I awoke Saturday morning on Will’s couch, my eyes having barely shut following the post season drinks at his. My phones vibrates with the message from Bianca,
The bus gets here at 7:57, can I get on if you don’t make it.
I didn’t feel like trekking solo across Daegu to the intercity bus terminal, to be quite honest I didn’t really feel like moving from the couch, but I knew the struggle would be worth it, so splashed water on my face, grabbed my bag and ran down the bus stop, jumping the barrier and arriving just as the bus was pulling in.
Bianca was cheerful and chatty, whilst I was battling against a digestion system that was deciding to turn on and ask me how long until we reached the main bus terminal and a bathroom. How I love early morning travel.
Thankfully we made it in good time and got our bus tickets towards the national park, Deogyusan, which I had previously visited in the summer. We rendezvoused with the rest of the group as close to the park as we could get in Geochang. There were nine of us in total, the largest non-frisbee group event in a long time! After picking up several pounds of meat for the bbq later we hopped in cabs for the twisting journey to the base of the mountains where our glamping site was.
I’m not a big fan of camping, unless the environment completely mandates it. I’d much rather stay in a hostel, campervan, hut, anything.. but the tents at the glamping site had looked too nice to say no. They were basically mini houses equipped with lights, heated floors, tvs and fridges. We arrived around lunchtime, dropped our stuff, had a bite to eat and then headed out to find our way up to the top of the mountain.
After a 6km detour walking the wrong way along a road we were eventually headed towards the ski resort’s gondola that would take us up to the peak – this weekend wasn’t really about hiking – and after a short ride up we were surrounded by the fall colours and stretches of mountain leading away from the summit on a beautifully sunny autumnal day.
It was, as usual, stunning up at the top; the air seasonally crisp, and we milled around until the sun was starting to fade and the gondola getting ready to close. Getting back to base involved a short cab ride – the temperature had plummeted once the sun vanished.
We got our charcoal BBQ fired up and ate a delicious self-cooked Korean BBQ dinner before staying up late drinking with some Koreans from nearby tents. The make-up of the glampsite was surprisingly young and quite a few groups were up late drinking – certainly not a peaceful mountain getaway you might expect.
Sunday morning, the country air woke me refreshed without a hangover, and so I searched google satellite maps and found what looked like a trail that I could take into the mountains and laced up my running shoes. My route was a bit of a killer climb, starting as a road, then turning into a dirt road, then a path, then a sheep’s trail, before I was finally just pushing my way through trees. I reached a mini summit and had to call it and head back to the camp for the perfect relaxing morning of coffee and cake.
On our journey back the fact I’d been severely lacking in sleep finally hit me and I crashed hard. This blog’s up a bit later than usual due to the fact this week has felt very busy at work – I’ve had to teach every class for a change and my afterschool program was being assessed this week so I’ve been putting in extra prep work. Added to the fact that as winter arrives everyone is becoming sick – looking around my classes I just see kids coughing away and lying on their desks semi-conscious. The Korean work ethic, that you never take a day off, means kids are sent in whatever state. It’s no wonder that I found myself in the chemists buying some pills to stave off my own cold that’s creeping up on me. I’m back examining next week so I’ll need my voice!