Happiness is on a Mountain
Posted by Heliocentrism on August 21, 2010
April 26 – 27, 2008
One Last Hike Before I Go
This was to be the last trip I took in Korea. Well, that’s what I thought. The plan was to leave the following week on a boat to China, travel around Asia and Europe for a bit, then get a real job back in the states.
What actually ended up happening was that I missed the boat to China and stayed in Korea for an extra 4 days. Then, while on the boat I began to miss Korea so badly that I almost cried. Then while stuck in Mongolia because my flight was delayed for 2 days I started to look for a job in Korea.
Within 5 months I would be back in Korea and loving it. But at the time of this trip, I was saying my farewells and getting all nostalgic.
How many restaurants?
I like hiking in Korea even though I’m not that into showing off my being out of shape. The mountains are where all the happy Koreans go. The people you find there are mostly retired and love to socialize, especially when you go on a weekday.
This was another trip where I talked yet another co-worker into hiking with me. On the first day my friend and I wanted to see a waterfall or two. We left our backpacks at the left luggage by the information center. It would have been cheaper and easier to leave them in the building with the cable car, but we didn’t know that then.
I have come to realize that in Korea the difficulty of a hike is directly related to the amount of restaurants you pass on your climb up. Bukhansan had a lot of restaurants, maybe 50 or 60 total, all in little clusters along the mountain. The hike to the waterfall here is only a 2 restaurant hike.
Back for more!?
The next day we went back to the park early in the morning. We ate breakfast in the park. Lucky for us, they had one picture menu with some basic English. I had lived in Seoul for almost a year and I could read Hangeul, but I still couldn’t recognize most dishes by just their names.
We took the cable car to the top of Gwon-Geunseong. There was a plethora of perms and visors as the ajimmas pushed and shoved their way on and off the cable car. They giggled and gasped as the car swayed back and forth a bit before coming to a stop.
After we rested for a few minutes we hiked up to Ulsanbawi (울산바위). I think it took us about 4 hours to get up and back down. We passed about 4 or 5 restaurants on the way up to the top. Once at the top there was a guy selling photos, key chains, and snacks. Think of the commute that poor guy has every day!
How to get there:
- You can enter by plane, boat, or train, though entry by train is rare if not damn impossible for most non-presidents of North or South Korea.
- Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to South Korea.
- People of most nationalities will get a 90-day visa at the airport or ferry port.
- To be completely sure, check with the Korean embassy in your country.
- Useful Phone Numbers when in South Korea
- Tourist Complaint Center 02-735-0101
- Police 112
- Ambulance and Fire 119
- Eat Your Kim Chi – Life in Korea as lived by 2 Canadians
- Korea is a generally safe country. You don’t really have to watch out for pickpockets,muggers, or scam artists.
- You should watch out when crossing the streets, beware of scooters on the sidewalk, and the little old ladies that will push you to get that last seat on the bus or subway.
- Use common sense and you will be okay.
- Things are generally inexpensive and there are many wonderful things to buy.
Enjoy Korea! I live there for 2 years and had a fantastic time.
- Coordinates 38°12’25.1″N 128°35’31.7″E
- Express Bus Terminal has buses that go to Sokcho.
- Most cities in South Korea has a bus station called “Express Bus Terminal” that have buses to Sokcho.
- From Seoul it is a 4 hours bus ride.
- There are no trains to Sokcho.
The DMZ is an hour bus ride from this town.
Taebaek mountain range
How to get there:
- Coordinates 38°06’40.8″N 128°25’51.2″E
From the bus terminal at Sokcho
- Cross the street
- Take the number 7 or 7-1.
- The national park is the last stop for both buses.
- Korean Tourist Information +82-33-1330
- There are camping facilities here.
- The building with the cable car has the better and cheaper lockers for your stuff.