My time in Korea has come to an end. I have mixed feeling about leaving. I am very said to be leaving Changnyeong but I am so excited to see family and friends at home. I have had a wonderful year here. I have really enjoyed teaching and I have met some wonderful people. I have loved exploring Korea and Asia. I don't have any reason to feel too sad and I am pretty sure I will be returning to Korea soon. Now all I need to decide is where in Korea am I going to live next?
30 January 2009
I got another week off for Lunar New Year. For this holiday I went snowboarding with David. Once again as I had to write a report for work I thought I should post it on here!
Lunar New Year Holiday
26th January– 30th January
Korean New Year, commonly known as Seollal is the first day of the lunar Korean calendar. It is the most important of the traditional Korean holidays. It consists of a period of celebrations, starting on New Year's Day.
On Monday I went on an organized snow boarding trip. I booked my trip through a Korean agency called ‘Adventure Korea.’ They are a company that set up various excursions within Korea for foreigners. The outing that I was participating in was a snow boarding trip. This was at Phoenix Park in Pyeongchang, Gangwon-do. I had never been ski-ing or snow boarding before so I was extremely excited about participating in such an activity.
I set off from Seoul with my boyfriend David on Monday morning at 6am. We arrived at the resort in mid afternoon. We all got allocated our rooms. There were eighty foreigners on the trip from a range of destinations in Korea, America, England, France and South Africa. David and I shared a room with an English couple. They were currently working in Daegu and had been in Korea for four months. They loved their jobs and Korea. Just as much as David and I so we had plenty of interesting stories and experiences to exchange. It was pleasant to hear about other peoples adventures.
After getting changed into our salopetts and other warm snow wear. We collected our snow boarding equipment from the resorts rental store. At 6pm we were ready to hit the slopes! Phoenix Park resort is incredible beautiful. There were pure white hills as far as the eye could see. I began my snow boarding participation on the beginner slope. It was tremendously hard work and I found it impossible to stay on my feet. Lucky David had a natural skill for the sport and he was able to help me with the difficulties I was having.
On Tuesday morning all of the people in my room woke up exceptionally early. We immediately went straight back on the slopes and continued with snow boarding. I found it a lot easier on this day than I did the previous day. I was able to stay on my feet for longer and I became more confident so I was able to glide faster down the slopes. I still fell over a great amount throughout the day. I was aching all over and in addition to the pain I was very cold. Although this did not prevent myself from participating in the sport because it was just too much fun!
By late afternoon David and I had been snow boarding for around six hours. We decided it was time to relax and call it a day. After we handed all of our equipment back to the rental store we headed to the resorts water park. Here there was a variety of saunas and swimming pools. We spent the remainder of the afternoon dipping in and out of different temperate saunas and baths. I really enjoyed the hot sauna that was located outside. It was extremely tranquil to sit in a boiling hot bath while the snow was falling from the sky and touching my skin. The scenery which was around us was beautiful. The fresh white snow that had settled on the ground and falling from the sky was a stunning site to see.
On Wednesday morning the entire tour group travelled to the second destination. Here we checked into our new accommodation. This accommodation was exceptional. It was absolutely gorgeous.
After exploring the surrounding grounds the main organizer took all who wished to participate ice fishing, on a near by lake that had frozen over. It was scaring walking on the ice at first as it seemed unnatural. I was reassured by the Korean tour organizer that is was completely safe and I had confidence in his knowledge. The ice fishing was enjoyable but nobody caught any fish. We decided to play a variety games on the ice. Some of us played ice football and some played ice golf. It was nice speaking to the other foreigners and getting to know new people.
In the early evening the Korean organizers prepared a traditional Korean dinner. This was the start of our celebrations for Lunar New Year. (We were aware that we were celebrating Lunar new year a couple of days late. The celebrations were delayed to coincide with the trips schedule.) We ate, drank and talked over dinner with new friends. The Korean staff put on a fire show, this was enormously impressive. After dinner we headed outside to continue with our Lunar New Year celebrations. There was a huge bomb fire set up out side and there was also a firework display .When the fire began to weaken the party retrieved to the nori-bang singing room to finish the night.
On Thursday I woke up with a slight headache but I felt fine enough to participate on a hiking excursion. I always feel better after morning exercise. Most of the group participated in the short hike. We went to a frozen lake in a bus which was thirty minutes away from the hostel. We walked back to the hostel via the frozen lake. This was interesting and beautiful. The formations which the frozen water had made were unique. I really enjoyed exploring Korea in the winter. It was special. When returning to the hostel we had breakfast and then headed back to Seoul. Our journey was over. I had only good memories and a handful of new friends.
I spent Friday in Daegu With my boyfriend. We went to the local arcade and played many fun racing games. I won most of them! We also went to the movie theater and watched Valkyrie, This was an incredible movie. In the late evening we also ate dinner at a traditional Korean restaurant. It was a perfect ending for a lovely holiday. I am very grateful for the vacation.