Chiang Mai

Finally we went to Chiang Mai in Thailand. There are some nice temples there.

But we didn’t do much there, except relax and eat delicious food.

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Xi’an

We visited Xi’an in January, mainly to see the Terracotta Warriors.

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The main pit is really big.

The warriors all have different expressions, although some of them are missing their heads!

Each one has to be put back together like a giant jigsaw puzzle.

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There is a lot of detail in each statue.

We enjoyed our day there.

Xi’an was also quite nice.

We had good food in the Muslim quarter market.

The restored city wall is complete and you can cycle all the way around it. Plus they were putting up lanterns ready for Chinese New Year when we were there.

There are some nice building including the Drum and Bell Towers.

But you can see from the haze in the photos that the air quality was terrible.

Winter hiking

We did a couple more winter hikes in December. The first one was not much fun. We couldn’t find the start of the path and had to hack our way up the hill.

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Even when we found the path, it was relentlessly up, with no breaks.

However, the view from the top was amazing. 360° of mountains.

We could see Gayasan from here.

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And the sunset colours were stunning.

The second hike didn’t have much of a view from the summit, but the hike itself was really pleasant. There was some snow on the trail and it snowed while we were at the summit too.

It was a popular hike, with some interesting characters at the top.

Jirisan National Park

So we are surrounded by three national parks here – Jirisan, Deogyusan and Gayasan. Having hiked in two of them for our previous hikes we decided that we should finish the set and take a hike in Jirisan.

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Because I was recovering from a cold, we opted not to do the highest peak in Jirisan and instead went for the easiest hike – Nogodan peak. It was really busy, with lots of people because the hike was really easy, more of a stroll really. The majority of the path looked like this.

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There were some steps near the top.

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It was really windy at the summit, but the view from the top was lovely, mountains all around. You can see the highest peak in Jirisan in a couple of these pictures.

Looking back down to the shelter and the car park in the distance was the start of our hike.

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There was quite a lot of mistletoe up in the trees.

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But unfortunately we didn’t see any insects today.

And when we got home our river was looking especially clear and reflective.

Hiking in Deogyusan National Park

On Saturday we went hiking in Deogyusan National Park. We didn’t do either of the main peaks – Hyangjeokbong at the north end of the ridge, or Namdeogyusan at the south end of the ridge. Instead we tackled the two main peaks in the middle.

During the week the weather had looked like this every day.

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But unfortunately on Saturday it was quite cloudy and extremely windy on the ridge, but it was still a good day for hiking.

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The ridge

The hike started off in a rocky valley with several warning signs for rock falls. Many of the rocks had these strain gauges stuck on them, so it is possible to easily see if the rocks have moved.

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The hike started easily, with a gentle climb up the river valley passing heaps of small waterfalls along the way.

And a big water slide.

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Some larch trees.

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When the sun came out it was especially pretty.

After about 3km of gentle climbing we came across this worrying sign.

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So we knew it was about to get steep. Fortunately there was only about 400m of this left to go before we arrived at the saddle.

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From the saddle we first went north for about 2kms to peak number 1 before returning to the saddle and then heading south for about 1km to peak number 2.

The first peak.

The view from the top.

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When heading to the second peak the weather improved slightly.

Looking back at the first peak from the second peak. It is sunny over there now.

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And a windswept me at the top of the second peak.

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We didn’t see many bugs that day, it was too windy at the summit and the weather has been quite cold already. But here is what I did see.

 

And finally, we had a nice moon on the way down.

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Hiking Gayasan

Gayasan is one of the national parks in Korea that borders my town. It is an extremely popular hike, especially at the peak of autumnal colours, so it was very busy.

We saw a woodpecker, a chipmunk and a cool black and blue butterfly but unfortunately I didn’t capture any of these on camera. So the only pictures from this trip are of the stunning scenery.

The hike starts at Haeinsa which is an amazing temple, but we have visited there several times before so we bypassed it on the way up the mountain.

The valley on the way up.

Cool purple berries.

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And looking up to the peak.

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The view from the top was amazing, especially with the cloud below us.

Andrew posing in front of more great scenery.

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And a cute warning sign at the top of the mountain.

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This is our route down the other side of the mountain.

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We were really glad we didn’t come up this side, the stairs were relentless.

Near the bottom of the hike we walked down another valley, with more autumn colours.

When we got down we found a bus going to a place we didn’t know. So we took a chance and hopped on it. Fortunately it connected us to another bus we could catch to get back home.

Gayasan is 1433m high and the hike was almost 10km in length. It was a great hike, great weather and stunning scenery. And my legs have almost stopped aching!

Summer bugs

Here are some of the cool bug pictures taking during this summer.

A cool moth.

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Cute and furry caterpillars.

Other insects.

Some flowers and scenery. I think the dead leaf on the tree looks like a dog.

A very cute jumping spider.

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And a pretty blue butterfly in Seoul.

And that brings me up to date with this blog! I will try and update it more regularly in future.