Mountains, Fireworks, & Beaches for Buddha’s Birthday – Seoraksan National Park with Seoul Hiking Group – A sneak peek

Thank you Buddha for being awesome, oh and happy birthday! This weekend I jumped on another night bus with Seoul Hiking Group and took a 15 hour, 25km trek into the mountains before some R&R on the beach. It was another incredible adventure watching the sun rise & fall over the ocean, a Korean mountain rescue, spotting a rattle snake, stunning views and an all around great time. Enjoy this sneak peek, more photos & a video coming “soon.”

Sunrise over the East Sea enroute to Seoraksan's toughest trail - Dinosaur Ridge.

Sunrise over the East Sea enroute to Seoraksan’s toughest trail – Dinosaur Ridge.

A new hiking buddy, Eric, enjoying the stunning views along Dinosaur Ridge, Seoraksan National Park

A new hiking buddy, Erik, enjoying the stunning views along Dinosaur Ridge, Seoraksan National Park

Mountain Rangers descend from a helicopter to help an old Korean man succumbed to heat exhaustion & dehydration along Dinosaur Ridge, the toughest trail in Seoraksan and possibly all of South Korea.

Mountain Rangers descend from a helicopter to help an old Korean man succumbed to heat exhaustion & dehydration along Dinosaur Ridge, the toughest trail in Seoraksan and possibly all of South Korea.

Hapojae Beach in Yangyang, South Korea.  Famous for the "finest sand" in all of Korea

Hajodae Beach in Yangyang, South Korea. Famous for the “finest sand” in all of Korea

Playing with long exposures & fireworks at hajodae beach, Yangyang South Korea

Playing with long exposures & fireworks at Hajodae beach, Yangyang South Korea

Jinju Lantern Festival – Seoul Hiking Group

Jinju’s lantern festival began as a bustling Asian market and finished off with a flashy evening display.  Seoul Hiking Group arrived in Jinju for my first time as trip leader in the late afternoon.  We strolled past booth after booth of locally produced goods and endless stalls filled with Korean street food.

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Jinju is famous for silk production and the festival had a display of silk worms at different stages.  The last tank showed how the bugs munch on leaves that have been sprayed different colors turning each worm into a colored silk weaving machine.

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Wandering through the riverside we snacked from tent to tent before being engrossed by a hand powered coffee press adjacent to a wooden pencil maker.  These experts were just a sampling of the local skills that were showcased before the sun went down.Jinju3Jinju2

Settling in along the river with a hearty plate of roast pig and bottles of makkeoli we eagerly awaited the 8pm fireworks display.  Like clockwork the first rocket soared into the air at precisely 8pm lighting up the sky with a rainbow of colors as the lanterns floated beneath.

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Sokcho with Seoul Hiking Group

Wow, what a journey in Seoraksan National Park; after coming down a 23km hike starting at 3am along the treacherous Dinosaur Ridge we were looking forward to some beach R&R in Sokcho.  Upon arriving at the pension we sorted out rooms, cleaned off the mountain grime and promptly began collecting wood for a beach bonfire.

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While some were busy getting the blaze going others headed into town to pick up fireworks and other festive party materials (aka beer).  Hanging out on the beach the red moon brought as much of a gorgeous glow as our bonfire while we reminisced over the breathtaking views from earlier in the day.

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Moments later the beer & firework crew returned with sparklers and some roman candles.  We decided to set up my tripod and see who could write their names the best!

Brian

Brian

Jordan

Jordan

Mike

Mike

Ashley

Ashley

Seoul Hiking Group!

Seoul Hiking Group!

Ashley was our clear winner and I can’t wait to break out my camera with her on the next trip but now it was time for some roman candle “fights.”  We staged the scene and carefully coordinated to make sure no one caught on fire.  But then again there was this giant body of water next to us…

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Waking up the next day we went out to explore Sokcho.  But before we departed why not enjoy the ocean a bit more!  Sure the waves were crazy and water frigid.  That just meant I wasn’t ballsy enough to go in but plenty of others did!

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Warren!

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See! I told you the water was treacherous.

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As a fishing village there are tons of fish markets, and dried sea-life hanging from every store.  We even had a chance to take an ancient ferry ride where the passengers pull a line to bring us back and forth.

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Darren & Maddie getting frisky with the wildlife.

 

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Warren working hard to get us all to the other side!

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Up next our last meal by the shore at a North Korean style restaurant.

 

Adventure’s in Boracay, Philippines – New Years Eve

Boracay Fireworks

One of the main reasons I decided on New Years Eve on the Filipino island of Boracay was to meet my best friend Josh and his wife, Christine.  They had been traveling islands in the Philippines for a few weeks with her family & friends (who happen to be Filipino).  Our reunion began in the afternoon of December 31st and promised to lead to a fun-filled week of reminiscing and making new memories.

We grabbed my bags from the hostel and dropped them off at our hotel before wandering down to the beach.  Christine’s brother Adrian joined us as we caught up while strolling through my mini island tour.  The main event was tonight and we quickly went back to the hotel to change for New Years Eve dinner!

We dressed in slightly above “beach attire” and went to the White House Hotel to check out the buffet and drinks.  There I was introduced to Tito Francis, Tito Rei, Tita Susan and Tita Anali.  They were highschool friend’s of Christine’s parents (Nancy & Rudy) who still lived in the Philippines.  Lucky for me that meant I was sure to get the authentic Filipino experience!

White House Hotel and the other resorts we visited were managed and owned by their old friends so we got VIP treatment.  Or perhaps it was just that they spoke Tagalog so the waitstaff didn’t inflate prices for us white-folk.  But enough of that, lets skip ahead to what we’ve all been waiting for.  FOOD!

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