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Korea Seoul Hiking Bukhansan Baegundae

22 March 2015

Yellow sand day

Sorry to disappoint, but it is again mountain hike day.
Todays hike was to Baegundae peak in the hugely popular Bukhansan national park, by far the most popular national park in South Korea and by some accounts, the world.
However, there wont be much of a view today, as most of the Gobi desert has blown in, yellow sand panic is peaking today, hourly updates on the news. It is due to clear up, and I think even as I look now, its not as bad as this morning.
Thats good, cause I had to cough a few times, and I cant think of a reason other than Gobi desert ingestion.
If various sources are to be believed, the sand issue has always occurred, it is seasonal. However, currently Paris has worse visibility than Seoul, and they are also blaming China, so I dont really understand how the wind can be blowing west and east simultaneously.

Getting to the popular park on the popular day of the week to the most popular peak in the park is quite easy. Theres a lot of entrances, and many are near the subway, as in 3km from the exit.
You can either walk, or wait hours in a crush for the bus, I walked.

The internet is full of misleading and contradictory information about Bukhansan, heres a couple of my favourites -
1. The park has an entrance fee - FALSE - its free, but tour bus operators have to pay to park the bus, so they pass that on to lazy people as the park entrance fee, lazy because they took a tour bus half way up the mountain.
2. Theres limited spots available to climb the mountain - FALSE - theres limited parking spots for tour buses, so that might sell out. If you take public transport and walk the extra 2km (5km if you walk from the subway) then there is no limit.
3. It is the most strenuous thing of all time, dont do it, you will regret it - HMMMM - todays hike was one of the easier ones from my trip. However, I did read a hilarious forum posting by an ESL teacher who did the hike the day before his first day of his new job. the next morning he was so sore, he couldnt even get down to the street to catch a cab to work.

I think if 3 applies to you, its time to reevaluate some of your life choices.

Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Bukhansan-Baegundae - One of the streets I walked along instead of catching the bus. Eventually hiking gear shops appeared, thousands of them. Not as nice and shiny new lik

One of the streets I walked along instead of catching the bus. Eventually hiking gear shops appeared, thousands of them. Not as nice and shiny new like the ones from Gwangju the other day, but its still amazing how many of them there are.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Bukhansan-Baegundae - I think the highest peak is in the centre here, behind the one in the foreground. Nice yellow sand. If you take public transport, its on foot from her

I think the highest peak is in the centre here, behind the one in the foreground. Nice yellow sand.
If you take public transport, its on foot from here, if you take a paid package tour, theres a road up a valley to a temple, if you are me, you have been walking for an hour already.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Bukhansan-Baegundae - I bought my supplies for the day from this lazy store cat.

I bought my supplies for the day from this lazy store cat.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Bukhansan-Baegundae - Zoomed in here, this is a different mountain, I will see you on Tuesday. My schedule is - Monday no mountain, Tuesday mountain, Wednesday come home an

Zoomed in here, this is a different mountain, I will see you on Tuesday.
My schedule is - Monday no mountain, Tuesday mountain, Wednesday come home and work out which mountains I missed.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Bukhansan-Baegundae - I am already most of the way there, but this rock is my mountain for today. I picked a non direct path to avoid the crowds. This is not a park to go t

I am already most of the way there, but this rock is my mountain for today. I picked a non direct path to avoid the crowds.
This is not a park to go to on a Sunday if you want to avoid people.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Bukhansan-Baegundae - In fact, its so busy, it has a police station, a very isolated building in a valley.

In fact, its so busy, it has a police station, a very isolated building in a valley.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Bukhansan-Baegundae - And due to the density of people, public urination opportunities are limited, so toilets are plentiful. That didnt stop everyone though, I still saw a

And due to the density of people, public urination opportunities are limited, so toilets are plentiful.
That didnt stop everyone though, I still saw a few guys hanging out, and the girls they were with furious that they dont have the same superior appendage.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Bukhansan-Baegundae - Then cliffs started to appear.

Then cliffs started to appear.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Bukhansan-Baegundae - Half way up the cliffs is the mountain rescue building. Its made out of stone off the mountain. I took the opportunity to drink my first powerade and

Half way up the cliffs is the mountain rescue building. Its made out of stone off the mountain. I took the opportunity to drink my first powerade and eat a muesli bar.
However, it is actually a bar of sorts, but may be for members only, I wasnt sure.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Bukhansan-Baegundae - Parts of this mountain also have ancient wall, as was the trend in years gone by.

Parts of this mountain also have ancient wall, as was the trend in years gone by.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Bukhansan-Baegundae - Getting pretty high now, the view across the valley and the many peaks is splendid, even with the yellow sand pollution.

Getting pretty high now, the view across the valley and the many peaks is splendid, even with the yellow sand pollution.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Bukhansan-Baegundae - And now the final ascent. The cables are required, you wouldnt be able to make it otherwise. Look at all the people dragging themselves up. Because of

And now the final ascent. The cables are required, you wouldnt be able to make it otherwise. Look at all the people dragging themselves up.
Because of all the people I found this to be less strenuous than it should have been, because I spent a lot of time waiting.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Bukhansan-Baegundae - Yeah, thats Seoul. Can you see it?

Yeah, thats Seoul. Can you see it?


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Bukhansan-Baegundae - A bit more of the dangerous path. People do occasionally hurt themselves here.

A bit more of the dangerous path. People do occasionally hurt themselves here.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Bukhansan-Baegundae - Todays panorama. Probably redundant, but here it is.

Todays panorama. Probably redundant, but here it is.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Bukhansan-Baegundae - The busy summit area. People all amazingly happy.

The busy summit area. People all amazingly happy.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Bukhansan-Baegundae - Some so happy they wanted the whole world to know.

Some so happy they wanted the whole world to know.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Bukhansan-Baegundae - Nice view further away from Seoul.

Nice view further away from Seoul.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Bukhansan-Baegundae - Nowhere to put my camera for a good selfie today, had to hand hold it. It was very windy, some people lost their hats. I could see my camera blowing o

Nowhere to put my camera for a good selfie today, had to hand hold it. It was very windy, some people lost their hats. I could see my camera blowing off anything I balanced it on.
Also I look like I have had a stroke.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Bukhansan-Baegundae - This direction would be my way down today, well down and then around some. I planned a route with as little backtracking as possible.

This direction would be my way down today, well down and then around some. I planned a route with as little backtracking as possible.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Bukhansan-Baegundae - There were many areas of wall, with gates. They mainly re make the wall where the gates were.

There were many areas of wall, with gates. They mainly re make the wall where the gates were.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Bukhansan-Baegundae - And then, as always, you know you are at the end when you come to a temple. This one is serving food. Outside, at first I thought they were doing some

And then, as always, you know you are at the end when you come to a temple. This one is serving food.
Outside, at first I thought they were doing some serious gardening, as bags of potting soil were piled by the hundreds. Turns out it was rice, to feed all these people.
The 'free' meal consisted of rice with seaweed, or what smelt like seaweed.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Bukhansan-Baegundae - For whatever reason, the entire temple area is covered with scaffolding supporting many thousands of small lights.

For whatever reason, the entire temple area is covered with scaffolding supporting many thousands of small lights.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Bukhansan-Baegundae - Strange tree. Inside all of the temples were more lights, there was a pink one and a blue one, but it didnt seem to be for men and women. They dont li

Strange tree. Inside all of the temples were more lights, there was a pink one and a blue one, but it didnt seem to be for men and women.
They dont like you photographing people praying, so I didnt.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Bukhansan-Baegundae - The pagoda has to poke up through the lights. The whole temple thing is a scam by the way. You can google things like 'monks seoul gambling prostituti

The pagoda has to poke up through the lights.
The whole temple thing is a scam by the way. You can google things like 'monks seoul gambling prostitution' to read all the stories about the top buddhist monks being caught out.
Not the street beggars, the actual guys that run the show. In one undercover operation they were caught operating an illegal casino full of hookers and during a game of poker there was over $800k USD on the table.
When you go to the temple and give a donation, thats what its for.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Bukhansan-Baegundae - And you may think I have taken this photo because of the temple gate. No. I was more interested in the recycled tyres. Theres miles and miles of doorm

And you may think I have taken this photo because of the temple gate. No. I was more interested in the recycled tyres. Theres miles and miles of doormats in Korea made out of old tyres.
They also do the running track style red path in many popular places too, which is also made from tyres, but doormat style is cheaper.
Its soft under foot, never wears out, non slip, and wheelchair friendly.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Bukhansan-Baegundae - And just to balance out the day with some non mountain photos, heres some ducks. Real ducks. Not the Australian all brown kind, but the ones you see p

And just to balance out the day with some non mountain photos, heres some ducks. Real ducks. Not the Australian all brown kind, but the ones you see paintings of.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Bukhansan-Baegundae - And finally, since I got no shot of it at the start of the day, thats the rocky peaks I ascended.

And finally, since I got no shot of it at the start of the day, thats the rocky peaks I ascended.


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