Thursday, 19 March 2015

Hiking in Korea

Okay so I’m hardly an expert on this topic and I’ve technically only been on two hikes since I’ve been here, but, this is something that I’m trying to take up so I thought I’d write a little post about the hikes that I have been on so far. The first took place on the weekend before last. The evening before I had been on a somewhat crazy night out in Itaewon (pretty much the foreigner district in Seoul). I drunk a couple of bottles of Soju and managed to loose my wallet in a cab just before eating the Korean version of a Kebab (standard), however the next morning I was determined not to let the night before ruin my Sunday. So up I got with a skip in my step. Destination: Mount Namsan in Mungyeong, Seoul.

 The only way is up!

 N Seoul Tower

The hike took about 45 minutes to get to the top, and let me tell you something, hiking is a great hangover cure. FACT. The route is completely planned out for you and the whole mountain is covered in stairs, so its basically like walking up a massive staircase as oppose to an actual mountain really. It was pretty tough going though as it’s not something I usually do... you know, exercise. Awkward.

On the way up, there were several stop off points where you could grab a coffee or use the facilities. It was more of a tourist destination than you’re usual isolated mountain climb, but the scenery was lovely, and I even saw a cat! SCORE! There were some traditional Korean style buildings, and lots of different archways and waterfalls that were really pretty, especially at this time of the year. Icicles hung down from the rocks where water would usually flow, and the ground was covered in autumn leaves that were parted slightly by the odd green bud; a reminder that Spring is on its way. 

It wasn’t too busy, so it was nice to just stroll around and enjoy the landscape. Once at the top, it wasn’t just the view that was grabbing my attention. Among the tourists in a quiet spot next to the cable car, was a colourful display of ‘love padlocks’ ...the most colourful display i’ve seen yet. There was also a time capsule buried in the year I was born (1985) and due to be opened on 2485...so I’m hopeful to be there for the opening. Obvious joke. I also saw a  martial arts demonstration by some crazy guys in traditional costumes - they had knives and everything. It was pretty extreme, but incredibly enjoyable. 

 Love Padlocks

 Soo many padlocks

Time Capsule

Yep, that's a samurai sword!
The following weekend (this one just gone) I headed up to a mountain a bit closer to home in Anyang. I popped my shoes on and headed out the door, regardless of the fact that (at the moment) I have no hiking boots to my name. Bad idea. This proved to be my nemesis whilst trying to compete with a ''90 degree angle'' wearing only converse. I’m definitely planning on buying some boots soon, as I think this hiking business will be my new escapade! Destination: Mount Morak-san, Anyang.

On my first hike I took it reasonably easy, as I didn’t really want to jump in at the deep end. However, the second was slightly more treacherous and was actually pretty tough going. There I was a naive Brit, thinking that a mountain is just a big hill, when suddenly i’m faced with breaking rocks and slippery surfaces. 

On the way, there were a couple of signs and some barriers or just ropes really to pull yourself up with. It was slightly daunting and unfortunately I didn’t make it to the top as I didn’t want to put my LIFE in danger (what with the converse and all). It started getting pretty steep and being on my own I thought it best to just do 75% of the climb. Still, it was nearly the top and the area was covered in trees and plant life so it was absolutely stunning. All in all it was a lovely day that I will definitely be repeating once i’ve purchased my winning hiking shoes. 

Both trips were exciting climbs for totally different reasons, that I enjoyed immensely, and I look forward to the next one, whereever and whenever that may be..as always I'll keep you posted.

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