SEV let us know several weeks ago that we wouldn’t have any students this weekend, so all teachers had both Saturday and Sunday off. Some of us planned to go to Busan to do some shark-diving, but those plans fell through when we found out the aquarium wasn’t offering diving this weekend. One of the Korean teachers sent out an e-mail asking if any of us were interested in going whitewater rafting over the weekend. Having never gone rafting before (and having played the Oregon Trail computer game for many years), I was game for the day trip.

And so, at 6 a.m. Saturday morning, a dozen of us made our way through rainy Seoul to Jonggak Station, where we met the bus that took us to the site. We arrived three hours later and were immediately overwhelmed by the throngs of American military personnel. Increased threats from North Korea? No, the troops were just there on a rafting trip, same as us. We helped ourselves to a lunch buffet before putting on the gear (vest, helmet, see-through jelly shoes that hearken back to my kindergarten days).

The course itself wasn’t too difficult. Only Erin and Jeanette had been rafting before, but we all picked up on the rowing thing fairly quickly. We followed the orders from our barking guide (“Forward! Row! 1, 2! Now backwards!”). When she wasn’t shouting at us, she was flirting with James and Oliver. We hadn’t been in the raft for more than two minutes before she said, “Boys, very handsome. You have girlfriend?” Oliver told her that he had not one, but three girlfriends, and she responded, “Ohhhh, flayboy!” Yes, sometimes (read: often), Koreans mix up “f” and “p.” Whenever we maneuvered our way through a particularly difficult section, our guide would exclaim, “Oh, handsome men very powerful!” while completely ignoring the four girls on the raft. Such is life in Korea. (Story for another entry: how one of my coworkers gets free stuff all the time because he’s not only male, but of Indian descent. Talk about being a minority in Korea.)

Guide aside, the rafting experience was incredible. It’s easy to forget how beautiful Korea is when you live in Seoul. Especially now with the start of monsoon season, all of the trees and brush are full and lush and green. We kept remarking that someone should have brought a waterproof camera to capture everything we rowed past. We finished the course in about two hours, and even managed to get in some swimming in one of the calmer areas of the river.

Minimal photos (and by minimal, I mean one) because of the wet weather and my sleepiness. Erin risked it and had her camera out most of the day, so her blog is worth checking out, especially for the pictures. (My favorite picture is of our coworker Shelly, who was ready to row in purple heels and goggles.) I did manage to whip the pink digicam out for one shot of some of us when we got back to the site.

Fresh off the boat?

Fresh off the boat?

We got back to Seoul around six and, since we were a. with Erin and b. in the Jongno area, we made a stop at Tomatillo for dinner. For a girl with a Chipotle craving, Tomatillo hits the spot. The owner is kyopo (ethnically Korean but has lived outside of Korea for many years) and the restaurant is a near-carbon copy of Chipotle, down to the font on the menu posted above the counter.

I woke up this morning feeling pretty crappy. I attributed it to standing/rowing in the rain for several hours, but everyone who went rafting seems to be in perfect health. Perhaps this is swine flu?

Also, a happy Father’s Day to my father, who told me NOT to do a post similar to the one I did for Mother’s Day, even though he figured I’d do it anyway. Well, he was wrong and I suck. But happy Father’s Day, Dad!!!! I hope my surprise phone call this morning was a good enough supplement! I love you ❤

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