Rice Beats

Yongwol Travel Blog

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Entries like this are tough to explain accurately. Where could I start with what is in competition for the best weekend of all time. It seems to me that these incredible memories and new friends keep piling up. So much so that it is hard to keep up with. I feel like I haven't entered something extensive in here in quite a while and I can't remeber what all is missing in here. I know that it has been good, it has been fun, it has been memorable and the good times keep on rollin. I will try my best to depict the events of the past weekend as accurately as I currently am able to do. I feel like many of these entries will need to be revisited soon when I have some time for some fine tuning. Only bummer is I cannot access these at work, which would be great this week cause the kids are taking their finals and I'm doing squat. I took a two hour nap today at work directly after lunch.

I am currently sitting at the coffee shop, having just downed a sugary espresso con pana waiting on Chae Young so that she and I may ride to Gangnam for some Haemul Dukjim (spicy seafood soup). This weekend was my first big trip with the meetup.com crowd. I went on a bicycle adventure with them the previous weekend, which lead to what requires some serious physical capabilities, which I am fortunate enough to possess. My original plan was to meetup with a couple of guys Friday night and have dinner and do the grocery shopping for 45. However, I had a request from two couchsurfers to come hang out. I allowed for the couchsurfers to come instead. Having already met them the previous evening at our weekly couchsurfing dinner I usually host, I knew they would be nothing short of a good time, not to mention that they are both beautiful women who wanted to hang out at my apartment and play drinking games and eat pizza. I made it known that I required much sleep as I would be having a fun-filled weekend. So after the pizza and beers  we crashed. Being the gentleman that my mother raised me to be, I let Vanessa (we gave the Korean girl an English name) take the bed and July (pronounced Julie, a Korean-Brazilian) took the couch. Meanwhile, I rolled out my mat for myself and crashed out on the floor.

Too early the next day, I made my way to the necessary subway stop in Seoul to be the 3rd to last on the bus. Turns out my timing was perfect, cause I did not have to wait for anyone and I wasn't the last on the bus, who apparently is required to sing a song for everyone (not that I wouldn't be doing an extensive amount of that later anyway). I pretty much just crashed on the bus for most of the trip. I managed to say hello to a few familiar faces and make friends with a couple more. I sat next to Erin, whom I feel I did not have much in common with. She is not enjoying Korea and will not even finish her contract. She's from a small town and is currently living in one of the largest and busiest cities in the world. That along with her "forcefield" around her surrounding environment has created what I can only imagine as a "living hell." I feel sorry for her. I did my damndest to spice up her attitude, but some folks just aren't along for the ride. Nonetheless, this trip was incredible. We were a bit late getting to the river for the rafting. We stopped along the way to load up on some Korean food buffett style. Quite the deal for only 5,000 Won. After the delciousness (which reminded me so much of a Golden Corral or Ryan's, except with non-crappy food) I grabbed an ice cold six pack and loaded back on the bus.

We all arrived at the destination, lightly boozed up, for a three hour trip down the river. There was about 7 per boat. We were the A team, but not sure that was an appropriate name cause I certainly felt b-sided. It was difficult to get, what I deam as merely medicocre, enthusiasm from the guide. Nor was he skilled at his current summer job. We got stuck on nearly every little rock on the river and missed about half of the "attractions" along the way, including a nice little jump off a rock. I did however fall off the boat during the "dangerous section #4," which by any stretch of the imagination was not dangerous, but was in fact a joke that he prepped us the way he did. I just decided to let loose a little and not make any effort to stay on board. Come on!, I needed something to pep up my time on the course as it was basically a casual stroll down the river and the "dangerous" section, included a slight rustle in the water barely creating an actual "white water." There was one cool part where we got to be water boarded in ice ice ice cold water, clean enough to drinking during the boarding. I had to ask another guide to dunk me because our less than energetic guide did not seem up to the task of providing any fun for his "crew." The water it self was delicious and sobering.

After the course, we stopped at a mart to load up on extra beer and soju, in case the ridiculus amounts already on board failed to appetize us. Our pension for the evening was a renovated middle school. As soon as we unloaded the goodies, William (our fearless leader) and a few of us good men...and eventually ladies, got to task in the kitchen. It was a nice size kitchen and I immediately felt like I was on "Top Chef" or something, preparing dishes for 45. Chopping veggies and barking orders at people, I mean...someone had to do it and since I have the experience and necessary balls, I took charge and got shit happening. It was a good time in that kitchen. Meat was seasoning, veggies were chopped, potatoes were wrapped. I eventually quit working cause we had an influx of volunteers and some girl brought in a bottle of wine, which suited me just fine to sit on an unoccupied counter and drink. I decided also to grab the guitar and play some tunes for everyone...cause I mean, what's a good kitchen where everyone is drinking and playing with sharp objects without some tunes.

Dinner was delicious and quite possibily the perfect amount of food. With only a few tomatoes and onions uneaten, every single person ate and ate and ate. Nobody went hungry and no food was wasted. Success! The only remnants of leftovers were a few grains of rice in the bottom of the large bowl, which was turned upside down and seconded as a drum beat during the jam session, hence the name "rice beats." (I just love the creativity I feel during jam sessions) I hope I can get pictures from people cause I sure as hell didn't take any...too busy having a good time to think about pictures. I played the guitar and sang and then there were about 5 pots and pans drummers keeping the beat alive. A Welsh girl graced us with her absolutely amazing voice for the duration of the evening, which was truly "music to my ears," pun absoltely intended. Someone put something into a plastic bottle and BOOM! we had shakers. Trisha came to join after her hookah session and she picked the guitar, while I jammed on a harmonica I found in someone's pocket.

This lead to a firework display where the American National Anthem was sung in a most interesting manner. I believe a few other represented nationalities sang their song as well. After a good 20minute fireworks show and my proud and inebriated display of my patriotic underwear was shown (not as bad as it sounds, I have American flag boxers and exposed only enough to make a statement, which was taken will laughter and smiles), we needed another perfect timing activity to keep things rolling. After what seemed like a short while, or the usual party time BS, someone announced it was time for the mudwrestling portion of the evening. Perfect! Not that I would participate, I still managed to get enough mud splashed on me to represent my presence. Trisha, Mike, Sally and I took care of the music during the matches, which were totally dominated by one guy. Some girls fell about 5 feet off the deck, William was lead neck first into a door frame, Chloa, Mike and I discussed the relative theory of whether of not a particular pair of aqua shoes were in fact green or yellow and who had the right to make such interpretations of colors and when I went to go to my little place of rest in a room of 20, there were two couples laying all over my blanketed area. A guy and his girlfriend and two dudes, I debated whether or not the nestle myself in between everyone and discussed the possibilty of "accidentals" with Mike. We came to no conclusion because we were interupted by the sound of violent laughter in the tent area outside where we ate. Went out their to polish off some moonshine I brought with me.

First thing next morning, we stumbled out of the comfortable sleeping positions we all wound up in and made our way outside. I grabbed the classical guitar and went into the girls' room to wake them up with a G Love song (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xROEYE691Wo&feature=related). William had won a bet with Cory cause he was up first so Cory had to down a whole bottel Soju in the morning and the clever chap pretended to do so, creating a sense of appreciation for the man I had never had for anyone in my life. I even cracked open a beer cause I felt he shouldn't drink alone at 8am. Turns out he is a sneaky little f^*% and had water in there. Well my beer was very real and very delicious. William and I took care of everyone's breakfast. He had grillcheese and sandwhich duty and I had hashbrown duty. A few others were making the pb&j and tomato and ham sandwiches for everyone's lunch snack. As sometimes happens when you prepare breakfast for 45 people, sometime's there is not enough left over to make a sandwich for the chef :(. All is good, cause I whipped up some onions and tomatoes with some salt and pepper for myself, this was actually perfect cause that meant that every single scrap of food brought was eaten.

We got back on the bus and headed for the mountains where we began our 4-6 hour trek down a river/stream. At the first, there was a spot where some of us jumped off a bridge into the water. One of the most sobering things I have ever taken part of in my life. That water was cold beyond recognition, not only did it awaken me from my sloshy state of drunkeness from the previous evening, place my manhood in my throat and send me shivering to the shore, but it also cleared my headache and fully awakened me, which I really really needed for what lied ahead. We walked along a river for hours, stopping wherever we pleased. We swam at places, chilled at spots, walked along the shore on a trail in areas. We found about 2 or 3 other spots to jump into the water. There was one in particular that I believe I enjoyed more than anyone. It was about a 15 foot drop into the icey river, with a slight waterfall in the landing zone. You had to be careful cause there were rocks to the left, which posed an immediate threat to the jump and if you jumped too far to the right, you would get caught up in the vortex of the waterfall and have a difficult time excaping. We had to jump about 1 meter out from the point where the water was landing and quickly aim left for the perfect jump. I had no reservation about this and immediately tested this out. I think I jumped about 10 times or so. I decided that as olong as everyone was lounging around I would make the most of it and enjoy myself just how I saw fit. I was even able to talk this grl into that stood amid the top of the jump for about 30 minutes. I even got her to do it twice. Maybe a life changing experience for her, haha. An old, and extremely drunk, Korean man plunged into the water with no regard for my direction as to land slightly left of the falls. He intended up getting stuck on the right side of the waterfall and every time he let go of the rocks he was clinging to for deal life, he would submerge into the water. I wasted no time. Having just jumped and still being in the water, I kicked of my flipflops caused the prevented me from swimming well. And I hauled ass, swimming against the current into the waterfall and through it to get to the man, doing my best to speak Korean to him telling him to do as I did and even grabbing him and trying to pry is kungfu like grip from the rocks he resisted and I could not get him on the left side of the falls. I managed to get him about half way. I could only imagine his fear, the falling water created an intense sound being only less than 2 meters from our heads and he seemed to have no clue how to swim, plus the guy was absolutely hammered. His friends had came around atop the rocks 15 feets above our heads and lowered some giant rubberband looking thing, which the guy latched onto and pushed from the bottom while they pulled from the top. After he was securely on top of the rock I swam back through the falls and made my way to the resting zone, where there were many many spectators of the event waiting to thank me. Good dead for the day, check :). Now where the hell were my flipflops! I decided sometimes nice guys finish last and went about my merry way with my friend Chloa. Then I heard Mike say, "John! Missing anything?" Yay! He picked up the flops about 50meters down stream. Whataguy! Now that, made my day! It would have been a very difficult journey with nothing on my feet.

We finally finished the trek, after more resting, lunch, more jumping spots (minus any lifesaving rescues) and swimming. We all celebrated the course with a few cold toasts and some bibimbap. I went to go grab some icecream for dessert, but was stopped by some Koreans who gave me some of their food they were grilling. Not that I was hungry, I still indulged and enjoyed the gracious offering. Grabbed a few party favors and some ice cream and loaded on the bus for our journey home. Karoake style most of the way back, it was a great trip home. No one seemed to care it would be nearly midnight before we got to Seoul which meant 1 or even 2 am for some of us to our final destinations. I caught a bus with the guy from Egpyt, whose name I still cannot remember. We had a great discussion of religion as he is a devout Muslim adn I have recently read some spiritual literature. We got back to Suwon and parted ways. I had no cash, but the store was open and had an ATM. Howver, the ATM was in no mood to be helpful for me. I was stranded. A good hour walk from my place, no cash 1:30am. I walked over to the line of Koreans waiting for a taxi and started asking who was headed to Youngtong (my district). The first guy I asked said yeah, I told him how I had no money and the ATM would not take my card. He spoke Korean I most certainly could not understand and just pointed to the taxi an told me to get in. The cab asked my destination and I told him. Thinking to myself, "this will definately be going in my 'above and beyond' blog, we arrived at my destination after taking the absolute longest route possible in order to run up the meter. The cab who spoke great English said for me to give him my ATM card cause the other passanger told him what was up with me. So I had no choice, well I guess I could just ran, but since that's not how I roll, I figured $%^ it, I'll just pay the asshole! I was pretty pissed cause I had to not only pay for the whole ride there, but the other guy got the free ride and the ticket was probably 3 times what it should have been. I know the streets on Suwon and this route was ridiculous. Whatever man, I still think this was one of the most incredible weekends, despite the less than smooth ending. Two more weeks and I'll be in Japan!!! Woop Wooop!!

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Yongwol