Yesterday-Saturday-was quite an enjoyable and very busy day. It began with Marisa and I finally taking the leap and venturing to climb one of the nearby mountains. Pyeongnae, the neighborhood where we live, and actually the whole city of Namyangju is nestled in between 3 mountains. The decision was made to climb the one with an obvious path that starts near our school, so around 11 am we began the trek. We were immediately tired-it starts steep, let me tell you! But after 20 minutes or so of hoofing it uphill we really got the hang of it. The trails were not lonely, as it is a very common hobby amongst the Koreans to partake of the climbing hobby, some every day. People get all decked out in real gear, with boots, jackets, backpacks, and the like. I had my wick-away yoga pants, a water bottle, a camera, and a protein bar for a top-of-the-mountain sack. But it all worked out, and thankfully I found myself comfortabley dressed. At various points in our two hour hike (one up, one down) we ran into the owner of one of our favorite locals pubs, Mr. Soyouki. He speaks English and was so excited to see us. He also seemed surprised that we chose such a challenging hill-as were many of the older folk that we came across, maybe we missed a sign for skill level somewhere?- but his enthusiasm was adorable, and he told us to come by the bar later for some free drinks. He also told us that there was a handsome man village at the top of the mountain, but we figured out upon reaching the top that that wasn’t true, unfortunately. Curse you Mr. Soyouki! At another point quite a bit farther up the mountain, we ran into a group of high school girls being led by their one male teacher. They freaked out at seeing us (in a good way) and shouted as we neared them, telling us hello and going on about how “beatifurr” we are. These girls were most definitely not dressed for any sort of physical activity, wearing jeans, some wearing tights and shorts, and all of them carrying cell phones. But they made it that far, right? They noticed that I was carrying a water bottle, and proceeded to beg me for a drink. At that point, I handed it to them and no less than 10 girls finished off what was left of my beverage. Marisa did not offer up her water-we had to have something for the rest of our exertion! Then we took pictures with the girls and ventured the rest of the way to a very high point on the mountain. Then we climbed back down, which was much more daunting when the time came-you’d think climbing up would be the hardest, but finding your footing on the way down without falling forward is pretty scary, I think. Two hours later, we arrived back at our apartment, flush with the accomplishment of having climbed a real mountain. I’m from Ohio. We don’t have mountains to climb. Success!
After showering and eating a bit of lunch, Frank and a new fellow from the UK, Ben, met Marisa and I at our house so we could all journey into Seoul for a baseball game. My friend Cassy, who is from the States and was a teacher in the RMI with me, now lives and teaches in Korea with her boyfriend Luke, so it’s always great to see her. It’s like having someone from my old life, a fact which I enjoy. We all met at Olympic Stadium in Jamsil, which is so named because the Olympics were actually held there-it was pretty exciting to see it, I can’t say I’ve ever been that close to anything Olympic-related at all. We went to watch the LG Twins play the KIA Tigers-we were rooting for the Twins, as Cassy and Luke are from Minnesota, the home of the original Twins. It was incredibly fun, although we found out AFTER buying our 6,000 won tickets, that we had just paid to be allowed to stand in section 7. Seated tickets are in fact cheaper, strangely enough. Nonetheless, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We drank beer, cheered loudly, and banged our plastic sticks together. If I closed my eyes, it was like being at a Columbus Clippers game (not that I’ve ever been to one with quite as many people as last night). The one difference-no hot dogs or nachos, but you can buy dried squid to snack on. I passed on that.
After the game we found one of the very small handful of Mexican restaurants that can be found in Seoul. It was delicious. Ido enjoy a solid helping of black beans! Then we met up with a few more friends and found our way to Sincheon and a little bar called Rock, where all patrons can write down songs on a piece of paper for a solid jukebox experience, minus the jukebox. The owner/bartender has an incredible vinyl collection of old rock, as well as a computer, and he’ll basically play anything you want. In addition, beers are serve yourself from a stand-up cooler, and you pay the tab at the end of the night. It’s a small, dirty joint-my favorite kind!- and our group were the only ones there-excluding a very drunk Korean chica in her mid-30s who definitely seemed to be having a good time. We stayed there until 4 am, paid our tab, bought some delicious street food, and found a cabbie to give us a ride back to Pyeongnae. All were in bed by 5 am. I can’t remember the last time I had such a fun Saturday.
Now it’s 5 pm Sunday. Cassy, Luke, and I all woke at about 3-when I’ve ever slept that late, I don’t know. Marisa went to get her hair done in Guri, Cassy and Luke are on a bus back to their town, and I should really head to the showers. The new week starts all too soon!