Monday, 25 June 2012

Swimming in Sachang

On Friday evening I joined Ben, Russell and Deanna on a trip to Chuncheon. We had a KFC which has just opened in EMart, it made my belly cry. I knew there was a reason I didn’t like eating that stuff. We walked around EMart picking up necessary items for a BBQ that we planned to have on Saturday. This included beer, wine, sausages, burgers, and guns. How we ended up buying BB guns is way over my head. It was Russell’s fascination with the BB shotgun that probably spurred on the spontaneous purchases. He couldn’t wait to get back to the car and open up the box.

So, Saturday rolled around. We waited for Rian and Lanelle to arrive (they live in Hwacheon) and we headed out to the river. Deanna and Russell found us a great spot right on the river bank. There was sand, rocks and water you could swim in. We set up the BBQ’s, we cooked delicious meaty food, we swam in the river, we played Frisbee and we threw a ball, and we had BB gun wars on the beach. It was incredibly pleasant. Swimming in the river was especially pleasant. I really miss swimming; it’s something I used to do at least once a week back home. David and I would head down to the ocean and give ourselves over to its bitterly cold clutches. It was warm in the river and in the end everyone was swimming and having fun. It’s a shame we haven’t done more things like this in the time we’ve been here. There is still time.

However, the weeks are flying by, steadily, and, if I’m honest, not as fast as I might like. Responsibility really sucks. When my alarm clock attempts to wake me up in the morning (more often than not I’m awake and up before it goes off) I know that I have to do something. The something that I have to do is go to school. I like school. I like my kids. I like classes when they go to plan. They are even kind of fun when they don’t. What I don’t like is the fact that I have to do it. I ask myself, would I go to school if I had a choice? The answer is no, I would not. Does that mean I’m not passionate about it? I suppose the reality of it is that yes, it does mean that. That begs the question, what am I passionate about? That question is easily answered. Travel. How do I know I’m passionate about travel? Because I get a fuzzy feeling inside whenever I think about it, most of my free time at work is spent researching and planning it, it makes me feel happy and fulfilled, and it’s what I’ve wanted to do since my trip to America in 2009. This experience has been valuable and I’ve gained some important life skills but I can’t deny that the reason I came here in the first place was for the sake of travel and financing that travel.

It all starts in August. I break up from school on July 20th. There is a two week period where I’ll either have a camp, or sit at my desk and dream about what is just around the river bend. On August 4th the two week period in which I still have to go to school ends. I’ll have two weeks of vacation from August 4th until August 19th. During this time I will do some travelling around Korea, I’ll tidy my apartment ready for its new occupant and I’ll meet Natalie from the airport. I return to school on August 20th for one week. It’s the start of term and the new English teacher won’t arrive until the 25th, I’m sure this last week will fly by and then Natalie and I will be off on the adventure we’ve been planning all year.

It all seems so close yet feels so far. We apply for our visas this weekend. We’ve had to wait this long to apply for them as sorting out visas for a TransMongolian trip across Asia is a bitch. It’s really hard work. Pathetically so. There is no need for these countries to make it this difficult for us to visit them. However, we have no choice but to comply. I’ll be spending Sunday filling out a myriad of paperwork and then it will be out of my hands. My passport will do its tour of the embassies and will in theory land on Natalie’s doorstep just in time for our departure.

In the meantime, I’ll be here in Korea. In exactly two months it will all be over here. That’s only eight more weekends. When I think back to a year ago it feels a lifetime away. It feels like I’ve been here for a lot longer than I have. When I left Heathrow airport I sat in the departure lounge directly opposite the plane that would take me here (it actually took me to Turkey for a layover but whatever), I looked at the plane and had no idea where I was going. I knew I had to meet some EPIK people when I landed, I knew I’d be going to some sort of orientation, I knew I’d be working in a school, but the details were unbeknownst to me. I was throwing myself in at the deep end. I don’t really remember what that uncertainty felt like now. I remember being driven to my new town by my co-teachers, I remember seeing Nathanael walking past the apartment block and feeling relieved that I wasn’t going to be alone, but that feels like it was more than a year ago. I mean, really? That was nearly a year ago? Wow! Everything is so familiar here now, so naturally, I’m excited about the next step.

Now everything is coming together I wanted to leave you with an updated itinerary of the trip. This will probably only be interesting to my family, so feel free to switch off if you’ve made it this far. The reason I’m posting this is because a few dates have changed since the last itinerary I posted and I also wanted to write in a few of the things we’ll be doing in each place so you can at least attempt to picture it a little more.  Bon voyage.

24th August – Last day of school and depart Saching-Ri for Seoul
25th August – 27th August – Seoul
28th August – Depart Seoul for Bangkok, Thailand via Kuala Lumpa (Depart 09:35am – Arrival 19:50pm)
28th August – 1st September – Bangkok
1st September – Depart Bangkok for Krabi, Thailand via overnight train
2nd September – 4th September – Krabi Beach, Ko Phi Phi Island
5th September – 7th September – Phuket, Karon Beach and Patong
8th September – Phuket to Chiang Mai, Thailand (Depart 15:25pm – Arrival 16:35pm)
8th September – 11th September – Chiang Mai, Elephant Nature Park
12th September – 15th September – Chiang Rai, Crossing the bridge into Myanmar (Burma) 
16th September – Ferry to Huay Xai, Laos
17th September – 18th September – Riding a boat down the Mekong River
18th September – 20th September – Luang Prabang, Bear Rescue Centre
21st September – Over night bus to Vang Vieng
22nd September – 23rd September - Vang Vieng, tubing down the river
24th September – 27th September – Vientiane, Ban Na Tribe and Waterfall Jungle Trek
28th September – Depart Vientiane, Laos for Hanoi, Vietnam (Depart 15:15pm – Arrival 16:25pm)
28th September – 30th September – Hanoi
1st October – 2nd October – Ha Long Bay Cruise
3rd October – Hanoi
4th October – Overnight train to Hue
5th October – 6th October – Hue
7th October – 8th October – Danang and Hoi An
9th October – Overnight train to Nha Trang
10th October – 11th October – Nha Trang Beach
12th October – 13th October – Ho Chi Minh City
14th October – Bus to Phnom Penh, Cambodia
14th October – 16th October – Phnom Penh, Killing Fields
17th October – 19th October – Siem Reap, Angkor Wat
20th October – Depart Siem Reap for Beijing, China (Depart 11:10am – Arrival 20:05pm)
20th October – 24th October – Beijing, Great Wall of China
24th October – Depart Beijing on TransMongolian Train
25th October – Arrive in Ulaanbaatar, Monglia
25th October – 26th October – Ulaanbaatar
27th October – 29th October – Gorkhi Terelj National Park, Staying in Ger Camp, Horse Riding
30th October – 1st November – Ulaanbaatar or elsewhere in Mongolia (open ended)
2nd November – Depart Mongolia on Trans Siberian Railway
2nd November – 6th November – Trans Siberian Railway
6th November – Arrive in Moscow
6th November – 12th November – Moscow, staying with family
12th November – Depart Moscow for Dusseldorf, Germany (Depart 17:00pm – Arrival 17:20pm)
12th November – 17th November – Dortmund, Germany, visiting Alex
17th November – Depart Dortmund for London Luton (Depart 13:30pm – Arrival 13:55pm)
17th November – 18th November – Home Sweet Home

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