Last weekend was the celebration of Chuseok, essentially the equivalent of Thanksgiving here in Korea. For us teachers, that meant a 4 day weekend! We took full advantage of this and headed for Piagol Valley in Jiri Mountain for some good ol’ fashioned fall camping. Campfires, cool nights, and crisp air. And to top it all off, we were the ONLY people at this campsite. We had the beautiful place all to ourselves! An awesome way to bring the camping season to a close, and welcome the new fall season upon us.
We found out about this spot through my friend’s Korean co-worker, who was generous enough to drive us out there- about 30 minutes outside of Gurye. On top of taking the time out of their busy Chuseok weekend to drive 5 crazy foreigners to their campsite, her and her husband had also packed us a bunch of homemade Korean food. Loads of rice, pajeon (Korean pancakes), kim (roasted seaweed), and of course…..kimchi! And here we thought we were going to live off ramen noodles for the weekend. Although I’ve been here for almost a year now, the generosity of Koreans still amazes me. We were all so blown away and appreciative of this gesture.
After unloading all of our camping gear and goodies, it was time to set up camp!
Nestled right into the mountains
Since we were the only ones here, we designated this pagoda as our cooking and eating area!
A huge benefit to this campsite was having the little shop that you can see in the left corner. The man who works there was on an on-call basis, so whenever we needed to stock up on water, beer, or soju, we simply gave him a ring! This saved the hassle of us having to stock up and worry about keeping beer things cold.
In Korea, whenever you purchase a lot of something you will sometimes get what is called “service” (or as the Koreans say “ser-vice-uh”). It’s basically something they will throw in for free with your purchase. The ser-vice-uh we received at this campsite was above and beyond. They provided us with ice, frozen water bottles, a huge ice bucket to keep our drinks cold, roasted seaweed, and they even installed a little lamp in pagoda for our nighttime drinking card games. Amazing! Again, Korean hospitality.
After setting up camp, it was time to explore. There was a beautiful river/creek right by our campsite, where we spent time skipping rocks, building inukshuks, and going for a little dip.
Time to relax by the fire after our mini exploration! First place we were allowed to have a campfire in Korea. After a very hard sleep that night (beach camping spoiled us), the next day was filled with more exploring, hiking, and swimming. A perfect day!
Where our hiking trail ended, a mountain top watering hole began!
Stumbled across this swing!
Don’t forget the beer when searching for a watering hole!
The next day, it was time to take down our tents and pack our bags. 3 days, 2 nights spent in picturesque Piagol, and another camping adventure under our belts. Great company, lush green mountains and endless exploration possibilities. My first Chuseok, well spent!
Almost year later, and I’m still blown away by the beauty Korea has to offer. I can’t wait for the month ahead where I will get to experience a Korean autumn to the fullest, since arriving late October last year cut the fall season a bit short.
On that note……for those who don’t know, I have renewed my contract and will be staying another year here in Korea. I have learned and experienced an immeasurable amount this past year, which I will be dedicating a full blog post to in the near future. Needless to say I am thrilled for this adventure to continue!
Thank you Piagol, you were beautiful. Until next year, Chuseok!