Tuesday, September 30, 2008

ROCK CLIMBING!!!!!!!!!

I got paid today. The good thing is now I have money (obviously). The downside: I can't open a bank account until I get my ARC (Alien Registration Card) which won't happen until mid to late October with all of the paper pushing that needs to be done. That means that I walked out of work today with nearly two grand in cash. That would be bad enough but it gets worse. Korean currency has 3 bills: 1,000, 5,000, and 10,000. 1,000 is about a dollar though the dollar is stronger than the won right now. So imagine $100 in ten dollar bills. Now imagine a grand in 10 dollar bills. Starting to get the picture? A few of the notes are special 100,000 won bank notes but I can only use them at bigger stores. My supervisor said basically that anywhere that accepts a credit card will take them. The catch is that you need to have contact information written down on the back-- and I don't have a phone! You need an ARC to get a contract. I got my supervisor (lets call her T-soup) to write down her cell phone number on one of them so that I could use it.

What would you do with that much cash and no where safe to put it? I have a wad in my wallet but most of it is stashed in various places in my apartment. This makes me very happy to have a building with CCTV (video surveillance), double window locks and a sturdy door. It still makes me nervous but I can't walk around with that much cash either.

So in any case, I'm walking out of work at 6 today completely jazzed to have money and wondering what I should do. Go to an electronics store and buy a camera cable or a web cam? Buy a bedside table? Go nuts at the grocery store? Of course not! I went online to my Korean expat climbing website, http://www.koreaontherocks.com/, and found the nearest climbing gym. Let me mention that I have never taken the subway alone. I take various buses everyday but the subway sort of intimidates me because I have trouble pronouncing the names of the stops, even when they are in English. I have taken the subway a few times with friends but I just sort of followed and stared at things instead of paying attention to how it was done. Unlike my first adventures alone on the bus, I did it without any mishaps! No matter how hard the names are to pronounce, having signs in English makes things infinitely easier, unlike the bus which only has Korean signs unlike the subway, doesn't announce things with a cheery clip of Mozart and a woman's voice. I did make one wrong turn on the way to the climbing gym but considering my utter lack of directional skills. See in the woods you have this nifty thing called a compass but on the street people tend to think you are a bit crazy if you pull one out and try to triangulate your location.

The climbing gym was very cool. It's a small bouldering gym but there were lots of problems and advanced climbers. I was definitely one of, if not the weakest climber there. It was humbling but I'm out of shape and the way they set up routes is a bit different and it takes me longer to figure out which holds I'm supposed to be going for. I worked on (what I think) was a v2+/v3 for awhile before giving up and working a v1+/v2-. Anyways, when I walked in the owner was very nice to me even with his limited English. After I did a warm up traversing problem he introduced me to Climber Girl R who spoke English pretty well. She has been climbing for 3 years and not only does she climb almost everyday she also goes outside every weekend! This gym does a trip to a fantastic mountain, about 5 hours away (please don't ask me what it was...even if I remembered I would have No idea how to spell it) every weekend. You sign up on the board and just pay 40,000won for the bus fare. Everyone camps out at the mountain Friday and Saturday night and climb all day Saturday and Sunday. Climber Girl R invited me to go with her! I'm so excited! I didn't want to go this weekend because I want to be a tourist in Seoul again and also I need to get more stuff. I have almost all of the gear I need. I am going to hit one of the many gear stores in downtown Anyang to get a tarp and some rope (not a climbing rope, the gym provides that) and a mat to put under my sleeping bag. I'm really glad I brought my sleeping bag and fleeces with me! This weekend I am also going to enlist some friends to give me a crash course in Korean cooking since you bring food with you to cook at the site. In the states, this wouldn't be a problem. I have nearly a decade of camp cooking experience. However, since I can only buy Korean food I need to figure out how to make something to go with my rice. Not gimchi. I eat a little bit everyday at lunch but I never actively seek it out. Spicy+cabbage isn't my favorite combination. Honestly, I could write another entire entry about the cultural differences and similarities between Korean and American climbing but most people couldn't care less and my fingers hurt from climbing.

I'm going climbing again tomorrow! I will write more on Korea but until then, imagine me bouncing with glee at having gone rock climbing and found people to climb with.

5 comments:

Chris said...

When you give an Alex some money, Alex will go rock climbing :P.

Nancy K said...

Alex in heaven! Glad you found climbing buddies.

Jessica said...

Yay! Climbing! Keep me posted on the gym/outdoor stuff. Perhaps some day pictures? And I will help to share them with our gym here! *Misses You like Crazy*

Alex said...

Pictures will be up by next weekend, I promise! I miss you too!

Josh said...

Glad you managed to go climbing!!! I bet you feel almost normal (for a karpen) now....