Thursday, October 25, 2012

Seoraksan, S. Korea

Remember people, it's SOUTH Korea, not NORTH. Can't believe how many times people have asked me if I'm from North Korea... It would probably be a miracle if I could somehow manage to enter into one of the most mysterious countries in the world, let alone take pictures as I please and post on my blog. They'd probably hunt me down and "take care of business", if you know what I mean....

On a lighter note, I think I can say with some confidence that fall/autumn is one of the most loved seasons. The vibrant hues of golden yellow, burnt orange, and fiery reds all hanging gracefully from trees or suspended midair for a fraction of a second before floating to the ground and being violently stomped on for the oh so irresistible CRUNCH they make. Honestly, half the fun of fall is letting loose a little bit of your anger management issues on those poor, innocent, brown and crunchy victims (the other half being stuffing your face with anything with pumpkin until you can't breathe).

Being a Southern California native, the seasons don't have as much a profound effect on the visuals because, well we have mother bleepin' perfect weather 365 days of the year. It's a blessing in disguise. Still, even without the changing of leaves, or the snow, we make it work with the bombardment of pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin pies, and pumpkin brownies, and pumpkin cheesecake, and pumpkin lasagna, and pumpkin costumes, and well, you get the picture.

OK, so what does this all have to do with Korea? Well, fall here is extremely tangible. Literally, my body is in a constant state of popsiclitis (a serious disease) - obviously I don't do well with even slight changes in weather. Aside from my personal inability to adapt to weather, fall seems to be the most beloved season of the Koreans because, well, it's really beautiful. The sky is clear, the air has that crispy autumn feel, the trees are ablaze with the colors of fall and everyone takes a vacation into the "wild". Fall is the season of hiking til your bones break or biking til your butt bleeds or just standing outside staring at the sky looking like a psych ward patient, take your pick. If you want to take advantage of all 3 scenarios, head over to popular fall vacation destinations and I guarantee you won't be disappointed, unless you are a certified nature hater.

We chose Seoraksan, probably the one of the most touristic spots in all of Korea during the fall with thousands of visitors a day climbing up hundreds of stairs to the peak or visiting the temples nestled into the mountains. Mount Seorak is South Korea's 3rd highest mountain and is considered the most beautiful place to go see the leaves changing color during the fall. So being the ever autumn lover that I am, we rented a condo and prepared ourselves for stuffing our bellies with yummy Korean eats and hiking to our heart's content.




 Our accommodation

The beautiful view from our condo 

The stunning morning scenery

Afternoon rays 

Children's handprint art in a parking lot 

Dried fish... yum? 

 Koreans LOVE their fresh seafood. And "LOVE" is an understatement

Um, I'm not sure how that's supposed to be aesthetically appetizing in any way, but I suppose to each their own.... 

Best invention ever. And the best part about Korean ice cream is that it tastes delicious and is 3 times lower in calories than your American counterpart! WIN


And thus begins the HIKE OF DOOM. just kidding.... but seriously, it hurt to move the next day



Massive buddha statue... stating the obvious, yes.

 Not entirely sure what these are for but people have written their names down and maybe it's to pray to the gods for them to grant a wish





 The temple next to heundeulbawi, or "shaky rock" (not pictured) because supposedly the massive 16 foot tall rock can be rocked (pun not intended) back and forth with the right rhythmic push. More impressively and again not pictured is the official temple is actually built inside of the rock to the right of the temple pictured.

The beginning of the death stairs, 800+ to be exact(?) just to get to the top where you can have your picture taken with the korean flag for 10,000KRW, or roughly $9 or instead of a picture, you can opt for a minuscule "cup" of sweet and delectable coffee for 5,000 KRW ($4)

 1/3 of the way up the actual stair part of the hike



And of course, when traveling, do as the natives do. Apparently here in Korea, it's to drink away your aching muscles. I ain't gonna complain. Pictured here is a traditional Korean rice wine, makgeoli; popular to drink after a (strenuous) hike 

 Living my whole life no farther than 15 minutes away from the beach, we couldn't resist stopping by one of the beaches on our way back home. I already can't wait for summer tans....

Dried squid... 

 Taking a picture of myself; "self-ca" the shortened Korean version of "self camera" and apparently the thing to do while waiting in the bathroom, sitting in the subway, standing in front of the mirror in your room, and anywhere else a picture can be physically taken... meaning everywhere. No shame.

And to end our beautiful trip, a beautiful sunset in my favorite Korean/Asian setting with mountains upon mountains layering behind mystical fog 

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