Unfortunately, I’ve been a bit under the weather the last several days, coughing and sneezing, feverish and chilly at times, and a bit lethargic (lazy?). So, apologies for the lengthy delay between posts.

As I stated in my previous entry, I did manage to take in the Azalea Festival at Yeongchuisan (san = mountain) here in Yeosu last Saturday. Unfortunately, we caught it about a week too early, so it was a bit of a flop. There were some sparse regions of azaleas, resplendent in their pink blossoms, but the vast fields that spring up at this time of year were sadly absent. Like I said, we were a week too early.

Still, it was a beautiful day, with clear, blue skies, warm temperatures, and little wind. Corrie, another English teacher at the university, Anne, one of our Korean students, and I started our climb up the mountain about 10 in the morning. I thought we’d have to take a gentle hike to the azalea fields, but it turned out to be somewhat of a steep trek — not grueling, but a good workout. Was it worth it, considering the lack of the flowers? Sure, more than worth it. Here’s a few photos from the day.

One of the trails up the mountain, the one we took, starts from the enormous petro-chemical area of Yeosu. Many Koreans make the trek, so we weren’t alone. Here we go, soon passed by these guys as we took several breaks on the way up to catch our breaths and rest our aching leg muscles.

Yeosu Azalea Festival

Hiking to the azalea fields

Up we went, hoping for a bedazzling pink flower show, joined by many azalea acolytes. Quite a few tour buses drop off aficionados of the local flora, so the mountain does get crowded.

Yeosu Azalea Festival

Hikers going up to the Azalea Festival

Yeosu Azalea Festival

More people ahead of us

Unfortunately, the azaleas weren’t out on this part of the mountain. There were more blooming at the university, as a matter of fact. We could have just walked around there to see plenty of flowers, but it was worth going up Youngchuisan despite that. However, off to our left on a ridge below us, they were in full regalia. Corrie and I thought about going down to see them, but it was a LONG way down, so, a LONG way back up. There was a road there, but, unfortunately, it wandered off toward the farther mountains, away from Ann’s car. We had a good view of the flowers, despite our distance from their fields.

Azalea flowers at the festival

Field of flowers at the festival

Flowers at the Azalea Festival

Another view of the flowers

Eventually, we made it to one of the peaks. We saw another one about a kilometer from us and several dozen meters above, but we decided not to make that hike; the trail was packed and we were eager to take a snack break. Here’s Corrie, on the left, and Ann at the top of our little world.

Corrie and Ann at the Azalea Festival

Corrie and Ann

Despite the lack of azaleas on this weekend, I was fascinated by the area. The scenery was exhilirating, but the intricacies of the myriad petro-chemical plants enthralled me. Ann had to drive through several kilometers of the area to reach the mountain, and the road winds its way through the tanks and pipes and weirdness of these industries. The architecture of the area is monstrous and its pull on me is undeniable; I’m going to go back there on my bicycle or motorbike later in the summer and photograph this alien landscape.

Here are a couple of shots of the area, showing the new bridges linking the Yeosu Peninsula with the port of Gwangyang. Before the bridges were built, travel time from Yeosu to Gwangyang was probably a couple of hours, but now the journey has been cut at least in half. The bridges aren’t open yet, but they should be ready to go before the Expo opens.

Bridges to Gwangyang from Yeosu

New bridges from Yeosu to Gwangyang

New bridge from Yeosu to Gwangyang

New bridge from Yeosu to Gwangyang

The weather, as you can see, has been gorgeous lately. I also did a photo walk around campus this past Wednesday morning, an election-day holiday in Korea, and took lots of photos of the wonderful spring colors in the area this time of year. I promise I’ll try to get those up soon. More later.