Thursday, September 25, 2014

After-school Hiking and Walks

I love hiking but I'm low on time so I try to get mini-hikes in after school, if the weather is good. We're going into fall now so the hiking will be sublime. Here are some of my favourite local hills that can be hiked in an hour or two.

Chimsan Park

This park has lots of little hiking paths that branch off the main path. A nice way to do it is to start with a steep climb up the stairs at the southern end and then walk a loop on the hiking paths. There's a pretty pagoda and some fitness equipment at the north end, at the peak. It's usually not too busy, and it's close to the Sincheon river. There is a bike rack near the stairs at the south end. Otherwise, take a bus or cab to Chilseong Emart and walk to the park from there.


I took a cab to one of the buildings that was near the start of a trail, and then hunted around for the start. This hill is a little steep but you can get to the peak in about 15 minutes if you try, and then walk along the ridge until you feel like going down again. It's not as developed as most of the other parks. I liked the wildness of it. For an extra challenge, you could follow it with the Beomeo Trek. 

This is the route I took: 

Beomeo Trek
North of Muhaksan and a short walk away, Beomeo has two parks that are right next to each other, so if the big one isn't big enough you can follow it with the other park. 

Die-hards with a free day could attempt the Beomeo Loop. The map says 2hrs 42 mins but it really depends on your own speed and how much you want to push yourself. I think Beomeo has one of the prettiest parks in Daegu.

The saddest hill in Daegu: Waryeongsan

This crescent-shaped hill has a very sad story attached to it. From wikipedia: 

The Frog Boys (Korean개구리소년) were a group of five South Korean schoolboys who disappeared on March 26, 1991. The boys had gone to Mount Waryong to catch frogs but never returned. Their bodies were found 11 years later. Although it was discovered that they had been murdered, the case has never been solved. 

Many of their families quit their jobs to look for them, and ended up losing everything. It's a terrible tragedy and gives the hill a hushed, eerie feeling. Flower petals cover the paths in spring and it's hard to believe that something like that could have happened in such a peaceful place. 

Yeonap Park

This is the hill across the river from Chimsan Park. I decided I wanted to see the temple/memorial hall(?) I'd spotted from a distance up close, so I walked in the direction of it and kept walking until I found a way up the hill. I ended up walking up a really steep road, then finding a path that led off into the forest. I wasn't even sure if I was going the right way. But I kept going. I ended up behind the temple, peeking over an ancient wall. I followed the wall to the front, walking over piles of broken traditional roof tiles, but the temple was closed. Oh well, it was worth a try. The suburbs behind it are full of old buildings and Buddhist temples, and it was a really interesting walk. I bumped into only one other hiker, so if you're looking to get away from the crowds this is a good one. 

The memorial hall (closed)
And for those of you who hate hills, here are some of my favourite walks in Daegu:

Sincheon River
The river cuts through the center of the city, and you can walk in either direction for miles. Make sure you're on the West side of it as you head south, because there are no exits on the east side for a solid 5-7km stretch.  If you head north and then west, you'll walk through a beautiful wetland reserve, and can see lots of cranes, storks and other long-legged birds. North and then East will take you through a bizarre sculpture/farm park and close to Costco and the EXCO center. 

Yulha Sports Field to Dongdaegu
Walking along the river, cross at the bridge to the War Memorial Museum, and then walk to Dongdaegu Train Station. It's a long walk with a few hills but there are lots of interesting things along the way, such as surprise camels. 
The Junggu Walking Tours
A bunch of alleys in Downtown Daegu have been laid out as walking tour trails for tourists. You start at one end and meander along the route, reading the signs and looking at interesting things. There is an app in the android store that you can download which provides you with maps and more information. 

And then...
Sometimes I just walk. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Replacing Stolen Stuff

A continuation of this: Ultimate Doom

Of course, in true RPoD style, a certain moron left her passport at the police station. Well, if you're going to leave it somewhere, that's probably the best place, right?

Then later, when I went to collect my snazzy new frisbee from our captain, I found out that of about fifteen frisbees that had been ordered, mine was the only one that went missing while he was naming them.

Well, of course. Added to that, I've fallen over about three times in the last two days (a week or two of vertigo takes its toll) and I've started losing my voice the very same week we restarted the 3-2-1 English PA broadcast lesson.

This is my life. And yet I remain surprisingly upbeat about all of it.

I did, however, manage to replace my phone by going through Eliza at Aui Korea again. Since she had all my information already, it was a matter of switching my old contract over to a new phone. We upgraded my phone while we were at it, and it was a breeze, although time consuming. I got to keep my old number. I now have a Samsung Galaxy S5 LTE with unlimited data and a screen that unlocks by scanning my fingerprint. If you do email her to ask her to set up an appointment, be sure to drop my name in your message - she said I'll get perks. The address (again) is auikorea at gmail dot com, and her office is a subway stop away from Banwoldang, in Jinsok Tower. 

Today my classes have all magically been cancelled so I'm trying to get permission to duck out to immigration so I can sort out a new ARC. Once I've got that, I'll be able to replace my bank cards and won't have to draw money with my bank book inside the branch any more.  It is possible to draw money with bank books at the ATM... but you need an ARC to set that up. 

I should probably go get my passport too...

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Converting your school computer to English

This is a regular headache for us NETs - over the vacation, a computer's been replaced or upgraded and you have to go through the whole process of converting everything back to English, or re-learning where all the good buttons are and how to avoid the bad ones. Asking the school techie helps little - ours tried really hard and worked for hours but in the end just gave us mouse-hover English labels for the buttons. Not being able to see your options at a glance slows you down and makes your job harder than it needs to be.

Have no fear! You can change your software to English in under 15 minutes.

Head over here and follow the instructions.

There. Did I make your day?

Here's a direct link in case the one above isn't working.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Ultimate doom!

As I was sitting in the back seat of the police car this evening, looking at the shiny black material that seemed particularly blood resistant, and the absence of a door handle on the inside of my door, I found myself thinking, "Well at least this is another thing to cross off on the bucket list of life..."

It all started way before I came to Korea. I met a guy. A tall, handsome, afrikaans lad who got me hooked on geocaching and tried in vain to interest me in cricket. One day, he led me onto a grassy field, with rugby posts on either end, and taught me to throw and catch a frisbee. Then other people showed up and we ran around madly trying to score points and immediately losing count of them. He introduced me to Ultimate Frisbee.

All right, all right, it's just called Ultimate now.

That relationship ended when I came to Korea, but the seed had been planted. Before I arrived, someone I'd met in an expat facebook group suggested I join the Ultimate Frisbee league. Coming from a team (more like a group of people mildly interested in tossing frisbees to each other) of no more than about 10 people, the idea of the league enticed and intimidated me. The last time I played a team sport with real uniforms was when I was a field hockey goalie in middle school. I stopped that when it got too serious, with my teammates focusing more on getting provincial and national recognition and less on the fun of the game. And also, my bag full of hockey stuff was stolen in broad daylight.  The game had become a chore and I had no more interest in it, and the theft of the bag was the last straw. Thus ended my dazzling hockey career.

After that I stuck to less competitive individual sports, like diving, scuba diving, and when I felt the need to bash balls at someone, squash.

I was scared of the frisbee league. They had teams, with uniforms and regular practices and game plans and strategies and a membership fee. A steep membership fee for a new arrival. I kept putting off joining with a new excuse for each season. And then I forgot about it, only remembering that the league existed when I bumped into them in bars. Then I formed this image of them... Summed up as this:

A few weeks ago, however, my dear friend Olivia decided to join, and she decided to drag a bunch of her friends with her. This lady is a sports BEAST, belonging to at least three different sports leagues that I know about. She's nuts. And a lot of fun.

I thought that if all these people who I liked were joining, then maybe I could join too and not be utterly useless. In fact, my very brief experience in university would give me an edge over the complete newbies. So I let them talk me into it and before I knew it, I was sending money off into the ethernet to sign up for the league. Then it was a waiting game, as one of the biggest signups in the league happened, and organisers scrambled to make new teams and shuffle players around into them.

Then, finally, I found out which team I was on. We have the ugliest jerseys, by far, and the prettiest captain (but don't tell him!) and I decided to crush any inkling of fear, shyness or excuse-making, and do it. I even went so far as to buy cleats that clashed as much as possible with the jersey.

Blah blah, why were you in a police car?

Well, armed with my cleats of radioactivity, I headed to the first practice. It was going to be huge, with every team in Daegu and more from out of town invited to play on one field out in the middle of nowhere. Knowing myself, and my life of things going rather well  doom, I left three hours early to be sure to get there on time. I got on a bus that immediately went in the wrong direction, but ended up there with enough time to get some coffee and a piece of "pizza toast" that was cheap and delicious.

I finally walked to the field and saw some waygooks tossing discs. Using my Cluseau-like powers of deduction, I deduced that these were in fact the droids I was looking for, and I waved timidly at them.

the last photo ever taken with this phone
They told me to leave my bag with theirs and I scurried off to join them. And they turned out to be three of the most awesome people I would meet that day. Two of them were on my team!

I learned a lot that day. I learned about cutting and stacking and flicking. I learned about being supportive and laughing at yourself when you mess up, and I got over my fear of being the least fit person there, or a nerdy outsider at a jock party. These people were nice people, and fun and friendly. That is, until they're on the opposing team and you've got the disc and they're in your face. Then they are evil trolls who are virtually impossible to escape.

But I'm learning.

I had yet to learn the most valuable lesson of the day. After we'd done some skills stuff and played a couple of minigames, there came a big lesson.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.

Life Lesson #22523

When playing an attention-holding sport in a big open area with lots and lots of people running around, do not place your phone, credit card, bank card, ID, kindle, cash and the only pair of skinny jeans that has ever and probably will ever fit you in ONE bag, out of sight and far away. Especially not a generic black bag with no distinguishing markings. 

I still haven't quite recovered from the sinking feeling of having all my most important things taken from me in a split second. I cried a little at first but then decided there was nothing that crying could fix and I couldn't do anything about it until offices opened on Monday. So there was no point letting a little catastrophe ruin my birthday party, frisbee friend-making weekend.

Luckily for me, the girl who had told me to put my bag there in the first place was so wracked with guilt that she gave me my subway fare home and returned with me the next day to try lost and found and head to a police station. Both of them were closed but we had a chance to chat and bond and I think I've made a great new friend.

I've rediscovered a sport I love and am not completely useless at. I've learned the value of friends who buy you burgers and beer to drown your sorrows in, and the value of petroleum jelly on chub-rub when you're stuck in sports clothes for 24 hours because your change of clothes went missing. I've learned to enjoy the moment and not wallow in self pity. I had a fun birthday party and got to watch Ben's band win Battle of the Bands, and played resistance with my coworkers and friends, mastered schrabbing and watched a wonderfully awful piranha movie - with all the gory bits blurred out - as the sun came up.

Pardon me, miss, but have you got any tictacs?
At lunch time I cancelled my bank cards and used my bank book to draw some money so that I can replace my ARC so I can get new bank cards. I contacted Eliza the Phone Lady and she's sending me a shiny new one. And on the way home, I went to the police station (staffed with sexy policemen) next to the fire station (full of sexy firemen). I think it's something in the water in Chimsandong. Anyway, the sexy police station was closed so a sexy fireman used a sexy SOS phone to call another less sexy policeman to help me.

And that's how I found myself in the back seat of a police car, being driven two or three blocks away to another police station, where young police officers fumbled their fairly decent English nervously while trying to figure out how to translate "Kindle" into hangeul and helping me file a report.

I walked home in the early evening breeze and felt pretty good even as my life is burning all around me. The flames are slowly being tamed by the sexy firehose of bureaucracy and, this whole time, I've had a feeling my bag will find its way home, and that this has all been an innocent but annoying mistake.