Namsan is our favourite mountain in Seoul. It’s reasonably small (can be confused for a hill) and is easily accessible from Myeongdong Station (opposite UNIQLO). The mountain has multiple access points (Itaewon, Noksapyeong, & Hannam) and trails. We’ve walked along most of them, but there could be many routes that we’ve not explored.
Namsan (NSeoul Tower) is a ‘tourist attraction’ that we like to show visiting family and friends. We’ve seen it in summer, autumn, and winter. We’ve never visited during cherry blossoms because it’s hard to predict the exact peak. My brother, sister-in-law, and nephew visited us last April and it was the perfect opportunity to double as tour guides and tourists. They live in Europe and were excited to discover South Korea — especially after seeing the ton of pictures that I’ve sent them.
There’s also a cable car that leads to the top. The only time we have taken it was in 2015, when I accompanied Basil on a work trip. We decided to split into two groups. By brother, nephew, and Basil would take the stairs. My sister-in-law and I would take the cable car to get a different view and pictures.
There were hardly any people on a Friday afternoon. It’s a very different story on weekends. The cherry blossoms looked spectacular from the cable car and the mountain was covered with azaleas and forsythia.
The walking trail has multiple routes and can lead you to a different destination if you skip the boards. We’ve found some investing shrines and memorials along the way. It’s best to not lose sight of the tower.
Viewing spots and photo-ops are the highlight of the walking trail. You can get a panoramic view of Seoul City and the mountains behind. If you’ve visited often you might even spot some popular buildings.
The cable car and stairs eventually join at the viewing platform. My thirteen-year-old nephew reached the designated meeting spot — a few minutes after us. We were taken by surprise because he had climbed very fast. He’s into sports and this must have been quite easy for him. My brother and Basil reached a couple of minutes later.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve gone to the observation point of N Seoul Tower. But I also like being a tourist in the city we live in. It helps me break the monotony of every day life.
The cherry blossom trail was clearly visible from the observation tower. I tried to find the starting point of this route from above.
We made it in time for a martial arts’ performance. There are many performances and festivals during spring. This year, to contain the spread of COVID-19, the government has cancelled all festivals and has urged people to practice enhanced social distancing until the first week of April.
I was happy to find the route that lead towards Namsan’s cherry blossom path. It’s also one of the the routes taken by buses to reach the N Seoul Tower entrance.
Basil and I had walked along this trail in summer. Back then, the trees were filled with green leaves and it was pleasantly cool. There were few people walking down this trail.
Cherry blossoms are magical. I don’t think you can truly capture their beauty in a photograph. It’s nature’s treat for those who’ve survived the Korean winter. These days, we’re far from tourist spots. But, we’re still fortunate to take in the beauty of blossoms around our neighbourhood.
There are so many interesting trails that meander from the main trail. Basil wanted to explore them. I wanted to get us back home without getting lost.
Forsythia grows abundantly during cherry blossoms. Like pink blossoms, yellow flowers can be found popping out of every corner in Seoul.
“Not just beautiful, though–the stars are like the trees in the forest, alive and breathing. And they’re watching me.”
― Haruki Murakami
“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”
― John Muir
Wonderland can be found on earth. Spring is the perfect time to find such magical places.
I didn’t want to leave. But we had reached the end of the trail. The view looked even better as we looked back. Love was in the air. Happy couples were laughing under the pink sky. Things were so different back then.
We reached the end of the walking path and the main entrance to this side of Namsan.
It’s bittersweet remembering this day because a year has passed so fast. My nephew is probably taller than Basil and I wonder how different he will look when I meet him next.