Monday, October 5, 2009

Chuseok Travels #3: SEORAKSAN

Seoraksan is a mountain and national park about 20 minutes from Seokcho. Kerri and I slept at a jimjilbang on the Saturday night and woke up at 7am(!?!!*&@$#) on the Sunday morning all perky and ready to climb our little legs off.
With no real plan, we just started strolling. We saw this beautiful buddha not far from the entrance who sat comfortably amongst the trees and then we saw the stunning rocks to the left, so we decided to just walk towards those.

It is still warm, but definitely turning into autumn. We past a few lovely temples that seemed so natural amongst all the green and pops of red.

The beginning of the walk was through the trees along the stony river. We met this amazing swanky couple - he had a tripod and she had the most make-up I have ever seen on ANYONE, let alone someone on a hike. In this series of pictures, her pose was to throw her head back and laugh. It was fantastic. They later bought us coffee and took pictures with us.

On the walk up the mountain, there are restaurants nestled in the trees. How convenient! I spoke to the hilarious ajumma manning her restaurant and she told me she lived in the mountains. I really don't want to think of how they bring their supplies up. Too exhausting!
We were still far from our wee rocks we wanted to get to.

Even nature can't escape Korean pop culture.

We arrived at a base where you could take a rest, pray in a buddhist cave temple or eat some ice cream and waffles. Kerri and I were suprised at it only being 10.30am as usually we would both would have barely been out of bed. We had a good view of our rocks behind us and the mountains ahead, lay on this one in the sun and Kerri read me some David Sedaris.

After resting for a while, we decided that we should climb the giant rock as far as we could go - ya know, while we were there. The name of the rock we were walking towards was Ulsanbawi and is meant to be the largest single rock in the Orient.
We were faced with a daunting amount of steep stairs/ladder steps (888). Kerri was in a dress, we were both in un-sensible shoes, but with the amount of 70 year olds walking past us - we decided to do it. Each rest stop presented a new ridiculous view in which groups of hikers nestled amongst the trees to enjoy and have a picnic.

Finally, we made it to the top. It was stunning, amazing and beautiful. Though, what distracted me from the view was the fantastic operation they had working up there: there were mountain rescue men that doubled as coffee makers, photographers and medal engravers. You could get your picture taken, which they printed off immediately and made into a necklace that you could wear proudly on your way back down.

There was such a great family atmosphere on the mountain, with tiny children and their grandparents all helping each other up the steep climb. Almost every person said hello to us, some asked for pictures and others gave us fruit and wet wipes. I really think they felt sorry for us in our lack of hiking attire, "Aren't you cold?", "Oh my! Your shoes!", "One-piece! How?", "Put on some pants please." It was genuine concern that just added to the lovely day.


kls said...

you got it! you really captured the whole experience ^^ "원 피스 어떡해??"

Jenna said...

Aw thanks! I'm not sure if I missed anything because so many tiny amazing things happened.
I had a good travel buddy.^^

Elizabiscuit said...

I love David Sedaris!

Jenna said...

Oh Liz! How are you? When do you get back?
Words cannot explain David Sedaris' amazingness! x

Julia said...

I hope you got yourself a medal...

Jenna said...

Well actually, there is a story behind that.
We were walking down the street later in the afternoon and we walked past 2 men and a woman at a picnic table. They were like "do you want some makoli (rice wine)?" We were like "ok!"
So we had a few drinks and the men were so drunk but in a funny way and the wife was so kind bringing us apple and just being lovely.
We showed them pictures of us at the peak of Ulsanbawi and one of the men runs inside and brings back a medal..."da dadada!" and puts it around my neck, he runs inside a second time..."da dadada!" and puts it around Kerri's neck.
They were anniversary medals - we said we didn't want them and he was like "no, no, no", so we took the wife aside and said "take them back, he's not even going to remember giving them to us" and she was like "That's his problem."

So yes, I got a medal.