Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mt. Bukhan, Seoul, Gyeonggi-do: hiking that would be banned in the U.S.

Yesterday was the Mt. Bukhan hike with my Climbing in Korea MeetUp group. When I first joined, I was very hesitant. Meeting large groups of people is always intimidating for me and then there was also the fear that they may be too advanced. My fears were quickly squashed when the leader and the regulars warmly welcomed me. This week, I was reunited with some of the pleasant individuals from last weeks hike, as well as introduced to other new and returning hikers. I see myself participating every weekend. At the end of the month, the leader, Mr. Kim, has offered to loan me some gear and teach me to rock climb. YES! I have always wanted to try. Then, next month we will be going zip lining. These trips offer opportunities that I would not otherwise be able to plan myself or direct myself to. And even more importantly, I am meeting like-minded people that always feel like friends by the end of the day.

It appears that in South Korea, it is easy to get sucked into the bar scene and tempted by constant drinking, as it is a popular pass time by both Koreans and foreigners alike. In the late night, you may spot businessmen passed out on benches, American military men causing a ruckus, and other foreigners just being plain loud and obnoxious. I don't mind some drinking. In fact, after my hike, I met two girlfriends from orientation in Itaewon for a few drinks, but it will never consume my time in South Korea and that is why I am so happy to have found this group that will get me out doing the things that I have traveled to Korea to do.

Now yesterdays hike was intense. In fact, I would hardly even call it hiking. More like rock climbing without gear and at a sliiiight angle. This hiking would never be supported in the U.S. Even if a "trail" such as this had been created in the past, it would be blocked off by now. The only way to have a similar experience in the U.S. would be to choose a mountain, find a deserted section and hike on up. It was absolutely amazing and 100% exhilarating. At higher points, there would be parts that one could look straight down a cliff on either side of them (at the same time) and then further up, you might be climbing up or down a rock at less than a 90 degree angle. I never felt unsafe, though, as people are very precautions and each step you take is carefully calculated. If you need help of any sort, there is always a hand readily available (literally, ready to help you up).

Mt. Bukhan Hike, Seoul, South Korea from Lana Wright on Vimeo.

Now I'm sore. Probably because I turn 25 this week. I'm already 26 Korean age, eeek.

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