The Metropolitan Cathedral in Chisinau, Moldova. Photo taken December 5, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Chisinau, Republic of Moldova.

Where are they going next? Transnistria. The country that doesn't exist!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

It's always an adventure...

I'm telling you, I can't believe we managed to get on and off both the correct buses today. It's almost amazing.

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.

Check out the roof design and the colors. 

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...

Neat!

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!


27 comments:

  1. Surprised there is trash on the trail when everything is so clean there!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are no garbage cans anywhere on the trails and you're supposed to carry-in, carry out anything. Considering the number of people, it was in fact very clean but only because of the guy we met.

      Delete
  2. Since hiking is so popular, is the equipment a good price? What a great past time, and it looks so beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some of the clothing I was looking at was very expensive but some you can buy at a great price. The equipment we haven't really looked at a lot, although some of the backpacks were pretty pricey. Some of the stores that are in the pictures above had items deeply discounted but not sure if they were common brand names or not.

      Delete
  3. Lovely day and great pictures. I enjoyed the temples and the beautiful colors. Despite a late start, looks like you still got a lot in. The busses were always confusing for unless there was an English speaker nearby...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The weather was fantastic, we couldn't have asked for better weather.

      Luckily with the buses, we did know beforehand which buses to get, we just didn't know where to catch the first bus and where to get off on the second bus. We haven't had to stop anyone on the street yet but I am sure we will before this trip is done!

      Delete
  4. Really interesting reading about a country I have never thought about visiting. Glad you are doing it and writing and photographing!! Lovely pictures. Daughter visiting Japan in Kyoto said the same thing about the signs. It was always challenging!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Sue, we are hoping that we can change people's thinking and get them out there to explore different countries.

      When we were doing our research on Korean before we actually got here, I knew that we were going to love the country and that our four weeks wasn't going to be enough and boy was I spot on with that and we've only been here one week.

      Delete
  5. Hiking - what a great hobby - no matter where - you spread your friendship and love around! You guys rock!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We love hiking because it is free, it's good exercise and you see places and things that you can't always get to in a vehicle. And, it seems that the Koreans love it too!

      People here have been very friendly so it's hard not to meet new people.

      Delete
  6. Can't wait to see you pics and hear about Jeju. Reckon you should be there long enough to really get the autumn colours at their peak. Looking forward to reading more. Enjoy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We won't be on Jeju long enough for the fall colours but we will be in Korea long enough that I am sure we will see the trees at their peak. We are looking forward to our time on Jeju, unfortunately our four full days will go by fast.

      Delete
  7. I would say you two did excellent to get on and off correctly. I would probably still be riding around...lost!

    I would never had guessed Koreans liked to hike. Very interesting. What a wonderful day of making memories. That countryside is beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We were both pretty impressed with ourselves, mind you if we didn't get off at the right spot, we would just have seen more of Gwangju. :-)

      Yep, they love to hike, and that includes just about everyone, right from the little children right up to the very elderly. The scenery is spectacular!

      Delete
  8. Wait till you see the hiking shops in Jeju! Lots of good sales right now on the fanciest hiking gear I've ever seen. The European bands are big here and they make special styles for the Korean market.
    Our hike up Mt. Halla was also pristine considering the huge numbers of people. Quite impressive!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's pretty funny but they look at you weird if you don't have "the hiking clothes" on. There were a ton of stores at the start of our hike yesterday too, and many of them had big sales going on as well.

      Yep, the garbage that we did see was pretty minimal, that is for sure.

      Delete
  9. Having such a good time takes energy, enjoy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It sure does and we were beat last night, especially knowing that we were in for a very early start the next day.

      Delete
  10. Hi~ I'm Jang ein jeong in Gwangju City.
    Wow! you really had fun in Gwangju City. Mt.Mudeung and festival were best choice!
    I'm happy you are satisfied with the hotel and other things.
    And Photos are really beautiful like being taken by a professional photographer, especially the one at the information center is the best.LOL
    I hope you have a nice upcoming trip and wonderfrul memories in Korea.


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We had a great time, thank you so much for all your help. The hotel was exactly what we were looking for, very clean, close to downtown and very quiet. Also the information on the buses helped us out a lot too.

      I wish that we had more time to spend in Gwangju but we need to move on and see more of your beautiful country.

      Delete
  11. Hi
    I have been reading each day and have really enjoyed your adventures so far! Gorgeous Wedding, i love the traditional clothes. We came across a wedding in Japan and it was one of the highlights of my trip. It is so great that you are experiencing so much of South Korean culture from old to new, by foot, rail and bike. Who knew that the South Korean's love their hiking? You are certainly opening my eyes to the country.

    Ruth, I have a list of places for my challenge and you will be pleased to know that South Korea is on it! :)

    Sft x

    http://349sfttoseetheworldchallenge.blogspot.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We have always felt that the best way to see a country's culture is to attend a wedding or a party. We were so honoured to be included in this wedding. This was definitely a highlight of our trip.

      When we visit a country we try to see as much of it as possible and experience as much as possible. We thought that four weeks would have been plenty of time because the country isn't really big but we were wrong! There is just way too much to see and do and we wish we would have more time here.

      I am happy to hear that South Korea is on your list of places to visit and I hope that we will be able to give you some inspiration with our blog posts.

      Delete
  12. You guys are amazing!! Great trip and blog. Thanks!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Bonnie, we are having a fabulous time and enjoying every minute. Looks like you are too, now that you are getting all settled in your new RV!

      Delete
  13. I didn't know that Koreans were so much into hiking. Interesting. Love the temples -- very charming with all those colorful decorations.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I starting doing research into some of the hiking trails that we wanted to do, that is when we found out that they love hiking, and I do mean they LOVE hiking!

      This was our first experience with checking out a couple of temples and I am pretty sure we will be seeing quite a few more yet. We are really looking forward to our temple stay next Saturday. We can't get over the colours, they are amazing.

      Delete

We love hearing from you! Please take the time to leave a comment...