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Published: October 12th 2010
me on the bridge
I find it very sweet that the Korean school system makes room in the curriculum for teacher activities so we can "bond and work on unity", as my co-teacher says. I find myself comparing the Korean system to the American one constantly, not only because I went through it, but because my dad is a teacher. I truly believe it would make a great television show to send my faja over here. Getting drunk with my co-workers? Team sports? Classes cancelled at the drop of a hat? Not having my own classroom? He would FREAK. Now, he's been known to go fishing, rafting, or hang out with other teachers, but that was by choice. I can't imagine him and all the teachers grabbing some walking sticks after school and dragging themselves up a mountain.
And yet that is where I found myself on Thursday. I had no classes that day, because...who knows really...I don't question that spontaneous system anymore, so I had come to school in my running shoes, hat, leggings, shorts, and a tshirt. The students were confused. I'm usually looking like a Christmas tree or apparently Lady Gaga. Maria gave me a ride and once we got in
the car I felt extremely hungry. I hadn't had lunch that day because the cafeteria was closed (another detail that someone could have told me the day before) so I asked Maria if I could grab a snack when she got petrol. I just assumed all gas stations had Doritos and peanuts. Turns out, petrol stations don't roll that way. I told Maria I could just grab something at a quick-e mart but she insisted on parking the car and walking with me up and down streets to find a meal. Koreans really are too helpful. We ended up in a sitting in a restaurant eating kimbap (like Korean sushi) which she paid for. She is too good to me, it drives me crazy, but I love her.
We arrived at Mt. Daedun and found the other teachers sitting on benches. I went to go sit by one and I was told "No, no, go start!!". Ummm ok, I guess I need to go hike? I was confused but Maria, a male teacher we will call Mr. Smile, and I started up the stone stairs. The whole hike was STRAIGHT UP with many stairs and rocks to scramble over.
My heart was a'poundin but I found it to be rather easy, which I think is due in part to me running the stairs at home. Sweet! It was hard not to leave the other two behind, although Mr Smile was keeping his own. Maria is a very active woman but she was getting very tired and we ended up having to leave her behind. Now that sounds HORRIBLE, but yeah...that's pretty much what happened. She was fine though, no worries 😊 Mr. Smile and I taught each other words in our own languages and he told me That made me feel like a donkey with a carrot dangling in front of it.
We passed all the Koreans decked out in their hiking gear, which consists of long sleeves, pants, bright colors, visors, ski poles, and tricked out shoes. Sometimes a face mask. We even passed a Buddhist man chanting and setting up a little prayer area, which was cool to see. We reached the red suspension bridge that hung high up in the mountains, swaying slightly, and giving you the feeling of total fear if you looked
down. Mr. Smile thought it was funny to shake the bridge with me on it. HAHAHAHA Mr Smile...
After the bridge was a short little jaunt to the highest peak, where red stairs looked like they were ascending to heaven. That may have been the most thrilling part. A huge incline and a fair amount of stairs made this lady's fear of heights skyrocket. Looking behind me did not bode well. I went to take a picture and had to sit down because I felt like I was going to fall into the abyss. But sweet jesus WHAT A VIEW. A friend of mine was ranting on his blog about how he doesn't understand the point of hiking up a mountain especially for a view. "It's nothing you can't see on Google Images". Oh but I beg to differ. It takes my breath away to be standing on top of a mountain, looking down at vast valleys and hills dressed in green with clouds brushing against them. I find myself appreciating life and the fact that I get to inhabit this green and blue orb we call home. But we all have our own things that make us happy.
So after the stairs I felt accomplished and done with the hike, but it continued. This is the point where my legs started to hurt. I couldn't let Mr Smile beat me though! We made it to the next peak, at exactly the same time, damn, and found ALL the other teachers. I couldn't fathom how they made it before us, but then I was told they took the cable car. Now no way in hell would I choose the cable car over hiking but I find it interesting that my teachers decided to send me up the mountain like a mule and not let me know that they were taking it easy in a cable car. The most ironic part is they were dressed to the nines in hiking gear!! I believe they hiked for about 10 min. Well, NONE OF THEM GOT AN APPLE SO THERE.
Mr Smile and I headed back down the mountain, which I was real slow at. My legs were tired, my mind was going over past weekends and future weekends, and I've always found it easier to climb than walk down. I was informed we would be taking the cable car. Still no sign of Maria and I hoped she didn't have a heart attack or something but Mr Smile was like whatever..
On our way to the cable car, I heard the most beautiful opera singing I have heard outside of my stereo. The Korean man in front of us was singing his heart out to the wild and it was damn wonderful. I started walking faster just so I could hear him. It sounded like Pavaroti or something. He stopped when the manuvering got harder and I wanted to let him know how fantastic he was, but I couldn't get up the nerve. There was just something so surreal about hiking down a mountain in Korea, with a teacher who I had a pretend name for, with the sound of Italian opera in the air.
But that's Korea for you.
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