A couple weeks ago, I went to my first Seoul Meetup. I have lived in Seoul for a year and a half, but I decided to seek out different options for activities, particularly for activities that aren’t as easy to do independently. In particular I love hiking, and some places aren’t easy to reach via public transportation.
The first activity was a day trip to Gangwha Island to hike part of Goryosan Mountain and finish up the day visiting the Gangwha Traditional Market. The met up early in Seoul and traveled by bus to Goryosan. The point of the hike was to see all the wild azaleas that bloom throughout the hillside in the spring.
This particular day was cloudy, gloomy and rainy. It’s always best for a hike when the weather is good, but you can’t control nature. We set off up the trail and started around a Buddhist temple, but up the hill we went. For the most part, the first part of the hike was boring, but relatively easy. There wasn’t much of anything particular eye catching in the beginning, but soon enough we hit the major plateau with the viewpoint of the surrounding area, all the way out to the sea (assuming the weather was clear).
Once we got to the plateau it was fairly obvious we missed the azalea season. The warm weather causing an early spring in Korea had another casualty, so all the spring flowers bloomed a few weeks earlier than the previous year. By this point there were only sporadic blooms of azaleas, but enough to give a hint of the beauty of the hills at peak blooming. But I did get a picture of a large picture in different years of what the hills looks to capture my imagination.
After we passed the azaleas, we kept hiking for several more kilometers. The weather was pretty cloudy and hazy, so the view wasn’t as vibrant as it would be in good weather. But the hike was fairly easy, because most of it was traversing the ridgeline. Yes, there were some steep uphills at time, but they were fairly short.
We finished the hike at the Jeokseoksa Buddhist Temple, which is a small temple, but it was beautifully decorated with a variety of lanterns in preparation for Buddha’s Birthday coming up in a few weeks.
After the hike, we had some free time for a couple hours at the Gangwha Traditional Market. The market was mainly food, and it was all sorts of things. Lots of fresh seafood, colorful fruit, and different Korean concoctions I couldn’t readily identify.
Overall, my first meetup was a good experience. I didn’t sign up to readily make friends or to socialize. But it enabled to me to enjoy an experience I wouldn’t have easily done on my own.