So we’ve met this really wonderful couple from Argentina while wwoofing here at Kawai Purapura. Last weekend the All Blacks, New Zealand’s national rugby (aka football) team, played, you guessed it, ARGENTINA! Our friends had already bought tickets weeks in advance, but they asked us to come along for the ride, spending a day in lovely Hamilton. We agreed!
I think the town is definitely worth stopping in for the gardens alone. It’s an actual maze of themed gardens from around the world. There’s also a traditional Maori garden and a model for sustainable homes.
We were also able to check out Waikato Museum which has an interactive history of Hamilton and the surrounding region as well as a contemporary art exhibit. The staff was really friendly and recommended a local pub where Adam and I later watched the game. Just outside, they had also closed the main street and set up a big screen where people sat bundled against the cold and rain to see the All Blacks smother Los Pumas, as expected.
Oh yeah, and I drove the whole way down! On the opposite side of the road!
We’re still making kimchi, but the chronicles have taken us to a new hemisphere! Stay tuned for more from New Zealand where we’ll be WWOOFing and traveling for the next three months.
Currently, we’re working at Kawai Purapura, a retreat center. In exchange for this caravan accommodation, we work maintaining the property for three hours each day. Spring is an awesome time to work and play outside, making an extended vacation in NZ possible.
Pitching a Tent in Korea
Maybe we didn’t exactly follow the camping etiquette guidebook, but we still made out fine camping in Korea. Here’s how:
1. Buy or borrow a tent. You don’t need an Everest compound. The ones that look like toys at Homeplus will do.
2. 6-pack of Cass.
3. Drive up to any place that you see tents.
4. Look for someone in charge. It will probably be a shirtless older guy sleeping under a canopy.
5. Ask him if you can camp there and for how much.
6. If he shrugs, set up your tent. If he asks for 15,000 won, pay first and set up your tent.
7. Follow your nose for food.
8. Turn on your flashlight after dusk or got to bed early.
9. Watch the sunrise.
10. Pack, drive and repeat.
At the base of Soraksan National Park, this is one fishing town that isn’t sleeping. Especially in summer, flocks of domestic tourists from Seoul come here to “get away from it all”, bring a little of “it” with them.
As foreign tourists, which we may or may not be, it was the perfect place to meet nature, traditional culture and food, and many like-minded people.
The former motel turned hip guesthouse, James Blue, was a clean and upbeat place to rest our bones each night after driving, hiking or soaking up some sun. James, a young, personable former employee of LG, bought the motel from his parents recently and gave it an attitude adjustment. The place was booked with mostly young women from the city. James insisted we join them for drinks at night. He was a great host.
From Sokcho, we not only set out on two hikes in the park, but also made our way up to the DMZ. The Eastern side of the DMZ was eerie. Here you could taste the longing as Korean visitors viewed Keumgangsan, a mountain over the border which only recently closed tourism after a hiker was shot in 2008. It’s now in talks to be reopened, for a price.
Gangwon Province Road Trip
If you ever find yourself with the time and cash in Korea, I can’t recommend renting a car more strongly. We drove diagonally across the country (in a day). Then down “Coastal Highway 7” from Sokcho to Busan. A week wasn’t enough time to circumnavigate the country, but it was an amazing culmination of our two years in this beautiful place.
2013 Ansan Valley Rock Festival
Jogging in with our tent and gear to see Vampire Weekend finish their set
3-hour set from The Cure
champagne with a splash of apple juice
Band members of Yellowcard snapping pictures of the crowd from onstage
접도 (Jeopdo Island)
We had a great day trip lead by our friend, Pedro Kim! Visiting this sleepy island off of Jindo, Korea’s third largest island, wouldn’t have been possible without a great guide and a van. Coastal hiking, an ocean swim and a beach barbecue: the perfect way to celebrate Memorial Day!
My neighbor wrote this awesome review of our “dong”. I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Kia Tigers vs. Lotte Giants
Honam International Marathon, April 21st. Adam finished his first half marathon. 1:40.
Blog! Long time no see! What have we been up to, you ask?
What did the expat teacher say to the kid who got homesick on the first day?
Working at the English Immersion Camp (EIC) was one of the best teaching experiences of my life. I can honestly say that I loved each of these sixteen-year-old boys. This was such an amazing opportunity to get inside the heads of kids I’ve been teaching for over nineteen months. Korea, you gotta stop breakin’ my heart! It’s gonna be so hard to leave in August.
A POW camp, pebble beeches, a botanical garden and the first cherry blossoms of the season! Thanks to Pedro Kim for leading an amazing weekend getaway. We never could have seen and done so much on our own. Our camera’s memory card burned out on this trip so this set is uploaded from our LG phones.