You can't understand what's on most of the signs, and you can't ask anybody any questions. It's actually a very strange feeling. So when we went out to the bus stop and actually managed to get on the right bus...you feel like you hit the jackpot!
The day didn't start off as planned though. Woke up, and it was pitch black inside the room. Leaned over and looked at the clock and it said 8:30am! What? That can't be right.
But it was right. We have this door that closes right over the window, and it totally blocks out all of the outside light. I mean all of it!
So by the time we got ourselves together it was probably 10:30am by the time we left the hotel. We went downstairs and spoke to the desk clerk and point on the map gesturing that this was where we wanted to go. He did in fact give us directions to get to the nearby bus stop, but he didn't know which bus we should take.
So we made it to the bus stop, and the signs they have there are actually pretty descriptive and they do have English language translation for where the stops are. We spotted one route where the end of the line was marked "Mudeungsan National Park". As I was about to take a picture of the sign for you, then bus was coming! It was the number 12 bus from downtown and it was the correct bus! Cost was 1,200 won ($1.35) for the one way trip per person.
Street lined with shops selling hiking gear.
The Koreans are big on hiking. It's their national pastime, and they go at it with vigor. You'd almost think they're obsessed with having the latest brand name hiking equipment. And I think some of them are! So, where the bus lets you off at the entrance to the park, all of the shops sell hiking equipment.
We needed some more snacks!
Ruth had brought quite a few snacks for us, but we figured we needed some more. Plus, we forgot water! We were already late leaving, so we were rushing a little bit and forgot the most important thing. If you're going to hike up a mountain, you need water!
We bought two rolls of kimbap and two bottles of water for 4,200 won ($4.65). Not bad considering where we were.
Kimbap (or Gimbap) is rice and various vegetables rolled up in a thin layer of seaweed. It's a healthy cheap snack and fairly tasty too!
The entrance to the park.
Admission to most Korean National Parks is free. There is a parking charge for vehicles, so if you take the bus, you won't have to spend any money to hike. Nice!
Many hiking trails start or end at temples. Sure enough, Mudeungsan National Park is no different. We got off the bus at the park entrance near the Munbinjeonga Temple so we wandered around the temple grounds before starting our hike.
Fascinating structures! The pics don't do them justice.
Old meets new.
This was a beautiful spot.
Inside the doorway where Ruth was standing in the pic above this one.
We walked another km or so and came to another temple. This was the Jeungsimsa Temple...
We were amazed at how few people were at the temple.
But I guess to most Koreans, a temple is something you could see every day. Besides, the Koreans were all out hiking! Oh, I forgot to mention. Today was a national holiday in Korea, so the hiking trails were extra busy.
Time to hit the trails...along with everybody else!
Wasn't long before we were getting some nice views back at the city of Gwangju.
At the first viewpoint. Lots of hikers out!
Ruth, with Kim Gui Sung.
We were sitting having a snack when this man came up to us and asked us where we're from. His name is Kim Gui Sung, and he says he has been hiking these hills every day for the past 40 years! He had bags of trash with him, and that's all he does...hike and pick up any trash that the masses leave behind! What a great guy. He said that he gets up early every morning and hikes for a few hours then goes back to his house and gets ready to go to the office every day for work. But he gets in his two to three hours of hiking every day! Then of course on holidays like today, he can spend even more time on the trails.
Here is your typical Korean hiker. They take their hiking seriously!
A stream along the way to fill up your water bottles.
This is a Korean National Park ranger. He gave us some directions and enjoyed being able to practice his English!
Korean National Park trails are well marked.
Ruth, heading up to the top of Mudeungsan Mountain.
Interesting rock formations along the way.
Nearing the top!
Except, you can't actually get to the top because there's a military base up there!!
This is as high as you can go. 1,100 meters.
The colors are starting to come out.
Didn't take any pictures on the way down. Because of our sleeping in (!!) we were feeling behind schedule all day and as it was it was almost 6:00pm by the time we caught the bus back to downtown. We haven't double checked the route, but we think we did 12 kms (7.5 miles). It was a good hike, and yet another great day with perfect weather.
So we got on the bus to come back into the city and we thought we might have a hard time knowing when to get off the bus. We were just going by recognition of any landmarks that we happened to spot along the way, and whether by luck or actually being smart...we picked exactly the right time to get off the bus.
Went to the same place for dinner simply because it was easy. We're beat and we're going to bed! Early day tomorrow because we're going to try to catch the 9:00am ferry from Mokpo to Jeju Island. Might be easier said then done!