Another Day Another Hike

Saturday some of the teachers in the Men’s Hiking Club asked me to join them for their hike up Gwanak Mountain.

A little back story I’m at an all boys private high school. Because it’s all boys it makes sense that most of the teachers are male as well, just to keep the order I imagine. When I say most I mean 64 of the 69 are male. In the private and public schools teachers seem to have a club for just about anything they have more than 4 teachers interested in and at my school they’re mostly based around a sport of some kind. At the training for the public school system previous and current SMOE teachers told us how important it was to get involved with the teachers and if they ask you to join them in any event you should say “yes”. I agree and disagree with this. As someone that’s been here for 5 years I can honestly say that if I didn’t say “no” at points I’d be a blithering mess sleeping on the sidewalks with the other Koreans who’ve had too much to drink because they kept saying yes every time their upper management asked/told them to go to the next place and the next and the next. I know better than to do that now and I politely say “no” firmly and don’t get talked into those next and next and next places. These clubs have sort of been similar. At first I went to the badminton club expecting something similar to my high school P.E. class experience, dancing around the court not really paying attention to form as much as having fun lobbing the thing over the net. That’s completely opposite to how these men at my school play however, and after one visit to that club it was clear I was not cut out for the group. Next they offered up the soccer club, but as anyone in Korea knows soccer is a huge sport here and kids grow up playing it. I didn’t. Not only that, I was the only girl flitting about the field just having fun with the ball. So, I got cut from that group. Now it’s spring, and I said sure why not to this hiking adventure they put in front of me. I’m pretty much a solo sports kind of girl. I go swimming three times a week and do laps, I run, that sort of stuff, so hiking was right up my alley.

We started from the Sadang station end of things, though I hear there are a few different routes and as Gwanak is part of a 5 peak range there’s plenty to do in a day or even a few. I’d hiked up this mountain before, though once I got to the top I realized I’d hiked one of the other mountains in the range and was glad to see a little different view than I’d expected.

My school goes every third Saturday of the month. When we got out of the station exit 6 we met a bunch of other teachers. I was a bit confused until I found out these were all other teachers from Jongno-gu as well. Apparently the public school system (SMOE) has their teachers all hooked up with eachother in their district. So, our district was going to Gwanak Mountain on this particular Saturday, other districts would go elsewhere and then other districts are on different Saturdays going hiking. We got a water bottle from the leader of the Jongno-gu crews and a baggie of chocolate and oranges for the trip. I suggest asking fellow co-teachers about it because it if you’re a fellow SMOE-er it was pretty fun. I was the only foreign teacher for the Jongno-gu group and the other schools teachers seemed surprised I’d come along. My teachers were proudly introducing me as their foreign teacher and at the end of the hike up and back down everyone went to a restaurant for food and booze. At that point I ducked out, the hike was all I’d wanted to join for.

Not all of the teachers made it up to the top. It took my group about 2 and a half hours from our starting point. The older teachers headed back down at the hour mark to wait in a coffee shop for our return. The total time was about 3 and a half hours and was a good way to spend a nice spring day.

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