Sunday, November 8, 2009

korean mountain climbing

Saturday Krissy, Susan, Liz and myself meet up at 10 30 in Itaewon. This has got to be the earliest I have gotten up on a weekend here! We take an hour long subway ride out to the country and then check our directions:

Exit 3 at the subway and walk 10 minutes.

Walk 10 minutes where? We aimlessly wander for 30 minutes and stumble across some cool street markets. Krissy finds a denim skirt for 3,000 won ($3) and I found a real beaver stole for 6,000 won. We get antsy to hike so we go into a Family Mart and ask directions. Had I been alone I would have been screwed. Luckily Krissy's been here 2+ years and Susan's been here 6 years, so their Korean is good to get by on. We get the Family Mart owner to flag down a bus for us, he tells the driver where we're going, and he's off. Such a sweet ajusi ('ah-jew-she'- old Korean man. usually can be found drinking soju, spitting in the streets, or passed out somewhere in public).

We finally get to the base of the mountain (not Buhkhusan like we had planned, but a mountain is a mountain right?) and it's like you're preparing to hike Everest. There are gear stores everywhere!!! On the weekends in Korea if you're on the subway during the day every person you see over the age of 50 is decked out in hiking gear. Koreans may not be into fitness and sports, but do they love their hiking! And boy do they take it seriously. All of the ajuma (old korean woman) rock fluorescent colors, shirts and pants, backpacks, visors and poles. The men carry the radios because you obviously can't go hiking without bringing your own tunes. I, on the other hand, am wearing jeans and a tee carrying my giant purse as it is packed for the weekend at Susan's.

So we head up the mountain. There are people everywhere. The 50+ crowd leaves Seoul on the weekends and this is where they are! We found this awesome Temple at the bottom of the mountain then proceed to hike up. The comments in the beginning are "this is nothing." "so much easier than i thought it would be." All the while I'm thinking, this is Korea, not exactly the Alps. An hour later and it;s a different story. It gets steep and intermixed with the rocks are blocks that act as stairs. Then steeper. Now there are full out staircases. Steeper. Staircases with railings. haha it's totally hooked up for the ajuma hikers!

We FINALLY, 2 1/2 hours later, make it to the top. At this point it's 3 none of us had eaten more than an apple that day and we're starving and I'm getting cranky. Hard to believe I know. So we book it down the mountain. We're throwin bows and pushing ajuma out of the way left and right. We made it back to town in 25 minutes :)

All we want to do is sit outside and enjoy a nice Korean meal. We stop by a seafood place, order soju and "fish soup" and start eating kimchi. The woman sees the tenacity I go at the kimchi with so she keeps it coming. I think I ate 3 bowls. Then we get our soup. It's pregnant fish soup! So not only is it chock full of tofu, radish, spice and fish, but there are many, many, many fish sacks. I'm usually all about the weird food, but these cooked up tough and just got in the way. We ate around it as much as we could. I thought it was still good although I think everyone else was pretty disappointed.

This was my first soju encounter since my Monday night black eye and guess what! No new bruises this time!!

A shower and a Kahlua coffee later and we're back on the town. Next weekend I'm headed two hours south for a pilot party. There's some scavenger hunt on an airforce base or something. I'm just going because we can shop on base at the American post!!!

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