I actually did something last weekend that involved getting up in the morning – I was going to say that didn’t involve drinking but we did that too. A group of us – 3 Canucks, 3 Kiwis and an Aussie – went hiking in Jirisan National Park (which I believe is Korea’s largest National Park). We left Saturday morning – it’s a 3 hour bus ride to Jinju and then another 2 hour bus ride to the park (or a small village that’s not on the map at one of the entrances to the park). By the time we arrived it was too late to do any hiking so we wandered around the village and park entrance for a while and then ate dinner – bibimbap (spicy mixed veggies and rice) before looking for a motel. We ended up at one at what was probably the next village – a 10 minute slow walk away, as we were talking and taking pictures the entire way – because from a distance it looked like it had a great view. From up close it looked more like an abandoned factory converted into a motel straight out of a horror movie but it was clean (the rooms were anyways) and cheap ($30/room approx.) so we stayed there. We ventured back into the first village to forage for food and drink or should I say snacks, beer and soju. And made 2 more supply runs before the night was out – although to be honest the first one was at 5pm and the last at midnight. We were all in bed by 1am, which is very early for here but then we planned on being up and hiking by 9:30. We didn’t quite make it but we were out of the motel by 9:30am which was better than I expected.
Sunday we hiked up to the temple first – that was easy, it was only 500m from the entrance – and spent about an hour wandering around taking pictures and listening to the monks chant. It was really quite beautiful. I will put some pictures on soon. We then started up – and I do mean up, as the entire hike was up – the mountain to this scenic waterfalls. It was only 2.4km which is nothing on a flat surface but this really wasn’t a flat surface. It took us 1 1/2 hours (give or take) to reach the waterfalls and only 1/2 hour to get back down (but then we really booted it on the way down. I had to stop 3 or 4 times on the way up to catch my breath or use my inhaler as Korea has really made my asthma act up but it was really worth it. There was another temple just before the waterfalls that had a magnificent view and was really peaceful. We stopped there after the waterfalls to eat lunch – boiled eggs, biscuits and chocolate; that covers all the food groups doesn’t it???
There are venders everywhere in Korea, including the entrance to the park and I bought some green tea (the actual leafy kind, not the stuff in bags) and some “body” green tea (to use as exfoliation – I’ll let you know how it works out). That area was suppose to be the first place that green tea was grown in Korea. So of course I had to try some.
I actually have a bad thing to say – okay, it’s really not a bad thing about Korea but… My asthma has really been acting up here but I did expect it too. Apparently Ulsan is the Detroit or Pittsburg of Korea (as in the heavy manufacturing and therefore pollution capital, nothing to do with crime). Oh well, it just means that I will have to learn new methods of controlling my asthma – but since that is my only negative thing… I’m doing quite well!!