We had it all planned and paid for…we were going to leave Saturday morning with our friends, The Demants, on an ‘Adventure Korea’ tour to brave the cold northern Gangwan-do province for a weekend of ice fishing. Then Sunday night, the weekend before we were going, we got the call from our friend, Eunju, that Mike’s mom wanted to meet him for the first time since his adoption. We were excited and shocked! She wanted the reunion to take place as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, that same week I started teaching winter camp and was not sure if I could get out at a reasonable time to take the 2 hour drive to Jechon. I told Mike I really wanted to go, but understood that it was important enough for him to go during the week without me. He wanted me to come along. The soonest possible time that would work with all schedules, happened to be that Saturday, the same time as our trip.
Mike was excited, but tried not to get his hopes up in case things fell through with his mom. He was also a bit bummed that we would have to cancel the ice fishing trip. It was his birthday/Christmas present and something he always wanted to try. Of course we made the right decision and the reunion with him mom was unforgettable.
It happened that one of our other friends knew of people at his church that planned on going to the ice fishing festival on their own, without a tour company. Mike and I would have our chance after all! So last weekend we went with our friend, Josh, and two of his church friends on our own to the ice fishing festival in Hwacheon.
Getting there was a bit rough. We met at a bus terminal about an hour away by subway. His friends were almost an hour and a half late so we missed the first few early direct buses. We had a plan b: buy tickets to a nearby city (Chuncheon) and take the bus from there. That was mostly successful except that we scrapped the bus idea in Chuncheon (it was standing room only, for a 50 min bus ride) and took a taxi to Hwacheon instead. Five people squeezed into one taxi.
We finally made it to the fishing grounds after about 30 min and then just started shooting pics and filming. It was a lot of fun. I can’t believe how many people were there. It was great leaving the big city and being in the fresh air again! After fishing, we did some ice skating and people watching.
We found our way to the local bus terminal and waited for the next bus to Seoul. After such a long day we were hungry and while 3 of us stood in line, Josh and his friend, Yejin, went to get us some grub. So while standing in line we did the Korean squat and had our supper of rabokki (ramen and ddukbokki), makkeoli, kimbap. I’ve never felt so Korean in my life!
About 5 min later the bus to Seoul arrived and we quickly moved our stuff to the side (we didn’t even have time to throw our trash away) and boarded the bus. It was first come first serve for seats and we were in the front of the line. In Korea, a bus isn’t full unless every inch is packed. People were on the bus standing in the aisle for 40-50 minute rides. I couldn’t believe it. I was so tired too, there was no way I was standing!
We made it home safely and really enjoyed ourselves on the trip. I would recommend doing it at least once. We saved a bit of money by just going ourselves and not doing the overnight trip so that was a bonus. We also met some cool people, Heidi and Yejin.