But after two days in Seoul, I needed to get out.
I blame it on the previous three weeks in small(er)-town Korea, where the pace is more laidback, the people are friendlier and the streets are less crowded. Plunging back into Seoul, with friends taking me out on the town both nights, it felt too frantic and too, too much.
So when some plans for day trips from Seoul didn't quite work out, I decided to get the hell outta there and push on with the rest of my trip. There'll be time enough to soak up the city vibe at the end, before I fly home.
Today I'm in Cheongju, where I poked around in a museum commemorating Korea's earliest metal printing press (which purportedly pre-dates Gutenberg's by more than 70 years), then took off on a 4-km hike on some fortress walls outside the city. It wasn't quite of Great Wall of China proportions, but the uphill sections certainly took the wind out of me. It's not customary in Korea to drink alone, but afterwards I sat down to dinner and ordered a bowlful of dongdongju (rice wine) to make it all better. Now I know why Koreans are always drinking after they come back from hiking (actually, they're happy to toss back a swig or two mid-hike too).
More national parks and limestone caves to come. As Yan Wei well knows, I had severe waterfall fatigue after we visited Dalat in Vietnam last year. We'll see if Korea gives me cave fatigue.