Monday, January 23, 2012

Hiking - Gwanaksan (관악산)

Directions: Sadang Station (Line 2/1) Exit 4, walk 5 minutes and make a sharp right and walk up the hill. Follow other climbers or look out for hiking stores. It's not hard to find, fear not. And getting lost is always fun. We entered here at Sadang station, hiked for 3 hours to the peak, and then hobbled down on numb legs into Seoul National University which nuzzles its northwest boundary. From there we thankfully hopped on a bus and made our way home.

At this point my adventures in hiking Seoul numbers the pathetically low number of two times. However, I'll tell you what I can. Gwanaksan was damn fun. We went on the first warm weekend of the year so it was quite crowded, but despite that the climb was all around enjoyable. Bring sturdy shoes, possibly gloves, and the normal sun block, hat, and water.

Some interesting history of the mountain is available from The Korea Herald.

Here's the initial climb into the mountain. However, it's misleading. Soon the stairs disappeared, and often the trail itself, leaving us wondering which route seemed less impossible.

Gwanaksan was very difficult on the feet as there were few stairs and pleasant trails such as I'm used to in America. This picture is no joke, at many points there were little footholes along the cliff and ropes to give you a handle. I seriously underestimated Korean hikers until I saw dozens of frail looking ajumas and ajushies tackle this trail.

I couldn't find much information regarding the mountains military history but these little bunkers were popped up about every 20 minutes or so. I was excited to come home and read some exciting war stories but was unable to find anything. Fill me in if you know. But nonetheless they looked pretty cool and offered me a secluded spot to empty my bladder.

Of course while hiking you have to have some snacks. Bring along some cash as the makeuli is charged a premium at about 2,000 per cup. A popular practice is to freeze majeuli, hike it to the top and enjoy it frosty. I'll have to try this out for my next trip!

Also this was my very first time trying beondegi (번데기) - or silkworms. They're common snack food on the street in Korea and chances are if you smelled dirty feet while roaming Seoul it was actually beondegi. They look and smell like, well to put it culturally sensitively, like disgusting maggots. But i've been living here for 1.5 years so it's past time I check it out. They taste like... crunchy/gooey peanuts? I actually enjoyed the texture, but the taste wasn't pleasant. I had one, and politely handed the rest back.

And some views from the top!

More pictures can be found here.

View Seoul Eats Favorites Map in a larger map