Wednesday, September 19, 2012

한국어를 말하는 것이 다시 이겼다! (Speaking Korean Wins Again!)

Last week we crossed into San Pedro de Atacama, Chile from the Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia. While cooking some lunch in the communal kitchen at our guesthouse in San Pedro, I noticed a sweet-looking Korean mom and her two children. I instantly recalled the conversation I had with my K-mom the night before:

"애슐리, 한국어 공부해야지." (Ashley, you need to study Korean.)

I guess she noticed my Korean getting a little rusty on the phone.

So approached the kind looking Korean mom at the guesthouse. I mustered my courage and spluttered, "저... 한국분 이세요?" (Excuse me, are you Korean?)

Well, of course she was surprised to see a white girl speaking Korean, especially since Husband was in another room. After her initial shock and 101 questions about how I learned Korean, we had a great chat and shared lunch together.

We hung out with her and her family for the remainder of our time in San Pedro. We took the same tour to Valle de la Luna and hung out with her super cute kids. When they left to go back to their home in Vina del Mar (her husband is working for a Korean company in Chile), she not only sweetly gifted us with her electric travel pot (cook ramyeon anywhere!), she also invited us to come stay at her house after we spend a few days in Santiago.

Speaking Korean wins again! I can't wait to meet this family again soon. They are too sweet.

If you're studying a foreign language, approach and practice with native speakers. You never know what new relationships you can build.

And here are some pictures of the lovely family during our time in San Pedro.

the lovely family at Valle de la Luna, Chile

She complained about us being too tall, so she stood on rock.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Day I Almost Died (for reals!) But Didn't (yay!)

Remember that song, "Everybody's Free to Wear Sunscreen?" Well, I do because the song was crazy popular in the year I finished middle school (now you know how old/young I am).

I'd like to make an amendment.

Wear a life jacket.

I grew up on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. I took swimming lessons from a very young age. I'm comfortable on boats of all kinds. I was once insulted that a tour operator made me wear a life jacket while snorkelling.

My attitude changed the day I went rafting on the River Suarez in Colombia.

I first tried white water rafting in Costa Rica a few months ago. Husband had done it while travelling in India and Nepal. He really enjoyed it, so he suggested we try it together. I knew that you had to wear a helmet and life jacket, but honestly I never considered rafting to be particularly dangerous. I guess that stems from my coastal dwelling arrogant non-fear of water. I figured if you followed the directions of the guide, you'd be ok.

River Pacuare in Costa Rica presented no incident. The rapids were levels 2-4 (6 being the highest and only possible in kayak, not raft). We had a great time, so we decided to tackle the more extreme River Suarez in Colombia (levels 3-5).

It was definitely more exciting than Pacuare. The rapids were intense, with waves coming up over our heads at times. We successfully made it through about two hours of rapids. The other raft flipped over once, spilling everyone into the river after a level 3. Don't worry; everyone was fine. Level 3 is no big deal. Finally we reached the final rapid of the course, a level 5.5 appropriately named "Surprise."

Our guide instructed us to listen for his commands and "tie our feet" (shove them under the seat of the raft). We entered the rapid, basically a huge hole of rushing water. Our guide shouted "get down" so we all jumped into the middle of the raft while water crashed in all around us. The entire raft filled with water. I felt myself being lifting out of the raft. Apparently my feet were not adequately "tied."

Luckily (?) I was holding the safety line, so even though I ended up outside of the boat, I was still at least attached to it. I thought about the safety course we took before starting. Ok, I just needed to hold onto the line and someone would lift me back into the raft. Unfortunately the rapid was about 500m long, so the rest of the team was still navigating the rapid and unable to rescue me immediately.

I felt my legs getting sucked under the raft. We were approaching another huge hole of water, so I let go of the safety line and decided to detach from the boat rather than get crushed and possibly drown. Obviously I was in mental and physical shock. I went though about 150m of rapids in just a life jacket, thinking that the raft could still save me if I just stuck it out. Apparently Husband was having a panic attack in the raft from looking at my terrified face bobbing in and out of the water, desperately sucking for air and spitting out water as I went through the rapids.

Then I finally remembered I could swim (thanks to my mother who forced me to go to swimming lessons at the local Y since as early as I can remember). I swam with all my little heart through that rapid to the shore. I found a rock, climbed on top of it, and decided I was not leaving that little rock... EVER. Even when the other raft came by and tried to save me. I would not leave that rock.

An eternity later (maybe 10 minutes), our guide, after parking the raft beyond the rapid and hiking back along the rocky shore of the river, came to rescue me. I am embarrassed to say that he had to hold my hand as I half-walked-half-crawled along the shore to where the raft was waiting. I am proud to say I did not cry (if you know me, you know I'm a crier).

Since "Surprise" was the last rapid on the course, after my rescue everyone was free to jump out of the raft and float down the last 500m of the river. I opted to stay inside, explaining "I've drunk enough river for one day."

So am I now afraid of water, never to raft again? No, actually having survived a class 5 rapid, I feel pretty comfortable I can handle most situations in the water.

But I will never scoff at the noble life jacket again.

PS: If you are a friend or family member who I lied to/omitted details about this incident when it happened, it was only because I didn't want you to worry about me. I'm safe. I'm alive. No worries.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


You might have noticed things are looking a bit different around here (notice my fancy tabs up above?). You may have also picked up on the fact that Husband and I are currently working our way across the globe on an around the world trip (or maybe you haven't... SURPRISE!).

Due to popular demand (by that I mean mostly my family) I'll be updating about our travels here on this blog along with my regular Korean posts because I'm lazy and don't want to juggle two blogs.

If you don't want to read about that, you can simply click on the "All Things Korean" tab.

Or if you don't care about anything Korean and are just here to read about our trip, you can click on the "Around the World" tab.

Of course, if you like a little bit of both, you can find it all on the main page as usual labelled "Home."

Much love from San Pedro de Atacama, Chile


Saturday, September 8, 2012

써니 (Sunny)

I watched this movie way back in Mexico (about two months ago), but I recently rewatched it while Husband was out cycling on the world's most dangerous road (Bolivia). I, of course, was not confident enough in my cycling ability or ability to function in extreme heights to even think about attempting such a journey, so I was quite happy to wander around La Paz for the day and then return to my hotel room and the awesomeness that is this movie, 써니 (Sunny)!

This movie has appeal on three levels.

1. Honest Portrayal of Girlhood and Maturing Female Friendships
There are about a kimchillion movies that explore and celebrate male friendships, but honest portrayals of women and their relationships with other women are pretty hard to find in film (the most recent decent girl movie... Bridesmaids?). I believed in the characters of Sunny right from the start. The friendship and interactions of the members of Sunny were believable and honest. That of course made the whole movie more relatable and entertaining.

2. Sweet Dual Timeline Accompanied by Awesome Soundtrack
This movie achieves the perfect balance between it's two equally awesome timelines, the main character's present and high-school lives. Neither one outshines the other. Both timelines are entertaining and engaging and integrate well into the whole of the film. Additionally, the high-school timeline has a pretty awesome soundtrack (both Western and Korean).

3. Sense of Humour
The writer of this film obviously has a great sense of humour. I will direct your attention to probably my favourite scene from a movie, ever.

See what I mean?

The only downside of this film is the ending which totally abandons the honest feel and resolves the problems of all the characters deus ex machina style. Lame!

Oh well, still one of my favourite movies ever. Go watch it. Right now.