Eumseong Busker Festival and Woraksan Hike

Having completed my fifth Adventure Korea trip in less than three months, I am ready and rearing to do it again.  The Eumseong/Woraksan Adventure Korea trip was yet another huge success.  Credit goes to all the AK team.  They make travelling in Korea so easy.  All you need to do is choose your tour, pay up online, and show up on time.


After we departed Seoul, we made our way to Eumseong City, with a quick stop at one of many of Korea's motorway refreshment stops.  Eumseong is famous for its Pumba festival.  And that is not the popular warthog from the Lion King movies.  Pumba is the word used for a busker, or beggar, and the style of traditional music that is played by them.


At the festival we had the opportunity to dress up in beggar clothes and get made-up to really look the part.  Together, we experienced making bibimbab, as well as pounding rice with large mallets to make rice cake.  There was a lot of dancing and drumming, and plenty of makkolli (unstrained rice wine) to be consumed.  After lots of fun with everyone, and loads of photographs taken by the local paparazzi, we had the chance to wander around the market area soaking in the atmosphere (and occasionally joining in with lots of other things happening around the festival grounds).


We stayed at the event for a good length of time.  After washing our faces, getting changed, and seeing and experiencing many things, we boarded the coach and made our way to Woraksan National Park.  We had another pit stop to stock up on alcohol and snack food, and drove around the edge of a large, scenic reservoir, before arriving at our chalet-style accommodation in the late afternoon.  We were all given some time to unpack and relax while our BBQ dinner was prepared.  After dinner, we sat around drinking, chatting and toasting marshmallows.  I chose to have an early night but a number of the group opted to cross the river on the stepping stones (which proved to be oddly placed for one poor soul who took a quick dip in the water) to visit the local noraeban.


We had breakfast at 7:00ish and prepared for our hike up Woraksan at 9:00..  (You have the option of leaving earlier to beat the heat of the sun).  My sister and I chose to do this.  We left at 7:30; which proved to be a wise choice as there were many people (some with bare feet) to contend with on our return descent. 


I recommend that you take plenty of water and trail mix food for the arduous hike.  Expect to take at least two hours to reach the summit, where you can enjoy expansive views over the surrounding mountainscape.  My sister has now climbed the five highest peaks on the Korean Peninsula, and she says Woraksan was by far the hardest, but the superb views made the climb well worth it.


Clamber down the mountain, past hoards of people on their ascent, and arrive back in time for a soothingly hot shower and delicious lunch; prepared by chalet staff. 


If hiking is not your thing, or you drink too much the night before, you can spend the morning relaxing in the sun, or sightseeing around the village.  You could borrow one of the bikes out the front of the chalet to visit a local temple, or just sit and wait to ask the climbers how the mountain was.  Just be prepared to hear things like 'Bloody difficult, but the view was fantastic!'


After lunch, we packed up for an early departure back to Seoul.  But WAIT!  'Two people are still on the mountain!'  A couple, who'd only been in the country for three weeks, decided they wanted to see more of the mountain than the rest of us.  They took a wrong turn on the way down, and, after realising their error, had to retrace their steps back up the mountain to the turn off, and head back down the other side to a waiting car.  After being delivered safely to a cheering crowd, we were back on our way (along with everyone else who'd left Seoul for the weekend).


Now!  Back to packing my bag for my next trip.

                                      Written by Scott Marris