This weekend was nonstop fun, let me tell you. On Friday night, just as I was lamenting another quiet and boring evening in the apartment, Keegan called to tell me we had been invited out bowling with some of his co-workers. There is a whole new batch of younger folks who have arrived here over the past few months, and they are unencumbered by kids and ready for fun. So a group of nine of us trooped over to the bowling alley. The alley we went to was on the fourth floor of a building in town - we couldn't imagine what was underneath it on the third floor! Hopefully something that closes before people start rolling ten- to fifteen-pound balls down wooden alleys overhead. We were pleasantly surprised that we were able to walk in and get two lanes right next to each other. All of us were about of equal ability, so we had fun competing with each other in a good-natured way. We noticed that many of the Korean bowlers around us had beautiful shiny bowling balls and professional looking wrist braces, but strangely, they seemed to be bowling only about as well as we were, even with all their advantages, so we didn't feel too outclassed.
After bowling, the girls in the group had a hankering to go sing karaoke, so we headed off to find a place one of our group had been to before and liked. Three of the guys in the group went off to go play pool, but Keegan came with us to sing. I'm a lucky woman to have a husband who shares my utterly unreasonable love of karaoke! We ended up in a second floor norae-bang (karaoke room). The way karaoke works here is that you go into the establishment and ask for a room at the counter. The clerk points you to your own private space where you have a list of songs and two large screens. You pay by the hour for time in the room. Our room could have held maybe 12-15 people, and it had comfortable couches along the walls and a big table in the middle. There was a disco ball overhead, and the karaoke screens played the funniest videos as we sang. They were completely unrelated to the songs and featured scenes from nature, track and field events, and pictures of European and Korean cities. We were also provided with several tambourines for enthusiastic accompaniment. We sang a lot of songs, but everyone's favorite was a ballad called "Making Love out of Nothing at All," which Janey sang with Keegan as a back-up singer. Of course, Keegan didn't know the song, so the chorus degenerated into Keegan chanting "makin' love" in a deep, Barry White type voice, and Janey following up with a beautiful "out of nothing at all." This went on for quite some time, accompanied by gales of laughter from the rest of the group. Keegan's mustache lent a certain je ne sais quoi to the performance.
After our all fun on Friday evening, we got a late start on Saturday. We decided that we'd spend the afternoon taking a trip to Oedo Botania, an island off the coast of Geoje with a botanical garden on it. We took a boat from the nearby town of Jangseungpo, somehow managing to arrive at the ticket office exactly when the boat was leaving. The trip out to the island took nearly an hour. We cruised along Geoje's coast, enjoying the beautiful views and listening without comprehension to the guide's narration in Korean. We sat quietly without speaking up when the dried squid vendor walked past. After about half an hour we came to a small rocky island with huge cliffs, and the guides told us that we could stand outside on the narrow deck of the boat. We took some pictures and then stood back in awe as the pilot steered the boat into tiny gaps in the cliffs. I knew that the pilot must be very skilled at steering the boat through these small spaces, but it was still a little scary to watch the cliffs slide past only a few feet from our faces.
At long last we arrived on Oedo. The garden was very impressive and chock full of Korean tourists. I don't think we saw any other foreigners there, which surprised us a little. We also think that every single Korean tourist there was industriously taking pictures and posing in the funniest ways. We enjoyed the plants and flowers and the cactus garden and funny sculptures, but we'd also like to go back during the week when the garden might be less crowded. We dutifully followed the pretty garden path, ate some fruity flavored ice cream, and enjoyed some stunning views of the ocean and nearby islands. The sky was particularly beautiful, even though it was mostly cloudy, because the sun was streaming through the clouds and the light was muted and soft.
The ride back to Jangseungpo was much shorter, and many people fell asleep. The woman sitting next to me was wearing a fuzzy bright red sweater, and the girl behind us was amusing herself by picking fuzz off of the woman's sweater and placing it on her husband's black jacket, then laughing uproariously. It was hard not to laugh along.
After all this activity, you'd think we were ready for a quiet afternoon at home on Sunday. But we had already made plans to go biking with our triathlon buddies and some of the new surveyors that we had gone bowling with. So we drove in a caravan out to Tongyeong, a town just off of Geoje Island. There is a triathlon there every year, and our friends wanted to show us the bike course. We parked in a huge parking lot that serves as the transition area for the tri and got ourselves ready. One of the new surveyors had just gotten a new bike and was learning to use the clip-in pedals, so there were a couple of false starts, but she was a real trooper and we were off on our adventure. Everyone rode at a different speed, but those in the front were patient and waited for the rest of us so that no one got lost. We rode up and down some monster hills and enjoyed still more views of beautiful harbors full of fishing boats and rounded mountains covered in trees turning orange, red, and yellow. It was a great ride, but the last uphill of the course was a real killer. Thank goodness for my granny gear, because even with it I was huffing and puffing pretty hard at the top. Everyone was filled with biking ambitions after the ride. Mine is to be brave like Rachael and learn how to use my clip-in pedals, too.
In the evening, we went up to John and Glenda's house for dinner with them and with Daniel and Marina. John showed us pictures from his trip to Australia, where he did some wonderful scuba diving and took a lot of good pictures with his underwater camera. I was so tired from the bike ride that I could barely keep my eyes open, but it was a good feeling to know that we had spent the weekend so productively, in the company of so many nice people.