Hagwon? I hardly know won!

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Be afraid. Be very afraid. August 25, 2010

Filed under: Travel Blog — olgathered @ 10:18 pm
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After sharing the aforementioned care package Twizzlers with my students, we played a last day of class game.

The secret word is, “Halloween.”
The clues are, “It’s scarey,” and “You get candy.”
The guess is, “Teacher?”


Hello Mudda Hello Fadda

My mommy and daddy sent a big box of goodness to my school. It was caulk full of Daytonian artifacts. Dayton magnets, buckeye candies, and local event fliers collected from 5th Street Deli. There were even delicious treats to share with my co-workers, Golden Nugget coffee and New Mexico pistachios. It was wonderful to get a big cardboard slice of home. As I took the Twizlers and Golden Nugget paper coffee costers out of the box I could see my mom getting excited and saying, “Oh she is going to see this and know just what it means and it is going to be so special.” And I as I pulled out the Cleveland Indians flag and Big League Chew gum I could hear my dad saying, “I’m gonna put this in the box.” Now I have bits of home strewn all over the apartment. Care packages, people, are a necessity.


Muuido Island August 21, 2010

Beach yoga

Not now Diane, it's the bat signal

Best weekend that South Korea has to offer was just had by me.

I got up at the crack of dawn to meet Kin at the local coffee-house to caffeine up and catch the bus that would begin our deceptively short journey to Muuido Island off the west coast. Kin and I were meeting more people but being the only Namyangjuers on the trip we were arriving as a duo. Rather than taking a straight shot across Seoul and into the sea, we embarked on an epic journey full of redemption, self discovery and coffee.

Our chatting during the early morning subway ride was in no way appreciated by the fellow passengers who are fond of their morning calm. When riding the Seoul metro system remember, if McDonald’s is still serving breakfast, you shouldn’t be talking.  We got off at Incheon station after 3 hours of travel and the sky opened up. We’ve come this far. If I have to sit indoors near the beach so be it. Press on!

We weren’t “sure” what bus to take to catch the ferry that would take us to Muuido, but Kin’s travel book said that the 306 would get us close. Upon considering the advice of one of the other members of our soon to be met group that the 222 was the fastest and more direct bus, we decided that we would get on the 306 because travel books are never wrong. The bus didn’t announce what stop was approaching so we had to try to read hangul out the window as we blew past stop after stop. After leaving the bus at an arbitrary stop, we figured out that ours was 3 stops ago.

The rest of our group, who started traveling an hour and a half after us called to say that they were waiting for us at, tickets in hand at the boat. We said we would catch a cab and be there in 5 minutes. That was a lie. We did no such thing. We got back on the bus, which didn’t drop us off by the fairy, but about 2 kilometers away. I’m guessing 2km because when we started walking we passed a sign pointing to Muuido Island 1.8km away, but then we passed 3 more signs boasting the same thing. We had to cross and long, winding, narrow road that crossed a stretch of water and rocks and lacked a rail to get to the ferry dock. We walked against traffic to lower our chances of premature death.

This is what we knew when our feet touched Muuido Island, our group was at Hanagae Beach. Thinking, “How big could an island be?” we just started walking. It was nice for a while but we decided to turn back and search for a bus. As it happens, we clearly looked like lost white people, because as the bus approached and we wondered as to the location of stops, it just pulled up to us.

Our group had already reserved our hut. That’s right, hut. Six of us piled into a 7ft by 7ft hut on the beach. In the high tourism months these huts run 60,000 won for the night. The rest of the year they are a mere 30,000 won and yes, they are heated. This was the way to go. A hotel is a hotel, but I’d never slept on the beach before. I hadn’t ever woken up to the sound of crashing waves.

During our journey we passed large areas of flat wet space full of beached boats that looked as though they would be perfect places an ocean, but there was none to be found. We learned later that low tide really means low. In some places the tide recedes far enough that you can walk from island to island. This made it slightly less surprising that upon arriving at the beach, there was sand but no water for maybe a mile out. We started to walk toward it, gave up and chose the more attainable goal of looking at rock formations to the side of the beach. This was a great idea. The orange rocks jutting out of the sand were crowned with green mountains. We wanted to get a closer look so we carefully tiptoed into an alcove. This was the kind of place that causes you think how lucky you are to be seeing what you are seeing, until we noticed that the walls of said alcove were moving. They were covered in millions of bugs that looked like super fast earwigs. We did the only thing we could think to do and threw rocks at the walls which was creepy and gross because the wall opened up to make room for each striking rock. We then ran away because of ew. Also, I really didn’t want the whole weekend to turn into a horror movie. I’m pretty sure I would last past the credits.

After heading up to the beach shop to load up on alcohol and the greatest hat ever, we sat cracking open our adult beverages and noticed how lovely it was that we were the only foreigners on the beach this weekend. Within five minutes after coming to a consensus that the lack of expats was refreshing, 3 groups of Americans and a pair of Canadians walked by, including one American who just happened to know someone from our group. It turns out when they saw us all coming, the Koreans lumped all of the foreigners together. We shared our beer, soju, and grillin’ meat with one another. We were loud together. We said hello to the brave teenagers who thought we seemed a good place to practice their English.

The whole weekend was chalk full of perfection. Why I even fit in some self growth. I did yoga on the beach and remembered how much I love it. I am now on the prowl for a class close by. I watched a distant storm light up the ocean after everyone else had fallen asleep. I just sat, on a blue-black beach with no rain and saw the lightening reveal the receding shoreline. In a fit of atypical hair letting down, I drank my fill of Fanta and soju.  At 27 years old, I played my first drinking game (circle of death). After running out of soju I spent most of the drinking game drinking straight Fanta. I spent an hour scouring Incheon airport for a highly illusive and increadably imparitive hamburger. I saw a procession on Korean royalty parting a sea of people past the airport walk fast sidewalk thing. I made new friends.


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