Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Aug 28 - First attempt up Jirisan National park

This day started off like a mission. After nearly a month, I got up at 5 am and rushed down to hire a cab. According to a friend, it would cost be about 40000 won to head to Jirisan National park. Didn't even contemplate cycling due to the bad weather and cyclone warnings. The cab driver was reasonable and I took the chance to snap a few pictures during the ride. The cab fare came up to more then 40,000 won but the driver was fair and kept to the pre-decided amount. He even inquired if I had enough food and water for the hike. The buses and cabs drop people off at a drop off point and the actual starting point ( and ranger station) is a short walk up. Along the way I saw a series of boxes that looked like they were for bees. Further up I began to see the damages that the weather had been causing.

Broken trees and fallen leaves covered the ground and sidewalk. It had been a rough night the night before. Making my way down to the entrance of the trail, I noticed the barrier down and headed to speak to the rangers. It was only then that I learnt the park was CLOSED till further notice due to the bad weather! A few others like myself had come up as well but we learnt that this decision was final and was going to be enforced for the next few days at the minimum. Grabbing a coffee from the restaurant just nearby, I chatted with the few other 'hopefuls', some who had even come from Seoul, driving down.

After the coffee, I made my way back down, deciding to take the bus back. While waiting for the bus, I saw 2 girls start to make their way up and told them that the park was closed indefinitely. We started chatting and I learnt they were from Jinju and came up here since they liked trekking. Time spent waiting for the bus was not wasted and we had a nice chat. Heading back to Jinju, I was given an impromptu tour of the place and was brought to Chokseongnu Pavillion, a place of immense historic importance. Wandering around the pavillion, I had a good view of the river as well and learnt of the role Jinju had played when the Japanese had invaded. Definitely changed my perspectives about the place I was at. The Jinju fortress itself was massive and old. It was saddening to hear of the number of individuals who had lost their lives in battles held here.

The next walk was towards the Jinju National Museum and my 2 hosts took great pains to explain everything along the way. It was really sweet to see them take the effort to communicate in english, a language they were not very familiar with. Watching a short 3D video of the Japanese attacks as well as the battles that had taken place at the museum, I definitely understood much more about Jinju. Any gaps that I had when comprehending, the video filled up. A delightful tea session was taking place within the museum and we joined in, sipping on warm tea in a beautiful setting. After tea we commenced walking around the exhibit halls and I got to see a rich showcase of artefacts and items from different eras with useful inscriptions about them.

This ended off in a room with masks for try-outs. This was definitely meant to engage people and engage us it did ! Trying on various masks and snapping pictures, it was time for the girls to head back. It was a nice walk out and after tucking me into a cab, the girls left. We had plans to meet up the next day for dinner and this was something I was looking forward to.

 It had been a disappointing day at first but such a beautiful one on hindsight. Heading back to the motel, I politely asked the lady if I could extend another night and she agreed with a smile. I decided I would stay in Jinju awhile more, at least till the weather cleared and it was possible to hike up Jiri mountain. It was also a good lesson to keep track of the weather changes and this I dutifully followed the rest of the way.

 It had been a very fulfilling day, one filled with twists and turns.

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