May 5th is celebrated as Children’s Day in Korea. It’s a national holiday, and therefore was the first time since my arrival in this country 2 and a half months ago that I was free to enjoy a paid holiday! Since Children’s Day fell on Tuesday, we also got Monday off-4 day weekend anyone? Well technically, we didn’t get all of Monday off, as I still had to go in and teach my 4-5:30 classes for Big RT. Still, no little kindergarten, and no school today, so I’m happy as a peach.
To take advantage of the weekend, Marisa, Jenny, Gloria and I ventured to Sokcho, on the east coast of the country right on the ocean. The trip was planned by Gloria and Jenny, but it began with a rocky start. After waking up super early (6:30! I make it a personal life goal to never wake up before 7 for any reason. I took exception for this trip) we got on a bus for the ride. What was supposed to be a 3 hour trip, as advertised on the resort web site, took SEVEN HOURS. 7 hours. Really. It just kept going on, and on, and on. After four hours, the bus driver made a stop at a terminal so everyone could use the restroom and stretch for a few minutes. When Gloria asked him how much longer, all he said was “long way.” Not encouraging. But since I was still feeling sick and worn down from my wisdom tooth fiasco (it didn’t stop hurting until Monday, a full 6 days after surgery! I think this was due to the fact that the dentist accidentally cut an extra bit of my mouth and had to suture it. Lame.) I took advantage of the opportunity to sleep. Finally, we arrived at our destination amidst a light rain at 3:30p.m. ready to start our fun-filled weekend.
Upon this arrival we found a cab to take us to our pension (I don’t know why they call the rooms in Korea pensions, but it was basically like a hostel). We asked him what fun things we could do that afternoon. Sokcho is a touristy city, right on the coast with lots to do, so we were surprised when he told us, at 4:30 in the afternoon, that there was nothing to do but drink as it was getting too late. They do love to drink in Korea! we didn’t want to hop right on the liquor train, so after dropping us off at the pension and checking into our two rooms all four of us took a 2 hour nap.
At around 8 pm we reconvened to get some dinner, deciding to head down to a small restaurant on the coast known for it’s sashimi, or raw fish, caught straight from the ocean. We were seated at the restaurant, and the meal was less than pleasant. The fish were kept in small plastic bins near the tables, and Gloria and Jenny picked out our dinner.
They picked one known as the “king of the weh” or king of the ocean. It was chopped up and pulled apart next to our table, and served in a most unappetizing way. None of us really enjoyed it, but all attempted to make the experience worth it. You have to try, right?
After our not-fantastic dinner, we decided to make our own fun for the evening and head to a local nuraebang. As anyone who’s been reading this blog can ascertain, I LOVE THE NURAEBANG. Seriously, what is there not to love about a private karaoke room? Nothing, that’s what. So since the city couldn’t provide us with any entertainment, we made our own. With big plans for Sunday, we didn’t stay out too late. After rocking the nuraebang for a few hours, we went back to the pension and were fast asleep by 12:30.
We woke up bright and early Sunday morning for a day of warm weather enjoyment. Sokcho is partly such a busy destination because of Seoraksan, the local mountain range, which is the 3rd largest mountain range in South Korea. We arrived at the mountain’s base around 8 am and joined many others out to enjoy the holiday. The mountain was absolutely gorgeous, the sun was shining, and we were ready to enjoy ourselves. Jenny, Gloria, Marisa and I had hoped to take a cable car to the top of Seoraksan, but the wait in line was already for an hour and a half, so we decided to climb up the mountain to where a temple is located. Before the temple, we came across a giant statue of the Buddha. We spent several hours at the mountain before heading back to the pension and drinking some beers on the beach outside. Beers and sand, what could be better on a holiday weekend?
Our last adventure in Sokcho was a trip to the spas that Korea is famous for. We went to a place called “waterpia” which had all sorts of fun water activities: saunas and hot springs, facials and massages, wave pools, kiddie pools, a giant slide….very fun. I did get a lot of stares, as I was wearing a regular bikini-not bikini shorts for me, I was wearing the real thing-a girl needs some sun! Not to mention the tattoos. Anyway, the staring wasn’t too horrible and most people were friendly enough. There were a few ajimas (old ladies/aunts, technically) who gave me the stink eye, but otherwise it was smooth sailing. I’ve never seen so many interesting types of swimwear though. In Korea they make actual dresses out of swimsuit material. Not that everyone is so conservative. There are lots of two pieces, but most wear a skirt or some sort of cover-up on the bottom. I only saw one other girl (Korean and incredibly skinny) who was wearing the same style as me.
After spending several hours at the spa we finally cleaned up and made our way back towards the bus depot. We caught a light dinner and took the 7:50 bus back to Gangnam. This time the trip only took 5 hours, and by the time we got a taxi (an arduous and frustrating process at 1 am) we were home and deeply asleep by 2 am.
Monday morning was spent relaxing until I had to teach my afternoon classes. After class I went to the gym for the first time in a week and a half-if only to walk on the treadmill for 40 minutes and get my sweatin’ groove back, tooth hole or no! It felt good just to be back in the gym, and I’m planning on making it back to dance class by next Tuesday. I should totally be able to bounce around by then!
Today is actually Children’s Day, and Marisa and I decided to celebrate by staying far, far away from anywhere that may have children. We are near them everyday, afterall! We went to our favorite local park in Pyeongnae and laid on a blanket all day, napping and reading and chit-chatting. It was a fantastic, lazy, beautiful Tuesday, and a rest that I sorely needed. Tomorrow is back to work for a 3-day week, and this weekend is the Seoul World DJ Festival. It is going to be fantastic and I’m incredibly excited. Springtime in Korea is really turning out to be a fabulous thing!