I’ve had a few weekends almost staying here in Daegu since I last wrote, but I’m yet to spend a full weekend here as little trips to places Gyeongju  and Jirisan have popped up.

Gyeongju was a quick day-trip that was a little bit of a rushed affair. We headed out on a fairly early morning bus and got there to check out some of the mound tombs that have been built over ancient rulers. They were okay – but did look a little bit like mounds of earth covered in grass. We then bused out to one of the popular temples of the region built up on the hillside. A pretty average temple really and the construction works on the site meant it certainly didn’t have the relaxing temple feel.We went past a very beautiful field full of yellow flowers – that the guys stopped at one the way back for a mandated photo-shoot, but as I was heading to watch the baseball that evening I headed back on an earlier bus.

I went to watch the Samsung Lions or Samsong Lions as the Korean spelling translates to directly twice over the weekend – super keen I know. They lost both games, but just as with the Japanese fans in Hiroshima they didn’t stop cheering. I’d say the quality was higher than in Japan and we saw a fair few runs. Both games had points where had the Lions secured a home run with stacked bases it would have swung the game in their favour, but they failed to do so. It’s definitely going to become a part of my social calender, with games played on a huge frequency and at just $10 a ticket there’s not really much reason not to.

The highlight of my past couple of weeks has been heading out to hike in the Jirisan mountain range and head up Cheonwangbong  Peak, the second highest in Korea at 1915 metres (35m off the highest, Hallasan). After a last minute change of plans, myself, Matt and Lynn jumped on a Saturday evening bus to Jinan arriving in the evening to absolute pouring rain. We had no accommodation sorted, planning to just search a few motels near the bus stop for the evening – but the pouring rain meant the first one we headed in got taken as no fancied wandering and getting absolutely soaked.

So we ended up in the delightful ‘Movie Love Motel’ – that featured a computer in our room and big plasma screen. We ignored all the ‘movie love’ in favour of beer and a fairly early sleep as we were up to catch the early bus out towards the start of the hike point.

Jinan felt a different town the next morning with the sun pushing through the clouds and a pleasant breeze in the air. We hopped on the bus for an hour taking us an hour out to the base of the national park. Once we got off the bus we departed for what proved to be the toughest navigation part of the day. We hadn’t really planned the lower section, assuming from blog posts that you get dropped where the start of the trail is, but in actual fact it turned out to be a 20-30 minute climb through some paths and along the road to find the actual start location. Once we were onto the trails, with a map from the information centre, they were super easy to follow.

The route we took was a nice loop starting and ending at the ticket office. We headed up to Kalbawi (an free standing stone thing) then took the steeper right trail up through Beopgyesa temple then on to the peak. We then followed the the ridge line at the summmit across to Janteomok shelter before finally cutting back down along the more gentle and waterfall lined trail back to the ticket office. Here’s the route map:

The climate changed massively from the ticket office to the summit as we climbed about 1km in height. We went from lushes forests to a windswept, frost covered landscape in a couple of hours. The summit was certainly blowing hard, but we managed to find a sheltered spot to get Lynn’s speed water heater going so that we could have coffee and noodles on the top. I found the idea of bringing a stove for a one day hike fairly hilarious, but I certainly didn’t complain for the hot food and drink.

Staying up the top for lunch was a great move as whilst we were up there the clouds cleared. We’d gradually been climbing into the cloud on our way up, so at first didn’t have amazing views out over the landscape, but after around 30 minutes it opened up around us and was very cool. The ridge walk was a highlight of it, with a narrow path and climb downs between rocks giving cool views of the landscape.

The path back down following the water was very nice and relaxed, and as the climate re-warmed the large waterfall pools looked very tempting – the multiple ‘no swimming’ signs – translated into English – means this is obviously a fairly common thought that they don’t want encouraging. We arrived back at the base, still dry.

Both Matt and Lynn like to create vlogs of their time here – I’ve inserted them both here to give you a feel of our adventure.

So an awesome first ‘real hike’ in Korea. By the time we arrived back into Daegu late in the evening I was knackered and managed to keep up my usual state of exhaustion for work on Monday. We’re working on the planning of another hike for late May – the next weekends we are all free. My frisbee is starting up again soon and we have a long weekend coming up, where the beach is calling, and hopefully the sun will oblige!