I had a great day yesterday.
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!
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.
Well, I think I’ll strike while the keyboard’s hot and do the second part of my Daecheong-Bong tale tonight. I have a few more Seorak-San posts I want to do, and something tells me I’m going to be busy next week… ..in Seoul!
I couldn’t decide which pictures to leave out for this day’s hike up to the #3 peak in South Korea, so I’m going to split the day into two and let the images tell most of the tale. Hope you like them.
Those mountains seem to lean over Sokcho for a reason: they’re close. We turned inland through some pleasant farmland; Wouldn’t mind walking that, I thought. Barely half an hour from the beach, the bus pulled up and I followed the throng of walkers to the ticket office and into Sogong-Won (Small Park).
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.
ON A SOUTHBOUND BUS, WEDNESDAY Greetings, folks. Never blogged from a bus before, but here goes. It’s a wild ride for writer and reader alike here on TGTW, where we explore the uncharted frontiers of the Blogosphere, at least until motion sickness kicks in.
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.
The balmy weather continues and I hope it hangs in there a while yet, for reasons you’ll learn soon.
I thought I’d knock Days 11-13 off in one hit since Day 13 was just a few hours and I’m in danger of forgetting how to write. I hope you’ve enjoyed this lengthy series of souvenirs of an adventure I’m immensely proud of pulling off.
We’re nearly there, readers! I’ll be as relieved as you are to reach that finish line — I have stories almost six months old I’ve had no chance to write up yet! I didn’t write much on my original post for this day. Day 10 was a slow one, as rewarding as the others but with all that asphalt-thumping definitely making itself felt…
Another great walk yesterday, a Sunday-afternoon stroll along the river and through the local paddies, shooting (photographically) at anything that moved. A touch of the Wild West in the Mystical East.
Made it! In fact I made it yesterday and slept in my own bed last night, but was too beaten up, down and all around to type anything. This is coming to you from my favourite coffee shop back in Jangyu, the So Pung, post-2nd latte and kiwi smoothie. It’s good to be back. So, how did I get it done so fast? By quitting, about which I could write a how-to guide. Not quitting the Busan-to-Sokcho trek, the original concept, but the perhaps suicidal Soerak-San mountain-climb climax I invented in some deranged ecstasy of road love. Here’s what happened.
DAY 12. Another day, another Family Mart with my phone sneakily attached to the socket they always have out the front. I could ask and they’d happily charge it inside, but this way I can watch it. I use an adaptor with my foreign phone and if it’s not attached just right it doesn’t work.
DAY 11. Hi, readers. Well, here’s a sign of progress: this picture, taken a few hours ago, shows the first road sign on the whole trip to mention my destination, Sokcho. As you can see, it’s tantalisingly close. The bad news is my feet. Road-walking in the rain today did them no favours, and they feel like they’ve been shotgunned, sprinkled with sawdust and dangled in a cage full of rabid beavers.
..The bloody phone pulled a Lazarus and here I am, sitting in another park, in another seaside town, my wretched feet airing out and scaring the children while I tap. I was going to give you all a break, but thought I should use it before I (possibly) lose it again. Sorry!