These days, going outside requires a daily pep talk with my inner voice.
Me: I don’t want to do this.
Inner voice: You can do this! You did it yesterday.
Me: But yesterday it was -1 degree in the morning. Today it is -3.
Inner voice: You are wearing two pairs of socks, tights under your pants, two thermal shirts, a sweater, hat, gloves, scarf, and fleece coat. Let’s go.
Me: But it’s so cold at the school. The bathrooms and hallways are like a meat freezer.
Inner voice: You’re such a wuss.
Oh wait, that’s not my inner voice, that’s Jared. Somehow, despite being born and raised in Australia, he has special heat-generating properties that allow him to emerge in a shirt, thin sweater and coat. If it was a few degrees warmer, he’d probably be in shorts and thongs.
Luckily, the afternoon sun still makes an appearance, rendering outdoor adventures possible. So last Friday we caught a train to Andong after work. Andong is about 2 1/2 hours away, and is famous for being the place where Queen Elizabeth spent her birthday in 1999. Every tourist hotspot boasts that they were the proud hosts of the Queen. The Soju and Food Museum has a special glassed-in display table covered with wax replicas of the foods she was served. No photos allowed.
Like Betty, we too visited Hahoe Village to view the famed Mask Dance. Once a year there is a Mask Dance festival, but if you miss it, the village puts on a show once a day, three times a week.
People actually live in the village, though I presume they remove their masks in the privacy of their homes. They also don’t bat an eye at the Koreans and foreigners alike who prowl their streets, snapping photos of everything we encounter.
These gloves will become a mandatory part of my outfit, particularly as this weekend marked the start of the snow season here in Gangwon-do. I noticed photo albums on the school website of students and teachers decked out in snowsuits, wearing skis and clutching poles. Warning bells are going off in my head – I won’t be surprised if one of the next teacher’s excursions involve cold-weather gear and a ski lift. Better triple up on my layers.