October 21, 2008

Seonunsan Provincial Park

The second weekend, the organization Korea On The Rocks was having a meet and greet so Shannon and Alex and I reunited to check out Korea's rock climbing scene. It turns out Korea has some of the best rock climbing in the world - fancy that!

The meet and greet was held at Seonunsan Provincial Park where there is this badass crag people were climbing on. I mean I'd seen professional rock climbing pictures before but I guess I didn't actually believe rocks like this existed. The pictures don't quite capture it, though. Anyway, so it took us at least 4 buses to get from Yeoju to the mountain. That in itself was a trip. The mountain was a city bus ride away from Go-chang, but there was no bus that went directly from Yeoju to Go-chang. So we first had to take a bus to Icheon (the city next door) and then to Jeonju (not to be confused with Cheongju, a city John and I visited together on a subsequent weekend) and then on to Go-chang. Actually, we accidentally bought tickets to Cheongju first, and then a very nice Korean man who was helping us realized it at the last second and we exchanged our tickets and made a mad dash for the bus. In our defence, it's almost impossible to pronounce Korean just how it's supposed to be pronounced after a week of being in the country. Go-chang is located in Jeolla province, so it was decently far south in Korea.

The meet and greet was pretty cool. The bus dropped us off and we immediately made the 30-minute hike to the crag and met a toooon of climbers. Many of them were Koreans but most were foreignors (lots from Canada). They were so intense - most were incredibly experienced but some of the kids were beginners like me, so we stuck to the 2 climbs we could do. It was my first time on real rock so it was pretty exciting. And everyone was really nice if a bit cliquey, and the ones who weren't cliquey were really awesome. They invited us to party in the hostel with them that night and we ended up having a great time. I learned one Western drinking game and one Korean drinking game and talked to people from lots of different places. All in all, it was a really good opportunity to be introduced to Korea's climbing community.

Here are some views of the park:
I just love the mist. It comes off the mountains in great sheets in the morning - it's so thick it looks like smoke in the first picture. This is what my drive to school looks like sometimes.

Here is the big kids' crag:
And here is the beginners' rock:
Alex and Shannon are both decently experienced climbers, and the guy on the rock is a really good climber, too. There is a more difficult climb far to the right of this photo. But this climb was my very first on real rock! And the one just to the right of it was my second! Here I am:
I'm lookin pretty badass in those spiffy shoes and special climbing pants, huh? I got a lot of comments on those shoes - the other climbers seemed to think they were pretty sweet.

This is the hostel we partied in. I guess Korean hostels are schmancier than normal hostels - I don't know because this is the first I've been in. But we had a great time and I got to talk to lots of Canadians. haha!

Okay so in this park were all these really strange, beautiful flowers. I think the park must be famous for them because there were tons of Koreans taking very professional photographs of them, and because there was a seafood festival going on, there were tons of amateurs taking photos, too. Here's a close-up (you can see them pictured above, though)
That's a close-up. They don't look quite as strange this way, but if you click on the third picture of this post, you might get a better idea of how strange they are.

Here is a photo of rocks piled in the river that leads you into the park. The flowers line the banks of the river, so this is where all the photographers were.

I told you I love those piles of rocks!

So there was also this seafood festival going on that some Korean we met on the way to the park insisted we check out (like we would even consider not!) Here are some snapshots:

.....giant tanks of live seafood......

.....really nice young boys cooking eels for the customers......

......small children painting a cloth mural (we all took a shot at it)......

......baahahhaha and Shannon haggling with the locals. Classic.

After checking out the festival (in which I ate eel and bought berry wine and chestnuts), we made the long trek back to Yeoju. We had spent the night with all three of us in a 2-person tent. There was also a crazy thunderstorm going on all night, so we didn't sleep very well. Plus we were kind of tired of some of the people there. So that's why we went home.

É so! (That's all!)

No comments: