Despite being in Korea for 4 months, I have yet to hike the mountain in Seoul, Bukhansan. After researching online, I found out that Bukhansan National Park actually consisted of 3 mountains. I wanted to take the easiest route, hence I opted to hike at Dobongsan, Uiam Rock route.
I reached the park at around 10am, and started my hike up. I had taken photos of the map near the park entrance, and was sure I wouldnt get lost. It was a weekend and was rather crowded, hence I knew if I had any accident, people would help me.
Around 15 minutes into my hike, the crowded route suddenly became rather empty. I was worried and decided to ask for directions. I asked these 2 ajusshis as they looked rather kind, and they pointed me in the right direction. We began chatting, and one of them offered his extra hankerchief to me as I was sweating. Another group of ajumma behind was also listening to our conversation, and talked a little to me, Around another 15 minutes up, there was a rest area. He set down his map, and invited me to sit with them, and gave me a cup of iced water. The ajummas also set down their mat, and invited me over. I decided to go over, and they offered me bread and this purple drink. They also cautioned me to not continue following the 2 men, as afterall I was alone and they were guys. Hence, I decided to follow the group of 3 ajumma and 1 ajusshi.
The hike up was way more tiring than I had expected! It was unlike the hike up Seoraksan - lots of rocks put together to form steps. The hike up Dobongsan was filled with large rocks that were protruding out of the ground, and some parts were rather narrow. Many a times, I almost slipped. The ajummas told me that in future when I hike in Korea, I should buy hiking shoes that are not slippery. One of them even invited me to her house to take a shower and watch TV, LOL. Then the other one invited me for lunch. Near the Uiam Rock, there was this large boulder that had a rope attached to it. I had to hold onto the rope and climb up the rock, but I was rather afraid, so I told the ajumma that I was scared and I wasn't going to do it. I was worried that I wouldnt be able to come down afterwards. The ajumma told me that if she could do it, I could too, LOL. So they helped me up and wow for once I really felt like I was rock climbing! Around 200 metres later, we finally reached the peak. We could see Obong and Jaunbong from the peak. Then, we took a commemorative photo together :) They even called me their Singapore daughter! They told me that they were going to come in Singapore in Nov/Dec.
After coming down the peak, we found a spot to picnic at. I tried the Korean yellow melon for the first time, and it was pretty good! They also brought steamed corn, cherry tomatoes, onion potato pancake, this spicy fish thing, apples, banana, smoked egg. I only had the Sun cake from Taiwan and Bakkwa from SG to share, LOL. We sat and ate for around 30 minutes, and it was a good break. Then, we packed up and continue our descent. One of them passed me her hiking stick as she saw that I was having difficulties. She only had one, but she chose to lend it to me. Halfway, the ajummas asked the ajusshi to go ahead first, then told me that they were going to the toilet in the bushes LOLOL so I went with them but I didnt pee HAHAHA. The way we went down was different from the route up, and this was along a stream. The sound of the water flowing was very calming and peaceful. There were many people gathered along the stream and just dipping their legs and resting. We finally reached the base at 2PM. We took 4 hours in total including lunch, which was around 30 minutes. One of them told me that she was going to bring me to the 전철 (?) which I didnt understand, but it turned out to be the subway. When we were near the shops area, one of them treated me to Hoddeok. I was really full from our earlier lunch and now this snack. Then suddenly they entered a guksu shop LOL but thankfully they ordered 4 to share. They gave me a bowl for myself and I had to google how to say "I can't finish this" in Korean LOLOL because they weren't taking from my bowl. I wanted to treat them for the meal as they had took care of me very well, and I felt very grateful to them. They told me that it was alright. After our meal, we went shopping at the outdoor clothing stores around the area. They bought several shirts, which they were discussing about during lunch. We reached the subway at 4PM. I thanked them a lot, and told them to be happy and healthy. They wished the same to me, and told me to be careful.
It was a really beautiful memory, of the aunties treating me just like their daughter. Despite our language barrier as my Korean isnt very good, they tried their best to simplify some words for me, and tried to understand my lousy Korean as well. Their warm hearts were so kind and generous to a mere stranger, and it is truly something I will never forget.