30 May 2011


Hiking in Korea is a special kind of awesome.
Rest areas along trails have equipment such as inversion foot-things, dumbbells, bench press, parallel bars, 3-5kg hula hoops, slant boards, rings (you know, in case you need to throw in a few muscle-ups on your way up the mountain), and clocks on trees so you can time yer combo sets. Continue the ascent and rest for complimentary tea "for the health" at a mountain Buddhist temple while bowing to the statues and lighting incense. Or just taking fotos. Then, en route to your summit of choice, stop again to partake in trail snacks and makkoli, offering melon to everyone who passes, because they look in need of a fruity refreshment, and because you decided to dine exactly in the middle of one of the paths with stairs. When you finally reach a top, somewhere between .3 and 7.6 kilometers and 2.5 hours later (this estimation comes from inconsistent trail signs), go back down along the old Seoul Fortress wall, working up a thirst and appetite for more makkoli and haemul pajon (seafood & green onion pancake) when it's all over. Don't forget to stop at the air compressor station to clean your boots (or dry your sweaty pits)! Then, before recharging with salty foods and rice wine, use the wet hand napkin provided to towel the dried sweat & dirt off yer faceneckarms. Dive into the pancake like you haven't eaten in a week; drink the makkoli by the bowlful like it's nectar from the goddess. Finish your meal, and happily exhaustedly tipsily laugh your way down the street to the bus, stopping to take pictures next to the tinker truck overflowing and adorned with every household or hiking need imaginable. Notice your bus about to depart while attempting to make an interesting photo with mundane street rubbish. Run to catch your friends (and the bus); flop into the last row, tired, happy, satisfied.
Hiking in Korea is a special kind of awesome.