Seoraksan Mountain Mania

Driving through the most beautiful mountainous valley, golden hues form the colour of the leaves on the surrounding trees and cragged rock faces form the backround for the majestic sunrise. Some people were snoozing due to a 4.30am start, others were simply admiring the sheer beauty of rural Korea. Suddenly, the whole bus starts to swerve, crashing into two cars and scraping its way along the roadside barrier, very nearly going over the steep edge. Some people let out muted screams, while anyone who was sleeping awakes in shock.
The bus is buzzing with whispered chatter, fear mixed with excitement and wonder and slowly whispers that ‘the breaks failed’, make their way to where we are seated at the back of the bus. Within five minutes, miraculously, after swapping insurance details and apologozing to the traumatized occupants of the smashed cars, our unnerved driver and all 40 passengers our on our merry way. A bumpy start to our weekend of mountain mayhem.

Yes, I do have a racoon on my head.

 

Giant Buddha

 

 

Arriving at Seoraksan National Park, we were all mesmerized by the colour of the trees (which gave the illusion of red, hot balls of fire) and the untouched natural beauty that surrounded us. There was a distinct crispness to the air as we watched the sun rise higher over the yellow, orange and red trees you couldn’t help but know it was going to be an amazing day. We were greeted with a giant Buddha  and were then  treated to traditional Korean food for lunch in the form of Bimbibap, seaweed soup and of course…Kimchi. Some of which we happily ate, some of which we…didn’t.

Happily fed and well rested, we set off on our 2 hour hike through the valley in search of a waterfall which turned out to be the tiniest trickle of water ever! Despite this, the walk there was great, as we were offered free shots of locally made berry wine, saw a cute chipmunk posing on the rocks and admired the beautiful autumn colours all around. Trekking up the endless steps to reach the waterfall, I was amazed by the strenght and pace of the Korean Ajumma’s. In packs of up to 20, with identical black permed hair, perfect make-up and multi colured bubble jackets they power on through the crowds with seemingly endless energy. You know when you’ve been ajumma’d!
 

Korean Bride
Awesome Korean Grannies

 

 

After treating our rumbling stomachs to some spanish doughnuts and delicious waffles, we walked over to the Buddhist Temple and saw an array of beautiful Korean brides posing in their glistening white dresses. One look around the park and you will understand why so many people want it as the location for their weddings..its magical.

We took the cable car up to one of Seoraksans many mountains and trekked up to the peak. The views were spectacular from the top despite the blustering, cold wind and dizzying heights. We arrived just in time to see the sun setting over the rugged peaks of UlsanBawi which made for some stunning photos. On our return to the cable car we discovered a tiny temple in the mountains where we sat and chatted with a very friendly Korean Monk who welcomed us in and chatted to us in Konglish. (Mixture of broken English and Korean.)

 

Seoraksan sunset

 

 

Jumping Fun!

Back down the mountain and back onto our reliable (ahem..) bus, which brought us to our accomodation for the night. AFter 2 hours meandering our way around the mountain, we were dropped off in the pitch dark on the side of the road. The pension, apparently, was too remote for the bus to drop us all the way so we walked the last kilometer.For the second time in one day we were blown away by what we saw.

The pension was situated overlooking a flat calm river, with bbq’s and picnic tables dotted alongside the riverside. Our cabin had a rustic feel to it with a giant, king sized four poster bed, 2 cherry blossom trees and underflooor heating that was like heaven to walk on.After a feed of spicy beef and a few hours of drinking games involving copious amounts of Soju, a brave few decided to brave the Korean winter and jump, fully naked, into the icy waters of the river below. Skinny Dipping in Korea, in November…strictly for the brave but highly reccomended, and a taste for what was to come in the Korean Jimjilbang the next day… (to be continued..)

 

On top of the world: Seoraksan National Park

 

Lee and I @ Seoraksan

 

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3 thoughts on “Seoraksan Mountain Mania

  1. This is so cool! I was thinking about going to Seoraksan this weekend myself but since I thought of it last minute nobody could join. I’ve yet to see the fall colors from the mountains or climb Seoraksan. It’s definately on my to do list..sounds like you had a really scary start though!

  2. It was amazing Josh, you should go there as soon as possible if you want to catch the autumn leaves! Yea the bus crashing wasn’t the best start but it all turned out well in the end!

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