Jeff and Jocelyn Gehring 2012-03-29
Hello everyone. Sorry that it has been so long since our last post, but we have been very busy with school and traveling. We are finally getting fully settled in. We’ve put away all of our belongings, got the internet set up and got our first bill.
As far as school goes, both of our schools have already had encounters with the flu, but neither of us have gotten sick. At the height of the outbreak, Jocelyn’s school had about 140 students absent while mine only had about 90. Unfortunately the flu has not yet caused any school closures, but there has been discussion of it. A few days off would be a welcome change of pace. The students are finally getting over the fact that there is a new foreigner present, so they are less excited to see us these days. Despite this, the students still inform me of how handsome I am from time to time. I’ll accept the compliments even though I know they are not legitimate claims. The faculty at both of our schools has continued to be very helpful with everything.
Several weeks ago, Jocelyn’s co-teacher, Ms. Lee, took us on a trip with her hiking group to Seoraksan. Seoraksan is kind of like the Korean version of something like Yellowstone. It’s very beautiful and very large, so we could only see a small portion of the park. The excursion was quite exhausting. We left Ulsan at about 10pm, arrived at Seoraksan at 3am, and hiked until about 5pm. On the hike, we got to see the sun rise over the East Sea from the top of Ulsan-bawi, which is on of the peaks in the park. The hike to the summit is at times a bit frightening because it takes you up some very steep metal stairs which are attached to a large section of rock. It is also dark at this portion of the hike, so you are being led by flash-light, the stars and the moon. One nice feature of Korean national parks is that they often times have Buddhist temples located throughout them. Seoraksan was no exception and we got to hear the monks performing their rituals at 3 am, with no other distractions around. All in all the trip was exhausting but well worth it. I was quite impressed with Jocelyn for being able to handle the intense Korean style of hiking, even though she got beaten by an elderly man who walked with an obvious limp. I will say that Koreans are without a doubt the most insane hikers out there. They are not fans of the notion of taking time to smell the roses. To them, hiking means moving. Breaks are for the weak.
This past weekend we got to go on a free trip to the southern coastal city of Yeosu, hosted by the MOE (Metropolitan Office of Education). On the trip we got to visit the folk village at Seonchun and a Buddhist temple located on a cliff that overlooked the South Sea. As all other trips with Koreans go, we got to eat a bunch of food that was new to us, but was quite good. Never in my life did I think that I would get the opportunity to have at my disposal not one, not two, not three, but four different types of kimchi to choose from. Luckily for Jocleyn, they did offer us just bread on the bus.
On the way home from Yeosu we had two great experiences. First, we got to use the batting cages at a rest stop. My swing was a bit rusty at first, but I think I connected with a few that would have soared over the “Green Monster” at Fenway. Jocelyn did quite well at the cage, connecting with almost every ball. I was quite impressed. On the last leg of the bus ride home, the microphone came out and people broke out in song. Korea is known for something called “nore-bang” which literally translates to song room, but we successfully turned it into a song bus. Jocelyn was nice enough to volunteer me for a song, so I took a swig of water, sang an octave or two to myself and unleashed with a little John Denver. Korea had the good fortune of listening to me belt out, “Take Me Home, Country Roads”. Luckily it is one those tunes that most people know, so both the Koreans and Americans were singing along with me.
Over New Years one of Jocelyn’s friends is coming to visit and we plan on visiting Jeju Island which is supposed to be the most beautiful place in Korea. All of the pictures we have seen would suggest that the claims are true, so we are very much looking forward to it.
We hope all is well! We will try our best to update this more often.
Here are more photos from our trips this past month http://picasaweb.google.com/jocelyngehri…