Sunday, August 06, 2006

What I Did During My Summer Vacation
by Nathan Price

Summer is upon us in the land of the morning calm. I thought that it was upon us before, but apparently I was mistaken. During June it was hot. July had rain. August is now hotter. Hotter than June and muggier than July. Anything more than a slow trot outside causes me to break out in a soggy sweat.

Summer vacation was last week as well, so we got a whole three days off for vacation. Allison, Scott and I decided to head to the mountains for some hiking and then to the beach for some swimming and laying around. There were may points of interest, the first being:

The Technologically Advanced and Supremely Superior Korean Toilet Seat
I had seen these things in different department stores and appliance retailers but this was my first time to actually experiment with this device. Some toilet seats here sell for five hundred dollars and contain such features as a bidet, seat warmer, blow drier and a music function. The first thing Scott and I did was tinker around with the thing, and no, no one was actually attempting to go to the bathroom. We couldn't get the bidet to function until Scott noticed there was a motion sensor on the toilet. He stuck his hand in front of it and a small plastic arm came out and shot Scott with toilet water on the arm and the chest. Some moments just make life worth living.

The Drunk Korean Men Laughing at us in Jinan
Jinan is the jumping off point to get to Maisan Provincial Park. This is a pretty remote part of Korea with few waygooks to account for. Because of this, Scott, Alison and I were the celebrities of the place. We impressed the locals with our ability to eat spicy food and massacre their language.

Maisan National Park
This park is home to Tapsa, a Buddhists shrine where tons of stones have been painstakingly placed on top of each other as to form large spires, some up to 15 meters in height. The amazing thing is no cement or bonding agent was used to keep the spires from crumbling. These are a testament to what one can do with supreme effort and too much time on their hands.

Daedunsan Provencial Park
This was my favorite place on the trip. It was just a hike up a mountain, but oh what a hike it was. This was the first day where the sun came out and it was scorching. I was a soggy mess as the pictures attest. Despite that, the hike was mostly in the shade and followed a tree lined river. Half way up Daedunsan is a suspension bridge that spans two mountain peaks and affords spectacular views. Later there is a steep staircase that brings you to the top of yet another peak. The warning sign is of special note as it tells one not to pass the elderly, children or drunks. I believe this is common knowledge. I've said before in previous posts that the lack of outdoor activities is what kills me here, so that probably why I dug on Daedunsan so much.

Busan Beach and Norebongs
This was my second trip to Busan. The first one was in the spring and gave rise to such famous and well-known pictures as the "Porn Star Mustache". This trip proved to be a photographic goldmine as well.
After having done some tough hiking we decide that just lounging on the beach sounded nice and that's exactly what we did. Later on we went to a bowling alley, snuck in some soju and knocked down some pins. Funny thing here, most bowling alleys don't serve beer. I know, in the states that's not really a bowling alley. Also, when someone gets a strike your supposed to clap for them, even if they are on a different lane. The Koreans are so polite. My first time out I bowled a respectable 145 and then it was downhill from there. Scott ended up the winner with some good score that I can't remember because it beat mine.
At the beach we met some Koreans and mingled around until newbie John decided the norebong (singing room) was a good way to impress the Korean girl he met. I was sceptical but once we got in there, as always happens, I turned into rock star and consequently scared off the Korean girls. At the end of the night Shim, a random Korean we picked up along the way, and I were drinking beer and screaming out "Piano Man". All in all it was a good way to spend a Monday.

Lotte World Amusement Park and the Mechanical Bull
Tuesday night had us wandering around Busan in search of entertainment and entertainment was found. First was a stop by the game booths that dole out stuffed animals and booze in reward for physical feats, like throwing darts at balloons or breaking bricks. I chose the manliest of them all, the dice game where one, um, throws dice.
Later on we found Lotte World Amusement Park which has a small assortment of nausea inducing rides. The most nauseating was when Scott drank a beer that someone had dropped a cigarette butt in, and he didn't even have to pay for that. However, the key attraction was the mechanical bull. I saw that and all my Wyoming roots came back to me. Granted I've never been on a bull, or even on an angry cow, but I gave it my all and stayed on the sucker for 53 seconds, 45 seconds over the 8 second mark.

The trip turned out better than I could have expected. It was great to get out and see some more of Korea and broaden my horizons. It's nice to know that this land is not just smog and concrete jungles but beautiful rivers and crazy mountains too. It's also nice to know that if I get sick of Seoul I can always relocate to Jinan and become the local tourist attraction.

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