Sunday, November 4, 2012

East Side of the ROK

Seorak mountain, like Nami Island, were places I heard were 'must visits' in Korea.  This particular mountain, while not the tallest in Korea, is an incredibly beautiful one, especially during Autumn.  Apparently droves of 135,000+ Koreans hit the trails EVERY weekend during peak season at this one mountain alone.  As Autumn is dwindling to an end, and the leaves are becoming sparser and weather colder, we decided to  make our way there before it was too late.  Seorak is one of those places you have to see to believe.  An awe-inspiring place that despite the pounding of thousands upon thousands of Korean and foreign feet that trample on its ground yearly manages to keep its astounding natural beauty.

We woke up at 4:30 am to prepare for and get ourselves to the Express Bus Terminal to catch the first bus from Seoul to Sokcho, a small seaside town.  The ride took about 2.5 hours, much shorter than is advertised on the bus schedule on the internet (they said 4+ hours!).  From there we took a taxi (although buses are available) for 20 minutes to get to the base of the mountain.  The taxi ride cost us 4,000 won ($4) and I had my first real-life Korean 'conversation'!  Normally, I practice Korean with people who speak English well or in a classroom setting, but I decided to test the waters with my non-English speaking taxi driver.  He was pretty nice.  I tried asking how long the trails were to hike and some other small talk which resulted in me understanding only 30-40% of what he responded, but never-the-less, still felt pretty proud of myself^^.

Below are some pictures from our Seorak experience.  I highly recommend it to anyone in Korea and I want to let people know it is worth the trip even if you can only stay one day like we could.

The entrance to the park with loads of Koreans posing with the bear.

The Unification Statue of Buddha: he's huge!  Just look at the size of that woman underneath him.

Even though many leaves have already fallen, there were still splotches of vibrant color  everywhere.  Amazing!

A view from one of the peaks:  DH standing proudly.

If you look closely those green  patches are very tiny trees.  I'm scared stiff on a cliff!

Korean flag flying high on a cold windy peak.  A park ranger chilling in his parka on top.

The biggest 'miracle' of this trip was finding a secluded area virtually people-free.  We hiked a short trail to a series of water falls and there was almost nobody there.  If you have ever been to Korea, you know that solitude is a rare commodity here.

Before leaving the park, clouds covering some of the jagged peaks.  Seoraksan, gorgeous rain or shine.
Just some advice for fellow travellers: Book your return ticket when you get to the station! Our trip was fairly smooth all the way around, but one thing we didn't forsee was that buses going from Sokcho back to Seoul would be sold out.  We arrived at the bus station at 5:00pm, but couldn't get a ticket for a bus until 8:00pm.  We managed to make it back to Seoul, but it could have been tricky if we had shown up any later.  

No comments:

Post a Comment