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Published: June 15th 2009
Wow time flies its crazy! I’ve been a little slack with my blog cause I thought I didn’t have much to report until I looked at the mad amounts of photos I have managed to generate over the last two months so I best get blogging to fill you all in :-)
After too much city Robin and I decided it was time for a little time with nature so we set out for a “stroll” in Bokhansansong. Hiking anywhere in Korea is a rather amusing experience on all levels. It is said that hiking is the unofficial national sport of Korea and if you ever have the opportunity to walk on one of SK’s many mountains you will see why. At the foot of the mountain are no less than four major hiking gear stores selling exactly the same thing; SK Hiking gear consists of: Black pants, wide brimmed hat, a must have walking stick and the brightest possible shirt.
On the up-side you sure can’t get lost. Finding your way to the top is easy game when you have an endless supply of bright fabric beacons marking the trail all the way to the top! One thing
I will give these mad SK walkers is some serious credit since the majority of them are well above the age of 50 and those ajummas and ajoshis are super fit.
After finding a couple of snacks at the bottom of the “hill”, Robin and I set about a nice Saturday afternoon stroll up a pleasant hill in Korea. Let me just tell you, what we thought would be a hill turned out to be nothing less than a super strenuous climbing expedition to one of Seoul’s highest points!
While still on the more modes gradient towards the bottom I managed to make a friend, one of the few less seasoned ajummas who was attempting to make the walk, be careful though you offer your arm to help her up one step and next thing you know you are pulling an ajumma up more steps than you bargained for. Lucky for me her and her husband spotted the nice stream and decided the rocks would be a nice spot to stop for a breather so I managed to avoid pulling her the whole way.
It was really pleasant in amongst the trees and initially the walk was
nice a chilled for on our young legs. It was still pretty dry since spring was only just rearing its head but Bokhansangsong makes a nice break from the busy city and the clean clear stream that runs through is stunning! They told us the walk would take 2hours but naturally we were overly optimistic thinking that there was no way it would possibly take us so long to walk 4km’s….boy oh boy were we very very mistaken. The climb turned out to be seriously epic and we were pushing beads like no one’s business. The ajummas and ajoshis were putting us to shame as they passed us on the way up. At one point, a little out of breath, we made another big mistake; we asked one of the fit ajoshis how far we still had to go. He happily assured us that we must keep fighting, only 10 more minutes. Sure enough ten minutes later we found ourselves at the fortress wall and Robin and I triumphantly had our photo taken only to find out that we still had a good deal further to go and it would turn out that the heavy breathing we were already doing
would be doubled!
Robin and I erupted into fits of laughter when we saw what awaited us. I’m not exaggerating when I say that we would find ourselves navigating sheer rock faces, using our arms to haul our already weary bodies to the top. Quite naturally neither of us were in the right attire in the 1st place either so I can only imagine the entertainment we were providing for the native seasoned climbers!
After a proper upper body work out we finally made it to the top and the 10 minutes that the ajoshie told us it would take, turned out to be a good 40mins but it was well worth it. Sadly the beginning of spring means yellow dust so the view was a little murky but being at the top felt like being at the top of the world to me, it was beautiful and so peaceful and worth every drop of sweat to over look Seoul all that way below!
After spending some time at the top a serious wind started to blow and it started getting a little chilly all that way up so we decided to tackle the next challenge, the trip
down. We thought going up was the biggest challenge until we started our decent, what an entertainment. After much laughter we finally made our way off the sheer rocks and back onto more navigable surfaces and before we knew it we were back at the bottom and the final challenge would be to find a decent enough watering hole to celebrate our days achievements.
A norm around any Korean mountain is the abundance of eating and drinking marquise eagerly awaiting weary hikers. Robin and I had already decided, as we passed the “restaurants” on the way up, that we would be eating sam gap sal so now it was just a matter of choosing the most desirable spot. We managed to land up at a spot that had a delightful ajumma who was all too eager to practice her limited English and welcomed us into her tented restaurant and before we knew it we were munching on some wonderful food.
As we were finishing off our meal we were approached by an ajoshi who was also very friendly and initially we thought he was just keen to practice his English. What we later found out from him Some
of the locals making the most of our first warm days was that he was also a teacher and he was hiking with his fellow Korean co-teachers and he was eager for Robin and I to join their table. What a funny experience we ended up having to eat some dried sardine with a straight face and make sure that we didn’t drink out bowl of Makgoelli too quickly cause the ajoshi was all too eager to refill it.
After about half an hour of interaction and the normal swapping of business cards we pride ourselves away from the grips of the ajoshis and ajummas who were getting drunker by the second and we made our way back home.
It was such a fun and eventful day and Bokhansansong is defiantly a spot I would recommend!
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