Korea Diary
May 24-25: Separate Vacations



Yesterday [May 24] I decided it was time for me to take a rest day and I so I stayed in the apartment all day today. Carey was off work, too, but doing some free-lance stuff most of the day so I had a quiet relaxing time reading, napping and recharging my batteries. The highlight of the day was following the second Spurs/Suns game on the internet with Carey. What an exciting game! And what a great result for us! We are hoping to possibly have the next game on TV since it's over the weekend.

While I was vegging Henry and Sally went on a very strenuous hike in Bukhansan (북한산) National Park, an hour's ride north of town. The hike was steep but scenic, and the summit was a little scary since it was a very narrow ridge. You apparently pull yourself up to it via a cable along the path! Overall Henry says the elevation gain was about 1500 feet over 6 km (I'm glad I didn't go!). They had a good time, though, and interacted with lots of fellow visitors and Koreans along the way, since hiking is something of a national pastime here. They were pretty impressed with the number of older folks doing this very strenuous hike. Henry took lots of pictures and he will try and send some in the next day or two. [concluded below]

You can see a selection of these photos here, and many more are in this Flickr set.

Bukhansan rocks

Given the Koreans' obsession with hiking, this wasn't exactly a wilderness experience, even on a weekday. But crowds of hikers don't detract from the spectacular geological scenery:

climbers on sheer rocks
climbers atop a rock
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front of entrance ticket

entrance ticket to the Park

entrance ticket

verso of entrance ticket—all in Korean!

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hikers and rocks
hikers atop spectacular rock

As you can tell from the steepness of the terrain, and the narrowness of the trail, this is definitely not just a "walk in the park." Here are a couple of close-ups of the kinds of aids offered climbers along the trail to assist in their ascent:

railing along the trail

long sections of the trail had these wire handrails alongside...


rope along the trail

...whereas some sections offered more primitive helps up

As almost everywhere else we went, cultural experiences are a part of the hiking here as well:

trailside shrine

a trailside shrine


a hiker's lunch

a fellow hiker displays his lunch


tunnel along the trail

Korean War vintage bunker

But scenic highlights, large and small, are the major appeals of the Park:

neat rocks
Park scenery
trees in the Park
spectacular scenery
water over rocks

They didn't get home too long before Hal, and when he arrived we went out for dinner to another Korean bbq place in the neighborhood. Since Hal got his first paycheck yesterday, it was his treat! More interesting food, along with a few bottles of soju (소주), the national drink here (something like vodka, not terribly tasty) to toast his new prosperity. (Sally is enjoying being of legal drinking age while we're here, as it's 18 in Korea.)

Tomorrow our main activity is to buy tickets for Star Wars, since it's just opening here. I think we are also going to tour the largest of the palaces in town.

May the force be with you....