Rock Climbing at Burim and Sinban


A couple weekends ago Tom and I traveled with two good friends of ours, Josh and Jezabel, to this fantastic little crag in a tiny town called Burim. Now if you are seriously interested in doing a trip like ours (in Korea) check out this website: Korea On The Rocks. It’s a plethora of enlightening and helpful information on where to climb in South Korea. Now, here’s what we did…

We left town around noon on Saturday the sixteenth. Hopped on a bus to the SinBan/Burim area of Korea (about an hour and a half outside of Daegu) and started walking to the crag. The information given on the SK climbing website was perfect. We didn’t get lost once and it was really easy to find everything we needed.

Day 1: We climbed. There were some great routes. We started out really light (two 5.9s). Josh was our main lead climber. I lead climb a couple but am still conquering my fear of lead climbing (I know, I know). Then we finished the day off with a 5.10a/b. It wasn’t as hard as we originally thought it to be. Woo!! We can solidly climb a 5.10a! Josh and I both brought ropes; however, I forgot to bring my ATC. Merde. So we really just had one rope to work with. Which turned out to be just fine because it let us all take our time and have proper rests in between. Gotta love flexibility and things just working out.

That evening we took a taxi to our campsite. Which just happened to be nestled next to a lovely and fresh river bed. Lucky lucky kids are we! We unloaded our gear, set up the tents, and then headed towards our swimming hole! It was everything I expected it to be and more. A little dirty (because Koreans still haven’t taken to the “clean air/water act”… debatably not their fault), but the water was warm/cool and so very refreshing! We swam for awhile, did a little bit of “rock jumping” and then headed back to camp for some dinner and cribbage. I’m gonna give a little shout out to Jezabel: THANK YOU FOR FEEDING US!

Day 2: We climbed some more. It took us a while to get a taxi out to the crag but in about 30 minutes we managed to round us one (well, really Josh and Jez did that). He was the guy to know too! He knew exactly where we were going and I think told us that he maintained the climbing routes around here. It might have been a “lost in Korean” moment but I’m pretty sure that’s what he was trying to say. We climbed two routes on the second day, one 5.10a and another 5.10b. There were a lot more climbers on Sunday… not entirely sure why. There were ZERO people on Saturday. So so so lucky.

Well, after another full day of climbing we really wanted to get back to Daegu and get that bus ride over with. We made it back safe and sound. Said good-bye to Josh and Jez and ended up having a glorious meatloaf and mashed potato dinner with our friend Brian. A great way to end such a perfect weekend ^_^ -t



Mountains Beyond Mountains


Camping in 지리산 (Jiri San), South Korea

You can learn about it HERE. ‘Cause, I’ll mostly be talking about all the fun we had ^_^

This past weekend I had the privilege to travel with some of my best friends to the Jirisan National Park, here in South Korea. We laughed, we hiked, and damn it we sung some campfire songs! Our trip started out in Daegu where we rented a car (that’s right, rented) and then drove a three-hour drive (well Brad did most of the driving) to Jirisan. Talk about a cool place. I always crave getting out of the city, and Jirisan was the perfect place to have a nice and relaxing Buddha’s Birthday weekend.

Our friends Matt and Josh arrived early Saturday morning, on their motorcycles, to stake out a camping spot for us. We got a really nice spot right next to a path that lead down to the river. We (Brad, Brian, Tom, and I) arrived in the afternoon and started setting up camp. The air was clean, the water was cool, and the sun was warm! I was in paradise. We didn’t do too much hiking the first day. Day 1 was mostly filled with adventuring around the river, eating, and making a campfire. We talked a lot before making the campfire. A few of us were convinced that it was illegal. But soon after we started seeing a few Korean families building their own campfires and we followed suit. Before the night got too dark I took a really casual motorcycle ride with Matt up the mountain to a lookout spot to see the sights. The views were stunning and the motorcycle ride was a lot of fun; however, a bit chilly.

While Matt and I were wandering around the lookout point we ran into a couple of his Korean friends, who had also traveled to Jirisan via motorcycles. They were decked out in some serious biking gear, and one of them was in a motorcycle accident no longer than a month ago! I was so surprised to see him out riding so soon. They accompanied us back to the campsite and we all sat around the campfire singing some songs on Tom’s guitar while drinking some really overpriced Korean beer. That night turned out to be a bit cooler than we had anticipated. Tom, Brian and I were in a tent I had borrowed from a co-teacher, Brad and Matt had cozied up in Matt’s one person tent, Josh was sleeping like a baby in his hammock “tent” (jealous), and Matt’s two Korean friends slept in our rental car. It was a full party to say the least! Unfortunately, Tom and I decided to not bring sleeping bags and just rolled up a couple of blankets to bring along, plus one yoga mat. It wasn’t the best but at least it was something!

In the morning I was the last one to arise and we fed ourselves some trail mix and kiwi and decided to leave for a long day of hiking! Brad and Josh had already left around 4a.m. for a mountain marathon they were participating in… Those crazy kids. And the rest of us wandered around the campsite until about 10a.m. then hopped into the rental car for a hiking adventure. Side Note: the night prior two college-aged girls came around to our campsite and befriended us with their smiles. We invited them to go hiking with us and they graciously accepted (anything to get away from their parents, I’m sure. Plus, Matt is a husky husky man and Brian is a smooth Korean speaking waygook. Don’t get me started on what Tom is, but he was off limits.) Anyways, so the six of us bundled into the car and drove off to our first trailhead of the day.

It took us about 40 minutes to drive to our first trailhead, on a glorious May afternoon, when Brad gave us a call telling us that he and Josh were stranded. kajsdkjfhaskdj ‘What?’ They just got done running for 7 straight hours, finished the marathon, and there was no shuttle to take them back to the beginning of the race. ‘Koreaaaaaaaaaa!’ I said. So we tried putting their location into our car’s GPS but to our dismay we couldn’t find them. Even our two new Korean girlfriends had trouble finding them on our GPS. Matt was just about to leave to go save them when Brad told us that he found a ride back with another runner. ‘Hooray!’ I said. And with that, was stopped panicking and began our hike up Jirisan Mountain.

What a gorgeous and lovely hike that was! Only problem was that the majority of the trail was washed out so they wouldn’t even let us hike up to the waterfalls (let alone the top of the mountain)! One by one we could feel our hiking spirits being crushed but then realized that there are so many hiking trails to be explored. This is just one we shouldn’t have picked. So, after a small lunch of PB&Js we played a game of ‘go fish’, in Korean, and headed back down the trail. Which might I add was ridiculous! It was more like a super long cobblestone driveway. The sites I’ll give an 8, trail design I’ll give a 3.

Our next hiking destination was much better. It took us another 30 minutes to drive there but it was well worth it; plus, we had our summer theme song to keep us in good spirits. We started through this small little village (name escapes me) and began our hike on a completely normal trail! I was so happy! We had a tree canopy to keep us cool and a beautiful hiking path to walk on. The weather was perfect and I didn’t burn at all! We hiked for a ways and then decided to just turn around. Our new Korean girlfriends were getting tired and we didn’t want to force them to hike. I really wanted to hike down to the river and go for a swim. But everyone kept telling me it was illegal. I regret not going.

Afterwards we made it back to the car, started singing our summer theme song (for the hundredth time), Grandpa Matt bought us ice cream, and we couldn’t have been better! We made it back to the campsite and I checked my phone: two missed calls from Brad and a text message that read ‘PLEase give Josh or I a call when you see this’. Oh no. We called them and they had been stranded, again, somewhere I don’t know for the entire duration of our past hike. Yikes. Apparently the guy they got a ride from was actually another dude runner and the three of them got into a taxi and took a cab the distance equivalent to $100. Did I say yikes? YIKES. So we quickly found their quadrants on the GPS and with that Brian and Matt went to go save Brad and Josh. Tom and I spent the time frolicking in the river, playing 10 card Gin on the rocks and wandering around the park. After an hour or so I started to wonder about their whereabouts. Sure enough, I gave ’em a call, and there was yet another problem. This morning Josh and Brad drove Josh’s motorcycle to the start of the race, parked it in a parking spot and then just left. Problem with that is that they didn’t calculate what a hungry Korean starving for a parking spot would do to Josh’s motorcycle. They moved it over out of the way and behind four parked cars. Super. Thanks. And they had been waiting for one of the four cars to move so that they could reclaim Josh’s bike. Eventually, somehow, I convinced them to leave the parking lot and come eat some dinner with us. That night we all had a well earned feast of a dinner, especially Brad and Josh, and repeated our campfire shenanigans from the night prior. Adding a nutty story from Grandpa Matt that ends with him being wasted in an airport, all translated line by line, by Brian, into Korean for our Korean girlfriends.

The next morning I awoke, late, to some unfortunate lower back pain. ‘Is it that time of the year?’ I asked. Yes, unfortunately it was that time of the year my body rebels and gives me a sneak peak into my day-to-day life as a 70-year old woman. Well, we packed up the camp, debated on whether or not we should go on another hike, decided against it, and then drove to the Jirisan Hot Springs! Which was more like a mildly cleaner bathhouse (jimjilbang) then we’re typically used to. However, this hot springs had outdoor coed swimming pools! We all hung out together for a bit in the strangely Asian Disney themed hot springs and then made our way back to the car. But not before taking some pictures outside of the Hotel. Which was Christmas themed. Everything just makes sense here…


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Career, Carea, Corea, Korea!


So, for all of you out there that follow my blog, you’ll be interested to hear that I will be returning to the U!S!A! in late August. I was somewhat panning on staying in SK for a little while longer, but life has thrown me a new bowl of lemons… Or something like that. I’m really excited to be moving back to Oregon, but not so excited about finding that “right fit” of a career. Tom has brought to my attention a great opportunity to study for my Masters at CSU. Check it out HERE. It is an MBA program with an exciting global and sustainable twist. Pretty much right up my alley.

Tom and I also just got back from an island adventure! We traveled to the city of Tong Yeong and then hopped a ferry to Bijindo Island. So incredibly cool. We arrived at the island with all of our stuff and then took about a 3 mile hike around the island, with our stuff. Here are some pictures of our trip:

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Hope you like those… some are quite silly but fun! Tom and I forgot our sleeping pads so it was a very uncomfortable evening spent on the beach 😦 Not to mention, we weren’t really sure if we were allowed to sleep on the beach… Ha, we didn’t even put up our tent until the sun started going down and all the people had left the beach. No one said anything to us, so we were fine. However, I was quite paranoid there for a moment! Overall, the sights of Bijindo were beautiful and we had a wonderful time in the heat! We’re still recuperating from the weekend but really enjoyed this once in a lifetime trip!


North Korean Total Body Workout


Should I go for the North Korean Total Body Workout? Or just ride my bike… Actually, I might opt for the video, it looks like a TON of fun.

These days it’s really difficult to find the opportunity (not to mention the motivation) to get up and “workout”. Recently, I joined a gym near my apartment (convenient for those cold days), and have started working out on a regular basis (4-5 times a week).

However, it’s now mid-March here in South Korea, and that means more time to play and run outside! The gym’s great but it is really expensive. I’ll be glad to start rock climbing again and ditch that gym membership for an actual passion of mine. So whatever your current situation is, I want to give you some advice for being active and healthy this spring/ summer:

  1. “Soak up the Sun”, but watch your skin (SPF 15 or higher)
  2. Find an Outdoor Passion (frisbee, tennis, rock climbing, power walking, etc.)
  3. Go regularly to Fresh Produce Markets
  4. Clean Your Home (top to bottom)
  5. Commute by Foot or Bike, once or twice a week
  6. Meatless Mondays/ Meatless Lunches
  7. Get rid of the Scale. NOW.
  8. Have a morning routine! It’ll get you energized and ready for the day, I swear!
  9. Buy yourself a new pair of running shoes or new workout clothes
  10. Drink lots of water 20 minutes before a meal and 1-2 hours after a meal, but VERY LITTLE (if any) during your meal (I’ll explain in my next post)

My Morning Routine:

  • Wake up and wash my face
  • Drink a full glass of water
  • Stretch my arms, legs, and back
  • 50 Jumping Jacks
  • 20 Sit Ups (not crunchies)
  • 5 REAL Pushups
  • 40 Mountain Climbers (each arm motion counts as one)
  • 30 Second Plank
  • 20 Back extensions
  • 7 Burpees
  • 1 minute run in place
  • [I do all of this twice, with minimal breaks]
  • Stretch my arms, legs, and back (again)
  • Quick 5 minute Shower
  • Eat a very large breakfast (Raisin Bran with flax seed, chia seed, added raisins, and one banana)
  • Wait an hour (or longer) to drink more water

DONE. That takes maybe 30 minutes.

You might be thinking that you could never do this right after waking up. But it, just like many things, gets easier with time. Just moving in the morning gets your blood flowing, your heart pounding, and your senses working. However, you need to be making sure you are getting adequate sleep before pushing yourself in the mornings. Consider moving your bedtime up-a-notch. And don’t forget that workout mix! It’s crucial.

My Morning Workout Jams:

  1. “Tik Tok”, leeSA (cover)
  2. “Horchata”, Vampire Weekend
  3. “Can’t Stop the World”, The Go-Go’s
  4. “Deceptacon”, Le Tigre
  5. “Little Babies”, Sleater-Kinney
  6. “Heads Will Roll”, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  7. “Hanging on the Telephone”, Blondie
  8. “Hands in the Air”, Girl Talk
  9. “North American Scum”, LCD Soundsystem
  10. “Nobody But Me”, The Human Beinz

Good Luck Out there! Here’s to a successful time being outdoors and healthy this spring and summer! -t

Music for the Masses: My 2011 Playlist


It’s that time again! Another year has passed us and it’s time to make a playlist. Good or Bad, here it is!

The 2011, “Holy Crap It’s Almost 2012… what happened to 2011?”, playlist (In a very particular order):

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  1. “Sail Away”, Randy Newman (Sail Away)
  2. “Santa Fe”, Beirut (The Rip Tide)
  3. “Pata Pata”, Miriam Makeba (Pata Pata)
  4. “Well… All Right”, Buddy Holly (Single)
  5. “2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten”, Lucinda Williams (Car Wheels On A Gravel Road)
  6. “Alesund”, Sun Kil Moon (Admiral Fell Promises)
  7. “Jackrabbits”, Joanna Newsom (Have One On Me)
  8. “Let It Be Me”, Everly Brothers (Single)
  9. “Zebra”, Beach House (Teen Dream)
  10. “I Can’t Be With You”, The Cranberries (No Need to Argue)
  11. “One More Hour”, Sleater-Kinney (Dig Me Out)
  12. “Hanging on the Telephone”, Blondie (Parallel Lines)
  13. “These Days”, NICO (Chelsea Girl)
  14. “Bottle Up And Explode!”, Elliott Smith (XO)
  15. “Gold Soundz”, Pavement (Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain)
  16. “We Used To Wait”, Arcade Fire (The Suburbs)
  17. “Dancing In The Dark”, Bruce Springsteen (Born in the U.S.A.)
  18. “All My Friends”, LCD Soundsystem (Sound of Silver)

Happy New Year Y’all!

Its Been Long Enough!


Briefly, let me explain:
I know, I’ve turned into that lame blog writer. You know, the one that moves half way across the globe and tells you they’re going to write (all the time) and then they just stop. As NaNoWriMo as my “go to” excuse, I shall press on…

Last month I had the madness bug of NaNoWriMo. It took me all month but I managed to squeeze out a little over 10,000 words. Not the 50,000 that I actually wanted, but it’s not bad for my first attempt. The title of my unfinished novella is Mamasanto, it’s Colombian Spanish for several things: humble, mother, hypocrite, blessed; take your pick. It won’t be done till 2013. That is, if we happen to make it passed May 2012. I’ll keep you posted…

November was a strange month. Not so much in the bizarre or unusual sense, more so in the “where did it go?” sense. I like to look back on it as a foreshadow to the rest of my time here in SK: fast, formative, and fun. Last month I received an oven from a fellow teacher at Duk-won. This particular teacher has done so much for me (given me blankets, taken me shopping, made me kimchi…). I really need to do something nice for her! The oven has been the dream gift! I forgot how many things I actually bake. Going to give bread a try this weekend. Tom’s brewing beer on Saturday, which means I get to use his spent grains on Sunday! It’s bread time!

Thanksgiving was last month as well, and that was a TON of fun. We spent the morning finishing up some baking (Tom and I made homemade pumpkin puree for pumpkin mac ‘n’ cheese and pumpkin muffins), and traveled about an hour to Chilgok where some of our close friends live.

Don't dis on the pumpkin mac until you've tried it. It was a huge success! A few skeptics were turned upside down with glee!

And the Pumpkin Muffins didn't do too bad either. They were gobbled up within minutes of the post-TG football game. Got to love the holidays.








We had two turkeys, two different kinds of stuffing, sweet potatoes, garlic potatoes, garlic bread, veggies, stuffed mushrooms, apple pie, pumpkin pie, cinnamon rolls, wine, and (last but not least) home-brewed pumpkin ale! The awesomeness was almost too great, and to no one’s surprise, I fell asleep at 8:30.

This is what they SHOULD have done to me.

As terrible as it may sound I’ve been a bit too busy for this blog this past month… It’s my first time having an 8-4 (9-5) job, cooking dinner every other evening at home, feeling like a crotchety misanthrope (only sometimes), seeing friends on the weekends, and planning vacations three months in advanced. I’m not ungrateful, just wanted to let you in on the honesty.

Overall I haven’t felt this good in years! It’s a relief to know that  I can pay all of my bills (on-time and in-full), have an enjoyable and consistent job, buy groceries without worries, and have a best friend by my side. Nothing is perfect, but I’m getting close, and I am grateful for it.


Today is the day!


After school, I will begin my very first NaNoWriMo chapter. The goal is 1,600 words and I’m very very very excited. However, I still have yet to figure out what I want my writing style to be… I should figure that out, shouldn’t I?! (There is no point to the Dilbert comic.)

But, there are a few things I will have to give up this month in order to dedicate myself to completing 50,000 words (maybe of crap) by November 30. Ahem:

  • Reading, no more novel reading (the rule does not include the morning news articles).
  • Less blog writing (sorry folks), maybe once every week and a 1/2.
  • Less movie watching/ Television, no more “How Met Your Mother” until Dec. 1
  • Unfortunately, less hanging out time in the evenings with friends, unless it is a Friday/Saturday night and I desperately need a G&T.
  • Limit board games to chess and cribbage.
  • Write at least 800 words before dinner.

Am I going to lose my mind? Maybe. But it’s for the good of the cause!