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Published: January 11th 2010
For the past month, ever since we went to Apsan Mountain and "hiked" on a paved path, I have been mocking Korean hiking. However, when Heather and I went to Palgongsan, the concrete path we started on quickly changed to dirt and rock complete with quad shredding incline. It was a much rougher hike than I had expected and it shed a little light onto why so many of the old men and women carry hiking sticks (although this still does not solve the extreme hiking apparel mystery) .
In addition to being physically demanding, it was also a really pretty hike. It was especially nice to be away from the concrete jungle for a little while (Palgong Moutain is about an hour by bus from the center of Daegu). We also had the rare pleasure of spotting a deer! (Wildlife is not very commonly seen in Daegu and consequently the concept of wilderness is most certainly different here than it is in rural Pennsylvania). Additionally, we were quite surprised when we discovered a restaurant about half way up the mountain. Apparently there is also a cable car at Palgongsan Mountain although maybe it is only used for restaurant employees...
I'm not sure.
Shortly after hiking through the outdoor seating area of the restaurant, we were spotted and called out to by a group of elderly men sitting in a circle just to the side of the path eating, drinking, and being merry. Although we were pretty sure they wanted us to stop, we decided to awkwardly smile, wave/nod and keep on moving. It became doubly awkward when about 2 minutes later we decided to head down the mountain instead of continuing upwards and had to pass them again. Repeat awkward smile, wave, and nod.
Random fun fact: san means mountain in Korean. That's why it is possible to write Palgong Mountain (Palgongsan) or Ap Mountain (Apsan). You can say Palgongsan Mountain or Apsan Mountain, but when you say that to a Korean, it is the equivalent of saying Palgong Mountain Mountain/ Ap Mountain Mountain. Kind of like ATM machine. (Automatic Teller Machine Machine) haha.
Mike and I started taking Korean classes downtown at the YMCA earlier this month. The classes are from 11am to 1pm every Saturday. The week before classes started, we went down to pay for the class and to make sure that we
could find the place. After a great deal of difficulty, we had turned the wrong way at the top of the subway exit, we eventually stumbled upon it. Once we relocated the subway, we were pretty sure that we would easily be able to find it the following week.
When we exited the subway on the first day of class, we turned in the correct direction but still could not find the side street that we were looking for. After wandering around for some time, we found another person who was having a similar difficulty and together finally found the building. I cannot tell you the last time my brain had been kicked, punched, put in a choke hold, power bombed, frog splashed, and crippler cross-faced so bad. After sitting through two hours of class not understanding a word that the teacher was saying (she teaches us in Korean) combined with the insane amount of new information we were given, it was beyond mentally overloading.
One day after Korean class, we ran into a friend that we knew from orientation. He was meeting some other friends to go hiking and asked Mike and I if we wanted to
join him. Judging by the sky, it was going to start raining any minute. We were also wearing casual clothing so we were certainly not dressed for the occasion, but we decided to say yes anyway.
The first time we had gone to Apsan in May, we simply walked up the paved part of the path and then took the cable car to look down on the city. This time, however, we were full out hiking. We started off pretty easy, the base of the mountain was not steep at all. We passed through an adult playground (workout station) and then suddenly we were soon climbing over rocks and up steep inclines. We had entered the mountain from the Eastern side giving us a view of the city that we hadn't been able to see from the Northern side of the mountain that the cable car sits on. We had been hiking for well over an hour and were beginning to near the top of the mountain when the clouds had finally reached their breaking point. The skies opened up and it began to rain like I had never been rained on before. Oh, yeah, the teachers at my
Dinner at a Samgyupsal Place
Samgyupsal is also known as Korean bbq. You choose a cut of pork and they bring it to you in strips. You place it on a grill in the center of your table and when it's cooked, dip it in a sauce and/or mix it with vegetables and eat!
school had mentioned that rainy season was supposed to start this weekend...
The rains were so heavy that it would have been treacherous for us to hike down the mountain on the natural path so we opted to instead take the paved path (or service road) down the mountain. Although we didn't have to worry about slipping in mud, continuously walking on a downward slope very quickly became tiring on the knees. It didn't take long until every bit of my clothing was completely drenched and clinging fast to my body. After making it to the end of the path, we came out at a highway, nowhere near where we originally started. After crossing the street, and then crossing the street yet again, we figured out which bus we needed to take in order to get back downtown. As we were waiting to cross the street one last time to get to the correct side of the road, we could see the bus coming towards the bus stop. Instantly, all seven of us began sprinting, umbrellas wailing in the air, towards the oncoming bus. We reached the bus stop just in time to leap from the sidewalk onto the
bus. We brought enough water into the bus with us to cover the floor. The bus driver seemed thoroughly disgusted by our appearances.
The bus ride to downtown was rather long and I was greatly displeased by the bus driver's decision to turn on the AC. I was already cold. We went to a nice little Canadian owned restaurant called the Holy Grill for dinner, still soaked to the bone. Although there was nothing I could do about my shorts, I remembered that I had brought a three quarter length shirt with me and had wrapped it in a plastic bag before it started raining. I dug that out of my bag and changed shirts. While it did little to alleviate my feeling of discomfort, it did help a bit. One of the girls who was with us actually decided to leave the restaurant for a bit to go and buy a dry outfit. I wish I would have thought of that before it was too late for me to bother.
At home, a hot shower had rarely before felt so good. Welcome to rainy season in Daegu. Take an umbrella with you where ever you go.
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