Hiking in the great outdoors is one of life's greatest pleasures. I love hiking. I love being outside, surrounded my nature; the dirt, the grass, the water, the animals. I feel so at peace when I am able to escape city life and breath air as it was made to be, clean and fresh. However, the hike I went on recently included none of the escapes I usually look forward to, in fact, it was quite the opposite. It was a company outing with a group of 40 plus members. I had low expectations for the serenity factor upon hearing about the trip, but the event was a far cry from my expectations. I don't know what I was expecting but what I failed to take into account was the amount of people who live in this tiny country. South Korea has an area of 98,480 square kilometers (38,023 square miles), with nearly 50 million people. South Korea alone is about the size of Portugal, Hungary or slightly larger than the state of Indiana. But the difference in the amount of people is outstanding. While Indiana has around 6 million, South Korea has 50 million, 10 million people in Seoul alone. Texas, the largest state in the 50 states if you don't count that ice block attached to Canada, with three of the most populated cities in the USA only has around 24 million people. South Korea has one of the highest densities in the world, but what makes it even more dense is that between 80%-90% of those populations live in the cities. I am sorry if you are feeling overloaded with so many statistics, but the point I am trying to make here is that Korea is a itsy-bitsy country with 1/6 of the population of the US within it's borders. There are way TOO MANY people in South Korea. It's amazing that this peninsula doesn't just sink. It's a good thing Korea doesn't have the obesity issues of the US, then it might really be in trouble.
The company ever so often has company events,( you might recall the soccer game and the first lunch) which are not mandatory, but are STRONGLY RECOMMENDED, meaning you need to come or be lying on your death bed. The plan was to meet early in the morning (10 am on a Saturday is early!) take a bus to a mountain, climb up lots of stairs and eat lunch. That is what was rumored at least. The bus dropped us off and we walked past about 4 huge outdoor shops selling any gear you might have forgotten and realize you must have in order to hike a trail, before finding ourselves at the bottom of the trail. We stood around for a good thirty minutes waiting for something, someone, I don't really know, but while we waited we took lots of pictures to pass the time.
Climbing back down the mountain was more of what I was accustomed to in terms of scenery and the amount of people. Following two of the Korean staff, a fellow teacher and I found ourselves on a path which was unfamiliar. Throughout the way down, I kept having flashes of images that we would find ourselves on the other side of the mountain and end up having to climb back up to the top in order to find our original meeting place along with the rest of the group, but the boys (the Korean staff) did actually know where they were going, and we ended up right back where we started, miraculously.
We were home by 6 pm for a nap before we were to go out 2 hours later for the farewell party for two of the British teachers leaving this week. Another fun and crazy Saturday in South Korea.
Here is a little video from when we made it to the top of the mountain. I wasn't a very good videographer. Sorry.