Monday, November 06, 2006

adventures with bushwackin' jenny

On Sunday, Jenny, James, and I returned to Gyeryongsan to enjoy the last weekend of fall (out of 2). After buying some kimchi mandu (dumplings) and sweet red bean baozi (steamed buns) for lunch and random snacks for the trail, we walked up to the buses to see our Number 5 bus pulling out of the station. We had to run after it, flapping our arms like idiots and nearly mowing down a few Koreans who dared stand in our way. The bus stopped for us, but just like the last time, the bus driver didn't want to let us on, sure that we wouldn't be able to navigate the difficult journey to Gyeryongsan. Since between the running and the arguing, we had already thoroughly embarrassed ourselves in front of the other bus passengers, we decided to revel in our American freak status and set up a whole picnic in the back of the bus. The Koreans were not particularly impressed. When we arrived at the park, we were dismayed by the hordes of people and overflowing parking lot...but actually almost all of these people were leaving (the Korean hiking strategy is to start hiking in the morning, stopping periodically to eat several large lunches, the largest at the top of the mountain. The goal seems to be to consume more calories than are hiked out), and overall we had fewer companions along the trail than last time. Midway into our hike, James spotted a nearby cliff-like thing and got the urge to climb it...departing from the trail despite Jenny's dismayed facial expression and cute sounds of noncommital disagreement. It was really fun scrabbling through the slippery woods and up the cliffy felt kind of like playing at Great Spruce Head. The best part though, was Bushwackin' Jenny, who was not completely confident about being off the trail, but WAS completely awesome as she scrambled and slid around in the woods. We all made it safely to the top and Bushwackin' Jenny realized that she liked her new adventuresome ways. We rejoined the trail and hiked to some really pretty stone pagodas, where we ate snacks and received dire warnings from departing Korean hikers that we had no chance of reaching Gapsa (the Buddhist temple that was our destination) and had better turn back immediately. We didn't take this advice, but did set off as quickly as possible, worried at the possibility of missing the bus home. Fortunately, most of the rest of the hike was downhill and went pretty quickly. It was also really beautiful, and Jenny and James took lots of pictures. We ended our hike at Gapsa, the same temple as last time (although we hiked along a different trail the whole day). This time there were no lanterns in the courtyard, but there were loads of ripe persimmon trees along the edges of the temple grounds. After leaving the temple, we had to wait in a parking lot for a freezing hour for the bus to come...during which time we nearly gave up hope and took a spenz cab. We had planned to go out to dinner and then to see a movie in a DVD bang (a place with lots of movies and little private rooms in which to watch them. Young people apparently go to them on dates to make out), but because of the hourlong bus wait, we didn't have time (Jenny had to catch the last bus home to Cheonan). Instead we went out to dinner and then out to a nice leisurely dessert at this place (called Canmore) that serves dry toast and Cool Whip alongside all its food. Weird, but better than it sounds. Dessert was actually almost too leisurely, since James "incapable of urgency" Taggart was in charge of the timing and we had to hurry to the intercity bus station. When we got there, we saw a bus pulling out of its spot and I just had a bad feeling about it. Jenny went to buy a ticket and I jogged over to check out the bus. Sure enough it was headed to Cheonan, so once again I jumped up and down and waved my arms stupidly to get the bus driver's attention. He opened the doors and actually recognized me since I go to Cheonan so often, but was a little weirded out when I asked him to wait for a minute and dashed off, yelling for Jenny. She ran onto the bus and the day was saved.

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