Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Wolchulsan!

Well hey again everybody! I've dropped the ball on this last post as I've been back in town for five days and haven't put it up yet. Anywho, last week was the holiday of Chuseok here in Korea, so we had a 5 day weekend! Chris and I decided to take a little backpacking (kind-of) trip to the national park of Wolchulsan!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013
             Woke up at 3 AM and called a cab to come pick us up. Grabbed our bags and jumped in, the cabbie was super nice and drove around the base of the mountains to find our campground as he had no idea where he was. After the 45 minute drive (no stopping at red lights because there was no traffic that early!) we got dropped off in the pitch black night underneath beautiful Japanese Maple Trees and Tall Pines in the small parking lot of a campground. We turned our headlamps to low and found two empty spots for us to pitch our tents and passed out immediately. At about 6 AM we were both awake and eating breakfast. The weather was a perfect 24 degrees and not a cloud in the sky!
All the campgrounds looked like this, full of raised platforms to set up on.

Around 9, we put together our packs and headed to the trail. It was steep, rocky, and a bit sketchy at times, but the views were well worth it. From underneath the canopy of leaves, sun filtered through in crisp rays featured with slowly moved trail dust. The mountainside was a jagged slope of crystal speckled granite, covered loosely in mossy growth fed by spraying mists from the mountain springs that flowed in rushed and constricted streams down the mountain through rock fall valleys.


Almost to the peak, we joined with a couple of Korean college students on break. Both spoke English rather well and we continued to the top with them acting as our Korean tour guides of the mountain. They were very kind in explaining Chuseok tradition to us as well as being very interested in soccer. At the top we rested and viewed a full 360 degree view of the surrounding province. Many local people were at the top exchanging rice cakes, peaches, and other foods. Chris and I joined in by giving beef jerky and rice krispy treats.

The rest of the day was spent hiking towards Dogapsa temple. It was tough and steep, with little shade or water along the spine-ridge of the mountain range, but we finally descended into a beautifully shaded stream-valley which headed straight down to the temple at the base.

Thursday, September 19, 2013
                Started the day early off with a walk around the park to stretch our sore legs. After this we packed our bags again to take up to the waterfall in order to soak our feet in the cool spring-water pools. The falls were in great show, cascading the 30 feet down the rock face in strong streams and jets. We both stuck our heads under the falls and soaked our feet for a while, enjoying the gentle sun poking through the tree tops.
Yes, it looks weak, but the picture doesn't hardly do it justice.
We felt so refreshed after this, that we decided to put our boots back on and hike to the sky bridge. It was one of the steepest trails I have ever been on, but it ended with amazing views of the valley.



That night we were practically force fed by a Korean family as they continually came to our campsite and gave us food (which is rude not to eat in Korea). We went to sleep early to get star-trail pictures over the mountain range. Unfortunately, the moon was so full and bright that it faded all the stars out of the pictures and everything looked almost like day through Chris's camera.


Friday, September 20, 2013
On the early bus home and asleep for a nap in my own bed by 3 PM!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Storm and a Date!

So this weekend was pretty productive. I received my ARC card making me officially an Resident Alien of the Republic of Korea!!!! And I also got a Korean bank account and my first paycheck!!! WOOT WOOT!!!

But now to the cool stuff. A MASSIVE thunderstorm rolled through here on Friday night and Saturday morning. It rained hard from midnight until around 10 AM the next morning. The lightning started in the distance at 2 AM and hit Mokpo directly overhead from 4 AM to 6 AM. At certain points the lightning was hitting so rapidly that the sky stayed lit and the thunder rolled for over a minute!!! Oh, and most of the parking lot and park outside my building was under 3-6 inches of water for almost 6 hours hahaha.
video


The video I shot at 4 AM and the pictures were taken throughout the morning.

But most importantly of this post is that on Sunday night I had a hot date with the most beautiful girl in the world. We watched an old classic and had a few laughs. "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" is a great date night movie if anyone is interested hahaha. I absolutely love this girl and can't wait to see her again!
Yep, we keep it classy with Skype. She even got all dressed up for me with a dress, makeup, and the whole deal!!! I'm so friggin lucky!!!!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Oh, it's like Friday the 13th and Murphy's Law came together and named this "Kyle's Horribly Funny and Disgusting Day!"

So, for all of you who come on here to see how great I'm doing I'll share some great moments from this morning and then warn you to vacate the internet when I reach the real S*%t that I know you don't want to hear. The only reason I'll post it is because I am a firm believer in people laughing at other people's (albeit small and insubstantial; no horrible disfigurement laughs held here) pain and sorrow....

Chaptyr the Fyrst

Thou Knycht Arisen Unscaethed:
the early days


'Twas early upon the mornin'
Just before thou roseth to travel,
Up cometh thou alarmed clock,
And likewise loude dog's howl.
Thou foremost produced mine toaster,
and then produced mine butter,
Sayeth, "toast ye must deliver,
For ye been a brazen nourisher!"

Well Sharyngl doodl da,
Whack fol tha dally-o
Whack fol tha dally-o
There's cinn'mon in thine jar!

Thou spreadest out thine butter,
Like quiteth the toast herder,
For lookin' in Thine pantry,
Discover'd cinn'mon sugar!
Thou went out from thine chamber's,
For heedin rock's sweet callin'
Thou hiketh up yonder knoll,
For Thy storm it had yet fallin!

Well Sharyngl doodl da,
Whack fol tha dally-o
Whack fol tha dally-o
Thy sun is in thine hair!


Upon returning from knychtly advenures, our young hero finds a dispatch from Dearest Mother. It readeth as such, "Thine Knychtly Son, thou be'est so dystant from Thine own homeland and yet Thy will was strength enough to DHL a parcel so great that it will undoubtedly raiseth thou trubyld spirits to the far reaches of the Kingdom of Heaven. Wield thou noblest of weapons yet again and reclaim thou mightyest of vantages upon the face of dystant mountyns." Our young hero finds his strength again returned, able once again to mount his four wheeled steed upon the moust steep'st  terrain Beelzebub had ever conjur'd upon the material world. He would once again brazenly shout, "A man, Thou knowest not who, has verrily sped off without firmly securing the portcullis!" Oh, what jesterly remarks our young hero maketh. Life seemeth full of excitement and gaiety, for the young knycht had yet learneth to beware the ill tidings of such days....

End of Chaptyr the Fyrst 

(Editor's note: While very hard to decipher this text due to it's intriguing use of multiple stages of ungrammatical Olde English, we can learn quite a lot. Scholars agree that the story is indeed true and such a knight did in fact exist. Apparently he awoke to eat "cinnamon-sugar toast" a meal which has undoubtedly been lost to the years. Once nourished, he left his residence to walk in mountains and climb their boulders, a feat undoubtedly grand and well liked by such knights of the time. Upon returning to his residence he received news of an impending shipment, through such courier service as existed at the time: "DHL", which contains such ancient weapons as to be thought relics of a dark age: skateboards, leather gloves with "pucks", a slippery material, attached at the palm, and a rope. We must note the ominous tones that the author has included, warning all readers with any sense of decency to Stop Reading NOW! The editor cannot urge you to heed this warning enough, scenes of graphic gore and dismal conditions are to follow.)


Chaptyr the Secund

Thou Knycht's Defeat:
Embrace of the Ceramics

Our Knycht, with spirits truly raised, partook of a fine meal of hen's eggs and a most sweet nectar: Saulsa. He then prepared hisself in body and mynd for the tryals and tribulations of the eve'ning. He chose his finest doublet and hose and dressed in privacy before once again heading forth upon his feet, not yet knowing yet the cruel and paynful events that layeth in hiding... 

Striding into the training grounds galliantly, this young master spoketh good tydings in native tongues to his fellow comrades. He raised their hearts with friendly salutations such as, "anneonghaseyo!" and "anneonghashipnida!" while parading forth unto his chosen field of training. His first few lectyures were heartily accepted by his young squires of the world. But not all was well with our fine hero...

Upon returning to the planning booth with his comrades in arms, Our Knycht received a most startling carrier pigeon. The Duke of his newly adopted homeland had intercepted his Dearest Mother's plans for safe transport of his dearly needed supplies! The dispatch spoke as follows: "Young knave, we know what it is your Brood is planning. Thy Sheriff will undoubtedly be sent forth to levy a ransom from you. The price of such weapons passing into our domain unmolested shall be as follows: Signature of good nature at time of ransoming and a ransom of 800,000 golden coins (Editor's note: This appears to be around $80 by modern times reasoning). Unless said  ransom is payed, your supplies will fall to the people of Thy office."

Oh! Our young knycht was heartbroken to learn of such tragic occurences. He would sorely mourn the lost money so needed to fill his body with life. But, He could do nothing but agree to such terms after the care that his Dear Mother and Devoted Lover had taken to procure such Godly gifts...

Leaving the planning room, our betrampled hero headed slowly to his next lectyure. The squires waited dutifully for him to begin the lesson, but the knycht was ambushed! While reading the dispatch from the Duke, a serpent appeared and struck our poor hero to the ground! The knycht sprinted to the Wizard of Ceramics' Bowl of Healing, but all was too late. Our young hero fell to his knees as the poison took effect and he proceeded to regurgitate all nourishment that had been imbued upon him by the Giving-Hens. 

Now, our young hero had but two choices: To fall dead and defeated upon the cold earth of the Wizard's room, or Arise! and retake the day with fortytude and vigor! To do battle with the serpent's poison until his work was finished!

He cleaned himself as well he could and proceeded to the lectyure field. His squires noted his tardiness but readily produced their will to learn. Oh! Our beloved hero knew not was the poison was disrupting within his body. For soon after, he sprang without warning to yonder Wizard's chamber and removed his hose with speed! He sat upon the Seat of Thinking and from his stately body eschewed such a flow of poisonous liquid as to deem second clearance of the seat and multiple bandages for his disheveled body.

Thinking all was over, the knycht returned to his preordained lectyure, finishing it with an unease not known to him yet in such a foreign land. All proceedeth as normal, yet during his next lectyure twice he was removed from his podium of truth to reclaim his hold upon the Seat of Thinking! Such drain on his body began to take its toll. The knycht was shaky in stride and hand. He appeared pale in flesh, almost to the point of ghostly appearance. And yet, he informed his comrades of his problems and received no help or relief of duty! His next lectyure found him once again within the confines of the Seat of Thinking, but alas! All bandages had been taken from the Wizard by the squires in training! He located a last, tattered piece of bandage, just enough to remove most of the gore from his sopping backside, whilst he wandered in search of help. 

When our hero's comrades did find him they asked of his condition. He had no choice but to stand and explain that the bandages had been misused and that he was in risk of contaminating not only his hose, but also the sacred planning booth all good knychts must share! An angel of a comrade at once began a search for bandages and procured some from a hiding place to which was offered to the knycht. Our hero immediately returned to the Seat of Thinking for yet more torrential slaughter of the poison's effect. With new bandages our hero was able to clean the last of the gore from his heinous body and return to the lectyure: shaky, famished, and without completely clean hose...

After delivering his final lectyure, our hero returned to his humble lodgings to clean his body and clothes. Left alone to recuperate, he sat alone with his thoughts and dreamed of a better place.

End of Chaptyr the Secund  

(Editor's note: It appears as if the antagonist received a message that his package was being ransomed by the government of his newly accepted country. He agreed to pay the ransom, but afterwards, he received a most terrible bout of vomiting and diarrhea while teaching his students. He repeatedly leaves the class only to, from what we can assume, spew fecal material all over the toilet. At one point he appears to run out of, what modern day similarity we can afford, toilet paper. At which point he uses a last shred to wipe his buttocks, unable to completely clean his anus before reclothing himself. His friend then procures him another roll of toilet paper, of which he uses almost completely during his next few hours. After his class teachings, he returns home and cleans himself. A common remedy for such "poison" in those days was a hearty dose of a medicine called "Pepto Bismol" While it appears that the young hero of this story did indeed live, further proof of his adventures have yet to be found.



So yeah, I basically diarrhead in my pants today during work and ran out of toilet paper at one point. Luckily my korean co-teacher knew where the extras were kept and gave me a role... which I used almost completely... Know I'm on the path to rehydration and rest...


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Gatbawi and Mt. Yibamsan

So the website was down for almost a week now, so this post is a little late in getting here. But this weekend I went downtown with Chris to the seaside for a look at the wonderful Gatbawi shore rocks and to hike Yibamsan.
Somehow I forgot to take a picture of the shore rocks (probably was too distracted by all the fish under the pier I was walking on) but here's a picture of the little coast road that you walk around the pier to see the rocks. They've got some crazy stories about one rock being a father and the other his son. Apparently the son went to work to get money for medicine, but was gone so long that he couldn't take care of his father and he died. So the kid buries the father on the hillside and sits next to the grave until he dies and that's where the two rocks come from (they do look like faces). Another story is that the two are stone guardians looking out over the port for the Buddha's arrival. 
After strolling around Gatbawi we headed across the street to Yibamsan (where I took that picture from) and started the hike. This is by far the most "hike-ish" place I've seen near my house, and by that I mean that there were a limited number of concrete steps and most of the trail was dirt, which was a nice change of scenery. 



This was the view from the top of Yibamsan towards Mokpo.


This was pretty cool. The bottom left is a classical-style Korean house. Those two green mounds in the background are also classical-style Korean burial mounds.


The camera angle doesn't do this justice, the trail in this section was about 3 feet wide and had sheer 20 foot drops on either side of it.


Here's the museum and cultural area of Mokpo (similar to Balboa Park)

These rope systems really helped get around the mountain since half the hike was scrambling up rock faces.


After the hike I went home and got my lunch ready. Mexican inspired TOFU!!!!
Yep, ground pork taco meat, tofu, and some grilled onions!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Korean thug life

So I started noticing a strange phenomenon and people have affirmed my suspicions: Korean males like to dress like: A) Really young kids B) Metrosexuals C) Bloods/Crips. I don't know why the first two didn't shock me (too many music videos and manga I guess) but that last one really did. In a country with something like 3,000 civilian owned guns and an estimated 5,000 unregistered "illegal" guns (most of which are all owned by mafia people in big cities like Seoul) it seems weird that youngsters are walking around with bandanas on the heads and untied boots under overly large pants. Then it hit me: just like with everything else here, this is just another weird fashion thing. On Korean TV there are comedians that make the goofy jokes and sketch comedies and even they sometimes look like something out of Compton. I don't know, this was just my random thought of the day.

Oh, also, I realized why I didn't really have much culture shock when I got here. It's because I spent most of my life as the only tall white guy in the area. Walking around Korea almost seems the same as at home, I just know less of the language everyone's speaking. Strange, eh?

Anyways, plans for next weeks vacation (Cheusuk) have been changed and are as follows: 1) Board bus early morning of the 18th for Wolchulsan National Park 2) Hike immediately to Buddhist temple on top of mountain 3) Set up camp 4) Explore Wolchulsan for the next 2-3 days 5) If I have my rope by then, do some climbing at some secret spots that the local alpine store owner gave us a map of! =)