Using prejudice against me
Trip Start Aug 28, 2009
48Trip End Sep 28, 2010
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Where I stayed
My studio apartment in Maetan-dong
I officially started work on the 21st, although due to some issues at school I still didn't have any classes to teach. I was originally scheduled to teach business classes, although when the students discovered I was Australian they told the school they didn't want me to teach them, and wanted an American instead. This was the first time I'd encountered any issues with my accent, but it seems to be the norm here, at least in business culture
I made my way up to Seoul and out to the Gupabal metro station before jumping on bus 704 for 10 minutes to get to the start of my walk. My aim for the glorious sunny day was to reach the summit of Baegundae, the parks highest peak at 836m. I got a little help at the beginning, with a local catching me looking at a map, and telling me to change my planned route and instead take a more roundabout route to the top. All in Korean of course! If there's anything I've learned from my travels, it's to listen to the locals, so I took his advice and made for a longer but more gradual ascent. It was good advice too, as I passed through a maple leaf forest, by an ancient fortress gate, rushing streams and beautiful remote temples. There were plenty of people about, despite it being a working day, although the majority of them were twice my age.
After climbing about 700m the hike became a lot more strenuous, and I found myself using metal cables to haul myself to the peak
Soon after I began the hike back down I was yet again apprehended by a local as I read my map, this time by a younger lady who spoke English. She recommended I take a different route out of the park, climbing down the other side of the mountain, and getting a bus to another metro line to make my way back. It was more good advice, as it was a very simple descent, and I met a few more locals who were keen to practice their English and find out where I was from.
It was a good day in the mountains, despite the proximity to Seoul, and it satisfied my thirst for a bit of fresh air. The only downside were my shoes. I went for sneakers given I hadn't had a chance to buy new hiking boots, and the steep climb reinforced in my mind why boots are so essential, as my ankles were killing me. I decided to get a pair that weekend, because if I had another week without work I was going to do a little more exploring, although further afield. Having students decide they didn't want me without even giving me a chance hadn't worked out so badly after all.