On my 4th Day in South Korea, I climbed Seoraksan, Korea’s most popular mountain. I was supposed to climb it on Monday (My 3rd day) day with Hongwei and Hyunwoo, but the weather was bad then, so we decided to move it to Tuesday. But Hyunwoo had something on on Tuesday until 4pm, so he couldn’t make it. And Hongwei decided to bail out to for some reason which he didn’t clearly explain to me. Being the stubborn mule that I am, I went alone. NOT. A. SINGLE. BIT. OF. REGRET! Let’s begin…
I woke up at 6, packed my stuff, took a quick shower and left the hostel at 6:20. The first bus from Seoul to Sokcho, the nearest city to Seoraksan, is at 7, and the Express Bus Terminal Station is about 30 minutes from Seoul Station. I reached the place slightly before 6:50, but because it was my first time there, I spent an eternity trying to find the ticketing booth. I missed the first bus and got tickets (18.1k Won if I recall correctly) for the second bus at 7:30. Not too bad. I had a quick breakfast while waiting for the bus. After boarding the bus, I slept like a log because I reached home at 1 the night before and only had 4 hours of sleep. The journey to Sokcho was 2h 30min long. After reaching Sokcho, I took bus no. 7 to Seoraksan information centre, which is about 30 minutes away. I reached the base of Seoraksan at about 11 and after deciding that I would hike to Ulsanbawi, I set off for this challenge. Ulsanbawi peak was about 4km away from the ticketing booth.
The first 30 minutes or so for the Ulsanbawi trail was relaxing. There wasn’t too much elevation, staircases or difficult-to-pass- obstacles. The view was really pretty! Streams here and there, a temple, a lot of trees, some of which were filled with cherry blossoms.
The sound of nature, however, was badly disturbed by the crowds. Seoraksan is really crowded (At the end of the whole trip, at the entrance, I saw about 15 or so tour buses. Wow) But the weather was perfect and the climb wasn’t too bad. Not long after, I reached Heundeulbawi.
The story of this rock is that no one can push it over. Many have tried, but the rock always ridicules them by only moving an inch. Although it really looks very pushable.
After passing Heundeulbawi, the sign said that Ulsanbawi was less than 1km away. So I thought, Hey I’m almost there right. I have never been more wrong.
Yes, it said 1km, but it didn’t mention that there are over 800 stairs to climb. If we assume each stair is 25cm tall, It is about 200m to go. And that is your average 66-floor building. Trololol
I got to hand it to all those Ahjummas (Older women) who were climbing along. They had determination man. As the saying goes, no matter how slow you are going, you are lapping all those on the couch. *respect claps*
Climb, climb, and climb
Ohmygosh the view and the weather was amazing. My specs almost flew off because of the wind. Haha
I met this group of dudes from the Netherlands and had a chat with them on top and on the way down.
Overall Seorak was a managable climb. Climbed to the top in about 1h 30 min. My whole trip took about 4h 30 min, including all the rest stops and breaks I had along the way, and I had a really really long break at the top. Because I will defintely miss this view.
You should really try climbing Seoraksan , because the view is fantastic. Iwanted to climb to Daecheonbong (대청봉) which is the highest peak in Seoraksan, but it was closed . But Ulsanbawi is really beautiful too!
– 36.2k Won for return Intercity bus trips (Seoul > Sokcho, Sokcho > Seoul)
– 2.4k Won for return local bus trips (Sokcho > Seoraksan, Seoraksan > Sokcho)
– 3k Won park admission fee
N.B ok the park admission fee is a real annoying one. I was born in October 1996. I went in April 2015. So I’m technically still 18.5 years old.
The price for youth (6-19 y/o) is 1.5k Won. For adults, it is 3.5k Won.
When I showed my passport to the guy, he kept saying that I was 20 in Korea, and kept demandig 3.5k Won. So I spent 10 minutes trying to tell him that I was not even 19 yet, with a strog language barrier. 2 Ahjummas also tried to help me argue. But the admission officer was very firm that my age is no less than 20. After 10 minutes, I didn’t want to delay my climb anymore, so I paid the extra 2k Won. I told Hyunwoo about this episode. He then explained to me that in Korea, when you are born, you are already 1-year old. And when 1 Jan comes you turn 1 year older.
So, if you’re born on 31 Dec 1996, on 1 Jan 2016, although you’re only 19 years and 1 day old, you’re considered as 21 years old, because you’re 1-year old in 1996, and 2-year old on 1 Jan 1997 (Although you’re only a day old.) What a curveball Korea…
I left my hostel in Seoul at 6:20 and got back before 20:00, so it was only a day-trip. After reaching Seoul, along with a couple of friends, we went to Noryangjin (놀양진) Fish Market to have some Sannakji (산낙지), which is fresh octopus. Really fresh. But I’ll save that for another post.