Saturday, September 7, 2013

Rafting the Hantan River!

I honestly don't have that much to share on this one. A bit of backstory, first, I suppose: About a month ago (or so), I saw a link to a group called Adventure Korea. They do all sorts of stuff around the country. The particular one that caught my eye was a white water rafting trip. I wasn't sure about it, so I brought it up to my sister (who had done white water rafting herself), and she talked me into it. (The next part is actually a much longer story, but I'll keep it short.) I asked Naomi, Tim, and Kira if they wanted to join me. The first two couldn't, and Kira said yes. But as time got closer, Kira's plans shifted and she couldn't join me, so I ended up doing this alone.

So as the day came, I had to be at the meet-up point at 7 AM, which means I had to be awake at about 5 AM... which if you know me, is not a pleasant or welcome experience whatsoever. I ended up leaving my place by 6, and thanks to my luck, my first train was like 15 minutes late. I got really worried I wasn't going to make it. In fact, by the time I got to the meet-up station, I had about 3 minutes to find and get to the bus. I had to go to the complete opposite side of the station and out onto the street, but I found it. Luckily they waited an extra 10 minutes for others, as well. So we left around 7:12 AM.

To cut down on the following story, as well, the trip--with 2 short rest stop breaks--took about 3 and a half hours, as we got to the Hantan River/rafting area by around 10:40-ish. And it was our turn to start gearing up around 11. The most annoying part here was they kept changing out my life vest. They would keep having me take one off and put another on and strap me all in. Then take it off and put another on (for size purposes). I did this switching game about 5 times before they were happy with how it looked, I guess.

Oh, and before all that, most people were buying water shoes at the little shop there. Though I couldn't because my feet are too big for Korea (so I just wore my old pair of shoes). I did, however, buy a waterproof baggie thing so I could take my iPhone for pictures. They also split us into 3 groups with 8-9 people in each raft. We carried our raft down to the water (which was freezing, by the way).

They placed me and another guy roughly my same size in the very front, as they balanced the whole thing out by size/weight. We got the raft into the water and our rather young captain guy went over some basics with us. Then we were off. ONE. TWO. ONE. TWO. ONE. TWO.


Oh, rocks. I feel I cursed this particular raft. For those that aren't aware, my family and I usually go tubing on the Frio River every summer. And I'm notorious for a few things, including hitting and/or getting stuck on every rock, going backwards, and getting behind so needing to play catch-up. I thought I missed it this year. But to spoil the rest of this adventure--nope! It was just like old times.

Throughout the float, we got stuck on not one rock, not two rocks, not three rocks... but four rocks. The first three, our captain guy actually had to get out of the boat (and for the first two, we were in rapids) and wiggle and push with great effort (he was a little guy) and hop back in the boat before it left him behind. And, yes, we would even go backwards or sideways at times. And at the very first rock we got so far behind the rest of our group that we had to tire ourselves out playing catch-up.

We stopped 3 times throughout the trip. The first was to jump off a big rock into the water, which I didn't do. The second time was to go down a makeshift slide into the water, which was just two rafts put together with water splashed onto it. I did do this one, and it was fun (and freezing). The third time, we stopped in the middle of a deep area, and he made us fall as a group into the water (did I mention it was a bit nippy?) and swim to a very small/narrow beach area where we waited for ages before heading to the end of the line... where the three boats raced each other toward the finish. I knew we were gonna lose because we were so exhausted from playing catch-up the whole time. And we did. Though another funny tidbit was about halfway through the whole rafting journey, our boat decided to try and outdo another boat on our "ONE! TWO!" chant in how loud we did it. So it became a funny contest between everyone.

So anyway, we finished, and I've never had that much sand in my shoes ever in my life. We head up a super steep hill and then a super steep, winding road and make it to the waiting zone where a shuttle bus takes us back to the starting area. We're directed to the shower area... which was a communal shower, and I wasn't prepared to see so many naked dudes on this trip.

Then we ate some rather delicious food before we were taken to the next area--the bungee jump bridge. I didn't do this (even if I wanted to, I was over the weight limit). I sat in an area under the bridge with the guy who I was with at the front of the raft, and we hung out and talked while watching all the bungee jumpers (he'd done this whole trip about a dozen times, so he wasn't as interested in the jumpers as I was).

And then we were gone by about 4 PM. Traffic was apparently really bad in Seoul, so they gave us the option of stopping at a station on the east side of the city or else spend another 1-2 hours driving to the original areas. We all decided to stop at this station (which I quickly realized was the station I got out at when I used the Seoul Bus Terminal to take my day-long trip to nowhere months ago).

So overall, what did I think? This was a pretty awesome trip. Yes, I'm exhausted. Yes, I'm a bit sunburned. But the scenery was stunning--even more so than any of my visuals will be able to show. And the rafting, while not super exciting white water stuff like something of the Colorado River, was basically a slightly more intensified version of tubing the Frio. So nothing remotely dangerous, but still fun. This was a very good idea, and probably one of my favorite things I've done.

Now... here are some pictures (and one video)!

The makeshift slide that was pretty fun!

The bridge for bungee jumping.

View from under the bridge.

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