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korea, Travel, weekends

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Not to alarm anyone but I have three months left. The pressure is on!

What have I been up to you may wonder. The answer is not much. In the time I have posted I actually have done a few things mostly just exploration, nothing huge. Either way here it is.

I’ll start with Hockey. It’s finally over! Which is a shame because it’s really fun and it also gave me something to do on Sundays.

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Not to discount the season though we did end up getting second place overall. Which is pretty good. We played a tight final but eventually we just couldn’t break through. Which was upsetting but hey I’m totally fine now and hold no grudges at all.

Our team was really good, and I actually got better because of it. Am I good? Probably no, but I found my legs again. I ended up with a total of 9 points with an amazing 4 goals. For comparison I had 0 last year. So a step up I say! Either way the CBHK is a ton of fun, and I’m so glad I found it. I won’t be able to play again because the season doesn’t start till I leave. However It will probably be one of the things I miss the most about Korea.

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There also happened to be an EXO concert going on next door one game.

I also went to Namiseom Island (남이섬 종합휴양지)

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Namiseom is an island shaped like a dumpling shaped island. It has a mildly interesting history but the most fun bit is the “country” status.

Naminara Republic
Nami Island declared its cultural independence on 01 March 2006 and re-named itself the Naminara Republic (Namisun).
The Naminara Republic is an imaginary country, but it has invented its own passport, currency, stamp and telephone card, and has promoted the establishment of Naminara in other countries. A “passport” issued from Naminara is required to enter the Namisum. Korea4expats

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for example

Being an island with no bridges you can’t get there by foot and have to wait for a ferry to take you across the river. It’s very quick and not at all hard to figure out how to do. You can also zip line across to the island if that’s your kind of tea. Once there you can take a few paths to walk around the island. It’s actually quite big and took a bit longer to get around than I thought it would.

If you’re that kind of person you can rent all kinds of things to get around the island. From bikes, to pedal cars, golf carts, and even off brand segways. There are plenty of options to chose from.

It’s all pretty quaint. There are a lot of tree lined paths that can be pretty scenic at times. There are lots of groomed fields and it really just has a very relaxed atmosphere. It’s basically a giant park. It is definitely a couple and or family spot as there are lots of both running around. There are the few sculptures and a decent amount to see. However there isn’t a lot to actually do. At least how I did it, it was way more of a leisurely stroll through the island just looking at things than actually interacting with anything. There are also some animals littered around the park like peacocks, rabbits, and apparently an ostrich but I didn’t see it.

I probably wouldn’t go back there, but I’m glad I went at least once. It was relaxing and for sure a good way to spend the afternoon.

As a quick note, the area around the island is known for chicken I guess so there are tons of chicken places to eat. Choose wisely!

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leaving to the island

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Beyond that I had a cute afternoon exploring some roof tops in HBC. We went to 100 Food Truck which was a bit disappointing. Sure the view is cool but you can get it pretty much anywhere else in the area. I’m embarrassed to say how long I waited to get up there. Just to have a pretty good hamburger that totally fell apart in seconds. Eventually I was just eating a guacamole salad. My issue was mainly with the wait. To be fair we waited for the shade and as far as I know if I went for the un shaded part the wait would have been much quicker.

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view from the top

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I had the green one

Almost forgot to mention I went to Seoullo 7017.

 

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It was an overpass created back in the 70’s. It has since been renovated into a walkway with a bunch of trees and random other points of interest. Here is a link about it if you’re interested.

Moving on from Food Truck we went to a Thai themed rooftop. It was way better. Not only was there no one up there but it was just very chill. Also carried about 90% less pretentiousness the last place did. To make matters better it was on top of a bbq place, what a location! I will go back here again for sure.

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Random picture time!

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So that has been the past three weekends pretty much. The last one was pretty hectic, well with not a bunch of sleep that’s for sure.

I ended up going on a trip this past Sunday to some places i’m not really sure of between Chungju and Danyang.KakaoTalk_20170616_112313101.jpg

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It was definitely a good way to spend the Sunday.

As far as school goes a new term has rolled around a few weeks ago, and it is a nice change of pace from last term for sure.

That is pretty much it. Now a new weekend is a day away so lets see what happens!

Let’s not forget though.

THE PENS WON THE STANLEY CUP!

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Hey I got some of it right…..

Mayday!Mayday!

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A lot of my time is going through the motions, and I realize I’ve calmed down quite a bit compared to when I was first here. I remember wanting to go somewhere every weekend and If I wasn’t out of my apartment by like 1 every Saturday it felt like my time was dripping away. Since then I’ve been in a way better apartment, and things have definitely slowed down. I don’t know when the change happens, but I blame winter.

I’m trying to think of anything exciting that has happened since my birthday weekend in Vietnam. Off the top of my head I can’t think of anything. Then I go through my pictures and realize how wrong I am.

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It’s baseball season again so I went with my friends to see a game between the Twins and Tigers. It was the first time I have ever gone here when it was PACKED even the last few games of the season weren’t this bad. We didn’t even get a seat. We ended up not even sitting in real sits and found ourselves on the stairs. It wasn’t ideal. 1494892239952[1]

On top of that the Twins lost and the visiting side was much louder. On the other hand I did get some pictures with random people. If that isn’t a win I don’t know what is.

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Later I went to Naksan park after getting some tacos and walking around in Hyehwa at Dos Tacos.  Hyehwa’s a pretty cool area and is probably worth going back too. It’s a pretty active area and has a ton of tiny theaters. However that’s not where I ended up for the rest of the day. Like I said I went to the park. It’s one of my favorite places because it’s an easy walk that starts somewhere cool and ends somewhere cool. It also has some pretty views.

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The flowers are out!

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It follows the old Seoul walls. Then goes up a ridge so you can look out a bit.

20170429_17160520170429_173024Ihwa mural village is in the middle of the walk. Do you like going to cafes? If so it’d be a good place to go. If You don’t really care about cafe’s then it is probably avoidable. It is however pretty and you don’t lose anything by walking through it.

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Dongdaemun!

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This building is probably a spaceship.

20170505_154138I did two things last weekend that were pretty fun. I saw a B-Boy show which I have wanted to do for awhile. Was it as crazy as I was hoping? No. But it was pretty fun. I don’t usually get to see people break dance at an actual competent level. It was a good way to spend the afternoon for sure.

However the coolest thing I did that same weekend was watch people play Starcraft. Can’t think of anywhere else that I could do this and E-sports is just so Korean. Basically the home of the whole concept. It was a cool thing to go to. It wasn’t crazy crowded but there were people. Better yet it was free! There are tournaments that cost money and fill out some big venues. This wasn’t a tourney and from what I could tell was just normal league play. So it was free! It was easy to get to, and was on the 2nd floor of some unsuspecting office building.

It happened in a studio and had some good camerawork to make it all look a bit bigger and more crowded. So again everything was free. You got an energy drink, free earphones and a radio thing so you can listen to the English broadcast. At times I had no idea what was happening and I had no idea when it was going to end but it was a fun time.

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After that I went to Coex in a surprise ran into a Moon Jae-in rally. The guy even showed up eventually! So that was a pleasant unexpected surprise. Three days later the guy would be elected president.

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That’s him. Right there!

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I also got diabetes at Shake Shack the next day. There is a new location in Dongdaemun. It’s a ton less popular the Gangnam location which is always packed with people for no other reason than it’s in Gangnam. Also Dongdaemun is half an hour closer.

In hockey news we just played the last game of the regular season. Playoffs begin this Sunday. Out team is pretty good and finished 3rd overall. I think we can pull it off. 20170430_135403

What made them decide to wear this stuff…

I was hoping it could be Twice’s new song, but it is terrible.

Vietnam time

Travel

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I went to Vietnam this  past weekend and it was a lot of fun! I flew into Hai Phong on Thursday night after work. I was definitely pretty tired. I got in around 10 on Friday. Before I came I was really worried that I’d have a tough time figuring out how to get from point A to B. Turns out it was really simple and I was basically guided and probably ripped off from as soon as I touched down. I’m not complaining though everything was super cheap. At least I think it was.

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I was going to Cat Ba island which like the name sounds is an island. So I had to take a boat to get there. The boat was basically a barge, it was pretty darn slow, and the seats were literally falling apart. Either way there were quite a few other tourists there mostly French which was a theme for the whole trip.  Al together the ride took somewhere between 2 or 2/30 hours to get where I was going. So it was a bit long but that’s ok. I was able to go outside and see everything. I also met a Korean on the boat and we ended up hanging out all weekend. Also thankfully the weather was really nice.

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1st look of Cat Ba from the dock

Once I got in I found the Hostel where I was staying. It was ok. The guy who checked me in sounded peeved that anyone was talking to him. He was also really strange. It wasn’t bad though not like I was spending any time there anyways. After throwing my stuff down I went and looked for something to eat. Wasn’t that hard to find something. Got some Pho Bo that was just awesome, and it was like $2. I went back there again. I spent most of the time just walking around and being asked by everyone if I wanted to rent a motor bike or mota bye.

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Didn’t do much day one. Just walked up to cannon fort for a little bit.  Cannon fort was made by the Japanese and then used by the French and Vietnamese. It gave a pretty good view of the island. 20170414_164601.jpg

See cannons. I have mixed opinions on the green army guys.

Second day I went on a boat tour. Continuing the trend of the trip it was packed with Europeans who were on week or month long trips through the country. The sky was pretty overcast which I am kind of happy about. It was still warm out and the water wasn’t cold either so it worked out and I wasn’t baking all day. 20170415_16250520170415_162703

A community of around 1,600 people live on Hạ Long Bay in four fishing villages: Cửa Vạn, Ba Hang, Cống Tàu and Vông Viêng in Hùng Thắng commune, Hạ Long city. They live on floating houses. wiki

We went through a fishing village on the way and back from wherever we went. My question is how did people end up living there in the first place? Did they just wake up one day with their houses floating in the water after being carried off by a flood? Then they just decided why not stay? Also went Kayaking. Which was probably the best thing on the trip. 20170415_09421220170415_093204

After scooting around for awhile on the boat we went swimming/snorkeling. Got to jump off the boat too. It had more of an impact than I was expecting.  The whole area was pretty cool. I found that I was taking the same picture over and over. Almost all of them looked the same. That being said it was just really nice looking so I couldn’t help it! IMG_8114

All of the rocks were thinner on the bottom from the water and there were also lots of little caves and things pretty cool stuff.

The bay consists of a dense cluster of some 1,600 limestone monolithic islands each topped with thick jungle vegetation, rising spectacularly from the ocean. Several of the islands are hollow, with enormous caves. Wiki

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Also went to a place called monkey island. Presumably because there are monkeys.  I’ve seen tours being sold to go there. I would never recommend getting a tour there. Especially not for ₩150,000. The whole thing is a 10-12 minute walk up some really pointy rocks then you go down trying not to die so you can watch monkeys steal things off German teenagers. boat20170414_182851

By far one of the coolest things I did or ever have done is rent a motor bike and ride around. It was way easier than I thought it would be and there was pretty much no traffic to speak off, there were also no driving rules it looked like. It was just really awesome.

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The first place that we stopped at was the cave hospital that the Vietnamese used during the war.

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There were two entrances and this was the exit but it looked like this on the other side too. My first reaction was wondering if this really was it. Kind of lame, it’s a cave and a room yay. Turns out it’s a lot bigger than one room and is pretty huge. Really surprising. Kind of gave me an appreciation for what people are talking about when they mention the Viet Cong having tunnels all around. These things could be really substantial bases. 20170416_104022.jpg

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The thing was still a giant rectangle though built underneath a giant cave. So the second floor to it was just walking around on the roof of the concrete box with the natural cave wall above.

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The coolest thing about the whole ride though was the drive. Going up and down the hills and through the valleys was really cool. It was kind of like the day before but on land and a lot more majestic. Going through the hills though was pretty freaky though. Sure it looked really cool but there were lots of zigs and zags and I was having trouble going around all of them. So I went about 2mph and drifted down while my friend raced around the turns.

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Top of the national park

I also went to the national park. It was a lot longer of a hike and a lot harder of one too. I was dying out there! KakaoTalk_20170419_103735410.jpg

My favorite part though was getting to the other side of the island.

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We came down from the hills on the far side of the picture and it was sweet. Looking out before making my way down I could see the inlet and the road winding and flowing next to the water. It felt like I was in Monte Carlo or some James Bond movie, racing next to the water. However the road was quite bad so I went pretty slow, it was still cool either way.

Pretty much the same thing

After this we bustled back to the rental because we had to catch the last boat out. The boat out was a speed boat and only took 45 minutes to get back. Being back in Hai Phong we still had about 6 hours till the plane left at 11. 20170416_172717

Didn’t really do much. Got a cab to Big C which is like a Vietnamese Walmart. They had Lotteria too! Lots of chicken. So we just messed around there then walked to a street and got something to eat. When all was said and done we had like 3 hours so we just went to the airport. Pro tip: give them your ARC (residency card) with your passport. Thankfully we were ahead of schedule and we landed in Incheon at 5 instead of 6 on Monday morning.

A few things I found interesting was the obsession with the USD and how important it was. Also how many Europeans were around I was expecting a lot more people from English speaking countries. Then the fishing boats and everywhere else were decked out in Vietnam flags.

Overall the trip was really awesome and I’m glad I went. Like I said in the beginning I was pretty nervous about everything, but I really had no trouble with a thing. It all worked out in the end.

Don’t forget the Pens just beat the Blue Jackets and won the series! Rooting for Nashville too.

Busan Weeeeeekend!

festival, korea, Travel

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I went to Busan this past weekend. It was tons of fun. Probably one of the top things I have done here.

What else has happened in the meantime? Not much else. I’ve played in one hockey game and missed another this past weekend. From what I heard we tied and won so 1-0-1. I’ll take it. This team is good and I think we can make a good run.

In other news the weather has been warming up. So going outside has been an option pretty much everyday. It’s nice to stretch the legs again.  The kids at school are getting sick again though because of this now I’m getting sick. The amount of times I have been coughed on is insane. Any time I walk near a kid who is sick there is an 80% chance they are going to try their hardest to make me ill and cough all over me.

While I remember it, I guess the biggest news country wise is that the president has gotten impeached. People were pretty happy. Celebrations etc.. and it was on a Friday! What timing… Obviously not everyone is happy about it though. However, now she is in (more)legal trouble because she no longer holds her title. She is going to be investigated. I have no idea where everything will go, but there is a vote for a new person in May.

Back to Busan though. For those who don’t know where it is it’s on the south east side of the country along the coast. It’s also the second biggest city outside of Seoul. I even edited a map for you.

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So that’s where it is. Now for some history. Busan was one of two cities not captured by North Korea in the first few months of the Korean war. It was the last stand of UN forces who were pushed all the way back. Fortunately after some tense fighting and the Incheon landing the UN won out and the North Korean army was pushed back, and Korea was saved. However because of this, there were quite a bit of refugees that fled down south to Busan. Which leads us too Gamcheon culture Village!

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This place

During the war the number of houses on this hill went from 20 to 800.

stairsGamcheon has long been home to the city’s poorest residents. In the 1940s, only 20 or so houses dotted the hillside, but that number swelled dramatically at the beginning of the Korean War in 1950. War refugees fled their homes for the relative safety of Busan, the only area of the peninsula that remained free from fighting. Within a year, Busan’s population grew from 880,000 to 1.4 million people, and a half million homeless refugees needed a place to live and fast. Approximately 4,000 people moved from the crowded port areas surrounding the Jagalchi Fish Market to nearby Gamcheon, erecting some 800 makeshift homes using scrap iron, wood and rocks.” From here

So the history behind the place is also pretty interesting. The link above explains it better than I can. I went on this trip with my friend Bailey. The culture village wasn’t bad but it wasn’t exactly mind blowing either. It’s a stroll through a few streets either trying to sell coffee or random souvenirs. Pretty much similar to any “artsy” area in Korea. Which means cool, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to get there. Unless I really wanted a coffee in a colorful building. The history behind it is probably the coolest thing.

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In reverse order we also went to Jagalchi fish market. Which as the name suggests is a fish market. What I didn’t realize was I went to the same area years ago but had no idea.

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Old people selling things

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Old people sitting on things

There were plenty of curious things being sold here. Including a drink made from turtle shell, there were also live ells with peeled skin squirming around. I’m sure there are even more strange things going on, but these are the ones that I knew about. Unless you really wanted a smelly fish to carry around with you it’s all about the atmosphere here which is pretty cool.

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young AND old people blocking everyone

The thing that stuck out to me the most was one the age of everyone. Everyone working there looked about 90 and how colorful everything was. There were umbrellas covering the little alley between the stalls with lots of yellows and reds. Then just like Korean hikers, the adjumas were decked out in colorful aprons, jackets etc..

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I wonder what business is like. That one lady is pretty sleepy

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These guys were trying to escape.

We also went to the Haedong Yonggungsa Temple (해동 용궁사). Which I went to last time I was here and by all means is kind of lame. Sure it’s in a cool spot by the ocean but not much is going on.

The big take away from this place was I got a picture with my animal the monkey, and saw two gold pigs. Riveting stuff.

That was all on Saturday. I went out and met some people and hung out on the beach for a bit. On Sunday was the reason why I was here. There is an Indian event called Holi Hai .

“Holi Hai is a Hindu spring festival celebrated in India and Nepal, also known as the “festival of colours” or the “festival of love”.[7][1][8] The festival signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, end of winter, and for many a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair broken relationships.[9][10] It is also celebrated as a thanksgiving for a good harvest.[9][10] It lasts for a night and a day, starting on the evening of the Purnima (Full Moon day) falling in the Vikram Samvat Hindu Calendar [11] month of Phalgun, which falls somewhere between the end of February and the middle of March in the Gregorian calendar. The first evening is known as Holika Dahan or Chhoti Holi and the following day as Holi, Rangwali Holi, Dhuleti, Dhulandi,[12] or Phagwah.[13]Holi is an ancient Hindu religious festival which has become popular with non-Hindus in many parts of South Asia, as well as people of other communities outside Asia.[9] In recent years the festival has spread to parts of Europe and North America as a spring celebration of love, frolic, and colours.” Source

At around 11 ish we went to Haeundae beach which is a pretty popular spot in Busan. I want to say the most popular but I’m not %100. I went with a tour group called WinK. They weren’t bad, and I might even use them again if I get the chance. They gave everyone a thing of powder and  shirt. Thankfully the weather was great.

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Bailey

Look how clean she is. 20170319_12000420170319_120037

As 3 stated to roll around it was finally time to go. I briefly washed paint off my face then sat down on the beach with Bailey waiting till it was time to go to KTX and catch the train. I could still taste paint in my mouth almost the whole day. Like I said at the start though this was an awesome time and one of top thing I’ve done recently for sure. So if you get a chance to check it out, go!

I’ve also finished up some tickets I was working on last week. allfour

There is a post about them below.

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The Motel I stayed in had gaming computers which I think is definitely worth noting.