Hiking, Korea, Mountains
Comments 23

Golden Gimhae

G’day, friends. Let me tell you about my day.

I was in such a good mood today, I almost felt like I’d been possessed by really-quite-nice spirits. If you want to know the secret, I’ll spell it out for you: first, get paid for a week of doing nothing. Oh, you have to turn up, but you get to sit in your chair for four hours without any human contact whatsoever. Second, you can go home at lunchtime — or better, you can go climb a mountain and burn off all the fat that just accumulated around your buttocks over those gruelling four hours.

The reason: midterm examinations bringing the whole Korean education system to a screeching halt. Students, teachers, everyone vanishes when it’s over at lunch, then it’s back the next day for the next round…

Anyway, today I hopped a bus — couldn’t find a freight train, unfortunately — to Gimhae City (I live in a myeon or township of said city), and went over to the Tomb of King Suro for another look.

Suro’s tomb

You remember my first visit? Well, once again it was just about deserted. I admired the King’s petrified livestock and got a look at my real objective, the fortress walls of Bun-San-Seong, or Mt Bun Fortress, beyond the shapely mound of the second-century monarch’s grave.

That’s the fortress on the right and the shiny dome of the observatory on the left:

Suddenly the tranquility was vanquished as the place was…I think swarmed might be the best verb. Marauding elementary schoolers, all keen to practise their English, which consisted of the word Hi. Swatting my way clear, I pushed up through the alleys to the base of Bun-San (pronounced with more of a “P” sound), searching for a way in through the undergrowth.

Some unpleasantness followed. My path between terraced gardens steepened, narrowed and finally dissipated within Amazonian thickets of weeds and creepers, leaving me literally in the thick of it. I found myself stranded, probably on private land on the only clear ground: among private graves. I seem to spend half my time on my walks here dodging the dead and half skirting ajumma, the fearsome Korean middle-aged women with their sun-visors and head-towels. I’ve evaded both so far but it’s just a matter of time.

There was more unpleasantness involving a nest of agitated wasps dangling inches from my face, and the chatter of grave-tending ajumma nearby. It was a relief to locate the ridge path proper and gain some height.

The fortress walls. I love their curves and the immaculate stonework of their restoration:

My plan was to get some shots of sunset over Gimhae; I was a couple of hours early. I climbed the steps to the old lookout post, from which smoke signals used to be sent…

The signal chimney

..and enjoyed the shade and the killer views across eastern Gimhae and over to Busan.

That configuration my mouth has assumed in the picture below is called a “smile”. Professor Wikipedia tells me…

A smile is a facial expression formed by flexing the muscles near both ends of the mouth and by flexing muscles throughout the mouth…Among humans, it is an expression denoting pleasure, joy, happiness, or amusement, but can also be an involuntary expression of anxiety, in which case it is known as a grimace.

I am pretty sure there was no anxiety behind this one; I save my grimaces for the classroom.

I mean, just look at that sky. The great weather of late seems content to stick around:

This might be my new favourite place to set a spell

I still had some time to kill before sundown, so went down the wall a bit, still “smiling”…

Note the absence of rails

..and over to the old temple of Hae-eun-Sa, where warrior-monks gathered during the 16th-century Japanese invasion:

Temple tiger

I returned to the fortifications with the sun at last approaching the edge of the mountains over towards home.

Sunset — which is happening noticeably earlier of late — did not disappoint. The walls glowed with a deeper warmth and the whole city below was bathed in glorious amber light.

Golden sunset rays storming the fortress walls

Imho-San, centre-left, and Jangyu beyond

My objective met, I followed the snaking defences down to a narrow farm road I’d never walked before…

..and trotted down to the valley floor in the last of the day’s light.

There was a thin stream beside the road and the air was chilled. Here comes Autumn, alright.

I have a renewed relish for my job. Tomorrow is going to be even better!

~ And that’s all the Goat wrote



  1. nielsenbrownoutdoors says

    Yet another set of photos showing a little bit more of the country. Half term examinations are good as long as you don’t have to grade them afterwards.

    • Roger, I’m presently enjoying my fourth straight day at work doing absolutely nothing but listening to music and reading blogs, etc. I don’t have to do any grading but I am frequently called upon to proof-read test questions and judge some of the crazy stuff the students come up with in their answers. Usually a thumbs-down…

  2. Nothing beats the glow of the setting sun! I like also how you’ve captured the beams of sunlight on the edge of that rock. Good composition!

    This smiling business is an interesting concept. Have you picked up on it yet or does it require more work? Do you give lessons?

    • Thanks, Greg. It’s weird becoming a sunset-stalker but oddly satisfying as well. The smile is just getting worse. I fear it’s becoming a maniacal grin as I contemplate my next adventure…

  3. Franko Paddo says

    Amazonian Thickets in Korea?

    They get around …almost as mucha s Mountain Goats

  4. Argh. I settled down with my coffee to have a Goat-fest and the pictures won’t load! I can read the text and see a teeny bit of the top of some of the photos. Just enough to show me that I am missing some great sights. Grr. I will come back later when the antiquated broadband network that serves darkest outer London is working slightly faster than snail mail and have another try.

    • Arrggghhh, sorry about that, you’re not the first to have trouble seeing my photos! I don’t know if there’s anything I should be doing other than making them smaller – which I’d rather not do…

      • Don’t make them smaller. It’s not your fault I live in a country with third world Internet.

      • How I pity you lowly westerners with your wretched excuse for Internet!

        The photos are staying big. Please commence lobbying the relevant MP…

  5. Better! Obviously they put some more coal on the fire. What a sequence of super shots – worth the wait. Especially lone that shot of the walls bathed in evening light. How are you getting on with your new purchase?

    • Cool, glad they came through for you! I’m spoiled over here in high-speed cyberparadise.

      Re: new purchase, a setback as the new Paypal policy apparently doesn’t allow delivery to schools. I’d always used my school address as I would be there when it arrived rather than getting a mysterious card left on my door that would only make life complicated. So I got my money refunded. I’m thinking of it as a cooling off period!

  6. Pingback: Reader’s Appreciation Award « hikingnorthwest

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