To Autumn: the colors, the leaves and Seoraksan

There is something refreshing about the changing of seasons, and in particular, I love Autumn.

This Jim Davis Garfield cartoon perfectly captures why the season is especially magical. The colors, the crisp morning air, and yes, the potato-chip-like leaves.

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Crunchy leaves aside—although I must confess that I, to this day, still relish jumping into a pile of dry, crunchy leaves—there are other reasons I am obsessed with this time of the year. First, the weather is perfect. It is cold, but not too cold, which means I can be effortlessly chic (and warm) with a simple white cable-knit sweater and skinny jeans ensemble. The weather also makes partaking fatty (and delicious) food acceptable, because it’s all part of the cooler-temperature-induced biological cravings—Hey, it’s not me, the environment just makes me want to eat more energy-dense, a.k.a. higher-calorie food. It’s biology! And back to my earlier wardrobe point, the sweater helps because no one can see your rolls.

But most of all, I love a good fall foliage chase. And here’s a stunning one to share with you from my teaching English abroad in Seoul, Korea days.


When I filled out my Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (SMOE) application to become an English teacher in Korea, I indicated that I wished to teach high school and be located in Seoul. I had imagined my year abroad would be filled with weekly clubbing and drinking. What I didn’t anticipate was that I would be dispatched to a neighborhood that was quite far from all the Seoul nightlife actions. In face of the very real travel time obstacle, I decided to forego clubbing and opted for a healthier alternative: hiking.

Hiking is a popular recreational pastime. It makes sense given that 70% of Korea’s topography is mountain.

For my fall foliage destination, I picked Seoraksan, which translates to “Snowy Peaks Mountain.” Located in Gangwon-do Province that is northeast of Seoul, the mountain is Korea’s third-highest mountain (reaching the height of 1,708 meters, or 5,604 feet). It is also easily accessible from Seoul, a 30-minute and KRW 1000 (or about USD 1) bus ride. The national park, which spans four cities and counties and totaling 163.6 square kilometers (or 63 square miles) and has over 30 peaks and a variety of hiking trails, did not disappoint. I remembered what it was like when I first set my eyes on the landscape and feasted on the vibrant colors—brushstroke after brushstroke of red, orange, and yellow. It was magnificent.

I can attest to that because I twisted my ankle after having drunken too much Korean rice wine (makgeolli) during lunch. And despite how the hike concluded—I walked effortlessly, with two healthy legs, in the morning and dragged myself, with a twisted foot and a friend as my crutch, in the afternoon—what I remember from the trip are the miles and miles of mountains, all burning ablaze in red, orange and yellow.

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Seoraksan, Korean (2011)

Do you have a favorite Fall foliage chasing story?

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