8-18 So, I'm back at school this week, albeit with no students, so it's still pretty much like vacation. I do have to get my lesson plans together for next week, but other than that it's free time still. I believe in my last post I was reading "Theodore Rex" which is about Teddy Roosevelt's time as president. I'm getting close to finishing the book (~80pgs) and I have to say it's been quite an interesting read and it's amazing how powerful this man was.
Last week was my second week of vacation and towards the middle of the week I decided to head over to On The Border, a mexican restaurant chain that is at the COEX at the Samseong station (Green Line #2) and had fajitas. While I spent too much I really enjoyed them a lot. Afterwards I wondered around the mall contemplating getting an Ipod touch. I brought dad's and Beth's old Ipod's over with me and they have been great, but the battery life of both are not great. After about 20 minutes of wondering around the Apple store I decided to go ahead and buy the 8 GB Ipod touch. I should have waited and got the 32 GB later on as I have already filled up my 8 GB but I do love it. I have even managed to put a few apps on it such a checkers, flashlight, chess (which I don't know how to play but will learn). I love that the Ipod touch has an external speaker, as it gives me the chances to listen to tunes while I'm doing things around the apt, etc.
Last Thursday night I met my friends Wally and Kourtney at one of the local BBQ places for dinner. I had been wanting to try this place out for a while and was excited to finally eat there. It definitely did not dissapoint as I ordered the sweet bbq chicken and will definitely be returning in the future. I might make it a special treat in about two weeks as a break from my race training. Yes, I'm going to be running a race in about 3 and 1/2 weeks and sadly I've been lax in my training during vacation time. I returned to the gym yesterday evening and got three miles in like I wanted, but the last mile was more walking than anything. I really want to train hard these next three plus weeks so I can run a decent race. I haven't ran a race since the Ice Breaker in Great Falls, MT last year. One thing that is certain that it will definitely be warmer during this 10K than that race was last April!
I'm quite excited at this opportunity, since for one I've only ever ran 5k's and for the fact that it's the "DMZ International Peace Race" so it's an amazing chance to run a race that is definitely a unique opportunity. I'm also going on the trip with a group on two tour buses so it will also be the chance to meet some more great people also living in Korea. Stay tuned for more blogs in which I'm sure there will be updates on how the training is going. One great thing is that during my several week hiatus from working I managed to not gain any weight (didn't lose any either, but that's ok)! I did a lot of walking around Seoul and with my trips so I believe it's from all that walking that I did not gain any weight. I'm hoping in my training the next three weeks to drop about 10 lbs which would drop me under the 230 lbs (104 kgish) mark.
This past weekend I went on my third trip with Adventure Korea (http://www.adventurekorea.com/) and it was quite the experience. The trip was supposed to have us first going to an observation deck overlooking the DMZ. Sadly it was very foggy and we couldn't see a great deal, but it was still a great experience. It was amazing to see all the barbed wire and listen to how where the lines should be and how they've moved over time. On the other side down the mountain is a little town completely surrounded by mountains. The locals call it the punch bowl and it very much looks like one. Afterwards we moved over to the 4th infilitration tunnel dug by the North Koreans, it was discovered in the early 90's. We checked out the little museum there and took pictures around the outside of the tunnel. There are no photos allowed inside the tunnel .
You first entry a nicely cut, cool, tunnel that the South Koreans built to reach the tunnel where the North Korean tunnel is. Once you reach the NK tunnel you immediately notice how small it is, it would be very difficult for someone of my height to manuver through this tunnel. They have a roller coaster type ride that you get in and it takes you for a short ride through the tunnel. So, I was in the "drivers seat" and took a couple pics while on our ride. After looking at them quickly, they were poor pics and I deleted them. Who knows what would happen if I'd gotten good pics and posted them. I wonder if you can get it trouble for that? After checking out the tunnel we went over to the festival. Our first stop was a small island area where you can take boat rides and walk around. I decided to just walk around and not ride on the boats. I did meet a nice family there that had a big bowl of corn in which they had me place on my head. They were very nice and took a couple pics of me doing so. Later, as they were leaving they stopped and asked to take a picture with me. For a minute I felt like a celebrity and also wondered what they would tell there friends when they showed them the picture: "Look at him, he's huge"
Finally, we made it to the main part of the festival and it was very much like a county fair back home. It had a stage for music, a couple swimming pools, booths with all sorts of stuff lining the main walk, and at the end our tents for the evening. With my new friends we walked around and checked out the scene. There was a small area for hand fishing and we watched as a man caught a couple and almost lost one as his grocery bag ripped. Before dinner we decide to buy hand fans and I thought that this would be a great present for D to the J's first birthday. I know he won't be able to use it now but it would be cool hanging up in his room. After making my fan we headed over to the tent for dinner. It turned out to be a great dinner, with beef, kimchi, garlic, lettuce, etc.
Afterwards we headed over to the tent to watch the belly dancing and it was an experience I believe you can only understand if seen in person and can only see in Korea. During the belly dancing the rain started again and was raining hard. Once the dancing was finished we gathered some fire wood and built a fire in the rain and had marshmellows. After getting our share of rain, several of us sat and talked for a while under the pavilion near by. Around 1am we decided to go to bed and headed for our tents. I was careful getting in my tent as to not make a mess as it was still raining hard, so I carefully got in and positioned everything behind me so it wouldn't get wet. I was almost asleep when someone came by tellilng us we had to go as the rain had continued and was approaching our tents.
SO, I gathered all my belongings and the blankets and headed for shelter. I had mentioned to my friend before going to bed about how powerful the river looked and that was one of the concerns for moving as they were worried the river would break the banks and flood our campsite, the water was already right up to my tent. I helped go out to check and make sure everyone got into the shelter, which was a large room on a hard floor, but away from the rain. In the morning we got up, had a little breakfast, and checked out the area. The water had receded quite a bit and the river was still moving pretty fast, there was a mud slide and workers were working hard to get everything cleaned up. The sidewilk near our tents was still pretty much a small river.
We next headed to our hiking site, but was sadly informed that we would not be hiking as the river was too strong to cross for the hike. So, we walked around the area for a while checking out the area, and it was a very beautiful area at that. After walking for a bit I sat down with two of the people on the trip,a brother and sister from Oregon. We played rummy while waiting for our lunch of Bipimbap. After lunch we gathered and hopped on the bus to head back to Seoul. The organizer did say that they were going to try and do a day trip to where we were supposed to hike, and at a discount rate which I though was very nice as there's nothing they could have done about the weather.
After getting to Seoul I hopped on the subway and then the express bus back to Ildong to get ready to head back to school this week. I'm actually getting ready to check Adventure Korea's website to see if there's any upcoming trips I'd like to go on. I know of a couple I'd like to go on but they run around the same time I'll be running my race and also when I'll be in Jeju. I really want to hike Korea's highest mountains and will get the chance to hike the tallest during Chuseok (Korea's thanksgiving) in Sept! The 2nd highest is at Seroksan (sp?) and I want to go on the winter trip there and hike it.
Well, a couple of the 2nd graders have brought me a large plate for lunch and I'm going to chow on it and relax. Hope you've enjoyed this entry! Oh, if you read my blog and haven't signed up to follow it, please do, it would be nice to nice who's reading it.