A Weekend in Korea

This weekend began as most, heading to Korean lessons on Saturday morning. I am starting to learn full setences, fully introducing myself, counting, and being able to ask and answer how much things cost and what time it is. I have learned enough that I can now write in Hangul (Korean) to help my students understand certain sounds and words.

After lessons, I headed out to lunch with one of our Canadian friends and some Koreans who teach other English speakers Korean. We went to a nice sit-down place (by sit, I mean on the floor) and got the traditional 90 Korean side dishes with some seafood soup and rice. It was delicious.

After lunch, I headed down to ? ? Seomyeon (a part of town a few stops down the subway line) where our favorite restaurant is. Ashley did some shopping while I studied more at the nearest Dunkin Donuts. My hand was sore by the time I was finished, but I feel like it was worth it to learn. (This is the part, where you think…”what a great student”) In reality, I was feeling a little guilty that I have slacked the last couple of weeks not doing nearly as much as I should have done. I wanted to catch up for my teacher. It is a one to one ratio, so I have my own teacher and it is hard to hide the fact you have been slacking.

For dinner, Ash and I met at our favorite veg restaurant, The Loving Hut. Yeah for Tender Bites!!! I finished my meal quickly and as two of our other friends showed up to talk with Ash, I took off early to meet up with my two Canadian friends to go bouldering (low rock climbing). After a very cold ride on the back of a scooter, we found that the climbing place is closed on weekends! Needless to say, I called the number on the sign knowing I obviously would not be able to communicate with whoever picked up on the other end to ask why they were closed (I was told they were open every day). After a few awkward, long pauses I managed to say thank you ? ? ? ? ? (Ko mop sum ni da) and hang up. Pretty much the result you would expect between two people who don’t speak the same language : )

A Korean gentleman who was walking by noticed we were hanging out talking about what to do, so he came up and started talking to us. He informed us that we were in a very good place for drinks (the Korean tradition) and he went on to name a full list of places to get Soju (kind of like a soft vodka, but it is a traditional Korean alcohol) and Mekju (beer). He had obviously been partaking of his own suggestions as he continued to talk about some very random things. He did manage to inform us (many times) that he was a chemical captain. After a few half explanations, we were able to discern this meant he was a ship’s captain, either for the government or for some important private company that did business internationally.

After parting ways, we decided that we did not want to turn in this early – especially after such a cold ride all the way there. Naturally, we decided to go to the arcade that was nowhere close to our present location. We had to seek redemption in a game that we had tried once earlier in our tenure here. What can I say, the zombie skeleton warriors are really good at shooting! Redemption was not to be ours and the machine gave us a swift kick in the butt on the way out by stealing extra quarters : (

Sunday, Ash and I played hookie from Philosophy club to hike up to the tallest point in Busan. We started our trek by taking the subway, then taking a bus up to Beomosa Temple, where the trailhead is located. As we emerged from the subway, we realized that we would be doing the hike with a few hundred of our closest korean friends (aka strangers). It really was amazing to see so many people lined up to go hiking. When the guide book said hiking was a past time for Korea, it was definitely not kidding. The bus was packed like sardines. No seat belts were needed as you could not have moved if you wanted to move. When it was so full that people were standing in the doorway, we took off… just kidding! We added more people!!! It really was even more packed than the combi’s in Peru, which is saying something.

Once we arrived and happily hopped off the bus at the temple, we began up the trail, hopping over boulders and following the line (no joke, it was a consistent line of people all the way up the mountain – I have never had to wait in line on a hiking trail before, so it was a first). Along the way we passed through a couple of old traditional gates (the big fancy wooden arches, not a small metal thing) and many Koreans who were popping open huge jugs of Soju (alcohol) at 11am! We soon reached the top of Busan and the view was amazing. The blend of beautiful mountains and a river reflecting the sun all the way out to the ocean with huge clumps of buildings was interesting. So was the crowd at the top of the mountain – usually it is not quite as crowded at the top. I am glad to report that they too make funny faces while taking pictures along the trail. This may or may not be influenced by mass amounts of Soju.

The weekend ended with an amazing dinner thanks to my wonderful wife. She made some vegetarian burgers with beans and rice and hot chilies. They were AMAZING!!! Anyway, it was a great weekend. Sorry we have not written in a while, we have been busy molding young minds…or surviving : )

2 Responses to “A Weekend in Korea”

  1. J & A says:

    That is exactly how the bus was. They pushed us in to get everyone on the steps of the bus. And people LITERALLY SPILL out onto the road once the door is opened!

  2. Linda Corriero says:

    Sounds like a wonderful weekend! Glad you are exploring and learning new things. While the bus ride sounds cramped, it could be worse. I remember seeing a news report about the subways during rush hour in Japan (I think) and how attendants literally push people in so that every available space is used. It was the funniest thing I ever saw. It’s anyone’s guess how they breathe while riding to work but I understand their subways are on time. Hopefully, the ride is a short one since I don’t think much breathing goes on until the train stops, the doors open and people begin to spill out. Take care and love to both of you. Aunt Linda

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