A few days after our staff trip, and with Fall officially here, Luke and I looked into where we could go camping or hiking and decided on beach camping. We settled on Songjeong Beach in Busan to see yet another area of the city that we love so much.
We took Subway Line No. 2 to the end, Jangsan. From there, we jumped on a local bus, 1001 (or 100-1) and made it to the beach entrance. As the entire internet had told us, Songjeong Beach is extremely chill. It is surfer central where TONS of surfers are out on the water. The beach is also lined with a few seafood and miscellaneous restaurants, a Thursday Party (chain bar in Korea), some convenience stores and a ton of food trucks serving “Coffee and Toast”. There is a camping area on one side of the beach which has electricity and a few things you can borrow, but we went the cheaper and less windy route and camped out on the opposite side.
We got there in the afternoon so we had plenty of time to set up, people watch and explore the area for a bit. Right next to us was a small park with a temple at the top of the hill. There was a Korean outdoor gym (with actual weights!) in the park as well, which we had some fun with. There were giant weighted hula hoops that I had major trouble with, but after Luke showed me, I was able to successfully use it (with difficulty) and I think I realized just how weak I’ve become, ha.
That evening, we got some Ramen from the convenience store for dinner, and brought back some soju, Oreos and chips to our tent…you know…camping food. It was fun people watching all day as kids ran around playing in the sand, or surfers were learning and attempting the very few waves that were there. We went to bed pretty early and woke up in the rain…and a wet tent. Needless to say, it was a bit of a rough morning. We hung out in a coffee shop for an hour or two while we waited for the rain to slow down, then went to clean and pack up. Even though the rain had put a “damper” on things that morning, it was a lot of fun camping out on the beach and seeing a few new things.
With the Fall foliage all around us, the group headed to Jirisan National Park to conquer one of Korea’s second tallest peak. In fact, it’s the highest peak in the mainland of Korea at 1,915 meters high (or 6,282 feet)!!
To get to the hike, we took a bus from Masan to Jinju, and a bus from Jinju to Jungsan-ri to get to the park itself. Buses run almost all day every 10-20 minutes between Masan and Jinju which made transportation a bit easier. That being said, traveling from bus to bus to bus gets tiring after 10 or so months.
We arrived to the park and although Sam and Stephanie had planned to camp there after the hike, they were told camping was closed due to construction. They hid their bags alongside of the road before the hike so they didn’t have to carry them the whole way. When we spoke to the man at the park office and a woman who had just finished the hike at noon, they looked at us like we were crazy to try to do the tall peak this late in the day. They warned us that we may not make it but we have been told this during a few other hikes. It was only about 5 kilometers (yes, apparently the metric system has been engraved into my brain now) but they still didn’t think we could do it. We insisted so they told us if we weren’t to a halfway point by 2:00 to turn around. So we booked it.
And while the rest of the group kicked some butt, Luke stayed back with my slow butt making sure I was okay. It really was a struggle for me as I felt my lungs tighten up for the first leg of the hike, and then my legs tighten up for the rest of the hike. And all in between I may have been dehydrated as I felt kind of weak. But nonetheless, Luke’s patience amazes me and we made it to the top. As all other hikes we’ve done, the view was worth the struggle. In mid-October though at the top of the peak, the wind was unreal and my fingers went numb in the first 5 minutes.
All in all, Jirisan was well worth the effort to see how beautiful it was from the top. Plus, it’s kinda cool to be able to say we hiked the highest peak in the Korean mainland!