Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cherry Blossom trip (part 2)

If you read part 1, part 2 will make much more since :)

We found the lake without too much hassle and it was delightful and even had blooming cherry blossoms. However, once again we took the wrong way turn around the lake and discovered, that bikes were not allowed in the commercial area: Our solution, ice cream. Ice cream solves everything.

After the lake the plan was to head home. According to our map, it should have only taken an hour. Of course, we went the WRONG way again, because evidently having a Korean with us, access to a map on an iphone and an ill-proportioned map did little to insure that we actually took the right turn. Our mistake unfortunately was extremely painful, and as penance by the God of Maps, we were forced to climb the never-ending hill. And by never ending, I mean that we were at least climbing for thirty minutes-to an hour. I don't actually remember as I lost consciousness and allowed my body do all the work while my spirit floated above laughing at our struggle.
The ride lasted forever, and once we arrived at the hostel, five minutes after 7pm, I thought I might topple over. My bum ached as if it had had the beating of it's life, and I dreaded another day of riding on that hard bicycle seat.
At dinner, I could hardly keep my eyes open, and by 10:30pm I was sound asleep.

This is a crazy building we saw on the wicked hard hill. In case you can't tell, it has a giant hole in the middle in the shape of a traditional tower. Kinda weird looking, very expensive, very Korean!

Sunday, after nine hours of zzzzz's, I woke refreshed all except for my bum. I understand now, the purpose of those butt padded shorts. Had I known the pain I would be in every time I sat that I couldn't help but making a pained noise, I would have searched out these specialized shorts which have the effect of making your butt look adorned with a tumor.

My bicycle stood there mocking me and my sore bum as I walked with trepidation towards this torture machine.

Luckily, the only uphills we had to brave was the steep demon hill to the most famous temple in the area. The one temple we were told couldn't be missed. It also just so happened to be the first road we were destined to ride. The temple was amazing, but honestly, once you have seen one temple in Korea, you have seen them all. They are almost all the same, except for small detailed differences. And as far as I know, none of them are the originals.

(the temple's garden)

These kids were so done with having the stinkin foreigners wanting to take their pictures!

Our friends Su and Danielle just chillin under a Cherry Blossom.
Our path back to the bike shop was along the highway, but rather than ride with the crazy Korean drivers who must all take lessons from the same insane asylum fugitive, we rode along the concrete paths of the rice paddies. Riding on flat land is so much more enjoyable that the uphill torture paths we rode Saturday.

The only other event worthy of note was running into our Polish American friend.

After returning our bikes, we found ourselves needing to waste an hour before we were supposed to meet back with the group. Walking along the streets searching for tourist shops an urgent voice calls out, "English speakers!"

A tall, broad shouldered white guy dressed in kakis, collared shirt, tie and red vest stops us in our tracks. His face was not quite desperate but his excitement was bubbling over and spilling all over his shoes. He looked as if he hadn't seen a familiar face in years. In fact we were to learn over tea and milk shakes, that this Polish Catholic guy raised in New York, schooled in South Carolina (just imagine the accent here) was fresh off the boat. (Not literally) He had just arrived in Korea for the first time not three days before. He had casually looked into teaching abroad, sent out a resume and found himself in a foreign country, in a small town far outside of Seoul (where anyone who is anyone lives) in about a months time. However within those three days, he had found a church and gone to an Easter service, found a gym, and found new friends with whom to spend the next hour. I think he should do just fine in this country. The first few months are the hardest because you really have to put yourself out there. Shyness and timidity gets you nothing in this country.

And then we returned to the bus for the long ride home. It was a fantastic trip. I was extremely appreciative that at least a few cherry blossoms bloomed for us. The beginning of spring is upon us. Patience is my friend. I can wait. I can, I can!

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