Thursday, February 7, 2008

Seoraksan National Park Trip

Two of the people on the trip trying to make the rock move...what a crock!
The peak with the beautiful blue sky!
Aaron taking a picture of Heather and Rachel coming up the very steep staircase.
All the SIS Tigers on the peak! From left to right, that's Heather, me, Rachel, and Chandler, with Aaron in front.
The view from the top, looking out over the ocean.

February 7th was the Lunar New Year and SIS had Wednesday through Friday off, so 4 of us decided to take a trip to Seoraksan, which is in the northeastern part of the country. It's a national park with beautiful scenary and a mountain to climb.

The trip was through the Royal Asiatic Society, which was nice because they arranged the bus and hotel and everything. There were 15 of us on the trip, including people from the US, Canada, Sweden, and Australia. It took about 5 hours to get to Seoraksan, including a couple of rest stops and a stop for lunch. It was a beautiful sunny day, which was good since it was freezing cold! After dropping our stuff off at the hotel, we got ready for the hike to the top of Seorak mountain. It was pretty snowy and icy on the trail, so we had to buy spikes for our shoes and I have to say, that was the best 8000 won (about $8) I've spent since I've been here! On the way to the top, we passed Heundeul Bawi, or the tottering rock. According to Lonely Planet, it's a 16 ton boulder that can be rocked back and forth by a small group of people, but not actually knocked off its perch. I agree that it can't be knocked off the ledge it's sitting on, but after trying to rock it with some other folks, think it's mostly a big hoax! But then we got to the top of the mountain, or Ulsan Bawi. It's 873 meters up and you climb and 808-stair staircase, a lot of which was snow and ice encrusted, but the views were worth it! And, it was sunny enough that I didn't need to wear a coat for most of the hike.

The next day there were 2 other hikes, but it was very chilly and I was very sore, so I opted out of both. After a traditional Lunar lunch (dumpling soup, surprisingly good!) and a ride up the cable car to another peak, we got back on the bus and headed back to Seoul. Lunar traffic is notoriously bad, so we ended up taking some back roads and it was cool to see some different parts of Seoul, but I was glad to get off the bus and back to my nice warm apartment and western food at the end of the day!

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