Hiking Namsan & Cheonggyesan & First Minhwa Painting Class

(Photo credit: Bridget H)

Namsan Tower (Photo credit: Bridget H)

Temple along Namsan Hike

Temple along Namsan Hike

My legs are super sore today… Last Wednesday, my friend Bridget and I hiked Namsan Mountain, and then yesterday, Alex and I hiked Cheonggyesan Mountain.

Bridget and I decided to start off the 2014 Seoul hiking season with a relatively easy hike up Namsan Mountain (where the Seoul Tower is). We bought a couple of sandwiches and bottles of water, and made our way through Dongguk University’s campus, and onto the hiking trail. We ate before our hike to the Seoul Tower. At the top, we enjoyed cold fruit drinks and people watched. Couples like to write their names on locks and attach them to the wall surrounding the outside observation platform. There are thousands of locks of varying sizes, shapes, and colors!

Minhwa Flower

Minhwa Flower

After parting ways with Bridget, I went to the minhwa (민화) painting class I had signed up for. Minhwa is traditional Korean folk art, with influences from China. I missed the first class, so I felt like I had a lot of catching up to do. (The brushes used are similar to what you would use for Chinese calligraphy, and the paint is ink based- you add water if the ink dries too much, and you paint on paper.) Many of the students were really good! I never noticed it before, but my hand was shaking quite a bit as I tried to draw the outline of a flower. My lines ended up being of various widths and jagged too. I only had one cup of coffee (in the morning!) so I’m not sure why I was shaking so much. The girl sitting next to me (a very friendly Uzbek girl of Korean descent) said that she learned from the first class not to drink coffee the day of the class! The instructor said Minhwa painting is a good way to keep yourself calm since you need to take slow, deep breaths in order to paint better! I didn’t quite finish my painting of a flower (I still need to shade in the leaves), but it was a good start after only two hours of class.

Top of Mountain (Cheonggyesan trail leads to Maebongsan peak)

Top of Mountain (Cheonggyesan trail leads to Maebongsan peak)

Yesterday, Alex and I went to Cheonggyesan Mountain. We did this same hike back in September (it was our very first hike in Korea), but it was a lot cooler then. I was breathing hard as we climbed up thousands of steps. People could tell we were foreigners (they could even tell that *I* wasn’t Korean!) because we were the only two people wearing normal gym clothes (t-shirt and shorts), and not long-sleeved hiking gear! There was a guy selling popsicles halfway up the mountain. He asked where we were from, and Alex said “U.S.” and I had to add “China” (I get many quizzical looks if I just say “U.S.”). He then asked how to say “You’re beautiful” in Chinese. I think he was buttering me up so that we would buy a popsicle… which we did. 🙂 The guy said he hikes up with his cooler of popsicles every Saturday and Sunday. He must have been super fit! At the top, Alex and I ate our kimbaps and bananas, before hiking back down. Our calves were SO SORE once we got to the base. In fact, my lower legs/feet were shaking. Hiking is a great workout, and we hope we can squeeze in a few more hikes before summer starts… We probably have just a few good weeks left!

Namsan Viewing Platform

Namsan Viewing Platform

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