Camping in Deokjeokdo

21 07 2013

Over the last two plus years, I can say that I’ve traveled in Korea more than most Koreans. There are a handful of places still on my hitlist, but Deokjeokdo wasn’t even on my radar when my friends Katie, Stef, and Na invited me to go. In the last year or so, I’ve accumulated quite a bit of camping gear, but haven’t really had many opportunities to camp. I’ve gotten pretty accustomed to crashing in pensions in the mostly empty big rooms on a pile of blankets. Not this time! Camping time!

We searched Naver maps and blogs to find all the best info on Deokjeokdo, which mostly turned out to be wrong and outdated, so we had to wing it. I’ll try and give some more realistic advice for your adventure!

First thing, is that there are only two ferries that go to Deokjeokdo each day. The first leaves at 8, the second leaves at noon. For the sake of travel time, go for the 8 AM boat, because you’ll want as much time on the beautiful beaches as possible. Getting to the ferry terminal is a fun experience, because you’ll get to try and negotiate with terrorists, err, taxi drivers. Since the ferry is so far out, the drivers from Oido Station wouldn’t budge for less than 20,000 won. The estimate is 13,000 won on Naver, but since they have to come back to civilization, they want extra moola. Without traffic, it’s about a 20 minute ride.

Here’s a map to give you an idea of how far out of civilization it is:

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We got ferry tickets to Deokjeokdo for 9,800 won each way, and the boat takes about two hours. Make sure you get there early, because tickets tend to sell out on summer weekends according to the tourist info line.

While on the boat, do your best to avoid the little kids with shrimp chips. They feed the seagulls from their hands. You will get pooped on. There is indoor and outdoor seating, but the ground is a little dirty. I recommend bringing a beach mat with you (you can find these at Daiso for next to nothing.)

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Once you get to Deokjeokdo, there are several options for beaches. There are not, however, several options for taxis. Try to be the first off the boat and you might find a cab that can take you. Many pensions offer pick up, but the actual cabs on the island are tough to find, and no matter where you go, it’s 15,000. There is a bus that runs around the island, but if you’re in a big group with lots of gear, it’s just easier to grab a cab. Here’s the number of the man we used when we were going back: 010-2055-5855. I didn’t catch his name, but he speaks some English, even though I couldn’t understand him on the phone. I spoke Korean with him the whole time while giving him directions to where we were, then shows up speaking English. Oh well, my Korean skills are improving!

While we were on the ferry from Bangamori, a Korean business man came up and started chatting up Katie, then he proceeded to put whitening cream on Na, and bought us a couple beers. He invited us to go fishing and diving with him, explaining to us how he owns a factory in China that makes makeup brushes, and that diving and fishing is expensive, but he’ll take us and cover it. OKAY LET’S GO!!! But only 4 can go. The other 4 in our group had to find a way to get to the beach. Alone.

I didn’t really like that idea, and our sugar daddy of the day noticed. He had us all pile into the back of a Bongo truck with all our gear, but he had to stop for gas first. I should probably mention that Deokjeokdo is famous for bike riding, and massive 18% grades on hills. Steep stuff.

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Not our best idea…

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Weak engines and 10 people and gear in the bed of a tiny truck on a big hill at a gas station means crashing backwards into a cement fence and a pretty brick flower bed. Thank God for those otherwise we might have had some serious problems.

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Then, they dropped us off at Seopori Beach and went off to lunch… and never came back. Oh well. I’ll dive like crazy next month in Malaysia! 🙂

We set up camp up in the trees back from the beach. It wasn’t even noon and it was HOT. Weather reports suggested 90F for the high. It definitely felt like it. Make sure you bring a frisbee or a soccer ball or something, because this beach is huge and flat at low tide. There’s even some mud for playing! The girls had their own mudfest and were covered head to toe.

Here are a few pictures from my phone:

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Bon Anniversaire, Korea.

1 03 2012

That’s not the same as saying “Bon voyage!”

Nope, you’re stuck with me for another year.

Tuesday was my one year anniversary of living in Korea. Time sure moved quickly. It doesn’t really seem like it’s been a year yet. Maybe it’s because I haven’t had four seasons in a year since 2009. Plus, being from the Oregon Coast, having four distinct, changing seasons is a new thing to me anyway.

As many of you know, I have a really tough time identifying the amount time that passed since I did something. “The other day” can literally mean months ago. And after mentioning something to a friend of mine that allegedly happened “a while back,” we discovered that “a while” means well over a year. That something was getting ditched for Halloween (in 2010 mind you,) and subsequently buying some vino and watching multiple episodes of 30 Rock, timed perfectly with a friend on the other end of the phone doing the same thing. Good times a while back.

But seriously, I got here yesterday. And it was a good day.

So here are a few photos of some of the things I did. (In no particular order)

On the bike trip in Gyeongju

Busan's Jalgalchi Seafood market sells octopus sashimi so fresh, it still moves.

The teachers' retreat included sashimi, drunken fireworks, and karaoke with the principal in Gangwon-do.

Mychaela and I at the Namsan Tower's lock deck.

Foreigner soccer game: Cheap tickets + free beer/food = serious debauchery.

We bought tickets to go to NK... but we couldn't actually go there.

All time favorite restaurant in the Googs.

Chris and I wandered around Seoul for years looking for this tiny owl museum. Worth it just for the quirkiness!

Never try to put on Daylin's glasses. They're terrible! But Muuido is awesome!!

At Orientation, we were the cool kids. Clearly. (Beware of the creeper)

Beautiful cherry blossoms! And I used to think Trombley was amazing. WOW.

The boys later developed the no-pants rule. Noraebangs get pretty intense!!

You've seen this one before. NYE was a blast!

Lauren and I were eating ice cream on an art instillation in Haeundae. Some guy wanted to take a picture. We obliged.

Dart Bar. All day, erry day. Complete with crazy shirts.

Or randomly running into college friends at MudFest. Great times with Val and friends!

We're in a motorcycle gang. We rented bikes and rode by the river while some idiots abused themselves playing paintball.

Girls night in Hongdae!! Always fun times!

To offset the cost of veggies, I grew my own last year and just started new sprouts! Stoked for peppers and broccoli!

Why Laura asked me to pick up this bike, and why that guy looks so stoked, I'm still not sure. Hongdae is the only explanation.

Spent the afternoon perusing Gyeongbukgung with Chris. That day, he also got a photo my my first-ever, completely Korean conversation with a guy selling fans. I need to go back and get a fan. They were gorgeous.

Orientation got pretty elitist at one point. We were the "Suji 6" (even though I don't live in Suji) and then Dorian jumped in.

Sports day is possibly my favorite school day of the year. This fall, we get sports day AND school festival. I'm excited!!

Deceptive flowers are stinky. Checking out the traditional houses in Gyeongju.

On the train of sparkly socks headed to Busan, which then brings us to the Philippines! Such a blast with Lauren!

Quite possibly my favorite picture of me with my students. On the Double Rock and Roll at Everland. What a crazy day!

So those are just a few of the highlights of this year in Korea. There were highs and lows, complications and smooth sailing days. Friends have come and gone and need to come back. There are some people that need to leave. There were students whom I can’t stand and those I want to adopt. Icky kimchi and delicious kimchi. (I make the delicious kind.)

Either way, my life is so good.





But this is the English Zone!

26 02 2012

Okay guys, I just have to share the ridiculousness that is happening in my office right now.

Last year, all 5 of the teachers here in my office were English teachers. We are in the super fancy, never-gets-used-because-it-cost-too-much, English Zone, after all. Now, all of the long term teachers have been moved up to the 2nd floor main office, and I’m the only one left in here.

The other department heads (NOT English) have been moved in here, and now they’re moving all the English materials out of my office and into the hallway, and moving science/math/Korean stuff in. I really want to protest, since the English materials (DVDs, games, books and other supplies) are all on open bookshelves and are going to be destroyed by the kids in about 4 days, and they moved in lockers that are lockable.

They’ve now detached the water dispenser from the pipes, moved it over about 3 feet and put a paper shredder in its place. Why they couldn’t move the broken fridge and put the shredder there, I still don’t understand. I asked if we could move the mini fridge out to the closet in the English Zone (since it is broken), but they said no, we must keep it in this office. GGGAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!

Godzilla, you understand, right? So why haven't you come to Korea?!?

Though it’s been said, many times, many ways,

Korea is where logic goes to die.

On the bright side, they’ve just demanded that the principal install walls that are real, not the loading dock door and the plastic dividers with windows like we currently have. Let’s hope that we can get in and out after that… since the maintenance guy said that our door lock can’t be fixed until July.

Where’s the tool box? I’m my mother’s daughter, I’ll do it myself.





Wine in Korea is “meh” at best. Watch as we try to find the best of “meh!”

22 02 2012

So Jessica and I decided that we were going to take advantage of all the wine sales going on lately. Emart and HomePlus have been selling a bunch of red wines at a pretty good price over the last few months. From what I’ve read in Korean magazines, wine is a fairly new thing, except for Korean plum wine and raspberry wine, which are very unique flavors and for many, an acquired taste that demands more than your standard bottle of decent wine… such is my case.

This project was slightly inspired by my friend Sara, my distaste for sickeningly sweet red wine (which somehow always gets served at staff dinners…), and my desire to find a palatable red wine at a price that doesn’t rival the Gangnam clubs. Those are pricey. Jessica call the wines we’re testing out “won conscious wines.”

Tonight’s agenda brings us a wine that I found at Emart for a whopping 8,900 won. This is about $10.

Tasty first try! We recommend this one!

We stocked up last time we went shopping, so we have a lineup of wines that we know absolutely nothing about. This one is a Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile, 2010, and delicious.

I prefer medium dry wines, not too sweet, fairly rich, but none of that “earthy” crap. I don’t want to feel like I just drank dirt. If my tongue gets dried out, you’re doing it wrong. This one does it right. None of the dry linger, earthy nonsense. Just smooth tasty, slightly fruity, goodness.

AND AFTER ONE SIP, DANI’S PANTS CAME OFF!

(Thanks Jessica for your input. Those were fancy pants, which quickly became sweatpants, by the way.)

Tonight's agenda included not only wine, but also dress up and make-overs, hence the lipstick. 🙂

Anyway. Jess gives it a 9 our of 10, and I’d give it an 8.5. Either way, we’d drink it under most circumstances. Cheers!





Famous on the internet

17 02 2012

When I was a freshman in university, Youtube was a fairly new thing. “Daft Hands” and “The Evolution of Dance” (I met that guy!!) had me mesmerized, and “Charlie The Unicorn” and “Charlie Bit Me” nearly make me lose my shit. They still get me from time to time, you gotta love the throwbacks to 2006.

Now we have things like Bieber and that nonsense Rebecca Black does. (Does she have eardrums? And Glee producers, I’m glaring at you over my Korean hipster frames, since I don’t wear glasses. Unacceptable.) I do love Jenna Marbles and My Drunk Kitchen, so Youtube has its redeeming accounts.

So last year, before I came to Korealand, wonderous world of no-Hulu or America only videos, I saw this little diddy of educational perfections:

I knew I had to do it. They all had such straight faces, but I had to make it fun. Somehow.

But how?

Sing along and dance like an idiot.

My 7th graders were amazing and we put it together (if you take away the drawing signs time) just over an hour. We made the video, and I posted it that night on Youtube. Here it is:

That hooting sound at the beginning is me. I almost dropped the camera while adjusting it on the tripod. Oops. My kids I had so much fun, rocking out and getting into it.

First, facebook liked it. I figured we’d sit pretty at a few hundred views, 303 to be exact.

Turns out, 303 is the number Youtube gets stuck at when a video is going viral.

My friend from Pacific, Vincent, commented on a post that it was moving up on Reddit. I was on my phone and out for the day, so I had no idea the interwebs were blowing up with my lovely students. Reddit has some serious trolls, so I had to do some damage control there. One Redditor so kindly made a meme out of one of my students.

This kid follows me at school. I swear to god he's everywhere, and thanks to a Redditor, now he really is.

 

After Reddit, it went bananas.

Huffington Post (HOLY CHRISTMAS.)

 

College Humor

 

The Independent

 

Tastefully Offensive!

 

There were many more, like thedailywhat, buzzfeed, theawesomer, storyful, knowyourmeme, several university websites (like Syracuse, but not Pacific??) and many local news outlets. Sadly, none from Oregon. Cue the sad face. 😦

I did happen to love the commentary from Tuscon Weekly.

And one that I discovered only recently… Perez Hilton posted our video!!

421,666 views right now. Maybe half of them were from me.

I’m SUPER proud of my kids. Here’s to another year of trying to make the textbook irrelevant!





Guess what? It’s cold.

17 02 2012
Photo credit goes to Roooooommate.

These earmuffs were made from lace. Better keep that fabric on the flossy stuff. It doesn't keep you warm.

Aaaaaand COLD = Winter.

Winter = Holidays.

Holidays = Story time.

I’m currently in bed wearing sweats, wool-ish giraffe socks, a dozen layers, a scarf and a hat. I’m underneath 3 comforters and still chilly. It’s only right that it’s snowing outside and my heater is struggling more to heat up now than I do in the mornings. Seriously, getting out of my massive nest of warm blankets and pillows with hot water nalgenes is an epic battle that can only rival the fight scenes of 300... just in slowER motion and not so gory. (PS, I seriously couldn’t help myself on that link.)

Anyway, I haven’t really updated on holiday shenanigans. You should be used to that since I’ve failed as a blogger since I haven’t done too much out of the normal Korea routine. I don’t have a single photo of Thanksgiving. My memory card was full and all my pictures from the spring magically got deleted… so I was nervous. There are people just as bad as me, because there isn’t a single one on facebook either. Moving on. There was lots of wine, lots of people, lots of firewood and lots of fun. Karaoke, cooking, card games, bonfires, and a game that used lots of adjectives and adverbs to describe a few choice body parts. We made it all the way to Y and them for some reason everybody stood up and yelled “good game!” and left for bed. Xenophobic? Zesty? Come on people! Still fun though!

And here it's snowing!!

The weekend after Thanksgiving was Rubber Seoul, which is a fundraiser for an AIDS/HIV education and prevention group. We got to see a whole bunch of live shows at the bars in Hongdae, and that was a lot of fun. Dancing and general silliness ensued. A certain somebody that isn’t me ran into not one, but two of the guys she was seeing while out dancing. Not awkward at all. Hysterical, actually. On a more normal note, one of the bands we saw was Angry Bear, and they had a pretty good show at Gogo’s 2.  Check them out here.

The weekend after that was also amazing. SANTACON 2011.
I got to see my Thanksgiving cooking partner in crime, Kita.  We were a tad slow coming from Gugal (What else is new?) and we missed the mass transit migration of Santas en masse. We rallied in Hongdae at the Ho Bar III, aka “Ho Ho Ho!” There were drinks, dancing Santas, and a generally fun pub crawl. I proudly taught the bartenders at Shamrock how to make Washington apple martinis. Yum.

Rooommate and I at Santacon

 

We thought it was a brilliant idea to purchase RED red lipstick... hilarity ensued. (This is Kita, btw!)

After SantaCon, we had an awesome Christmas. I traveled yet again with When in Korea and cooked a delicious dinner. Met a slew of new awesome people. It was too cold to play any games outside, but there was a white elephant exchange, and norae-cabin. So much fun singing Christmas carols and ABBA songs.

I also enjoyed photobombing pictures. 🙂

New Years Eve was also pretty exciting. We went to COEX mall in Seoul, where there was a fancy wine buffet. We got classy. I wore a dress and heels that haven’t been touched since they got unpacked last February. More cool new friends and silly stories. Lauren, Kayla and I missed midnight fireworks by missing the subway and having to take the next one. Oops. We hit the karaoke place for several hours and rode the first trains home in the morning. Such a fun night!

The hooligans of NYE.

 

Even classy pictures get photobombed. I got to play with Andy's fancy camera. Here's one of Lauren.

 

Why is this always my candid photo face? I'm like my mom in the regard that I can never take a normal candid. Seriously.

 

Well, here’s to 2012 and another year in Korea!





Let’s be honest…

23 11 2011

I’m a terrible blogger.

I haven’t written since August, even though I promised I’d post pictures and whatnot from the Philippines.

My bad.

So since the last time we saw our heroine, many people have come and gone from Gugal, crazy stuff has happened, and some life plans have been changed.

I didn’t talk about Boryeong Mud Festival from July, how Laura fell off a bus and broke her legs.

Stuck in bed for weeks at a time = everybody brings pizza.

I didn’t talk about Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) and the trip to Busan for Mychaela’s Korean birthday…

Me on Chuseok in front of the bridge at Gwanganli Beach, Busan

 

And I haven’t mentioned the ridiculous clothes that Korea sells…

Why is it that the only things I can wear in Korea are hideous and/or prison uniforms?

 

So the fall was pretty slow in my neck of the woods, so there’s not really much to update through September/October. November has been fun so far. But cold. Oh, so cold.

I swear once I find my pictures (the spring/summer folder is mysteriously gone…) I’ll post on facebook. But there are 3 computers (2 of which are in Korean) and a hard drive that might have them hiding… “I’ll put them somewhere safe where I won’t forget!”

Right. Because when you’re Dani, that always works out in your favor.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody. Spend some time with my family and give them lots of love for me!








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