Sunrise hike to Hwangmaesan’s Royal Azalea Festival – Seoul Hiking Group

Waking up at 4am is never easy, even when the bed calling your name is Seoul Hiking Group’s big purple bus.  We arrived at Hwangmaesan in the middle of the night as half the group snored away.  Most of us decided to let the cool mountain air wake us up and strolled through the undergrowth.  The sun began peaking out from behind the nearby mountains as our trail took us upward.

_DSC6719 _DSC6723

Halfway up the mountain we got our first glimpse of azaleas.  Hwangmaesan was famous for them and a “pink mountain” was advertised but we were wary since azaleas back in Seoul were already starting to fade.  We held out hope but I didn’t think it would be as glamorous as Goeje Island’s pink mountain.

_DSC6725 _DSC6737

Lucky for us it was stunningly beautiful!  The mountain was indeed covered with azaleas, unfortunately many of the pink flowes had already fallen from their bushes.  We still enjoyed a stroll among the flowers and a welcome change from the typical hungover mornings that Seoul hands you on a normal weekend.

_DSC6756

Continue reading

6 things to do in Hoi An, Vietnam – A cultural gem tucked away in paradise

After spending the best week of my life exploring Son Doong (The World’s Largest Cave) I ventured southward towards Hoi An, Vietnam.  It began with a Boomerang Bus trip to Hue City where I spent one night before jumping on a motorbike for a day of cruising which delivered me to Hoi An.  I heard wonderful things about Hoi An before arriving and couldn’t wait to find out for myself.  Friends from home told me it was a must see hidden gem.  Friends in Korea informed me it was a tailoring capital of the world and new buddies in Vietnam told me I could be there in time for the full moon lantern festival!

_DSC8464 _DSC8413

The motorbike ride was an exhilarating experience that I highly recommend to any backpackers in Vietnam.  From Hue to Hoi An or vice versa you can cheaply rent a motor bike with a group of backpackers and deliver it to the next hostel.  For a few extra bucks they’ll ship your bags on the bus with less adventurous travelers.  The trip south from Hue takes you over the Hai Van pass commanding a stunning view of the ocean with northern Vietnam above and Danang City to the south. (Danang City houses the closest airport to Hoi An & is only a $10 cab ride away).

Once you arrive in Hoi An you’ll be sure to enjoy a relaxing stay whether for few days or a weeks.  I thought I’d only be there a few days and stayed all week!  So, what is there to do in Hoi An?

Continue reading

Peace, Love, & Spring Colors part 2: Holi Hai with Seoul Hiking Group

South Korea’s Holi Hai festival in Busan was amazing.  Read about it in my part 1 or simply enjoy the second half of my photos!

_DSC2533

_DSC2375 _DSC2525 _DSC3263 _DSC3175 _DSC3185

Continue reading

Peace, Love, & Spring Colors part 1: Holi Hai with Seoul Hiking Group

Holi Hai 2015 Busan, South Korea

Holi Hai 2015 Busan, South Korea

Holi Hai is a traditional Indian celebration of spring and Seoul Hiking Group went down to Busan to join this outstanding festival!  2015 was the 3rd year Holi Hai came to Busan, South Korea’s most popular beach city.  The day began at 9am with participants arriving on Haundae Beach wearing white.

 

They gave everyone 1 pag of "Cock Gold Paint"

They gave everyone 1 pag of “Cock Gold Paint”

_DSC2318

Holi Hai 2015 Busan, South Korea

 

Holi Hai 2015 Busan, South Korea

Holi Hai 2015 Busan, South Korea

The the organizers handed out special colored “paint” that we hope is environmentally friendly.  We quickly discovered how powdery it was as a few excited individuals opened their pouches early when one of the volunteers informed us we should wait until about 11:30.  They would make an announcement with a huge countdown to get everything started.

_DSC2460

Holi Hai 2015 Busan, South Korea

_DSC2528

Holi Hai 2015 Busan, South Korea

Continue reading

Peace, Love, Spring & Colors – Holi Hai with Seoul Hiking Group – Sneak Peek

This weekend I we welcomed the changing of the seasons with the traditional Indian festival Holi Hai.  Ronda and I jumped on a Seoul Hiking Group bus bound for Busan and had an amazing weekend on the beach.  Check out this sneak peek as I wash the colors out and wade through nearly 1500 photos!

 

_DSC2372 _DSC2690 _DSC2782 _DSC2966