Sunday, March 31, 2013

Camping with Koreans

A couple of weeks ago, Ellen and I signed up to go on a camping trip with our cross-fit gym. We thought it would be cool to make some Korean friends in our area that we see on a day to day basis. So we paid our 25 dollars to go on a camping trip. We kept trying to find out where we were going or what we needed to bring, but no one had an answer for us. They said "just bring yourself"...we were like, "what about food, or sleeping bag, we have no tent, is that ok? Should we bring soju?" The reply "bring what you want, we bring everything."

Unknowing of what is going on, we show up Saturday morning with our stuff at 10 am feeling slightly "under the weather." Everyone laughs at how much stuff we have (which for me was just a sleeping bag, pad, some warm clothes and marshmallows). Then we head on our way. Our new friend, Jason, drives us and even he has no idea where we're going. Eventually we turn onto this road, that isn't a road at all, but a paved...mound of dirt? with fields on each side? I don't even know how to describe is a picture (sketchy is what it was).

We drive past this lake, full of garbage, where people are fishing. Some people fish from boats. Other people fish from little houses. They have small floating houses (REALLY small) that fit probably one bed, and then they set their fishing stuff out side and use the house part to avoid the sun (I pretty much made all of that up, but that's my best guess).

Then we turn into the "campsite" which looks like a mound of dirt. Layers of mounds of dirt. When I think of camping, I think of beautiful places, or hiking, or....something to do. This place, not so beautiful, and NOTHING to do.

We get there and everyone starts setting stuff up. But not speaking the language, we have no idea what to do or how to ask how to help or anything, so we stand around and watch. After everything is set up, they build a fire and feed us some hotdogs (yum!). Then when everyone is bored, we decide to go rent some boats and go rowing. We row around for about an hour. Oh...each boat must have one man (because they're stronger, naturally). Turns out our one man, not so strong. Doesn't quite get the concept of paddles IN the water to make the boat go. He starts to row us back, and gets us stuck next to shore in the garbage water. Ellen and I try and direct him in very broken English. Then I finally stand up and say "changeee" and he moves, and I haul ass out of there. Everyone is very shocked (especially my trainer because she seems to think I've never worked out before in my life (FALSE) and yet I can row better than the next guy (literally)). At that point, we were cold, it was windy, and we wanted to just go back. Not to mention we were extremely exhausted from the night before.
Life Jacket, no big deal. 

When we get back to the campsite, they start cooking again. Meat. Lots and lots of meat. BEST meat I've ever tasted though, seriously. SO SO good. We eat, we drink, it starts raining. I decided to sit inside the tent with the heater (yes, we had a heater) and make best friends with the littler girl. That's right, did I mention that one of the first things we found out when we got to the campsite was that one of our Aran students was there (his parents recognized us right away). Fortunately he wasn't OUR kid and his sister was adorable AND they didn't stay the night, so it was fine. So anyways, I start making friends with the girl, passes the rainy time, good times had by all. Also ate some DELICIOUS hamburger meat of some kind. WOW the food was soooo good all weekend long.
My new little friend. She went and got her sun glasses because I was wearing mine! OMG so adorable!
This meat was sooooo good. Seriously. I can't even explain. 

Camping Korean style...with a heater, and electrical outlet.

Gym owners gettin jiggy Gangnam Style. 

All in all,  made some awesome new friends, experienced camping Korean style, and had a fun time!

Some cultural things that I thought were hilarious:

  • They were absolutely fine with burning plastic. These people, who if they have tiny bit of black on their meat think they'll get cancer...BURN PLASTIC!
  • Obviously alcohol opens everyone up a little, but Koreans are particularly shy around us..until alcohol is involved. Then they are QUITE open.
  • The heater thing.
  • Also, Koreans are quite the sharers...and it's still a little hard to get used to. Very kind, but also, being a Westerner, I like MY things for ME....
  • Koreans LOVE marshmallows. They ate them all day, all night and all morning. Thank you Costco and you're welcome Fitness Camp people!
  • We got stared at a lot. Ellen made a nice analogy this morning about how we're like zoo wanna watch them from afar, but you don't necessarily want to get in the cage. (I think some of them were legitimately afraid of us)

In other news. Today was Easter. So we decided to dye some Easter eggs thanks to my lovely mother who sent me egg dye. However we only had apple vinegar...didn't work quite so well...but got the job done. Oh and BROWN eggs (some colors don't work so well, like yellow). And the kit itself was a tye dye kit, not a normal dye kit. So we probably did the whole thing wrong. Oh and then found out that our flat of like 30 eggs weren't boiled all the way, so we can't give them away or eat them, most of them we'll have to throw out :( Oh's about the process NOT the product (story of our teaching lives and otherwise...reggio emilia style up in Korea)

Have a great Easter everyone! People here are still pretty un-phased about North Korea. Not sure how to feel at this point. I guess not much I can do but have a plan, some cash, and my passport ready to go? I love you all! Miss the great Miguk (Korean for America). I hit my 6 months of being IN Korea on the 25th ish, but won't hit my 6 month teaching mark till the 15th. It's hard right now. I miss home. I hope with the weather change, time will start to FLY...if only the weather would change. LOVE!!!

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