Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Jeju Island

For this Wordless Wednesday I decided to include just a few more photos from our mini Jeju vacation.  Throughout the trip we found ourselves taken picture after picture with cardboard cutouts.  These combined with the tiny garden signs found throughout the park at Hanlim made our day amusing to say the least.  

Cactus Dan

I Love Hanlim Park

I was a LITTLE excited about the peacocks.  

"No garden is without weeds"

"If you would be happy all your life-plant a garden"

My favorite-"Better eat vegetables and fear no creditors,
than eat duck and hide from them"

"When the root is deep there is no reason to fear the wind"

"Gardens are not made by sitting in the shade"

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Jeju Island: A Mini Vacation Getaway

Jeju Island.  Just a short plane ride away.  Chock full of interesting things to do.  The perfect place for a mini getaway.  I should really do their promotions.

Last weekend was spent on Jeju Island with the boyfriend.  We spent two nights and one full day in one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to.  With more culture available than we could hope to cram into two weeks, let alone two days, we opted on a few of the better known hotspots: Loveland  and Hanlim Park. We were not disappointed.

By the time we got situated in our hotel , ate dinner and got the idea where we were it was past time for any kind of touristy type of fun.  We settled for a quiet walk on the boardwalk and happened upon a side street carnival.  Anyone who knows me in the slightest knows I am a sucker for the fun little rides, carnival food (which this one severely lacked) and the general atmosphere associated with carnivals.

All smiles before the Viking Ship  ride

Halfway through

Tiny Korean child that was forced to sit next to us

After our carnival evening, we spent a quiet night in and geared up for a day of fun and culture.  Little did Dan know that I had a little surprise up my sleeve for the next morning.  A few weeks ago, he mentioned that he has never EVER had a professional massage.  I decided that was going to change so I did the best I could at keeping it a surprise (which I managed to somehow do) and scheduled an appoinment with the hotel to get dual massages.  He ended up being surprised (success!) and actually liked it.  I was a bit surprised at this due to the fact that a Korean  massage is a bit more intense than the usual version and included the masseuse stepping on his back, pulling his arms and legs into awkward positions and more.  

We spent the rest of our day checking out Loveland and Hanlim Park.  

Loveland was definitely a must-see for this trip.  After seeing pictures from friends and the tourist websites this controversial park made our list of things to see.  Readers beware: This specific park is an exhibit that appreciates the male/female form and isn't afraid to show off both in the form of sculptures and modern art throughout the park.   As the website says, "Jeju Loveland breaks the traditional taboos surrounding love, and is a place where the visitor can appreciate the natural beauty of love."  What we saw was exactly that.  The park consisted of sculptures of every size, shape and color.   People say a picture is worth a thousand words.  Take a look at a few of the sculptures that highlighted our trip. 

After the land of love, we took the eroticism down and notch and went to Hanlim Park.  This park had sculptures of a different variety, wildlife galore, underground caves and so much more.  We spent the better part of the afternoon wandering through the different areas of the park and had a blast.  The park reminded me of a place that would be ideal for high school senior pictures or even engagement photos.  Plenty of picturesque places for photos and sculptures galore to sit on or pose with.  We took full advantage of the beautiful day and the ever-helpful Koreans that wanted to take our pictures to capture the day in its entierty.  

As my words and pictures can attest to, we had a great time in Jeju.  The weather was ideal.  The scenery was beautiful.  The company was incomparable.  If anyone in Korea needs a little getaway, away from the screaming of your tiny students or just the city in general, head to Jeju.  It will recharge your batteries and make you appreciate your life in Korea all the more.  

For more pictures from Loveland or Hanlim park just check out my Facebook Album.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mudfest 2011

Paint brushes.  Mud of every color.  Alcohol galore. Thousands of people.   What do all of these have in common?  Mudfest 2011 of course.

Last weekend was spent in Boryeong, South Korea at the annual mud festival.  After the spectacular time I had last year, I decided another trip was in order.  I was not disappointed.  The early morning bus ride (we're talking 5am) was enjoyable as always with 90+ people drinking and singing to excess and being entertaining to say the least.

Early morning singing. 

We hit the a small beach mud covered stretch of sand with sharp rocks and shells at the top that made a nice spot for us to put our shoes and towels, or so we thought.  Remember these rocks, they will make an important appearance later in the story.  We began the "Olympics" which is code for getting as muddy as possible whilst playing tug of war, competing in relay races and given drunken piggy back rides.  After my team got third place (not too shabby out of six) we went to the ocean for a quick swim to wash the mud out.  When I say quick, I literally mean maybe 15 minutes. 20 minutes tops.  We came out of the ocean to the tide reaching the shore, covering the sharp rocks and sweeping all of our belongings away.  Our only option was to step as gingerly as possible over  those sharp little suckers as possible.  Not as easy as it sounds. Imagine the ocean trying to topple you over while simultaneously impaling your feet upon shells and  rocks that have the sole purpose to inflict at much as pain on your feet as humanly possible.  With difficulty, we eventually made it out of the ocean exhausted, bloody and in desperate need for some bandaids and some rest.  We opted for more alcohol and some of the most delicious meat i've ever tasted.  Hey, salt water cleans wounds out just fine right? 

When dinner was over, we all went our separate ways.  Some of us enjoyed the fireworks.  Some got even muddier (if that's truly possible).  Some drank themselves into oblivion.  I chose to see the fireworks,  play a bit in the mud and take in the sights with Dan.  

So much mud!
 [Picture by Chris Kuisle]

After a less than restful evening (our room was shared by about 15 other people who came and went at all hours of the night) we spent all of Sunday morning in the ocean.  There's nothing like waking up beachside and letting the waves wake you up.  We swam all morning and eventually started the process of rounding up the 90+ people that went on the trip with us.  Now, we knew this would be a challenge but not that it would include search parties, beach police office visits or paging friends on the beach intercom in order to wrangle the crew all together.  Eventually (2 hours later I may add) we finally started the 5 hour journey back to the lovely city of Pohang with all of us accounted for.

After a weekend of fun in the mud and the sun it's safe to say that I was exhausted.  My feet felt broken.  The bruises I didn't know that I had gotten had their own bruises.  Even with all of this, it was still one of the best weekends in the 18 months that I have been in Korea.  

Next up on the list is a mini vacation this weekend to Jeju Island with the boyfriend.  Look for a post next week chronicling one of the (supposed) most beautiful places in all of Korea.  

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Wolpo Beach

[Photos courtesy of Emily Smits and Olya Tsybikova]

As anyone who has read my blog recently can attest to, I am a beach-aholic.  I spend as much time at the beach as I can and love nothing more than camping out alongside good friends, good drinks aplenty and good food.  Over the weekend we went to a beach a bit outside of Pohang called Wolpo Beach.  It has a bigger beach, more convenience stores and a wider range of things to do.  The only downside to it (compared to our usual beaches closer to home) is that there are enormous rocks that make it impossible to find a comfortable spot when sleeping and the water has a bit more debris in it than we're used to.

We spent almost the entire weekend having fun in the waves (or lack thereof), eating amazing grilled goodness and regaling eachother with funny stories.  It was definitely a weekend to remember.  Thankfully a repeat weekend will be happening this coming weekend at a beach closer to home.  Another weekend of fun in the sun.

What more could I ask for?

The majority of my beach crew for the day.  Left to right:
Teagan, O'Malley, Me, Alissa, Marius, Kory, Megan,
Olya, Johnny

After a rather intense volleyball game with a bunch of Koreans
we decided a group photo needed to be taken.

The clear ocean view

Grilling out with all of our favorites


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

It's the Little Things in Life

[Photo courtesy of Emily Smits]

The past few months have been quite the whirlwind.  More people leaving and coming.  The weather being utterly fabulous.  Beaches being nearby.  The boyfriend being nearby.  Friends being nearby.  Clearly in the summer months I develop a bit of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).

I'm not kidding.  I get distracted so easily by the waves or the fountain at Bukbu Beach that turns different colors at night when the lights hit it.  Or the street performers that occasionally cater to the foreign population and play music we know.  Or the kebab man who sells delicious little things to nibble on.  Or the tasty little wine cooler-esque things that the corner store across the street now sells.  You get the idea.  

Just a few of my beach girls.  Left to right: Allison, Alissa
Emily, Me, Sarah and Virginia

With all of my senses going into overload it's easy to get overwhelmed and become a bit forgetful.  I was told over the weekend that I am a lovable and only slightly neurotic girl with a heaping helping of childlike enthusiasm.  I'll take that any day of the week.  I know that I get overly excited by the tiny things in life like that damn fountain or the kebab man (i'm telling you, so good!) but i'd rather be like that than someone who can't find the joy in any part of life.

With the summer at it's peak, I can honestly say that I have never been as happy as I am right now.  I live in one of the most beautiful places in all of Korea.  I am surrounded by amazing friends.  I have one heck of a great boyfriend.  A multitude of beaches are within motorcycle distance. Another camping trip is planned for this weekend.  Next weekend is mudfest.  The next weekend I go off to Jeju Island with the boy.  The next is my summer vacation where I plan on spending time at (you guessed it) the beach.

The only downside to this epic summer of mine is that my friends and family aren't here to experience it with me.  Keep following me on here you guys and know that I love to read your comments.  I'll do my best to take loads of pictures (I promise to include a few of me ON my bike Mom) and try and do a better job of updating this thing. 

That's it for now.  I'm off to the beach!