Waking up at 4am is never easy, even when the bed calling your name is Seoul Hiking Group’s big purple bus. We arrived at Hwangmaesan in the middle of the night as half the group snored away. Most of us decided to let the cool mountain air wake us up and strolled through the undergrowth. The sun began peaking out from behind the nearby mountains as our trail took us upward.
Halfway up the mountain we got our first glimpse of azaleas. Hwangmaesan was famous for them and a “pink mountain” was advertised but we were wary since azaleas back in Seoul were already starting to fade. We held out hope but I didn’t think it would be as glamorous as Goeje Island’s pink mountain.
Lucky for us it was stunningly beautiful! The mountain was indeed covered with azaleas, unfortunately many of the pink flowes had already fallen from their bushes. We still enjoyed a stroll among the flowers and a welcome change from the typical hungover mornings that Seoul hands you on a normal weekend.
The festival itself was still being setup as Korean adjussis & adjummas (older men & women) prepped the goods. One of them caught our eye with a giant vat of soup which we quickly devoured before heading back to the bus. Next up a short ferry ride to Bijin Island!