Hiking Korean-style

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

After two days of rain, Sunday was a perfect day for a hike. We decided to head to Mt. Seorak to do the waterfall hike: short enough for Liam, easy enough for me, but interesting enough for Matthew.

In the slideshow:
Views of the stream facing east (toward the Sea of Japan) and west (toward cable car).
The first part of the hike winds through a forested area.
Matthew enjoyed searching for caterpillars along the way, and plans to return this winter (with Liam, hopefully) to look for cocoons and chrysallises.
Suddenly, there is a clearing in the woods. Hiking (even just a short ways) stirs up an appetite for food, drink, and souveniers. A proprietress tries to talk Matthew & Liam into potato pancake or wild mountain grape wine. (Unfortunately for her, we'd packed PB&J sandwiches.)
The second part of the hike is fairly steep (mostly stairs) alongside some gorgeous waterfalls.
At the trail's end, Matthew carries Liam back up from the water to eat some lunch. Notice the women in the foreground decked out in serious hiking gear.

This hike was our introduction to Seorak National Park almost three years ago. I haven't done the hike since then, so this was an interesting return. Three years ago, we were a childless couple, just arrived in a new country. It's amazing how much has changed since then, but the hike is just as beautiful as ever. We're looking forward to doing it again in a few months when the leaves are changing colors.

I'm done.

Friday, August 22, 2008

This is the final chapter in the Bossy Grandmother saga, because I've dealt with her for the last time.

When Liam and I got into the elevator early this morning (en route to the beach), she was there. She suddenly realized that I'm pregnant, although I swear she asked me the first time I encountered her. Maybe she thought I hadn't lost my baby weight from Liam, or maybe she pesters so many foreign women with toddlers that she has me confused. (That was sarcasm, as I think I'm the only foreign woman in town with a toddler.) At any rate, she proceeded to tell me that Liam is too young for me to have another baby. I said he's 20 months now. The new baby isn't due until January. They'll be 25 months apart. I don't know why I bothered. She kept insisting that they're too close together. "Whatever," I said in English as I fled the elevator.

What an evil, toxic woman. She has never said a positive word to me, other than to refer to my son as "friend" (chingu) when talking to her grandson. (All Koreans seem to do this when they have a toddler anywhere near Liam's age.)

So I'm done. When I see her from now on, I'm going to ignore her. I don't speak or understand any Korean when she's around. That's one perk of being a foreigner.

I've figured out...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The bossy grandmother that I talked about in my old folks post is my honorary Korean mother-in-law.

One day, Matthew, Liam and I got into the elevator to head down to the park for an evening stroll. Bossy Grandma was already in the elevator with Little Chunk in his stroller. She scolded us for not having Liam in a stroller. "You can't carry him everywhere," seemed to be her argument. We pantomimed that he walks most of the time. Matthew was a bit surprised by her behavior, until I told him that she is the grandmother who tells me everything I'm doing wrong with Liam.

The sad thing is that Little Chunk is probably her son's little boy, meaning that her actual daughter-in-law has to put up with CONSTANT nagging. I'm assuming that she also works, considering how often I see Grandma Bossy with Little Chunk. That poor, poor woman that I don't even know.

Recently, Matthew ran into Bossy Grandma in the elevator, minus Little Chunk. She seemed to be complaining to him about how Little Chunk pinches her, as she was showing him bruises. I know it's evil of me, but I had to chuckle. I wonder if her daughter-in-law has trained Little Chunk to pinch Bossy Grandma.

Summer break: Gangneung

Gangneung is the city of about 250,000 just an hour's bus ride south of Sokcho. In the past, we've only seen the downtown area. Although it does include a McDonald's and several movie theaters, it's otherwise unimpressive. During our break, we decided to check out some of the more picturesque parts of Gangneung.

It rained during most of our time there, but we had lunch in "Tofu Town," soup made with fresh bean curd, served with rice and a few sides. Then we walked in the rain to the nearby lake, where we rented a family bike, so very touristy of us. It stopped raining during our ride, so we were able to enjoy our stroll past rice fields on the way back to the bus stop. The next time we visit, there are some cultural/historical sites we'd like to see, but it was a rather impromptu day. (We had actually planned to visit a temple on the other side of Mt. Seorak, but we would have waited several hours for the next bus there.)

The random picture is three guys in matching hot pink polo shirts (all with collars up) walking together around the lake. It's a Korean thing, I guess.
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