Disappointing Hike, Amazing Dinner
Thanks to midterms this week, the students get to leave school around 12:30, and yesterday, my school took advantage of that absence to go on a short trip out to the countryside. Attracted by the lure of hiking and a free meal, I signed up happily. Plus, I like seeing my coworkers outside of the work setting. It's easier to talk to people and actually get to know them, and while I don't like to admit it, the more I get people to like me, the safer my job is. In the game of NETs...
So, after lunch, we all piled onto the bus for the ride out to Inje, up in the northeast corner of Gangwondo. It's always pretty funny to see everyone in their hiking clothes. People who you always see in formal or at least business-casual clothes seem so different in baseball caps and athletic pants. I felt woefully underprepared, having just worn jeans and a t-shirt. Some of my coworkers looked reading to go mountain climbing up a sheer rock face!
Our bus dropped us off at the foot of the mountain, where we transferred to a shuttle bus that would take us up to the temple we were slated to visit. Unfortunately I lost at bus roulette and had to stand, as there weren't quite enough seats for all of us. So began quite possibly the most harrowing bus ride of my life to date. As the bus wound it's way up a terrifyingly narrow road, hugging a cliffside, I clung to the nearby seats and prayed to any gods listening to bring me safely to the top. I tried not to look out the window. However, seeing as I'm alive to write this, I must have survived.
The temple itself was nice. Nothing special, but I always enjoy visiting temples. They do start to all look the same after a while, though. I did enjoy the colorful paper lanterns strung up everywhere, though. It was a unique touch.
|Leading the way.|
|I loved the way they fluttered in the wind. So whimsical!|
My favorite temples are always the ones with a spring to drink from, or refill your water bottle, so I was quite satisfied by my visit. However, I think the most striking thing about the area was the mostly-dry riverbed full of stacked stones. The stark monochromes against the lush forest background created a beautiful contrast.
|The sweet taste of dragon spit.|
|Whites and colors.|
|Sadly, I'm not an earthbender.|
Sadly, I never got the hike I was expecting. Instead, we took a walk of interminable slowness along an almost entirely flat trail. I'm not kidding. I didn't know it was possible to walk so slowly. I was barely able to keep pace with the group, and had to keep reminding myself to slow down. However, I saw about 10 chipmunks, so it wasn't a complete waste.
We also visited a farm and watched a bit of a presentation on all the school trip packages it offers, but as the Korean was way above my level, I mostly zoned out for that part. They did, however, give each of us a kilo (A KILO) of mushrooms for free. So yeah, if you want some mushrooms, call me. I'll hook you up.
Dinner made up for the sad lack of hiking, at least. I was too busy eating to take any pictures, but believe me, it was delicious. Grilled fish, some kind of simple fish soup, and some of the best vegetable side dishes I've ever had. I can't remember what anything was, but it was all so fresh and healthy; I could feel the vitamins making me stronger. We also had some locally made makeolli, which is one of my favorite Spring and Summer drinks. So refreshing!
The best part? When they found out I loved makkeolli, I got a free bottle to take home. Best. Field trip. Ever.