Friday, May 16, 2008

I climbed a mountain.

Hello everyone.

Yesterday, we climbed a mountain. Sohee's dad climbs this mountain about once a month, so he decided to show us this. Sohee's never been to the top, and she wanted to go as well. The name of the mountain is called: 관악산 (kwanaksan mountain). It's not super huge mountain, but it's right in Seoul, so we didn't have to travel far and you get an amazing view of the city. The mountain resides right beside Seoul National University (the most prestigious university in Korea... you need like a 95% avg to even apply). Before going up Sohee's dad bought some food and alcohol for the hike. Wait? Alcohol? Yeah, well, again, if are eating, then we have to be drinking. lol! The alcohol he bought was like this rice wine stuff called: Makgeolli. When Sohee suggested that we also buy water, he said, "what for? we already got booze!". Needless to say, we still bought water.

So the trails start very tame. Just a slight incline going up. Here is where our journey begins. A small temple thing is in the background surrounded by some water:

The University of Seoul is just to the left, but then we soon leave it behind as we get about 1/5th the way up.

There are a ton of bridges along the way. Most of them don't go over any water. I think that a lot of the resources have been dried up, which is a shame, cause this is really a beautiful place.

About 1/3 of the way, we stopped for a snack; and of course... to drink. Look at that genuine smile on Sohee's Dad's face. He loves this place, eating kimbab ( ), and drinking this rice wine stuff.

Makgeolli (rice wine) is popular amongst a lot of the hikers here. It's not super strong, it's 6-7% alcohol, and you normally share a bottle. The best way I can describe it is that it kinda tastes like saki and beer, but sweeter. It's actually really good. We also ate some hard boiled eggs, another popular on the go snack Koreans enjoy.

Whenever you see a bunch of rocks stacked up like this picture below, that means that people have made a wish. I'm not sure what the significance ot this is, but I decided to make a small wish with this small pebble I found:

This part here is the halfway point. From here on out the hike is much harder. Before, it was a slight incline similar to going up tiny stairs. Now, it's bigger steps and parts where if you slip and fall, you could bounce down jagged rocks to your doom!
Here's where this shizzle starts getting harsh:

Shortly after this, I stop for some water at the fresh spring. This water tastes awesome. I'm not sure why everyone wants to drink Makgeolli when you can have this rad water. Cultural difference I suppose.

Sohee is exausted now. All that time sleeping in the winter did not help her with this hike. Sohee's dad is doing just fine though... as he does this hike often.

Almost at the top, and we can start to see the pretty view. The very top and best view is just beyond that radar tower, though... Sohee decides that she is done and packs it in here. *hangs head in shame*. Her dad and I trek on. It's only another 20-30 min.

Now we are at the top. Finally! It took about 2.5 hours. When you get to the top, there is this rock with the chinese characters of the mountain: kwanaksan mountain (as seen below). There are also a bunch of other signs of the views you are looking at, random info etc. I don't want to post them because they were all in Korean and I didn't understand them. You can view them on the flickr site (link on the right) if you are really that interested. ---->

There are also a bunch of vendors at the top selling korean food. Kimbab, hot ramen, cold soft drinks, Makgeolli, Soju, and some ice cream (Sohee's dad bought me this icecream bar thingy. Tasted rad, it was a light blue and was unlike any other flavour... can't really describe it). We bought our food and alcohol at the bottom of the hill because it's about 1/3rd the price. I took photos of those vendors as well, but it's not that interesting, so just flickr it up.

At the top, there is a small budhist temple. I think that is the origins of this mountain, but now it is kinda touristy and also has a bunch of military stuff like the radar and communications tower. Here is the entrance way to the temple:
All those lamps are still up from Buddha's birthday, which was on Monday. Buddha's birthday is kinda like Christmas as in the decorations will stay up for quite a while.

Now here's a monk praying in the temple. There were a few others praying as well, but no more photos. I soon got in trouble cause I wasn't allowed to take pictures in here. Sohee's Dad said it was ok, but he's not really budhist, so I'm not sure why I trusted him. lol.

Now here's some views of the city. The smog kinda wrecks a little bit of the view. There are good days and bad days... I think we were kind of in the middle today. You have to think, though... 23 million people. Considering that, the smog really isn't that bad.

Below, the tower is the Seoul Tower or Namsan Tower. The Han River is just below that. The Han River runs throughout the whole city... Kinda like Saskatoon... only; not. These photo's really don't do this justice it really is a beautiful view even with the smog. For a better peek, just go to the flickr site for some high res photos.

After checking this out for a while, Sohee's dad and I decided to go to visit a bigger temple area that was about another 15 min hike. It was on the other side of the mountain going down, but not that far down. Here are a couple of photo's. I think I was allowed to take photo's in here because there was another buddhist couple in this temple praying, then taking pictures, then asked me to take their photo. If it is against buddhist culture, then Buddha, I am sorry. I'm just a foreigner meaning no disrespect.

Inside the temple. Gold statue of Buddha:

Lot's of candles on the right:

Before we trek down, let's have some more kimbab and Makkoli ... haha... why not? It's a long trip down. Gunbey! (cheers)
It took about 2 hours to get down. A little less than the 2.5 on the way up... but by the end... we were all super tired. We went to sleep pretty much as soon as we got home. Pigon Heyo~~~ (tired).

1 comment:

Sunny said...

Seems like you guys are having a blast of a time and enjoying great Korean hospitality..good stuff...and make sure to bring some of that Korean Alcohol back with you when you come back ;) Give my regards to Sohee and her folks...