Thursday, October 22, 2009

Jirisan National Park

Accompanied by Mark, a fellow ECC teacher, we fired up the motorcycles and headed 150 kilometers north to Jirisan National Park. The trip there was half of the adventure, exploring new routes, we stopped frequently to consult our Korean map and ask directions.
A we neared the park, for several kilometers the cherry trees stretched their dark branches over the roads. The fall leaves blew off of the road as we buzzed through the countryside. It would be a fantastic ride in the spring. We followed a river valley into the park. Our progress slowed a bit when we neared the green tea plantations. We stopped to take pictures and explore the area.

Mark, on Silver Sally, and I on the Mighty Magma.

Mark harvested the wild persimmons....

and and Chelsie gathered chestnuts. We were blown away by the quantities of these two products this time of year. There is an over abundance of both domestic and wild.
We arrived at the entrance of the park and like many of the parks in Korea, there is always a temple tucked away in the trees.

I thought it interesting to see the elephants on the hinges. It is a reflection of the Indian influence in Buddhism.
Unfortunately not the sharpest photo in the shed, but I thought it to be majestic anyway.
Here is our crew. We met Andrew and Leise at the park. They are friends of ours from South Africa who rode the bus from Geoje and met up with us.
We went for a few kilometer hike up into the park in search of a waterfall. Unfortunately I didn't bring my spare battery with me. So you all will have to miss out on Bureil waterfall, but once we made it back to the bikes, I was locked and loaded once again. The falls were not very strong this time of year, as it has not been very rainy. Our ride back out of the mountains was most excellent.
In a nearby village, which I still don't know the name of, we found a number of meinbaks; guest house type accommodations. We found having a nice appearance, inquired to the price, and looked at the room. The warm hearted Korean lady which ran the guest house was very welcoming, and a great cook.
We enjoyed our dinner in a grilling shed. Ordering is always an interesting experience. Even though we can read Korean and therefore can read the menu, we don't always know the names of the dishes. Through bits and pieces of broken Korean we are able to convey what we like. It is always a surprise though when the food comes. It comprised of grilled, marinated chicken with a large assortment of traditional sides, such as pickled garlic, kimchi in many forms, onion salads, peppered squid, and acorn jelly to name a few. For dessert we roasted some of the chestnuts that Chelsie had gathered earlier, and sipped on traditional rice wine, Maggulli. It was a fantastic day.
That evening we settled into our cozy room with ondol heating. Ondol is the traditional heated floor and can be very toasty if you don't know how to turn it down. On Monday, at school, we learned from our Korean teachers how to politely ask to turn off the underfloor heat.
Back on the road the next day. Life is always an adventure. Our trusty road map took us from a two lane black highway with hefty shoulders to a narrow poured concrete road with steep grades meandering through the mountains. After running across, and talking with a few locals we were able to confirm we were on the right track. Later on we learned that this section of the map was a bit out of date. Nice. It was a memorable highway 1014.As we rode, rice was being harvested everywhere.
We stopped in a very interesting temple/museum/art area. The rock creations were wild.
It was a strange and unique type of creativity.
As we travel more in Korea we have become more comfortable with being in the culture. It is very motivating to learn more phrases and try more foods. Good times with good friends.


Anonymous said...

What a fun weekend, I cant wait for the next one. Im gonna miss you guys next year in Spring time.

P.S. I like "Silver Sally", but I have to say in my eyes he is a silver stallion.


Jeff said...

Were those green-tea plantations or green tea-plantations? Why was the fire under the grill violet? Why did you even go into that room with the stones? I think I might have run as soon as I saw it. It's kinda like the nightmare of being stuck in a "Tool" video.

Jeff said...

So I said to myself, "Self? Something's going on in Korea, but we don't know what it is. How will we ever find out?" And myself said, "What do you mean We?" You can see why I don't travel with this person, so I can't go to Korea to find out. But we need to know. Please advise.

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