Sunday, October 19, 2014

Seoraksan National Park

Our goals this year are to be more social, explore more of Korea and for me to do one pull up. This weekend we accomplished 2/3 of these goals because this weekend we went to Seoraksan National Park with a huge group of people. I don't know if Seoraksan is technically known as a national treasure, but it should be.
We left right after school on Friday and caravaned the three hours east to Seoraksan.

This is Korea?! Where are the people and buildings?

Me and Meredith
Kristina and August
We got to the campsite just before it got totally dark. Sean got the fire going with wood that had been purchased and a mini blow torch.

I think Sean's done this before

Jim and Samson, bros for life
Ruby hanging out by the fire
Miller, making 4 hot dogs for himself

the kids hanging out by the fire
Kristina and Samson

Grace and Laura

August's first s'more!



We made s'mores, which were so amazing (there are no graham crackers in Korea, so we used digestive crackers with chocolate and that was a decent substitute). Then Meredith said she was going to make the best dessert we'd ever eat. This weekend there were a series of bad decisions as well as a series of good decisions. Meredith's "choco taco" was definitely at the top of the good decisions. I consider myself a "dessert person" and found it hard to believe that this would be the best dessert ever. But she was right. The choco taco was the best. dessert. ever. You take a tortilla, put peanut butter on it. Put marshmallows and chocolate on that and then cook it on a pan over the fire. It is amazing. I bet you don't actually need the fire to make this, but I'm going to tell myself you do or else I'm going to end up making this every day.
The choco taco
As I said, this weekend there was a series of bad decisions and a series of good decisions. We had the option of camping or getting a hotel room. I didn't want to sleep on the cold, hard ground, so we got a hotel room. What I didn't realise is that it was a "Korean style" hotel room. Korean style means that there is a mat on the floor-no bed. It's pretty disappointing when you leave friends and choco tacos for this:

The floors were heated, so that was nice, but it wasn't enough of a trade off. I hate living with regret, but in the morning, I saw this picture of Laura playing the ukalale:

and lots of people doing the butterfly and it made me sad that we'd missed the camping part.

Anyway, we got up and went out for breakfast with the Hobbs' and Cabalunas. I have to admit, I really wanted a choco taco for breakfast but we found a Korean restaurant instead. It turns out Korean breakfast is a lot like Korean lunch and dinner but with coffee. The bimimbap had an egg in it, so that seemed breakfasty enough to me.

We went to the campsite to meet up with the group. We were given the choice of two hikes. The easy one and a more challenging one. We were told the challenging one was one the kids could handle and would take about 4 hours. After choosing a hotel over camping, I no longer trusted my own ability to make decisions, so we went with the more challenging hike. We crammed people into cars and went to the trail head.

yeah hiking!
I consider this hike to be the next not great decision. I really think I would have enjoyed the hike if I was not there with my three young children. The hike had a definite path that had either rocks or stairs. But the rocks were uneven and there were parts that were very, very steep. I spent most of the time focusing on keeping myself from tumbling to my death and worrying about the kids. The kids were having a such terrific time though -not worrying at all about untimely death or a compound fracture awaiting every turn. They would just hiking up ahead and then wait for us.

Ruby, enjoying the hike
We made it to the top!

A perfect time for a selfie stick!

From what I've heard, hiking in Korea is very popular and goes something like this: you hike up, you drink soju (Korean liquor) at the top and you hike down, sometimes drunk, sometimes not. This is what I saw:  Just after starting our descent on the other side after reaching the top, we started seeing groups of hikers in head to toe brightly colored hiking gear, off to the side with their meals. They had full meals-drinks, plates, chopsticks, Tupperware containers and soju.

We stopped too, but our meal was a little more basic: power bars, peanut butter and jelly on a tortilla, banana chips and water.

August and Jim enjoying the break
We, along with nearly every other person in Korea, chose to go to Seoraksan this weekend because it was reported that this was the peak time for the leaves changing. It was intensely crowded.

Traffic jam! Check out the rubber necking at this tree:

This is what all the fuss was about-it was beautiful. (By the way, I didn't take any of the following pictures, but rather took these from people I was hiking with. So I was actually at these places, just didn't take any great pictures.)

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