Early in the morning, while still all sleepy-eyed, we set off for Sunrise Peak 성산일출붕 [GPS: 783-0959], around 4.45am. Sunrise was predicted to be at 6.52am that day so I drove like a maniac whenever I could i.e. when not in the vicinity of speed regulating zones, speed cameras and traffic lights. It was not easy, considering there were numerous of such contraptions along the way. I was so certain we were not going to make it on time.
Against all odds, we arrived around 6.25am. It was frigid outside! Given that it would take a reasonably healthy person around 20-25 minutes to climb to the peak, I reckon I would need to commence the climb asap to at least get a glimpse of a just risen sun.
I wouldn’t say it was an easy climb. The start of the climb looked deceptively easy because in the dark, it looked like a vast, gentle inclined plain, but a combination of cold + altitude made the inclination feel very, very steep. To me, it was.
I struggled, wheezed and stopped along spots where other less healthy climbers also stopped to catch their breaths, and took the opportunity to admire the beauty surrounding me. Suffice it to say that I stopped multiple times during the climb and managed to capture numerous shots of the moon during dawn. It was getting progressively brighter as I tried to quicken my steps to reach the peak but the climb was getting visibly harder nearing the peak – the steps were getting wider and higher. Being the klutz that I am, I fell when I mis-stepped the next step. Being in so much pain but but not wanting to hold up the climbers behind me, I made the final few steps without stopping to check on the bruise.
As if wanting to reward me for my perseverance for making it to the top, I managed to see the sun peeking out of the clouds about the same time as everyone else. Lost in thoughts at that moment, first and foremost about the throbbing pain I was feeling from my leg (where I fell) and if I would be able to make it down the hill on my own. The beautiful sight was honestly kind of lost on me.
There were way too many people at the peak and on the way down so it wasn’t convenient for me to lift up my pants and heat-tech layer to check on the injury. I merely wanted to ascertain if there was any open wound as a result of the fall but it didn’t feel wet with bleeding. So I pushed on to reach the foot of the hill as fast as I could manage to.
It was an extremely hard knock, and the bruise was getting more painful. Going down stairs should be an easy task but I had to do it slowly in order not to exacerbate the pain I was already feeling. While I was feeling down, two leashless shiba-inu came running down the stairs. The sight of them cheered me up considerably because I was missing the mister and my two furballs at home.
I finally made it down to hill. And decided not to proceed with the planned itinerary for the day since I wouldn’t be able walk properly anyway. I left the party and walked down to hail a cab back to the hotel in order to give my leg a rest. Thanks goodness I was conversant in Korean. The very kind cab driver asked to stop by a convenient store nearby to get some coffee for himself (it was a long ride back to the hotel); there was no reason I wouldn’t agree since the last thing I wanted was a sleepy driver. What surprised me was, he even bought me a drink. Orange juice. But I politely decline since orange juice usually gives me a tummy ache. He took back the juice and gave me a bottle of mineral water instead. That was really nice of him, I thought.
After examining the extent of the damage in the privacy of my own room, I decided it wasn’t as bad as I imagined it to be, and started rubbing on the bruise to loosen the clotted blood. After which I took the opportunity to take a nap since I slept less than 4 hours the night before, worrying I would wake up late and delay everyone.
It was a full day of rest for me. When I finally woke up around dusk to check on my bruise, I was shocked to find that it has spread to the whole lower leg, proof that it was a bad bruise. But the pain was getting much better so I decided to venture out alone for some night photography. Without any concrete plan in mind, I remembered seeing Saeseom Saeyeon Bridge 새섬 새연교 [GPS: 760-3471] when I looked out of the balcony, hence the decision to drive out there.
It was a star-less sky that night. I was rather discouraged that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to practice taking pictures of star trails, but in return I did manage to capture some nice pictures of the bridge. I lingered around to enjoy the serenity until the lights to the bridge were switched off at 10pm (or was it 11pm?). In any case, it was time to leave; it was really dark after the lights went off. I’ll admit I got a little scared. 😀