Seoul Trail #4: Daemo Umyeonsan Course

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January 17th 2016
Published: February 28th 2016
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Today's trail would take me around Daemosan and Umyeonsan mountains, both these mountains are pretty small, I think about 350 metres and 100 and odd metres respectively. I would be walking through Gangnam-gu and Seocho-gu. The trail is 17.9 kilometres long and should take about eight hours. It is rated as a medium difficulty course. It is divided into two section Suseo Station to Yangjae Citizens' Forest, which is ten kilometres and then Yangjae Citizen' Forest to Sandang Station, which is 7.9 kilometres. I came out of Suseo Station at exit six. I followed walked a couple of paces and saw the first stamp box and the start of the trail to my right. I have hiked here a few times before so I knew exactly where I was.

This trail starts with a step of steps, that lead you away from the hustle and bustle of the city into the woods. The steps aren't too bad, or maybe I am just used to hiking with so many sets of stairs now. This part of the trail is nice as you gradually climb a bit higher and leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind. The path weaves its way through the woods and the first real point of interest was Dultapjeonmangdae, some stone towers. There are some benches next to the towers, where you can rest and take in the view.

I kept walking through the woods. I think I walked for about an hour and a bit, maybe three or four kilometres, to reach Bulguksa temple. The name Bulguksa is normally associated with the infamous temple in Gyeongju with the same name. This one isn't as grand as the one in Gyeongju, but still pretty. The temple is really small only a few buildings. I had a little walk around, but there were a few people praying and I didn't want to disturb them. I was quite surprised how many people were at the temple as it was still pretty early. From the temple I carried on walking through the woods. There wasn't really anything else to see apart from trees. This part of the trail was quite uneventful, up and down in places.

I exited the woodland and came out to a small area of houses. I then reached the main road and used the bridge to cross over it. On the other side, there were small farming areas, and one little filed had lots of scarecrows set up in it. This area wasn't too pleasant as a lot of rubbish had been dumped there. It's a shame that the area isn't looked after better. I followed the trail down next to the stream, Yeouicheon. The stream wasn't very picturesque to walk along and going through the tunnels were quiet cold. I have walked along here in summer too, and it definitely isn't the pretty part of the trail, no matter the weather. The trail then heads away from the stream and into Yangjae Citizens' Forest. The park was built for the Asian Games in 1986 and the Seoul Olympic Games, two years later. This side of the park has several memorial sculptures, which honour Korean citizens that have died in tragic events. The sculptures commemorate the Korean Airlines Flight 007 shot down by the Soviet Union in 1983, the Sampoong Department store collapse in 1995, and the Baekma Guerrilla corps. A road intersects the park, so I crossed that to reach the next stamp box.

From the second stamp box, I walked through the park. It was so quiet! I was shocked, I know it's cold, but due to the population of Seoul, I expected it to be busier. There were only a few dog walkers about, and I only spotted one family. This part of the trail is 7.9 kilometres. I think I would like to explore the park more fully in warmer weather. I came out of the park and headed along the path next to the river, stay on the top path though, as the one that is next to the river is the wrong one. I turned right at the road and crossed the bridge. After following some more trail signs along the roads, I headed back into a small park. The trail quickly went up into a lightly wooded area. There was quite a lot of ups and downs, but nothing was too steep. I was feeling quite tired by this point, so I took a rest on one of the many benches, that are along the route. The trail continued though the woodland. It was very samey so not too much to see. Although, as the day was a bit overcast and there was a little mist in the air, it made the trees look a bit magical. There is just something about them with their dead leaves still hanging on them, a dull orangey brown colour.

Seoul was definitely overcast, so the views over the city weren't very good. I hadn't even bothered stopping at the earlier lookout where you can see Jamsil and the Lotte World Mall dwarfing all the other buildings. I passed by another temple. It was slightly off the trail and I thought I would go up and have a look. However, as I started to walk up the trail towards the temple, I decided that I was too tired, and decided to skip it. The only really other interesting thing that I passed which stood out was another stone wish tower. This one had some little Buddha figurines perched on it. I love those little figurines, some people find them creepy, but I think they are cute. I also passed lots of little patches of trickling water (they aren't really big enough to be called waterfalls) that had frozen. When i was walking on Umyeonsan, I was behind Seoul Art Center. What a racket was coming from there. They had an ice rink set up in the courtyard and they were blasting out the Christmas tunes. The noise was carried up the hill, so much for enjoying the peace and quiet.

I collected my third and final stamp of the day and took a couple of minutes break at the benches nearby. I was shocked to see a young lad, who had been in front of me, turn up after me. I wonder if he took a wrong turn somewhere along the trail. The trail ended at the top of a hill. The lovely woodland trail was gone and I was walking through what seemed to be lots of merchants' yards. Not very picturesque, but this trail does highlight all the different walks of life that make up Seoul's citizens. At the bottom of the hill, past all the builders' yards and the like, there were a few big apartment blocks. There was also a convenience store, so I popped in there to get a drink and a sandwich. The store had some picnic benches outside, so I sat and ate my food, as it wasn't too cold to sit down for a little bit. Then I followed the trail signs to the main road. After a minute or two, I realised that I was right by Sadang Station. If I had wanted to continue the trail, I could have turned left, as indicated on the street, but I turned right and headed to the subway. I saw a couple of Kimbap Cheonguks, and wished I had known as I would have preferred to get some food at one of those. Never mind. I had completed the trail in good time again, five and a half hours, not too shabby!

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