A Walk and a Drive

by sebastien on February 15, 2009

Most people who have been following my blog have been asking me often what the surroundings are like around here.. This post should help paint a picture.

Last weekend I wandered around with a new coworker of mine, Bert. Him and I have been getting along pretty well, and when I'm not too sick to move, we find something to do around the city. (yeah, I've been pretty sick since last Monday.. I don't get sick very often, so this is really bugging me.. :P )

The Mountain Walk:

The first adventure was climbing (well, it was definitely more like climbing that walking) the mountain in our apartment complex's backyard. Sean told us how to get up there on which trails, so I put on my sneakers and we headed up.

It was a beautiful day, for Ulsan.. 15 degrees, and hazy with that overhanging mist I was talking about earlier.

Before I start.. Remember when I said a few times that I don't walk much? yeah... This just about killed me.. haha.

Here's a picture of the trail that starts at the complex, with a lady being pushed down the hill by her cart. I'm not too sure where she was coming from, or where she was going. Maybe someday I'll know what to ask to find out :)

As you get farther up the mountain side, you see the complex get smaller and denser, and it starts to look very very different from what it looks like when you're in the complex.

It's really hard to imagine that I walked all the way up this mountain, to the point where I'm looking down at the roofs of these 15 story apartment buildings.. it's a steep hike up! I was panting pretty much the whole way up.. If I had to talk it was only one word per breath.. haha. My legs were doing fine though, it was just my lungs. I don't get much exercise.. *cough*

About 3/4 of the way up the mountain, we find a little trail that goes down a ways and up another peak. It has some stairs made from old tires, classic. On this other peak a little hut occupied by one Korean guy who I'm assuming is on fire watch duties. We kind of wave hello to him, but he doesn't understand a speck of engrish, so we just wander around his area taking pictures. I take a rough panoramic to give you an idea of the view:

(if you want to see a bigger version, just let me know. This picture isn't anything special, the exposures aren't consistent from one segment to the next)

We get back to the trail and decide to keep going up... We find that the concrete path veers off back down the mountain on a dirt path, so we take that route.. I take some shots of Bert for his girlfriend back home. (Invoice is in the mail, missy! haha)

I might have mentioned before that I've been wanting to take a picture of the rolling hills with all the mist.. I think it looks dreamy and whimsical, and it reminds me of a picture by Mark Hemmings that I really admire (I can't seem to find it on his blog anymore though)

Here's my take on those hills:

(This isn't too far off from what we were seeing with our own two eyes, amazing!)

The complex from about the highest point we reached:

The city is under perpetual construction.. You can't go anywhere without seeing about a half dozen sky-cranes..

By this point we're heading back down the mountain.. I figured it would be a lot easier than going up, but it has it's own challenges.. First of all, it's not as safe, as it's easier to lose your footing. Second, it's really hard on the legs and knees as you're pounding on them on the way down, and really hard on the bottom of your feet. My feet and legs were fine on the way up, but the moment we started making our way down, I could feel 3 or 4 good size blisters starting to form. My feet were about to explode once we got to the bottom, haha.

Here's the hut in the distance from another angle:

There were a few people on the trail.. It seemed like a common place to go and get some fresh air. This gentleman decided it was a nice enough day for a shirtless jog up the mountain:

A peculiar fact about Korea, the hills are filled with burial grounds. It's apparently an old tradition to be buried in the hills near where you lived (you'll have to confirm that for me.) They are *everywhere*, in all the hills. Everywhere you drive you see them, it's amazing.

We get back to the complex after about 2 hours of walking, and I'm ready to fall over.. But before I do that, I take a cool picture of Bert by the .. giant ball .. or whatever you want to call it.

(To check out the rest of the pictures from the mountain, follow this link)

The Sean Tour:

Sean promised Bert and I a tour of the city last Sunday, so after the walk up the mountain, and my required hour or two of rest (my poor feet!) we headed out, just Sean, Bert and I. Sean's awesome by the way, never a dull moment around him ;)

We hit highway 7, headed north towards Busan (also pronounced Pusan.. P's and B's are kind of indistinguishable to Korean's, along with L's and R's and K's and G's...)

(Sean the Chauffeur)

Our first stop is at the Hilton, about 40 minutes from the complex.. It's such a big hotel, with a *huge* lobby (which looked like it was made entirely of marble), and a casino.. It's crazy! And it wasn't really that busy (I guess it's winter after all..)

We came for the buffet, so let's get eatin'.

(Sean and Bert walking into the giant dinning room)

I wish I would have taken a few pictures of the dinning room, it was quite large, with big windows surrounding it so it was very well lit, and it had one of the most complete buffet bars I've ever seen. Lots of tasty food. Mmm.

Moving on, we continue our drive through that little touristy area where we see a dried up river bed that is packed full of people driving around in rental 4-wheelers.. Bert and I are determined to come back for that.

This area we're driving around in is very well kept. It has lots of traditional rooftops, it's very clean, and vibrant. I didn't take many pictures of that.. Sometimes you just have to experience it without a lens in between. I'll be back there though, don't worry.

We drive through the mountains until we make a full circle around to the eastern coast, where we follow it south until we reach the Wolsong nuclear plant, and head back to Ulsan through the mountains.

Some of what we see along the way:

(Traditional rooftops in a small community on the coast)

(This looks so cool. A whole community wrapped around a mountain.)

Past the Wolsong plant, we stop at a small fishing wharf to see what it's all about.. there's people fishing off the wharf all around, and it's a gorgeous day.

(Off in the distance, the 4 units at the Wolsong site. We are retubing Unit 1, on the right. There are 2 more being built farther off to the right, these new ones aren't CANDU design though)

(Fishers on the adjacent wharf, I wonder what they are catching..)

Heading back into Ulsan over the mountain, we decide to head into downtown Ulsan to check out the agro-fish market. It would be my first time heading into the city centre.

(The traffic into Ulsan)

The market is almost what I would have imagined when Alain described his experiences in China, but not quite as bad.. haha.

The produce section was very spaceous and had lots of space to walk around, but the fish section was packed, cramped, dark, loud, and wet.

(Sean admiring a bin full of fish guts and other undesirables)

I buy some clementines (half a box full actually) and some yummy lookin' strawberries.. (they are everywhere here!)

While we're in the city we check out the MegaMart there to buy some groceries... The first thing that struck me as odd was the Korean parking attendants waiving cars through to the right areas of the parking lot.. there were about a dozen of them, one at nearly every row-end, and they are almost robotic. their waiving and direction movements are very precise and fluid, almost like they are doing a dance. and when you drive past them they bow to you! Unreal... Next time I'm out that way I'm gonna take a video of that.. That definitely needs to be youtubed. We drive by one, and as she bows we say "thank you!" and she blushes and giggles a bit. I bet she doesn't get that a lot.

The MegaMart lives up to it's name, it's massive. No pictures though, the security guard lady told me I had to leave my camera with her, and I couldn't take it in with me. Whatever..

I go in and look for some face-clothes, because I forgot to bring some with me, but I can't find any.. What do they wash their faces with here? I found some kitchen towels that seem to be the right size and figure they'll do ok. I buy a bunch of 8x10 frames for some prints I brought from home, and by then I'm done with shopping in that store.

After that we headed on back to the complex to end the tour. Thanks a lot Sean for the fun trip! and thanks Bert for carrying my clementines while I took some pictures of the market :)

(The other pictures from the tour with Sean can be found here)

(Note: This blog post was imported from my old blogger site to this new WordPress blog.)