Inje, Gangwon Province -Rafting!

11:11 PM Jmo 1 Comments

Until the end of this contract (and most likely into the beginning of the next) I plan on running full speed ahead and seizing every opportunity thrown my way. So when my friend Eleanor, whom I haven't seen in a while, asked if I want to take a white-water rafting trip up to the up most Northern province of Korea I had to exclaim: "Uhm, YES!"
It was a short little weekend trip. But it was beautiful and amazing and really set the tone for the month of July.
Eleanor has been doing a small language exchange with one of her coteacher's friends for some time now and she was the one who helped organize this trip and ultimately drove us 4 hours North. Sun Hee, the adorable Korean woman who drove us and now friend, is currently training to be a teacher. She's currently working at 4 schools. Four! Koreans work hard, but if this past weekend is a sign of anything: they party harder. I rode my bike to the Starbucks in Tanbang and met the group around 2pm to head off on our 'Wild-Ladies-Adventure-Crew' excursion (that's what we're calling ourselves). Me, Sun Hee, Eleanor, and my friend Diisha all piled into Sun Hee's car and hit the road with snacks and coffees in hand. It was a four hour drive out of Daejeon into the beautiful mountains of Inje so thankfully we had a lot to talk about. It's been a while since I've seen these ladies, and newly meeting Sun Hee, so it was great to reconnect over travel stories, family traditions, and cultural oddities. Such a mix of personalities and backgrounds in one little white car... I loved it. :)

Once we reached the mountains of Inje, we rolled down the windows and our once road-trip-sleepy bodies were awoken by... Natuuuuure! (The quote of the trip.) Our little cabin was quite the surprise as well. I wasn't really sure what our accommodations were going to be like. And honestly, I didn't really care. But! To my surprise, our little cabin had a wee loft and a deck, complete with picnic table, overlooking the river and mountains. It was beautiful. I didn't realize how used my lungs were to the city air. Breathing the mountain air was invigorating. I couldn't get enough of it. Being that we dubbed ourselves the Wild-Ladies-Adventure-Crew, we couldn't wait to go for a walk along the river. The sun was setting as we made our way to a group of rocks just below our pension. There we sat, relaxed, and watched little jumping fish play along the shoreline until we were ready to crawl back into our cabin.
Dinner was nice and cute. Sun Hee ordered for us and was excited for us to eat Korean food. I've been here for 10 months... I'm no expert, but, I'd say I'm pretty accustomed to it. haha  As soon as our rice came she hustled her way to the counter to grab us some forks. We tried to assure her we were fine with chopsticks but it wasn't until we started eating that she believed us.
Saturday night was just what I needed. After the stress and pressures of the week, it was great to revert back to a time of sleepovers. We played card games (both in English and Korean), snacked on "biscuits" (Don't call them cookies to a Brit!), drank mackoli, and cuddled up to watch Muppet Treasure Island.
In the morning we woke up to the mist hugging the mountain tops in our view. It was beautiful and reminded me of Scotland. Our equipment training and fitting for rafting started at 9am right out our front door. We were suited up by our guides: three young, cute Koreans who spoke little English. Clad in helmets and life-vests, we all piled awkwardly into a van that drove us to our departure point. Once we were at the river we began our crash course in rafting safety. The main bits were paddling commands and what to do in case you fall out of the raft. Keep your head up stream and let the river carry you; okay! Ready!
Diisha and I were seated at the front, Ellie and Sun Hee in the middle, and our guides powered up the back.  The river was incredible. It was completely untouched by man's hand: no settlements, no trash, nothing. It wasn't until we encountered another group that we were reminded that hey, we were not the first people to explore this place.
I'd say the rapids we encountered were about a 1 out of 5. They were babies. But! Enough to give you an adrenaline rush. Especially when your raft gets stuck on top of a rock with water rushing past and you all have to pile on the bow to tip it off back into the current. Or when your raft goes vertical and you're hit by a wall of river. So fun! Glad I got to be perched up front!
When we hit a patch of calm water our guides encouraged us to jump in and take advantage of it with a swim. The water was cool and tasted like salt water because of the mineral deposits off the rocks.  We did this a couple of times with our final swim ending at a little beach just beyond our cabin.
Our guides were adorable by the way. They were all University students each with their own cute and distinct personality. Sup, our main guide, spoke the best English and was quite the comedian. Moon was shy but according to Sup was a good dancer, haha. And Goon ended up serenading us down the river with a romantic Buska Buska song.
After cleaning up and checking out we decided to drive a little more North to have lunch at Sokcha Beach. The drive was incredible. The mountains in Gangwon are unlike any I've seen in the USA. They have sharp points that jut out vertically into the sky; created by some massive event. I wish I knew the elevation at which we were driving actually... (Thank you once again Sun Hee!) Sokcha Beach was tiny and cute. We had lunch "Hicks road-trip style", as Diisha put it, and walked along the pier taking advantage of the photo-ops. It wasn't long before we turned into photo-ops ourselves. A group of young Koreans, doing what looked to be a band photo shoot, asked to have pictures with me and Diisha. Why not. I'll flex my "exotic" appeal any day... Good thing they caught me in a good mood.

That was my weekend. In a nutshell. Can't wait to go back. And I can't wait to explore some place new.

Bucket List Item #356: White-Water Rafting. Check!

1 comment:

  1. i had so much fun. I bet you have the best times in South Africa


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