Sunday, April 19, 2009

Adventures in the Country

So, I just got back from a three-day weekend at my friend's country home in Kangwon do. It took about 3 hours, 2 buses and a 30-minute hike to get to the house, but it was totally worth it. Here's the run down of what we did.

Day One:

After arriving at the house, we quickly discovered that we needed to run into town to go to a grocery store. We brought some steaks and various food to cook, but we had no snacks, nothing for dinner the next day and were low on drinks. So we called the taxi to come get us and ran into town.

Going to town proved to be interesting. It's a small town out in the boonies of Korea (which is sooo much cooler than the boonies of Oklahoma...they have mountains!) and most people have never seen a foreigner. We got a lot of stares walking down the street and some school kids shouted "Hello!" at us. The trip didn't take long, and soon we called the taxi to take us back so we could start cooking.

It took us two hours to grill the steaks. We were working with natural charcoal which had to be blowtorched five times to get good and burning. However, the steaks were worth and melt-in-your-mouth good. Of course, but this time, it was getting quite chilly and we decided that we wanted to start a fire in the outside furnace so we could sit outside, drink and watch the stars.

This exploit took another hour or so. We kept throwing wood and paper in the fire and setting the blow torch on it, but the wood wasn't catching fire. And we couldn't figure out why. Finally, after talking to Jung Min's mom on the phone, we discovered that we needed to put a fan on the fire to keep it going. After about 20 minutes, Jung Min had a good fire going, and we were so proud that we sent text message pictures to all our friends. And got a few accidental calls. ^_^

The fire Jung Min being proud of her work

Day Two
The next day we got up early and went to do some sightseeing. We went to the tomb of King Danjong. He was a king in the 1500s during the Joseon Dynasty. He has a very sad story. Danjong became king when he was 12 and his uncle, the brother of the previous king, was placed as his regent. Unfortunately, his uncle wanted power so he forced him to abdicate his throne at age 15. He was then sent into exile on an island in Kangwon do, while his wife stayed in Seoul.

Two years later, he was killed at the age of 17.

After visiting the tomb, we went to visit the island where he was exiled. It was beautiful but we understood how he could get depressed there. We saw the stone tower he built because he missed his wife and the pine tree where he use to sit and think. They call it the Pine Tree that Saw and Heard.

After that, we went to a cliff where we got the most amazing view of the countryside. It was fabulous... Though, to get to the bus stop afterwards, we had to walk about 200 m down the highway. It was a little scary with the cars. And we were afraid that the bus wouldn't come. But eventually it came and we rejoiced.

Later that night, we cooked samgybsal out on the grill. This time went a lot quicker than the steak. Even making the fire went a lot faster. We spent the evening sitting outside by the fire talking and having fun. I decided that I looked like a tomato wrapped up in a giant red blanket. Oh, good times...

Day Three:
Our last day in the countryside. I got up and looked at the view. It made me miss living in the country a little. We went on a hike to a brook and played in the water. Then we sat around and painted our toenails. It was a good end to a relaxing weekend. But unfortunately, it passed too soon and we had to catch the bus back to the city.

All in all, a fun weekend. We plan to go back when it gets a bit warmer and go see some caves. There is so much to do in that area of Korea... Ah, I don't want to go to work tomorrow!!! Check out my Facebook for all the pictures. ^_^

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