Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Rafting, One More Time

Last weekend I went rafting again, with a small group of friends. Alex arranged it all. It was such a great weekend!!! We caught the public bus to ShinCheolWon (신철원) in the morning where Alex had someone pick us up. We went straight to the rafting start point to get set up. We had use of the company's storage room for our bags and such. The boys had some fun adjusting their vest straps (there are 2 straps that go between the legs... resulting in showing off the package). Of course pics had to be taken. LOL. Once we were all ready, we carried the raft down to the river and had a little warm up (jumping jacks) and basic (very basic) training. Then we were off. Alex's English is very basic, but he did a great job of explaining things the entire trip. He's been practicing since the last rafting trip, when I met him. Hantan River is actually a dividing line between Gyeonggi-do and Gangwon-do, 2 Korean provinces. It is a beautiful river in a fairly deep cut valley. There are a few points that Alex pointed out to us along the way. There is Face Rock,Skull Rock, an old bombed army bunker, etc.The sides are iron and rock the entire way with little water falls everywhere. Between rapids, there are smoother stretches to just relax and enjoy the peaceful scenery and beautiful weather. It was fantastic weather!!! The river itself is clean and clear. According to Alex, it is grade A water and is perfectly drinkable as is.At one stretch between rapids, we had a chance to go jumping. The rock was ~3m high.... It seemed MUCH higher when standing up there, though (maybe since our eyes weren't right on the rocks??).Jumping was great. Alex literally flew on his jump!!! I asked him why we didn't jump the last time I went. I guess the company that organized the trip the last time only used his company for the rafting, and didn't want to do the jumping. REALLY??? Grrr. Last time I went we were all disappointed that we didn't jump.Anyway... At another smooth stretch, we got to take a little swim. Some water fights and dunking fights were of course, expected. Alex was SO funny. He dunked several people.The two Korean girls in the group had it the worst (though possibly the most fun). He grabbed them from behind and was flopping them from side to side. It really looked like they were just rag dolls, the way he threw them around. Then for a final dunk, he turned around with them and flipped them over his head. To others, he did a "washing clothes" dunk, in which he dunked several times (like using a washing board). He would always pull them up at the end and ask if they were okay. LOL. Once back on the boat, we played some games. There are many games to play on the rafts. Viking, Standing Viking, Shark, Titanic, etc. First we tried Standing Viking. You stand on the sides of the raft, holding yourselves up with the paddles. On "1" one side goes down, the other stands up. On "2" the sides switch, one standing up and the other going down. The raft rocks so much that one side usually ends up falling into the water. Only one of the guys ended up falling off. Ha ha ha. Then we did Titanic. As none of us girls trusted any of the guys, the two guys got to be Jack and Rose at the front of the boat. "Rose" stood on the edge of the raft and "Jack" supported her (him). Then everyone else paddles as hard as they can making the boat go in circles. Sometimes, Jack and Rose end up both falling in, other times, Jack pushes Rose or can't support her well enough so she falls in. On OUR Titanic, they both got pushed in. SO funny!!! Alex ran up the raft, pushed them in and then ran back to his seat pretending that nothing happened. LOL. Once we reached the end point, we carried the raft up the VERY steep hill and then walked up to catch our ride back to the start point. Then it was lunch time. Lunch was great. Rice, a spicy chicken dish, kimchi, veggies, and soup. A typical Korean lunch, but it was delicious. Once we all had our fill, it was off to the ATVing area. Alex, of course, had to take another group rafting so couldn't join us.ATVing started out with a bit of instructions - brakes, accelerator, clutch, etc. We had to follow a guide the whole time, but it was great fun. Up and down hills and around the countryside.[break time atop a hill][that is a grave - the Korean countryside is covered in little grave mounds, new and old. Koreans take care of their grandparents and family tombs. They take a day every now and then from the city to go into the country to take care of their family graves.]ATVing ended too soon then. We all would have like to have gone more (same for the rafting!!). Oh well. Next time. Back at the rafting start point, we showered (rather than waiting in line at our pension where only one can shower at a time, of course) and headed up the hill to the pension.We had a little cabin type room. Just one room, though, with a little bathroom/shower. I got the bed, the others had to sleep on the little mats on the floor. :) The pension is run by a cute little old couple. Alex was still rafting so we took the time to relax, and break out some of the drinks. I made Sangria (white wine, vodka/rum, pomegranate juice, white peach, blueberries, etc) for the weekend and there was beer and vodka as well. When Alex was finished he picked me up and the two of us went shopping for food. Meat, lettuce, mushrooms, potatoes, beer, soju, juice, water, plastic plates, wooden chopsticks, scissors (for the meat), a knife (to cut potatoes, and mushrooms) foil plates, cups, coals for the bbq, etc. all for about $70. BBQ Time!!! We got it all set up and Alex started cooking. Halaboji (grandfather) started the coals for us with his ummm... torch?? What a fantastic toy!! The guys were drooling. Alex then had to run - his boss needed something(??). The Halmoni (grandmother) saw that we were wrapping our potatoes in foil and took them to put in a little fire rather than making them on the bbq and she took care of them for us. So sweet!! We gathered around the bbq and ate as the meat was ready. Too hungry to wait. :D We ate until the first coals were out and waited for Alex to return. When the potatoes were ready, Halmoni brought them to us. SO good!! She also brought some salt for us to put on them and the meat. Alex then returned and he and Hal-aboji started the BBQ going again. I think we all ate too much!! Next to us, a large group of Koreans piled in and started up a bbq (fish). Later on in the evening, as people started heading back to the rooms for some zzzs, a few of them joined us. How I love random Koreans. If you talk to any foreigner that has lived in Korea, they will all tell you that one of the best things is the random Koreans that you meet. So fun. So funny!!! We even had one of them dancing to "Baby, One More Time." Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!!! I laughed so hard that I fell back off the bench.... and stayed there laughing.
I want to go rafting again!!!!

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