In January of this year my daughter Emma, her partner José and I, decided to hike to the Golden Buddha statue on Bukhansan on the very day they were leaving Seoul on a late-ish flight to return to New Zealand.
If you like hiking I recommend this one. It’s a short hike with great surroundings and the Golden Buddha statue as finale is awesome set as it is amongst the mountains. It really is a huge statue and as the sun shines off it, it looks amazing. Not to be missed. You can also lengthen the hike and make it more difficult by hiking past the statue to the top. Most of the hike is on well paved roads but you do get to some sections with ropes and it can be slippery in places. If you are a bit unsteady like me, wear hiking shoes. My daughter’s partner was more than fine in sneakers. The hike was nothing for them.
I had no idea how to get there but I got the idea for the hike from one I had missed with my regular Wednesday hiking group. I researched some blogs with blow by blow directions and settled on one with pictures. Directions never stick in my mind and I’m forced to follow to the first point of reference then consult the directions again at the next point and so on until we reach our destination.We had planned to leave at 9am but our intrepid travellers had slept in and I let them. “Why didn’t you wake us up?” my twenty-nine year old daughter wailed.
“We can take our time” I said. She pouted. The three of us were tired, it had been a busy two weeks with the whole family visiting us parents for Christmas. Everyone else had already departed for their various destinations. Some to Sydney, some to Vietnam. We were feeling lonely and the goodbyes had drained us a little as it does after Christmas. When would we meet again separately or together? As a group it could well be not until next Christmas and we had all had such fun. My husband and I had only been in Seoul for four months so it was new to all of us. That sense of adventure gad been very energising. But now they were leaving. Nothing like the holiday’s over to dampen the mood.
The three of us left left around 10.30am after a rather grumpy breakfast. We were back by 3pm in plenty of time for a late lunch, last minute packing and the one hour trip to Incheon airport.
To get to the starting point of the hike we first caught the subway to Gupabal subway station. It was on the subway that I realised we had to take a bus to the start point. I was a bit uneasy about this as I hadn’t done that solo before. “What are you doing?” This was Emma and her voice was irritated.
“I’ve just realised we have to get a bus and I’m checking where to get on and off”
“You’ve looked at the directions twelve times Mum! You don’t need to check and re-check.” How impatient the young are. And how ridiculous parents must seem sometimes. I get it, I do but it was all new to me. Still, I must have presented as a fuddy-duddy, head down, peering into my phone, my backpack hanging precariously off my arm.
Nonetheless, the charge of looking at the blog a dozen times was a gross exaggeration. I had checked the blog eight times at most. And I DO need to check and re-check. Like I said, the directions don’t stick in my mind.
I can’t stress enough that hiking in Seoul is an absolute must for outdoorsy types. The views from up high of the city are fantastic making the hard work worth it and the forest bathing is good for the soul. There are trails for everyone, long and short, easy and difficult. Each season I’m told, for I’m yet to experience spring, is completely different. Summer was green and very hot and humid. Autumn foliage was a jumble of iridescent yellow, gold and red and a thousand photos weren’t enough. Winter is stark and raw, crisp and fresh (when the air is good). I believe I have cherry blossoms and other colours to look forward to in spring.