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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

An after-work hike? Sounds good!

This is just two neighborhoods, Suyu (where I live) and Mia. Seoul is HUGE!

Seoul may not be endowed with green, leafy parks like the great cities of Europe, but it does have some spectacular mountains right in the city. Fortunately for me, my backyard is Bukhansan National Park (literally -- my porch overlooks trees and the base of a mountain).

To burn off the stress of hump day, a few of us took a casual hike to one of the closest look-out points. It always amazes me to climb up and realize how massive just my neighborhood is. The mind reels to try to imagine Seoul as a whole.

Buddhist temple in the woods

Koreans love hiking. Even just for short treks, they come fully-equipped with proper hiking attire, walking sticks, heavy-duty backpacks, Swiss Army knives, etc etc etc. It's pretty funny to see a group of ajummas charging up the mountain in their color-coordinated outfits. Then again, it's admirable that so many older people are active.

Koreans also, however, love their steps. That's the killer. The hike itself is easy. But almost every path is lined with uneven stone steps, making the going even more difficult.


I wonder if the younger generation will love hiking as much as their elders. I don't think so. Even during hiking class -- a short jaunt through the woods behind school that makes the Billy Goat Trail seem like Mount Everest -- almost the entire class complains of being exhausted and on the verge of collapse. I've had entire teams panting, "Teacher! Teacher! Tired!" after the first two-minute incline. Pathetic.

Exercise stations like this one are all along the trail. It's not uncommon to see them absolutely packed with people.


Steps are a killer going uphill. Going downhill, there's nothing but steep and slippery gravel.





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