Half an hour later, I was up, chatting with Jason and Katelyn outside and eating free toast and jam provided by the Pencil Guesthouse. Soon, our adventure group was all ready to go, and we made our way to the meet-up point by 7am.
Our day trip was organized by Adventure Korea, a wonderful company that organizes events and outings for expats all throughout the year. Korena, a fellow Fulbright ETA, got wind of their last whitewater rafting trip of the year and encouraged as many Fulbrighters as possible to sign up. As a result, a Fulbright cohort of about eighteen joined two other groups of expats (a few teachers and a bunch of guys somehow connected to the military) for a trip to the Hantan River (한탄강) in Gangwon Province.
|Fulbrighters before our big rafting adventure! Note the mountains and the perfect weather. :)|
|So there's Jason and me. And then there's Katelyn, trying so hard. So hard. ;)|
|A shot of me rafting on the Hantan River! (taken by Jason)|
|Happy and on a boat! (taken by Jason)|
As soon as we found our rhythm (literally), though, it was fantastic and nothing but fun. Of course, I didn't catch any of the actual rafting on film (or on memory card?), but fortunately, Jason had a waterproof digital camera and took excellent photos. I'm posting some of them here, courtesy his Facebook.
Overall, the "whitewater" part of the rafting trip was not as exciting as I'd hoped. It was fun, of course, but each patch of whitewater was separated by long (relaxing, peaceful, beautiful) stretches of calm water. I didn't mind, really. I sang "Down to the River to Pray" and watched dragonflies (잠자리) fly around and played the splash-the-other-rafts-when-they-get-close game, along with everyone else. All too soon, it was over, and we bused back to the starting point to shower and have lunch.
|At several points during the trip, we all got out of the rafts and had a bit of fun. Here, the guides turned the rafts into a makeshift water slide into the river. Ammy (above) did some kind of cool corkscrew jump. Awesome! (taken by Jason)|
|All of the Fulbrighters at the halfway point of our river adventure. We look good in life jackets and red helmets. (courtesy Jason)|
And then... AND THEN! It was time to go BUNGEE JUMPING! 번지점프!
BUNGEE JUMPING! Off of a 50-meter (170-ish feet) bridge! In Korea! On a beautiful, sunny day! And with members of a Korean motorcycle gang watching and cheering! Do I even need to say any more? The location of the bungee jumping was called 백마레저 (Baekma Lejeo, or... "White Horse Recreation"?), or maybe that's the name of the company, anyway, we drove onto a bridge, walked into a small building constructed in the middle of the bridge, suited up, and jumped.
Well, it wasn't as quick as that. There was a lot of time spent getting everyone suited up, and each jump, while brief in and of itself, took up to five minutes total due to the wait time in collecting the jumper after the fact and clearing the way for the next person. I was eighth to go, which was enough time to become sufficiently nervous. Especially since I was looking at this the whole time:
|What a view! On the right is the jumping platform. I waited on it for quite some time.|
|Jason, Katelyn, and I are smiling on the outside and going crazy on the inside. (taken by Ammy)|
Except that was all in my head; I didn't actually say anything as I leapt off the platform. I just felt free-fall and my body froze up for three long, long seconds. Then, the cord went taut, stretched, and bungee'd me back up to the bridge, and it was AWESOME!
And it was beautiful (have I said that enough times yet?), and it felt just a little bit like flying. It was also a tad uncomfortable because of the harness and certain delicate body parts that it constricted, but thanks to adrenaline, I felt nothing but the rush of having done something crazy that I've always wanted to do. Bucket list item: CHECK!
|A photo from ground level. I'm that black speck in the white sky. (taken by Ben W.)|
Here is a video of my jump from ground level, taken on Ammy's camera. You can view it if you are friends with Ammy or me on Facebook. And here is a video taken from the bridge, courtesy Lauren. You can view it if you are friends with Lauren or me on Facebook. (Start watching from 0:30.) This was the video I showed my students this week, in conjunction with an explanation of how items on a Bucket List are actually meant to be completed! Follow your dreams, kids!
|Dan in mid-free-fall.|
|Ben, right after his jump.|
|He was anchored at the ankles... ouch!|
After the two-hour bus ride back to Seoul, I bought a cheap dinner and a ticket for the 7:40 bus back to Changwon. After a little under four hours (the evening return trip, having no traffic, was much faster than the first trip), I arrived home. Fortunately, the bus stopped at the train station before heading farther south to the actual bus terminal, and because the train station is only a fifteen minute walk away from my apartment, I hurried off there and arrived home before midnight. Thus ends the second Seoul weekend. It was a blast. And for my own future reference, here is what I spent:
My 2nd Seoul Weekend, price-wise!
Transportation: 2 one-way express bus tickets, Changwon-Seoul; a little under 30,000₩ each
Transportation: random taxis and total metro fare; ~20,000₩ (but taxi fare was split among friends)
Food: 2 full meals on Saturday, 2 cheap meals on Sunday; 15,000₩ (I'm serious.)
Adventure Korea: rafting fee, transportation, and lunch; 49,000₩
Adventure Korea: bungee jumping; 35,000₩
Yeah, I brought about 150,000₩ with me for the weekend and spent all of it. What really blew a whole in my wallet was the unexpected high price of transportation. Oh well. It was still all completely worth it!