We just had a 4-day weekend for Cheosok, so we decided to go up to Taebaek, the center of coal mining in South Korea, for a little climbing and relaxing with our friends Kate and Chad. Taebaeksan is one of the holiest mountains in Korea. Something having to do with the Dangun Wanggeom - the founder of Korea, whom we celebrate with the national holiday Gaecheonjeol (ie. day off work) October 3. So atop each of the mastiff's peaks there are alters built to Dangun Wanggeom. Exercise, views, friends and culture -- who could ask for more?
Downtown Taebaek - the most cosmopolitan environment we've seen in a while!
Evidence of the cosmopolitan nature of Taebaek!
Walking around Taebaek we found a bookstore with some western literature, perhaps turned pornographic?
We had dinner at a little ajuma's place. Clockwise from the top left: naeng kong guksu (cold, soymilk noodle soup... probably the least appealing vegetarian dish I've found in Korea), naeng guksu (cold noodle soup, only marginally better than the soymilk version), bibim naeng guksu (mixed vegetable noodle soup - that red paste made it less bland than the other two soups at the table, and the hot broth next to it made it warm. I wouldn't seek it out again, but definitely better than the other two), and bibimbap (mixed vegetables and rice, the old standby). Check out the size of the chunks of radish kimchi in front of my bowl! No one was crazy enough to try to put one of those down. Besides Melanie's bibimbap, no body ate much of their dinner, so Kate, Chad and I went out for pizza a couple hours later. I guess we can't claim to have it too hard here if we can always go get a pizza! ;^>
We stayed in a "love motel", a pretty modest one as these things go. It was nice, the elevator was trippy though!
This beautiful lonely red tree greeted us as we started our ascent of Taebaek Mountain (Taebaeksan).
About an hour into the hike we came upon this beautiful temple hidden in the woods.
Us inside a tree!
The top of one of the several peaks we summitted.
An airfield just off to the side of the mountain, with what seems to be a dirt runway and landing strip. Note to self: don't fly into Taebaek!
An alter atop another peak.
Us just beyond the previous alter.
At the end of the hike we found this lake, which is the shape of the Korean Peninsula, and has labels for each of the major cities, and Taebaek.
So that was long weekend number one. The next is only two weeks away, at which point we'll have been paid and will be running off to Seoul for chickpeas, Mexican food and exotic spices, like cinnamon.