Thursday, June 12, 2014

Songnisan National Park

After returning from Busan I only had two days of school before having a day off on Wednesday for election day.  Megan, Nate, and I opted for hiking on day off, which meant we had a rather early morning.  Our destination was Songnisan National Park in Boeun, so our trip included three different buses. Our travel route went a little like this: Jeomchon-->Sangju-->Boeun-->Songnisan.

At the entrance of Songnisan there was a temple along with a HUGE Buddha statue and a large pagoda.  The pagoda was unlike anything I've seen in Korea, and actually reminded me of something I'd expect to see in China.

Impressive Pagoda.  My first time seeing anything like it in Korea!

After we spent some time at the temple, we began to move towards the trail. However, we didn't know it was going to be such a huge journey just to get to the trail of the mountain.  It took us a considerable amount of time to actually begin hiking, and once we did it was pretty steep.  Nothing kills me while hiking in Korea like the STAIRS that are everywhere on mountains.  Yes, stairs are frequently built along the trails of the mountains, and they're mentally and physically KILLER.

After a while of hiking we found a little temple with a small view.  We met some very friendly Koreans there who we tried to talk to (ok Sarah, really need to crack down on that Korean studying!) They of course shared some snacks with us before they went on their way. 

After that temple we continued for a while. Unfortunately, I was the dead weight in the group by this point.  My pure exhaustion from the past few weeks wasn't really the best foundation for a day of steep Korean hiking.  We didn't have time to get to the top of the mountain because we still had a considerable way to go and we knew it would take quite a while to get down, especially since it was still a little slippery from the rain the night before.  As a result, we turned around and started to make our way down.  I hate hiking and not getting to the top, but sometimes it's just not possible to do everything in one day, especially when you have to work around bus times.

Before catching a bus we got some bibimbap and makgeolli (because you can't hike in Korea without makgeolli!) After catching the three buses back to Jeomchon, we hit the showers and met up with some other Jeomchoners for dinner and ice cream.  Definitely a busy day off from school, but I was happy to see Songnisan.  I hope to be back in the fall to get to the top of the mountain!

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