Year: 2012

An Unexpected Visitor

Well, I didn’t see that coming. After that little taste of Winter up on Bulmo-San last weekend, I’d assumed I wouldn’t be seeing any more snow locally until I climbed some more peaks later in the season. Last Winter here in the balmy south (late January or February) the hills nearby got just one light dusting and a few lonesome flakes kissed the school playground one day before a quick death and a return to sweet nothingness.

A Sprinkle of White Death on Shiru-Bong

For about a month now my weekends have followed the same pattern. I go into Busan on the Saturday, do the civilised urban thing with lots of coffee and an obscene amount of clothes shopping (trying to make Winter fun); the Sunday is for hiking, photos, music and, well, more coffee. This last one fit the template perfectly. I’d lucked upon a nice variation in my Bulmo-San explorations the previous Sunday, a new route down via a hillside boulder field adorned with cairns both modest and majestic, and just below them on a col, where a dirt road zigzagged up and down the mountain, a new path marked Bulmo-San, 2.7km.

After the Harvest

Last week I walked home from Hell Skool the long way, away from the cars and greasy chopsticks of the main drag and “inland”, via the quiet paddies and the bank of the trickling Daecheongcheon. Hadn’t done it in a month or so — it was dusk this time, with the days shrinking, and the air crisp and wintery.

My Autumn’s Done Come: Saturday

Let those I-don’t-care days begin I’m tired of holdin’ my stomach in No more slinky Vogue dolls for me I’ll take Sears & Roebuck dolls gladly Cause my autumn’s done come My autumn’s done come… ~ Lee Hazlewood I have one more Seorak-San post to go, but I thought I’d do something a little more contemporary today, something we EFL teachers are always trying to get our students to do: talk about my weekend.

Seorak-San: Down from Daecheong-Bong #1

Not the most inspiring title but I figure non-Koreans will have enough trouble as it is negotiating the anglicised Korean words up there — and I didn’t even include Madeungryeong! This is the name of the ridge which gives its name to the route I took back to “town” after my night on Daecheong-Bong. I didn’t want to double back, so took this detour soon after passing the shelter. I was glad I did. It was a long day, moderately arduous, and water was pretty thin on the ground — but what scenery!

Seorak-San: Sunrise & Moonset over Daecheong-Bong

Seoul rocked. Well, the parts I saw before, between classes and after the week of EFL training rocked. That was a hard week, and I was left with the lasting impressions that a) I am a very poor student and b) I may well be the worst teacher in Korea. How “motivating”. But I made some good friends among the 180 teachers present (most from my province and Gangwon, where the adventure in this post is set) and I’ll do my damnedest to keep in touch with them. I’d forgotten how nice it was to talk naturally to other people in our own native language.

Seorak-San: Squid City Moonrise

Well, it was with some trepidation and a well-stocked Kindle that I boarded my bus in Busan that Saturday. Chuseok is invariably mentioned in the same sentence as “traffic”; the exodus to hometowns and grandparents’ homes would inevitably mean clogged roads and a protracted journey. But we made it to journey’s end in six-and-a-bit hours. The bus drivers here are wizards of an ancient and arcane order. I opened my eyes as we passed the SOKCHO sign that marked the finish line on my previous northbound excursion, and was soon strolling to the coast with a few hours of light to play with.

Paths to Autumn Glory

SOKCHO BEACH, TUESDAY Like a hobbit on LSD trekking through a Chinese painting. That’s how I described my feelings during my last two days of walking to a friend back home. You get used to a lot of maudlin, syrupy excess in Japan and Korea in their tour-brochure raptures, but Soerak-San did not disappoint. In fact I would rate yesterday as possibly the best day-hike I’ve ever done.