A Travellerspoint blog

May 2007


oldies but goodies

Some pictures from my very first hike in Korea, climbing the treacherous Dobongsan ('san' means mountain).
These are borrowed from my friend, Sarah, who is now back in Canada.

This is Seoul from the top of Dobongsan.

One weekend, Sarah (again!) arranged for some of us to go hiking in the Dobong mountains, which are just north of Seoul. You can see them from the subway and they look pretty intimidating, but since we were all supposedly beginners, I didn't think that we would be climbing all the way to the top.

Boy, was I wrong. We all met at the subway station. It was Sarah, her Korean friend Sharon, Sharon's friend Kae Min, two guides (I didn't learn one of their names, but we called him "Mountain goat man" because he was literally leaping from rock to rock with no fear and no slipping...the other one told us to call him "Opa" which here means older brother, or boyfriend), and our friend that we met at Musangsa, Courtney, and her friend Mickey.

We were supposed to go from 8am to 12pm, and we were all thinking oh it will be a nice walk in the park (literally), on straight grounds and the fact that I didn't have hiking shoes and wore my crappy Nikes would be perfectly fine. WRONG! It started off easily enough, we were going at quite an incline and all huffing and panting and sweating, thinking that it would level off soon enough. Wrong again. Turns out we were going all the way to the top of the mountain, with stops in between to rest our beginner bones (and muscles, and joints, etc.). We had a nice break at one of the Buddhist temples up there and refilled our water bottles in a really clear and clean pond.


So then we kept going. At this point, Seoul was looking farther and farther away. It really is pretty huge. The view was rather incredible but we had to keep moving. Just when you thought you had completed the hardest part, you look ahead and see nothing but smooth rocks, usually at a 45-90 degree incline or decline and you have to try to either climb up them or scale down them using nothing but your wits and shakey legs. At every pass, I kept thinking, is he kidding me?, but then we would do it and get past it and it would be nothing but a memory and a sore spot on your body.


When we reached the first summit (yes, that's right, I reached a "SUMMIT!"), we were pretty proud of ourselves, thinking cool, we reached the absolute top, now let's go down. But then you'd look up and see more of these summits and Opa would tell us that we had about 3 more hours to go. So we just kept going. We met some really colorful characters on the way. One old Korean man with crazy socks was trying to take our picture and kept talking to us in English and giving us this hilarious laugh and making everyone on the summit shut up and look at us. He was very nice and very funny.


So we're leaping from rock to rock, sliding down others, and quite a few times we literally climbed a rock at a 90 degree angle. No joke. They had metal wires set up as ropes, so mostly we were using our arms and powers of estimation to find the next foothold.

...there was more, but these were just the highlights. Ah, yes. 2005. I remember it well.

Posted by lrbergen 00:23 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)


you know....for kids!


Baby Buddha slippers being sold at the Buddha's Birthday parade in Jongno.

...say THAT five times fast.

Posted by lrbergen 19:28 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

Buddha's Birthday Blog Extravaganza! (Part 1)

it's a two-parter!

Sometimes I forget I'm in Asia.

No, really. I've grown so accustomed to being around and working with foreigners, having access to imported foreign foods (can we say cheese?), and being able to get around Korea with only a basic knowledge of Hangul and the Korean language, that I begin to overlook the fact that I am a minority, that this country's history is about eleventy billion times longer than America's, and that Buddhism is actually widely practiced.

Last night, my obliviousness to Asian culture was thankfully denied at the Buddha's Birthday celebration in Jongno. Jongno-Gu is full of really cool attractions, like Gyeongbukgung, Insadong (my favorite!), and Jogyesa. There was lotus-making, a street festival and to top it off, a big 2.5 hour parade down the main drag.

Then I remembered: hey! I'm in Korea!
Note: you are about to see lots of lotus flowers. The lotus flower is a very auspicious symbol in Buddhism. According to several sources, it is a symbol for purity of the soul, resurrection in a material world. The layman description is here.


Making lotus flowers. From children to the elderly, everybody was crowded around to make some.

Traditional dancers in the parade.

Lotus ladies.

Traditional soldier. Or I suppose.

Buddhist monks....

More monks...

Hanbok ladies.

Children in the parade.

Children carrying lotuses.

More lotuses.

Dancer with....lotuses!

Neo-traditional hanbok.

Lots of lanterns.

To be continued with floats...

Posted by lrbergen 20:20 Archived in South Korea Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Buddha's Birthday Blog Extravaganza! (Part 2)

second part: floats!

There were some really cool floats in the parade as well.


Skiers for Buddha!


Um...Transformers for Buddha...?

Giant running dragon.







My camera hates me, so when I tried to take a picture of the fire-breathing dragon, I missed it and got smoke.

This is NOT a Nazi symbol...


I'm not sure if this Buddha is flipping the bird, but it sure looks like it.

Happy Buddha's Birthday, everyone!

Posted by lrbergen 19:42 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)



View from Isaac's new apartment in Dunchon-Dong.

Posted by lrbergen 19:43 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

Alice in Wonderland

korea style

Last Thursday, we took the kiddies on an outing to "Alice Park" in Yangjae, close to Seoul.

In addition to seeing sights as John K. passed out on the bus less than 5 minutes before we left, a disgruntled ajassi (read: middle-aged Korean man) cutting off the bus then stopping to yell at our driver, and kids stuffing food in their mouths as if there were no tomorrow, we saw all kinds of stuff that shocked the kids, amazed them, left their jaws on the ground.

Oh look! (Actually, I have no idea what they were looking at. Another group of students, possibly, as the park was full of them.)

A nicely wooded area, full of grass. This is generally uncommon in the Seoul area.

These were giant apples that were hollowed out and full of seats and puzzles on the wall. There were several of them.

A giant Cheshire Cat on top of a house that was too full for us to enter. Objects in the picture look much smaller than they are.

The caterpillar smoking his hookah.

The card men. John and Jennifer are both amazed by the giant wooden hands, and who wouldn't be? They were mostly chipped and broken. Note the fact that they have the same expression, meaning they are yelling the same nonsense to me at the same time. Day in the life of Lyndsey teacher.

The giant top hat house. In the foreground is John, so you can really see how big it is.

The little forest area. There were silver balls hanging from the man-made canopy. There were vines everywhere. It was actually pretty cool.

It makes me happy to see Korea encouraging its children to have fun, to be creative, and to have an imagination. Unfortunately, like everything else in Korea, it was crowded and people are pushy.

Nonetheless, a good time was had by all.

Posted by lrbergen 06:50 Archived in South Korea Comments (1)

Typically Seoul


Typical Korea: kimchi pots and barbed wire.

Posted by lrbergen 22:43 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

It's a World of Color....

it's a world of coooool-orrrrrr!


This is the hallway of Worwick, where I work.

It is seriously the nicest looking school I've worked at. Clean, colorful, spacious.



Kudos to Claire teacher, now in India, who made these life-size mosaics of the 7-year-old students...

Posted by lrbergen 05:00 Archived in South Korea Comments (1)




Along the Tancheon River, Bundang.

Posted by lrbergen 06:35 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)




Buddha's Birthday lanterns in Bundang.

Posted by lrbergen 07:13 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

What's the Hardest Part About Being You?


A big healthy kudos to Sarah for introducing THE MUSTACHE:

She's so handsome.

And she made Rose and I one too!

And then we made them in Pisces class!


The best part was after work wearing it around. Koreans tend to not really know what to do with the foreigners anyway. This made it much, much worse.

One man at a convenience store:
"Oh! Summer Santa! Present where?"
"Merry Christmas!"

Oh the most ridiculous times, these in Korea.

Posted by lrbergen 20:26 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

Children's Day

another holiday we miss out on this year

Saturday is Children's Day in Korea!

What is this? you may ask. Good question.

Korean children are overworked, overtaught, and generally unable to act like the children that they are. Students from kindergarten to high school go to normal school during the day. Then, from the time they finish school to the time they go to bed, they go to "hagwons," which are the private schools that I've taught at during my time in Korea. These are opposed to public schools.

So the kids go to math hagwons, English hagwons, art hagwons, science hagwons, they have private tutors, they go to soccer, taekwondo, ballet, and "Brain Gym." They are tired. They are prepping for a life where they work, work, work, always to get more. This is Korean society.

So Children's Day is a day when the kids get off of school (unless it falls on a Saturday, like this year) and hang out with their parents, usually go to Everland (a theme park). We had a Children's Day event at my school where we played games, did face painting, made pat bing soo (red beans and ice...some sort of dessert I won't touch), and played with water guns/balloons. My station was the water.

Orange smile for snacktime.

Kevin K. dragon arm at facepainting.

Teaching the 6-year-old classes of Taurus and Aquila how to EVIL LAUGH.

Sam has this thing down pat.

No worries...they actually requested to be sprayed in the face.

But then, revenge is sweet.

John K. as a monster.

Clara as a butterfly.

Jennifer with a flower.

And last, but not least, the day was topped off with DIBO! No, he is not the big guy in "Friday," he's a gift dragon. The teachers got one too.

So Happy Children's Day, everyone!

Posted by lrbergen 17:17 Archived in South Korea Comments (1)




Street in Itaewon.

Posted by lrbergen 17:30 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)


lost in translation?


Yet another appetizing meal in Seoul...

Posted by lrbergen 17:28 Archived in South Korea Comments (1)

Korean Drummers

in front of reebok


For the Hi Seoul Festival on Saturday. In Itaewon.

Posted by lrbergen 05:40 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

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