Hello everyone. Today is April 6th, 2011. I have been in Korea for 49 days.
In case you are wondering, yes. I still love it.
That being said there is no doubt that I am moving out of the ‘honeymoon’ phase of culture shock… the thing is the next stage ‘withdrawal’ hasn’t quite hit me yet… or if it did it was over in the blink of an eye. I’m keeping an eye out for the next two stages as well – ‘adjustment’ and ‘enthusiasm.’ I guess I’ll let you know if I ever get a definite lock on which stage I am in… I’m definitely moving away from the ‘oh my goodness everything is so awesome and new and exciting’ feeling of the honeymoon phase – but I’m no where near the annoyance, frustration, uncertainty and loneliness that characterize the withdrawal stage. I don’t want to get into the physical and psychological reasons why I think this may be, so suffice it to say I will keep you abreast of my meandering route through this ‘culture shock’ phenomenon as best as I can.
Last weekend started out well with a trip to a SCUBA diving center where I took a ‘discover SCUBA’ lesson and signed up for the PADI open water certificate course (for the low low price of 550,000 won – about $550). Had a great time SCUBA diving (as I knew I would) and pounded out a schedule that should have me certified to dive up to 30 meters by the end of May. The weekend got steadily better as I woke up early the next morning (like, rowing practice early) to hop on a bus to Daegu. Daegu is a city about 1h 15m away and I travelled there with a few friends to try my hand at para-gliding. Consistency note: Last post I mistakenly believed I was going hang-gliding – it turned out to be para-gliding – same dif right?
Para-gliding was amazing (and will be detailed in the video I am hoping to post soon) – almost as amazing as the impromptu karaoke session in the van on the ride up to the hill (also chronicled for your entertainment in the video). For those of you who are wondering – like I was up until about 5 minutes before I did it – para-gliding is accomplished by strapping yourself into a formidable sized backpack type thing (which curves down under your rump to support your weight once you are airborne) with a parachute attached to it. Once you are secure in this crazy rig you stand on top of a steep hill (a cliff, really) and wait for a good gust of wind. When said wind blows at the correct velocity (determined rather scientifically by an old man watching how the smoke from his cigarette blows away) some people behind you throw your parachute into the air to catch the wind and you run forward and jump off the steep hill (cliff). If all goes according to plan you don’t plummet to an early death, but rather take off into the sky, catching thermals and updrafts (from the wind hitting the side of nearby hills and moving upwards) to climb and drift as you please (or in my case, as the guy strapped to my back, who was doing all the work, pleases).
We hit a max altitude of around 525 meters (give or take) and had a nice flight, lasting around 30 minutes.
And that, my friends, is the story of how I travelled from one end of the spectrum (3 meters underwater) to another (525 meters in the air) in less than 24 hours.
I’d like to end with a stupid line like ‘only in Korea!’ But I’m not going to because it isn’t true. Experiences like this abound all around you, no matter where you live. You just need to look for them (and not very hard at that) and then go out and do them! You don’t have to leave home and travel the world to find experiences like I’m describing – although I had to move to Korea to realize this – so take a lesson from this otherwise inane, inutile and occasionally offensive blog and get out there and explore the awesome stuff in your own backyards!
Ugh… I ended with a stupid line afterall.