Woraksan in 24 hours.

Situated in the middle of the country in North Chungcheon province, Woraksan is one of my favourite national parks in Korea. What makes the park so unique is that it is much less crowded than many other national parks in the country.At 1097 metres, it is not one of the country’s highest peaks but can be a little challenging nevertheless. Although you may be tired when you reach the top you can be sure your journey was worthwhile. Overlooking Chungju lake, the views from the peak are really a sight to behold. What makes this park so unique is that it is much less crowded than many other national parks in the country. In fact, on my ascent I didn’t see a single other person on the mountain!!!

I decided to do this trip alone as all my hiking friends were busy or weren’t really up for waking up at 5am on a saturday morning.

I arrived at Woraksan early Friday night. After a very comfortable and inexpensive (W13,000) 3 hour bus ride I arrived at my destination at 8.30pm. I had not booked any accommodation as there are almost always a minbak (B&B), pension or motel nearby. After negotiating accommodation for W30,000 I put down my bags and headed to the restaurant for some doenjang jjigae (spicy soy bean paste vegetable stew) with plenty of sides. The bus driver happened to be staying at the same place as me so we ate dinner together chatting whilst watching the South Korean football game on the TV. My Korean isn’t great but it is good enough to have basic conversation. The bus driver’s English wasn’t great either so we mainly conversed in Korean. After dinner and a few beers and a bottle of soju later, I decided to hit the sack as it was an early start tomorrow.

I started the hike at 6am.  Apart from a couple of farmers working in fields there was not a soul in sight. I turned on my I-Pod, put on some CSNY and I was ready to go.

The first 1 hour of the hike was pretty tiring as the ascent was very steep but I persevered and finally after a seemingly endless trail of steps I took a waterbreak and admired the view.

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After about 2 hours of well paced hiking and countless steps I finally reached the peak.

I had reached the summit by 8am and was the only person at the peak. It felt like I had the entire mountain to myself.

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The views were truly stunning.

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After a spot of breakfast at the summit, I started my descent .and enjoyed more of the magnificent scenery.

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On the way towards Deokjusa you will come across a very old stone Buddha carving.  The exact date is unknown. Some historians suspect it is from the Goryeo dynasty which ruled Korea from 935-1392AD while others believe the carving was constructed during the Shilla dynasty that ruled before 935AD. It is nevertheless extremely old and an impressive sight to behold. A great place to take a rest stop while you gather your energy to complete the hike.

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Finally after just over 4 hours of hiking I arrived at Deokjusa Temple.

After the hike, I took the bus from Deokjusa village to Suanbo. Only a 20 minute drive away. You should check the bus times for Deokjusa before you leave as the buses don’t come there that often.
Suanbo is a tranquil and sleepy town known for its natural springs and heavenly spas. The perfect remedy after a hard morning of hiking! At W6,000 the Spa is very reasonable priced. After the spa and some tasty Haejangguk (pig spine broth soup) for lunch I set back to Seoul.
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A truly unforgettable trip. And all in 24 hours!
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