Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Rafting, ROK Style

A few weekends ago, a group of the Daegu crew met with others in Seoul to embark on yet another super-way-gook-een outdoor adventure: rafting the Donggang River.
"Dong" translates to east and "gang" translates to river, so, like you so often see in Korean English, we have another redundant name, the Eastriver River.

Other examples: Donghwasa Temple, "sa" means temple, thus Donghwatemple Temple; Apsan mountain, "san" means mountain...you get the idea; the list goes on, and around and around.

From Seoul, we chartered our own bus and rode about 2 hours east to our starting point, 30km (18.5 miles) from our ending point. The whole tour promised to run five hours, so we were in for a full day of it.
Man, my arms got sore. We filled three boats with nine people in each. Above, our boat. The procedure called for us to row together with our Korean guide in back saying 1! 2! during our upstroke and us to respond in chorus 3! 4! with our downstroke. We made some variations of this (an hour in the numbers 1,2,3, and 4 were already getting a bit tired) like "kimchi!" "soju!"

Our guide also tried "USA!" "Washington!" Though the latter never caught on because I was one of only two Americans in the boat. The Canadians started going on about Bush and...ugh...

That passed once everyone started to get colder and hungrier and turned the focus from critiques of neo-conservatism to the plight of our immediate situation.
Compared with the water in Busan, it was CHILLY, but this wasn't surprising for recently thawed mountain water. The "rapids" were few and far between. I'd say around 5% of the river we passed through would be considered "rapids," the rest was pretty calm. This called for a lot of paddling, sometimes into the wind. The first half of the day got tough, but there were many bottles of soju floating around at lunch that lifted spirits significantly.
We had just finished the last of our post-lunch stop soju ration of 3 bottles. Enthusiasm at an all time high.

The highlight of the day was a stop we had on an isolated beach around a bend.
Credit to Tim for the wonderfully panoramic view. My apologies these images are all low-res, I took them from Facebook.

From the beach stop, we encountered some beautifully serene landscapes:
A virgin beach lies undisturbed by soju-fueled hooligans, at least for today.
Setting off into the great beyond...