Sunday, June 26, 2011

It's nothing but a little monsoon rain...

Monsoon rain sounds so exotic. We are entering the rainy season here and although the grey weekend forced us to change our beach camping plans, we found some fun in the rain at home instead.
Starting Friday night we went out for out for our new, monthly teacher dinner... from now on referred to as Fourth Friday. Almost all of the Korean teachers came out and we had a great time with incredible food. 

Rose Teacher about to enjoy a Japanese version of Korea's pajun,
an egg pancake with seafood and awesome sauce.
A spicy, seafood udon dish

(Left to right) Hannah, Erin and Chaewon Teachers

After some rounds of beer, soju and makeoli (the Korean trinity) and in East meets West fashion we played a card game called B.S. (Bologna Sandwich or another choice phrase that I must omit for the sensitive readers). We made it out to one more bar and that's when the monsoons struck again. We decided to make a romantic frolic out of the situation and Coco, Joe, Kent and I had a fun walk in the rain all the way home. 

By Sunday, the flood waters in our beloved Oncheoncheon Stream had totally taken over the walking paths and ajumma (older Korean, married woman) workout stations. The rain hasn't stopped yet so we'll just crack open the ice cream, watch some movies and call it a day.

I found a treasure from the monsoon.
Lazy Sunday time

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Big Buddha... part 3

To finish off our 3 day weekend...
Saturday morning we woke up to this incredible buzzing hum. I thought there might be a honey bee swarm near our tent but when we finally came out, we saw that it was the first bright, shining day and the flowering tree we were sleeping under was being ransacked by all of the workers from the hives nearby. That was the best way to start any day.
We packed up and headed back to the main entrance to Seoraksan National Park. We headed to the Ulsanbawi hike. There are giant bald rock forms in the middle of forested mountains, so it definitely stands out. 
A monk hermitage on the way up Ulsan-bawi.

As the folklore goes: a long time ago "the creator of all things called upon all the great mountains and rocks scattered around the country to create the world's most beautiful mountain, namely Geumgangsan Mountain. A rock representing Ulsan (a city in Korea) came a long way to answer this call, but its massive body worked against its progress and it arrived too late to be incorporated into the great mountain. However, on its way home, the rock fell in love with the scenic beauty of Seoraksan, and decided to stay there. It has made its home there ever since, and is called Ulsan-bawi Rock."
A little break before the 300 and some stairs
hike to the top.

It was an awesome hike. After we made it to the top and took in the view and fresh air, I was losing my usual happy demeanor, and like a wild "hangry" beast, I needed to be fed. On the way down, we stopped at one of the food huts that are placed in the most unlikely of places. Many times during our long hikes, just as we would start thinking about how nice a cold drink would taste, a cropping of food tents appears. One might ask "How does the food get to such an inconvenient place?" Well, there are insanely strong people who backpack the goods, up a mountain for many kilometers, using steel, reinforced, V-shaped, external frames. Amazing.

This is a typical food stop on our mountain hikes.

Some mountain bibimbab that
staves off the hangry Amanda Bear. 
After we finished the hike we made the long trip home from Sokcho to Busan, but not before Kent got a sly proposition at the Sokcho bus station. "Twenty minutes for a little companionship?" asked the man. It was a quick answer and the man got the hint and went back to his office on the corner of the station. Korea is turning out to be surprising in so many ways. Almost all of them bring a smile and this one brought a laugh.
By taking the overnight bus, we made it home in time enjoy the whole Sunday before we headed back to school... which was a rude awakening. We had such a great time and it was relieving to feel like a traveler again. I love having this experience of being a teacher, it's an adventure all unto itself... but our love of travel brought us here and our trip to Seoraksan was a good reminder to ourselves that we are here to do just that.