Thursday, April 3, 2008

Hiking Seonunsan

Last Sunday some friends and I got up at an ungodly hour and caught a bus to Jamsil in Seoul. Then we hopped on another bus full of Korean mountain climbers as well as a few foreigners. Our bus started the four hour long journey to Jeolla province, which is southwest of Gyeonggi province where we live. Why were we going there? Well, after countless Sundays being spent in front of the television, getting up only to make our way to the nearest Galbi establishment and promptly returning to the television we decided it was time to get some exercise.

I, for one, abhor the gym and really suck at sports- like, all sports- so for me, going hiking was the least boring and least embarassing way to get some serious exercise. We all decided to go with the Seoul Hiker's Group, which is mostly comprised of middle aged and retired Koreans- we were definitely the youngest in the group. There were about eight foreigners, and we all had a blast! Even if, at times, I didn't think I'd make it...

So I thought this was the highest point on the mountain, and was therefore really happy when we reached our first "peak". All downhill from here, right? Well... not so much.

Me wearing my "I made it to the top of the mountain and have energy to spare" smirk. Little did I know at this point that I still had 3.5 hours to go. I definitely wasn't smirking in the end!

The whole group of foreigners. Three Americans, two Canadians, two Irish, and one lonely Singaporean (is that the correct term...?).

This rock was pretty huge. I had to take a picture, I just had to.

Ok, everything on this mountain was completely dead and it was a really cold day, but these beautiful flowers were flourishing absolutely everywhere. I carried one for almost two hours until I fell down and all the petals fell off. It was a sad moment.

We finally reached our halfway point and what do the Koreans do? Break out the rice wine, that's what. I never drank alcohol on top of a mountain before. The Koreans acted like they did it all the time. They were actually pretty drunk on the bus ride home, while the foreigners (who were also the only ones under the age of 30) were dead sober. Something is wrong with this scenario!

Rosie, Patrick and Kim on the long descend back to the bus. At this point we still had another hour and a half of walking.

Right after I fell down. That was the only time I fell, though, and my pants didn't even get that muddy. I'm totes proud of myself.

This is Dr. Jun. He is absolute comic gold. At this point we were on a hill that was pretty much vertical, with no end in sight. I almost gave up.

Rosie and Patrick sprinted up the hill with no problem, but Kim and I took a little bit longer (with frequent breaks). This is our "I cannot go any further" picture.

But we did eventually make it to the top. Nice view!

Yet another group photo.

At the bottom of the mountain. All of a sudden birds are singing, a stream is trickling past, and beautiful houses are everywhere surrounded by tea plantations. This place was beyond beautiful; the pictures really don't do it justice.

Walking toward the town.

There was a Buddhist temple with this beautiful river flowing by. Pure heaven.

This is my contemplative picture. Just look at the mountain in the background. I climbed that! Me!

Of course we were ravenous at this point and dinner was already paid for by our club fees. No sooner had we sat down when the server brought us two bottles of soju and all of our side dishes. The kimchi was apparently "aged", and it was really delicious. The food in Jeolla, from what I could tell from this meal, seems a little less spicy with more seafood and mushrooms. Maybe it was just this restaurant, though.

The best meal after a really long hike. A clam and tofu stew, not unlike jiggae but a lot less spicy, served over rice and enjoyed with all the delicious sides. Making me hungry just typing about it!


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