While living in Ulsan, I was fortunate to make it all over the country. Thanks to my frisbee team that traveled almost every weekend, different music festivals, skiing in the north, and beaching in the south I was BUSY!
There is no way I can share EVERYTHING… But I think this page is a good summary.
While living in Korea I ran a 10K, four half marathons, and one full marathon. The night before the 10K my friends and I had a few bottles of wine – each? The next morning with stained red lips we called a cab and showed up to our race that was an hour north of our city just in time to make the start time by TWO minutes. Not a care in the world. We ran the race; I PRed and got a satisfying 50 minutes, and we went and drank Magkeolli out of frisbees and trash bins post race in the park. That’s just WHAT YOU DO. A beautiful day for a little bit of exercise.
Yep – beer, magkeolli, soju, somak, you name it. Prep a little soju cocktail outside of a 7-11 before a night out. Alcohol is VERY cheap in this country and it is RUDE not to drink if offered by a Korean (especially a superior).
I played ultimate during my two years in Korea. This was really the reason that I loved my life so much at the time. My Ulsan teammates were my family and we would travel almost every weekend to play across the country. I was also able to fly to Jeju for an international tournament and my team won the championships in the spring of 2014! This kept me sane and active the whole time I was abroad.
Just. Eat. Everything…. well except the smelly dried squid, beondegi, and live octupus.
Dress in your brightest apparel, get as drunk as you can, and huff up that mountain. Please, mountain, make sure that there are absolutely no switchbacks, way too many stair cases, and the climb should be straight up.
One day my friend Stacey & I were hiking on a mountain near Ulsan. As we were frolicking up the mountain we ran into a 70 year old man named “Mr. Jeong.” He spoke English well and asked if he could join us for the remainder of our trek. We chatted and enjoyed the outdoors together for the next few hours. When we got to the top of Munsu we relaxed and enjoyed the view. This was only the start of the fun. Mr. Jeong offered to buy us beondegi and magkeolli post climb so, of course, we accepted. It is very common for Koreans to drink magkeolli throughout the entire hike. Well, it’s common for Koreans to drink all of the time.
Mr. Jeong wanted to continue his free “tutoring” lessons and I ended up going on a few more hikes with him. On our next outing it was pouring rain and he was dressed just perfectly for the occasion: nice slacks, a button down shirt, dress shoes, and, of course, his umbrella to keep him from getting wet. We trekked to some rolling hills and had a “picnic” of ramen and magkeolli in an old abandoned hut. He was pleasant to be around.
Stacey and I would often be outdoors and made our way one summer day to Sinbulsan. It took us a couple of bus rides to get there from Ulsan and it wasn’t easy. We got there with not a plan in mind on how we would return. We drank our magkeolli, made our trek, lit fireworks (it was American Independence Day), and ended up in a little hut eating pajeon. After a few bottles of magkeolli post climb we were feeling pretty warm. And how were we supposed to get home? We were at least 20 miles outside of Ulsan and the buses had no regular schedule out on the mountain.
Luckily, we found a guy in a van and hitched a ride. I offered him 20,000 KRW ($20) to get us back to the city. He didn’t speak any English so we just kept shouting “ULSAN” assuming he would be heading that way. We drank in the back of his van and found that, yes, we were going in the right direction. He ended up taking us back but started veering away from our destination. We ended up a bit scared so jumped out of the car at the next stop light and ran the remaining three miles home.
So, if you want to ever go on a little Korean trek, bring the magkeolli and plan on making friends.
The DMZ is about a 2.5 mile (4km) wide border line between North & South Korea that runs 160 miles (250 km) long.
Here is a bit about what I learned while taking notes on my first tour in late 2012:
**FUN Facts about the DMZ**
Our tour guide told us that we had seen the past, present, and future. The past was that the tunnels were built and we got to go inside on of them. The present was standing at the observatory and looking into the village with the North Korean people. The future was the train station and the hope that it can be reopened one day and that the countries can be unified.
**For more information about life in North Korea watch the following:
I missed two American Thanksgivings in a row and was a bit mopey.
But, no time to be sad. I have this amazing life abroad and get to hang out with super cute kids. I made them do a little project on what they were all thankful for.
Here’s a bit about what it looked like:
The above may not be PERFECT English, but still is very cute.
**I would love to hear opinions from other expats who have lived in Korea!!
Happy 21st birthday Heather. What better place to spend it than South Korea? After working for a bit over 6 months and being out of college I felt like I had a stable income. NO RENT OR CAR is always nice. So I bought my sis a ticket for her birthday to come visit me in the ROK. However, as my dad is obsessed with travel deals, he then bought my mom a ticket for HER birthday. So both of the ladies were off to see me in March of 2013. It would be a week filled with soju, KBBQ, going to the beach-ee, and of course me working because who has time for vacation while living this Korean life?
It was a late Saturday night in Incheon (Seoul airport) when I saw two blondies making their way through the gates. We hugged, laughed, didn’t cry and headed straight to our hotel in Gangnam where we would be staying for the night. Luckily I could just easily hop on the inexpensive KTX train and travel across the country in just over an hour and a half to meet up with them. We spent the weekend in Seoul site-seeing. We visited Gyeongbokgung Palace, went to the largest Christian church in the world (which apparently has a bit of controversy – oopsy), walked through the markets and ate everything. Ask ma about the egg-in-a-waffle – mashisayo!!
During the week they hung around Ulsan while I was teaching. I brought them to class one day to show them how I do my thing. When the kiddos saw the two other “Laurens” they were shocked. “Teachuhhhh, I am going crazy!” They also spent time at the beach, read in the sunshine, and enjoyed the local 7 Elevens. We went all around the city during the evenings. The night markets, good restaurants, and the beach were SO CLOSE to my house. I made sure that we were constantly eating because that’s what you do when you visit a new place. DUCK BBQ was my favorite restaurant that I took them to.
We spent the following weekend in my favorite city, Busan, and hung around Haeundae Beach for a day. I also took them to Gyeongju which is the historical capitol. I definitely got us very lost in Gyeongju for about three hours while we were heading in the wrong direction from what I had intended to bring them to. More eating, drinking, walking, busing, and Korea-ing.
Ma enjoyed seeing her wonderful daughter and was really impressed with all of the outdoor workout stations.
Showing them my home in Korea was so much fun. I love living across the world, speaking my bits and piece of Korean – 맥주주세요, and making sure others around me are having a good time.