Quite tired from staying out too late again, but here is another attempt to recap some events and get this thing caught up to present time.
Second weekend here was pretty similar to the first- on Saturday we went out to Eva’s and then the Blue Monkey- but this time I actually knew people’s names (and some of them remembered mine) and we still stayed out until the wee hours of the morning.
For some reason, the next morning (Sunday) I felt awesome and I decided to hike up the hill that I could see from my house. I still don’t know the name of this hill- but I have unofficially titled it “Tombstone Hill” because at the bottom of it are the Yeonsanong Ancient Tombs- which I only figured out using google maps and a poorly translated sign nearby. What’s really awesome about this hill is that it’s just across the street from me and it’s a short, steep jaunt up to the 256 meter peak. The beginning starts off mellow, next to a playground, with randomly placed tombstones popping up along the path. Then it gets steep. I recently found out that there are about 5 ways to get to the top but I think the best, fastest and steepest way is by using a set of winding stairs. I took this way the first time and I could feel my late night catching up to me real quick- my legs were so tired and the air was so cold it hurt my lungs. But, I was not alone in my endeavor. Oh no. Sunday afternoon is a popular time to go for a hike and there were lots of families out- walking in a line with me up to the top. Somehow, I kept up a fast clip and was able to break away from the people and hike alone to the peak. Unfortunately, I chose the cloudiest day to hike so the views were nil (but I have since been back and got some good pics- check out http://www.flickr.com/photos/awkwardanne/)
Heading down, I decided to go down the other side of the hill and get myself lost a little bit so I could wind around and see more of the city. As I descended, I stumble into several little “fitness parks”- cleared out areas where there are all kinds of exercise machines including different weight lifting machines, elliptical type things, and occasionally a hula hoop and a jump rope. What’s more- there were lots of people seriously working out! I felt so awkward because I felt like I was disturbing their gym session- and yet here we all were randomly on this “mountain” together- getting our fitness on, on a Sunday afternoon! It’s sad to think that these kind of parks could never exist back in the states- they would surely get vandalized and graffitied within a week. I guess this serves as a positive example to living in a communal minded society like Korea (as opposed to America’s die hard individualism) in that- because people make decisions based on what’s good for society rather than their individual needs, they can trust each other to share things- such as public hula hoops- in a city of 4 million people.
Finally made it to the base of the hill and- after several dead ends and u-turns- made it to a busier street so I could figure out how to get back. I realized I was right next to the school where I work! Lucky me! So I knew exactly how to get home and I took my time, zigzagging through the streets and alleys and made it home in time to get another Hotteok before the sun went down.