Ah, the Muju mountains and drumming extrdinaire {Cath}

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June 12th 2007
Published: June 12th 2007
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Up in the mountainsUp in the mountainsUp in the mountains

A 6km hike through the forest, and then suddenly you come out to this old temple
There's nothing like waking up in your tent, after another exceptional night's rest, to the sound of the river 20m away from you. Wow.

A Korean couple we met last night popped by to say good bye as we were packing up. They're such an awsome couple, they're planning on cycling from Korea to Africa!! After a business card, a mango, a tomato, a promise to speak in Korean the next time we meet (), and many good wishes they headed off and we got on to the morning essentials... TINNED PEACHES!!!

All nourished up, we decided to make a start on the 12km hike up Mt. Deokyusan Mountain in the Deogyusan National Park. The hike started from just outside the campsite on a road along the Muju Gucheondong Valley, apparently one of the most famous valleys in Korea!. (Yoh it was cool! Definately a potentially realistic claim!) Although hiking along a road usually feels like more of a scenic stroll than an actual hike hike; our back packs on our backs, the sounds river to the left of us, the bank of the mountain on our right and the freshest air we've been in thus far was more
Up into the mountainsUp into the mountainsUp into the mountains

Following the easy path throught the beautiful forest
than enough to convince us we were in the mountains again

Now, Darrell and I, being the fit young couple up-for-anything that we are, have noticed that there is one big thing that puts our nose out of joint fastest, and I'm sure you'll understand... it's when we're hiking at what we think is a pretty good pace, breaking out into a bit of a sweat even, and a clan of ajumas with all their picnic goodies start closing in on us!!
We managed to hold them off for about 2km before we found a really beautiful part of the stream that needed to be photographed -for at least 10min!

A little further on and a little sweatier, we spotted another particularly good looking pool. As soon as there were no Ajumas in sight, we jumped in! Man, it was JUST what we needed to cool off and ease our otherwise still out of joint noses and seriously dented pride! I bet you, you wouldn't find an Ajuma taking a dip in the freezing water!!

Half way into the hike we came across a temple, the Baengnyeonsa Temple, which was erected after a monk moseying in the
Not going thirsty on this hike!Not going thirsty on this hike!Not going thirsty on this hike!

Cath enjoying some of the sweetest mountain water I've ever tasted.
mountains saw some Lotus flowers and decided it was a good spot for a shrine. Aside from the eeriness of the statues and the insense filled prayer houses, the architecture and artwork on the walls of the buildings are really beautiful and skillfully painted. Not to mention the breath-taking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys!

The rest of the hike continued from behind the temple on a more hike hike trail. Well, if you can call stairs a hike hike trail... after the first flight of stairs, and the burn in our legs adding another dent to the already deflaited ego, we began to suspect that as beautiful and well manicured as this hike was, we were in for a tough one!

About 3km into the upstairs hike, we decided that it was about lunch time and resolved to stop at the next clearing for that can of sweet corn we forgot to eat at supper last night. No sooner had we finished making our plans, we turned the corner and saw a whole bunch of Ajumas and Ajushi's (Older men) having a picnic! As we got closer we were encouraged to join them and share their
More Korean contrastMore Korean contrastMore Korean contrast

A huge cellphone tower right next to the 600-year-old temple. Well how else are the monks going to get reception way up here in the mountains
lunch! -While in western culture, a picnic may include chicken drumsticks, rolls with ham and cheese, a salad maybe... all served on paper plates, a Korean picnic includes things like kimchi (pickled cabage), kimbab (rice wrapped in sea weed), rice and spicy sauce and a surprise mystery ingredient all wrapped up in a lettuce leaf... and soju! This group had gone all out!

Before I could say anything to back out politely, Darrell had his backpack off and was snuggling in next to a friendly looking ajuma with a nervous but ear to ear grin! The picnicers seemed more than enthusiastic for us to try a bit of everything they had trekked up the mountain, none more so than the friendly Ajuma sitting next to Darrell! She was wonderful. She kept in posting little lettuce packages into Darrell's mouth every time he opened his mouth to speak! Almost like an eager mother would feed a baby... Although our Ajuma occasionally would lean over Darrell to deliver my package (and I say 'deliver' because if we tried to take the package from her, she'd swat our hand -as an eager mother would swat the hand of the baby trying to
And up...And up...And up...

This was what the path was like after the temple. Stairs. For the next 2.5 hours.
take the spoon! -and post it straight in to our mouths) I was more involved in a 'conversation' with an Ajushi who could speak a little bit English. One of the funniest moments since we've been here was when I turned around to ask Darrell if he knew what the Korean word for 'student' was, and he looked at me with cheeks filled to bursting (Like the cheeks of a baby who can't swallow anymore but is still getting fed), and helpless grin and shrugged, as if to say 'fight your own battles, I have my hands full with this one!'

All through the picnic, along with all the food samples, we were poured cups of every kind of soju and makali (thick, fermented rice drink) the Ajushis favoured until one, more fatherly Ajushi picked himself up from the other side of the circle to bring us a cup of 'koppi' or coffee.

What an awesome lunch! ...but as soon as we were about 50m away from the picnicers again we had to stop again. Darrell couldn't walk a step further without resting for a while to stretch his stomach!

Stairs and stairs and amazing snippets of
Lunch timeLunch timeLunch time

A brief break between being propped full of korean picnic food
view later we popped out at the top!


A Tour bus, and a friendly Korean who gave us a lift later (the scheduled bus drove straight passed us! -Punk!) we were once again wandering the Muju firefly festival.

We'd hoped to go on an organised trip into the bush to see the fireflies in the wild, but it turned out that after the time it took to try and communicate to the tour stall what we wanted to do, we were 10 min late for the booking cut off time... oh well.

Although disappointing, it was not the biggest crisis we've had... it helped make a decision even, you see, there was a famous drumming band having a free concert at about the same time! Yay, decision made 😊

We bumped into a lady from the Phillipines doing vonunteer work in Korea She took us to an old Confusion school where we were dressed in the traditional wedding dress. (More fun for us than the Korean staff, I'm sure... bear in mind, we'd spent the whole day climbing a mountain in the sun and were still unshowered!!- It was especially embarassing when the lady

This guy was so excited by the fact that we had the same haircut. He wanted photos and handshakes and everything.
wanted to put one of the hair pins through my soggy, matted hair!)
Ah, fun fun

Pizza for supper (the first time in over 3 months that either of us had eaten the cheesy goodness!) and we were off to the drumming concert!

Wow!! What a concert!! The drumming team consisted of 3 woman and 2 men, and wow... they played about 5 different types of drums using countless techniques, one of the drummers would sing (almost as another instrument, not as a voice) with the drums from time to time, adding to the already overwhelming effect. And then, just as we were picking our chins off the ground, they brought out a MASSIVE cavass and a painter started painting this enormous series of strokes and waves that all of a sudden took shape as a firefly on a branch, 2 'spirits' and ducks on dead trees!
These people are AMAZINGLY creative!!

We decided that for a change we'd book into a Yeogwan for the night (lux uuuu ry!) so that we'd have more time to amble through the festival before turning in for the night.

What an amazing day!

Additional photos below
Photos: 14, Displayed: 14


On the peakOn the peak
On the peak

Looking across to the cablecar station where we caught a lift down
We couldn't waitWe couldn't wait
We couldn't wait

All sweaty from hiking and dressed up in traditional Korean wedding dress

A Western change. And boy was it good!
Boom boomBoom boom
Boom boom

I've never seen drumming like this...
Dancing painterDancing painter
Dancing painter

The calligrapher painting with two brushes simultaneously
Ready to impressReady to impress
Ready to impress

Well, at least one of us can. The girl in the middle was the drumming team leader.
Tired and happyTired and happy
Tired and happy

Standing in the middle of a bridge over the river. The bridge is covered with little lights to make a long tunnel of light

17th June 2007

Any vacancies in English Village? :-)
Hey D! Wow, I just read through some of your blogs and i'm ready to pack my bags! The 2 of you are so inspiring, thanx for sharing all your adventures. Enjoy the teaching and travels. Blessings, favor and God-tidings. Go well!
18th June 2007

Anyone interested?
Paju English Village (where we work) is in desparate need of new teachers. Anyone keen for good pay and an adventure on the other side of the world, let me know ASAP
19th June 2007

great blog
I want to come to teach in Sept. Where exactly is your school and how is it?
19th June 2007

Teaching in EV
That's fantastic! Teaching in Korea has definately not something you'd regret! Darrell wrote a blog "Summer's here" describing a generallly what we do, which I reckon would help you get an idea of what it's like. I like it here :) We work in the Paju English Village, which is about 40min (by car) north east from Seoul, and about 15km from the boarder I hope this helps!
20th June 2007

The article title has changed from "Summer's Here" to "Life at English Village" (May 13th 2007) - Ed

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