Saturday, December 5, 2009
For Halloween, the weather report called for rain in Seoul and sunshine in Busan. So when I went on a boat ride half way in the middle of those 2 cities, the weather was beautiful.
So this weekend, I looked at the weather report and saw the same...and expected the same result when I went hiking on a Korean mountain.
Man was I wrong. Instead of blue skies, I witnessed the first snow that I've seen in Korea since I first arrived. It frosted the mountains and made for a beautiful, if not chilly, hike.
I've been on a few hikes now, and I'm starting to notice a few themes of the national parks that the tours go to...
First, Cell phone coverage. I set a new record for cell phone coverage on Mt. Daedun...I sent down to 4 bars.... I don't think I've seen it below 5 bars since I've arrived here. Even on the subway, they Koreans will not be deprived of their cell phones!
Second, silk worm larva. These foul smelling and even fouler tasting grubs are available just about every tourist trap and yet I don't haven't seen anyone eat them.
Third, decked out Koreans. Koreans don't just throw on a random sweatshirt, jeans, and a jacket when they head for the hills. Koreans enjoying their unofficial national past time, MUST be dressed in the latest and greatest Gortex gear from North Face and Columbia Sportswear regardless of the actual weather itself.
Fourth, picnics. These fully decked out Koreans, will never neglect their stomachs on a hike. Case in point, on top of Mount Daedun, all covered with snow, I lost my poor meatball, when somebody sneezed...wait...that's not right...but on top of the freshly powered mountain, amidst the howling wind, half a dozen groups of ajimas and ajashis (old Korean women and men) sitting on thermal pads and sharing soju and kimchi (Korean vodka and sauerkraut)
Fifth, shops. Koreans love to set up shop to sell things. So whether you are on top of a mountain in a national park, as sure are your cell phone has awesome reception, there will be a Korean trying to sell you something. From the Buddhist monks at the top of Mount Sorrak, to the 6 separate professional photographers in the caverns, or at Daedun where you've been scrambling up snow covered rocks for the past hour....there WILL be a shop selling something!
Sixth, Stairs. I guess I'm just used to a slightly more natural hiking experience. But over and over again, the Korean hiking experience involves metal staircase anchored into the rocks. While I have to say the stairs were MUCH appreciated this trip (you noticed more with the stairs weren't there and you end up with scraped hands and a sore rear end.)
Oh...and I carved my first turkey last weekend!