Last weekend was cited as the peak time to check out the amazing array of fall colours here in Korea. Garry and I booked a weekend away on a trip combining a bit of hiking and a good dose of cultural stuff to round it out. We headed south to Jeolla-do, one of the southern provinces in South Korea. We left Friday evening and spent the night camped in a min bak 민박 (Korean guest house) at the base of Naejangsan 내 장 산. The word Naejang translates to "many secrets", and san means mountain. Naejangsan is an area renown through out the country as one of the best platforms to view the seasons changing. Although some of the leaves had already made their descent, it only highlighted how beautiful the scenery was making it was as if we were walking on a carpet of crimson leaves.
We were up and out of the min bak before sunrise to get a good start on the day. There are approximately 100,000 people a day visiting the mountain during the high season, and I can almost guarantee by midday on Saturday that number was probably reached and surpassed. The morning was cool and peaceful. We took it easy and after a beautiful walk at the base of the mountain, we opted for the cable car part way up the mountain.
|내 장 산 Naejangsan|
|Headed up the cable car.|
From the cable car we wandered around for awhile and then headed up by foot the rest of the way. The hike was beautiful and started out easy; but it definitely had the 2 of us breaking out into a sweat on more than one occasion. During the night there was lots of rainfall so it made for a nice slippery slope. We managed to climb to the peak of the mountain with only a few others but by the time we started on our way down, it was packed full of people. Passing us going up, there was barely a break in the crowds. And as in everything else the Koreans do, it's go hard or go home- they mean business, and do it at a really quick pace. We had a leisure walk down and luckily the narrow path wasn't over run with people yet. We detoured and ended up at a beautiful Buddhist temple, with picturesque views every way your head turned.
|At the base of Naejangsan|
|View from above.|
|At the top.|
|Koreans picnic'ing, as they love to do.|
|Temple on the mountain.|
|Lanterns at the temple.|
|So Many People!|
From Naejangsan, our next stop was another, not so spectacular temple. After the grandeur of where we had just come from, and the exhaustion in almost every muscle of my body, Garry and I opted to view everything horizontally and parked ourselves on a bench for awhile.
|Korean Folk Village|
|Korean Folk Village|
Saturday evening we spent in a Korean Folk Village. We slept on the floor with 2 other people, in a traditional straw roof style building with ondol 온덜 heating (Korean heating done through the floors). During the freezing cold months I love ondol heating cause it is so toasty and warm, but this past weekend was almost 20 degrees and the temperature barely dropped during the night so we were like 4 little hot dogs slow roasting through the night. I usually like being hot but it was so bad that half way through night, with soju sweats from a night of drinking, I had to head to another house where the bathroom was dose my self with icy cold water just for a refresher. It was that hot.
We woke up to a little bit of rain on Sunday morning but just kept right on trekking. Breakfast was an amazing group effort. It was prepared outside one of the village huts and tasted delicious! We had had some time to wander around the beautiful folk village and it felt like we were in a Korea hundreds of years ago.
|Dinner carnage from the night before.|
|An amazing Sunday morning breakfast spread in the fresh air.|
Sundays plan was to check out green tea fields. The first stop was to a tea farm where we got to pick the tea and learn the whole process it goes through to be dried and heated and handled before packaging. The farm we went to is actually the first place to make gold tipped tea and sells their product for thousands and thousands of dollars. We got to sample the gold tea and it was delicious. Almost as good as my 2 dollar tea I buy from the store :) There is a market for everything.
|Garry picking green tea.|
|Green tea fields.|
|Gold tipped green tea.|
|Drying the leaves at 300C.|
|Rolling the tea (I think).|
|Bo Sung 보송 green tea hills.|
|Yum-Yum-Pop. Best green tea ice cream.|