Thursday, July 24, 2003

Funny how so many of these emails revolve around weather here. Winter was cold, spring was warm and now summer has arrived, so has rainy season. The past three weeks have been grey, miserable and wet. Coupled with that it's been warm and muggy, so it's not terribly pleasant. Feels kind of like living in a green house. Clothes won't dry, you walk around feeling slimy most of the time and sleeping comfortably is next to impossible. Thankfully, our schools all have air conditioning providing us with a small escape from the oppressive humidity and the swarming dragonflys and mosquitoes.

Despite that we've managed, as always, to keep pretty busy. A couple weeks back, the Ulsan Hash had it's 400th run. Quite a milestone for our pack, since it's been run bi-weekly for nearly ten years. The celebrations were planned well in advance, and we had a number of visiting hashers from other packs across Korea who descended on Ulsan for the weekend. Kicking off with a Saturday night pub-crawl run, the weekend was a mixture of running, drinking and... more drinking. Saturday night's run was a "live hare," which for the uninitiated means the hare (or person laying the trail) is only about 15 minutes ahead of the whole pack and is laying trail as they run. We had a decent size pack of about 20 runners and we hit a succession of about 8 bars over the course of a few hours. Charging into the bar, we quickly downed a beer, sang some raunchy songs to the amusement of the other patrons and then dashed off to the next establishment. The evening even culminated with Korea's first 'Ugh' (or naked hash)! Wearing only running shoes we sped like lightning through the city.... let me tell you, Korean police are generally not very amused at the sight of several naked foreigners running amok downtown. Retreating to the sanctuary of the foreigner's compound, we drank more beer and generally had a good laugh at it all.

The next morning, we woke up, nursed our hangovers and headed out on buses to the starting point for the official 400th run. Did I mention it is rainy season? Sunday morning was a torrential downpour but undaunted we set off on what turned out to be a fairly gruelling 2.5 hour hash through minefields, forests and up and down mountains. Yes, I said minefields... step lightly and stay on the trail would be my advice for anyone considering running through a minefield.

Overall, the 400th Run was a big success, with nearly 100 runners participating. We returned to the clubhouse for a big barbeque and yes, more beer. We met some good friends from the other hash groups and were extended invitations to come and run with their groups. Most of them are US military personnel stationed around Korea - I think running from one of the bases along the DMZ would make for a good laugh!

So between the rain and hashing the weekends have been quiet for the most part, as a lot of our engineer friends have been gone on vacation. I have managed to play a few games of Ultimate frisbee with U.S.L.U.T. (Ulsan Saucer Launching Ultimate Team), but with the weather mostly they have just ended up degenerating into mud slinging matches...

Last Thursday was Constitution Day in Korea which meant we had the day off work. So, what better way to celebrate the signing of a piece of paper than with another Hell's Ajummas ride, this time out to Jinha beach about 40 mins out of Ulsan on the East Sea coast. Meeting up early in the morning, we set off two-abreast and rode out in formation to the beach. Unfortunately, once we arrived the weather did not really cooperate so we packed it early and rode back into town.

Rumours had been floating for a while of a new microbrew restaurant that was to be opening up in Ulsan. Our tastebuds dulled by months of unremarkable Korean beer, the prospect of decent brew was tantalizing. After dinner, the Hell's Ajummas decided to see if it was indeed open. Sure enough, the Trevi Brauhaus had just opened and we were welcomed with open arms. I believe we were probably the first foreigners to visit the place, so they lavished us with attention.

We sat down to our first round of drinks (which were excellent, by the way) and were introduced to the brewmaster, Markus from Germany. He was very proud of their batches and offered to let us try each beer. Ding! Round one - begin! Out came the first of many free pitchers of beer. Next, the owner of the restaurant wanted to come and meet us. Ding! Round two! More free beer this time with free side dishes... Next, came the CEO of the brewing equipment company who sat down with us. Ding! Round three and more free beer.... Starting to slur my words a bit... Impressing him with my vast depth of useless beer knowledge, I was invited to do a tour of all the microbreweries in Seoul for quality assurance. I will definitely take up that offer!

Needless to say, after 4 hours and countless rounds of free pitchers we were all feeling well lubricated and decided to call it an evening. Total bill for the evening's entertainment: about $15...

So that's about all I've been up to and now I look back at the email I just wrote it seems like I've been doing a lot of drinking... maybe I'll be needing that vacation in Thailand to detox my body.

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