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Korea2
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Korea for the second time - Incheon - Daegu - Busan - Gwangju - Seoul - March 2015 - Page 8

Day 22 - Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Rockfall

The last mountain! It was the most technically challenging, with lots of sheer rock faces to ascend with footholds and cables and opportunities to plummet to my death.
In fact, there were some added challenges and warnings today.
First of all, a park ranger at the gate ORDERED me in no uncertain terms to come speak to him when I was reading the map on the signpost.
He warned me that this park is very dangeours, and I should reconsider going to the top, and take the path around the bottom, maybe enjoy the spring water at the temple.
I did explain to him that I have been climbing mountains for weeks now, but he was having none of it, even telling me that hiking trails in Korea are not like hiking trails in America. Thanks for that.
Then a bit later, some guys were yelling at me, one of them was a ranger too. I let them catch up, and from a game of charades, we worked out that there was a rock fall on the main trail and it was blocked or under repair.
This was also confusing to some serious looking Korean hikers, fit looking guys who dont stop for a break every few metres.
An alternate path down was offered by the ranger, I dont want to go down though. I looked at my phone map, along with a couple of Koreans, there is a parallel track up a few hundred metres a way, so I went cross country, no path.
Korean guys followed, and sure enough, we rejoined a path in 15 minutes or so.

Then the real fun began, these were the steepest rock faces so far, and although there was metal cable affixed to poles to pull yourself up, the path seemed genuinely dangerous.
Then I got to a peak, and theres ANOTHER ranger, on a 2-way radio, and he speaks some English. This time hes telling me that I have to go the back way and bypass the peaks. Theres a path called the Y path thats too dangerous.
He was at least giving the same story to others, not just me, however, I took the Y path, and it was awesome. Narrow verticle crevices, and vertical rock faces with foot holes carved into them. There was still a metal cable to pull yourself up with, and occasionally a metal spike to hang onto.
It was very difficult to photograph whilst doing this!

Then I get to the main peaks, and theres another ranger, and hes not letting anyone past. Korean guys were arguing with him, but there were abseilers on the peak, and they seemed to be ensuring it was safe, and on a couple of occasions pushed a boulder off the top, which was exciting. They had a big plank as a lever.
After 15 minutes of watching the discussion, abseilers, and furious 2-way radio communications, we were allowed to pass around the back of the peak, but not allowed up it today.
I am not sure if there was an actual rockfall, despite people telling me that was the cause, or if it was just some preventative maintenance, the abseiling team seemed to be numerous and prepared, so probably preventative maintenance.

Thankfully I didnt have to backtrack, and the path down was also very spectacular, but quite long. Despite 2 full days in the Bukhansan national park, I feel as though I saw only a small part of it, but did ascend the main peaks, well almost!
Guess when I come back I will have to re do Dobongsan and get to the top of the bit I was denied today.

When I decided I was coming to Korea on holidays, I planned to climb lots of mountains, and thats what I did, and I took lots of boring photos, and I am glad that I did, and I dont care if people would rather see photos of Korean girls half naked, cat cafes, theme parks or elaborate desserts.

This would be one of my peaks today, they all have different names, but are collectively called Dobongsan. Easy to access on the subway north of Seoul, theres a dedicated station just for the park entrance.

Impressive rock in front of impressive rock.

Today also featured a police station in the middle of nowhere. The mountain was nowhere near as busy today, perhaps because I took a non direct route, but its also not the weekend.

Getting closer to rock climbing fun.

A nice section of rocky path that leads to a remote tiny temple. They have marked the way with paper lanters featuring a baby smiling buddha, which was nice of them.

The view down was very rewarding.

This is pretty much the entire temple. A lady stuck her head out the sliding door and looked angry, so I moved on. Behind here was where a ranger caught up to me and we played charades.

Heres a couple of the peaks, I think this was taken near the end of my cross country expedition to find an alternate path up.

View from peak 1.

More view. It was here that I was advised to go around and not take the notorious Y path, its called the Y path because thats the path you take, down, then steep down, then steep up and up.

Part of the Y path.

A bit more view. Not as polluted 2 days ago, but still polluted. Probably should have gone yesterday when it was a lot clearer.

Todays one and only panorama. Probably the last of my trip.

Using my zoom, I think those peaks in the distance are the ones from 2 days ago, Baegundae.

Now a few photos of serious rock climbing. It was impossible to photograph the steepest parts.

Here you can see the cable which was a steep downward section.

And heres a fun way to go up, on the edge of the rock face. Going up seems much safer than going down.

I was having a great time. If you zoom you can see the metal cable. I think this is still technically part of the section I was told to avoid.

Best to hang on at all times.

Now I was stopped, and not allowed past at all. There are ways to go to the very top of both of those, and you can see the abseiler on the top of the rock on the right.
These are the highest parts of Dobongsan, and I was DENIED.

Heres the ranger doing his best to convince people its not safe to pass. The argument seemed more amusing rather than angry. I could understand none of it of course, but I think they were suggesting he was a park ranger on a power trip, do you feel like a big man because you have a badge on your jacket and a radio?

We waited whilst the abseilers pushed rocks about, probably for 15 minutes, time for me to have a powerade and some lotus tea biscuits.
Eventually we were allowed to pass, and embarrassingly, that was the one time today I slid onto my ass. No doubt putting a smirk on the face of the experienced Korean hikers.

The excitement was largely over now, but the way I took down was very quiet, some cool things to look at. I didnt really want to get under here though.

The lower parts had bridges to cross over a stream, multiple times, and numerous small temples.

Some temples had large golden buddhas. I always struggle to spell buddha / buddah.

Once you get to the main temple, its a paved road from there on down, but still quite far.

I then realised in all the park ranger fueled excitement I had forgotten to do a selfie. So I did one near the bottom.

I am fairly certain as I walked back to the subway that I was looking at the mountain from 2 days ago. But I cant be 100% sure.
Might have to come back and make sure.

If for whatever reason you came without socks, Korea has you covered. Theres probably 50 similar sock selling carts on the road to the park gate.

Korean catwoman has clearly been to see the western boob doctor.

This is the low rent part of the hiking village, nearer the subway. Right by the gate are huge brand name stores, like the north face, columbia, patagonia etc.

Feather not dot. You can pay to stay in a teepee at Indian Soul, go on a vision quest fueled by the smoke and carbon monoxide from your BBQ stove.

Fashion food

I have no strength left in my legs, timed it perfectly.
Anyway, what should I have for my last meal in Korea, a country famed for eating the same thing 3 times a day, every day of the year.
There are a few things I havent eaten, cold noodles with raw fish, anything featuring KFC style chicken, tteokbokki which I like but is seemingly only a street food not a meal, any of the all of a pig places, where you get literally all of a pig. I like pig but the serving size seem ridiculous and meant for 4 people.
So I was determined to have something different, Korean, and not in the above list.
After much searching including the new for me activity of standing still on the escalators (rather than bounding up) due to leg weakness, I found a place claiming to be the hottest new addition to Korean cuisine since bibimbap.
The place did have a few things I wanted, on the menu outside, but once seated, I got a different menu, and now the thing I wanted which involved a wholemeal savoury pancake rolled and filled with strange vegetables was no longer on offer.
Instead I ordered the house special, which had a suitably Korean name, which was OK I guess, but even now I dont know what it was!

Tomorrow I go to the airport all the way out at Incheon, then its a 4 hour flight to Hong Kong, then 6.5 hours in Hong Kong, then 10 hours to Melbourne, then 2 hours in Melbourne, then 1.5 hours to Adelaide.
Including travel time to airports at each end, I calculate this to be 27 hours. Awesome.

Korean super mario.

This is a stage outside a department store, note the screen and lights. Except its been infiltrated by....you guessed it, a sock selling lady.

I think I am inside or underneath the Myeongdong catholic cathedral. Apparently the 2nd best thing to visit in Seoul according to tripadvisor, it appears to be a Jesus themed mall.

Yes, can confirm, was indeed the cathedral I was under / in. Luckily I didnt buy anything.

This is the scene inside the new fashion food place I went to which was roughly double the price of any other meal I had (I had left over WON to burn).
Tables full of girls seemed to order what I got and share it, plus something else for themselves.

Like I said above, I am not sure what I ate. The rice looking thing was only part rice, I think it was various other grains too. The menu explained a bit about the origin of grains used in the store.
The soup was not miso, I dont know what it was, I think it had ginseng in it, I guess my many viruses are cured.
Among the side dishes was something I am sure was blended fish guts, but the place claims to be vegetarian, so I have no idea really. You can just see it in the photo, the bloody looking stuff behind the main bowl.
The spinach with what looks like coattage cheese, I doubt thats cheese, probably some sort of tofu.
I made sure I ate everything they gave me, cause it was like, $18 or something, so I wasnt going to let it go to waste.

Heres where you take your girl to buy some jewellery, by the numbers. Everything here, $5. Just go to the counter and tell them what number you have selected.

If you dont buy enough skincare products for your baby, he or she will turn into a filthy punk.

Probably the best photo I took on the entire trip. Saved the best until last.

David on 2015-03-24 said:
no abseiling, takes all day, have to carry all kinds of gear with you, need permits and planning

trip home
I leave hotel first thing tomorrow
fly to hong kong on cathay
wait in hong kong 6.5 hours due to my flight having been changed
fly to melbourne on qantas overnight
fly to adelaide thursday morning, home thursday afternoon

total travel time is about 27 hours

adriana on 2015-03-24 said:
Nice photos today. Are you going to take up abseiling too next? Seems like the next challenge after the rocks you climbed today. Give details of trip home please.

Day 23 - Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Boring stuff - part 1

Stop reading now if you dont want to hear about planes, trains, airports and waiting in airports.
Part 1 - Seoul to Hong Kong.
Getting to Seoul airport is a long way, its in Incheon, in fact its past Incheon. Thats the city I went to first in Korea on this trip.
Once you heft your suitcase down many stairs, you can get the train, theres 2 choices, the express which is about 49 minutes, or the commuter train on the same tracks, same train type, stops all stations, 56 minutes.
I took the commuter train to save $5. Only thing is, at the first station after Seoul, 9000 people got on, and I had to stand the whole way breathing through a Korean mans ear.

Incheon airport is often voted the best in the world, along with Hong Kong which I am also going to today!
This morning it was very very busy, but very efficient. I didnt leave myself much time there because i am going to spend enough enforced time in airports waiting for flights the next 2 days.
I did however notice they charge stuff in USD, which is annoying, and stupid. I had Korean money to spend, and they will take it, but then they go work out a conversion rate, and its a bullshit rate.
Korea - please take Korean money in Korea.

My actual gate, is of course at the concourse terminal, which is a ghost town compared to the main one, and requires the underground shuttle train.
My top tip - if you dont have a lounge to access in the concourse terminal (I did, but it wasnt great) - stay at the main terminal as long as possible.

Now in Hong Kong airport for 6 hours before my next flight.....

The main terminal. It has lots and lots of shops. Theres a department store before check in. They also have lots of performances, free movie theatres, all the stuff they like to tell you about on tourism ads....THE AIRPORT IS A DESTINATION IN ITSELF!

Apron through tinted glass. Lots of Blue Korean airlines planes. Told you this would be boring.

The concourse terminal. Looks like they are changing ownership of many of the shops here. It was still busy, I picked an un busy bit to show as I walked one end to the other.
The Cathay lounge here is tiny but does still have a dim sum buffet.

My plane, an Airbus A340, 4 small engines, very quiet. I had 2 empty seats next to me, the flight was very pleasant, about 4 hours, no turbulence.
We still managed to circle a few times before we could land, debate rages in Hong Kong over the need for a 3rd runway.
The issue isnt Hong Kong, its access to Chinese air space. My flight from Seoul to Hong Kong flew a huge arc out over Taiwan rather than getting near congested China.
Also, large parts of Chinese airspace are shut down permanently due to military requirements. And on occasion, they have shut down main routes with no notice, which causes flights to divert and the odd fuel emergency.
Anyway, thats enough about airspace.

Boring stuff - part 2

What to do if you have 6 hours to kill in Hong Kong airport?
Obviously, go to every lounge and eat a little in each.
I repeatedly warned that this would be very boring.
In addition to visiting and photographing every single lounge I can get into in the huge airport, I walked to every corner.
I am already very very familiar with the airport, and nothing except the new Qantas lounge has changed since my last visit.
Just walking from one end to the other and up each wing or whatever they want to call it takes many hours.
Intersperse that with a lounge visit, some food, a shower, and repeat, and its nearly time to board my flight.
So following some boring redundant text, heres some boring redundant photos - all part of the time killing exercise.

This is the Cabin. It is a business class only lounge (No First). It is the furthest from customs.

I had a hot chocolate. I really wanted a coffee, but I have some sort of delusional idea I might be able to sleep on the overnight flight if I skip caffeine.

First meal, some nice vegetables with chilli sauce, real vegetables (not pickled, Korean style), this was in another lounge, called the Bridge.

View of the Bridge, it is the newest lounge, at the end of the main corridor where it splits into a big V.

Now I have moved into the cabin, lounge number 3, and taken this photo to pretend I wanted to take photos of planes. I feel like an idiot taking lounge pictures.

Second meal, more vegetables, but this time with some chicken breast, and more chilli sauce, delicious.

View of the cabin.

Another view of the cabin, and its strange claustrophobic work stations. You can setup a laptop in these things, its very strange, but also quite cool all at once.

Now this is the wing, lounge number 4, Cathays main first class lounge. The others have small first class areas which are just seats in a quiet area. The wing however has the silver service a la carte restaurant, called the haven.
It also has rooms you can sleep in, and of course showers, I had shower number 1 here.
Being a first class only lounge, its very quiet and abandoned.

Inside the haven restaurant, I opted for buffet rather than a la carte, so i could just have more vegetables, oh and a little sausage...and some chocolates...

Blurred view of the restaurant. People in here think they are special, they frown upon photos, they also get angry if idiots are using whatsapp or similar and their phone whistles every 3 seconds, I didnt do this of course, but someone did, and got a telling off.

Heres my chocolates, and mousse.

And then to my surprise, the new Qantas first class lounge is actually great. Possibly the best lounge in the airport, better than the wing.
However their wifi is terribly overloaded. Cathays was fantastic in all their lounges. Qantas can never get wifi right for a decade now.
In all seriousness, there are influential business people all around me right now pissed off at the lack of decent wifi.
They need better access points with more channels, just getting it to authenticate takes ages, the same happens in Australian lounges.

My partially eaten 4th (I think) small meal. Pork this time, and great vegetables. I like vegetables.

They have 3 eating areas, a la carte, buffet, bar menu. I had buffet. The special tonight was some huge thing with whole salmon on it in the middle of a big round table.

So to kill a bit more time, shower number 2, in the qantas first lounge.

And theres my plane...no not the Qantas A380, the smaller Qantas A330 behind it. Now on to Melbourne.
The text in these sections is probably nonsensical, as I am doing it fast and not caring and eating and drinking all at once on a laptop going flat.

Day 24 - Thursday, 26 March 2015

The end of boring stuff

My flight from Hong Kong to Melbourne made it. Despite a Germanwings plane killing all on board the day before in France, now apparently due to pilot suicide.
The only unusual thing that happened was I got moved to the back, so I had a spare seat next to me, and no children nearby, which was nice.
I didnt eat anything on the plane, too full.

This was my plane from Melbourne to Adelaide. Its just a 737, like I fly every week, however it is painted in their classic livery, and I have never been on this one before, hence another boring photo.

And here are my awesome boots, which never let me down.
I didnt take any other shoes with me.

Contents

Hi Resolution Panoramas

Latest Update

Day 1 - Tuesday, 3 March 2015
  Sydney is nowhere near Korea
  As per schedule
Day 2 - Wednesday, 4 March 2015
  My ears are cold
  I bought a hat
Day 3 - Thursday, 5 March 2015
  Both ends
  Get Pho
Day 4 - Friday, 6 March 2015
  Multipeak
  Where did everyone go?
Day 5 - Saturday, 7 March 2015
  The hilarious hotel room
  Overwhelmed
Day 6 - Sunday, 8 March 2015
  Getting down to business
  Shabu xiabu jiabu
Day 7 - Monday, 9 March 2015
  Recovery mountain
  Random nonsense
Day 8 - Tuesday, 10 March 2015
  Wrong buddha
  Last night in Daegu
Day 9 - Wednesday, 11 March 2015
  Short train ride
  Peak neon
Day 10 - Thursday, 12 March 2015
  Great wall of Korea
  Subway retiree fight
Day 11 - Friday, 13 March 2015
  Both beaches
  Worlds biggest
Day 12 - Saturday, 14 March 2015
  Mine zone
  The docks
Day 13 - Sunday, 15 March 2015
  Pirate cove
  I shrunk my pants
Day 14 - Monday, 16 March 2015
  Last mountain in Busan
  Barbecue zoo
Day 15 - Tuesday, 17 March 2015
  On the bus
  Ridiculous hotels
Day 16 - Wednesday, 18 March 2015
  Rain panic
  Rain annoyance
Day 17 - Thursday, 19 March 2015
  Rain gone, mountain time
  So many socks
Day 18 - Friday, 20 March 2015
  Last stop
  Tourists everywhere
Day 19 - Saturday, 21 March 2015
  Going to jail
  Almost the airport
Day 20 - Sunday, 22 March 2015
  Yellow sand day
  Much fashion
Day 21 - Monday, 23 March 2015
  The other half
  No dinner
Day 22 - Tuesday, 24 March 2015
  Rockfall
  Fashion food
Day 23 - Wednesday, 25 March 2015
  Boring stuff - part 1
  Boring stuff - part 2
Day 24 - Thursday, 26 March 2015
  The end of boring stuff



Hi Resolution Panoramas