Weekends in the Great Wide Somewhere

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The view from Cheonbosan.

My weekends have been full to bursting and my weeks have tumbled into the chaos of a new semester. But aside from catching a slight cold and feeling just a bit ragged, I can’t complain. Why? Because I have gone on some kind of new adventure every week! And I think to myself, have I only been back for a couple of months? Awesome! This is exactly what I wanted to do with my time – explore!

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Gookok Waterfall

August 17th, I set out with Nick, one of my coworkers, for some river kayaking. Since kayaking in Wales and the Philippines, owning my own kayak has definitely been added to my to-do list. We grabbed some street food for breakfast, hopped on our bus with Indigo Hill hiking, and made our several hour journey toward Hongcheon. We saw a beautiful waterfall and had lunch in the stream like all the other Korean pros. Then we were off to our kayaking spot where we were given how-to instructions in Korean, loaded into our boats, and finally rowing through the water. While the rapids weren’t anything to write home about, we had ample opportunities to get wet. The scenery was beautiful and the weather was great. We made a couple new friends and were able to swim around the river for a short amount of time. It was one of those days that made me wish I could have the wilderness in my backyard every day. Kayaking, swimming, grilling, campfires, smores, and stargazing. That sounds pretty perfect.

Love locks at Seoul Tower.

Love locks at Seoul Tower.

 

The following weekend, I headed to Seoul to check out Namsan with my friend Sean. I had never been to Namsan before, but it’s right smack-dab in the middle of Seoul with Seoul Tower touching the sky. We rode a cable car up the mountain and checked out the area. Seoul Tower is known for the ridiculous amount of “love locks” that are at the base of the tower. Couples will buy a lock, write their names on it, attach it to another, and they are supposedly meant to stay together forever. I won’t go into the number of stories I’ve heard regarding the break-up statistics.

Sean and I had both brought our guitars to try our hands at a little playing in the park. By playing, I mean he was actually playing and I was strumming notes here and there while eating gummi bears. We managed to figure out a melody for one of my songs before making our way to Insadong. After lunching at my go-to Indian restaurant, we wandered around downtown Seoul, including the awesome smoothie place called Beesket and the always fantastic Kyobo bookstore.

Sea Kayaking at Malipo Beach.

Sea Kayaking at Malipo Beach.

Last weekend, I ventured out with Quin and Sarin to Malipo Beach on the west coast. Though I hate getting up before 06:00 on a weekend, it ended up being worth the sleep deprivation. (That and I’m a pro at sleeping on a bus.) The lovely ladies and I opted for single-person kayaks for the first hour. The weather couldn’t have been any more perfect, blue sky and sunshine! After rowing closer to one of the islands, it was nice to just lay back and let the current steer.

We lunched on beef jerky, nuts, cheese, chocolate, and energy bars. I walked around the small harbor where people were taking advantage of the wonderful weather and catching some fish. I decided not to kayak for the second half of the day. We were supposed to go cliff jumping, but the wind was too strong and I had been sick for a few days. The idea of lying on a beach was much more appealing at that point in time. The girls took a two-seater kayak and ended up getting tossed by a couple big waves. I was only sorry I didn’t catch it on camera. We all had a great time catching some sun before heading back to civilization.

The following day I took the subway 1.5 hours North to Uijeongbu to meet Sean for a hike up Cheonbosan. We followed some pretty rough directions to the start of the trail, but once we were hiking, things went smoothly. The smell of pine was everywhere and the 360 views were nice once we peaked. I was so incredibly glad it wasn’t anything like my day at Bukhansan. We had a nice, easy pace through the woods and discovering a few smaller trails. Though, apparently you’re not really supposed to stray from the paths when you’re that far north. You know, in case there are land mines or something. That was a great thing to find out after the climb.

Upcoming for this weekend is the Color Me Rad run in Incheon. I’m really hoping to relax a bit after that, though I still need to make it to Seoraksan before winter. I don’t have any major plans for the Chuseok holiday in two weeks, but Nick and I want to go to the Everland theme park. A few other coworkers and I might try a Thanksgiving dinner during the break, but mostly I’d like to chill. I had thought about going back to Bukhansan for a two-peak venture, but that’s still up in the air.  Meanwhile, I’ll be writing student comments, adjusting to my new class schedule, and planning my Christmas trip to Thailand and a possible Southeast Asia trip for next summer. Lots to do and plenty of places to see.

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