The Bukhansan Experience

I did mention that one of the things I wanted to complete most in Korea, was mountain-climbing. I just didn’t expect most of Korea’s hiking community, to be the elderly.

I mean seriously, we all know hiking is no easy sport. Besides having to be physically fit, there is also a need for endurance for hiking takes a long time in not really favorable conditions. So imagine my shock when I went for my first hiking trip and all I see around me are people aged above 50, in full gear, prepared to tackle the mountains. And me and my group of friends stood amongst them in our jeans and sneakers. Totally unprepared for hiking.

The very well prepared hikers waiting for the bus to the
national park in Seoul

Still, despite being slightly overwhelmed, we were still excited and in high spirits for attempting to climb our first ever mountain. Before starting, we approached the information booth right before the start of our hike to gather ideas about which trail to take.

At the start of the trail, end April when the trees
are still bare of any signs of life

Lesson learnt: never trust the information booth but instead, research on your own before hiking.

Why? Because though we specifically told her that we were beginner climbers and this is the first time any of us had tried climbing and please recommend a fairly easy trail for us, the kind lady went off to chose the toughest and longest trail amongst the others in the national park.
We were baffled when after 4 hours, there were still no signs of us reaching the top and only upon asking around, did we realized that the trail we were attempting, actually leads us to the highest peak and is one of the steepest.
To be fair, we probably spoke in pretty bad Korean for the lady to misunderstand and she might genuinely want us to see the best view the national park has to offer. Furthermore, I really had a great experience and this built a pretty solid foundation for me to attempt other mountains in Korea.
But still, 886m for a first time climb is pretty hard to digest. So when we finally reached the summit, and talked to one of the old ladies (who fyi, climbs every week), upon knowing that I was a first-time climber, she shook her head and literally wished me good luck because my legs will ache so damn bad from the next day onwards.Well, I pretty much had to avoid walking down steps for the next 4 days or so but at least, I had a super workout.

Heading towards the highest peak, Baegundae

The trail is pretty much covered in rocks and because we went after spring, there were pretty much nothing to see except for streams and trees.
Still, for us city-kids, though the scenes repeated itself, it was still awesome. I mean, there is no where in Singapore where I could have seen something like this:

Scenery during the trail.
Credit: Sophie’s Facebook
Not forgetting a group shot in the midst of nature
Credit: Sophie’s Facebook

And like most mountains in Korea, it is a common sight to see temple while on the trail. And here’s one beautiful little temple nestled amongst the greenery

We stopped by streams and took little breaks in between, nibbling on our kim-baps and taking sips of water for energy to continue up the summit.
Reaching the summit, was a breath-taking moment. Suddenly, I felt so small in this big big world.
Seriously, the feeling is beyond awesome.

All you feel is the big gusts of wind hitting on you and all the climbers heading up, look like ants crawling up a hill.
You see all the smaller peaks surrounding yourself and the whole of Seoul lies in front of you in the form of small houses.

Abseiling down from one of the peaks.
Credit: Sophie’s Facebook
Right at the peak

This was why, at that moment, I was truly thankful to the lady for directing us to the highest peak. And I could understand why people in Korea would make the effort to climb every weekend. Because like traveling, the feeling of conquering a mountain is fantastic.
And you would never understand the feeling unless you try it for yourself.

To get to Bukhansan National Park:

1. Take subway to Gupabal Station (Subway Line 3).
2. Exit via exit 1 and take bus 704 towards Bukhansan

For more information:
Visit Korea
National Parks of Korea 

And last but no least, my little selfish instinct to boast a tinny bit, here’s a picture of me at the peak 😀


One response to “The Bukhansan Experience

  1. Pingback: Lesson atop Seoraksan | pin wanders·

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