Saturday, April 24, 2010

Spring's Growing On Me

***I apologize for the formatting errors.  I battled this junk for 3 hours, and than I just it is what it is!***

I remember when I was young, and I dreaded the coming of Spring. I prefered the cold to the warm, I hated bees and wasps (still do), and I sweated like a monster (This is one of my most manly traits). But in the past couple of years I feel myself warming up to it, no pun intended.

This Spring in Korea has felt more like Fall, because of the overcast skies and mild temperatures. It has been a welcomed change, mainly because the temperature of my apartment greatly depends on the temperature outside. Also, the sprinkles of green everywhere are refreshing, as winter's dead brown was left exposed much of the winter without much snow to cover it up.  And anything new in Korea is just exciting, because its full of the unknown. So today I was feeling like I needed to tour Jecheon a bit to take in the spring fever that is nestling in quite nicely.

First up was a stop to the local elementary school.  They have some beautiful trees lining the walk up to the school, and it is very breathtaking. Now I must apologize because I have no idea what anything is called and if I guess I will probably just get it wrong.  So, I'm just going to say flowers. Also, I wanted to get a better close up, but I realized that there were angry bees in most of these trees, and so I quickly retreated!

Next, naturally, while walking to school every day I walk past about 15 fields of various foods. Now please understand, there is a hidden monster in these fields, a stank that could steal the courage of a thousand men, it is quite unnerving.  I realize that it is only some sort of feces, but I'm just not used to getting punched by it, in the face, day after day!  Still my nose is growing immune, and I'm just trying to remember not to blow bubbles with my gum around these fields, for desperate fear of fecal material.  But anyways, I saw the funniest looking plant the other day and I just had to share it.  I'm gonna guess this is garlic, but it wouldn't be the first time I was wrong if it isn't.  I would like to point out the fields location and the need to plant anywhere where 3 feet of open space exists.

After this I decided to walk over to Urimji to see how things have changed from Winter to Spring.  It's a bit of a hike (1.5 miles) so I had plenty of time to take some pictures of the various flowers along the way.  Some didn't turn out very well, but here are the ones that did.

Once I arrived in Urimji I was surprised that not much had changed. I was expecting some major color, but it appears that most of the tress are evergreens.  However, there appeared to be a lot more water than before, and the whole reservoir seemed full.   I saw some families capitalizing on this by coasting in style, via the swan boats.

I have to give it to Koreans, because they take family seriously.    I saw so many cute little families doing silly stuff and just spending time together.  It's quite refreshing to see such an emphasis on something I think is so vitally important.  By no means are they perfect, and alcohol has plenty to do with it, but they make an effort and I think the families are so sweet.   

Moving on, to my great delight both of the waterfalls were now functioning.  I don't know what it is about waterfalls, but I just love them.  Waterfalls are so soothing and powerful, even if they are man made.  I love to just sit close by and listen.  Life just seems to slow down.   But you can imagine with two waterfalls that I occupied myself for some time, exploring the waterfalls and finding ever angle to gawk.  Here are some pictures; first from above, than next to, and finally if you look in one of the pictures you will see a bridge crossing the river.  Yes I found that bridge, I know jackpot!  Also, I took some photos of some flowers I thought were pretty along the way.  As well as the second less impressive man made waterfall. Though it did have the always elusive hidden cavern behind the waterfall, a definite plus!

There was only one thing that I had left on my agenda.  I wanted to visit the garden we (Amy, Ian, Casey, and I) previously visited at Semyung University, which is about another 1/2 mile from Urimji.  So I trekked my way over there, grabbing a cherry coke for moral support.  On the way you wouldn't believe what I saw more of.  You guessed it Spring flowers, and I'm not complaining.

Finally, I arrived at the garden, and two thoughts occurred immediately.  First, "Wow everything is still dead."  Second, "What is that mist coming up from those rocks?"  You guessed it waterfall number three!

As dead as everything was, except the occasional tree here and there, it was still amazing.  There was a stream running through the garden, and it was just so peaceful.  I can't wait to go back with a book and just kick back and relax.  I also shot a quick video to give you an idea of what I'm talking about.

After the garden I marched the 2 mile journey back towards home, and found a short cut that cut it to about a 1 1/2 mile journey.  I also wanted to check out a potential running spot, which happens to be an air strip just outside the city.  Though I am a little nervous of a random landing.  I guess beggars can't be choosers.  I think I'm gonna give it a shot.

Finally, I stumbled one very small park and than one park that was much bigger.  This park had a skate park, excellent tennis courts, and a little soccer field.  There was also this path that lead to a hill that overlooked it all, it was quite festive.  Than the path followed some twists and turns and than low and behold I was back where I started at the elementary school.  I was quite excited about this find.  I didn't know there were hidden trails in the hills, oh the simple things.

Lastly, I snapped some of my favorite pictures of the day.  Can you see the moon in any of them?  Overall I was quite pleased how the day turned out.  Even though Korea can be dirty (sanitation wise) and smelly and frustrating its also has a lot of God given beauty to it.   And if this keeps up I might look forward to Spring in the coming years; sweat, bees, and heat all included.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Another chapter is this story we call life

Its been a very looong while since I've added to our blog about out life in Korea but there have been a variety of reasons for the lack of blogging. Most of you know that at the end of January my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Within 3 months she has had 3 surgeries, 7 incision sites, 15 lymph nodes removed, a PowerPort installed, and a complete mastectomy on the right side leaving an 8 inch scar. Needless to say being in Korea was not where I needed to be. On Tues. March 16th I made the long trip back to Grand Rapids, MI to be with my Mom.

I'll be here in the US until May 9th, sadly thats Mother's Day and that will not be much of a present to hear as I leave. I am however VERY thankful that I'll have this time to walk through some of the hard times with her and makes some memories too.

Much to my surprise there has been reverse-culture shock coming back to the States. We've been in Korea for about 3 1/2 months and felt like we'd finally settle into a system. You learn to grocery shop, do laundry, dry clothes, clean, cook, and get around town. What you don't hear much about is when you leave the country you just got adjusted to you are going to have some shock the other way.

I will never forget sitting in the airport in Chicago and thinking why do I have a headache, there is so much noise in here. There are so many people talking and I don't want to hear about it. I hadn't realized I'd gotten used to not hearing English and it was overwhelming to my brain to all of the sudden hear so much of it.

Another sense that overwhelmed me was sitting on the plane thinking, "what is that smell!?!?!" then you realize is yourself and its soooo embarrassing. I was like how long have I smelled like this and those poor people sitting around me wondering has this girl taken a shower in a week? No, its not that I just came from Korea and frankly Korea has a smell of its own. Most countries do even Brasil.

So its been a transition coming back to the States. An unexpected trip has been a curve in the road but we are making it work on all sides of the world. There are hardly words to describe how much Ben and I are missing each other. We had gotten so used to having just each other around and being in such close quarters all the time... I've grown to miss my little Korean home it kept us close in so many ways.

Its funny this things you miss. I'm already excited to go HOME, my home is with Ben, where ever we are. But alas I'll miss a wonderfully comfortably sized bathroom, HOT showers, adult size towels, and restaurants being open later than 10pm. Thats just the beginning. But there are many more things we've yet to discover and learn in Korea and I look forward to the rest of our time there with fondness.

Well thats all for now...