Craig’s Back From Holiday, So I’ve got Stuff to Blog About, also, the rainy season has started

It’s not that I don’t do anything while he’s away, it’s just that the stuff I do when left to my own devices isn’t the stuff that I care to recall at some point in the future, like watching the entire second season of Game of Thrones (BTW, HBO, the books are great, you don’t need to f@#$ with them.) or sorting through all the crap I keep in storage bins which I have not unpacked in the year that I’ve been living at Casa Smith-Young, and quite possibly have not unpacked since I moved from Bundang to Seongbuk-Gu to HBC. I like watching too much TV and have issues throwing stuff away, but I know I that, so I don’t need to write about it to remind myself.

I could blog about this for days, but Ambien has already been invented.

Anyway, while Craig was away, I had my birthday, and it was the usual quiet affair that birthdays become once you’ve reached “a certain age”. The women at work were sure that Craig was buying my present in the UK, because he was giving me a ring for my birthday. I really didn’t have the heart to tell them that he was buying me something in the UK, because there’s better stuff to buy there. In the end, I got some new hiking shirts which were nicer looking than the ajjuma hiking uniforms available here.

Now that he’s back, we’ve resumed our usual schedule of eating at the Renaissance’s Beer Garden so often that all of the staff come over to greet us. Some might take that as a sign to give it a rest, but it paid off at their 4th of July do: the only beverage on offer was meant to be bottomless pitchers of beer, but we got wine, because they know that’s what we always drink. They didn’t even charge us extra, even though every other night, beer is free and wine is 12,000 a person. 🙂 So, that’s our life during the week, and on the weekends, we’ve been out and about when it hasn’t been raining.

Last weekend, we went to Jeonju for what seemed the first time in ages, but it’s probably only been since spring. Our plan for the weekend: Saturday: third division soccer, Sunday: hiking at Maisan, followed by K-League soccer for Craig (I wanted to get home before midnight). The rainy season was scheduled to begin, but we were optimistic.

Saturday morning, it was so overcast, we slept in and woke up 30 minutes before we needed to be in a cab. We recently were too late to pick up our tickets, so we sat on the floor in the dining car until Craig got the brilliant idea of booking the karaoke booth and we sat in there the rest of the way. As cushy as those seats were, we didn’t really want to have to go through that again, so we got ourselves packed and out the door in record time.

Once in Jeonju, we got a room at the Feel, where we’ve stayed a few times, mostly because it’s the closest yogwan to the bus terminal, so we are within 1 minute of a taxi rank. That should really be a selling point they brag about, rather than the fact that they have porn, since a) all hotels have porn, and b) they have the most pathetic porn ever. Seriously, I think it was rated G. We watched a few minutes in fascination, because we couldn’t believe it was actually being marketed as porn. I’ll just say the lead “actress” was wearing two pairs of panties and assure you that I haven’t left anything to your imagination. On an unrelated note, the quiet mother of two at the office has started offering to lend me porn, because she’s decided that since I don’t talk about my sex life, it must need a bit of spice. On Friday, she acted out a scene from a naked ballet performance she also thinks I should borrow, using her hand to demonstrate what the men looked like.

Back in Jeonju, we headed out to Jeonju University in the rain, even though the cab driver was adamant that no game would be played in that weather. We took our chances, and sure enough, it was on. The players were soaked, but the crowd was 85% dry under a leaky cover. We watched Jeonju EM get beat by Paju Citizens for a little over an hour. (Craig can fill you in on the details, if you are interested.) When there was a break in the rain, we made a dash for it. After we left, Jeonju scored an equalizer, but my watching soccer in the rain quota had been met. It only took us a minute to get a cab– the same one that had brought us to the game. The driver was so excited, you would have thought we were actually friends. At least he was satisfied with a couple of minutes talking about the game we had seen and where we lived before quietly driving us to Deokjin.

Jeonju EM vs Paju Citizens

Driving rain couldn’t stop these guys.

… or their dedicated fans

It was early afternoon, and with the heavy rain, we knew we would not be leaving the hotel after we went back in. So, we found a nice little cafe with no one in it and a covered patio to have a couple Heinekens (Craig) and the sweetest, palest wine ever (me). We whiled away a few hours people watching before going for Dakgalbi. I don’t know why Jeonju dakgalbi is so good, but even the chains serve up a delicious meal. We made an early night of it, since it was still pouring, hoping that we wouldn’t spend the entire day in the hotel before the following evening’s match.

Watching passersby and feeling grateful for our lives…

We woke up to a beautiful, sunny sky and caught a cab to Maisan. It was a bit further than we had expected: around 45 minutes. We soon found that it was a much shorter hike than expected, at just about an hour. We stretched it out a bit by milling around Tapsa, which is nominally a temple (the Sa part of the name), but looks more like it should be at a theme park. The towers of prayer stones looked suspiciously uniform, as though they were professionally constructed and had a dowel in the middle holding all of them in place. There was also a large number of chickens from around the world in cages marked with their country of origin.

Multiply this by 1,000 going uphill and this bit downhill, and that’s the first half of the hike from Maisan’s North Parking Lot to South Parking Lot.

I don’t think the faithful scaled the side of the hill to stack those…

Tapsa Temple Theme Park

Craig riding a tiger.

When we got close enough to the end to realize our hike was going to be only slightly longer than the cab ride to get there, we turned off onto a side path that had signposts but wasn’t mentioned on the maps. We followed it for about half an hour, until we got to a crossroads and decided we were likely to get lost, so we turned back around. On the way to the end of the main trail, we passed a number of restaurants selling baby back ribs, which is surprisingly uncommon in Korea, considering the popularity of rib meat. We had eaten a large breakfast, though, so we kept on walking.

When we got to the end, the South Parking Lot, we found a cab driver waiting around hoping for a fare. When I got home, I saw on Facebook that Chris Backe had been there at the same time, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that had been his cab, since Koreans tend to drive themselves or take tour buses when they go hiking. We got back with a few hours to kill before Craig went to see Jeonbuk and I headed home to get ready for the work week. (Again, if you’re interested in the Jeonbuk v Sangju Sangmu game, you’ll have read Craig’s blog.)