Making my way through Asia (and grad school) one adventurous step at a time.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Adventures in Jeju Nights...

The picture above obviously isn't at night, but it does show our bikes lined up along the road. We're on the other side of the street guzzling water like maniacs. The bike at the back was the one I rode.

Now, as promised, our nights on Jeju:

Night #1: Jen, faster than a speeding bullet made it to our checkpoint long before Annelie and I. She set up a tent, took a shower and read a few chapters before Annelie and I pulled up to the campsite at darkness fell. We pitched my tent, slapping away biting insects all the while. That task completed, Annelie and I took our sweaty, stinky, tired, grimy selves off the the shower building...that was closed!!! We turned on dejected heels and took our
sweaty, stinky, tired, grimy selves back to the tents. After chatting for a while over our Corner Store dinner and congratulating ourselves on completing Day One, we fell exhausted into our tents. Even though the loud children (and their parents) in the tent next to ours were unfamiliar with the word "bedtime", we managed to get a few hours sleep. The showers were still closed at 7:00 the following morning, so Annelie and I got our sweaty, stinky, tired, grimy selves back on our bikes and hit the road for another day.

Night #2: With no campsite to be found for our second night, we pitched out tents on a beach, along with several other groups of biker/campers. Annelie and I finally found a functioning shower room and scrubbed off two days of sweat, and promptly replaced it with beach sand. During the night, rain and thunder woke us from our beachy dreams prompting us to pick up our tents and move them under an awning on the beach. A few minutes later, the wind was so fierce even under the awning, that the sides of my tent were blowing in, reducing my floor space by half. With Jen's help I moved the tent further under the awning and was soon sleeping soundly again.

Night #4: Unable to find a beach or a campsite, Jen went above and beyond and found us a lovely room in a place Korean's call a 'Pension'. It had a bedroom, livingroom/kitchen, and a bathroom. It also had a washing machine - which by this time was a welcome convenience. It's best feature however, was one of those "Rainmaker" showerheads. What a lovely treat. All three of us slept like babies.

Night #5&6: We stayed on Udo Island in a pretty, but HOT Minbak (A minbak is similar to a pension, but cheaper). Again, it was nice to be spared the disadvantages of rain, sand and noisy neighbours. I like camping, and I like bike trips, but I don't know if I like the two of them together.

Stay tuned later for Adventures in Jeju Days.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Adventures in Jeju...

I'm happy to say we're back safe and sound from our cycling trip around Jeju Island. You can see the road we took on the map. It's the road that goes around the circumference of the island. The scenery was gorgeous, the people were so friendly, my bum hurt for days on end, and my pinkie finger on my right hand seized up from clutching the handle bar for hours on end. My bum has since recovered, but my finger hasn't yet.

Unfortunately, with my finger out of commission, and our internet server to be shut down later today for maintenance, I won't be able to post again until somewhere around Tuesday. In the meantime, I'll let you know you'll be looking forward to a 3 part Jeju series. Part One: Jeju nights. Part Two: Jeju Days. Part Three: Janice's Jeju internal monologue.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Adventures in disgusting chores...

Once in a while, as the evening approaches and I emerge from a heat induced stupor, I realize that some out-of-the-ordinary chores in my house need to be tackled. There are the usual out-of-the-ordinary things like: sorting, organizing and dusting my bookshelves, de-crumbing my toaster oven, getting rid of the plants that were pronounced dead some time during Lent, and vacuuming all the cat hair out of the fan. Then, there is the once-a-month task of cleaning the bathroom drain. After years of putting it off as long as possible (until the water was up to my ankles by the end of my shower), I have since developed a very efficient system. I know, efficiency and I aren't usually on speaking terms, but this was necessary. So, if you ever find yourself in Korea with a clogged bathroom drain - and unless you're a bald person who only showers once a month, you will have one - here's what you'll need: a plastic glove, some paper towel, a set of wooden chopsticks and a specially trained and certified supervisor. (Catticus is a good one.) Put the glove on one hand, and pick up your chopsticks with the other. Use the chopsticks to pry the cover off the drain and extracate the big, black clogged filter. Then, holding the filter in your gloved hand, pull out the clogs with the chopsticks. (It's best if you pretend it's noodles and not gungy hanks of slimy wet hair.) Plop the gunk onto the paper towel. When you're finished, put the filter and cover back using your gloved hand. Then, pick up the soggy paper towel and chopsticks. Hold them firmly in your gloved hand, then pull off the glove over the gunk in your hand and toss the whole lot in the trash. Finished. You never actually have to touch anything slimy.

I know many of you are (a) really grossed out now, and (b) never going to have to try this at home. Even so, you should never underestimate the usefullness of a set of wooden chopsticks and a plastic glove. Think about it. I'm sure there are some "I don't wanna touch it" chores around your house. Next time you're faced with something slimy, reach for the chopsticks. They're not just for Chinese take-out anymore.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Adventures in stuff I've never done before...

5:28am: The sun is rising, the cats are fighting, the eyes are opening, dagnabbit I'm awake.

5:32am: I'm on my bike cycling through the morning mist while the dew is still on the rice in the paddy fields. I've never seen 5:30am from a bicycle before. I've seen it through car windows, plane windows, airport windows and tent flaps, but never from a bike. It's really quite pretty and serene. I'm breathing deeply and enjoying the silence. I should do this every day.

5:59am: What on earth was I thinking, and why didn't I eat breakfast first? I'm never doing this again. Oh good! I'm nearly home.

6:00am: Hooray! I have a witness!! Annelie's just walking out the door with watering jugs on her way to the garden and can testify to the fact that I was getting home from a bike ride at 6am.

6:01am: I decide (against the wishes of my stomach) to accompany Annelie to the garden.

6:30am: Home from the garden, scarfed down a yogurt, drank another 500ml of water. Decide never to go biking at 5:30am ever ever again.

6:45am: Mmmmm, back in bed. Should have stayed here all along.

10:15am: Mmmmm, waking up again after a nice, long nap. Thinking maybe I'll go biking at 5:30am again tomorrow.

You may be wondering "Why all the bike stuff all of a sudden?" You may also be wondering why the Vikings never managed to maintain their settlements in North America, but I can't answer that one. I can answer the bike question though: in a week and a half, I'll be joining an expedition of 3 young women for a bike ride around Jeju Island. The island is located off the southern tip of the Korean peninsula, and is really a volcano, so it's shaped like a cone. There's a 250km trail that goes around the circumference of the island and is apparently quite a nice way to spend a few days. Rumour has it that it can be done in 2-3 days. We're planning on 5 days, just in case. There are campsites all around the island, and the ocean is always close at hand if we need a swim to wash off the day's sweat and grime. The kicker is that until yesterday, I haven't biked more than 20-30 minutes at a stretch since about 1998. I usually just use my bike for transportation around campus, not for long bike rides.

Yes mom, I'll be wearing a helmet. (And probably also stuff a roll of Charmin down the back of my pants).

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Adventures in ... Pink

I bought a new bike yesterday, and it was a sad, sad day in Janice Land when the only bike with the features I wanted was pink. If you look closely down near the pedal, there are rainbow coloured circles, and it says "SWEET". Hopefully after I get a black seat cover and handles, it won't look so much like Strawberry Shortcake should be riding it on her way to a tea party with Barbie. The good news is it has gears, which my old bike didn't. It was like riding around with the bike in 6th gear. I've also provided a close-up of some nifty accessories I got in Japan, including an umbrella holder and a cover for my basket (so certain hoodlums around here don't confuse my basket with a trash can). I've also got a light on the front that runs on the power I generate by pedaling.

I missed a good photo opportunity earlier this evening when both cats in my house were treated to a nice shampoo and shower. They were too quick for me afterwards and rushed off to lick themselves dry in private before I could capture their sad, soaked, scrawny selves on camera. Now I have to very soft, sweet smelling kitties who aren't talking to me this evening.

That's all for this hot and humid evening, and I promise never to post in this colour again.