10. Mountain Trekking and Face Stuffing

This morning was a lazy one. We had arranged to meet the host on the farm at 10am, but we arrived half an hour late (gasp! This really messed with our Scandinavian punctuality). The alarm was set for 8:15… when the time came, however, we decided to have a little lie-in. We must have been tired; we slept right through the family breakfast and woke up a whole hour later. Managing to grab a piece of toast and fresh strawberry jam we rushed to get ready for what we thought was going to be a day of work. But on our way out of the door, the mother came down the stairs and asked us to stay for cornflakes, which, of course, we gladly accepted. Still half asleep, we ate in silence as we waited for young Ujo to join us on the walk to the farm. By 10:15 we are on our way, only to find out that our only task for the day was another pile of stickers to be placed on the chicken bags. By now, this task has become a routine, we fly through and go for a walk around the quaint farm village.

Pause. Rewind. Somewhere in there we had another enormous meal of kimchee, rice, seaweed and omelet. And again we struggle to finish. The walk was, honestly more of a roll down the hill… no wonder the host father has begun commenting on my slightly wide figure (a word which has never been used in relation to me… but more on that later).

After a mishap with the stickers, which – thank the Lord – was not a result of our incompetence, the father took us on our long awaited hike up mountain. All four of us were stuffed into the small delivery van, and off we went; child on knee, seatbelt on three. We are truly getting into the Korean spirit – posing on benches, posing by trees, posing on more benches. Here’s a little snippet.

And by ‘little’, I mean minute.

It was freezing. The African in me surfaced and my cheeks went numb. The weather forecast for Yangpyeong is at -8, and keep in mind that we were on a mountain… Also the wind… I now understand the ‘biting wind’ idiom. But the cold did not stop me from drooling over the spectacular mountain view. With the slightly smoggy air, the layers of mountains were even more obvious… as ironic as that sounds, the smog seems to create a film over the landscape that is stunning in harmony with the frosty, brown winter.

We threw some snow:

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We walked:

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And we sat on more benches:

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Then we piled back into the car and drove to a Chinese restaurant.

By this time, I was still full from the last meal, so despite the food being absolutely delicious, I couldn’t even finish half. I rolled out to the car. Prepare yourselves for how I was then called wide by the father. Louise, bless her, had finished most of her food and was close to bursting at the seams. As a result of this, I volunteered to sit in the middle with the girl on my lap. The father looked at me and said ‘no, no, you’re wide, I need…’ and gestured to the gear stick. Louise and I, naturally burst out laughing, and my stubborn side showed… No way was I giving in to that! I sat in the middle, and suppressed giggles the entire ride home. After a lifetime of being called petite and small, it made me think about the large amounts of food I eat.

Then I ate some cookies, and we watched a movie.

//Niamh

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