The hiking trip: Seoul Fortress Wall (한양도성)

I am going to take a break for this week from Gyeongju photos for what was truly one of the most memorable experiences of my stay in Seoul. The Seoul Fortress hike was hosted not by ISA, but the Konkuk international office. It was a chance for foreign students and their Korean friends to enjoy a trip together. They even provided us with food and water... a 김밥 kimbap, a mandarin and a power bar.

The view from the top
Which I should have taken as a warning sign. I was misled into thinking the trip was a 'walk' along the fortress wall. I have never climbed so many stairs in my life, my legs hurt for days after. Ultimately, I will say it was worth it. The view is beautiful and the history behind the wall is fascinating too. Beyond that, it was just a really fun bonding experience.

For these photos I'm going to share little stories I remember from the day.

This was the "omg look how many stairs we've climbed and we're not even half way yet" photo
They showed PSY's concert on the bus ride over. I learned that my mentor was actually in the audience. On the way back, however, we were on our own. I ended up on the busy Line 2 alone at rush hour. It was one of the most dizzying moments of my life. At one point someone apologized to me (in English) just because I was in the wrong spot on that train, crammed into the middle area between the doors.

KU's international office arranged for three guides. One to give the tour in Korean, another in Chinese, and the third in English. The English guide ended up not showing. He had fled the country due to North Korea's threats. The KU staff that had to translate said I made them nervous because I was the only "native English speaker." I didn't even notice until they pointed it out, and I remember feeling a little sad they felt that way. Anyway, they were all super sweet. Even later in the semester we would greet each other around campus.

A bit of the wall at the top. The guy in green is security.
I remember there was a large rock at the top, it was popular for photos. We all took a group picture at the top as well. To this day I wonder what happened to that photo. International House took it, but I've never seen it. Ever. While we were taking a break at the top, one of the Chinese students gave those of us who were walking with her candy she had brought from China. It was pretty tasty!

Both Seoul Tower and Gyeongbokgung are visible.
The fortress wall is 18.2km total, but we only hiked about 4km of it. I remember they kept saying "faster, faster" the whole time. It was definitely not an easy climb. The reason the fortress was chosen for the trip was that it seemed less of a tourist spot. Honestly, I didn't see many tourists that day. Mostly older people in hiking gear climbing or picnicking (with 막걸리 makgeolli).

About to head down, you can see the path we took in the middle of this photo
After the hike we walked through the streets a bit before going to dinner. We ate 김치찌개 kimchi jjigae, it was really good. However, I ate very little because I was exhausted from hours of hiking and walking. Somehow I ended up with a group that stayed late drinking, later dubbed the "힛미그룹" (hit me group). Maybe I shouldn't say this? KU bought the beer and soju...something my US university would NEVER do. I don't drink, so they let me have cider instead in the games.

Do you enjoy hiking?
Seoul Fortress might be the perfect place for you! ~


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