Two Biggies in Two Weeks: Seoraksan and Jirisan

My hiking group does these trips identified as overnighters. Don't get the term confused with a weekend trip, say, departing on a nice Saturday afternoon, staying in a hostel/motel/hotel, a brisk hike the next day and then going home in the early evening. No, they are definitely not that. Instead, they entail meeting at a rented bus at 11:30pm on a Friday night (after a full days work), traveling 3-4 hours in the night/"sleeping," and starting a climb up a mountain at 3-4 am in the dark. The hikes will last 12-16 hours and we'll head back for home late in the night.

Gyeongju II: Hiking Namsan & Other Soul Satisfying Fare

Our day trip begins at a traditional restaurant that had obligingly opened early to accommodate our group of six. As soon as we settle down onto the floor mats, side dishes (called banchan, 반찬) and mountain vegetable bibimbap (sanchae bibimbap, 산채 비빔밥) mix-ins start arriving on our table. This will be our fuel during the all-day hike ensuing right after breakfast.  Today is devoted to conquering Namsan Mountain in Gyeongju.

Dobongsan (도 봉산): 3rd time's a charm.

Dobongsan is a mountain located in Seoul and one that I've climbed twice prior. Unfortunately, the first time, it was a bit too icy to reach a peak and the second time, too foggy. Two weekends ago, however, conditions were perfect and we were able to visit multiple peaks. Aside from amazing views, there is something about making it to the top of the mountain that is so much more empowering than to any other point. I feel totally one with a force that I cannot even comprehend.

Sister Visits Busan

Note: This guest post was written by my sister, Crystal, who visited Busan with her husband, Nick, back in March 2011. We thank her for her contribution to Soju Cocktail and for visiting way over here.

When I was a young girl...

I spent every minute of my free time in the forests, waters, canyons, and fields surrounding me. Then, at some point, I lost touch with nature. Blame school, jobs, life, whatever. I could be submersed, but that connected feeling just wasn't there. The bond has now been restored in my life and a great portion of the process has happened here in Korea. It sounds simple, but it's quite complex and has made an enormous difference in my life.

Hwanggeumsan and the Yellow Sea

Beomeosa: Temple of Fish from Heaven

On most of the must-do tourist lists and in guidebooks, Beomeosa rates as one of the most important tourist sites in Busan. It was one of the first sites I learned about while researching the city that would be my future home, and I looked forward to seeing the well-known temple. When my sister and brother in law visited Busan back in March, we spent a weekend afternoon at the temple.

You Can Move a Mountain: Bukhansan Rappelling

"No hands and die," Mr. Kim, the leader of Climbing Korea, said as he and two others prepped me before rappelling for the first time. It had been a lovely hike up Bukhan Mountain. The sun was out and the temperature was well over 80 degrees. I hadn't been nervous about the rappell down while climbing up, but as I stood there listening to pointers in broken English intertwined with Korean, I started to wonder if this was such a good idea. As with all new things I try while being here, I reasoned, "Well, yes, I'm in Korea!" And so, I rappelled down.

Good Day, Igidae

Our eyes scan the rocks under our feet, looking for the footprints of the long extinct Ultrasaurus. It’s been awhile since I’ve gone on a dinosaur print hunt. Okay, I’ve never actually tried to find dinosaur prints before, and it doesn’t look like I’ll be successful today. We conclude they the prints must actually be these foot-wide indentations now filled with shallow pools of water. 

Favorite Day in Korea: 지 리산 (Jirisan) Hike