Archive | November, 2012

Our (not so) romantic camping weekend

5 Nov

“Seonbee-cheon” said the bus driver, catching my eye in his review mirror and using his head to indicate ours was the next stop. “Seonbee-cheon?” I confirmed raising my eyebrows, as the bus took off, leaving us on the outskirts of a dark, eery forest.

One of Baden’s colleagues had invited him to an all-expenses paid, all inclusive, free camping weekend: and we were looking forward to waking up to Autumn leaves falling down the mountain-side; a cup of steaming tea boiled on the gas cooker. We had romantic ideas of walking hand-in-hand through the woods; snuggling in the tent with our books, cooking stews on the cooker.  But, we had no idea where to go and we were in trouble if we’d misunderstood.

There were some lights in the distance and as we neared, we recognised the site as a training centre where we’d worked for an English camp. Baden’s phone rang and his colleague directed him towards the museum and up the hill to “camping school”. This was the first sign. 

We arrived late, signed in and were ushered into the auditorium where the camp training was well under way. And we were surrounded by small children. We’d signed up for Family Camp! 

We sat through a lengthy, incomprehensible presentation on how to set up a tent, trying to ignore the small wide-eyed children who kept pointing and staring at the foreigners. We were then taken to a bare patch of grass, where we had to line up in groups, and practice (yes practice) how to hammer in pegs. We hammered quickly and effectively and then stood around watching small children hammer, hammer, hammer, stare at the foreigner, hammer, hammer, hammer. We then pulled the pegs out, handed them in and walked to our campsite: the basketball court. Sandwiched between 9 other noisy family tents, we unfolded our pop-up tent and laughed awkwardly at how unromantic our romantic weekend was turning out to be.

In the evening, we had group activities, which involved playing a game: “I say 1, you clap once. 1 (clap once). 2 (clap twice). 3 (clap three times)” and then another musical chairs type of activity (which, despite my best efforts, turned out to be quite enjoyable.) Baden and I even won gift vouchers for our dance moves. But, by bed time, we were scheming how we could get ourselves out of Family Camp. We couldn’t imagine a full weekend of orienteering, first aid, group activities, line ups, get the whole team through the spider web, camp fire songs, noisy children etc – especially since we couldn’t talk to anyone. 

The night bore on and the temperature dropped; the enthusiastic and happy children fell asleep and we shivered in and out of a cold sleep. By the time morning came, we were both determined to leave. So after breakfast, we excused ourselves, saying we’ll return again when we have children of our own, and headed into Sososuwon where we explored the surrounding areas for the rest of the morning: beautiful mountains, old Korean villages, the oldest Confucian school in Korea, farm lands and rivers.

We both agreed that the camp would be an amazing opportunity for young families but it just wasn’t what we were looking for.

Oriental Balcony - recycle, reuse!

A fine site

The Dowies in Asia

2 travellers and a baby