As a photographer, traveling to new places under pressure to do one’s best to capture all the unfamiliar surroundings can make for some exciting trips. Often, variables such as weather and free time available cannot be controlled, and these make it all the more challenging to photograph something that may not be seen again in a lifetime. Serving with the Navy, I have come across many of these opportunities in some of my international travels, with my most recent trip (second annual, actually) heading back to South Korea.
In a strange turn of events, my coworkers and I were given ample free time both during and after the days of work. As a result, I came back to Japan with many gigabytes of photos and videos, and am still working through them! For my first post, I will focus on the first couple days near Gyeryongsan National Park, a sizable protected area with a convenient entrance right next to our hotel! In spite of only about 5 hours of free time total to explore the area, I managed to get around a couple trails for some shots.
The entire park is surrounded by heavy fencing, and what few entrances are available are electronically locked. Even from the outside on the first day, there’s a nice view of the lake going deep into the many valleys of the park.
Near sunset, when I finally figured out how to gain access, a short 10-minute walk along an interior road broke off to a few trails. With the clear sun quickly fading behind the mountains, I ran about capturing whatever I could before darkness set in. This also included a small rock-bed stream that proved fun to climb up due to the low water flow (small PSA: it is dangerous to walk up a mountain stream if rain is forecast anywhere in the area, you never know when a flash flood will hit).
Thankfully, I managed a bit more time the following morning to further explore both the main trail and the stream for more photos. After a good 1.5 miles of hiking with probably 1000 feet of elevation climb I came across Gyeryongsan Samsindang, a religious historically preserved area built in 1925, and the only Samsindang left in South Korea . The brick building, Taesangjeon, enshrines three Buddhas, while the colorful wooden Cheondan enshrines the Samsin (three gods of heaven, earth, and man). Both areas were locked, to a degree, and were under CCTV surveillance, so I walked around respectfully. The many snakes slithering around the rock walls kept my senses alert, as well!
By this time, I had only an hour to make it back down the mountain to prepare to leave our hotel. I saved a bit of time with gravity’s help, so I made one last pit-stop on a carved-out section of the stream. I am not quite sure what significance the area has, though I ran across a few Chinese hikers admiring the worn-down alcove as well.
With a bit of extra cardio, I made it back in time to head out of Gyeryong. Our next stop, as last year, was South Korea’s own megacity, Seoul! As luck would have it, we had a whole two days of free time to tour around after our work with the Republic of Korea Navy concluded. Those photos and videos will be coming in due time, I’ve got a lot of files to look through from Gyeongbokgung Palace to Cheonggyecheon River and more! As such, that’s all for this post, guys and gals, thanks for dropping by. As always, have a great day!