|Katelyn sets off a firework on the beach at night.|
Friday evening at Donghae was spent setting off fireworks on the beach. We lit them to celebrate the birthdays of Katelyn and Sara. I also had tons of fun with Sara's blue ukulele ("Blukulele"), playing All Of The Pop Songs and singing loudly with everyone while fairly large waves crashed onto the shore.
Other people went to karaoke bars (노래방, noraebang) to drink and sing some more. Everyone keeps telling me it's tons of fun -- and when I did 卡拉-OK in Taiwan I got a taste of it -- but I still have not been to a noraebang in Korea! I'm putting it on my to-do list for Orientation (four weeks left?!)
Saturday was adventure day! A group of twenty ETAs decided to tackle the monster that is Public Bus Transportation In A Foreign Country and find our way back to 무릉 계곡 (Mureung Valley) for a legit hike. Luckily we had one of our Korean RAs, Rachel, accompanying us. Were it not for her, we would have been completely lost as we took one bus to a run-down looking terminal, waited as the drivers changed, then rode it somewhere into downtown Donghae, waited for half and hour for the next bus, and then stood, cramped and uncomfortable, for the better part of an hour until it finally reached the park entrance. And when we arrived... wow. There were tour buses and cars filling the parking lot to overflowing. We've heard it said that hiking (등산, teungsan) is a major Korean pastime, but none of us was prepared to see the mountain as busy with weekenders as the beach, or even busier!
|Public transportation adventurists wondering how long it'll take to get to Mureung Valley, from left to right: the other Andrew, Kaley, Katelyn, Jason, Tracey, and Christina.|
Fortunately, we put on our American caps and simply blazed through -- kind of throwing caution to the wind, I guess, because the more we tried to organize and prepare for whatever would be in store for us, the more frustrated we got with our confused inaction. It was noon when the party really started. The big group naturally split up into four different groups who went in (almost) completely different directions. We found a cool waterfall (폭포, pogpo), another cool waterfall, a cool twin waterfall, and then another cool waterfall. (Those were all of the sight-seeing points in the "beginner" trail areas.)
|This is 쌍 폭포 (ssang pogpo), the Twin Waterfalls. It was probably the most beautiful thing I saw on the hike.|
|Ammy, Katelyn, and Kristen hanging on for dear life on a portion of the trail that required rope handholds.|
|The team on one of the super-steep, rickety metal staircases.|
|The team at a signpost that gave us short-lived hope! I misread the sign and thought that we had already made it to the very top, when in reality, whatever it was that the sign indicated we had reached was not even on our map.|
The way back was much shorter. We arrived at the very bottom of the trail, the park entrance, at around 4pm, making it a grand total of four hours of wandering up and down a mountain. Curiously, two of the other groups finished their hikes at around the same time (the fourth finished much earlier and ate lunch). We found out that one group was ahead of us on the red trail and made it a bit farther, while the other went off in an unknown direction; having had no trail maps, they never knew exactly where they were, and still do not know!). Then we all took buses and taxis (taxis are really cheap! -- about $7.50 for four people for a twenty-minute ride) back to the hotel. All in all, a fun morning/afternoon! My shoes are definitely closer to being destroyed than intact as a result, but I'm happy that I got my first taste of the Korean hiking craze in Donghae.
|Our team, pointing out on the trail map how far we made it (read: not very far at all!). Still proud of us! Left to right: Tracey, Stephanie, Katelyn, Ammy, Kristen, and me.|