"DON'T Hassle Me...I'm Local."

Trip Start May 28, 2010
Trip End Jun 06, 2010

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Flag of Korea Rep.  ,
Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I'd be lying to you if I said I didn't have a slight hangover when I woke up this morning. A night of boozing and dancing on the roof with beautiful island views might be magical, but it certainly doesn't prevent the inevitable. Brielle must have been wondering what on earth was taking so long for me to get out of the shower, because it was the most strategic shower I'd ever taken in my entire life! In most Korean apartments, the shower is not separate from everything else in the bathroom. And in this case, the shower head was located right above the toilet, so I didn't have any real safe place to put my change-of-clothes or my towel. I had to meticulously place my articles of clothing in places where I thought they were least likely to get wet, as I was much too big for this shower to begin with. Somehow, I got out of there only having my shirt slightly drenched, and there's nothing like using hot shower water to brush your teeth!

After a delicious Korean breakfast with some hoddeok (brown sugar pancakes) and pul bbang (doughnut holes), we started planning a bus trip out to the center of the island, where we heard only few tourists dare set foot. On the walk to the bus station, we ran into our South African friend, Zelna, who regretably informed us that their tour group would be heading back one day early because of severe storms predicted. Finding out that the last boat heading to Sokcho (northeast part of South Korea) would leave at 2:30, we were left with a couple hours for a decent hike. Yesterday, Brielle had mentioned to me that she really wanted to go see this lighthouse atop the island, and I did, too.

We had just enough time to get there, but we had to execute it perfectly, because neither of us were 100% sure on which route to take. Along this backwoods trail, I heard a humming, similar to the sound you'd hear from a quiet airconditioning vent. Looking down, I spotted a hidden hose running up the side of this mountain, carefully covered in shrubs and wavy grass.

"This must be the water supply for the lighthouse, I was starting to mention to Brielle, when something rudely interrupted me.

"Baaaaah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah!" A strange noise came from down the mountain.

"Was that...Goat Boy?" I asked, half-serious. Brielle wasn't quite sure what I was talking about, but laughed when I referenced the hilarious Jim Brewer skit from Saturday Night Live in the 1990s. Sure enough, there were some free-roaming, black goats lurking in the bushes down below. I found myself staring at them because they never looked away from me. I couldn't help but think of the movie, "The Men Who Stare at Goats", but that was a crappy film and I was getting bored.

The humidity was really taking its toll, and my favorite shirt was gradually becoming unwearable. One of my favorite movies is "What about Bob?", and one of my favorite scenes of that movie is when Bob (Bill Murray) shows up to his Therapist's private home in Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire wearing a shirt that says (in all caps) "DON'T HASSLE ME, I'M LOCAL." Of course, he looks like a fish out of water in this town, and naturally, it was my duty to wear this shirt not only in honor of Bill Murray, but to poke fun of the lack of English here. Well, that, and I clearly tend to entertain myself with silly jokes that only I laugh at. Fine with me! When we reached the area just before the lighthouse, I was baffled.

"There has to be another way up here!" I shouted, as I saw a large guest house with a nice fence around it, all looking like a getaway resort spot. You can't seriously tell me that all the guests and workers have to hike all the way up here just to stay here for the night. I pondered this to myself as I was further puzzled when I saw that there was a history museum inside the annex of this guest house. Brielle and I were the only people in sight, and when we were strolling through the museum alone, I noticed there was, in fact, no other way up here than that narrow, dirt trail.

The lighthouse itself was well worth the trip. It was polished white like it had been routinely maintained, and it served somewhat as a "beacon of recognition" of our efforts and not giving up on a fun idea because it initially seemed irrational. I took a picture posing with the random dolphin outside the lighthouse, and of course, did my traditional "happy jump" where I leap victoriously in accomplishment like a Rocky movie (even when it's just something trivial).

Perhaps the best shot of the day was a video I took from the walk down to the back dock, showcasing the all-around beauty that was Ulleung-do. I couldn't help but realize how tall Brielle was as I was standing next to her, and then I mentioned something ridiculous like, "If we ever had kids, how tall do you think they'd be? Like mutant, Lebron James offspring, freakish tall?" The laugh over that was much-needed, as we were still out of breath and sweaty from that climb.

The walk back was relaxing, and Brielle captured a wonderful shot of a Korean family fishing together out on this rock. The boat ride to Sokcho seemed a bit easier than the ride we took to the island. Brielle and I spent most of the time discussing how one makes the executive decision to just come out here and teach English, despite having no experience. It honestly startled me. I am a man who likes to have a lot of practice at something because, when it comes down to it, I want to do the job right. Apparently, one is not afforded that luxury out here. She mentioned that she was lucky enough to have the first night off! The folks at her school picked her up from the airport directly, and then informed her that she "didn't have to work that day", and that most people do. Wow. It really gave me second thoughts about my ability to wrangle children from the get-go.

Stopping off back in Pohang before we could head on to Sokcho, we had a few hours till kill until our bus departed. Brielle and I wandered into a mall, where she found a pair of ass-enhancing panties, which apparently is a hot item for Koreans who think they are ill-equipped back there. We grabbed some dinner at an expensive sushi place, and then passed out during the bus ride to Sokcho. Getting off the bus, it was eerily similar to our bad experience in Pohang the first time around, where we were getting blasted by rain. Because of the Korean holiday (Chusok), we had limited options of places to say. Our intention was to stay in Sokcho for the night and head to Seoraksan the next morning. That didn't work out too well, as all the non-English speaking cabbies kept repeating "Seoraksan...Seoraksan...". So we gave in and took a cab with a driver who I swear must have been a stunt double in the movie "Days of Thunder". It was raining outside and we could barely see, but the driver was taking turns at what felt like 70 mph, and nearly led Brielle and I to a fresh pair of undies in the process.

At this point, I was just ready to get a good night's sleep in a nice hotel, and sleep in for the big hike we had planned for tomorrow. The hotel was perfect. It had heated floors and was only about $50 for the night. Buenas noches!
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