Chiaksan: attempt number 1, and more to come

Perhaps I gave this blogging thing another try. I’ve been falling off the grid more and more every day. Chuseok has come and gone and I didn’t even use my long weekend to get a head start on a new post. I did, however, get the chance to take my shot at Chiak.

Chiaksan is a mountain in the Gangwon-do province, only about an hour bus ride from Wonju. It reaches an elevation of 1,288 m (4,226 ft), and while I’d like to say I got to the peak, unfortunately we underestimated the length of the hike and didn’t leave enough daylight to make it all the way to the top.

Something I did learn from this first mountain-climbing attempt of mine is the strength it takes to get through even a short distance of the rough terrain we faced. When you are constantly going up, up, up rocks and steps, it takes an excruciatingly long time to make it even a short distance. I do have some photos to share, but I’d really like to wait a couple weeks until I can make another attempt at reaching the peak. I’ll post a few here, but there are more to come for sure. It feels very unfinished and I can say with certainty I’ll be making the trip again in 2-3 weeks. The temple at Chiaksan was beautiful, however, and a place I hope to remember always. Perhaps I’ll post about it eventually as well.

In the mean time, I’ll be making the trip to Seoul this weekend. Hopefully I’ll convince myself to post about. I’m working on my Korean BBQ article that I’m hoping I can turn into something profitable. I made some great headway on it, and I’m excited to try and up my productivity and creativity in the coming weeks.

Storm warning

A quick post about the impending typhoon that has hit the southern portion of the Korean peninsula, and is making its way up towards Seoul (and Wonju).

School was closed today, which gave me a nice break and a chance to get to the bank finally. I normally get this feeling of excited anticipation when it comes to storms, but it’s already after 2 pm and I feel as though I’ve been waiting for it forever. I suppose I shouldn’t get excited about it, as it’s apparently the largest typhoon to hit since 2002 and in that one around 200 people died. I don’t think there will be any danger in our area, but I’ll be sure to have a relaxing day inside.

UPDATE: Looks like the storm died down before it reached us. Just some rain and wind, probably nicer weather than an average day in St. John’s.

The first two weeks

I’ve been here for two weeks now, and I’ve got to say it’s been a big adjustment. Over the months since Tim and I decided to come to South Korea to teach English, the prospect of coming just seemed so far away. This vision that I could never really imagine what the reality would entail.

I’m amazed at how far I’ve come since the first night I wondered if I’d made a mistake by coming here. That night, we stood on a sidewalk with no cell phones, no direction to walk in with our suitcases and backpacks, and no English speakers in sight. After what felt like the longest 20 minutes ever, our school’s director found us, but the experience left me feeling more lost than I’d ever felt in my life. I wanted out.

The journey was long, months of preparation, days of moving out of our apartment, and about 30 hours of travel time. When we finally got here we were jetlag zombies for the first week, combined with that our working hours are long and very busy. In our third week now, we’re getting used to the schedule and are much more efficient with our time. Though, I’ve still got some adjusting to do.

Wonju is not a big city by Korean standards. There are over 350,000, and though South Korea has a bunch of cities well over the 1,000,000 mark, it does have a big city feel. We’ve explored some, but it will still take me some time to wrap my head around how foreign it is to me. There are few English speakers, but the other English teachers we’ve met here have been welcoming.

We’ve been able to hit up a couple of Korean BBQ places (fantastic) and a couple of noraebangs (Karaoke, something I thought I would never do while here). We’ve marvelled at the cheapness of soju (and have sampled enough to appreciate the value).

I’m happy to say that I’m finally appreciating this city. The language barrier is hard, but I’m learning a few essential words bit by bit. We’re hoping to make a trip to Seoul in the next few weeks, as it’s only a two-hour bus ride away. I will try to update before that comes, though the fact that it’s taken me this long to write in the first place might be an indicator of that plan’s imminent failure.

Stay tuned!