Korea – Day 3 – Bukhansan, a tale of wonder and deceit

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Our alarm went off early [editor’s note – it went off at 8.30am which wasn’t actually that early] because we had a long walk planned, In San took the ‘executive decision’ to turn it off so we had an extra half hour lie in, we were still tired out by our previous adventures.  The baked goods we had acquired the night before for breakfast were not enough to sate our hunger so we went exploring. It turns out there are several tasty looking bakeries in the area however they are also a little pricy. Feeling the pressure as it was getting later and later we bought some bread and beef jerky … a worrying choice but we had limited options available (we were not going to pay KRW 8K for a tiny sandwich). There are no photo as In San is getting used to her role as holder of the (phone with the best) camera and forgets to photograph everything. She is improving. [editor’s note – she is awesome, James just insists on taking photo of everrrrything].

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A quick metro and a bus (and another bus after we when too far) and we arrive!

After a shaky start (arriving late because we were distracted by bread and because we missed the bus stop, our tactic of following the person with the lariest hiking gear failed us) we arrived and acquired some kimbap for later and marveled at the large selection of hiking stores.

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In San initially did not believe that the sketchy un-manned store would sell anything, fortunately it did

Starting the climb we were in high spirits. Excited to explore, despite a little concern over missing the bus stop we ignored this ill omen.

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We were ready to start our adventure

Although where there was signage it was very clear it was a little eccentric in its placement, normally you needed to randomly pick a path and walk down it for a few minutes before you came to a sign congratulating you for the correct decision. Also it tended to forget about some locations every so often. However we were just grateful for any help in English.

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Either the signs stopped half way or we got hilariously lost …

We were enjoying the scenery and taking in the sights, it was a glorious afternoon tramping around in the woods.

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As it started to get sunny it was time for serious hat bizniz. 

After a while we got a bit peckish and decided to try our lunch of kimbap, it wasn’t the best but it was still tasty. [editor’s note – it was also not spicy which we were grateful for]

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The kimbap was tasty, and the various bear based signs amusing.

We headed up, In San amused herself by taking pictures of me in compromising positions and stalking a random buddhist monk for a while taking photo from a distance [editor’s note – it was not stalking, he was merely in front of us for a while and we could not overtake].

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As we got higher and higher the way got more and more treacherous, we were glad of the ever-present steel rope to hang onto.

After a while we hadn’t seen any signs for a while and the trail seems a liiiiiiiitle bit … unclear but we pressed on. Just at the point where In San was considering whether she would have to eat all the snacks and leave me to starve we found a sign. For a different peak.

It turns out that we had got a little lost and ended up on the expert level route, unfortunately after walking most of the non expert route (and quite a bit more) as well (which is why a 4.7 Km + 1.8Km = 13 Km). This route was very interesting, took you up another peak and involved some upper body strength work-out as your hauled yourself along cables over rocks.

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After all our toil and heart-ache we finally reached the summit … of a different peak. Seeing our true objective rising up in the distance we broke out the emergency beef jerky.
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So close but yet so far … The steel rope was vital to navigate such treacherous terrain

However now that we were back on an actual route we pressed on, stopping only to let ancient Korean grannies power on past. How they managed to go so fast (or even survive) on such challenging terrain we do not know (now we know why everybody is afraid of them and leaves them their seat on the metro). The peak was in sight … at a distance. Unfortunately we needed to go down before we could go up which was upsetting for In San. However many many cliff faces and ropes later we powered to the top.

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It was a tricky ascent (fairly vertical) but the views were worth it.

Lucky for us the sun had come out and the views all around were amazing. It was definitely worth the grueling trip up here for this.

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After enjoying the view we sat down, relaxed and had a bootleg Korean Kitkat [editor’s note – James went for the kit kat, I on the other hand rather sensibly went for a nut bar]
We decided to be lazy and take the ‘quick’ route back. Not realising that a) it wasn’t actually that quick b) it took us to a completely different entrance on the other side of the park. Oh no, non circular route. This could be dicey.

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Our suspicions about Korean sign distance accuracy was confirmed as a ‘1.8 Km quick route back’ ended up being somewhat longer and more painful. At least we had a delicious blueberry smoothie to drink while we waited for the bus … or could we?

Everything seemed fine as we waited by the bus scedule drinking a blueberry smoothie, until the bus didn’t arrive. It turned out that we needed to walk to the main road 3 Km away, so off we went. Fortunately in the end we didn’t need a bus as we found a new Metro line that had just been opened that sped us back into town.

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Fried Korean Fried Chicken (above an actual) KFC, nugget Ale (better than it sounds), In San was so hungry she couldn’t even wait for the camera to focus.

After all that walking we wanted something dirty, fried and crispy. So Korean Fried Chicken it was. We went to Kyochon chicken, it had good reviews and had very crispy chicken but it wasn’t garlicky enough for our tastes, good but not great. The actual chicken was succulent though.

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We explored the sights a little then picked up some breakfast for the next day.

We staggered back, tired and looking forwards to a shower and bed, ready for a day of excitement tomorrow.

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Korea – Day 1 – The Mini Adventure Begins

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We decided to go on a rather impromptu trip. So rather than the usual months of planning we winged it somewhat. Leaving after a full day of work straight to the airport we started to wonder if we had bitten off more than we could chew as the flight was delayed by an hour …

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Tasty make your own BiBimBap for airplane food – Good, Underwhelming cookies -Bad, Free slippers – Unexpected.

Our travel snacks (going away from the usual Travel Biscuits [Tesco finest chocolate covered ginger biscuits]) were disappointing and we were stuck on the tarmac … was this holiday doomed from the get go.

Everything was turned around by the lovely service (free drinks whenever you wanted in economy!), tasty food and excitement as we finally realised what we had started … a mini adventure.

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After acquiring adorable travel cards we set off in search of our Air BnB based on a whimsical set of instructions (turn left at the Kebab shop, turn right at the red stairs). We found our way there.

We accidently ended up spending double the normal price for our T-Cards but they were extra cute so we didn’t mind too much. Then we had to find our AirBnB, as is usually the case the detailed instructions were surprisingly hard to follow yet obvious when you worked out the correct route.

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The door for the AirBnB is representative of its … lovingly homemade construction.

After dumping our bags it was time to explore … as soon as we had some food. Vetoing the idea of going half an hour to a night market “I will not last that long” In San suggested a local Korean BBQ place

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We might feel a bit underdressed … lets explore Itaewon!

Despite feeling very underdressed compared to everybody doled up (male and female) to the nines we wandered round Itaewon, one of the trendy parts of Seoul.

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When in Korea … you have to have Korean BBQ at least once. Unfortunately In San does not have my discipline so she only took photos of the first few steps then was too distracted eating. Weak.

 

Although a little pricey it was delicious and a good safe (and close bet) for a first night meal. Particular favorites were the marinaded beef rib: InSan – “It tastes … really … like meat” high praise indeed. Pork shoulder was also delicious. We forgot about all the side dishes you get for free so this was an expansive meal. Too much for In San who fell asleep straight away on returning to flat, leaving me to write all of this up.

Unfortunately In San doesn’t have my honed skills for photographing everything so we don’t have a complete record of tasty tasty BBQ but it was delicious. After a shaking beginning we are off to a good start.