My apologies for not posting during these past couple of weeks, but allow me to update you on what I’ve been up to. After my first trip up to Seoul, I returned the following weekend for another rugby tournament, and it was on the American Army base. This time we had no trouble locating the field. We won two games and then lost the last one. It was nice being back in “America” with fast food places everywhere, hearing only English and there was even a prom going on for the high school kids. However, as much as I appreciated being there I do prefer living in Gwangju and having a true Korean experience.
|Richter getting in on the action.|
|Making a run down the wing.|
|Trey with the tackle.|
|In rugby a throw-in is where one, and sometimes two, players from each teach is lifted up and they try to grab the ball from each other.|
|The two Americans on the team, Trey and myself.|
I stayed the night up in Seoul and ended up having my wallet stolen, again only in Itaewon, so I dealt with that the next morning, cancelled all my cards and headed home. TL, my boss and James really came through for me on a Sunday morning and I appreciated their help very much.
The following week was my vacation, so I had plans to go to Busan and the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Because my Alien Registeration Card (ARC) was in my wallet I couldn’t go to the DMZ and I didn’t want to travel with only cash and my passport. So I stayed in Gwangju, hiked up Mudeungsan Mountain, went to a KIA Tigers game and reapplied for my ARC.
|This is the map I used to get up the mountain. Actually it was a sign and did a decent job helping me get around.|
|A nice stream to start at.|
|Part of the town at the base of Mudeungsan Mt. which is only a 15 minute bus ride from my apartment.|
|Getting started but most of the climb was this steep.|
|I don't think these are burial mounds since I saw some Koreans having a picnic on them later.|
|That's right we have don't feed the bears signs and they have don't feed the squirrels signs.|
|A soju and makgeolli (rice wine) pit stop provided by some Korean men I talked to.|
|Decided to climb up the hillside.|
|Finished the climb to Seoseokdae Column which is the largest rock column, inland, on the Korean Peninsula.|
|Great seats thanks to Graham and his buddy on the KIA team!|
|Having some Korean barbacue after the game.|
The next weekend we had our home rugby tournament in Suncheon, which is about an hour from Gwangju and is one of the most scenic bus trips in Korea. It’s like traveling through Western North Carolina but the mountains are more majestic and there are no West Virginia state flowers covering the hillsides. We ended up winning the tournament, no one scored on us and after a slow start I held my own on the wing.
Afterwards we watched some Rugby World Cup games in Suncheon at San Antonio’s bar with all of the rugby players from each of the visiting teams. It was a blast and definitely turned into a late night. One of the things that I like about San Antonio’s is that the owner is from Mexico so I can practice my Spanish with him.
I've realized from living here in Korea that most other foreigners, especially the South Africans, can speak at least two and sometimes three other languages besides English. It's really put in context for me how important it is to be able to communicate with your neighbors and I'm going to focus on improving my Spanish when I return home.
|All the rugby teams hanging out.|
This past weekend was a lot of fun just staying in Gwangju, taking advantage of the beautiful fall weather and going to German Bar. I love hanging out at that bar after working all week, and this past weekend it was slammed. I’m guessing that all the new people who started their contracts in August are done traveling around Korea and are now hanging out in Gwangju.
On Sunday I watched the Rugby World Cup final between New Zealand and France at Speakeasy and it was a great game. I was pulling for the All-Blacks since the tournament was in New Zealand and they hadn’t won since the first Rugby World Cup in 1987. Also, the only team that has beaten them in the previous two RWC's is France creating an incredible atmosphere around the game. New Zealand pulled out the victory 8-7, and it was great being able to appreciate the game after playing for the past couple of months.
This week I'm getting my new ARC, preparing for Halloween, No-Shave November and in two weeks we have one last rugby weekend. All in all, I’m pretty excited about what’s coming up and I’ll be sure to do a better job keeping you updated.