Saturday, July 31, 2010

Concerning the End of the World

My but it's been a busy week. Last Saturday, a couple of coworkers and I went on a pretty epic road trip down to the Joalla province on the southern most tip of Korea. Saturday started at the obscene hour of 5 to get going on the road. We got a few hours under our belt before making our first stop at Meta sequoia Road which is basically an avenue with trees and then hitting up an amazing bamboo forest. It was just like the movie "House of Flying Daggers" because literally everywhere you looked was green- the stalks, the leaves, the air. It was lush and really lovely. We did a little bamboo reflexology trail and had some fun strolling around.

After a few more hours in the car, we made it to Boseong which is famous for it's green tea farms. This became a definite theme. We broke for lunch and had delicious green tea inflused nang-myeon which is a cold noodle soup with egg and vegetables. Mmmmmm. Then, on to the fields. These were stunning, neat hedgerows of tea lining dramatic slopes, green stripes in the very fertile and very green landscape. We trekked up the hill and wandered through the bushes for a while and took it in. FYI- if you haven't had it, green tea is nutty and bitter and not meant to be sweet but it still does make for delicious ice cream, which we used to cool off after our little jaunt. The weather certainly decided to cooperate for us, as we had no rain but my God, it's monsoon season and you never forget it. We only walked for maybe 20-30 minutes but my shirt was soaked through with the sticky heat. The only suitable follow up to that was the beach so off we went.

As it turns out, this beach left some things to be desired. It turned out to be more of a mud flat with some sand attached but we had a bit of fun squelching through it. That is, until we decided on a whim to try out a banana boat. Given the fact that our driver was certifiably insane, it could have been worse. As it is, he viciously and purposely whipped us off the raft on a sharp turn and my shin collided with something and came away with a spectacular rainbow of a bruise that is still making a brave show a week on. However, the real show stopper was that my lower left jaw collided with m
y friend's leg hard enough to reverberate through my face and bruise the bones at the top of my right jaw, under my ear. Within 20 mins I swelled up enough that chewing wasn't really an option. When he saw I was a bit hurt, he decided to give us a free boat ride. Now I'm comfortable in water and reeeeally love going fast in speed boats but he was keeling over so much all of us were clutching the sides and he flooded the engine three times. THEN, as we were getting into the dock, we saw an unconscious guy lying in the company loading area so our driver jumps off of the boat (which is still on) to go check on him, leaving us still in it. After getting CPR for a bit and then having a grand mal seizure, the guy was OK and they laughed it off as him having drunk too much the night before as we found out AFTER we managed to turn the boat off and somehow get it back to the dock. Not the most restful 10 minutes I've ever had and I remain distinctly unimpressed by some of Korea's safety measures. So, after hanging out a bit, we got back into the car and drove to the very southern point of the mainland country (the town is literally called World's End) after getting me really strong ibuprofin for my dysfunctional jaw. We were all starving so after getting a minbok room (basically you get a shower, a mat, and a floor but at least it's cheap) we had a traditional dinner of rice and fish and sides. I have to say, I'm really looking forward to having seafood again back home because though I love fish, I most distinctly do NOT love fish that has been cooked whole, complete with skin, bones, head and tail. Nope.

Regardless, we slept a bit and woke up early the next day. After a quick breakfast, we took a monorail up to see an observatory and got some great views of the ocean, it was really pretty to see the islands and the trees. We also took a lot of stairs down to the physical southern most point. Then, we got in the car and managed to find a really cute and sandy little beach perfect for swimming. So, we stayed abo
ut an hour before heading back. Despite a faulty GPS, getting lost, freaking INSANE Korean driving that made me afraid for my life, and 8 hours worth of time, we did get home in fine form and I had a legitimately fun weekend. It was really satisfying just being in the car, listening to music and having a good time with everyone.

Due to extraordinarily bad timing, I fell ill the second I got home, just in time to wake up the next morning, go to work, and then STRAIGHT on to Jeju Island....

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