Mountain Climbing

When my new friend Rebecca dropped it into conversation she was going hiking on the Saturday, i immediatley said i’d join. Why I’m not so sure, I mean I am so not the hiker type, however this is Korea, Koreans are big on hiking and I wanted to embrace everything and hiking is not something you would want to even consider doing by yourself. Rebecca was heading to some mountains alongside Michelle – who lives nearby in Geumcheon and works for the Wonderland school in Geumcheon, where as I work for the Wonderland school in Munsan. Me and Rebecca headed towards the meeting point – me dressed so unsuitably like a hiker it was hilarious, I mean an present I don’t even have a rucksack. On arrival and whilst in awe of the Korean hikers we decided to purchase one of the key items of kit that is worn… a neckscarf. Handily a neckscarf that had a map on it! So after purchasing the neckscarf of joy, we sat down by a nearby fountain and waited for Michelle who was doing battle with Seoul in an attempt to find the USO office and book herself onto the DMZ tour. There were lots of people wandering around, mainly hikers and a few randoms casually going about their daily buisness: old people lugging loaded carts; women nattering and a group of korean teenage boys complete ith guitars sitting on some steps, they were of course the most intriguing – what was going on with the guitars?. Sure enough they soon sat down and started singing chorus repeats of the Dylan classic ‘knocking on heaven’s door’ – they literally song ‘Knock Knock Knocking on heavens door’ about 20 times before moving swiftly onto an interesting version of Creep by Radiohead – they did Thom Yorke proud I must say! Anyhow by this point Michelle had arrived – in proper hiking gear – she outdid both Rebecca and I with both a pair of proper books (as opposed to my peach primarni plimsolls) and even a hiking stick! Unsure of quite direction to head in we decided to follow the direction we had seen the professionals head in and went up spme stairs through the middle of guitar kids and soon found ourselves amongst some trees! The Hike had begun, on a rather steep incline, as we grabbed trees inorder not to find ourselves on our arse we soon came to a path and indeed a fork. For reasons that it looked more exciting – there was a well! – we turned left and started to wander through trees, past war trenches, machine gunner look outs and burial grounds for about an hour – we even stumbled upon a whole selection of outdoor gym equiptment!. There were certain things that made us feel we were quite headinng in the right direction – number one being the gym equiptment and number two being that we didnt lay eyes on any other professional hikers… but we carried on. after an hour or so we came to an edge point near a road – okay. hmmm this was not right – we were supposed to be climbing a mountain! We took a few moments rest in which i descovered Lindt chocolates didn’y travel will in korean heat and decided we were just in the wrong place – we saw more mountain up the road so after a quick stop in the local library to use the bathroom we headed up another bit of mountain. It felt right, we even saw other hikers -one guy even told us the temple was just 1km further along! However alas no, we eneded up (despite crossing a road) exactly where we started right at the beginning, we had essentially just walked in one massive circle. And to get out? We decided to cut our losses, at this rate it would be dark before even found the right path! Knowing we couldn’t really go down the way we came – we went another route and ended up in the middle of a HUGE construction site – having to play the ‘we’re from England and we are lost’ when asked what exactly we were doing… we then found a road (eventually)with a bus stop (phew) and luckily rebecca can read basic Korean so we figured out what bus to get to the nearest subway. On arrival we headed for the old british classic – Pizza Hut before jumping back on the subway and to our apartments. So that was it – my first Korean hiking experience. It may have not been actual hiking but it was certainly fun and if you ever fancy getting slightly lost up a mountain Michelle and Rebecca are certainly the people to do it with!

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