Wednesday, February 28, 2007

New Term

Its been a crazy busy week this week. I've been tottering between sick and healthy for the last two weeks since I got back from Thailand. I think I haven't been getting enough sleep. As a result, I've missed most of my Korean classes (which I'm certain my teacher thinks I'm skipping due to drinking) and I haven't been getting much gym climbing in. However, my room is cleaner than ever and I've been getting in a little guitar playing too.

I teach at an academy that runs on four, 13 week (3 month) long terms through the year. At the end of each term, the students either move on to the next level or continue in the same class. Its really nice to change it up every 3 months. It breaks up a bit of the monotony of the job. This week started a new term and this term I even teach a new class to the lowest level of students we've ever had. These are kids who barely speak English. They're similar to my Korean level...nah...quite a bit better. I'm looking forward to the class and it'll be quite a fun challenge to teach it.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Unveiling

Our exploring has finally paid off with the unveiling of the excellent bouldering at Gwangyeongcheon (광령천)!!! Darren, Sam, 우진 (Ou-Jin), and I came out in the morning. John and Josh met us later in the afternoon. I think we ended up with about 10+ new boulder problems mostly in the easy to medium difficulty range with one super hard project. The bouldering is surprisingly good for Jeju. The rock is volcanic and in the riverbeds the rock is super solid. The challenge in finding good problems comes from the lack of holds and extreme slipperiness. For a climbing analogy, it's like climbing on the most polished limestone imaginable. For a non-climbing analogy, it's as slippery as glass coated with teflon.

Here's some photos of our shenanigans:

Our River of Bouldering Dreams

Driving In

The Approach

Hardcore Stretching

A Beautiful Setting

Sam Topping Out

Darren, Concentrating Hard

Me, Looking for the Next Hold

우진 (Ou Jin) Trying Hard

A Nice Mantle


우진 (Ou Jin) on the Project

Darren Trying the First Moves of the Project

Sam... Calm, Cool, and Collected

It's so slippery!!!

Happy Climbers!

The group responsible for unveiling the amazing bouldering of Jeju!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Thailand Rock Climbing Trip

After three years of dreaming about going to Thailand, I finally made it. I've been hearing stories about this rock climbing Mecca ever since I went to New Zealand. This was my one week opportunity to take in all I could! I couldn't have asked for a better holiday!

To be honest, it actually started out quite badly. I've never really traveled to a country like this so even after all the research, I still didn't know what to expect. I got there and felt like I was getting ripped off every turn. All those people are experts at taking advantage of naive foreigners, and I'm the most gullible of all of them. Things like my taxi ride from the airport and the first few nights of my bungalow were way overpriced.

My private bungalow.

I finally got to Railay Beach after 24 hours of travel time and was a little frustrated and overwhelmed. This place is quite a lot different than the dirtbagging climbing crags I'm used to. I stayed at Tonsai beach, where many of the backpackers stay, but the famous beach is Railay which is full of suitcase people. It really is quite a resort area. The next morning I woke up all frustrated but on my walk after breakfast, I met the two nicest people I'd meet on the whole trip: Michael and Angela. They needed gear and I needed a climbing parter, so we had a great mutual friendship and got some great climbing in for the next few days! We did some nice easy climbs and even went on a sweet snorkeling trip! I'd never been snorkeling before, so that was a great experience for me.

Michael and Angela


Sunset dinner on a deserted island.

The thing I was looking forward to most was the deep water soloing. I did two days of it during the trip. The first day was on our own in rented kayaks, and the second day was guided by Wee's Rock Climbing School. It was super-fun, but honestly, it wasn't a life changing experience. It was quite scary, since you don't really want to fall. I don't care what you say, falling in the water sometimes hurts, especially when you fall sideways. It was certainly a fun time, but nothing that I'll pursue any further than these little excursions.

Our ride, its called a 'longtail'

Climbers being dropped off in the kayak.

Too much fun!

Beautiful Climbing

Happy Climbers

I spent most of my time on the trip meeting cool people and climbing nearly every day. I love hanging around the backpacker's culture. There's so many interesting people to talk to and so many dreams being formed and realized. Towards the end of the week, I met and mostly hung out with a few folks from the 'Korea on the Rocks' message forum. They were super nice, it's too bad I can't ever see them while I'm in Korea! I also met John and Lisa, two folks I climbed with in New Zealand and Australia 3 years ago!! I couldn't believe they recognized me! Especially with my short hair!! Finally, on my last two nights, there was a cool fire dancing competition. Overall, it was a great trip, and I already can't wait to go back!

This is the outdoor climbing gym....Tonsai Roof.

There were lots of super strong climbers.

Strange climbs!

This was one of my favorites, 'The Lion King'

The beach is beautiful, even at low tide.


I climbed with John and Lisa In NZ 3 years ago!

Can't beat the views!

Fire Dancing Competition.

I wanna go back and never leave!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Back from Thailand!

I got back from Thailand yesterday morning. It was such an awesome trip, I had a great time every day of it! I wish I was still there! A week is just too short. However, it does feel good to be back in Korea. I've been spending hours sorting through all of my photos. I've got over 1000 to sort through! I wish I took more diverse pictures, rather than 100 of the same thing, but a couple turned out nice. I've gotta get to work now, so hopefully by tomorrow I'll get more pictures up and a story about the trip. This little teaser photo is me doing some deep-water soloing

Friday, February 02, 2007

Leaving for Thailand!!!

I can't believe how fast the time is flying by! As of yesterday, I've now worked in Korea for 6 months! Its amazing to look back at how much I've learned but also how much I still don't know. I'll write more on reflections later because right now I'll have plenty of time to reflect since.....

I'm leaving for Thailand tomorrow!!! I'm so excited!!! I sometimes wish I was going skiing, but right now for me, I think that this will be MUCH better. I checked the weather tonight The first 5 days look sunny and 90 degrees for the high, and 72 for the low. Normally, that sounds ridiculous to me, but right now I'm craving it! I'll be gone until the 13th. When I get back, I'll post lots of pictures of some awesome climbing and bouldering on the beach and deep water soloing over the ocean! I can't wait!