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Monthly Archives: July 2010

I’ve been flirting with the idea of getting white frame glasses.

Good idea or do I look like a loser?

Yesterday we went to a “swimming pool” as part of a monthly field trip. This was not at all what I expected. Koreans seem to think a swimming pool is defined as a man-made pond with knee high water. As a little kid, being spoiled by Wisconsin Dells, and the ever popular wave pools, I would have been outraged if my teachers took me to this particular locale. Not the case here. The kids absolutely loved it. They were splashing around and ‘swimming’  for hours…I couldn’t resist getting into a water fight with some of them. I really took aim at my trouble makers, but who wouldn’t?

All the kids had gourmet lunches packed. In my day, you got a soggy PB&J sandwich and a bag of chips for lunch. Here, they have vegetable sushi rolls, fruit galore, chicken and vegetables, chips, rice, and sweet rolls. The kids parents even packed food for the teachers. It was really sweet. One of my kids gave me a coffee espresso drink. It’s not a bad environment to be in!

PICTURES TO COME!

I found a really cheap travel group that organizes trips around Korea. It’s a lot like EuroAdventure (for anyone who is familiar with them)

I decided doing trips with them would be a great way to see Korea, and meet people I wouldn’t otherwise. So I signed up solo and hoped for the best!

I signed up for Summer Seonyudo Island Bike Tour for July 10-11th.
I had to meet at a pickup point at the Express Bus Terminal in Seoul, which involved a bus ride, and two subway lines. Anyone whose ever tried to get directions out of me realizes how terrifying this prospect was. Fortunately for my mental health, I navigated through the transfers like a pro (tooting my own horn a little here) and didn’t get lost.

The islands were south of Seoul, so it was a three and a half hour bus ride and then an hour on a ferry. It was really foggy, so it was hard to see all the little islands from the ferry.

I was very lucky with the room situation. There were four other girls that came as singles, so we occupied a room together. We got along really well, and I’m glad I had them to spend the weekend with. Our hotel room was bedless, so we got to sleep on blankets that were provided. The pillows were really crunchy, so I opened them up to see what they were made of. Any takers? Cut up bits of straw. Yes, plastic drinking straws. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so noisy.

There are less than 300 people who live on these islands and there are no vehicles. Only golf carts, bikes, and ATVs.

After settling into our rooms, we went and rented bikes. I couldn’t say no to a blue old school basket bike. I would live to regret that decision.

I followed our guide Yong woo (sp??) around. We did the hardest route first. No-one thought to tell us that we should probably get bikes with gear shifts, since we’d be doing a lot of up and down hill riding. Basket bikes are precious, yes. But only practical on leisurely flat routes.

I saw two beaches and we visited a  rock beach where we skipped stones. I haven’t skipped stones since maybe 3rd grade, so my skillz were sub par.

Unfortunately, it was too cloudy for a sunset, so we just got drinks and went to the beach. We met a really nice retired marine named Hisun who told us Korean women were too stuck up and wanted to let us know he had three sons. He was very nice, and thankfully spoke a little english, so we could talk. The people from our group were lighting fireworks and playing a ukalaly.

The next day:
Once we worked all the kinks out of our necks, we had peanut butter jelly sandwiches for breakfast. It was raining a lot, so we decided to go for a hike. We would be climbing Mangju-bong. Due to the rain, we were given blue plastic ponchos. I’ve never looked better.

It was a bit slippery and very wet, but a fun hike. My white shoes were soaking wet (yes, I got flashbacks to Six Flags Junior Year, for anyone who had to live through that nightmare with me) Regardless, the views were beautiful, and I’m glad I went. One person called it “The Caribbean meets Oregon” and I think that sums it up best!

Katie, Stephanie, and I at the top

We then picked clams off the beach by digging a small hole and pouring salt into their breathing holes. Pouring salt makes the clams pop out of the sand, which makes them easy to get.

The ones we collected got steamed and eaten (not by me…)