Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Bukhansan National Park

So last Tuesday (May 5th) it was Childrens Day here in Korea, which means we all had a lovely little day off (well most of us anyways). It reminded me of how, as kids, we use to constantly ask our parents why there is a Mothers day and a Fathers day, but not a Childrens Day...or was that just me?! Well, in Korea there is one, and its a national holiday! Win! Koreans call all the national holidays here ‘red days', and on the calender the day is quite literally coloured in red. It's pretty easy to remember and great when you're a foreigner, as after 29 years I know my colours quite well, but not, my Korean. This bank holiday is used to celebrate the well-being of children, and often parents will use this day to take their little ones on excursions to zoo’s, museums or even a weekend trip to the beach. They also give them lots of gifts (how lovely).

I wanted to make the most of this day, so myself and a few friends decided to go hiking. It was a lovely sunny day, not too hot and not too cold so perfect conditions for this kind of activity. Spring is a great time of year for hiking, as in the summer it will just be way too hot to do anything at all really. So, up we got at the crack of dawn to embrace the day ahead with water bottles and suncream in hand. We decided to check out Bukhansan Mountain, which is about an hour away from where we live. The nearest station to Bukhansan National Park is Bulgwang Station on line 3, and it was quite easy to know where to go from there, as we basically just followed the other hikers. 

 Random sign!

The Map!

We got to the bottom of the mountain, and after a quick look at the map, off we went on the long uphill path ahead. The hike itself takes around 2 hours (there and back) and is for all different fitness levels. The trail we went on was quite challenging but definitely doable for beginner hikers too. The mountain is covered in trees and rocks so for most of the way you can use the trees for shade, and the rocks for support, which is extremely beneficial, especially to anyone who is scared of heights. It is important, like on any hike, to take your time, and we certainly did. Each rock and path way brought a new challenge which was both exciting and exhilarating. Once at the half way mark we stopped for a breather and took in the fantastic landscape that lay in front of us. 

Half way point!

Our trail

2KM ahead!

After a couple more obstacles and one or two moments of panic, we finally reached the top of Jokdunibong peak at 370 metres. Wow, it really was absolutely stunning. I was quite apprehensive about the whole experience to be honest, but as soon as I saw the incredible view of Seoul, the city that I now call home, it all suddenly became totally worth it. My fear of heights slowly drifted away, and I genuinely felt some sort of euphoria bubbling up inside of me. It was quite rocky at the top, and there were pretty much sheer drops everywhere you looked, but if you took everything slowly and concentrated on where exactly you were standing, it was safe enough. I would 100% recommend Bukhansan Mountain, its a great hike for both the experienced and novice hiker, and depending on what trail you take, will depend on how difficult it is. 

View from Bukhansan!

On the way down we found a different route which was much easier but not as exciting so I was glad it was that way round. Make sure to take lots of water, sun cream, sun glasses, some dried fruit or light snacks, plasters, a towel, some deodorant and a spare top on any hike you go on, as its better to be prepared than sorry. Oh and just remember these 3 words and you should be fine...take your time, take your time...

...take your time!

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