Tag Archives: Hiking

Learning Korean culture through hiking.

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Remember how I told you guys we loved to hike?

That’s pretty much an understatement.

This past weekend we found ourselves back in the mountains after taking a two week hiatus while Tom nursed a sprained ankle from playing volleyball.  I probably said (at least five times) ” I am so happy right now.” It had been two weeks of not hiking and while I had really enjoyed two weekends in our lovely little city of Yeosu I was itching to get back to what we love to do- hike.

7 peaks later and at our 7th National park we found ourselves loving the beautiful fall colors. We started at 10 am and finished around 4pm allowing plenty of time for us to be in nature together, climbing mountain peak after mountain peak, and time to just- think. It dawned on me near the end of the hike that (almost) everything I know about Korea I learned from hiking. I mean we have spent hours in the mountains so perhaps I am bias. Everything from food, culture, terrain, and just life in Korea I have learnt from days we have spent in the mountains. Let me break it down a bit easier for ya. I added in pictures from our weekend hike in Naejangsan National Park.

Korean Kindness-

Our first hike in Korea and not knowing a thing about how long it would take, what to pack, how much we would wanna eat, etc. We set out to find ourselves just a bit exhausted and extremely under packed when it came to food. There have been countless times we have been offered food, drink, or even just company, and it helps refuel us through the remainder of our hikes. Which brings me to my next point…Korean community.

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Community in Korea-

Ah! Where to begin. Koreans love family. They love community. They love togetherness. To be quite frank- I love it too. We love that they sit together in circles sharing food, drink, and laughter. We have seen people dancing, eating, laughing, and relaxing together at the top of the mountains. We have been invited to join the fun and we have sat next to groups admiring the fun. The community reflects back to what I have seen while I have been teaching as well. The students try to share treats, they share picnic lunches, and their class becomes a family. It’s all about community in Korea…and I love that.

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Korea is stunningly beautiful. 

Whoa. We have sat at the top of mountain peaks overlooking beautiful fall colored valleys. We have spotted cities from afar. Seen the sea that looks royal blue for as far as the world goes. Islands littering the backdrop of what looks like a painting. Gosh, the list just goes on: rivers winding through the base of a mountain, waterfalls, people on other peaks, mountain ridges giving you 360 degree views of just plain gorgeous. We’ve seen the seasons change from spring, to summer, to autumn , and have learned that each season brings a new look at beauty as we discover it through hiking. We have learned about the land from hiking Korea and we understand how to adapt for hiking as the weather has changed.

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Koreans are committed!

The majority of people we see hiking typically consist of an older population. They don’t give up and they are pretty tough. I love passing climbers on the way up or down and hearing them shout excitedly after I greet them politely in Korean. Korean’s are the hardest working people that I have met, but they sure do know how to celebrate when they get to the top of a peak. Photos, food, and soju (traditional Korean drink) galore. If they are into hiking they are committed right down to their matching outfits and ridiculously expensive hiking gear/outfits. They work hard and they play hard. They are committed to finish what they start and will encourage you along the way with their greetings in Korean. I love when they shout “ASA” (sorta like: “get it!!!!”) and “FIGHTING” ( sorta like: “don’t give up!!!” which sounds like “Pi-ting”)

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Tom atop a busy mountain peak in Naejangsan National Park!

Food

Tom and I usually pack nuts, trail mix, ham sandwiches, granola, fruit, and lots of water for our hiking treks. Koreans pack full on meals when hiking. I have even seen them pack hot water in a canvas and concoct up some delicious noodles at the top of a mountain. I never underestimate what they will pack when it comes to food. I’ve seen noodles, Kimbap (Korea’s version of sushi rolls) plenty of soju, and entire ensembles of pots/pans and a full on meal. We have learned that Koreans love to eat (don’t ask me how they all stay so thin) and they love to go all out with their meals- even at the top of a mountain.

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We had an absolute blast hiking this past weekend and I love being able to document our life here on the blog! Here are a few more of my favorites:

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This guy and the beautiful Korean fall. I am one lucky lady.

This guy and the beautiful Korean fall. I am one lucky lady.

Exhausted and full of sweat.  Pure bliss on one of the peaks.

Exhausted and full of sweat. Pure bliss on one of the peaks.

Almost done!!

Almost done!!

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Every good hike must come to an end… finishing at Naejangsa temple.

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Gaedo (Gae Island)

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It’s already been over a month since we took the trek to Gaedo on September 28th!

We are loving living just a quick boat ride away from so many gorgeous islands. Yeosu, our home city, is full of islands to visit just a hop skip, and a jump away. If we haven’t been hiking/camping we have been exploring islands. Gaedo marks our 8th island we have visited since moving to South Korea in April.

It rained most of our day trip to Gaedo, but we didn’t let it rain on our parade.

It was the island of cows. Seriously though. It was.  We trekked through trails overgrown fields up and around three hill climbs. The views of the sea littered with even more islands was completely stunning, but the cows were everywhere. I felt like we were back in Wisconsin. Lisa and I wouldn’t make eye contact with the cows as we passed them.  Just kept our eyes on the prize of the trail lost somewhere under the tall weeds. I am pretty sure these massive creatures of muscle were tied to the ground by a rope…although I am not entirely sure. What’s to say with a pull of their massive tree trunk legs they couldn’t snap the rope and charge at us? Tom trekked through ahead not even phased by the bulls who kept letting out what sounded like a cry-for-help-kinda-moo. Here are some of my favorite pictures from the day we spent on Gaedo. A beautiful little, quaint, and quiet island somewhere in the Sea off of Yeosu, South Korea. Tom has documented the trip extensively here for those who may want to venture there yourself. It’s spectacular. You should.

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Our trail.

A trail that once was.

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We made it through the cow invested field.

We made it through the cow infested field.

Lisa in the weeds.

Lisa in the weeds.

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Snuck in a picture with this guy. ;P

Snuck in a picture with this guy. ;P

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Back on flat ground

Back on flat ground

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Linking up with Bonnie @ A Compass Rose

10 Stunningly Beautiful Korean Hikes

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Tom and I hike A LOT. Many weekends in Korea have been spent hiking and we can’t think of a better way to see Korea then when you hike. We absolutely have grown to love it since moving to Korea seven months ago. I have mentioned a few of the hikes we have done. Like Wolchusan and the Bijindo Island hike, but for the most part I’ve left it up to my husband Tom to do most of the hiking documentation in his sweet blog. We have now accomplished six of Korea’s National Parks, and countless more smaller ones in our area. Inspired by our incredible friends, Tom and I hope to make it to all 16 National Parks in Korea. Right now, we usually pick a “loop” route (if the park has it) and we always make sure to summit the highest few peaks in each park. Once we have conquered all sweet 16 we will go back and do other trails we didn’t make it to the first time.

Oh man, and the leaves are changing now. Talk about beautiful.  Next weekend, we have plans to hike another mountain named Naejangsan. It’s apparently the PEAK weekend to see the leaves changing colors and the best place in Korea to view the fall colors. I’m such a summer gal at heart, but fall is tugging at my heart strings. Sweaters, cooler air, gorgeous leaves, and coffee. Korea, your beauty is shocking, and you’ve completely stolen pieces of my heart. From our arrival last spring when the cherry blossoms were just starting to bloom, combating summer heat while frolicking in your sea, and now the absolute natural beauty of fall. You’ve got me hook, line, and sinker, Korea.

I have picked my 10 favorite pictures of our hikes thus far in Korea. Most of the photo credit goes to Tom, but I am his wife so I get to use steal them as I please :p

Deogyusan National Park:

Jeju Island Olle Trails:

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Gae Island (Gaedo):

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Jirisan National Park:

Bijin Island (Bijindo):

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Hallasan National Park:

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Woraksan National Park- (The completion of 10 peaks in 3 days):

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Hwahdo (Hwah island):

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Songnisan National Park:

Gubongsan (The view of some of our city-Yeosu):

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Do you like hiking?

I don’t know if it’s the beauty, the silence of nature, the one foot in front of the other, or the accomplishment of getting to the top that I love more.

Life in Korea. It’s rad.

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I’m not sure when walking past a restaurant with this:

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OR this:

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became normal life to us in Korea.

It’s become our life. Yeosu is a port city. So one thing it’s known for is it’s fresh seafood. Many restaurants have tanks for live fish or other unknown sea creatures that they cook on the spot if you order it.

When did living 3 miles from the beach/ocean become our “normal?”

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When did all of the amazing hiking/camping we have done just become a normal weekend activity?

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This is my second time ever that I am breaking my "no selfie rule" but it's a thing in Korea...so I am rollin with that! Camping in September.

This is my second time ever that I am breaking my “no selfie rule” but it’s a thing in Korea…so I am rollin with that! Camping in September.

Korean hikin' photo bombing!

Korean hikin’ photo bombing. This describes the crazy adventure we are on- so perfectly. If a picture could tell a story 🙂

When did I become so incredibly fascinated with the changing colors of the leaves?

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How was it that God blessed me incredibly with a husband I love more than I ever thought I could love a human?

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So, when does something become normal? What is normal?!

Whatever it is. Please, Korea keep being our normal. I can’t get enough of these amazing adventures we are on.

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This week, This Past Weekend, and in 90 Days.

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Wow! It’s been an incredibly busy week over here and it’s only Tuesday. The good news is that we have a 3 day work week this week which means 4 days off to travel Korea. I am super excited to hike/camp this weekend, but I have hardly had a second to think about it as my “to-do” list continues to grow and grow. Do you have weeks or days when you feel like you can hardly keep up? I love being busy, and I love the chaos (I know I am crazy for loving it, right?!) BUT I am really looking forward to 4 days of hiking/camping with my partner n’ crime along with our friend Pat starting tomorrow when we will make the trek a few hours away for some awesome hiking and camping.

This week:

Featured Expat

I’m now officially a “featured blog” on the Expat Blog website (a website with TONS of amazing blogs from expats living abroad!!!) Which I am pretty pumped about. Take a gander over to my new blog listing here and leave me some love in the comment section at the bottom of the page. To my fellow travel lovers out there: take a look at their “country listing section” where you can check out over 1,977 blogs sorted by country of interest. I have said hello to hours of awesome blog reading while planning my dream trips/ must see countries!!! Our “must see” travel list just keeps growing.

This past weekend:

WE explored yet another gorgeous island which you can read all about HERE where my awesome husband documented our entire day trip/ hike. He’s pretty darn cool. I am glad we are married.

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In exactly 90 days:

We are going to Mexico. YUP MEXICO! For my dear friend’s destination wedding that I am in. EEP! I am so beyond excited. Tom and I didn’t plan on traveling from South Korea to Mexico since it is quite the hike, but we are so excited to be spending time with them in Mexico AND I am thrilled to stand next to such an amazing friend on her wedding day. We will spend 5 days in Mexico for the wedding with an (extremely) quick pit stop back in Wisconsin, USA to see our family for just 5 short days.

Katie and I in back when we both lived in Fiji in 2009. SO thrilled to be in this gals wedding on her big day in January.

Tom and I both have to be back in Korea to teach English winter camp right after the wedding so it will be a whirlwind of a trip (not to mention the insane jet lag I am sure we will have!!) but we are really blessed to be able to take the opportunity to spend time with our family even if it’s just a quick few days.

Lastly, after the quick 5 days in the USA as well as 5 days in Mexico we will have around 10 days left of vacation to use come end of January/ Early February after we teach winter camps. Right now the top 3 countries in the running to visit in February are as follows in no particular order:

Indonesia

photo from 123rf.com

Philippines  

photo from squidoo.com

photo from squidoo.com

OR

Thailand 

taken from iasaglobal.com

Which one would you choose? All of them are new to Tom and I so maybe we will just roll the dice?!? How do you decide when they all look equally amazing?

Lastly, travelin friends n’ family: Any tips on overcoming jet lag fast? I’ll probably ask this question again as we near the big trip to Mexico/ Wisconsin. We need all of the tips that we can get.

Love to all you from South Korea.

-e

Hahwado- a little slice of heaven! (Hahwa island)

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Before our Chuseok weekend ( Korean Thanksgiving) where we had 5 awesome days of camping, hiking, and island life…

We visited two islands by the names of Sado and Hahwado. I documented Sado here if you missed it. With last week being a two day work week I was only able to squeeze in enough time for two blog posts. SO, I will wrap up our island hopping weekend from September 14th before I plunge into posting about our Chuseok adventures. Just like the last post on Sado…some of the pictures are from Cory and Michelle’s camera while the first 4 are from my iphone.

Hahwado was about 45 minutes away from our city of Yeosu by ferry, and marks our third island we have visited off of Yeosu. It was a fabulous island where we did a 5km (easy) hike around the island after first exploring Sado. I loved Hahwado because it had the tiny island feel but also had people out and about, it had a small shop/restaurant that was open, and we met some pretty cool Koreans along the stroll around the island.

“Beautiful cliffs with panoramic views of islands along the horizon” is the best way to sum up Hahwado island in one sentence, but (as always) I will let you see for yourself!

There is something I just ADORE about pictures of Korean fishing boats, the water, and the islands in the background.

There is something I just ADORE about pictures of Korean fishing boats, the water, and the islands in the background.

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A sleepy little town…

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Trekkin’ along the island path.

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What a VIEW!

4 friends. An incredible day of island hopping. What more can I ask for?

I read this the other day from a dear lady and I couldn’t agree with her more:

“Looking back through pictures these last few months I was thinking, dang, I so want to be me! And I get to be me- whoop! And I get to have the coolest life ever……filled with gratitude for everything and everyone in my life. Don’t be jealous, come and visit me so you can have the same.”

There is just ONE thing I would like to add to the above quote…and that is this: it is ALL about perspective. You may look at your life, and think that it doesn’t compare to the adventures that the next person is having. If your “adventure” looks different then mine right now it doesn’t mean that one is better then the other. YOUR adventure could be getting out for a walk around your neighborhood, exploring a nearby city, a trip to the zoo, or making cookies with your kids.

Whatever your life looks like right NOW I hope today you find peace knowing that your adventure is an amazing one. If it isn’t amazing get out there and make stuff happen.. I believe in YOU!

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Enjoy a new journey today! Your journey may mean walking instead of running around, taking the time to appreciate the little things, or sending a message to a friend you haven’t spoken to in awhile.

Love love love,

e

My favorite moment of our day: This kind Korean family we met along our journey.

My favorite moment of our day: This kind Korean family we met along our journey.

Geumodo Island Exploration

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This past weekend we headed to Geumodo Island just off of our city- Yeosu. Tom documented this island day trip here, but I couldn’t resist posting my favorite pictures of our day! I know I keep saying this, but I feel incredibly blessed to live in such an amazing city on the ocean that we can do these day trips to islands nearby. We hiked around 10 miles of this beautiful island on the west coast with our new friends from South Africa Brennan and Victoria.

Eat your heart out island lovers!

Arriving in Geumodo Island.

Arriving in Geumodo Island.

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New friends from South Africa Brennan and Victoria.

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After school Adventures…

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After school Adventures…

Tom likes to stay busy during the week.

I like to relax after a long day of teaching.

We have found meeting in the middle, and planning our weeks out in the beginning of the week allows for us to have the perfect combination of exploration, and relaxation. I keep waiting for this “WOW, this city is amazing” feeling to completely wear off, but it hasn’t for almost two months now, and it is a pretty big city. We have found that we will have plenty of mountains to climb, heaps of beaches to explore, and copious amounts of islands surrounding Yeosu that we haven’t even touched on yet. Here are some of my favorite pictures of our after school adventures from the past two weeks.

A hike up the mountain just a couple blocks from our house

A hike up the mountain just a couple blocks from our house

The top!

The top!

The walk to a little island (connected by a walking bridge) called Odongdo.

The walk to a little island (connected by a walking bridge) called Odongdo.

Yeosu expo in the back. Odongdo island.

Yeosu expo in the back. Odongdo island.

Tom jumpin for joy!

Tom jumpin for joy!

Exploring Odondo island.

Exploring Odongdo island.

Bamboo forest (Odongdo)

Bamboo forest (Odongdo)

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Cliffs of Odongdo.

Cliffs of Odongdo.

Cute light show we stumbled upon.

Cute light show we stumbled upon.

Walkin back home!

Walkin back home!

Vino with some friends. I promise that is not all ours!

Vino with some friends. I promise that is not all ours!

Found another beach about 10 min from our apartment. Ungcheon beach!

Found another beach about 10 min from our apartment. Ungcheon beach!

Takin a stroll in a nearby neighborhood.

Takin a stroll in a nearby neighborhood.

Just hangin in the clouds after an evening hike :)

Just hangin in the clouds after an evening hike 🙂

SO yes, maybe that “amazing-new-town” feeling will eventually wear off. In some ways though, I look forward to it wearing off. I know we will discover our favorite little nooks n’ crannies of our city, and we will return time after time to our favorite places while we live here.

Until then though…We will continue to explore our fabulous little corner of the world. One jump picture, one mountain, and one beautiful beach at a time.

South Korea Crusin’

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South Korea Crusin’

Each day is an adventure…

Last weekend, a cool crew of us headed to the Shinan Islands for a wonderful weekend in the sun watchin a new friend of ours compete in the ironman triathlon. It was incredibly fun to watch in another country, and especially Korea. Many differences from an ironman back in the states, but it was great to support, and fun was had by all! Below are my favorite pictures from the weekend of  May17-19th that we spent on the Shinan Islands! We took a 2 hour bus to get to a city named Mokpo, and from there took a ferry for about 45 min to the islands.Tom created an incredible video from this weekend, and I think it sums up our weekend just perfectly! If you missed the video on facebook check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYF9u9C_V58&feature=youtu.be

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Headed out!

Headed out!

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Fun to see Newtons in Korea!!!

Fun to see Newtons in Korea!!!

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Well hello beautiful view.

Well hello beautiful view.

IM race start!

IM race start!

Rice fields

Rice fields

Started out cool, but it got warm!

Started out cool, but it got warm!

Just two guys shootin the breeze.

Just two guys shootin the breeze.

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This past weekend May 24-26 is best summed up by a wonderful weekend of AMAZING company, fantastic food, an evening hike, a train to the little town of Gokseong, Rose festival (Our first Korean Festival!)  eating pig roast, book club, eating delicious duck, and ended with two skype dates with great friends from back in Wisconsin. I know I keep saying this, but I am feeling incredibly blessed to have SUCH amazing friends here in Korea who make it feel like our “home.” Shout out to our friends Corey and Michelle who were wonderful hosts this past weekend to Tom and I, and our friends D.J and Lauren!

Hike with Tommy on Friday eve

Hike with Tommy on Friday eve

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Friday night date night hike

Friday night date night hike

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Just enjoying the ocean in our city before taking the train to see our friends!

Just enjoying the ocean in our city before taking the train to see our friends!

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Lovin my hubby

Lovin my hubby

When we got on the train in Yeosu it was cool and breezy ,and about 65 degrees at about 1pm . When we stepped off into the little city of Gokseong in the mountains about 45 min later it was about 15 degrees warmer!!! I think Tom will appreciate living on an ocean city once summer hits. Yeosu has been a steady 70-75 degrees the past few weeks.

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These remind me of Wisconsin/Minnesota

These remind me of Wisconsin/Minnesota

Checking out the beautiful roses at the Rose festival!

Checking out the beautiful roses at the Rose festival!

Stoppin to smell the roses ;)

Stoppin to smell the roses 😉

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Love the baby pink roses.

Love the mini baby pink roses.

Rows and rows of these beauties

Rows and rows of these beauties

Love these people!

Love these people!

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Thanks Orman's for this picture :0

Thanks Orman’s for this picture :0

Dinner

Dinner

DJ and Lauren

DJ and Lauren

Just a cute little town in the mountains...

Just a cute little town in the mountains…

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Breakfast on a lovely Sunday morning

Breakfast on a lovely Sunday morning (thanks michelle for this one!)

The gals...

The gals… photo credit to Corey!

This week I encourage you to get out and have an adventure! Do something new with some cool people that have a special place in your heart. I have found that with the greatest of friends all you need is their company…and anything can be a blast.

“Each day is an adventure in discovering the meaning of life. It is each little thing that you do that day – whether it be spending time with your friends, running in a cross-country meet or just simply staring at the crashing ocean- that holds the key to discovering the meaning of life. I would rather be out enjoying these things than pondering them. We may never really discover the meaning of life, but the knowledge we gain in our quest to discover it is truly more valuable. ”- Jack Canfield

Same, but different.

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Same, but different.

The last few days it has become quite clear to me that many things here in South Korea do indeed remind me of where Tom and I come from originally (The Midwest United States.) Let me give you some examples and perhaps maybe you can understand exactly what I mean.

The past few days we have been filling our heads with information in orientation. From Gender roles here in Korea, Traditional Korean music, to learning a new language, and the Korean Wave (Kdramas, Kpop, and Korean Film) and although some of it is utterly and entirely mind boggling a lot of it is really the same, but different. My head is full of knowledge, and I am finding most everything I have learned quite fascinating. It is a lot to take in, and I guess I am most surprised by how much media/ korean pop music- Kpop influences daily life, and actually is tied into the demand to learn English… and really why Tom and I are here today… living in Korea to teach English.

I had NO idea that kpop is an entire and a rather large industry not only in Korea, but internationally. If you want to learn more I recommend this link (it is a bit long, but explains all about the ins and outs of Kpop): http://www.inaglobal.fr/en/music/article/k-pop-story-well-oiled-industry-standardized-catchy-tunes

And also, had no idea about the Medical Tourism industry here in Korea and how the Korean Wave has largely impacted that as well.

We are all the same, but different.

Something that has reminded me of the U.S specifically (when Tom and I took a trip to Colorado) is the hiking. It’s a really great thing we love hiking, because it is everywhere. Lucky for us! Today while hiking I was thinking to myself how much Korea reminds me of hiking in Colorado…and how the woodsy feeling reminds me of camping back in Wisconsin… (For more on our hiking click here where my husband has logged ALL of our hiking expeditions.

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Then…at the top we stumbled upon this:

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and then I think. Nope, we really are living in Korea…and I love it. I mean seriously? How can you not love hula hooping on top of a little mountain you just climbed. Korea, is much the same…but different.

Yesterday, we attended our very first professional Korean baseball game. No lie. These people don’t mess around. The only thing I could even compare this to is a Green Bay Packer game. The Korean baseball fans are DIE hard fans. Looks normal…

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…Until you watch the video!I loved every second of it. Check out the video I uploaded by clicking on the link below!! (Would have taken a longer video if the batteries hadn’t died)… but this gives you a little taste of what the fans are like:

https://vimeo.com/64385193

Tomorrow, we visit a temple for the day! I’m excited to relax, enjoy the lovely sunshine, and drink the famous lotus tea.

Here, in Korea… everything is the same, but different.

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and we are still smiling as we get closer to seeing our new apartment, city, coworkers, and kids who will become a huge part of our lives for the next year 🙂

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