|Munjangdae at Sognisan|
At times, the solo hike was peaceful but passing the many groups of middle-aged hikers gave me an insight of hiking culture in Korea. First off, hikers are almost always over the age of 40 here. Hiking is very much a social activity, and what you wear is almost as important as who you're with. Both men and women alike outfit themselves in very flashy, expensive gear and are decked out in top-of-the-line day packs, trekking poles, down jackets, hiking boots, dry-fit layers, etc. The women, or ajummas, just love the fluorescent jackets. While they look impressive, that amount of gear is not necessary for a 15 km intermediate day hike.
I was shocked that some people brought all of their electronics with them on the trail. People were talking on their cellphones, conducting business, while another pair were listening to their MP3 player. An elderly couple had brought a radio with them, and they were singing songs all the way down the mountain. Music is wonderful to hear, but it's pretty inconsiderate to blast the music so that other hikers on the trail HAVE to hear everything. I did find the bottle of soju in the side pocket of their backpack amusing. Just as some people eat to live or live to eat, it seems that hikers also hike to eat. Along the trail, I spotted three restaurants that served traditional rice wine and anju (foods eaten with alcohol).
Located in the Sognisan mountains are several different Buddhist temples. Beopjusa is the largest temple located closest to the park entrance. I've been wanting to do an overnight temple stay where I can meditate and learn about Buddhist culture, and I think I'll be going back to Beopjusa in early December.
Speaking of hikes, my school teachers and I went to Jeollado Province earlier this month to see the beautiful colors of the leaves changing color. In Korean, there is one word 단풍 (dan-pung) to describe this transformation. I wouldn't call it a hiking trip if one spends 4/5 hours in a bus and the remaining hour walking along an asphalt road, but, hey, that's how my school advertised the trip to me. Here are some pictures I took.
|Faculty of Jeungan Elementary School|