Never Again

This week I finished my midterms and I felt free and relaxed. I was a couch potato right after my last exam was done. Then, my friend suggested that we go hiking. Since I felt that I should get up and move, I agreed and on Saturday, we set out to Bukhansan.

Bukhansan is one of the many mountains in Seoul, and with that being said, it is also one of the most difficult mountains to hike. I’ve been hiking a few times in Colorado, and so I thought I would be fine. I was not. This hike has been, by far, the hardest hike I’ve ever done in my life.

There were TONS of people, mostly older Koreans, but there were a few foreigners. I was embarrassed at my lack of stamina as compared to the older Koreans. They were practically like flying squirrels! They hiked (and even ran) up the trail with ease that made me shocked and scared about their safety.

Back to my situation. I think one of the reasons why the hike was so hard was because of the weather. It was a little cold and dry, which irritated my nose every time I breathed. Also, I forgot how much my ankles hurt the last time I hiked, and so this also made the hike worse. However, the view was worth the death I felt like I was going through.

I would definitely recommend Bukhansan to those hiking fanatics. But as for me, I don’t think I’ll be returning to Bukhansan anytime soon. (I’m still sore and exhausted as I type this.)

bukhansan1
Although it was a little foggy, the tall buildings of Seoul can be seen.
bukhansan2
bukhansan3 People waiting in line to hike to the peak!

 

Namdaemun Market 남대문시장

If anyone has ever been interested in Korea and has searched what to do in Korea, one of the many things recommended by travel blogs and books is Namdaemun Market. Located only a few stops from where I live, I decided that I should check out the buzz.

I arrived at the market at around 3pm, and it was PACKED! There, of course, were many Koreans, but at the same time, the market was full of tourists. I recognized English, Chinese, and French among the many other languages in the market. It was quite surprising but at the same time, I should have expected it, as it has become a big tourist destination. The vendors themselves tried to speak foreign languages in order to attract the tourists. It was interesting and fun to observe them.

The market was a big sensory overload. There were many different sights and smells and sounds. I thought I was used to Korea’s loud and crowded areas, but I guess I was wrong. Walking around, I was enticed by the smells of the delicious looking foods. I decided to get 3 steamed buns filled with red bean paste. Red beans? What? Those who are unfamiliar with this concept will think this is gross, but I grew up eating this stuff and so I knew that the red beans would be sweetened. And they were. They were warm and soft and sweet. And delicious! I would have eaten more but they were quite filling.

steamed-buns
The white ones are regular rice flour and the purple one is made with black rice!

I also had an iced tea (which I failed to take a picture of, but just imagine a cup of iced tea). Back in Oklahoma, I would never order an iced tea because of how sickeningly sweet it is. However, Korean iced tea has a tartness to it that makes it easier to drink. It balanced out the sweetness of the buns perfectly. Overall, I had a great day and an even better break from studying. I will definitely come back to Namdaemun Market to try other foods, as well as eat more steamed buns!