Monday, April 19, 2010

Mountain hiking

A popular past time in Korea is hiking mountains. It was something we always said we wanted to do, but never actually got around to doing. So while we weren't working, we spent a couple days visiting some of the beautiful mountains in Seoul.

Some of our friends hiked Bukhansan and said it was cool, so that was our first mountain. This one is special since it's patrolled by the Korean army. It overlooks the President's Palace. There was an assassination attempt by a North Korean, so you have to show your passport to gain access. Additionally, pictures aren't really allowed at certain points -- as I learned from a Korean soldier yelling at me.

The hike is pretty well paved and reminded me of a fortress. Also, there were a TON of stairs... especially on the way down.

Bukhansan stairs

Here's a shot of the mountain and where we were hiking.

Bukhansan summit

And here's the illegal pic I snapped before I got yelled at by the soldier. I wanted to show the barbed wire along the perimeter, but I don't think you can see it very well.

Bukhansan illegal pic

Overall, it was a cool experience and we both felt like we got a great workout. The next day my thighs were sore and Mark's calves were burning. Definitely a sign of a great hike!

The next mountain we wanted to try was one right by my birth father's apartment: Yongma Waterfall Park at the Yongmasan subway station. We were expecting all these gorgeous natural waterfalls, but they were actually man-made and turned off since it was too cold. Ah well, the mountain was nice.

There was an old school playground that we had to play on for awhile (of course).




Then we started up the mountain. This one was a lot more natural and a little more difficult to climb... though it didn't seem to stop any of the older climbers. There were even areas of flat rock with rope to grab onto.


As we were climbing it was nice to see some early signs of spring!


And then when we got halfway up the mountain, we were surprised to see this tent with workout equipment. Talk about a warmup before your workout!


The climb did end up being a lot of fun. And we got some incredible views of the city.


Coming from the flat midwest, the ability to hike mountains was cool for us. Hopefully we get to do more of this when we return to Seoul. Maybe we could even plan a trip out of the city to see more.

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