Sak Yant

Sit still, breathe. It’s only a small amount of time. Focus on something else…

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I’m trying to take my mind off the pain in my back when I notice that my guide is talking. She points to the dusty rose carpet that we are sitting on, then points to the emerald green carpet just a few feet away. She is speaking in Thai, so I’m not sure what she is saying. But here I am getting a sacred tattoo from a monk  surrounded by gold Buddha’s and small shrines, and while he is stabbing me in the back with a bamboo rod they are having a conversation about the carpet. I didn’t mind, though. Focusing on trying to figure out what they were talking about helped take my mind off of my back.

From the moment I decided I was going to Thailand I knew I could not leave the country without a Sak Yant tattoo. Reading blogs about these unique tattoos can be scary, though. In the more rural areas of the country the ink that is used for every one is all in one pot and while the needle is sterilized, the same needle is used as well. I was going to back out until I found a Facebook group that specialized in taking tourists to sanitary places to get these tattoos. I booked my tour as soon as I could.

Nana, who owns this small business, is a small cheerful woman in Chiang Mai. I was late to my appointment, but she met me with a bright smile all the same. We got into a car with a driver who was just as warm-hearted as she was. The first stop was to a small market to pick up an offering to the temple for my tattoo. She walked me through the alley to a small woman wrapping incense and hand-rolled cigarettes in banana leaves. I paid for the offering and we were on our way to the temple.

Nana talked to me a little, but the day I got my tattoo was the day after the Thai king had died. For most of the drive we listened to ceremonies over the radio. It was about a 30 minute drive out of the city and up a small mountain. We wound our way up into the forest and when only trees were visible, they stopped the car and Nana said “Here we are.”

She led me into a small house to the left of a temple tucked away in the forest. Young monks, maybe 14 years old were running around the grounds. Nana directed me toward the house and entered before me. She showed me how to address the monk, where to sit, and what to say. I recognized him from the photos online and had liked his work.

A Sak Yant tattoo isn’t a regular tattoo. It’s believed to have special powers within each design. Each tattoo represents something different, normally being some sort of protection as well as a representation of devotion to Buddha. The monk has a bamboo rod with a surgical needle at the tip. The needle is dipped in ink then jabbed into the skin. You can get these designs at tattoo shops around Thailand. The lines on the tattoo gun are much more clean, but the tattoo is not blessed. The other difference is in the writing. The script in the tattoos are not normal Thai. It is a language that monks study for many years to understand write. When the tattoo is given by a monk, the monk may change the writing based on the person, while at a tattoo shop you are getting a copy of something generic.

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Placing the outline

Some monks will choose the tattoo for you, feeling out what you are missing in your life, then giving you a tattoo that will attract the missing energy. The monk I went to allowed me to choose my tattoo myself; whatever I needed I would naturally be attracted to. He wouldn’t tell me what it meant until I chose. Not having done any research ahead of time, I chose the 8-spired circle. This wheel represents the 8 different Buddhas through out the week (One for each day, but Wednesday has Wednesday morning and evening) but it also represents protection through travels. Interesting.

I don’t have pictures of him giving the tattoo. Monks are not allowed to touch women. Even accidentally bumping into a women in the street leads to a lengthy cleansing ceremony. However, the monk I went to see was technically an Adjarn. This means that he was once a monk, but has stepped down to teach young monks. This also means that he can touch women. However, the Adjarn did not want photos of him touching me, and I respected his wish.

sak-yant-with-gold-leafI was given a pain killer before we got to the temple, and I’m so glad Nana had them on hand. I’ve had tattoos from a gun of varying pain, my rig cage being the worst. I chose the middle of my back assuming that the pain would only be moderate there. Let me tell you, there is a significant different between a tattoo gun and a bamboo needle. This. Hurt. But it was so worth it and somehow the pain and getting through it in an unconditioned shack next to a temple in the middle of a forest in the 100 degree Thailand humidity made this experience so special.

Once he was done, the Adjarn performed the blessing and placed a bit of gold leaf on my tattoo. It’s not a perfect circle. The lines aren’t clean and it’s difficult to make out the writing. This is by far my favorite and most special tattoo.

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Figuring out how to keep my shoulders covered (temple etiquette) and expose my back was difficult. Make sure to bring a scarf or a button down shirt.

The healing process was much more itchy than I had expected. Nana brings lotion that you

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Two months after I got my Sak Yant.

can buy to put on the tattoo. The healing process was a little bit longer than a regular tattoo. There wasn’t any swelling and not too much scabbing, but oh man did that thing itch.

If you ever find yourself in Chiang Mai, the link to Nana’s business is here. She just opened a small temple in Chiang Mai where monks will come to give tattoos. It looks like a beautiful building. The option to go to the monk is also still a choice.  The initial fee includes transportation to the market, transportation to the temple, the ride back into Chiang Mai, and Nana’s service as a translator, as the monks do not speak any English. Bring extra Baht to buy the offering, a donation to the temple, and to buy the lotion from Nana if you want it. With the deposit, offering, donation, and lotion, the whole experience probably cost me 45-50 US dollars. The experience is worth so much more.

-K.

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11/9 From the other side

As I ask my middle schoolers to take out their homework, I realize that I’m not hearing the typical moans and groans. This is my most advanced class and it is full of pubescent students who always leave my classroom smelling ripe as they trip over themselves out the door, but they are by far my favorite. I look up smiling and ask them whats going on as I start marking down homework on my report.

“Teacher, what happened?”

I knew this conversation was coming.  In the weeks leading up to the election my students had begun to ask me what I thought would happen. I would smile and sometimes say I didn’t know, sometimes I would pull a teacher move and tell them that they would fail their quiz because they were using study time to talk about the other side if the world. With their curiosity peaking I had planned to cover the election a bit because it fit in perfectly with the curriculum as it was a debate class. The kiddos had studied the UN and its purpose. Each week they chose a country and would have to debate a topic as if they were a representative for that country, foregoing their own opinions and beliefs.

As I said, I was expecting the question. What I was not expecting was the sadness in their voice. It was my country, after all, who had elected him. Not them.

While I do not remain completely silent about my political standing on social media, I am by no means strongly outspoken either. However, in the frenzy that is currently my facebook wall, there is a perspective that is not being talked about enough and that is how those outside of our country are effected by this, because they are.

The very next day I had to explain to a room full of 3rd and 4th graders that 1. He is not president right now and 2. Anything that he plans to do will take time, it can’t happen over night. They are scared. They hear their parents talking about the new president pulling out troops which would leave this young country vulnerable to attacks from a neighbor they are at war with. Family members who have devoted years of hardwork face the potential changes that may come with with the new president. Do you have any idea how hard it is to look at a room full of round faced 10 year olds who are asking you, because you are American, what their future is going to look like because of who your country chose to supoort?

The argument that it isn’t our responsibility is not good enough. We are one of the most powerful countries in the world, an active member of the UN, and one of five nuclear nations whom smaller countries have relied on for protection. With each of those roles comes the responsibility and by participating in the UN and possessing nuclear weapons we have accepted those responsibilities.

What am I supposed to say to them?

There’s nothing left to say. We gave power to a man who, without even a flinch of hesitation, got up in front of everyone and provoked and empowered an ugliness within our country. There is nothing to say to those kids because there is nothing that can excuse his intolerance and selfishness. I’m scared of the damage that the next four years may bring to our country, though I hope for the best. But I’m more scared of the social repercussions that will not be easily extinguished once he’s gone.

-K.

Also, 11,000-15,000(I’ve seen different numbers on various sources) people wrote in a damn dead gorilla?

Water with Elephants

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I can hear the water rushing through the trees in the forest. The river winds around the mountain and breaks through the trees across from the table I’m sitting at. Covered in mud and sweating from the hike, I am meditating on the fact that I am eating homemade pad thai and mango sticky rice in the middle of a forest in Thailand. Then another reminder jabs me in the ribs with her trunk; she wants the mango. I look back at the 60 year old elephant beside me and cut her a piece of pineapple instead.

I never grew tired of the temples in Chiang Mai, but I did have other things planned and I wasn’t going to leave without seeing the elephants. I want to make it abundantly clear that I put a lot of research into this. There are a plethora of elephant camps that claim to be sanctuaries or rescues in Thailand. The only one that I could find that truly lived up to its name- no riding, no tricks, no hooks- was Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai. This park rescues elephants from Thailand and surrounding countries from circuses and the logging industry. They use food as incentive and positive reinforcement for training. You have fruit, they will follow. Other camps don’t do this.

I don’t want to focus too much on the bad, but feel that it needs to be addressed in order to emphasize the importance of research. Elephants in circuses aren’t trained with positive reinforcement. They are taken from their mothers as infants and isolated usually in the woods. Here they are tied up so that they cannot move, starved and beaten with bull hooks until they obey. Often times their trunks have to be tied up because the elephant will stand on their trunk in an effort to kill themselves. When riding on tours, the guides often have hooks in their shoes or carry the hooks. They become so afraid of the hook that they will follow commands if it is waved in their face. The carts plus the tourist and guide can weigh up to 5 tons and the elephants are usually walking 8-12 hours a day. Nothing about it is fun for them. Elephant Nature Park doesn’t do this, they buy elephants off of these camps, treat the psychological damage that has been done and let them live our the rest of their lives in an actual sanctuary.

20161011_101154We started the morning off with watermelon. The ladies, 3 of them with Thai names that I can’t remember, came down and lined up for snack. The camp we were at partnered with ENP and provided elephants and guides. ENP brings tourists for this camp to walk with the elephants so they agreed to stop riding. Once snack was finished it was time for a walk. We were given bags of bananas and made our way into the forest. My elephant was 40 years old. She was sweet, grabbing gently at the bananas in my hand. However, if 20161011_104958she wanted more before I was ready to give, I would find a trunk blocking my path and stopping the hike until a banana- sometimes two- was offered up. Toward the top of the mountain she had decided she wanted bamboo instead and disappeared into the shrubbery. We continued our hike reassured that she was following by the crackling branches and foliage disappearing beneath her steps.

At one point the guides stepped in and lead the elephants to the river while myself and the two others on the trip- dancers from Brooklyn- were lead to lunch. In small clearing heading down the mountain there was a line of bowls funneling the flowing water to a handmade sink. We washed our hands with river water and sat at 20161011_105138.jpgthe log table. Fried rice, sauteed vegetables, egg rolls, pad thai, papaya salad, pineapple, mango, and sticky rice- I definitely ate my weight in Thai food. Though they aren’t supposed to, the elephants wandered their way up to the clearing and we gave them what weren’t able to finish.

Once down the mountain we lead the ladies to the river. Without hesitation, the elephants 20161011_133758.jpgclimbed into the water and immediately laid down. I know they were trained to do this, but the way they closed their eyes and their posture was enough to know that they truly enjoyed this part. Bucket in hand, I splashed my girl with water and used my hands to scrub the mud and debris off of her face. Wire like hairs poke out around the top of her head and temple and she has the longest curly eyelashes. Her skin is rough and leathery but shes warm. When she was finished she stood up and, using her trunk, threw some water over her back eyeing me the whole time.

“You missed a spot”

 

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The girls were then taken back to their camp and we were bused to the reservation. While Chiang Mai is not nearly as buy as Bangkok, it is still alive with car horns and chatter. The reservation is alive in a quietly captivating sense. They rescue more than just elephants. They have a dog shelter, there are cat roaming the shops, cows munching on grass in the fields, and volunteers running about the grounds. There were 30 something elephants 20161011_143718separated into different herds, one of which had a 5 month old.

As the elephants were reaching down and grabbing bamboo, he would do the same- only he never picked anything up. Little guy was still nursing. He saw his mother and designated nanny (elephants have nannies!) lowering their trunks, grabbing bamboo, and putting bamboo in theirs mouths. So he did the same, only he wouldn’t pick anything up: touch the ground, suck on trunk. Once he actually managed a piece of bamboo but mom quickly took it away.

20161011_145834The last elephant we saw was not part of a herd. She was
a logging elephant that had broken her leg. No one ever took care of it and they were going to “dispose” of her since she couldn’t work. So she came to the sanctuary. She can’t keep up with the herds so she spends her days alone. She was quiet and sweet, but fearful. The guide said that since her bones had healed into the shape they were, there would have to be multiple surgeries that they felt were too risky. So they monitor her and give her extra attention.

 

We ended the day with a rice cracker and some tea while watching the herds roam the base of the mountains among the huts.

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-K.

 

The Temples of Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai smells like incense and flowers. In the streets, bikes whirl by as men shove foreigners in the back of red trucks for tours and golden spires reflect the sun onto the water in the moat. Street vendors shuck coconuts and grill skewers as a mix of foreigners and locals bustle about the shops.

20161009_133214.jpgMy first day of my trip I find myself in a cafe tucked behind a museum. A jazz trio is playing Etta James by the bar and I’m having my sixth meal today. It’s noon.

“Summer time, and the living is easy.” Yes.

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Chiang Mai, old city

 

While my trip to Japan was very much immersed in nature, this trip was all about culture. Chiang Mai, which means “New City” is in Northern Thailand. The city is home to more than 300 temples, with at least 30 of these temples in the old city alone. The old city is a square in the heart of Chiang Mai. A moat is decorated with the remnants of stone walls.

Most of my free days in this city I didn’t have a plan. I would open Google maps and choose a direction along the old city to follow. It was easy to find temples, food, and I could easily find my way back by following the city walls. Chiang Mai is a tourist spot, however, it is a different kind of tourism. The tallest mountain in Thailand is in Chiang Mai. This brings in a specific group of tourists. There aren’t bars and shows to go to like you will find in Bangkok. While busy, Chiang Mai is peaceful. SO I purposely got lost every morning and these are the temples that I stumbled upon:

Wat Chiang Man

Wat Lok Molee

This one was actually one of my favorites. While it was small, it didn’t boast the gold detail that most of the others did. It was placed along the north road of the Old City but once you passed the gate it was quiet.

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Wat Chedi Luang

The grounds for this temple were pretty expansive to the other temples. This place was beautiful. I recommend going earlier in the day. I went in the later afternoon and the sun was in a place that made in hard to take pictures. This temple had the most tourists, with the exception of Doi Suthep.

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Doi Suthep

This is known as the Golden Temple on the mountain. There are two ways you can get there: hike or truck. There are smaller temples to see on the hike up but it is a moderate hike. I didn’t have too much time so I opted for the truck. This temple is the more well known temple in Chiang Mai. There is a fee of 30 baht for foreigners, it’s the only temple that I had to pay to get into. The grounds here are also quite large and there are small souvineir shops all around the entrance. Lots of food too! While the temple is beautiful and definitely worth seeing, it is very touristy.

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I’ve read about others becoming “templed-out” in Chiang Mai. All of the temples have a similar structure, but I do think they each have their own character as well. Chiang Mai has a lot to offer besides temples; you can set out each morning without a plan and fill your entire day easily. However, I never grew tired of the temples.

-K.

Lost On a Mountain in a Typhoon

 

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“Oh, that’s not water…” I hear this as the wooden box is already tilting what I thought was water into my mouth. The sake was warm and smooth, mixing with the salt that was added. I’m pretty sure my mom told me something about drinking things strangers gave me…

lady-by-the-waterIt was day two in Japan and an old man with purple hair had showed our group how to approach the temple, and given us sake. In reality it was a ploy to get the foreigners to donate yen to the temple, but I was aware and willing. You have to be careful with Japanese yen. A simple 500 yen coin is actually close to 5 dollars and I was still in the mindset that coins were small amounts.

Day 2 and 3 were pretty calm. It was beautifully sunny. We biked through small fishing villages, stopped at shrines along the route, gawked at the mountain views, and watched children sumo wrestling at one of the shrines. The food was excellent and the company better. By the end of day three we had biked 49 kilometers.

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Day four was the long haul. We had all prepared ourselves the night before. Two of the girls cooked a fantastic stir fry with salad. We decided not to drink that night. Instead, we set alarms to wake up early and head out. We would be biking 54 kilometers and it would take all day. There was a typhoon just south of the island that we would be getting some rain from, but nothing too bad- it would just be annoying. We had a plan and were ready to head out. When does anything ever go to plan?

It started raining almost immediately. It was light at first, but the first major decline made the raining pelting and it was hard to see. We were moving slower to be sure that the tires didn’t lose traction. The winding roads made it impossible to see what was around the bend and slipping meant risking running into traffic. We paced ourselves, made plans for few stops and stuck together. Most of the time, it wasn’t that bad. We had on layers, we had bought ponchos and back pack covers. Eventually we took a turn onto a road that led away from the coast and into the forest. The covering gave us some relief from the rain. We were probably about halfway through at this point.

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When the rain really started to pick up we could hear some grumbling in the distance. Just a truck, it’s fine. A man in a small pink car pulled over in  front of us and got out. He spoke no English but motioned for us to put our bikes in his car and us in the back. However, there wasn’t enough room for all of us. Honestly, as tempting as it was, I really wanted to do this. I had biked/walked the entire trip so far. I really wanted to finish this on my bike. He gave us his business card with a phone number and drove off.

Here is the thing about the Japanese people on this island. They were by far the most kind people I have ever come across. This man figured out that there were many of us making the trip. He spent most of the day driving our route checking on us, even buying some of the others coffee. He was genuinely concerned. He had good reason to be.

At some point we were supposed to go through a town. After that we would ride through a tunnel and come to a fork in the road. There we would turn right. By the time we got into a small coastal fishing port it was lightening pretty frequently and the rain had picked up. I was uncomfortable. We were out in the open, soaking wet, riding metal bikes. Once we got through the port there was a tunnel, so we turned right. Turns out, this road just took us over the tunnel and back to the front of the tunnel.

What? We had done everything we were supposed to do. After some deliberating we decided to go the other way. The road was bigger and seemed to look like everything else we had been riding on. So we went left. We rode up a mountain. Along the way we had begun to see run off from the mountains coming across the roads. Nothing big, ankle deep water that was flowing down hill.

Once we got onto the mountain these small flows got bigger. Nothing alarming yet, but it was raining hard and it was going to accumulate. It was around 4pm and going to get dark soon, 3 of us had decided to trek up the mountain and see where it led, one stayed behind to knock on the door of a house with the map and ask where we were. We all agree that we wouldn’t go to far so as not to get separated. As we are standing on the mountain in the midst of running water and passing debris, a bright flash comes down. One of the girls throws her bike and runs away. We didn’t know it at the time, but we were on top of a mountain, out in the open, during the eye of the storm.

clouds-in-the-mountainsSoon after we can see our fourth person coming around the bend with flashing lights behind him. He had flagged down a police officer to help him. We made it off the mountain and to our camp. It was beautiful, but flooded. We were taken to a home stay run by an old couple. The girls crowded the kitchen with the wife to help make a home cooked meal while the guys set the table and laid out the beds. The husband showed us pictures of him and his sons fishing as his wife passed out drinks. She gave us figs that had been steeped in a cinnamon broth and he would pull her aside and ask her how to say certain things in English. 25 of us sat around a table eating a home cooked meal in a warm traditional Japanese house. In the morning they loaded up their van and helped us get to the port, after serving us hot green tea. I will never forget their hospitality.

In the end we finished. We biked the whole thing. A total of 103 kilometers(give or take since we got lost) along the coast of Tsushima, Japan. It was hot and hilly, then cold and hilly, but my God I would do it all over again.  Maybe not during a typhoon.

-K.

Bike, Camp, Drink

izuhara-portThe crows in Japan don’t “caw”, it’s more of a “haw”. Hearing this”ha-ha-ha” echo throughout the forest while you are trying to get up a mountain on a bike in the last of the summer humidity is really inspiring… Somehow I have managed to get myself to this point. Tuesday night, 9/14, a co-worker and I sprinted to the bus stop after work to catch a bus to the coast. We then took a ferry to a sleepy island halfway between Korea and Japan: Tsushima. Now, I find myself sweaty, tired, halfway up a mountain and being laughed at by a damn bird.

This all started about a month ago. When the full moon hits in the third week of September, Korea celebrates Chuseok. This is comparable to the U.S. Thanksgiving. You go to see family and eat a lot of food. For foreigners, its a chance to go explore without having to take days off of work. I had been looking at Japan but couldn’t decide what I wanted to do. Tokyo was what I was considering, until I stumbled across a travel group. This was a trip to Tsushima, Japan where we would bike the coast and camp along the way. This is what I was looking for: a chance to do something out of the typical tourist realm.welcome-sign-at-izuhara
These trips can be a bit a gamble. They usually take around 30 people and you never know what mix you will get. The last travel group I went with was a little strange and nobody really meshed that well. This trip? The people were crazy in the best possible way. My co-worker (A) and I grouped up with 4 others pretty quickly and we all stuck together through out the whole trip, but everyone on the trip was pretty awesome.

route-to-camp-1-top-of-hillOnce landing on the island, we all packed our things and headed to the first camp site. But first, sushi. We stopped at a conveyor belt sushi place- you can’t go to Japan and not have sushi. Then we set off. The bike ride the first day was 7 kilometers. Not too long, but we had to go over a giant hill. It was steep and hot and I was beginning to regret everything. forest-day-1But the view from the top!
Once we reached the top I forgot about my struggling. There was a beautiful glimpse of the sea, and the breezy ride down went through a forest that was perfectly still. Definitely worth the uphill battle.

camp-1A and I pitched our tent, showered with the bugs (aren’t camp site showers the best…), then grabbed some food and a bottle of wine from the market near by.
The next several hours were spent in a tent playing card games and getting to know our new friends. camp-day-1-coast
The next morning is was time to set off again.
We had 26 kilometers to go and there was so much to see along the way. A and I packed up and took some pictures around the camp site before heading out. The next days would end up turning into a real adventure.

-K.

Back in my element- 6 month update!

Jangdo beach sunriseTrying to get comfortable in my sleeping bag, I can hear giggling and chatter in front of my tent. When I open my eyes, I can tell the sun is starting to come up so I glance over at my phone. 5:00 am. I haven’t slept at all- instead I spent all night on a bus with a travel group to go camping. Might as well watch the sunrise.

After an intense month of 12 hour teaching days, N and I decided we canoeing in Samcheok.jpgneeded a relaxing weekend away. N found a travel group that had planned beach camping in Samcheok, along with some other activities. So it was five am, and I was in a tent maybe ten feet from the sea. Definitely relaxed.

The morning was pretty calm. We ate breakfast with our feet in the water, took a nap in our tent watching the waves, then went canoeing. The water was beautiful and the fall weather was just creeping in, so it stayed around 70-72 degrees Fahrenheit. penis park

Later that day we went to the Penis Park. Korea is speckled with these odd parks- toilet museum in Suwon, Loveland (a park full of statues in sexual positions) in Jeju, Penis park in Samcheok, and there are a few others throughout the country. There is a story here, though. A couple had gone to the beach for some intimate time together. The young lady had climbed out onto a rock but the tide came in pretty quickly and she got stranded. She died on the rock, a virgin. After she died the fisherman weren’t able to catch any fish. That is, until one day a lonely fisherman decided to help himself… into the ocean. Apparently this is what the spirit of the poor virgin wanted because the fish returned. Therefore, a Penis park was erected along the beach. Pun proudly intended.

Penis park virgin statue

The stranded virgin

The landscape of the park was gorgeous, set in the mountains but still on the rocky coast. N and I explored a little, laughed at the phallic statues, laughed even harder at the elderly couples making lewd gestures on the penis shaped benches. For such a conservative country, they have a good sense of humor about this kind of thing- one adjusshi (elderly man) climbed onto one of the longer benches that was surrounded by penis statues and began doing push ups on it. The others found him hysterical, his wife buried her face in her hands. After that we went down to the shore. The rocks created little tide pools full of crabs, snails, fish, and sea glass.

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Rocky shore of the Penis Park

When we returned to the camp, N and I were informed that there was a small chance of rain that night and that there was a pension available if we wanted. We decided that our water resistant tent was enough, the pension was a bit expensive and we were tough. The rest of the evening was spent on the beach with beers, fireworks, and music. The group we were traveling with had a good mix of nationalities- Estonia, Siberia, Canada, N is from Whales, Singapore, Philippines, Ireland- it was an interesting bunch. We all scoured the beach for wood and built a fire. The staff brought out speakers and drinks- it was a good time. Then the rain came. It was not a light rain.

10 minutes later, N and I are standing in our tent with all of our belongings in our hands. The tent is closed, but it was raining on my head and I was ankle deep in icy rain water. Water resistant my ass. We quickly took down our tent and the staff was amazing and helped us find a small pension. Hwanseong cave cavern

Unfortunately, it didn’t stop raining. The next morning we all ate breakfast together and ran to our tour bus to go to Hwanseong Cave. I didn’t think I would go through it- I was cold, all my clothes were wet, and I was tired. I honestly figured if you had seen one cave, you’ve seen them all. This place was cool.

Hwanseong cave

Hwanseong is the largest cave in Southeast Asia. There are railed trails all throughout and different paths you can take into various caverns. They have certain features lighted and signs (with English!) featuring fun fact or stories behind the formations. The are beautiful waterfalls in the cave. It was a good way to end the trip.

Now I’m home. I’m rested and relaxed and realizing that I have finished half of my contract. It is crazy how fast it goes. I was feeling pretty homesick, but this weekend really set me back on track. In two weeks I have a 5 day camping trip in Japan and I can’t wait. Then, in early October I will be going to Thailand for my first solo travel trip!

If you have any suggestions for solo travel, please leave it! I’m a bit nervous about it.

-K.

 

relaxing on Jangdo beach