Monday, April 28, 2008

Riot Gear

When I was little, my brother used to have two paintball guns. One had nice little pellets that didn't hurt when they hit you. The other gun however had huge marble sized pellets with hard plastic shells. I still rememer how much those hurt. My brother used to make me put on old clothes and run around the back yard while he shot at me. I'm sure he let me shoot the guns a time or two but I don't remember that as much.

I was thrilled when we were invited to go paintballing with some friends recently. We donned real paintball gear; jumpsuits, body pads, and helmets. We were also given high powered paintball guns which to my pleasure (or later displeasure) came with the marble sized paintball pellets.

During the introduction/instruction part of the game, we were told we had to be 7 meters away from another person in order to shoot them. For the most part I think people obeyed this rule. However, I jumped out from behind a crate and suprised someone on the opposing team. He shot me three time in quick succession - each pellet hitting me on the inner thigh.

I think the three half dollar sized purple bruises are going to look fabulous with my swimsuit. If I forgot to tell you before...we're going to the Philippines for ten days. We're leaving this weekend. I'm so excited I can hardly think about anything else. :)

We're pretty intimidating, aren't we?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Yeongsan Alps

Nathan and his girlfriend Kat were supposed to come down for a visit a couple of weekends ago. They stood us up though...or if you've been reading Nathan's blog you'll realize that he has more important matters to attend to, like his joints. So instead of letting him drag us to a norebang we went backpacking. It turned out to be a fabulous weekend although I still wish I'd gotten to see our Seoul friends.

We went to the Yeongsan Alps with Jackie and Josh. Hiking the Alps seemed like a grandiose title for this blog so I changed it. These Alps were beautiful and big...but not what I'd imagine if I hiked the Swiss Alps or the French Alps. I love camping and we had a great time with Jackie and Josh. I'm already dreading their going back to Canada since we don't know anyone else who schelpped their camping gear across the globe.

Yeongsan was filled with waterfalls, more specifically the famous Pariso waterfall. Pariso is prounced pa-ray-sohh not pa-rhi-so like I keep saying. I still have an spanish inflection on all my foreign words, but no...I'm not in latin america - even though I sometimes wish I were since I'm so much more comfortable there.

Asia is more different to me than anywhere else I've ever been. My friend Deirdre spent a summer in Okinawa. She said she felt farther away from home there than she did when she was in Germany - even though technically Germany is farther away from California than Japan is. I know what she means now. Every day is a new cultural experience for me.

I can't help it...I still have a knee-jerk reaction to golden idols. :)

Pariso waterfall - so pretty.
Jason and Jackie showing off the safety fence that would undoubtably prevent you from falling off the side of the cliff.
Jackie groovin' while we pitched the tents on the very helpful wooden platforms.

Sorry about the lack of pics of Jason on this trip. I had to give him a beer to hold in order to get the camera out of his hands.

This is a structure we found on our trip. I could be five years old or five hundred. I prefer to think we stumbled onto the forgotten laire of some famous or adventurous Korean.

Very cool smooth black trees that grew in small groves in the canyon.

Nice jump shot.

Catching my lunch for the day.
I love hiking up canyons. I guess this a symtom of living in Arizona for too long.

At the sadle of the peaks there was a boardwalk with soju tents, soup tents, and a paragliding club. It was fantastic watching the people take off but also humbling. I know I would never have the nerve to do such a thing.

These folks were interesting. My theory is that they were training for Everest in some strange way that I'm culturally unaware of.
Yuck! Hite beer...I wish it was a Stella.

On the other side of the mountain there was a buddhist shrine near a waterfall.
The candles inside are supposed to be continuously burning. Cute couple photo.
At the end of the hike we came upon a cherry blossom grove that was so brilliant that it looked like it was snowing.

Monday, April 7, 2008

In the flow

I had a break-through this weekend. Something just clicked into place and I finally started to feel really comfortable here. I wasn't worried about getting around or stuck somewhere without knowing what to do. I feel as though I know enough Korean to be able to find my way home, eat, and just generally get along. I've found my flow. Of course I might be lost again soon...but for now things are good.

We went to Gyeongju this weekend to see the cherry blossoms. Gyeongju was the seat of the Silla Dynasty which ruled at least part of the Korean penninsula for close to a millenium. The modern city is build around the ancient one so it is sprinkled with numerous tombs, temples, pagodas, gardens, and buddah statues. Jason and I first went to Gyeonju in early February and liked it there immediately. It's so clean and full of beautiful historical relics. It was even prettier this weekend with spring in full force. We went to Bulguksa temple and Bomun lake.

If you'd like to read more on the Silla Dynasty here's a link to wiki...

On Sunday morning I attended my niece Violet's birthday party over skype. I was able to watch her sing happy birthday to herself with her cousins (she's two!). I saw her older sister Ava try to take over her presents and her cousin Ben scold Ava for overstepping her bounds. Ava and Ben are three. :) Abby entertained me with horse sounds and I got to see my new niece Amelia for the first time. She's a real cutie. I love being able to see everyone while I'm over here.

Later on Sunday Jason and I went to Busan. Jason finally got a real camera after five years of waiting since his last one was stolen. Our pictures are going to get much better from here on out - or at least they'd better.

We took the train to Gyeongju and Busan and I have to say it's my favorite way to travel. I don't get car sick, I can stretch my legs out in front of me, and I don't have to worry about getting into an accident like I do when I take the bus. The bus drivers are crazy here. I even got into a fight with one of them...but that's a story I'll tell you in person some day. :)

The road to Bulguksa.

more Magnolia trees...

The main temple of Bulguksa.

Does anyone else think it looks like someone drew a fake mustache on this guy?

I love the ceilings of the temple buildings here. They're like a kaleidoscope full of brightly painted intricate patterns.

Korea's universal sign of love - the kids put their hands together in the shape of a heart. The kids ask me all the time, "Teacher - you and Jason?" and then they put their hands in the shape of a heart. When I say, "Yes." They all crack up and hide their giggles behind their hands.

brooms still in use...

Stacking rocks in this manner is a buddhism ritual - reminiscent of pagodas I believe.

Bring on the nirvana!

...another peaceful swastika

Rubbing this golden boar is supposed to bring good luck and many germs.

I got this sweet ajuma hat from the vendors at the temple. An ajuma is a married Korean woman. Usually this means that they're older, with permed hair, wear a comically large sun visor, and have a big behind.
An ajuma at work.

This is the interesting restaurant we had dinner at on Saturday. It reminded me of the smurfs from the outside and the fraggles on the inside.

After dinner we walked around Bomun Lake and watched the sun set.

What the.....?

Oh...a giant swan boat - now I understand.