the way down, but so it goes. We ended up on a paved road at the bottom and Eileen decided she was just too lazy to go any further so she laid down to roll in the same manner I wanted to use earlier to get off the mountain.  It was pretty humorous and she is pretty awesome.

Then we discovered we had walked 15 minutes away from where we started when we got to the bottom. We started by our house and ended up in Sanggye.  We decided to take the bus home which was silly but nice since it had been 3 hours since we started once we reached the bottom.

I am really glad we made it to the top even though it was a difficult trek.  I had a lot of fun and it was soooo nice to see some plants in bloom.  Spring is arriving finally! The Cherry blossom festival will be before the month is out which is early this year.  So excited!

jimjabang

This weekend was a great one.  Saturday I went again with some friends to Volunteer at the Angel House Orphanage.  We had a great time and this time I worked mainly in the kitchen.

However, the new and exciting experience happened Sunday.  On Saturday night over a nice grill of galbi we decided we all needed a trip to the spa which is always a lovely idea to entertain.  In the States though I find when you think of spa days you should probably think of digging deep into your pocket for all the money it will cost you and prep yourself for some closed door relaxation.

Now forget all that because Korea is nothing of the sorts.  We went to Dragon Hill Spa. They have gotten reviews on CNN and in The New York Times.  We went and had a very relaxing and interesting experience. It was wicked cheap.  Only 12 dollars for the whole day.

We all had to get very friendly because you literally spend the entire day minus lunch in the nude.  Not something any of us minded so much but definitely not something we considered normal coming from a North American culture.  It also is very interesting considering the conservative nature that Korean culture has.  However, since the spas are separated by gender floors there becomes this less taboo attitude about everything.  It really is an experience where you can choose to make it totally relaxing or be really self conscious and let that ruin your day, so after about 5 minutes of feeling slightly awkward I decided that I really just wanted to spend the day relaxing and gabbing and I did just that.

In the spa there were maybe 10 or so pools that were all different temperatures and types that were good for different things.  One was a Japanese sulfur, then a skin healing that had tea tree oil, rosemary, and lavender. Another natural salt water and then some cool and cold and warm and hot some indoor and outdoor with jets without didn’t matter. Whatever you wanted, they had it.  And it was great.  There were also all types of saunas which was nice.

After you are all soaked and sauna-ed you go to these little stations that have mini showers and you sit and scrub and scrub and scub as much as you can.  Then you apply all these lotions and seriously you leave feeling like a million bucks.  Your skin is soooooo smooth and bright and fresh and your whole body is relaxed and you feel like half the toxins in your body were washed out and scrubbed off by the end of the day.

The place was rather large and has common areas for people to meet and eat and hang out.  There were a lot of families there and tons of kids getting scrubbed down by their moms and splashing around.  Also, most jimjabangs are open 24 hours so there are places to sleep and you get this little uniform to wear while you arent in the pools so everyone is matching and it is quite humorous.

We decided to make it a once a month trip.  There are also other spas really close to my house that are even cheaper which is just way hard to imagine.  You can literally spend 5am to 8pm, or 8pm to 5am, and it counts as a day all for such a low cost.

I felt very Grecian or Roman hanging out in baths all day, but it was really great.  I loved getting to see another piece of Korean culture and discussing it with my friends and dissecting it while enjoying it. Can’t wait to do it again. ^_^