This past weekend was my first Adventure Korea trip: a weekend of mountain hiking and butterfly watching – highly appropriate for the weekend after Earth Day. On Saturday, I woke up at the wee hours of 6:30am to catch the bus to Gangnam, to then catch the tour bus to Mt. Gangcheon. It was a four-ish hour ride down and I napped most of the way.

On a side note, Korea has some interesting rest stops. One that we stopped at had a generously sized garden in the women’s room, while another one had trailers that had been made into bathrooms. As in the kind of trailers that can be driven away. O_O

We hiked Mt. Gangcheon for about four hours and most of the time I was actually doing really well. There’s was a thirty to forty minute period where we were basically going straight up the mountain via stairs and rock that was pretty much kicking everyone’s butts but after that the adrenaline, endorphins and whatnot kicked in and we start booking. The view from the top was fantastic. Enjoy some photos:

My favorite picture of the trip!

Temples: Always a great photo opportunity.

On another side note, there were a lot of Koreans hiking too and most of them were older and clearly in better shape than all us huffing and puffing foreigners. We were told later that this particular hike would be considered easy to Koreans… Again:  O_O.

The climb down was much, much easier, partially because the path was better. Why couldn’t we have climbed up that way?! Halfway down, we ran into a building where a family practices an “ancient, Korean form of martial arts” (I was not told the name… the granddaddy of Taekwondo?) and they preformed for us. Very cool.

We ended the hike at a hot springs and stay there for about an hour before moving on to a galbi restaurant. It was good, but all the galbi I’ve had in Suwon is far superior. As it should be, since Suwon is known for its galbi.

Speaking of Suwon, there were about eight other people from Suwon on this trip. Most of them teach at other hakwons, however one of them is an April teacher in Dongtan.

On Sunday, we headed out to Hampyeong for the Butterfly Festival (함평나비대축제). Oh the things we did there. We toured a greenhouse where we released butterflies (while being filmed by a group trying to promote tourism in Korea). We caught rabbits and chickens. I caught a chicken (as a rabbit owner, I didn’t need to go chasing after a rabbit on my vacation) and for it won a bag of special Hampyeong butterfly rice. I do not know how different it is from real rice but eventually I’ll pop it into my rice cooker and find out. Originally we were supposed to catch baby wild boar but hoof and mouth disease is going around, so… we did not catch any hoofed animals.

After that, we ate some barley and peas that had been roasted on a fire in a hole in the ground. Very tasty. And as if that weren’t enough – we got to catch mudfish! Most people would not put an exclimation point at the end of that sentence, but I had a lot of fun. We wadded into a small pond and sifted through nice and thick much to find the eely little fishies while little kids (and those videographers that had been filming us) followed us around.

As it turns out, I’m a pretty good mudfisher. Everyone else was having a hard time finding and catching them and the people running the mudfish pond were having to throw more in to increase their chancing of catch them… But the big problem was they were shouting, carrying on and flailing about – you know, letting the mudfish know where they were. I however entered a zen-like trance and was able to catch two or three of them before anyone else caught one. At one point, I had one mudfish in my hand and I could feel one under my foot so I told one of the other girls on the trip about it. She caught that one and I felt ANOTHER mudfish under my foot. So with my free hand, I reached down and pulled that one out too with no struggle. You read that right: No. Struggle. I am the mudfishing master. Right after that, the camera people asked to interview me about my mudfishing experience. Its suppose to air with the other footage they tood on Friday at 7am, 10am and 7pm. But I don’t know on what channel…

Following the mudfishing, we broke off and explored the festival for another two hours before heading home. I went with another adventurer to hike up a hill where they had golden bats, but sadly we went up the wrong hill and by the time we realized the mistake it was time to go. But again, the view was beautiful.

Enjoy some butterfly festival pictures:

Aren't they adorable?

Oh, the glorious colors!

Speaking of colors…

There were, however, no butterflies at these flowers.

It's friendly. I promise.

Next weekend, I have a Chungdahm company picnic to look forward to and the following weekend, I’ll be on Adventure Korea’s Caving and Ferrying trip on Saturday along with some of the training gang. April is a busy month for me.