Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Korea: 2011 Summer Fellows: Hiking

Before I came to Korea about 3 years ago, I didn't know that Seoul would be surrounded by mountains and that hiking would be so popular. Ive been hiking a couple of times in Korea, but the most memorable hiking experience was when I went up Dobong-san, which is a little north of Seoul. "San" in English is "mountain". If you take a look at the subway map of Seoul, there are alot of places with "san" attached to the end of it.

Hiking is definitely the secret to living a long life in Korea. Well that is just my opinion. There were many times along my way up the mountain that I was surpassed by men and women who looked like they were in their 50s or 60s. As I walked out of the subway, there were tons of people in their hiking gear from head to toe rushing to get up and down the mountain. Usually at the bottom there are alot of shops selling hiking gear and street food vendors selling "pajeon" which is a Korean pancake made up of green onions and some also have seafood in it. "Pa" in korean is green onion and "jeon" is pancake.

It started out easy hiking up Dobong-san because there was a paved path of dirt that I could follow, but then about 2 hours later, the path turned into rocks. This hike was different because I had never climbed rocks before. I was only wearing sneakers so I kept slipping on them. I now know that it's important to wear good hiking shoes. It definitely has a better grip on the rocks. There was a rope beside me that could help me climb the rocks.

Along the way up, there were areas where you can drink the spring water. The sink like formation was made out of rock, and the water flowed out of it. There was a plastic bowl in which everyone used to drink the water. My korean friends prepared food beforehand so we stopped at one point to eat. They brought rice with egg, kimchi, and fresh vegetables. They packed it in little containers. A common thing that I saw was groups of people drinking "Makoli", a Korean rice wine. Korean people must really have good coordination to be hiking up and down the mountain. Another thing that I noticed sometimes when I hiked other mountains also was that there were areas that had exercise machines. You could work your abs, arms, and legs and have a complete workout by the time you finish hiking.

As we got to the top of Dobong-san, all that sweat and hardwork really paid off. It was the most beautiful sight ever. Overall we probably hiked for about 6 hours. All I could see were people taking pictures of each other as well as enjoying the view. Hiking is definitely one thing you have to do when you are in Korea.

Susie Greenbaum
MA Speech and Language Pathology 2013
Sigur Center 2011 Korean Language Fellow
Sogang Unviersity, South Korea

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