Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tom meet Geumosan

Saturday morning came and along with it great hiking weather, as promised we were headed for Geumosan. We caught the bus from my apartment to the station, grabbed a quick breakfast and some snacks for the hike; rather than waiting for the bus we opted for a quick taxi ride to Geumosan.  The base of Geumosan has a beautiful park area, lake and small amusement park - but we bypassed those pretty quickly, our eyes were sent on the mountain.  The first leg of the hike is pretty easy, clear paths and staircases, this is the part where you'll see small children and the occasional woman in heels. I'm telling you Korean woman never miss an opportunity to dress up, but this is one outfit/activity combo I will never understand. I'm assuming most of these woman are just making their way to the waterfall where they'll enjoy a picnic lunch with family, but really are the heels necessary? Do you hope to break your ankle, or do you just enjoy making things difficult for yourself?

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Taste of the Good Life

If you would've told my Dad a year ago, that he'd be spending a week in Buksam, South Korea he probably would have given you his typical "what the fuck look", but look where he wound up!

So after our trek back from Seoul we were on bus 115 for the grand tour of Buksam.  I asked my Dad what he though and his response was "that was it?"  Yeah, I don't live in the largest or most exciting area, but I still love it.  Monday morning came all too soon, seeing as my first classes of the week are never the most exciting my Dad decided to stay home and explore town. I was curious as to how he would survive without being able to read anything or speak to anyone (really no one here speaks English) but I trusted he'd entertain himself.  I got home from school and to my pleasant surprise he had cleaned my whole apartment!  I joked about it the night before seeing as he's now become Mr. Clean at home, but since I have no cleaning supplies (aside from a broom and sponge) I didn't think he'd actually do it. But, lucky for me he ventured out to buy some supplies and my apartment is now the cleanest it's ever been.  Since I left him alone all day I promised a good dinner - one of my favorites, dakgalbi (spicy chicken and veggie dish) so we made our way to Otae-dong for dinner.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Wandering Seouls

Let me just start with a warning - this will probably be really long, but trust me it'll be worth it. (Just like the rest of my posts).   Anyways, for those of you that were unaware (which should be no one),  my Dad came to visit last week!  I had originally thought i'd be stuck at school late on Friday but through a series of fortunate events I was able to sneak out early and meet him at the airport!

Incheon airport is basically floating in the ocean off the NW coast of South Korea so it took me almost all afternoon to get there, but oh was it good to see a familiar face.  As if 14+ hours of travel wasn't enough we started our venture with a 45 minute subway ride - welcome to Korea, Dad!  Being my fathers daughter I booked us a nice, cheap hostel in the heart of Seoul for the weekend.  My friend Sara had stayed there before so I trusted it'd be decent.  Aside from the fact that we couldn't find it and had to hike up an down a mountain of a hill 3 times [with luggage] I was pleased with the outcome. Friday night was on and off rain and we were both tired from our travels so we explored the nearby area and found ourselves at Namdaemun market (first check off my "to-see" list for the weekend).

Monday, June 11, 2012

Geumosan X 3

I was about to say I'm lucky enough to be living close to a great hiking spot - but in Korea I don't really think that's abnormal. Geumosan provincial park is basically in my backyard, however to get there I have to take two lovely buses. One to the train station and then another up to the base of the park.  The base of Geumosan includes "Geumoland' which, as one of my students puts it is "the worlds smallest amusement park".  I've yet to check it out but it seems to be more for little kids - lots of smaller rides, midway games and food, although in the winter there is an ice skating rink and toboggan hill so maybe I'll go then.  

The main hike up Geumosan includes a few different things to stop and see along the way.  It begins with the cable car office (where you can pay roughly $5 for a ride halfway up the mountain), next is the fortress wall and small temple, then the waterfall, or detour to the cave. This is a common stopping point for many but for those that continue there is a stone Buddha carving, pavilion and finally the summit (although I've yet to reach any of these). 

Donghwasa Temple

In my typical "I can't sit still" fashion I decided that staying around town was out of the question. I asked my friend Sara if she wanted to go on an adventure to Daegu and try to find Donghwasa temple - so that is what we did.  Two bus rides and one train later and we arrived!  Considering the temple is located on the side of a mountain about 22km outside of Daegu i'd say our travel was pretty smooth (I was mildly impressed with myself).  Before heading up to the temple we stopped for a coffee and some snacks and were then on our way.

The entrance was much like the other temples I had been to, except this one was deeper into the forest of Mt. Palgongsan which made it that much more beautiful.  Once inside we were flagged down but the little old man in the information booth who clearly loved his job.  He began with a polite inquiry about where we were from and why we were here, then proceeded to explain the map of the temple in detail and finally encouraged us to "look around and enjoy" so cute. The temple was huge and to our luck - still covered in lanterns from Buddha's Birthday, bonus! (and we got to avoid the crowds of the previous weekend, double bonus!).

Temple Guard 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Geoje Island

Happy Birthday Buddha and thank you for giving me a three day weekend! 

Last Monday was a national Holiday in Korea - officially 석가탄신일 referred to as Buddha's Birthday, thus providing me with a three day weekend.  Having the extra time I knew that I wanted to take full advantage of the weekend so Sara and I decided to navigate our way to Geoje Island - SW of Busan.  I did some minimal research and found that we could catch a bus from Busan thanks to the new bridge connecting the Island to the mainland.  The weekend snuck up faster than expected and we had failed to look into train tickets early so we wound up on the 6:55am train from Waegwon - really not a problem as it provided us with more time on Saturday.  Travel to Geoje went better than expected and we were on the island enjoying a lunch of Bibimbap, Kimbap and Namyeong by noon.  

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Home Sweet Home

This post is an ode to Buksam, my quaint little town, and all of the people in it.  I had this realization today while traveling around nearby towns that I really love the place I live.

Coming to this country I had no idea where i'd end up, except that it wouldn't be one of the 3 major cities (Seoul, Busan and Daegu).  Then there was the night at orientation when I found out all the "big city" assignments had been given out and there I was, still waiting.  I was nervous, scarred, no make that terrified that I was going to end up in the middle of nowhere, sticks Korea.  The next day came and I found out I was in Chilgok-gun and upon looking at a map found this was close to both Daegu and Gumi - but then there was the flashback to talking to my friend Tami who was in Gumi two years ago, "Don't let this scare you but i'm going to hope you're not placed in Gumi". What did she mean by that?? Is it a bad place, boring, crazy people?? I guessed I would only find out...

My students are awesome

Okay, so I might be a little bit bias because they're my students but none the less you need to check out the video from my school's festival last week.  Not every student had killer dance moves, or the best voice but the participation blew me away.  Put on an event like this in the states and you'd be lucky the have half as many students involved.  I'm glad I finally got to see my kids having fun, relaxing and showing some of their personality - they were deserving of a break after the countless hours spent in the classroom.

The quality might not be the best but I tried to capture at least a bit of each performance.  Some of the best talent comes towards the end so don't give up (sorry that it's 20 minutes long).

Okay, so blogger want's to be difficult and not let me upload the video, i'm assuming since it's too big.  Couldn't even post the full thing on YouTube so I had to split it in two, check it out:

Festival Part One

Festival Part Two

Hope you enjoy!