Tag Archives: climb a mountain

Two Weeks in South Korea: Day 3 – Climbing Hallasan

We woke early today to a rather foreboding sky. The weather reports had been telling us for ages that today was going to have a few hours of rain… but they were wrong about yesterday so we figured it might not be too bad. So we demolished some instant ramen sans cutlery (mine being a black bean noodle pot), bought energy bars and water from the convenience store next door and started making our way to the beginning of the trail.

Hallasan is the tallest mountain in South Korea and has a number of trails that allow you to scale it. We went for the Seonpanak trail as it got us to the top whilst also being the gentlest (and so the longest at 10km). In preparation for this I actually bought some hiking poles because I heard the terrain was uneven at the top and wanted to make sure that my knees didn’t turn to mush partway through the ascend. Well, these purple poles of mine might be the best £20 I’ve spent for a holiday as not only did they save my knees but they gave me some confidence with balance when my confidence was failing.

The reason we even decided to climb this mountain was for a view of the gorgeous looking crater lake but, as you can see from this picture, the mists had rolled in. Still, we remained optimistic as sometimes mountains can punch through the clouds. Everyone else on the trail remained optimistic too. There was a man blasting ABBA from his phone, to the point that I started to sing along to ‘Andante, Andante’. People smiled and were considerate of overtakers and passers by. Hell, there were times where people were telling us how well we were doing, or I just initiated the Korean cheer of “Fighting” as I climbed down in order to spur on those going up.

I’m not going to mince words though, we saw absolutely nothing. I think we actually climbed into a cloud as it was actually hailing and extremely windy near the summit. There was a point where a gust caught me the wrong way and I could feel it trying to wrench the glasses off of my face, which made me feel incredibly scared for my own safety. At that point I knew all the crows at the bottom of the trail were making the flight up for my potential corpse.

List item: Climb a taller mountain
Progress: Completed

Still though, we made it to the top and to say that me, who is not in great physical shape (although I have recently lost 55 pounds) got to the climbable peak of South Korea’s tallest mountain is something that I am so incredibly proud of. Not sure I would do this again though, but at least I can say I’ve done it.

The way down was a lot easier than the way up… and drier. On the way up I got soaked to the skin and on the way down I started to dry off. It gave me the chance to take some pictures and appreciate the beautiful surroundings that I had climbed through, which was nice. Just wish it hadn’t taken another four hours to reach the bottom again. However, I did get a neat certificate out of it stating that I’d climbed the mountain, which I kinda want to frame and hang with my hiking poles.

We refuelled with some local orange juice (or is it mandarin, I’m not sure) and powerade before returning to the hotel and having a good rest and shower before heading out again for the evening. Where to? To Love Land, one of Jeju’s weirder attractions.

Essentially, Love Land is a sculpture park filled with depictions of sex or things of a sexual nature. However, in an over the top and quite tacky way. It’s a bit of a throwback to when Jeju was a top honeymoon destination, so you have this and the museum of sex as a way to spur on the production of offspring. It begins seedy and funny enough with some of the really weird sculptures, but things take a turn at the end of the tour.

The person who commissioned or made these statues at the end would have been a favourite patients of Freud. They all appear to depict the same man being coerced into sex with the same older woman – with titles like ‘You Can’t Escape’. Granted this is a park that began with a funny gimmick and just pounded it into the ground, but man did these sculptures get dark toward the end.

By the time we left Love Land it was eight in the evening and we hadn’t had a proper meal all day. Originally I wanted to go to a famous seafood place in the city that was known for their seafood stews with abalone, but then I learned how the octopus and abalone was cooked alive in front of you and tried to escape the pot. I know it makes me a hypocrite, but I can’t do that.

So we ended up going for a different place… and then for the address wrong completely as we ended up with this gorgeous spicy beef stew whose name I later found out was yukgaejang. It was exactly the hearty sort of meal that we needed at the end of the day and it came with a gorgeous plate of fish cakes on the side and the most lovely server ever.

Seriously, this Korean woman was in full auntie mode with us, telling us it was okay if we found it too spicy because a customer in the corner was clearly having trouble. She even gave us extra fish cakes and some warm milk with black pepper to help my husband with the afterburn. It was such a wonderful experience and I want to adopt her.

And that’s the end of the final full day in Jeju. We really haven’t been here for long enough to see everything we wanted to see, but we fly out to Busan in the later afternoon, which means we can squeeze in one more attraction as long as I finish this post quickly enough and get to bed. And on that note!

Lost In Japan: Day 3 – Futabanosato Walking Trail & My First Japanese Sushi

For these posts in Japan I actually wrote the bulk of the text during downtime (train/plane/bus journeys and late evenings mostly) so I could have a nice way to properly look back on my honeymoon.

Today we decided to embark on the Futabanosato Walking Trail that hubby found online. It’s a guided walk through the north of Hiroshima which touches on a number of the historical shrines and temples. In total there are 16 stops along the way, with one that is not all religious in nature.

Now, in order to get to the first stage of the walk, Fudoin Temple, meant a 5.5km walk. We probably could have taken the bus, but you know how it is with being cocky about carrying out walks like these. We picked up some onigiri (rice balls) and bottles of Pepsi Ghost. We thought this would be regular Pepsi, but it turns out that it’s a limited edition mystery flavour. I saw someone on the web saying that this was pumpkin… but I’d have to hitch my wagon to it being almond or marzipan flavoured.

After about an hour we finally made it to the first stop: Fudoin Temple. This is the first Buddhist temple that I have ever been to, and is one of seven on the walk. I have to say that it was a beautiful temple to start off with. One that I have to say overshadowed the next temple on the walk: the Nittsu-ji Temple. I don’t think it helps that the front of the second temple was a bog standard car park. I am going to skip over Stop 3, mainly because it was closed despite the guide saying it was open on Fridays. Oh well.

2km later we were at a really gorgeous little shrine (Ikari Shrine) that was tucked away amongst the more citified buildings. Despite the fact we had just walked off of street with plenty of cards the setting felt serene. Maybe it was all the hanging lanterns and flags. Maybe it’s was the fact that it was seemingly deserted, but it was just peaceful.

A few shrines later we got to the Anraku-ji Temple, the last site on the walk to be far enough away from the hypocentre of the nuclear blast to have not been completely destroyed. It was affected, with the main building now being slightly off kilter, but it did not affect the ginko tree that pierced the roof of the entrance gate. With this and yesterday’s ginko tree, it’s obvious how resilient these are.

Straight after this came the Nigitsu Shrine, with one of the largest tori that I have ever seen. Or, apparently am likely to see. This is clearly a rather important shrine not only due to its size, but also that it was the first of three shrines on the route to have its own rubber souvenir stamp.

By the time we got to stop 10 on this walk the sun was at its height. We also found ourselves without much in the way of shade. Long story short I could tell that I was burning badly from all the sunlight so we had to head back to the hotel (luckily by this point it was less than a kilometre away) until the sun was a bit less intense,

At 3pm we ventured out again and went for the Kinko Inari Shrine. Of all the shrines that was saw today it is this one that will probably stay with me forever. In order to move from the outer shrine to the inner shrine you need to climb up 500 steep stone steps and through 100 tori. There were a lot of smaller shrines along the way, but the main reason we went up here was because the map said that after climbing to the top of this we would be able to climb up further to the Peace Pagoda at the top of Mt Futaba.

My thighs were burning and I was drenched with sweat as we reached the inner shrine, which gave us some gorgeous views… but we could see no path to the pagoda! We scrambled around some of the offshoots only to come to other small shrines. It seemed like we wouldn’t be able to reach the pagoda because there was no way I would be able to do that walk again.

After memorising some of the characters for the peace pagoda as “two lines, some thing, window’ we saw a sign on the floor pointing towards some crude stone steps and clearing near the top. I just went for it and, would you know, we found the Peace Pagoda.

List item: Climb a mountain
Progress: Completed

Okay, this was a small mountain, but it is by definition a mountain. So I am counting Mount Futaba as a mountain that I was able to climb. It was such a good feeling to be at the top that I started to forget just how painful my legs were.

After that victory we breezed through the remaining shrines and temples apart from the the final one (Saizo-ji temple) which was closed by the time we reached it.

On the way back we bought some celebratory corn dogs from a 7-11 and got ourselves cleaner for dinner (after we purchased a Japan-exclusive Kirby game and a blue Wooly Yoshi Amiibo from Edion).

The previous day we walked passed a converter belt sushi restaurant and we decided to give it a go tonight. We could order food using a tablet and an English menu! And overall this was easily one of the best sushi meals I have ever had, and it was so much cheaper than back in the UK too! Aside from the more regular things like grilled eel and fried shrimp there was a wealth of list items that I found here (although sashimi would have been an easy one to do here I decided to wait on it for now).

 List Item: Try half of the combined 1001 food books

Food item: Sea Urchin

I regretted not getting this in Catania when I had the chance, so this was one for me to jump on. Since we were not too sure how it would taste we found a dish that combined it with squid. The sea urchin was very soft and delicate. It kinda looked like a mushy orange tongue amongst the squid. To be honest, it didn’t taste of much. Pretty much tasted of the sea.

Food item: Salmon roe

Hubby said this of salmon roe, “you don’t expect something to taste of what laid it.” Very true words here from these orange sea water bath beads. They are very large and have a satisfying burst in the mouth when eaten. It’s true what he said about them tasting slightly of salmon. It was pretty unnerving to be honest.

Food item: Kazunoko

More fish eggs, in this case it was preserved herring eggs. It looks gorgeous sitting there. It actually looks like someone has chosen to make a piece of chicken egg omelette out of yellow glass beads. Due to the preservation it was pretty firm. In terms of taste it is one of those things where subtlety and texture reign supreme. It was very chewy and, unlike, the salmon roe, there was no sudden burst of flavour. It took a while to unfurl.

Food item: Mantis Shrimp

I have been really seeking these out since I first saw them on the list. It hadn’t occurred to me that these would be things we might see in Japan. It was weird seeing them prepared for sushi. I mean, if you look up pictures of them on Google you will see that they are gorgeous. If you read up on them, you will see that they are deadly punching machines. In any case we snagged the last two of these (yus!) and promptly munched down. They were like normal prawns, but meatier and a bit stringy. They were good!

Food items: Hiramasa Kingfish and Japanese yam (no photo)

This was the last thing that we ate in the evening, and it probably had the least flavour. It was like a mild tuna with some squid like features thrown in, but nothing particular special there. Still, it had one hell of a cool name. Also, earlier in the meal, we had a tuna and yam roll. The yam (no photo, because I didn’t realise until later that Japanese yam was on the food list) was nice enough, but it didn’t taste like anything special.

Progress: 742/933

With sushi done it was back to the hotel via Asse where we bought some late night blogging provisions (aka snacks).

By the time we got into the elevator up to the hotel I could see extent of the sunburn that I had accumulated over the day. So an ice cold bath and lots of moisturising lotion it is. Ugh why do I never learn.

So here I am finishing the day with another bottle of Pepsi Ghost, some chocolate covered macadamia nuts, lotion slathered over my sunburnt neck and feet throbbing from walking 31,000 steps. It’s been a good day.