Monday, 12 October 2009

Chuseok in Seoraksan part drei

Ok, this has gone on long enough. I hope you aren't exhausted by the tales of mountains, so I'll try to be brief and get the photos to look acceptable (me and html are not what you'd call close.)

Day four was indeed a difficult one to start. Mark was first up, and his excellent door knocking skills got the rest of us to the hostel kitchen for a fairly messy attempt at breakfast. Anne was the only one untouched by the evil hand of drink, but we all found ourselves on a bus by 10am. Our view from the hostel window also helped inspire abandonment of duvets.

We wobbled our way to the cable car, and took the alarmingly speedy journey up. The entire trip in the cable car took only 5 minutes, and it was fast enough to make my ears pop (I have a feeling I am rather more sensitive to this than other people...) We'd been reliably informed that you could go up to the top of the hill from there, but every step was agony, and I definitely thought I would not be going any higher. Anne went on ahead to investigate, phoned a mere 10 minutes later to say it really was easy, and so we all made our way up.

The path was indeed easy, but finished up at a little nobble of rock, which looked lovely to scramble on. Indeed it was clearly popular with the dozens of people already swarming over it. It was steep, but by far the most dangerous thing was scrambling in close proximity to so many people who have no idea what they're doing – including a woman in heels. Despite the press of people, those few minutes of scrambling really undid my hangover. On the way down, I was informed through gesture that I really should hold on to the rope else as it was not safe. The 'rope' being rather tatty, attached at only one end, with 5 people already hanging on and swinging it about. I attempted to indicate that my solid hold on the rock was preferable, but the helpful chap still felt that he should grab my shoulder, as I clearly did not know what to do. Oh dear.

After the trip back down, all the excitement inspired Steve to sit in a stone bowl. There was a lot of banter and not a lot of movement for quite some time, but we eventually settled on an easy walk to Biryeon waterfalls after Mark headed back to town to catch his bus home. Steve and George were doing well to avoid their hangovers by way of hair of the dog, and the four of us made quite a motley crew, but we made it safely and merrily to the falls.

Again, my photos do not do justice to this delightful valley, nor can they capture the restorative effect of walking through dappled sunlight in good company. A quick dangle of feet in startlingly cold water was also a real wake up after all the walking (and not quite enough washing...!) We interrupted our tramp back at the two outdoor restaurants for beer and pajeon (Korean potato pancake). There was also a very funny incident involving a Korean understanding rather more English than anticipated. Good times.

Anne and I eventually dragged our tired selves to the bus station and our pimped out express bus. The airconditioning and huge comfy seats were absolute heaven and, after a wee snooze, we woke to find a K-drama playing on the bus tv. Happily, it was the next episode after one we'd seen in the Chinese restaurant the night before. Trying to work out the plot was enormously entertaining - I do believe I've found my favourite programme. Korean dramas make even Sunset Beach look underacted and subtle. Fantastic.

Obviously I am behind again. Obviously I have more thoughts on Korea, and more things I want to write about, but it's a bit much just now. I hope you are all well, and emails to let me know how you are would be most welcome! For those who don't do facebook, get me at

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