Mt. Bukhansan Hike

On Saturday November 3rd, the International Office took the exchange students on a hike up the famous Mt. Bukhansan, approximately a 1.5 hour drive from the university. The mountain offers breathtaking views of Seoul below and is supposed to be beautiful in the autumn, so even though I’ve never been much of a “hiker” (that’s a massive understatement, as anyone who knows me well can confirm!) I figured YOIKO (“you’re only in Korea once”)! I signed up and off we went.

After a 1.5 hour drive on the bus, we reached the base of the mountain…

Need some supplies for the trip? Rice wine, perhaps?

Perhaps some fruit, visors, fold-up stool or hard-boiled eggs?

These bandanas had maps of the mountain route on them (sorry for the blurriness, I thought I had my autofocus on!)

The mountain on the far left is the one we climbed…

We went to Woohobyong Peak

Consumerism is running high at the base of many hiking spots. There was basically an outlet hiking mall at the foot of the mountain. The North Face is VERY popular here…

Aaaand right next to it: “The Redface”. One of the things I love about Korea is the “just don’t give a f-ck” attitude towards copyrighting. (Cue the Samsung vs. Apple jokes!).

There were some artists painting their impressions of Bukhansan Mountain…

…This is what his painting looked like after we climbed back down from the mountain

Looking up at the mountain at the beginning of the hike. Beautiful fall colours…

The mountain was SO busy! It was a crisp, sunny Saturday morning, so lots of people were heading up the mountain with their friends and family. Bags filled with beer, makkoli, and snacks (like gimbap – Korean sushi rolls, fruit, granola bars, etc) these hikers were ready to make the short hike up to the peak.

A temple on the way up the mountain. Beautiful!

This was one of the places we decided to top up the mountain; about halfway there.

There’s me!

Taking a quick break before continuing the hike up to the peak. Those shoes I’m wearing were pretty unflattering, to say the least! But hey, after a night of shopping and being told $100+ for the cheapest pair of brand-name shoes in my size, I was glad to find those no-name ones for a cool $30 – sold. And they felt awesome too!

After a few minutes of some more hiking (the trail felt almost vertical at points!), we finally we reached the top! In the background, you can see Seoul..

We enjoyed the sunshine and munched on our lunches provided by the international office: bottled water, a roll of gimbap (sushi), granola bar, Twix bar, and pastry. They’d provided sausage McMuffins, hashbrowns and orange juice on the bus ride to the mountain. I love McDonald’s breakfasts but I’m not a huge fan of the sausages :\ At least it was a good protein-filled meal to start the day.

So satisfied! What a view..

Group photo! Next to me is the Associate Director from the International Office – aka: my boss lol.

The green bottle of rice wine is called makkoli, a kind of sweet/sour drink with a milky consistency. Most people were having a picnic up here.

Some Korean ladies enjoying funny moment at the top of the peak. I hope I am as active as they are when I’m their age!

Some friends posing for a picture. Clockwise from bottom left: Jameel (US), Anni (Finland), Lauren (Canada), Hailey (Korea – studied in US), Thi Ha (German), and Ha-young (Korean – studied in US).

This cracked me up – BIG TIME. Of course many people are aware of the stereotype that Asian tourists love taking photos. This guy took it to the next level, like magazine photography director level! These guys all came up in a group, and one of the other friends saw me taking photos of the intense photographer: “He loves to take photos”, he explained. “He’s a little… obsessed. So professional!” The guy was just cracking me up…

Blue Steel Korean style

You gotta give him credit though, the background does look pretty awesome.

Janna (Finland) and Kristina (Lithuania) relax atop this bridge during the climb down.

A signpost during the descent…

Beautiful fall colours! This was the perfect time of year to go on this hike. It was just slightly chilly, not humid at all, and very sunny.

Some policemen at the bottom of the mountain. Someone suggested that they were trying to track down a couple of the European students who couldn’t handle not smoking on the mountain (which had a strict no-cigarette policy).

This was on the side of the police bus… Yeah, so confused!

~~~~~~~

All in all, a great day on Bukhansan! Those who know me know I’m definitely not an “outdoorsy girl”, but I’m glad I went on this hike. It was very challenging but the view was totally worth it. Once the group I was with reached the top, I looked around and realized something – I was the only girl (this seems to happen a lot, but I was actually kind of proud because it meant I was the first girl to reach the peak). I know it wasn’t a contest, but it was still really satisfying to know since I’ve never been particularly athletic 🙂 What a nice day.

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