I Live In Korea

My name is Ben Gwynne. I USED to teach English in Incheon, South Korea. Here's some photos, stories, videos, etc.

For some reason the other day I thought it would be a good idea to go on a 13 mile hike which started at 2:30am and went to Seorak, one of the biggest mountains in Korea. It was an “endurance hike” which this hiking group doesn’t do very often. I thought it would be cool to see a nice sunrise, plus the leaves are changing colors which would be beautiful as well. What actually transpired was quite different…

We left at 11pm and got to the mountain at 2:30am, so this obviously meant I wouldn’t be sleeping before the hike, no problem. I guess I should have known I was in for a rough ride when I noticed most people had heavy duty hiking equipment, lot’s of layers, thick North Face jackets, etc. Meanwhile I was wearing sneakers with no ankle support, sweatpants and a thin long sleeve shirt. Neither were water proof, and of course it was cold and it was raining pretty hard.

I was surprised to see the mountain was so crowded at 2:30am especially considering the weather. I guess we weren’t going to be as alone as I thought.



We were nearing one of the peaks at about 6am, it looked a little cloudy but the rain had stopped, I was initially pretty excited to get there. We then lost the comfort of having trees surrounding us and we were being hit with wind. Wind that was…I am not kidding…over 100 miles an hour. I obviously have no way of accurately projecting it was that fast, but it was by far the windiest conditions I have ever encountered. People’s ponchos were being ripped from flapping so hard, and people were nearly getting knocked over from the wind at some points. There’s a chance it was faster, I am not kidding.

Soon after it started hailing which felt amazing with the strong winds.



Needless to say we did not see a sunrise which was a major bummer. Eventually we got to a warming hut which was a pretty bizarre. They had bunk beds set up that were just wood, people could take a rest there if they liked.



I sat down on the floor and just needed to relax. I was so cold some random person came by and said “you take jacket” and gave me this thin wind proof shirt to keep. Not bad.


The “dining room” was a place to eat but you had to BYOF. So people packed mini-burners and were cooking ramen noodles in here. The place was an absolute zoo, but the cup of ramen noodles I ate really hit the spot



We went back outside and the hail stopped, but it was now snowing. I felt like Frodo Baggins heading over the snowy mountains of Caradhras in Lord of the Rings.



I blocked my face from this picture because I was smiling in it, and since I was pretty miserable at the time I don't want to give anyone a false impression of how I was feeling at the time.

At about 11am it started to get nice, the most uncomfortable 8 hours of my life were over and we finally we got to appreciate Seorak for what it was, one of the most beautiful parks in South Korea. Check out that foliage…







So yes, the 13 mile hike ended up being great and in the span of two hours I went from seeing this…



To this…



All in all it was a great trip and since I returned safe and sound I don’t mind the initial horrible experience.

We left Friday at 11pm and got back Saturday 9pm. I was on no sleep and I wanted to go home so badly, but my boy just flew into Korea the other day and he was meeting me in the city to go out. I had to suck it up (in Korea they say “fighting” as a way of saying suck it up and push through, easily one of my favorite sayings here), take a shower and go out to celebrate his first weekend night out in Korea. The debauchery was so bad that I would rather be on a cold, rainy, hailing, windy mountain than feel the way I do right now. Fortunately there are no pictures from last night, only an extremely hazy memory and tales I was surprised to hear about this morning.

Time for some rest…

4 comments:

youseok said...

A different perspective of korea

Ben Gwynne said...

What do you mean youseok? For the record, I am very fond of Korea.

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Ben said...

cool, ill check that out