Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sangumburi Crater & Saryeoni Forest/ 산굼부리 & 사려니 숲길

My last post was Halloween and I have had a day off since but it was a rather drizzly day and I wasn't feeling energetic so I cleaned the house and lounged around for the day, resting up for another week on the stage.

This week however, I was ready to play tourist again. After a late start I caught the bus to Sangumburi Crater. This is a popular tourist destination that I'd been recommended by a lady I met at the Geomun Oreum. She told me to make sure and go in the fall to see the grasses. So that's what I did. It only costs 6,000 Won to enter. There are several small souvenir and cafe shops of course and it is easily accessible via bus or taxi because it is centrally located on the island.

The crater itself is amazing and beautiful and I think if I'd come a few weeks earlier it would have been even more colorful, but was gorgeous none the less.

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On the other side of the crater is the field of grasses. There is a trail all the way around and also one straight through. I was so fortunate to visit on a day when the sun was shining and the clouds were fluffy and white.

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Even the great Mt. Halla was visible in the distance!

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It was a lovely way to spend my afternoon (despite the chilly temperatures) as is evident in my smile!

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I was quite chilly after walking around Sangumburi so I stopped at one of the coffee stands on the way out and purchased a cup of hot chocolate. Then I sat and waited on the the bus for 15 minutes and chatted with some American tourists that happened by. You never do know who you will meet on this island I have discovered...

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My next stop was Saryeoni Forest. I'd read about it in guide books and wanted to check it out for myself. Not much of a "hike" to those that know my more usual ventures, but a nice getaway. It's only a 10 minute bus ride from Sangumburi so I was there by late afternoon and started my trek.

There were quite a number of walkers when I started and absolutely none when I finished. Had I known better, I would have arrived much earlier and walked the whole thing round trip because getting a bus at the other entrance back home was not possible. Needless to say, after dark and in freezing cold temperatures, I ended up walking along the highway (not on a sidewalk) for approximately 4.5 kilometers before reaching the highway that goes back to my town. By now it was really really cold and I was shivering despite wearing corduroy pants, a tank top, long sleeve shirt, flannel shirt, and the heaviest winter coat I own plus knit gloves and a fleece cap complete with ear flaps. I waited at that bus stop for 50 minutes, walking back and forth to try and stay warm. By the time the bus came I could feel every inch of skin on my body and any movement I made sent tingles and sharp cutting sensations through me. I could no longer feel my nose and my toes and fingers (shoved deep into my coat pockets and curled into a ball) ached to the bone.

When the bus finally came around the corner I was so happy, but when I asked the bus driver if he was going to my town he replied that he was not. I didn't care. I got on anyway. The bus took me 10 minutes in the direction I wanted to go and then dropped me off so I could wait on another bus for half an hour. By this time I was so cold that I was shaking and couldn't stop. No amount of walking and rubbing was helping. I just needed heat and somehow my body is missing the "heat yourself" gene. I've known this for a while, but having avoided cold winters for the last several years, had forgotten to what extent I can't produce heat. The second bus arrived and I stumbled on and rode the last 20 minutes home. Unfortunately, no bus really goes near my home. It's a 20-25 minute walk to my house from the town area so after I got off the second bus I buried my head, squeezed my arms to my sides and headed home, teeth chattering the whole way.

When I walked in the door it was one of those times you can't decide what to do first because you're so happy to be home. I turned the heater on high first thing and it stayed on high for hours. I stayed fully dressed in my coat for another hour and didn't warm up until after I had been under the covers in bed with the heater running on high and a warm cup of tea in me for over an hour.

Needless to say, I learned my lesson. I shall never again play tourist after dark in South Korea. It is far too cold and makes me wish I'd never left home.

But before my escapade in the cold I did enjoy a nice walk through the forest. It was a beautiful time of year to see the trees. Here are some picture highlights from Saryeoni Forest, which is free by the way!

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The moon at night.
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The bridge.
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Yellow and red take sides.
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A red vine creeps along.
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Color on the trail
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Trees in bright hues
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Forest therapy