Sunday, August 30, 2009

How I Survived Camping with an iPod and $7

Okay, maybe the title is a bit dramatic, but it is warranted.

So, on Friday, Oh-nee said that we would be going to Jecheon on Saturday. Not having the slightest clue where or what that meant, I pulled out my Korea travel guide, located Jecheon and found out what was there. Oh-nee pointed to a cave and said, "Amy camera bring!" Okay, okay. Sounds good.

So, 8 am we left for this Jecheon cave. Oh-nee packed a huge cooler (I saw her making Kimbab earlier and couldn't wait for lunch!) As we were heading out, each person took a light jacket and two pairs of shoes (sandals and sneakers). I thought that was a bit odd; it should have been my first clue. But, then again, Koreans are really sensitive about shoes. They wear sandals all the time except when playing sports (and even then, there are a few still clinging to their sandals). So, at the last minute I grabbed a light jacket and my purse (which contained my wallet and iPod. I stuffed my jacket in my purse and headed out the door. At the last second, Oh-nee stuffed some boxer shorts in a bag. I thought that was weird... maybe we were going to sweat a lot?

I'm sure you know where I am going with this. After five hours of driving, we arrived at the cave. It was huge. One thing about the caves in Korea is the absence of liability. So there were really slippery paths, VERY low ceilings (I was completely squatting at one point) and everything could be touched. Cool! After the cave we went to this nice little lake. It was very pretty and peaceful.

Family Picture in the Cave
(Dad is taking the picture)

The Nice Little Lake
(Where things started to come together)

It was here that I started to piece together the truth. The boys kept talking about watching the Simpsons. Wha? "How?" I asked Oh-Chahn. "At the hotel!" he answered excitedly. Uh-oh. Really? I looked down at my shirt, pants and $30 E-Mart (like a Wal-Mart) shoes. Suddenly my contacts seemed really itchy, my teeth felt dirty and I noticed every droplet of sweat on my body. Hmm, this will be interesting.

I explained that I needed some essentials, and was promised that we could go shopping. Great! Sounds good. But, I come to find out that we are, in fact, in the middle of nowhere and that the biggest shopping area consists of the hotel gift shop. I managed to find a men's t-shirt, men's socks and a toothbrush for $7. The contact solution had to be imported. :) AKA, the hotel owners (which I think my family knew, because we were, at one point, in their house watching the baseball game) had a friend from the nearest civilization over bring solution. (No case. Haha, I had to soak them in two bowls.)

The "hotel" we stayed at was more of a series of river-side rooms. All eating was done outside in picnic areas. It was beautiful. Very Korean. It was also located at the base of a mountain with a lot of Buddhist temples. I had my very own Korean room:

I actually slept like a baby

The next morning Oh-nee woke me up pretty early. I figured she wanted to get a good start out of here. After all, checkout is around 9 am, right? Well, we actually end up going on a hike. ::sigh:: There I was, in dirty jeans and an over sized t-shirt with a dorky smile across my face. Eyeing my dad's shoes - hard-core hiking boots - and Oh-nee's backpack full of water, I began to get a sinking feeling that this might be a repeat of my Songnisan climb.

We started the climb. It was straight up from the get-go. I was definitely huffing and puffing. I almost wanted to cry when, after an 45 minutes of intense (and, to my dismay, sweaty) climbing we came to a sign that pointed two directions: "Where we came from - 1.5 km" and "The peak - 3.4 km)." But, with my smile stapled on my face, I kept climbing. Luckily, we actually stopped about five minutes after the sign at a beautiful temple. I was also very satisfied with the view, no need to keep going!

After the hike we had lunch, packed up the car and bounced. The car ride was a little smelly (probably me, haha!) and long, but overall very memorable. My favorite story: The boys were fighting, so my dad turned around and pinched the ends of their noses. The tips of their noses turned bright red, I had to turn away to keep from laughing since it looked like it hurt. Soon, they realized that their noses were red. After that I couldn't hold it in any longer. The rest of the night we all kept laughing at their noses.

Okay, so that was my weekend adventure. Pretty crazy, huh? I know I didn't mention my iPod, but I did use it a lot to keep me sane in the car. Sometimes it's nice to hear someone yelling at me in a language I understand. Okay, time to do some lesson planning.

By the way, Kia Tigers came up from a 1-0 score in the 8th inning to slamming a grand slam and another home run to win the game. I've never seen boys so happy.


  1. Somehow you always survive. Sounds like an interesting day. Glad it was you and not me!!
    Thanks for the pictures of the family. Nice to see the whole gang. Mr. Oh from Korean department sent me a bunch of litiature on Korea, including a whole brochure on Jeollanam-Do, and "The wonderful world of Korean Food" book. Maybe you can find something other than Kimchi to love. It also has useful expressions at restaurants to use. I will get all this to your folks for the next "care package" they send. After your trip, one that you may want to use is Mul juseyo (may I have some water please)

    Love you.

    Aunt Sandy and Uncle Jeff

  2. I love the family picture with the lanterns. So festive. I wish I could be there with you, but now you know to always be prepared for anything. Maybe getting a bigger purse is in order until your communications skills solidify. On the other hand, it does allow you to have a more adventurous life. :0)
    Thanks for sharing. Love ya, Momma

  3. When we were in Jeju Island, we visited a cave. It was a big one and only parts of it were open to the public, if I recall correctly. Apparently a symphony orchestra had a performance in that cave! Sitting in a cave with violins and percussion instruments going full force not to mention trumpets and such and shaking the ground under you... I am sure it was a thrill in more than one way. I personally would have said "that sounds great, but no thanks."

  4. I think I have been in Jechoen(제천, 충청북도)once. Because my father's family came from that area. I met a lot of "unknown" relatives and seniors who knew my grandfather which was strange.. It seems that everyone was related to each other in some ways. My grandfather passed away before I was born so I don't know him at all.

    It looks like you had a challenging but fun trip! I like the pictures. I have very blur memories in that area.. Hope you can browse many places while you live in Korea..