Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mom and Dad's visit! May 5-14

I was very lucky to have my parents come visit me this past May for nine days. I hadn't seen them since September when I moved out to Korea. I was very fortunate that they were so kind to bring out three extra full suitcases of things, like clothes, food, shoes, and facewash I had bought but couldn't ship to myself.

My parents spent most of their time in Suwon ,where I live, and we went out to dinner most nights and I took them around the area. They also spent two days in my classroom sitting with my students. My favorite moment during their 9 day stay is when my mom embarrassed my least favorite student into tears. He was CRYING, from laughing so hard, but he was very embarassed and was slightly more respectful.

The first weekend they came, I showed them around Suwon, taking them to Suwon Fortress, which is the only intack fortress left in Korea. We only did a small part since they had just flown in the day or so before.
Going up into a look out post at Suwon Fortress.

And people wonder where I got it from.

My parents spent a day at the COEX Mall where there is an aquarium as well as a Kimchi Museum, which they liked more,  during the week. My parents mainly stayed in Suwon helping me organize my apartment more and just spending time with me.

We went to a palace in Seoul, one of the largest Changgyeonggung Palace. We missed the last English tour of the palace and of the secret garden, but we managed with it it. It would have been nice to see the secret garden, but I'll try again in the spring I think.

Before the left, we went to Butterfingers, a yummy brunch place in Gangnam, so they could see the Korean take on Western/American Brunch.

The delicious Mac n' Cheese

Dad's breakfast

Mom and mine's platter we shared.
It was a great visit and it made me miss home quite a lot. It's hard to think that it might be a whole other yeear before I can go home.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Time I decided to climb a mountain at 3 AM

I think I will claim temporary insanity on this little excursion of mine. I signed up in September to go on a 16 hour hike of Seroksan, the third largest mountain in South Korea. I had already climbed Hallasan, the highest peak in South Korea on Jeju Island(a trip I'll hopefully post in the coming weeks) and I have this desire to climb the three tallest peaks here. I have never been much before a hiker, only having done a few back in New Hampshire with my VISTA friends and hardly any in college. I honestly don't know what I was thinking.

I went again with Seoul Hiking Group and with a bunch of friends. My friend Bryan is leaving in a few weeks :( and I want to spend as much time with him before he leaves!  For the past three weeks though I had been having a lot of chest colds and allergies due to the air pollution in Suwon. I was feeling a bit apprehensive about this hike and wondering if I was going to be better enough by then. The hiked started Saturday morning at 3AM, which meant getting on a bus and trying to sleep at 11 pm on Friday. I had packed glow sticks for the night so that way we would be able to see where each other was. When we arrived at Seroksan at 3 AM, I was excited and ready! Or so I thought.

After maybe the first 20 or 30 minutes, I was winded and dizzy. Bryan was sweet and stayed with me letting our friends and entire group get farther and farther ahead. The way was up was lit up by the hundreds, or possibly thousands of Koreans with flash lights and headlamps. It was pretty easy to see the way, since I did pack a flashlight and with the extra aid of the other lights as well. After an hour of hiking, I told Bryan to try and meet up with people. I ended up tagging along with other groups of foreigners and Korean groups who were kind and helped me up to the peak. It took me just under 4 hours. I had missed sunrise by an hour, but was able to get some amazing photos going up of the clouds being burned away and moving over the other mountain peaks.

At the top, the wind was blowing extremely hard and I had a hard trouble not being moved and shoved around. I got a pick of the very, very peak of the rock, but as you can see, the Korean were completely surrounding it. I met up with two other girls in my group, Denise and Jenny, at the top.  We ended up  ventureing down the mountain the way we came, since the group we had come with were already so far ahead of us, it would be hard enough as is to figure out the rest of the 11 hour hike. That turned out to be a very VERY STUPID idea, since the way we came up was much harder than the other way to go down. Oh well, alls well that ends well at least. It took us just around  5 hours that way while the other would have been the same, it would have been easier on our knees.

By the time we finished hiking, it was 1:30 and all I could think of was a shower and a nap. Yet again, fate had other plans. Instead of going to the pension, we joined up with the Saturday group of SHG Seroksan trip on their waterfall hike. We got to see more of the valley and the gorgeous foilage and sunset on the rocks. This was much easier, but the three of us girls were just so over hiking and fall colors, we ended up not going to see the waterfall(which we were told was just an area where a waterfall would have been) and spent an hour sleeping on the bus. We ended up back at the pension at around 6 that night and met back up with Bryan and friends in the room I was sharing with them.

Dinner that night was filled with people laughing and just hearing stories and looking at pictures of my friends own hike. By 10:30 though, I could barely keep my eyes open and my drinks were just putting me more to sleep. I was out by eleven while the rest of the group merrily continued on their own debauchery and much to my chargain, noraebongs.

Sunday was beach day and sadly I was still not feeling well and having motion sickness issues with the small buses that were being used for the trip.  I hung out with friends Stephanie and her husband, Ben, on Sokcho Beach. The weather was so nice that leaving in the early afternoon was just heartbreaking, knowing that we were going to be trapped on the bus for at least five hours due to the heavy traffic into Seoul.

Check out some photos!


Overall this was an awesome trip where I did get to meet new people and hang out with others that I had met before on these trips. I'm still sore after three days of stretching! I know that I want to attempt this climb again as well as Jirisan, but I'm definitely going to make sure that I prepare better!