Weekend in Seoul

This past weekend, Craig had to fly out for his monthly meeting in Oman. He managed to get out of the meetings for over a year, but now it looks like it will be every four weeks give or take a few days for the duration of the project. At least he wasn’t sent to live on the work site, I guess.

Since he had to fly out Saturday night, we couldn’t go out of town. So, we mulled our options within Seoul and decided we should make the best use of the extended fall we’re experiencing and continue hiking the Bukhansan Dullegil. In three weekends last fall, we completed the entire 44km circuit. Since then, the path has been extended over 20km further, encompassing another mountain.

We remembered how to get to the point at which the new section diverged from last year’s path, so that seemed a good place to start. Until we got to the bus stop, anyway. We got off the orange line at Yeonshinnae and didn’t have to even check the neighborhood map– there were dozens of hikers hanging about the correct exit. We went up the stairs, and were not surprised to see the bus stop for the bus we needed to take.

We had to wait five or six  minutes, and in that time, about two dozen other hikers lined up behind us. The bus was so full, the driver only let about 1/3 of the hikers on at the next stop. He kept telling people to stop getting on and, in the end, I think he just had to close the door on them.

The bus ride took about 30 minutes. Fortunately, there were quite a few landmarks we remembered: bases for Korean Reservists followed by a gas station on the left and a Family Mart on the right. That Family Mart was the stop. Ordinarily, that would not be helpful at all, since there is usually one every block or two, but we were really out in the country, so it and the gas station were the only branded shops around.

We got out and consulted the maps posted there and went up a side street. Within a minute or two, we were passing small farms with cows and cabbages and the teeny tiniest guard dogs in the history of farming. We didn’t have to go too far before we were in the woods and going uphill, though.

Lazy Sunday

Cows!

Last year, when we walked the Dullegil, something along the trail on each day made me thankful we were traveling in the direction we were going in, and this day was no different. There was no point at which we felt we were slogging up a hill, but at the end of the day, there were about 1,000 stairs going down (for us) and the hikers coming up didn’t seem to be enjoying themselves too much.

Fall has fallen on the Dullegil.

When we got to the highest point of the day, overlooking Angol Valley, we could see an impressive stadium, which reminded Craig that there was a soccer semi-final going on that day in the north of Seoul. We agreed that must be the stadium and shortened our hiking goal for the day so we could get to the game in time for kick off.

Uijeongbu in the distance, at the bottom of the world's longest staircase.

That turned out to be just as well, since at some point we lost the trail and didn’t see another sign until we had gone just under a kilometer in the wrong direction. So, we headed in what we thought was the right direction, but eventually decided a cab would be best. He drove us for about 30 seconds to the Uijeongbu Stadium, which was just as impressive up close as it had seemed from atop the hill, but it was locked up tight.

How did that happen?

Uijeongbu Stadium, NOT Goyang Stadium

So, we got in a second cab and asked him to take us to the correct stadium. We had nearly twenty minutes before kick off and thought that would surely be enough time. And it would have been, if we weren’t going from northeast Seoul to northwest, some 30km away. We got there in time to have some mandu before the second half started. We had missed two goals in the first half, but the second was not so exciting, with one goal. Until I went to get us some coffee, that is. Suddenly, there was a fourth goal and the game was in overtime. Unfortunately, Craig had a plane to catch and a bag to pack first.

So, after taking a one hour cab ride, we got to see about 40 minutes of soccer. Then we were back on the orange line (at the end of the line), heading back down to Gangnam.

All in all, it was a good day. The new part of the Dullegil looks just as good as the part we’ve already done, and we’ll be doing the last leg in the coming weeks.

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