20 August 2007

Jirisan National Park

This past weekend Keith, Duane and I took a bus to Jinju, a nearby small city (the size of St. John's.) We wandered around a bit and got rooms for the night in a yeoinsuk, very cheap, $10US including a fan and a TV. The rooms are bare concrete cells with a thin mat to sleep on, which is actually pretty good for the back. The only problem is that with no air conditioning the room temperature was around 40 celsius. Turning on the fan made it feel like a convection oven! A couple of times sleepy folks rattled my doorknob looking for their own room, so I never did get much sleep.

On Saturday we got a bus to Ssangyesa, a Buddhist temple that sits at a trailhead for a mountain peak. The hike up the mountain is about 7 km of upward climbing, the hardest part is the giant manmade stairs made of boulders for the first part of the trail. I was exhausted at about the 4.8 km mark, the lack of sleep and proper breakfast took their toll, and so I stopped to make tea while the others went on ahead. They came back shortly because the trail to the peak would have taken too long and we'd have missed our bus back to Busan.

Korean hikers are friendly and they usually say hello or sometimes stop for a chat. It's a nice change of pace from the daily insanity of city life. Next hike I'm going to carry an extra mug in case we have a guest for tea.

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