24 Jun 2014

A Prelude to "HipsterrrificxKorea"

I guess this concludes the end of my Korean adventures for the first half of 2014 after returning from Seoul on early Sunday morning. Honestly, I was not expecting much from this tour package that my mum pulled me on with her as it just seemed like nature spots, nature spots and more nature spots.

From the experience of being on Singapore-based tour groups ever since I started travelling with my empress dowager in 2004, I have been taught that the phrase "trekking in the forest" or "hike up a mountain" should not be taken too seriously as there are always board-walks for us to walk on like, at least proper paths. There is NO bragging rights when you join SG-based tour groups, even when the tour package stated "Enjoy a leisure trek up xx mountain" because they will drop you off at some place and make you walk for 10 minutes, then pick you back up again. And the more hardcore versions of the so-called "trekking" or "hike" would not last more than 30 minutes. 

Whoa, I was so, so, wrong about the hikes and treks in Korea.

Day 1:

Trekking up fortresses at Gongsanseong Fortress. The slopes up were remaining at 45 degrees for quite a distance and the time we took was about 30 minutes. (I would count this as a warm up)

Day 2:

Walking up and down to Tapsa Temple at Mt Maisan. Local tour packages would normally rent a van/minibus for you to get up there.

Day 3:

Trekked 2.9km up past reeds, marshes, forest paths (cemented and non-cemented) up to Mt Yongsan to view the entire wetlands, meandering rivers and the South Sea in the distance. That took around 2 hours up and down.

Day 5:

Trekked the entire hour around the east coast of Korea, viewing the East Sea, which would lead you out to the Pacific Ocean. There was almost no proper cemented paths and most of the paths on the roads are made up of sedimentary rocks (like in the photo above) and dirt paths. By then, my bad knees were already slowly giving up on me.

Day 7: 
Hiked down Mt Seorak. Almost died a couple of times as I was close to slipping down steep slopes and slippery rocks. I was so grumpy throughout the whole hike, I felt like murdering whoever made me go on this(ALONG I HATE YOU) as the whole course was so precariously dangerous. Goodness. I literally charged towards my tour guide after I finished the tour guide while shouting "WAE????? WAE???? YA JJINJJA?!!!!!!" 

Think I would make a very good fierce, hair-pulling young lady in Korean Dramas. MBC please cast me into your next installation of whatever shows alongside either Lee Dong Wook or Kim Woo Bin pleaaaaase.

But all in all, I felt that this trip really gave me a feel of how it is like to be a true blue Korean with the hardcore trekking and hiking that I'm pretty sure an average Singaporean would not be able to tank through all these WHILE ON HOLIDAY. Bring a random SG dueller to do all these and they will question you with a "Are you sending me here to relax or to attempt to kill myself?" The food was also not the usual standard Korean fare you would get to sample while on SG tour groups as what they eat, are really the traditional Korean Hanjeongsik with varying number of dishes. Most of the meals also enabled us to try ssam-meat wrapped with vegetables, garlic and gochujang (hot pepper paste). Would I like to try some ssam on a date? Nah I doubt so, it is rated as one of the WORST foods to eat while on a date, the first date especially.

I thoroughly enjoyed this trip with courtesy of Hana Tours, the top tour operator in Korea, and the Customized Easy Holidays Department of Chan Brothers Travel in Singapore. This trip is definitely not sponsored by any tour agency since hipsterrrific.blogspot.com is not even famous in anyway but my expenses were all fully paid for by my empress dowager. So, thank you so much mum! :) We also owed all our good and memorable experiences to our guide, Along (who may also be moonlighting as a loanshark in Singapore lol jk), from Daegu, Korea, who made all the trip arrangements seem seamless despite two really difficult members from Canada who was really against eating Korean food for the entire meals. Along really "sucked it up" (learning from US speak) and handled them really professionally without any complaints.

I ALSO SAW LEE DONG WOOK IN REAL LIFE! Will definitely write about that soon hahaha, or maybe I've wrote enough of that.

I'll soon be resuming blogging about my grad trip to Seoul, Gyeonggi-do, Gangwon-do and Busan (MANY MORE POSTS SIGH) and also this family holiday to many parts of Korea!

Stay hipsterrrific,

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