December 22nd marked the end of the 2nd semester and the start of Winter Vacation for the students and teachers of my school. In celebration of this, some teachers from my school decided we should go away on a little retreat. We decided to go to Jirisan (Jiri Mountain) for a night and it was the perfect way to start my Christmas break (or lack there of).
Jirisan is a mountain in the southern region of South Korea. It is often considered one of the three most important mountains in South Korea (the mainland highest point).
The afternoon of December 22nd – Nine teachers, myself included, climbed into a 11 person van – along with an endless supply of snacks, beer and of course, soju – and made the 4 – 5 hour drive to Jirisan. Upon arrival mid-evening, we stopped for dinner before heading to our hotel. We ate the most delicious bibimbop I’ve ever had as it was made with all organic vegetables and was obviously made fresh and hot to serve. So delicious. It was outside the restaurant that I saw a light dusting of snow for the first time in Korea. I was so excited!
After dinner we made our way to our hotel, which in true Korean fashion, had no furniture other then a kitchen table in it. It didn’t take long before snacks upon snacks were offerred up and devoured … along with a steady stream of beer and soju. After a few Koreans games, I decided to offer up some Canadian based drinking games – with the obvious Korean spin on it – but boy did it work out nicely. It was an absolute blast! After a few hours we decided to head to bed as we had a big day ahead of us.
The next morning we woke up and, after breakfast, made our way to Jiri Mountain (Jiri san). We initially planned on driving up as far as we could and then doing the mild hike to the peak – but upon arrival we were informed that the road was closed to cars due to too much snow, so we were asked to park and walk. I was NOT at all mad about this news. Actually, I was beyond excited and basically skipped my way up the mountain. After a couple hours we made our way to the rest lodge just under the peak of the mountain and it was absolutely beautiful, so of course, I needed to climb to the peak. After a short hike to the top, I was greeted with frigid winds and reduced visibility – and SNOW EVERYWHERE! I was beyond excited, my smile was literally frozen to my face.
After some photo ops, we made the descent down the mountain and hit the road. We stopped off at a nearby market for some lunch before heading back to Busan.
It was such a great way to end the semester and start Christmas break as I was missing a good Canadian White Christmas. I have since been to Tokyo, Japan and am now completing my 3 weeks of Winter English Camp before heading to Boracay Island in the Philippines !