Thursday, October 31, 2013

Seoroksan Mountain

For chuseok(Korean thanksgiving) this year, we decided to go hiking on seoroksan mountain which is the 2nd highest mountain in Korea. 1708m about 700m higher than table mountain). When I first suggested this trip I assumed we would do the routes near one of the entrances where you could some temples, a giant bronze buddah and a few interesting rock formations. To my surprise however, the rest of the group decided they wanted to hike to the top! And since we were renting a car and going together I didnt have much choice besides to suck it up or sit alone at the bottom. I decided to suck it up! The hike from the one side to the top and then back down the other side is about a 13 hour hike. When I first heard 13 hours of hiking I almost fainted, I dont think Ive ever hiked for more than 2 hours in my life. Anyways since I honestly didnt think I would make 13 hours I decided to do some research on some other trails and found the shortest trail that gets you to the peak in about 4 hours and then about 2-3 hours down.
Now at that moment I didnt exactly stop to think why it was so short and realized all too late that it was because it was ridiculously steep and contained thousands upon thousands of steps!
The hike was only 5km but you literally go straight up, there are not many areas where you are walking horizontailly, its just 5km of vertical hell. There were 6 of us that went and Aubrey, Gareth, Liz and Paul are all ridiculously fit and then Caitlin and I were the ones who werent in as good shape as them so we lagged behind a tad. It took us about 5 hours to get up and I hated my life ALL the way up. There were points when I honestly just wanted to turn around and go home. I am so happy that I didnt! The view from the peak was absolutely breathtaking, I could have stared into the distance for hours. Seoroksan is almost like a mountain range in that it has various peaks surrounding it so when you are at the top you can see all the peaks and hills surrounding you. It was a beautiful day with only a few clouds and those clouds that were there, we were so high that we were actually above them. It was quite a bizarre feeling.
Now after this 5 hour hike up I was more than happy with going DOWN only to realize that going down such a steep slope really isnt as easy as you would think. I am not actually sure which was worse, I think my brain has protected itself from the terrible memories of that pain because I dont remember enough of it to compare. They were both unpleasant! Haha
At the bottom we were all in soo much pain that we booked ourselves into a jimjilbang which is a type of sauna in Korea. Kind of like public baths so you all go into the sauna area and there are many different baths of different temperatures and things like green tea baths and other such concoctions. The jimjilbangs are one part of Korean culture that kind of blow my mind. Koreans are so conservative and so self conscious about the way they look but then they will go and bath butt naked with hundreds of other woman. I would have assumed that having grown up with this part of their culture they would be a lot more confident in their bodies and the way they look. Anyways the jimjilbang saved our lives and we spent a good amount of time lounging in them to try and soak the pain away.
The next day we met Liz and Paul (who had camped on the mountain for the night) at an entrance on the other side of the park where I did at least get to see the giant bronze buddah and a temple J
Once we explored around there a bit we started the long drive back to Daegu by stopping off at a popular surfing beach for a dip and to soak up some sun.
Although I literally couldnt walk for the next two days the trip was amazing, one I would highly recommend but one that I am sure I wont be repeating anytime soon!!

This was maybe a quarter of the way in and I am already hating life.

Beautiful autumn foliage starting to come out

We made it!

Ecstatic to be at the top!

Burning man - Korea

Burning man is an international festival that started in the US if I am not mistaken. Basically its a weekend of music and fun but with a twist. There is no money involved at this festival, you can take whatever you need with you and more and then you can swop out what you have for what you need. So for example lets say I am starving, I can find someone cooking some food and trade them a beer for a sandwich. There are also themed stalls where some very generous people have made, bought or designed games, performances or food related things for you to go around and sample.
Liz and I really wanted to paint our faces and cover ourselves in glitter so we bought a bunch of things from one of the stationary stores in Daegu and I painted all our faces before we went into burn and just took the paint with me in case anyone needed. It turned out that people liked our paint so within a few hours I was painting every persons face I could find and was given treats and drinks and other trinckets. At one point I even tried to re-create a starry night on one girls back. That was by far the most fun of the days painting. It was a beautiful festival and everyone was so friendly and peaceful. The sunset was amazing and at night there was bioluminescent plankton in the water so when you ran your hands through the waves they would light up. Magical!

It didnt start out too well though. There were organized buses leaving Daegu late Friday night so we hopped on one of those arriving on the west coast at about 3:30am. Now, not only is this really early in the morning but it was POURING with rain! And the festival was all camping so we were pretty much screwed. We happened to find a little shelter thing that we decided to wait under till it got light out. The rain was so heavy that it only started to get light at about 8am. By this time we were all exhausted and VERY sick of the rain! I think a few Koreans felt sorry for us as they offered us a pension (like a hostel but you sleep on the floor) to sleep in while the rain clears even though we were all pretty sure it wasnt going to stop. So we dragged all our wet bags and belongings into the pension and passed out feeling a little bummed by the events of the day.
Well, what I didnt expect was to wake up with brilliant sunshine in my face! The universe was on our side, it was a BEAUTIFUL day! We made some breakfast, painted and glittered up and made our way down to the festival on the beach.

By far one of the best weekends in Korea.
Waiting in the rain...

Burlesque show

Having Fun painting :)

Starting my 'starry night'

Final product

Finally it's burning!