“Sir! Sir! It is time!” Mane’s vigorous door-knocking and urgent cries roused me from a deep sleep. Bracing myself against the cold night I had pulled the covers over my head and only now I reluctantly peeked out into the…complete darkness. Was it such a big deal to see the sunrise? Doesn’t it happen daily?!” Well, I acknowledged to myself that I probably would regret not going, so I slowly got out of bed, pulled on my boots and rubbed my eyes.
“Lady is waiting!” What on earth could Mane be talking about? If there were any phrase to get a man moving, this would be it. But one of the huge benefits of traveling alone was to avoid this very scenario. I thought he must be saying this just to get me to move faster, but when I got downstairs Heebeom was ready to go.
Indeed, despite being on a 10 day trek where there would be no heat or hot water for nights on end, where the accomodations were literally wood shacks with cardboard-thin walls between the rooms, where there were no commodes, only squat toilets…she was still very clearly a “lady.” I had been impressed with how light she was traveling (one small backpack) until I noticed that her guide seemed to be carrying a larger load than the others, including a very girly pale pink pack and a duffel that had “South Korea” written in English across its side. When she asked anyone to take a photo of her, the shutter button could not be pressed until she had opened her compact to peer into her mirror, rearrange her hair and touch up her makeup. Before sitting down at a rest stop on the trail she would place a flowery seat cushion on the flat rocks. And she had furry striped socks and house slippers to wear in the evening. I found all this very amusing.
Anyway, along with the rest of the sunrise crowd we climbed up the steep hillside, reaching the peak in about an hour and a half. Now I was grateful to Mane for insisting on an early start, because we were some of the first ones there, and had our pick of the prime spots to get the best views. (A half hour later the area was crammed with tourists from around the globe jostling each other with their huge DSLR cameras, trying to get that perfect sunrise shot).
We returned to the guest house around 7:00 a.m. and had a good breakfast, to prepare for the long trek to the next town where we would break for the night.