Hiking Wonhyo & Bukhansanseong in Bukhansan National Park

May 17th, to many Koreans, a god was born because this day is known officially as Buddha’s Birthday.  May 18th to many people world wide a God-send was born because this day is officially Megan Fox’s (my) birthday! Ha ha! And I had a wonderful first Birthday in Korea with that said!
            Thaddeus and I are not big cake eaters but on Friday when I arrived home from Lotte world he told me I had to open the fridge.  A big cake box was waiting for me and the house smelled like baked goods.  He brought out the box and told me to close my eyes.  When I opened them the MOST beautiful cake was in front of me – a SUSHI Cake!   The “cake” was sushi rolls layed out in a cake shape.  A local restaurant makes these special for birthdays. The days to follow we feasted on slice after slice of delicious sushi “cake.”  Does Thaddeus love me or what?
  He also attempted to bake for the first time in his ENTIRE life!  I was just impressed that he figured out how to turn on our Korean–celsius-gas-oven! He semi-successfully made cookies! They may not have been the prettiest cookies I have ever seen but they were delicious!  He also gave me a birthday card in the shape of a hanbok traditional Korean dress. 

I really enjoy hiking, so for my birthday, Thaddeus and I joined another great internet group called Indigo Hill on a day hike!  My friend I volunteered at the orphanage with recommended this group and we had a wonderful day hiking with them.  Eric is the founder of the group and leads the trips.  Also along that day was a man named Mr. Kim.  Both guys were expert hikers and extremely wonderful guides and company. 

Koreans love hiking!  It may be the only place in the world that you have to wait in line to reach the summit of a mountain.  Almost as much as they like hiking though, they like their hiking clothes and gear.  They are the most stylish and decked out hikers I have ever seen.  Another interesting thing about Korean hikers, which our guide Eric told us about, is Koreans make a party of hiking!  They carry up huge assortments of food and beverages and have big elaborate picnics at the top of the mountain.

The hike we signed up for was marked as an easy hike in the description.  Along with Thaddeus and I there were two other hikers – a guy from Pakistan and a girl from Kazakhstan- talk about an international group.  We had a great time hiking with everyone!
            We hiked in Bukhansan.  Initially our hike took us up a small mountain named Wonhyo in the area that ran along old castle walls.   When we reached the summit of the mountain we took a break for lunch.  At that time everyone pulled out different food and shared with one another.  It was a very nice and international picnic! Throughout the mountain there were Buddhist temples and from our lunch spot we could see a HUGE Budda statue on an adjacent mountain.
  Eric also pulled out a Ocarina and began playing for us.  He was amazing and even had a small speaker to accompany him with music.  He played Jason Myraz “I’m Yours” and Desperado.   Later he also played me Happy Birthday!  What a cool experience- celebrating my birthday on top of a mountain while being played Happy Birthday to on the Ocarina!  That doesn’t happen everyday. 

After lunch we began to head down the mountain and then we came to the cross roads of another trail.  The trail was for Bukhansanseong.  This mountain is the tallest peak in Bukhansan National Park.  Before we knew it we were on our way up!  It was a steep hike.  As we made our way to the summit we had to hold onto wires that were chained onto the rock.  It was very steep and slippery.  When we arrived at the top the view was absolutely amazing!  You could see all of Seoul and the beautiful forest in the distance.  We had an amazing trip and hiked for about seven hours in all. 

After our hike we arrived home very worn out but got ourselves together for my Birthday dinner.  We ate at Saigon Vietnamese in Itaewon.   Thaddeus and I shared an appetizer of a variety of spring rolls.  They were all unique and delicious.  After that we each had pho.  Thaddeus had spicy seafood and I had seafood and beef.  My pho was filled with fish cakes and one even had a heart on it.  Very cute! There were whole little octopuses in our pho.  Thaddeus thought this was a little bit crazy and said when he ate them the heads popped.  There were scallops, and mussels complete with the shell still on.  This made for a very pretty looking soup.  The restaurant itself was very neat and filled with rustic decorations like old doors and window frames.  

Before we returned home we stopped at our neighbor’s restaurant in Itaewon for a bottle of makgeoli.   At this restaurant you drink the makgeoli out of bowls! The restaurant is located on the third floor of a building in Itaewon and has a fourth floor lounge with great views!  Our neighbor and her husband run the restaurant and they are both so nice!  There is no English menu here but she is always happy to help us order what we like and even happier to see us.  That night she had American Cheetos to go with our makgeoli especially for us.   It was a nice way to end the night before heading home and resting our very sore bones!

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