Hiking in Korea

One of the things I will really miss after leaving Korea is the amazing hiking.  Seoul is surrounded by mountains and much of the entire Korean peninsula is mountainous.  Hiking here is way more intense than any other hiking I’ve done before.  Pulling my self up a rock face with a rope and climbing steep stairs attached to a vertical rock wall were not things I had done before.  It helped me to overcome my fear of hights a bit.  Who knows, maybe one day I’ll be able to do rock climbing.  I think that is still a ways off though.

Here are a few of my hiking experiences:

My first hiking experience was at the start of winter (possibly our first week in Korea) with Victoria and Carolyn.  Victoria took us up the mountain near where Victoria and Austin live, Gwanaksan  It was raining when we started and snowing by the time we got to the “top”    Because of the snow and fog we couldn’t see anything, but I could hear the chanting and drumming of the monks in a temple usually visible from where we were.  It was a great introduction to hiking in Korea.

The cold climb up. In Korean hiking you usually go up...straight up.

Koreans having a picnic near the top. They pack a lot into their backpacks

made it!

We were also Lucky enough to have a national park in our backyard and trail heads a 5 min. walk away.  To see about our first hike up part of this mountain, you can see a previous post: https://heartnseoul.wordpress.com/2010/01/18/hike/

We hiked this mountain many times and once made it to the “top”.  Daedongmun gate.  Had to climb over some pretty precarious rocks to get there.


ahhhhh, this is why I hike

Don't mock me. I felt super bad ass after getting over this part.

made it to the gate.

More from this mountain…

abusing a friend's camera

very early in the hike

doesn't take long to get to this view.

I was also lucky enough to take a wonderful hiking trip with the SHITY hikers (Sunday Hikers Interested in Trekking Yet again).  I can’t believe I didn’t post about this when it happened!  We took a bus down south and spend one afternoon on the beach, then the next day hiking.  I was exhausted, but it was great!

The beach. We were the only ones in bathing suits. Not surprising for Korea.

nice relaxing time on the beach, plus Hookah!

Going up...

The view...

The end

We were also able to hike Dobongson with our good friends Bonnie and Andrew.  Yet another great hike.

Thanks to Andrew for this awesome panorama.

So all in all, hiking has been awesome.  That is the basic gist of this post 🙂


Chang Deok Palace and Garden

As Lane and I are finishing up our last weeks here in Seoul we have been cramming in many sights and activities.  One that I’m glad we didn’t miss is this palace.  It’s a bit more set apart from the city than the other palaces and has a large “garden” though it seems to be much more forest than garden.  Like the other palaces it has some great traditional Korean architecture.  It was also destroyed in the Japanese invasion like the other palaces and rebuilt in the 19th century.  Unfortunately you have to take a guided tour through the garden and cannot wander freely.  This palace is also home to trees up to 750 years old.  Going at the beginning of fall was great because of the perfect temperature and the fall colors in the trees.  Here are some photos.

I love the colors and patterns in traditional Korean architecture. If I ever build my own house it will be included.

The main hall. Used for political matters.

Entryways, gates, and doors are the most elaborate and beautiful to me.

the roofing tiles. very cool. Koreans like to put roofs on everything (traditionally)

such a peaceful place

can I live here? So cute

a taste of the cool trees.

one of several waterside buildings/ gazebos in the garden



and another gazebo. i wish we were aloud to just relax on them.

I want one of these trees in my yard. I believe it is a Japanese Maple.

and finally the 750 year old Juniper. It needed assistance keeping itself off the ground. Can you blame it?


We finally developed the pictures from our waterproof camera, and so I’m now able to blog about it. The Boryeong mud festival is held at Daecheon Beach, about a 3 hour trip from Seoul. It attracts a lot of foreigners. Especially American Military folks from Seoul. Since foreigners can get a bit out of hand we tried to avoid the crowd of foreigners and went to the Festival on a Thursday night/ Friday day. We had a great 2.5 hour train ride and enjoyed some Tetris and the company of our friends Bonnie and Andrew.

Tetris on the train

We chilled on the beach Thursday night after finding our lodging- a one room “ondol” style place. Basically you sleep on the heated floor with a mattress pad, blanket, and pillow. Of course, since it was summer, we didn’t have the floor heated, but we did have air conditioning. Good for a cheap night’s sleep.

We had nice weather Thursday night with a lovely sea breeze. We found the area for the festival, but nothing seemed to be happening that night.  So we chatted, drank, lit a few fireworks, and generally played around.

beach breeze, ahhhhh


View down the beach from our wooden platform thingy.

The next day we put our junk in a locker and headed for the mud. It was overcast and drizzled a bit, but that’s no big deal when you are going to cover yourself in mud anyway! Unfortunately, by about 3 in the afternoon, we were in the midst of a MAJOR storm. Sideways rain, thunder, lightning, wind, huge waves, the whole works. Though a little bit scary, we made a plan, got dry and changed and enjoyed coffee and dinner before heading back. A good time with friends, but not the crazy, muddy time we were expecting.

Bonnie getting painted.

Yep, we're colorful and muddy!

Lane and Andrew mud-wrestling. Lane lost, but barely!

Mud Prison, you get mud splashed pretty violently on to you. Good times.

Unfortunately our waterproof camera got pretty foggy by this point. This is Lane, Bonnie, and Anrew dancing in the rain.

This shot was taken while we cowered in fear under the locker tent and tried to make a plan for getting out of there.

Our 5th Wedding Anniversary

This July 9th Lane and I celebrated our 5th year of marriage.  Wow, how time flies. I had spent the weeks leading up to the date trying to convince Lane to do an all out Korean celebration with me.  This meant wearing couple shirts, going to Namsan Tower (a popular place for couples, featured in many K-drama shows) and “locking our love” on the tower (popular activity for couples).  Though these types of things aren’t really what we are into, I figured, we’ll only have one anniversary in Korea.  I didn’t think it was going to happen until a few days before when Lane suddenly agreed to it!  Hoooray!  We did do one thing that fit with who we are….eating delicious Mexican food. Num Num Num.  We actually celebrated a few days late as we were exhausted from all the fun we had with Jim and Lois while they were here.  Here are some photos of the event.

mmmmmmm tacos and burritos.

not in my couple shirt yet

at the bottom of the Mountain getting ready to take the cable car up.

close up

we made it

beautiful 360 views from the top of the tower.

Our very Korean heart pose....soooo cheeesey!

sooo many locks on the fence. many with messages.

Good view from below the tower too.

our locks, complete with keys handcuffed together.

our locks successfully locked. FOREVER!

Korean anniversary celebration...COMPLETE 🙂

On a side note, I found wearing the matching shirts to be extremely embarrassing!  Even though it was my idea, It took all that was in me to not hide my face the whole time.  I was pretty well adjusted by the end of the night, but it took a little time.

World Cup Hype

The past few weeks, Seoul has been overcome with World Cup fever.  There are T-shirts, bandannas, devil horns (as the team is known as the red devils), vavuzalas, and so much more for sale on pretty much every street corner.   I got myself a Park Ji Sung Jersey.  He is their team captain and most beloved player.  There are commercials with Korean idols singing songs to cheer on the Korea team and they even have their own cheering song. We have even had a new class at SEV called world cup song.  In this class we teach the kids their world cup song in English.  They even have  a little bit of a dance to go with it.  Needless to say, there is no shortage of support for the South Korean team.

It’s been so awesome to be a part of all the excitement.  I’ve actually become a bit of a soccer fan in the process.  We watched the Korea-Greece and Korea-Argentina games in a local bar/restaurant here in Suyu.  We had to make reservations and the place was packed.  I got free horns to wear and these blow up tube clapper things.  We use these to do the traditional Korean cheer “Daaaaaaaae Han Min Kook (Korea), clap clap, clap clap, clap.”  It was great to experience the win with the Greece game.  Even though I’m not a huge sports fan, I get so much energy from watching with a crowd and I share their excitement and a whole range of emotions.  For the Argentina game,  a friend from Argentina  wore his Argentina jersey to the bar.  What’s amazing is that even though Korea has a lot of pride and support for their team, they didn’t beat him up or threaten him or anything.  In fact, they took pictures with him!  That’s how polite this culture is.  It really amazes me sometimes.

We win! Watching Korea V. Greece at Penelope's.

Argentina wins. Note the score Andrew(in the Argentina jersey) is showing with his fingers. I have never met the two Korean women in this picture. They just wanted to be in a picture with Andrew.

We have also been following the US games of course.  We watched the US-Algeria and England-Slovenia games here in the apartment with friends from England.  We had the US on the computer and England on the TV.  Thanks to a last minute goal from the US we were all happy at the end of the night.

Seoul has several places throughout the City where large groups can gather outside to watch the matches.  Last night a group of us went to City Hall to watch the game.  It was packed to say the least.  It was a literal sea of red.  Until it started raining, that is.  Then the crowd thinned out a little bit and became a sea of umbrellas and ponchos.  But the water did not dampen the spirit of the crowd at all.  We were all still chanting, singing, dancing, and standing in the rain all through the game.  Unfortunately it ended in a loss for Korea.  This is the best that Korea has done since placing 4th in the 2002 World Cup, held here in Korea.  Though I was hoping for a Korea-US match, both teams are now out of the running.  And so ends the excitement, it was good while it lasted.

sea of red at City Hall

It's raining, but they don't care!


still having fun!

oh no! 12:39. Game is almost over and we are loosing 2-1 😦

not winning??!! 😦

time to go home...thankfully they kept the subway open till 2am.

Gyeongbokgung Palace

This Friday Lane and I got the chance to be tourists again.  We had beautiful mid 70’s weather  and clear blue skies.  A perfect day to tour the largest palace in Korea.  Gyeongbokgung was built by the Joseon rulers in the early 1400s(I think).  It was destroyed during the Japanese invasion (1592-98) and stayed that way until it was rebuilt starting in 1863.  The rebuilding and restoration is still in progress.  It’s absolutely beautiful and very big.  Actors dress in the clothing worn by palace guards and still carry on a kind of changing of the guards every so often.  They also have actors dress as the king and queen and do a daily walk through the palace grounds.  Of course many people take pictures with the guards.  I waited too long and the guards were gone when I wanted my picture 😦

cool guards

There were two gates and each gate had a set of guards. This is at the second gate.

The royal walk

The palace consisted of many buildings.  The outer buildings were used for governance, the inner buildings for living, and the rear buildings and gardens for relaxation and entertainment.  There were also large courtyards for each group of buildings.  The colors, architecture and design were so beautiful.  They also had two buildings surrounded by water.  Absolutely beautiful.

aren't we cute 🙂 The building is cool too.

I want this to be my bedroom. A girl can dream right?

Wall area surrounding the main courtyard.

The ceiling of one of the main governance buildings. gold dragons!

The ceiling of a building that hasn't been restored. As you can see the colors are not as vibrant.

Too see all of the photos from this little trip you can go here :


Ultimate Frisbee in Jeju

This past weekend I got the opportunity to go play in the Jeju Gnarly Nines Tournament.  This is a coed tournament where you play 5 men and 2 women on the field at a time, but you are only allowed to have 9 total players on your team.  This makes for a very brutal tournament because you get very little time to rest, and injuries can just cripple a team.  The games were played on the World Cup Soccer practice fields in Jeju, which made them some of the best fields I’ve ever played on.  The weather was perfect for the tournament mid 70’s but it was overcast in the hottest part of the day.  It was a bit windy at times, but that just made things better because we got to run more zone then.  I have to say this is the second best tournament I’ve ever been to, nothing beats Nationals for me.   Jeju comes in at a close second, with great fields and cheap tournament cost which includes hotel, food, and party.  Finally the great atmosphere that hangs around the whole tournament and players is what really makes this a top notch tournament.

sweet fields

This winter I suffered my first dreaded knee injury, so I was extra cautious coming back from it.  This left me completely out of shape and also without  time to practice with the team,  so I was rightfully put onto the Seoul C team and asked to be a leader.    We came into the tournament as the 7th seed(I think) out of around 24 teams.  Our first two games were against ringer teams, meaning they are all top level players who don’t practice together but form up for a tournament.  We got crushed by these teams.  Then we got to play Seoul B who is easily more athletic than us but seemed to be lacking in leadership.  We took half on them and they didn’t even talk, they got water and went to the line ready to start the second half.  At this point I knew we could win the game if we came out strong for the next couple points.  I think we traded points for the rest of the second half, but the hard cap went on, so we finished the point and were up 10-9 and that was it.  It was great to beat Seoul B because it guaranteed two things, a spot in the quarter finals and bragging rights.  We then got crushed by the Japanese team in the last game on Saturday.

Sunday started and we got to play Justice League, the eventual winners of the tourny, for one more time.  We then got to play Seoul F who had worked their way up from the B bracket only to be dominated by us.  It felt good to actually have a convincing win instead of losing badly or barely winning.  For our final game we were scheduled to play against the Daejon team, but they were injured and tired and decided to forfeit to us.  Little did they know that we would have forfeited to them if they had said they wanted to play the game.  Hooray for a free win to end the tournament.  Now all we had to do is cheer for Seoul A and drink beer.

Me hanging out as the dump

The semifinal game between Seoul A and Justice League may have been one of the most exciting games I have ever watched.  It had it all layout D’s, hucks, people skying each other and the game swung back and forth first in Seoul A’s favor then in Justice League’s.  Finally Justice League pulled out the win and moved on to the final.  Unfortunately the fans just didn’t have the energy after cheering for the semi final game.  Although the final was a good game, it just didn’t have the emotion and therefore the crowd never got into it.

Will Chen being awesome.