Monday, April 22, 2013

Jecheon Weekend

After a tremendous barbecue and house party on Friday, the plan was to go to Jecheon for their Cherry Blossom festival. Jecheon is in Chungcheonbuk-do, which is the only 도 in Korea without access to the sea. The mountains give it its own beauty however. I think the last time I visited a specific area in Chungcheonbuk-do was back in 2010, when I saw the beautiful Songnisan Beopjusa (and apparently never blogged about it so here is a picture of younger [and skinnier?] Mark).

 It was time to make another visit. Cameron organized the trip, but HS ended up helping with a lot. Particularly, he helped reserve our pension, which was kind of in the middle of nowhere. This would have been grand, if it hadn't been so far from the lake and festival. Nevertheless, we spent the afternoon wandering in the nearby mountains. That included meeting a very creepy older Korean guy who told us that it was too dark and we should turn back in a voice that was completely devoid of tone and emotion. Glad we made it back to Seoul.

After Margaret fell in a stream (ㅋㅋㅋ), the ungentlemen abandoned her to go wandering through the woods. There, we found an outdoor toilet that actually was pretty well made and had been freshly used, but where were the people? A lot of abandoned construction projects in this area...

Dinner was the good to try once 오리백숙, which is a soup made from the entire carcass of a duck. Unlike a lot of Korean food, it was very bland but I was assured this is because it is so healthy. While the soup may have been healthy, I'm sure the amounts of soju we drank were not... oops.

In the morning, we headed to the festival. I only got one picture, which is actually quite beautiful. The cherry blossoms were bustling and gusts of wind would cause them to fall to the earth like so many snowflakes. Really quite beautiful. If you look at the picture, however, you may notice the downside of a beautiful festival.
Yes, just like everything in Korea this festival (not even a well known one) was quite packed. What should have been a half an hour drive from Jecheon to the lake ended up being closer to two hours. We got to the festival and practically immediately had to turn around so we could catch our bus in Jecheon. But there weren't any buses coming by! So, of course, we had to hitchhike. Surprisingly, all nine of us were picked up (by three different cars). Although it was kind of a bummer at the festival, Saturday evening and Sunday morning as well as hitchhiking with strangers made the trip memorable.

Next time I go to Chungcheonbuk-do, though, I'm going to try to stay a bit longer. And hopefully see Guinsa temple!  

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Spring Update

First period was cancelled today, so I thought I would take these extra few minutes to share a few pictures of life in Korea lately. I have taken 114 pictures on my camera since I talked about our trip to Muiido. Sure, some a lot of them are food. But I thought I'd share some with my few readers.

I don't talk about school very often (because my job is boring) but I really liked this activity. I got the idea from my friend Allan way back in 2009. I color coded cups with celebrities placed on them. Using ordinal numbers, students made an apartment building by stacking cups. It was a reading comprehension game and pretty fun. Since they were color-coded, I could check to see if students made the correct apartment building pretty easily. 
 I've been attending Korean classes again in the Jongno area. This means every Wednesday I am downtown so I pack my dinner and at next to the Cheonggyecheon for lunch. My class is in the Mirae Asset building, which has a pretty fantastic view.

St. Patrick's day was a bit of a blast (though also a tad to much to drink on my end). The festival started in Sindorim, where I met up with a bunch of friends to drink and chat while listening to Irish music. The weather was glorious. In the evening, we went to Itaewon to my favorite 이모집 (auntie's house) for dinner. Our group had picked up some random Korean girls in Sindorim, and we spent the evening playing Korean drinking games and practicing speaking A LOT!

 The next day, I met up with Megha and Cameron for a photo shoot. Megha is doing some sort of project, but nothing has surfaced. We'll see if it ever does... We got some awesome pumpkin porridge, and for second dinner I met up with my boyfriend, HS, for rice with tons of 반찬 (side dishes). And I mean TONS! For six dollars, we got 28 dishes. Yum.

 Speaking of HS, he is pretty awesome. Our relationship is pretty serious, though we aren't certain what the future brings. It looks like I'll be heading to San Diego for graduate school in September. For now, we are just enjoying the relationship as much as we can. That included going to the Tim Burton museum last Friday, despite it being incredibly busy.

Our trivia league ended in March. Our team got second place! First place would have included an interview in 10 Magazine, but second place was pretty awesome as well. Mag was a bit sad about second place, but at least we finished with integrity.

I've also been trying to exercise lately. My knees have been bugging me (I need new shoes!) so instead of running I've gone on long walks and taken awkward selcas (selfies). Like this one:
My two walking partners are probably C and HS. C and I explored the Seongshin University area the other day followed by a delicious meal of duck. I'm going to miss duck...

On the 13th, we celebrated Julie and Sanghun's birthdays. Dinner in Sinsa followed by clubbing in Itaewon. The following week, Stacy had returned to visit, so we went out in Sinchon and Hongdae. A lot of partying, but less drinking. I'm aiming for a flat stomach this summer!

Last Sunday, I had the chance to see the exhibition at Culture Station 84. This museum was constructed within the old Seoul station. The exhibit was free, and focused on random collections: barbies, toys, coca cola cans, etc. Luckily, I went on the 14th, because I think it closed this past Monday. 

That took longer than my extra forty minutes this morning. 헐. This weekend I am planning to go to Jecheon. It will be nice to get out of Seoul (and away from North Korea's saber rattling?).