25 05 2008

On the way home from the weekend hiking our bus stopped at a rest stop. There I found some very peculiar tape cassettes. Boy, am I curious to hear some of the sounds that would come out of these bad boys.


Mt. Soraksan

25 05 2008

About a week and a half ago my coworker Jordan asked me if I wanted to go hiking that weekend with him. I was hesitant to say yes because I’d been so busy with Martha’s visit, then our trip to Busan. He had booked a trip with a friend through Adventure Korea, the same tour group that Samantha and I went to North Korea with. Unfortunately though, his friend was unable to go last minuet so the trip would be free for me. I couldn’t pass up a free weekend away! My daddy taught me better than that.

Mt. Soraksan is located about four hours north of Seoul. We left early in the morning on Saturday. I was dozing uncomfortably on the bus (the guy behind me had a loud voice, and I am not used to having to block out english, plus my neck had nowhere to rest….you know, one of those rests). Anyways, the point being that I kept waking up slightly irritated, but whenever I would take a look out the window I would see the Korean countryside and be struck by its beauty. I’d soak it in for a minute then find my heavy eyes closing again.

The mountain was absolutely beautiful. The hiking was challenging, but in a much better way then Bukhansan. When I hiked Mt. Bukhan in the fall I was out of practice and mentally unprepared. The hike was just as tough mentally as it was physically. I kept wanting to turn back, but my friend kept telling me I couldn’t. Both my body and mind were calling for an end. Last weekend, though, there were no thoughts of turning back. It wasn’t even an option, I would reach the peak. Physically, though, it was tough. But I would take that any day over the mental challenge! Well worth it when we got to the top, the view was spectacular!

There were lots of Buddhist temples at the base of the mountain, and on the way up.

Busan, SK

22 05 2008

The weekend after Martha left I got the chance to visit South Korea’s second largest city, Busan. The city is located on the coast about 3 hours south of Seoul via the KTX (KTX equals super fast Asian train). I went with a group of about ten, half coworkers, half Korean friends. We had a three day weekend for Buddha’s Birthday, and so jumped on the opportunity to get out of the mega city, even if it was just to head to the second largest in the country (which is,however, notably smaller).

It was challenging for me to travel with such a large group. I tried really hard to be ultra flexible, despite its difficulties at times. I tried to just go with the flow of the group, or venture off on my own. We were lucky that our hotel was in such a great location, only 5 minutes from the beach, so it was easy to get away but still be near by. I did want to participate in the group activities, but when no decisions were reached via any sprit of consultation it was tough. Also, while its no secret that my co-workers enjoy the ‘night life’ and all the debauchery involved, I guess I just assumed (wrongly) that they would want to see more than the Starbucks and club scene of the town. In the end it worked out, though, and I had a good weekend. We did do a couple really cool things, namely visiting the best aquarium that I’ve ever been to, and checking out Busan’s famous fish market. I hope I get a chance to go back before I leave to check out more of the place.

Here are some photo highlights, plus a video of us eating raw (moving) octopus at the fish market. Yep. Enjoy!

Hum, not sure why Robyn and I are smiling. I guess its because we didn’t realize that there is only so much glass between that shark and us….dun dun dun….

On a hike with Peter and Jordan

At Hayundae beach

Bustling fish market

The ladies at the warf

Martha’s Visit

18 05 2008

It seems like ages ago that Martha visited, even though it was just a week and a half ago. I’ve been so busy since then that I haven’t had a chance to write about all the amazing things that we did. It was for sure a jam packed week, between work and play I was spent by the end. But every minute was worth it. It was so wonderful to have such a dear friend come visit, to get to show her around, and return all the generosity that she’s bestowed on me during visits that I’ve had to her neck of the woods. We definitely had a couple ‘sister’ moments, and I am thankful to her for bearing with me during my work stress breakdowns. Most of all, though, we really enjoyed living it up. The end of the trip came too soon, I wanted her for longer. The only reason that I let her go was because she had to return to C-U for Mona’s Uni Graduations (way to go lil sis! It broke my heart not to be there). If Martha hadn’t had such a good excuse to go, I wouldn’t have let her.

Here are a few of the highlights in photo form from our time together. Martha did a bunch more exploring on her own. For a link to her flickr page, click here.

Midnight shopping at the night market. We stayed out shopping past 3:30.

I took Martha to a baseball game cause I know how much she loves sporting events. It was my first pro sports game ever anywhere. We had fun, except our team got their butts kicked.

With my roomie Karen at a temple near the royal shrines. Lots of special events were going on around the city in preparation for Buddha’s Birthday the following weekend.

As always for the Quinlan clan, eating is a highlight. I got to share all my favorites with her, and even try something new: raw fish (right picture with my new best friend Minkyung) It was an eight day feast!

Martha got to visit me at school for a day and meet all the kiddies. I think this was one of the best days for both of us!

Anyone who knows Martha and who knows NoriBong know that they are a perfect combo. Especially when Luxury Noribong gives you the window room AND a puppy dog outfit!

O.C. Here I come.

12 05 2008

No, this isn’t another post about my latest t.v. show addiction. Rather, I have some exciting news. It looks like Dan got accepted to a Masters program in Computer Science at the University of California, Irvine. Good Job Dan! So, in the late fall when I return to the States and am ready to settle down after all of my visits to loved ones (Chicago, Urbana, Baltimore, San Francisco, Seattle…) it will be Irvine, CA.

I have been doing some research, here are a few things that I’ve learned. Its located about 30 miles south east of LA, and about 8 miles east of the coast. The population is just over 200,000. It has been recognized as one of the top ten best places in the nation to live according to US News Report, and one of the safest cities to live in according to FBI reports. Really, though, one of the things that I am most excited about is that the average reported temperature in January is 56 degrees. Hell yeah! Also notable is the fact that there are 44.5 mile of off road bicycle lanes, and 282 miles of on road lanes in Irvine. Gotta get me a good bike for sure.

I guess we’ll give it a shot, eh?