Sunday, October 16, 2011

Autumn 2011: Achimgari Wilderness Trekking, Gwanaksan, Festivals and Food!

Have I ever mentioned that I love Autumn in Korea? If not, then I should now. I absolutely, with every last part of me love, love, love autumn in Korea. It's beautiful and totally evokes that "I want to be cozy, wear a sweater, feel a little lonely, listen to some slow music, reflect, drink a little whiskey, and eat soup feeling." Sound depressing? Well it's not at all. Besides this feeling, I think another part of me is in love with the nostalgia of my previous autumn here.

Last year it was mid-September when I first stepped foot in Korea. Sure it was crazy hot and humid, but I had missed most of the summer and just weeks later and basically over night, we said so long to summer and hello to autumn. It was also during this time that I experienced many of my firsts in Korea. My first hike with my climbing group. My first great friend. My first concert. My first bike ride. And so many more things that I only remember in the midst of a nostalgic moment when every sense in my body transports me back to that first time experience. It's incredible.

Fall in Korea is relatively short so, looking back on all that I accomplished during the short period last year, I can't contain my feeling of satisfaction. It was Korea and mines honey moon period; I wanted to do anything and everything and I did. But now that I'm settled in and living a semi-normal life (but what's normal anyway?), I'm finding that I'm still doing a ton of awesome things and still experiencing firsts. Nothing I'm doing is really, well, normal. I think it has a lot to do with how much happens here during this season. People everywhere are gung ho about socializing in any possible way and the result is a whole bunch of happy people doing a whole bunch of awesome things. I suppose it's preparation for he hibernation the sweeps the country (myself included) during the long winter months.

Since I've pretty bad about updating lately, here's a look into my relationship with autumn 2011 thus far:

Some friends and I tracked down some tasty Indian/Nepalese food at Everest in Seoul. You might be surprised at how much non-Korean food is available in Korea. 

Achimgari Wilderness Trekking, Inje, Gangwan-do- This was an absolutely breathtaking hike. Unlike any hike I'd done in Korea, it was flat and followed a natural path along the river, well, most the time. Every so often we were required to forge the river and follow along the opposite side. The leader of my hiking group said that we were probably the first foreigners to ever make the trek. Awesome! Oh yeah, and it ended with dancing around a bonfire at a local restaurant. 

Pyeongchon Festival- Whenever I am bored, all I need to do is hop on my bike and something interesting pops up. A couple weeks ago, it was the Pyeongchin Festival. I found a stage with performers dancing around and playing Korean musical instruments in sort a humorous fashion. I didn't really notice much else until the performances stopped and a donation box was set out. Of course, I don't know what they are for and don't add money. A man next to me notices and asks, "Do you know what this is?" And I respond with a no. He tells me it's to help find missing children of Korea and points to women wearing yellow vests, each of whom is missing a child. Feeling like an ass, I quickly get up to drop some money in. Before I make it back to my seat, a vested lady walks right up to me and gives me a giant hug. When we separate, I see that shes crying and I can't help but start to cry a little too. It was a really moving experience and my heart goes out to all the parents of missing children in Korea and around the world. 

Gwanak Mountain Hike

Arugula Soup- It's the weirdest thing; I'm starting to like cooking. 

Had a little potluck party and made some peanut butter cups. Pretty damn good peanut butter cups, might I add.

Daejon Film Festival, Anyang

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