I‘d heard rumours that mountainside drinking was popular in Korea but I hadn’t given it much thought. During midterm exams there are no classes and the students go home early to study which means the teachers are able to organise staff trips in the afternoons. My office cannot get enough of staff bonding sessions so for the second time that week we went hiking. The hike earlier in the week was more of a dawdle around a nearby lake, very pleasant but not challenging which explains why we didn’t have regular beer stops. It was very achievable, sober. The second hike was a little more difficult, not terribly so but definitely more of a workout. We started out strong and were keeping a good pace until we made the first of the many refreshment stops. I couldn’t manage more than a few sips, it was early in the afternoon and I had my walking face on but the others did not disappoint and worked their way through several generous sized beverages and still made it to the top (without a toilet break, I might add). If going up was entertaining, the descent was non stop comedy; the sliding, the slipping and the facial expression that accompanied the slipping and the sliding were priceless. If the alcohol consumption helped on the way up, it definitely hindered on the way down. Hilarity ensued.
Since then we have been offered rice wine, beer and soju on every decent hike we’ve been on and while it no longer surprises me, my coordination is bad at the best of times and I just can’t hack it without tumbling down a hill! Owing to my lack of balance, I regularly find myself declining offers to the disappointment of my Korean co hikers. Until after the hike, once I’ve earned my beer and I can sit down and drink it!
While I may fail miserably, there are also those who excel at trail drinking.