For active expats, sites for adventureThe winter is finally gone, and the nice spring weather has just started. What is rather sad, though, is that April is rapidly slipping away.
It would be a shame not to take advantage of the limited number of beautiful and pleasant days with nature in bloom that will end with the notorious monsoon season in a couple of months.
For those expats who feel homesick or depressed in Korea, it might simply be because of the recent annoying “kkotsaem chui,” or unexpected cold weather in spring caused by winter’s jealousy of the blossoming flowers, according to the poetic Korean view of nature. But now is the perfect time to get outdoors as much as your schedule allows.
No more sleeping late on Saturdays or Sundays after staying out too late the night before. Those who complain that there is nothing much to do in this country may be surprised to discover some expat communities that are happily active on weekends. These clubs know where to go, and what to do.
Mountain climbing, scuba diving, biking or even just going away with a new group of people can be exhilarating. To help you make plans, here are some communities worth checking out.
Raft along with Adventure Korea
This community, which has been active since 2002, has organized an impressive schedule of events for foreigners.
It has led various theme trips, such as rafting, biking and even bungee jumping.
Every weekend, the club organizes interesting visits to places foreigners typically have neither heard about nor been to, according to the administrator of the club.
“As well as visiting popular destinations such as the DMZ, we also arrange trips to relatively unknown and beautiful locations around Korea,” said Park Seok-jin, the administrator.
“While the average foreigner in Korea would be most likely to visit Seoul, Busan, the DMZ and perhaps Jeju Island, we give people an opportunity to visit a much wider variety of destinations,” he added.
Some examples are a trip to the beautiful and mysterious volcanic rock island of Ulleungdo, camping trips in the wild and untouched landscape of Gangwon Island, a tour of the relatively unknown but exquisite island of Bogil, and many more.
The club also organizes many activities, such as rafting, paintballing, bungee jumping, cycling and skiing.
The community has more than 5,000 registered members, and it says more than 20,000 people have participated in its trips in the past. The participants have included about 6,000 expats so far.
“We offer guides who are fluent in English,” said Mr. Park. “With us, you can go to places that you will never find by yourself in Korea.”
Mr. Park added that the trips are a lot of fun, and provide opportunities to meet many new people.
Adventure Korea’s trip schedule
May 1: Wilderness trek in Inje, Gangwon province.
May 5: Paintball game in Jangheung, Gyeonggi province.
May 14-15: One night, two day trip to the South Sea. Visit Daraengi Maeul, South Gyeongsang province, to experience the traditional Korean fishermen’s life.
June 3-6: Three night, four day camping trip to Geomundo and Baekdo islands.
Beginning in June, rafting trips will be offered as well.
For more information, visit www.adventurekorea.com
Go shark diving with Scuba in Korea
Diving in Korea might seem unfamiliar to some foreigners, who do not know of “Scuba in Korea,” an aquatic community for expats that was established by a few foreign divers.
“It has been difficult for foreigners to find information on diving in Korea, not to mention finding a place to take a scuba course in English, so that’s the reason why we established the community,” said Michael Jones, one of the organizers.
Since 2001, this club has led more than 400 people on diving trips. It has been to the south and east coasts and to Jeju Island, having three instructors available to teach courses and lead tours in English.
Activities are not limited to the typical diving experiences, however. “Shark diving” in the Busan Aquarium has been very popular among both professional and amateur divers. “We have taken 350 people on the shark dives, and every one of them loved it,” Mr. Jones said.
“We give diving instruction in English, with English-speaking guides. For the present, we are the only expat club that can guide shark dives at Busan Aquarium,” he said.
Shark diving trips take place every two weeks.
Upcoming dates: May 7-8, May 28-29, June 11-12.
Jeju dive trip: April 30-May 1, May 28~29, June 25-26, July 30-31
Other coastal trips are in the planning stages.
Climb with Korea on the Rocks
This community specializes in rock climbing in Korea. Since April last year, it has organized rock climbing and ice climbing trips with about 150 registered members.
The club’s trip schedules are not set up by the organizers, but by the members. Nearly every weekend, someone posts a message in a section called “Upcoming Trips Forum” and other climbers make plans to meet at a mountain.
The biggest event was held last fall, when climbers from Cheongju, Daejeon, Hongseong and Daegu met at Seonunsan Provincial Park for a weekend of climbing.
“I think people are happy to be able to find other climbers who speak English,” said Eric Busch, the administrator of the community.
If you would like to climb a mountain this weekend, visit www.koreaontherocks.com and post a message on the organization’s message board.
Take a trip in the country with WorknPlay
WorknPlay, a Web site established for the expat community in Korea, also organizes various trips. Since 2003, the site has seen an increase in visitors to more than 5,000 a day, and there are more than 30,000 members.
The community organizes various activities, such as volunteering and parties, as well as trips.
So far, WorknPlay has scheduled visits to the DMZ, tours of Gyeongbok and Deoksu palaces and the Yongin Folk Village, and most recently it held a special trip to Seoul Land with orphans from Suwon.
According to Webmaster Cynthia Lytle, the community will relaunch the website soon and unveil the new travel section. It has scheduled trips to places throughout the country.
“Our participants have a good time with a diverse group of people from all over the country. Our events are well-organized with expats in mind,” she said.
May 28: Visit a temple and learn glass-making on Seongmo Island, near Incheon
July 16: A trip to Daecheon for the Boryeong Mud Festival
August: A kayaking trip on the northern Han River
For more information, visit www.worknplay.co.kr
by Choi Sun-young