A Bird’s Eye View: Climbing with the McMinns

Following our game drives we headed back to Durban to have dinner with Caitlyn, Hendrik, Josh, and Elisti so that we could return Hendrik’s car, say thanks for all C&H had done, and get in a little bit of a last minute catch up. From there we headed to Josh and Elisti’s place for the weekend. They had moved to Durban last summer and had settled into their usual outdoorsy pursuits.

In keeping with that theme, our plan was for a Saturday climb out near Howick. However, before that we stopped by a market to collect the fixings for lunch. Perhaps it was just that we had not been anywhere near a non-Asia market in quite some time, but we don’t recall the farmers’ markets at home having such a wide variety of items available. We had breakfast, bought meat for dinner, cheese for lunch, crackers to supplement and even had a 9:00 AM beer tasting session before picking up a box of craft ales for the evening.

Once we got out to the game preserve where the climbs were located, it was a bit of a walk in and down to get to the climb points. Josh and Eliisti had kindly chosen easier routes so we actually had a hope of completing some of them. We had climbed with them before, but this time they taught us the basics of belaying as well. Climbing really is a great sport and it’s something we are thinking of getting into once we are settled on Vancouver Island. In the end, we both managed to climb two of the three that we attempted. We fell a bunch on each of them and had a lot of coaching from the ground, but we made it and the views from the top were amazing!

That evening Josh was ill so it fell to Blake to try to cook the wildebeast boerewors. Uncertain how to go about it, he made the distinctly non-Afrikaans mistake of unrolling the sausage before cooking it. Still worked out OK, but not exactly traditional Afrikaans style! Sunday was a bit of rest and recovery time from the pace of the previous week. Josh was not feeling well so Elisti took us around to a farmers’ market and a stroll along the north end of the Durban promenade before taking us to an awesome little restaurant called Freedom Cafe tucked away in a modified shipping container. By the time we got back to check on Josh we were just in time to throw together dinner, play a few games and enjoy the sunset before crashing in preparation for an early morning flight.

Not a bad view out over Durban.

Not a bad view out over Durban.

We had booked a shuttle service to the airport from one of the nearby hotels. Elisti dropped us off at 6:00 AM and we were off to Cape Town. It was a great weekend and with any luck we will be showing them around BC in the next couple of years.


Rock Climbing near Seonunsan

Good friends of ours, Josh and Elisti, are leaving Korea for sunnier pastures in South Africa. We have been trying to meet up to go hiking or rock climbing with them for close to a month with no success. So, when their departure was magically delayed for a week and a Sunday opened up in our own schedule, it was like it was meant to be. They are avid rock climbers and had offered to take us out and teach us a thing or two.

Rock climbing is actually pretty big in Korea and there are lots of cliffs and crags with bolts and anchors already driven into them. Apparently, “Korea on the Rocks” is a great climbing guide to the peninsula. We caught an early bus to Mokpo where Josh and Elisti picked us up from the bus terminal and we headed north to Seonunsan Provincial Park in Jeollabukdo. We did not go straight in to the park, but stopped at a cliff/crag area near the turn-off. It was a picturesque location surrounded by rice paddies and shaded areas to lounge when not climbing.

They started us out with a nice easy route and built us up to some harder ones.

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Before one of the climbs that Josh did (way over our capability) we noticed a wasp caught in a spider’s web under an overhang. What followed was one heck of a battle with the wasp trying to sting the spider and the spider trying to wrap up the wasps legs. Eventually the wasp, with a broken wing, fought free and fell out of the web. Five minutes later we saw it climbing determinedly up the rock for round two, which played out much the same. It would seem the wasp was actually the attacker.

For his last climb, Blake went back to the easiest one and lead climbed it. For those who don’t know, lead climbing is when you climb up first to attach the rope at the top. Every couple of meters there are bolts in the rock to which you attach quick draw clips and then your rope. This means that if you fall, while you won’t hit the bottom, you’ll actually drop a couple of metres before the rope catches you.

Blake lead climbing. Same route, same amount of risk, way scarier.

Blake lead climbing. Same route, same amount of risk, way scarier.



It was an amazing time! Afterwards, Josh and Elisti were kind enough to drive us back to Gwangju and join us for dinner before heading back to Mokpo. We will certainly miss them and hope we can catch up with them in South Africa sometime in the not-so-distant future.

Rock Climbing! (the indoor-Saturday edition)

On Saturday, Tamara joined some mentees from the orphanage with which we volunteer, as well as some other mentors in an outing. First stop was HI!ER Climbing Gym, which is an indoor climbing wall, situated above a “camping” themed restaurant.

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HI!ER Climbing Gym. The entrance is on the far right.

Eight teenage boys and six mentors started climbing just after 4pm. Everyone started by pretty much just playing around on the walls, soon realizing just how difficult rock climbing can be. After half an hour or so, an employee at the center came up and gave everyone a few pointers, as well as some challenges. Of course, he also showed off some of his skills, which really wowed the boys and seemed to give them enough energy to give the wall another try.

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Just a little boost...

Just a little boost…

This kid was a miniature Korean Spider Man, I kid you not. Amazing.

I kid you not, this boy was a miniature Korean Spider Man. Amazing.

Miranda and I!

Tamara and Miranda!

The people who worked there were very generous and allowed the boys to climb for free, and only charged us mentors 10,000₩ (about $10)!  When everyone was tuckered out, we headed off to a nearby bowling alley. Unfortunately, they had no open lanes, so we reserved two for a little later and hit up a kimbap restaurant for dinner.

Bowling was also a blast, although just as with rock climbing, some of us are not exactly skilled at the sport. Our mentee constantly teases Tamara about her bowling style (after she throws the ball, she leans precariously to the side to “encourage” the ball to go in the direction she wants it to go), and he continued to mock her throughout the evening.

Some of the middle school boys had to rush back to the orphanage for an 8pm compulsory English test, so just before eight, we quickly wrapped up our games and headed for home.

It was a truly memorable day with some of the sweetest, most considerate boys you’ll ever meet. 고마워요 (pronounced: “Ko-ma-wo-yo” – Thanks),  boys!